American Samizdat

Sunday, August 16, 2009. *
You know I voted for Obama but I did not come away that impressed with what I saw this Saturday morning from longtime aide, friend and confidante Valerie Jarrett. Ms. Jarrett spoke for about an hour and a half during the last day of Netroots Nation, the annual get together of Kossacks and fellow travelers who schoomze and network and can afford to pay about several hundred dollars to do so. Hey, if I wasn't reporting this I couldn't afford to go. I got a press pass worth 200 bucks.
The format was that Baratunde Thurston was to lob her questions, mostly softballs apparently, and she was to hit away but I felt that I didn't really learn very much other than "give us time" and "I trust Obama". Those are beginning to not be very satisfying answers when you're continuing a lot of shockingly bad Bush policies.
Here's a sample of what Valerie gave us. So, Baratunde reads a question that asks what blogs, specifically the president reads, and whether he reads them on a Mac or a PC. She answers back that the president reads lots of blogs but couldn't or didn't know (more likely) which ones he read and that she can't tell you whether he uses a Mac or a PC. Do you feel more informed, about anything?
Or here's another one: Baratunde reads another question off his computer and this time it's about Tom Daschle. And she goes on about what a cool and swell and great guy Tom is. I'm trying to get what world she's coming from. Actually, its clear now that Daschle would have been a horrible addition. First, he rejoined some awful insurance lobbying firm that pays more money than God to promote evil policies. Second, even though he says he likes the public option, he came out against it in his role as insurance company hack. Here's the thing: would he have ever left the insurance industry even if he had joined the administration? And does Kent Conrad want a cushy job as an insurance hack lobbyist as well? Must be.
Or, and here's another one, she actually had the nerve to talk about how the Obama administration has limited the influence of lobbyists in his White House. She must not have read all those stories about how he cut backroom deals with Big Pharma that would have undercut House and Senate efforts to regulate these industries. I think this story was broken by the Huffington Post by the way, thus forcing an Obama ally into some real journalism.
Did I mention that there was slight hissing and even some boos? Well, its not Valerie. Its the record of the administration. Valerie is a professional and has to back the boss. But if you really wanted a concise picture of the administration so far, I really think this Ian Walsh post hits it on the head.
Miscellania: Healthcare, Unemployment, Resistance and Obama
by: Ian Welsh
Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 22:00
After visiting Victoria for a week, let's do a quick roundup post

Healthcare: I remain convinced that nothing that will come out of this Congress won't be pretty awful. My current belief is that what will be passed will mandate everyone buy insurance but because of inadequate cost controls and subsidies will leave ordinary people forced to buy insurance which will increase in price faster than wages. The optimistic view would be that once everyone is in the system, pressure will build to make the system actually work. We'll see, even if true, there'll be a lot of pain in between.

Unemployment: According to the BLS, the economy lost 274,000 jobs, but the unemployment rate dropped from 9.5% to 9.4%. Welcome to the world of statistics that don't mean what you think they do. People who want jobs, but who are convinced they can't get one and so aren't looking actively don't count as unemployed. So the number of employed people can go down and the unemployment rate can go down. In other words, we're a long way from things getting better, they're just getting worse more slowly.

Resistance: The American right has decided on a policy of resistance to Obama which can be summed up as "thuggery". People are being trained and financed to go out and shout down Democrats or intimidate them. There has already been some violence, there will be more. The Obama administration thought they could avoid the rise of the refusnik right by refusing to act on most social issues, which is why they abandoned their promises to gays and have generally been unwilling to move on other social issues. They took the lesson of the Clinton administration to be "don't inflame the fanatics on the right-avoid social issues, and don't slash the military". They were, of course, wrong: the radical right (and there is hardly a non-radical right left) will oppose Obama no matter what he does and if Obama is unwilling to use to the full might of the administrative apparatus against them, they will simply take advantage of his weakness to escalate. Tactics which are seen to work, will not be abandoned, to the contrary, they will be used more and more.

Obama: Obama's active period is about over. Health care "reform", if he gets it through, will probably be the last major policy. While there are rises and falls, his overall popularity is trending down and that will probably continue. The "honeymoon" is over, and it was used primarily to shove through a lousy stimulus that won't lead to enough of a recovery, and with luck (for him) a bad global warming bill and health reform that isn't. Fortunately, banks and financial firms have been bailed out and are making lots of money, and should be in a position to reward Obama with significant funding in future elections.

Unless they decide that the Republicans will give them everything they want, too.

Add to that Republican weakness, and Obama's inner circle may think they're still cruising for reelection. I'm not so sure. Counting on your enemy's weakness is a dangerous tactic, especially when you are doing little to ensure that they remain weak or that you remain strong.

I really think that's the truth of the last six months of the Obama administration. I will forgive him for everything if he manages to pass a strong public option and I'm in a positiion to buy affordable healthcare. If not, that smattering of hisses and boos will turn into a chorus, and hit a depressingly high note right around the 2010 and 2012 election cycles

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:58 PM
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