Posts filed under ‘Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote’
Filed under Outrage Overload:
What if I told you the Obama administration’s first major post-election policy move was a big, fat gift for Rupert Murdoch?
Murdoch already owns the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Fox movie studios, 27 local TV stations and much, much more. [Check out its holdings here.]
Word is that Murdoch now covets the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — the bankrupt-but-still-dominant newspapers (and websites) in the second- and third-largest media markets, where Murdoch already own TV stations.
Under current media ownership limits, he can’t buy them. It’s illegal… unless the Federal Communications Commission changes the rules.
But according to numerous reports, that’s exactly what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to do. He’s circulating an order at the FCC to lift the longstanding ban on one company owning both daily newspapers and TV stations in any of the 20 largest media markets.
And he wants to wrap up this massive giveaway just in time for the holidays.
If these changes go through, Murdoch could own the Los Angeles Times, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in L.A. alone. And he’s not the only potential beneficiary: These changes could mean more channels for Comcast-NBC, more deals for Disney, and more stations for Sinclair.
For anyone who actually cares about media diversity and democracy, the gutting of media ownership limits will be a complete disaster.
These rules are one of the last barriers to local media monopolies. Without them, we will lose competing voices for local news. We will see the mainstream media get even more monotone, monochrome and monotonous.
I’m speechless. Does Murdoch really need even more outlets with which to manipulate our society? I don’t think so.
If Obama was going to run again, this would be the newest entry in my “Obama — Don’t Count on my Vote” category.
For those of us who aren’t necessarily going to vote for Barack Obama on November 6 because he’s the Democratic candidate and/or because he’s less bad than Romney, there’s this most recent info in a long line of disturbing news out of the Obama administration:
A critical document from President Barack Obama’s free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.
The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.
Gee. I’m so glad this has been all over the “liberal media.”
The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.
Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.
I can see it now. American corporations will rush to register in foreign countries so they can “appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings,” like clean air and water laws. Geezus. Obama’s brain has been infiltrated by CEOs.
“Bush was better than Obama on this,” said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules.
Trans-Pacific negotiations have been taking place throughout the Obama presidency. The deal is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for American corporations. Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney, has urged the U.S. to finalize the deal as soon as possible.
I don’t recognize this hyper pro-corporate Obama. He isn’t the guy I voted for. He isn’t a Democrat as I define Democrats. Democrats have historically been pro-worker. Who’s standing up for We the People around here anymore? No one.
Filed under: Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote
Here’s President Obama in roughly 2008 talking about how he’d “walk on that picket line” with union workers if they were denied their right to collectively bargain, which is exactly what’s happening in Chicago:
“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.”
This is a big deal with the Democratic base, which D.C. Democrats tend to ignore, at their own peril this year, IMHO. See Rahm, Rahm, Rahm.
And there’s this:
How cool is that? Paul Ryan loves Obama’s former Chief of Staff.
Obama, do you want to fu*k your base in this close election?
There’s a saying that goes something like: Republicans fear their base, Democrats ignore it.
Obama ignored his base today (not to mention this):
The Obama administration has decided to allow Shell to drill in Arctic waters off the Alaska coast, saying that for the time being the company must not go so deep as to hit actual oil because its troubled oil spill containment barge isn’t ready.
Continuing with Obama’s announcement:
Thursday’s decision to allow preparatory drilling represents a huge step in Shell’s controversial effort to explore in the Chukchi Sea. It shows the Obama administration, while not yet giving the green light for Shell to drill into oil-bearing geologic formations, is taking steps to help the company do so if possible this summer.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Shell will get a permit allowing it to drill about 1,500 feet into the seafloor.
“We believe that there is no oil in that area. We have confidence in that conclusion, otherwise we would not be allowing this limited exploratory effort to move forward,” Salazar said Thursday.
Interior Department officials said the drilling will allow for the later installation of a blowout preventer.
Royal Dutch Shell’s profits rose 15.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, netting $7.3 billion. Shell’s CEO Peter Voser attributed the increase in part to “strong oil prices,” which rose to over $100 a barrel this quarter.
In 2011, Shell’s profits soared 54 percent to $3.5 million every hour, despite producing 3 percent less oil. This time, it produced 4 percent more than Q1 in 2011.
Again: The hope and change Obama I voted for would say no to this. He would say we’re going to invest in wind and solar. Period.
This from that left-wing rag, Forbes:
Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?
