Playing Cards with Judas

As Tim F. posted earlier, Ezra Klein thinks that Obama’s a bad poker player. He may be right, but the analogy isn’t helpful. Poker is a win/lose game. Negotiation is a win/win game, because both parties get something when a deal is struck. Republicans aren’t playing poker or negotiating. They are playing another game, call it “You Must Lose”. They’re happy with win/lose, if they win, but they’ll tolerate lose/lose as long as Obama loses.

The only analogy that springs to mind when I look at the Republicans’ recent behavior is a bad divorce. Think of a situation where Lisa and Bob are getting a divorce, and Bob is so hell-bent on hurting Lisa that he doesn’t care about their kids or their bank account. Bob will deploy a hundred variations on the same tactic: put the Lisa in a bind where she has to choose between damaging the children and losing money. Lisa will lose money almost every time in order to save the children.

In this situation, capitulation is inevitable, the only question is what form it will take.

Similarly, once the Republicans in the Senate had stalled enough important legislation, they were in a position to use that leverage to place Democrats in a bind. The current bind is START vs tax cuts, but there will be others: debt extension, DADT, Supreme Court justices and so on. Because the Republicans are completely unwilling to do anything that doesn’t involve a loss for the Obama administration, no matter what the consequences, they will continue to manufacture binds like this. The binds will keep getting worse, because it’s taken a while for the stall in the Senate to clog the legislative pipeline enough to supply Republicans with a good set of must-have legislation, but they’ve got it now.

Again, capitulation is inevitable. It’s unthinkable that the US won’t ratify START, so the Bush tax cuts will be extended.

Obama has three tactics he can use, all of them weak: The first is to try to fracture the Republican caucus, and he’s flailing around with deficit appeasement (e.g., the federal wage freeze) and half-compromises (the millionaire tax) that are designed to pick off a few caucus members, like Collins or Snowe. The second is to use executive power to its limit, by rule-making (like stopping drilling in the Eastern Gulf until 2017). The third is institutional reform, specifically, ending the filibuster.

None of these tactics is especially effective, but when you’re working with someone who’s only happy if you lose, what else is there?

211 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    the third option is really more Harry Reid’s than Obama’s. not that it matters much.

  2. 2
    geg6 says:

    Much as I hated it when Bush used it (for little reason, really; he would have gotten whatever he wanted anyway), I’d like to see Obama use executive power. But that’s too partisan for him, so forget that.

    He’ll cave on it all. I have no doubt about that.

  3. 3
    JAHILL10 says:

    Thanks for the cogent analysis, mistermix. The screaming emo around here drove me off yesterday. I’m glad to see some of the front pagers have their heads on straight.

  4. 4
    steviez314 says:

    What I don’t understand is why all the people mad at Obama over this don’t get off their asses instead and go picket and sit-in at the home state offices of Snowe, Collins, Brown, etc.

    Those “moderate” Republicans should be hearing from the people they need to get re-elected.

  5. 5
    mistermix says:

    @cleek: You’re right, and I fall into the lazy habit of using “Obama” when I mean “Democrats”, specifically “Democrats in Congress”.

  6. 6
    4tehlulz says:

    First option leads to alienating “independents” with “partisanship”.

    Second option leads to impeachment for “unconstitutional actions”.

    Third option is irrelevant, as senators know “the institution” (and likely they) will be around long after Obama is gone, so they won’t do anything.

    The only option is to use more scare quotes.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I don’t disagree that those are the choices currently available to an adult, but there is one more thing that the Democrats must figure out a way to do: convince the voters that the Republicans are willing to burn everything down rather than let Democrats succeed. People reading this blog know it; it is obvious to us. The general public clearly does not; the recent election proves that. So, the question becomes: how do you, while trying to govern and given the current media wiredness for Republican messaging, get that information about the GOP out to the voters?

  8. 8
    Christin says:

    Constantly reading this crap “millionaire’s tax” on people earning over 250,000 K a year is beyond annoying and why Indies flock to the damn GOP party in droves and why we are losing on this too. In the NE, earning 260K a year, as a lot of people here and in my company do, does not make you anywhere damn near close to a freaking millionaire, period. They sure as hell are not poor or hurting, but millionaire is ignorant which is why that phrase needs to be retired unless you’re actually talking about someone earning one million (or i’ll go with 500K plus over. )

  9. 9
    mistermix says:

    @Christin: I was referring to the Chuck Schumer compromise that will move the limit from 250K to 1 million.

  10. 10
    4tehlulz says:

    >convince the voters that the Republicans are willing to burn everything down rather than let Democrats succeed.

    What makes you think voters won’t reward Republicans for doing that?

