Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reactions After the State of the Union - Ragoth

In thinking of the state of politics after the State of the Union Address, I believe I have settled on one of the pillars of my discontent with Obama's strategy - the eventual ramifications of his tact and attempts at bi-partisanship. By following the course that he has set so far, there is absolutely no way in which the Republicans cannot frame everything that happens as a win for them. Imagine - through constant compromise with basically everything the conservatives want, Obama and Congress have set up a situation in which they cannot appear to be the good guys - whatever policies end up working can be framed as working only because the conservatives compromised the proposal down to its essential and workable parts. Any proposal that fails they will still claim victory from because, to be honest, it's not like they voted for it anyway.

Even more sickening is the rush that Democrats seem to be in to push Bernanke through confirmation again. This is a political time bomb waiting to go off. There are a few Senators on both sides who are opposed to it, but this is definitely a case where the majority of the Democrats are for his confirmation and the majority of the Republicans are against it. Meanwhile, Republican Senators have requested and obtained several documents that purport to show that Bernanke was aware of the consequences of the bailout and ignored the advice of his staff to give 100 cents on the dollar in the CDS bailout. If the Democrats push Bernanke through quickly, the Republicans can merely hold out and release their documents after the confirmation and point the finger at the Democrats and say "See, these guys are in league with the bankers!"...and they wouldn't be entirely wrong. The Republicans would begin to seize the mantle of populism, even when they have all been hand-in-hand with the banks and other corporate interests. Bernanke should be pulled from the nomination, and hopefully someone will get Geithner out as well. Hell, I'd love to have Spitzer back. Honestly, I could give a damn who he had sex with - what matters to me is whether or not he was doing his job, and, to a large extent, indeed he was doing a great job of policing Wall Street. When you have champagne parties on Wall Street to celebrate the resignation of Spitzer...well, maybe he was doing something right.

A bit more after the fold...

It seems telling, also, that all of a sudden the Dems don't actually need 60 senators to get something passed. They can confirm Bernanke with 50 senators, just fine. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, and I don't think this requires some real conspiracy...but it's interesting at the least that whenever a proposal comes up that favors corporate or financial interests, we only need 50 votes. Whenever it's a progressive measure, all of a sudden we can't do a damn thing without 60 votes (and probably not even then). Conspiracy? No. Politicians being politicians and voting for those who really support and pay for them...yes, exactly. It's even more disheartening looking into the face of a ruling on unlimited corporate spending...

So, I continue to question Obama's continued insistence on bi-partisanship. The Republicans have made it overly clear that they will never be satisfied with any compromise and will never vote for any of his policies. Likewise, in the past eight years, we saw how the Republicans got bi-partisan support. I'm not saying that I approve of this approach, but at least it was effective. Through threats and rhetoric, they demanded bipartisanship and largely got it. At the very least, the Republicans won the rhetoric battle - "Those who oppose this legislation are against the American people," or are "supporting terrorists," etc.

On a slightly more positive note - Obama has proposed to repeal "Don't Ask - Don't Tell." This is a good step, I feel. I have yet to hear a good argument for discriminating against sexual orientation in the military, and more than discriminating against race or gender. If someone feels like they have one, I'm all ears, but so far I've been rather unimpressed.

Anyway, I'm sure Jason has a much more in-depth analysis and reaction to the whole thing, and I'd certainly love to hear it.


Kull said...

Forgive me if I chose to contact you via an off-topic comment on your blog, but your progressive political stance made me think of you as responsive subjects.

Chances are that you are already familiar with the Kevin Singer case, a lifetime inmate of a Wisconsin correctional facility who has been prohibited to enjoy his D&D games with cellmates out of incredibly bigoted and unrealistic fears he was forming a "gang".

An online petition has been started to have that absurd ruling reviewed and I think that, as fellow gamers, I thought you may have wanted to support the effort, showing that RPGs can be potent educational tools for the acquiring of social, cooperative and reading/writing skills from which the prison population could surely benefit.

The more time passes the more I am convinced that the u.s. prison system is not a corrective tool with which to re-educate and win back to society inmates but a kind of medieval torture system with which to abuse and degrade those unlucky enough to enter it.

I really ask you to take a minute of your time, click the link above and leave a signature,

please, there is a person who is being denied the solace and comfort of letting his mind and his imagination soar while his body is restricted in a cell, and, if you can, circulate the petition's URL link among your fellow gamers and friends.

Ragoth said...

Off-topic comments are fine. I have in fact heard of the case and would be very willing to sign such a petition. My stance on the other side of things, if the ruling is upheld and continued, is that they should go ahead and ban all fantasy literature in prisons, including the Bible, since it is obviously a book filled with sex and violence and promotes a world-view quite in conflict with what the prison wants to maintain. Just my two cents on the issue, anyway.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Hell, I'd love to have Spitzer back.

Living in NY as I do, Spitzer provided me with lots of material. I have an entire category on him. I tend to share your view, his sex escapades notwithstanding. After all, he was elected to kick butts, not teach Sunday School. Besides, he is making a comeback of sorts, and recently declared that his marriage is stronger than before. So there.

Nobody thinks he was a good governor, even though he came in with Messiah-like expectations; you can't throw the opposition into jail. But he was a very effective attorney general, giving some Wall Street characters much needed thrashings.

New Yorkers are ambivalent toward recent gov't proposals that would restrict Wall Street bonuses. Everyone shares common American anger at these guys, however the State has become absolutely dependent upon these bonuses and the tax monies derived therefrom. So in this respect, what might be good for the country is disaster for the state.

Max Reddick said...

Well, I believe that President Obama managed to hit all the right notes in his State of the Union Address. But this doesn't count for much; we already knew that he could give a good speech. What matters now is the follow-through.

His performance at the GOP retreat was absolutely remarkable, and is more in line with the man I campaigned and voted for that has been missing thus far. If he can capitalize on this small victory and build the momentum in moving forward, then he might actually regain the high ground.

Ragoth said...

@ Tom:

I agree, it probably would be a disaster for the state. Ah, finances. You've got to love it...

@ Max:

I was very hopeful when I listened to his talk with the House Republicans. It was good, strong, and basically slapped down all the rhetoric they had created during the health care debate. I hope that he actually follows through with this stance. Unfortunately, it was disappointing to see that one day after he had pledged to reduce the influence of lobbyists and corporate expenditure, he was meeting with lobbyists to discuss policies. When even the lobbies are open about saying "Why do you call us out one day and meet with us the next?", it just looks bad. I still have a bit of hope for Obama, but he's really going to have to do something important to really win me back.

Strangely, I'm utterly calm about his budget eliminating the Constellation/Ares rocket from the NASA budget. I mean, I would love to see NASA have a larger budget, firmly set goals, and strong time-tables...but when insiders were already ambivalent about the program...well, I'm willing to let private companies step up in the next few years and get NASA's nose to the grinder on new rocket programs. Trust me...I would absolutely love for myself or for my children to be able to wake up one day and watch Earth over the horizon on the Moon, or Mars, or wherever (torchships...I want effing torchships...), and this is going to set up back several more years, at least...but, seriously, we need to get serious about this again.