Credit whom you will, but if you are truly interested in a fair analysis of the Obama years to date—at least when it comes to spending—you’re going to have to acknowledge that under the Obama watch, even President Reagan would have to give our current president a thumbs up when it comes to his record for stretching a dollar.
And look at those Reagan years, especially 1982 – 1985. Man-oh-man, have Republicans been sold a bill of goods as to how wonderful Reagan was or what? They hate government spending so what’s with idolizing him? Oh, wait, that’s right. Facts don’t matter.
Remember when the Obama administration raised a red flag about veterans becoming right-wing extremist but it caved under ah, pressure from right-wing extremists?
Remember the DHS report about Veterans being recruited to Right-Wing terrorist groups which was leaked and led newly appointed Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano to initially defending the report but later having to apologize and withdrawing the report after she was thrown under the bus by her own party (Bennie Thompson, Congressman from MS) & severely criticized by Republicans.
That was then (2009):
From RightWingNews: Napolitano Apologizes To Veterans For DHS Report
This is now:
Filed under “Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote.” You were right, but you didn’t have the guts to follow through.
Look at us now.
I take it as a given you know about the faux wingnut outrage-that-will-end-life-as-we-know-it about the two busts of Winston Churchill that were or were not removed from the White House (I kid you not).
Please do the Google if you don’t.
Meanwhile, here’s the latest: The White House is taking it seriously and — smack hand to forehead — responding, and beyond that, APOLOGIZING. Again, this is about minutia dredged up by the right to try to make Obama look like a hater but, don’t tell anyone, at its heart it’s all about taking the heat off of Mitt Romney’s disaster-a-minute “foreign relations” trip to Europe.
This afternoon the White House got on its hands and knees and Dan Pfieffer, the Assistant to the President and the White House Communications Director, groveled to one of the loudest voices trumpeting the supposed “controversy,” Charles Krauthammer, thus giving Krauthammer legitimacy and codifying the insanity as a bona fide issue.
I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology. There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts and there was no intention to deceive. I clearly overshot the runway in my post. The point I was trying to make – under the belief that the Bust in the residence was the one previously in the Oval Office– was that this oft repeated talking point about the bust being a symbol of President Obama’s failure to appreciate the special relationship is false. The bust that was returned was returned as a matter of course with all the other artwork that had been loaned to President Bush for display in his Oval Office and not something that President Obama or his Administration chose to do. I still think this is an important point and one I wish I had communicated better.
A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation. Having said all that, barring a miracle comeback from the Phillies I would like to see the Nats win a world series even if it comes after my apology
Are you kidding me!?
Filed under: Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote
Man, Obama has been such a disappointment is so many ways:
Google Reports ‘Alarming’ Rise in Government Censorship Requests
Western governments, including the United States, appear to be stepping up efforts to censor Internet search results and YouTube videos, according to a “transparency report”released by Google.
“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google, wrote in a blog post on Sunday night.
“For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests.”
But that ain’t nothin’. Get a load of this shocking news about the hope and change administration:
In the last half of 2011, U.S. agencies asked Google to remove 6,192 individual pieces of content from its search results, blog posts or archives of online videos, according to the report. That’s up 718% compared with the 757 such items that U.S. agencies asked Google to remove in the six months prior.
Filed under: “Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote
This would be Barack Obama today in a message to Netroots Nation:
“Change is hard, but we’ve seen that it is possible,” Obama said. “As long as you’re willing to keep up that fight, I’ll be right there with you.”
Here’s the video:
“I’ll be right there with you?”
Whut? Like this?
Fool me once…?
Remember Van Jones? Obama hired Jones as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation but when the righties dug up a sliver of dirt on him Obama didn’t fight back and within six months he was gone. You know, hope and change.
Too bad for Obama and too bad for us. Obama needed/needs to hear this ten times a day:
Folks in Wisconsin have been busting their ass to recall Governor Scott Walker since February, 2011. They did it. He’s up for a recall vote tomorrow. The polls open in roughly 12 hours.
After having said nothing about that — not a hint of encouragement or comment — this would be what Barack Obama tweeted tonight:
Where has the Democratic party, and its “support,” been in the last year+?
MIA, that’s where.
Sorry Obama. You don’t understand how important tomorrow’s election is. If Barrett loses, I’m tempted (and I’m not alone) to give up on the Democratic party as a whole, and that would include you.