  11. 11
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    @geg6:

    Much as I hated it when Bush used it (for little reason, really; he would have gotten whatever he wanted anyway), I’d like to see Obama use executive power. But that’s too partisan for him, so forget that.

    Actually, I think it is simply too executive for him. Obama’s a smart guy so his constant failure to negotiate effectively has really been surprising. But I think it comes down to his background. His political experience was in legislative bodies, including the Senate. He still thinks like a Senator. Bush was a CEO and governor. He thought like a deciderer. Until he loses this mindset, we’ll keep seeing this pattern repeat. And I doubt he’ll change at this point, sadly.

  12. 12
    Comrade Jake says:

    Let’s also be clear that the basic problem he has concerns the handful of Democrats ready to lend the GOP an assist from time to time. There certainly are a few who are happy to extend tax cuts to the super-rich, whether because they’re still spooked by their own shadows or are simply craven Congress-critters.

  13. 13
    guster says:

    I’d use the phrase ‘bully pulpit,’ but I can’t take the mockery this early in the day.

  14. 14
    Squiregeek says:

    There is a fourth option: do nothing. Let the tax cuts expire on the Republican’s deadline and make a show of who forced the issue.

  15. 15
    geg6 says:

    @Christin:

    I respectfully disagree. Perhaps you don’t consider Philadelphia the NE, but based on the average annual income ($36, 600) and median annual income ($32,600), there just aren’t that many people raking in over $250,000. The entire state of PA only has a median income of $50,700.

    I’m sorry but $250,000 a year is NOT middle class no matter how much some people want to make it so.

  16. 16
    Christin says:

    @mistermix:
    sigh. sorry M. i should never comment in the morning. ever ever ever ever ever ever ever. many apologies.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @4tehlulz:

    What makes you think voters won’t reward Republicans for doing that?

    I have to believe that. I have too much to do today to start drink heavily this early in the morning. Seriously though, if the majority of voters want to cut off their noses to spite their faces and knowingly choose to do so, then … Well, let’s just say, I refuse to think about it.

  18. 18
    guster says:

    @mistermix: So you’re asserting that people making a million dollars are year are millionaires? That is why people hate Democrats! People making almost a $85,000/month have expenses, you know!

    Much higher expenses than the lucky duckies who make less, for that matter. Between Choate and Switzerland and the three bedroom apartment on the upper west side, many of my friends in that income bracket barely have enough left to eat dinner out more than once a month.

  19. 19
    Xenos says:

    @Christin: A millionaire is someone with $1,000,000 in assets, not someone earning $1,000,000 each year. Still, we are talking about income taxes, not asset taxes, so it is a misnomer.

  20. 20

    @geg6:

    I’m sorry but $250,000 a year is NOT middle class no matter how much some people want to make it so.

    I agree. I would love to try to scrape by on a quarter mil a year.

    But for those poor souls who earn about 260 thousand, remember that the increased taxes apply only to the last 10 thousand.

  21. 21
    FFrank says:

    @Christin:
    At 250 K a year you become a millionaire damn quick, it’s a lot tougher to become worth a million dollars at 20-40k.

    So Christin if you have to be a very bad saver to not be a millionaire in a couple of years at those wages. Yes, there are expenses but you have the ability to invest, gain property and make money work for you.

  22. 22
    aimai says:

    I think the error that Obama is making is that he ought not, at this point, to be trying to govern the country responsibly by “picking off a few” Republican votes. When your opponent is playing “lose/lose” or “scorched earth” you can’t really mitigate the damage you can only heighten the contradictions. Snowe, Collins, and the others have proven they simply can’t and won’t operate in good faith. Its not in their interest and its not in their nature. Until things become so awful that they come to Obama and *beg* to sign on to a particular initiative he can’t get their votes and the more he needs their votes the more recalcitrant they become.

    In effect: Obama already lost a huge battle when the Republicans let the unemployment benefits expire. He lost it not just because the unemployment benefits expired but because the press is still reporting it as “congress did X”–the constant attempt to “work with” some imaginary centrist Republican lets the entire Republican caucus off the hook with the voters. They literally can’t figure out what is happening.

    Obama has to go to the public and basically lay out all the initiatives that the Republicans have blocked and will block. He has to *refuse to negotiate* because they have left him no choice. They are going to wreak whatever havoc they can over the next two years and the only thing that will stop them is not whatever Obama can do but what their own voters can pressure them into doing–fear of losing next time around.

    aimai

  23. 23
    rickstersherpa says:

    Actually, provoking the Republicans into impeaching him would be a great tactic. In addition, although I doubt he sees it this way (because a campaign promise is a campaign promise), because he got a little luck with the economoy picking up steam, the best thing to do would be simply let the all Bush tax rates expire, and when the world does not fall next winter, point out how marginal they were to economy other than letting rich people keep absurdly large amounts of cash despite the huge social and economic rights and privileges the US system and Government provides and protects for them.

    But I suspect that Obama really wants START, and hence the likely trade. And also, it is clear that he wants to be the one who solves the “entitlement” programs, Social Security and Medicare, and that his position is probably not far from Erskine Bowles or Alan Simpson’s, sad as that may be. And it is not “cowardice” or “wimpness,” it is the ideas he picked up and adopted in the zeitgeist/groupthink while a young lawyer/politician/adjunct professor at THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (the heart of darkness as far as economics is concern) that markets are always good, government intervention is bad, and balance budgets are both sound and popular for Democrats (See Bill Clinton’s example).

    But I still suspect the ferocity of the Republican attack, a ferocity that they really can’t help given the current group dynamics, bad economy, and the usefulness of extreme conflict for Conservative Media Entrepreneurs business plans, that Obama and his base will be driven together in spite of the mutual distaste they probably have for each other now and that will grow.

  24. 24
    John Cole says:

    Combine this analysis with Marshall’s Bitch-Slap Theory and add in the enforcement mechanism of tea party primary challenges and Obama’s odd fetish for making nice-nice, and you have it nailed.

  25. 25
    Christin says:

    @geg6: @geg6:

    sorry – i respectfully disagree with your take. also. i’m from NJ – not PA. people from my world move to your world in droves. My cousin and two friends and family member all left NJ for PA to afford a house. my state and my area has the highest property taxes and cost of living expenses in the nation. real estate, taxes, and rent are through the roof here. whether you live in a rich area or not, it’s all the same. though obviously, if you live in Apline, you’ll be paying 50K a year in property taxes. and earning 260K a year in this part of the world does not make you anywhere close to being a damn millionaire. it makes you solidly upper middle class and you can afford to drive a BMW and vacation in the US Virgin Islands without going I can’t afford it.

    But again – claiming that those that live here paying out huge swaths of their incomes to taxes and cost of living are now millionaires because they earn 260 before taxes? Is why I see
    Independents once again defecting to the R’s. I hate it. And it’s not necessary. It’s why I’m stuck with that disgusting thing in Trenton.

  26. 26

    I think the only sane response for Democrats in the Senate at this point is to just say to Republicans “you want nothing to happen in the lame duck, so nothing will happen, including the tax cut legislation.” Because really, that’s the trump card here–the Dems don’t have to do anything for those tax cuts to expire, and they’re really good at doing nothing when they want to be.

    And then start running ads tomorrow about how Republicans raised your taxes.

  27. 27
    chopper says:

    @steviez314:

    because bitching on the internet is far, far easier.

    BTW, mix, i think a lot of the analogizing of this situation has been pretty weak, but yours is in fact quite good.

  28. 28
    Xenos says:

    @aimai:

    Obama has to go to the public and basically lay out all the initiatives that the Republicans have blocked and will block. He has to refuse to negotiate because they have left him no choice.

    Absolutely. He just needs to shrug his shoulders on the tax cut, and let them seethe for a few months. Send a responsible budget over for consideration, and forget the house, proceed to govern and communicate directly to the public. The GOP drama queens will be left with no oxygen, and will start to turn on one another.

  29. 29
    chopper says:

    @Christin:

    well, considering the extra tax on an income of 260K is a pittance, it really doesn’t matter at all. but it sounds like the ‘not-quite rich’ are taking a bath even though they aren’t, so it sells with the rubes.

  30. 30
    aimai says:

    @steviez314:

    Oddly enough I”m in Senator Brown’s district and like everyone else I call and write him frequently. It doesn’t make a difference, yet. Maine is a very weird place and both Snowe and Collins have been bullshitting their own supporters for a long time. If the fucking *national Democratic Committees* would plow some money into year round attack advertising we’d see some movement. Instead they make nice with the incumbent senators from the right hoping not to piss them off. The only way to move Collins and Snowe to the left is to push them really hard, publicly, and make them fear that the remaining independents/dems in maine will stop voting for them as “independents” and start seeing them as teabaggers. Instead they are both worrying about being primaried from the right.

    aimai

  31. 31
    Christin says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I agree. I would love to try to scrape by on a quarter mil a year.

    So would I. I don’t come CLOSE to making that. Nowhere near that in case anyone is wondering. But I don’t begrudge the people who I work with who do. Period. They’re not wall street hedge fund people earning millions through unscrupulous means. They are people who went to engineering school, then law or medical school and have debts up their asses and work hard now. If I was more industrious and into it, I could scrape up some loans and such to try to go back to school so I could make that. It’s too hard for me so I don’t. I can barely handle home life and work life now. But some of this talk sounds envious or jealous and it’s cringe worthy.