The battles you pick don’t make sense to me, i.e. renewing the Bush tax cuts. You talked for months — years really — about how you were against them. Then you stood up for a few days in some faux fight and voila, over night you said yes.
Then the Wisconsin recall happened, during which you could have lent support to the folks on the ground, you didn’t do a thing.
Until an hour ago.
Hope and change.
I’ve been following this lawsuit by Chris Hedges, et al., and while this, sadly, will be in the courts for years (thanks to hope and change Constitutional lawyer guy Barack Obama), I’m happy for this development:
A federal judge Wednesday issued an injunction against a National Defense Authorization Act provision that grants the military the right to detain anyone it suspects of involvement in terrorism. [Vague and subjective or what?] U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in favor of a group of plaintiffs, including Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, who filed a lawsuit against the legislation within weeks of President Obama signing it.
Signed by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve, the 565-page NDAA contains a short paragraph, in statute 1021, letting the military detain anyone it suspects “substantially supported” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces.” The indefinite detention would supposedly last until “the end of hostilities.”
In a 68-page ruling blocking this statute, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that the statute failed to “pass constitutional muster” because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.?
“There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Forrest wrote. “There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention.”
Thank you Judge Forrest for respecting the Constitution.
I have a category on this blog: “Obama — Don’t Count on My Vote.” I’m filing this post there. “Democrats:” I can only take so much. There are lines I won’t cross. This is one of them.
This is just so, so wrong it’s inexcusable that Obama refuses to stop it:
President Obama disappointed and vexed gay supporters on Wednesday with his decision, conveyed to activists by a senior adviser, not to sign an executive order banning discrimination by employers with federal contracts.
The executive order, which activists said had support from the Labor and Justice Departments, would have applied to gay, bisexual and transgender people working for or seeking employment from federal contractors. Current law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and legislation to do so, which Mr. Obama endorses, lacks sufficient votes in Congress.
Employers who get “federal contracts” are employers who get our tax dollars via those federal contracts. An employer who gets so much as a dime of our tax dollars should not be permitted to discriminate against taxpaying American. Period.
I’m disgusted with Obama (Mr. Constitutional Lawyer) for not wiping this off the books once and for all. If doing away with this isn’t a core democratic (and Democratic) value, I don’t know what is.
A quickie post:
The law-breaking telecoms who received retroactive immunity from Congress, the interrogators who tortured prisoners, the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, and the CIA agents who destroyed the interrogation tapes have not been held professionally accountable, much less been charged with crimes. National security and intelligence whistleblowers have become the glaring exception to the Obama administration’s mantra of “looking forward, not backward.” If you committed crimes under the guise of national security and the war on terrorism, you will not be held criminally liable, but if you blow the whistle on crimes, you risk criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act.
Learn more here about what Obama’s doing. He’s worse than Bush when it comes to prosecuting people who expose corruption.
I thought he would encourage that, because he said he would:
I didn’t add an “Obama — Don’t Count on my Vote” category to this blog on a whim.
Obama, what were you expecting when you asked conservative gay-hating Rick Warren to give the invocation at your inauguration? A Kubayah moment when we’d all come together?
Huh? Have you had enough of that drug yet?
My Tweet of the Day:
Hello! Anybody home?
It’s hopeless. Obama is owned too.
OMG. Is this Obama talking or is this Obama under the influence of Citizens United talking?
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama, who has angered businesses with his plans to close corporate tax loopholes, is expected to call for cutting the top 35 percent corporate tax rate as early as this month, according to two sources close to the administration.
The president is likely to propose a rate close to an average of peer nations, the sources said.
Good thing it’s Friday. This is the kind of news that makes me want to take my head off and set it down for a while.
This would be our quote of the day (and maybe of the year), from Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay military base/prison in Cuba. He resigned in 2007, protesting political interference in the military commissions of Guantánamo prisoners. He was a guest this morning on DemocracyNow! on a show marking the 10th anniversary of the United States detaining prisoners there.
Yeah, I—as I said, I was very optimistic when President Obama took office that he was going to follow through on what he promised [to close Gitmo within a year of taking office]. You know, I believed in hope and change. When he began to backpedal, I wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that accused—that said it was a double standard, what we were doing. And I got my termination notice the next day. So, it was disappointing I spent 25 years defending the Constitution, and then to be told that it didn’t apply to me. You know, we have free speech for everyone that has nothing to say. But if you have an opinion, then it’s speak at your own peril. And so, I was fired for expressing an opinion.
Davis was fired for expressing an opinion by the administration of Mr. Hope and Change Constitutional lawyer, Barack Obama. If a president who’s a Constitutional lawyer will fire someone for exercising their freedom of speech, anyone will.
(If you’d like to hear more of what Col. Davis had to say, see the “rushed transcript” or the video at the DemocracyNow! link above.)
Here’s yet another act on President Obama’s part that (don’t forget, he’s a “Constitutional lawyer”) is making me think twice about how I’ll vote in November:
Despite having once threatened to veto the bill due to controversial language about the treatment of suspected terrorists, the president signed the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on Saturday. Barack Obama did not keep his lingering concerns about aspects of the bill law a secret, however. In justifying his decision to sign NDAA into law, Obama said in a statement, “I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed.” He continued, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
Obama: If you have “serious reservations” about a bill, you veto it. Period.
And bear in mind — nut cases could become president who could abuse this new law to no end.
Oh, and talk about Friday afternoon DC “document dumps.” This is even worse. It’s Saturday and it’s New Year’s Eve. The White House is clearly worried about this yet hey, they think we’re idiots and we won’t notice.
Happy New Year!
Earlier this month, the Maine-based grocery chain Hannaford issued a ground beef recall after at least 14 people were infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella. Chances are this is the first you’ve heard of it. After all, it’s not much compared to the 76 illnesses and one death back in August that led Cargill to recall almost 36 million pounds of ground turkey products potentially contaminated with drug-resistant salmonella. The particulars get confusing, but the trend is unmistakable: our meat supply is frequently contaminated with bacteria that can’t readily be treated by antibiotics.
It’s not like this is happening without a reason; the little germs have plenty of practice fighting the drugs designed to kill them in the industrially raised animals to which antibiotics are routinely fed. And although it’s economical for producers to drug animals prophylactically, there are many strong arguments against the use of those drugs, including their declining efficacy in humans.
Probably you’d agree with the couple of people I described this situation to earlier this week, one of whom said something like, “Ugh, that’s crazy,” and the other simply, “They gotta do something about that!”
The thing is, “they” did. In 1977.
That’s when the Food and Drug Administration, aware of the health risks of administering antibiotics to healthy farm animals, proposed to withdraw its prior approval of putting penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed. Per their procedure, the F.D.A. then issued two “notices of opportunity for a hearing,” which were put on hold by Congress until further research could be conducted. On hold is exactly where the F.D.A.’s requests have been since your dad had sideburns.
Until last week, when the agency decided to withdraw them.
That would be the change-we-can-believe-in Obama administration’s FDA, bowing to corporate pressure. It’s disgusting.
Read more gory details here. I’m a meat eater but what’s going on behind the scenes in the American meat industry is horrifying. It’s enough to make me think about becoming a vegetarian.
This would our Tweet of the Day. Can’t say things are getting better around here. (Hope? Change?) As a matter of fact, in some cases, they’re worse than ever:
It’s hard to believe President Obama is a “constitutional scholar:”
U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.
The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen.
The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.
Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.
So, the president alone gets to decide whether a citizen is “taking up arms with al-Qaida” without having to obtain a warrant for that person’s arrest thus having to run some sort of “proof” by a judge first.
What if we have an insane, paranoid president who thinks putting up posts against Fox News is “taking up arms with al-Qaida?” What if we have a president who thinks Occupy Wall Street people or Greenpeace people are “taking up arms with al-Qaida?” I guess they’re screwed because they won’t have a right to be charged or to have a trial. They can be imprisoned or shot on sight…based on the president’s word.
Sound like the United States of America you know and love?
Filed under: Obama – Don’t Count on My Vote.
UPDATE: Imagine this:
I can relate to this like there’s no tomorrow because I am pissed off out of my head about Obama caving and caving and caving:
Bending to a flash-in-the-pan controversy over a misunderstood 15-cent fee on Christmas tree sales that would allow farmers to run ads promoting natural trees, the Obama administration formally delayed a proposal for a so-called “Christmas tree tax.”
The proposal was stayed indefinitely in a notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday.
Christmas tree farmers are pretty upset that the administration caved so quickly, according to a release from the National Christmas Tree Association.
“It’s just so disappointing to have something like this happen because of an internet rumor,” Oregon tree farmer Betty Malone, who was involved in submitting the proposal to the USDA, said in a statement.
It seems to me that the Obama administration is just plain scared of its own shadow.
The wingers spread an “internet rumor” because they know they can make hay out of it and the White House runs backward with its tail between its legs. Why they don’t get that this is an orchestrated thing that will never go away, I don’t know. And why they aren’t more adept and savvy about dealing with this kind of thing — hello, after three years! — is what drives me out of my mind.
President Obama just issued this statement regarding his impending decision as to whether to allow the Keystone XL Pipeline to go through:
I support the State Department’s announcement today regarding the need to seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood. The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people. At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy.
Obama implies that this was the State Department’s idea, as if he had nothing to do with it, which I don’t believe.
Additionally, the global warming and environmental community is overjoyed, claiming victory as a result of their very impressive work opposing the pipeline. The thinking is that this effectively delays Obama’s decision until after the 2012 election. If that is true, I say this is purely a sly political move. Obama doesn’t want to alienate environmentalists prior to the election (i.e., they won the battle but not the war) and I predict, sorry to say, if he is re-elected, Obama will approve the pipeline in his second term.
MSNBC moved The Ed Schultz Show to 8:00 p.m. ET this week, the show’s third time slot since it debut in April, 2009.
Yeah, it’s only been a week but it isn’t bringing in the big buckaroos the corporate media counts on:
I can’t defend Schultz. I have no idea what he’s thinking. He led tonight with a long segment about Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his speech yesterday at the Heritage Foundation during which he said (in essence) that President Obama is waging class warfare and oh, something incoherent about jobs. The point is, Schultz gave Paul Ryan — a sociopath whose policies will never fly — a whole bunch of time and attention and frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Paul Ryan and I don’t think anybody else does either…other than maybe the beltway pundits.
As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that most Americans have no idea who Paul Ryan is.
I changed the channel.
Schultz seems to be fixated on Ryan because he seems to be fixated on defending President Obama and the DNC. I mean, the guy has repeatedly said of late that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are “frustrated,” a word Obama and his Press Secretary, Jay Carney, use all the time.
We aren’t “frustrated” Ed, we’re FURIOUS! We’re furious but we’re trying to hold it together.
Ed Schultz’s time has come and gone. If he continues to side with President Obama and the Democrats – who have failed the 99%ers as tragically as the Republicans have — he’s done. His ratings will continue to lag and hey, he’ll bore an audience that’s willing to die, almost literally, to buck the establishment. Again, we aren’t frustrated, we’re furious. But Ed can’t deliver because he’s owned by the corporate media and because he just doesn’t seem to get what’s going on around here.
Keith Olbermann is right when he tweets:
“opd” is the Oakland Police Department.
Follow JoshuaHol here.
This is the United States of America tonight (@10:41 pm ET):
Follow JoshuaHol here.
Please, please, please, please take the time to watch this short video titled, “I Am Not Moving.” It compares what the United States government says to other countries about freedom of speech (and assembly, etc.) to what it does here at home. Very powerful:
Obama — It’s time to get serious. Really, really serious. Because if you don’t, for the first time in my life, I might not cast a vote for president next year. Here’s why:
I no longer trust my own government to be the provider of a civilized society. No government is perfect or without corruptions. But in 2007, I thought I lived in a remarkably well-governed nation that had gone off-kilter under a small and mean administration. In 2011, I view my government as the sharp edge of an entrenched kleptocracy, engaged in ever more expansive schemes of surveillance and arrogating powers of ever less restrained brutality. At a visceral level, I dislike President Obama more than I have disliked any politician in my lifetime, not because he is objectively worse than most of the others — he is not — but because he disproved my hypothesis that we are a country with basically good institutions brought low by poor quality leadership.
Whenever I hear the President speak and am impressed by the quality of his intellect, by his instinct towards diplomacy and finding common ground and rising above petty struggles, I despair more deeply. Not just because a leader of high quality failed to restore passably clean and beneficient government. It is worse than that. The kleptocracy has harnassed this man’s most admirable qualities and made them a powerful weapon for its own ends. He has rebranded as “moderate”, “adult”, “reasonable”, practices such as unaccountable assassination lists and Orwellian nonhostilities. He has demostrated that the way grown-ups get things done in Washington is by continually paying off thieves in suits. Perhaps it is unfair to blame Barack Obama for all this. Maybe he has done the very best a person could do under our present institutions. But then it is not unfair to detest the institutions, to wish to see them clipped, contained, or starved.