  32. 32
    gnomedad says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil:

    I think it is simply too executive for him. Obama’s a smart guy so his constant failure to negotiate effectively has really been surprising. But I think it comes down to his background. His political experience was in legislative bodies, including the Senate. He still thinks like a Senator. Bush was a CEO and governor. He thought like a deciderer.

    Good point; this is at least plausible. I find it hard to take any criticism of Obama seriously that does not recognize his intelligence.

  33. 33
    RalfW says:

    It took about 6 years under Pawlenty for Dems to realize that he never, ever negotiated. He played win/lose-lose/lose, and maneuvered the Dems to lose, over and over. If Pawlenty was a businessman, he’d have lost all his business because he negotiated in bad faith. But a Governor can’t really be fired, and he maintained a pubic persona of calm, open negotiator that fooled the voters (and, I think, moderate Dem electeds) for six disastrous years.

    The GOP must go to some sort of MBA for assholes school to all get trained on how to play win/lose-lose/lose so ferociously.

  34. 34
    Ash Can says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think the lion’s share of the onus falls upon the individual campaigns. The president actually did say it himself on occasion before the election. Now, however, he’s stuck with a Republican House. No matter what he does or says, they won’t work with him. So, as far as political effectiveness goes he might as well do and say what he thinks the electorate wants him to do and say, because the policy results will be the same, only the political points change. (And yes, the electorate does extend beyond the perimeters of this blog.) And that’s where the “I need to do a better job of working with the Republicans” comes from. On the surface, it makes no sense to us Dem political junkies, but to everyone else it makes the president look yet again (and repetition of a message is vitally important) like the adult supervision vis-a-vis a clearly unpopular (according to the polls) Congress.

    So who does the messaging fall to? Obviously, the press can’t be relied upon to get it out. What about Congressional incumbents? They need to tailor their messages to their respective districts (which is why we have Blue Dogs in the first place), and if blaming Republicans for problems makes them come off as whiners, the tactic can backfire. During campaigns, however, voters expect frank talk from the candidates about their opponents’ shortcomings, so regardless of how sick and tired people say they get from negative campaign ads, people will be more attuned to the fault-finding and more forgiving of it. But it has to be done effectively. And this is where the Dem messaging fails. The national campaign organizations have to help out, and the individual candidates have to get on board. The president can’t do it all himself (note that if people try to put him in that position, his mistakes are magnified), and he shouldn’t be expected to.

  35. 35
    Christin says:

    @chopper: I agree with what you said. The extra tax on those earning 250 is small, and to tell the truth when someone at work came to me and complained and whined I got annoyed as all hell and told them i don’t give a f**k. And i thought it went back to normal levels. But we always lose the play on words. And that’s where I’m coming from.

  36. 36
    General Stuck says:

    You gotta love it. A gaggle of bloggers on the internet claiming Obama doesn’t negotiate right, after getting himself elected president and passing HCR, and a bunch of other stuff.

    Comedy Central for morons.

  37. 37
    JohnR says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes. Take it to the voters. The media are not generally helpful, but doesn’t Obama have everything that previous Presidents had? He can go back on radio and TV – sure the networks can decide not to preempt Dancing with the Network Stars of 2 1/2 Men or whatever, but right now the only message getting out is that the Democrats won’t pass good legislation even though they control Congress and the Presidency. “What else can he do?” Start using the Presidency to educate, not simply appease. It may not work, but what does he have to lose? I realize that he won’t do it, just as the Democratic Party won’t do the clearly obvious things it ought to do if it in fact wanted to both govern and win elections, but there it is.
    @Stuck – yup, he got stuff passed. Just like the “Stimulus package”, too – they figured what the best bet was, then cut it in half so they wouldn’t annoy the Republicans, then lost about half of that in the savage fight over the details. It was a success to get something passed, but he’s shooting himself in the foot before he even starts trying. Unless he’s [playing elevnty-million-D chess and we’re all just too stupid to see.

  38. 38
    geg6 says:

    @Christin:

    Sorry, but no sympathy here.

    The number of people, even in NJ, who earn $250,000 a year is a very small number. According to Kaiser, New Jersey’s median income is $$64,100. Only 4.3% of Garden Stater’s make over $200,000. I call bullshit on whining about making “only” $250,000.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ash Can: I agree, and that is why I referred to Democrats rather than Obama in my comment.

  40. 40
    A Guest says:

    @Christin: Wank wank wank. Median household income in NJ is $70,347. Half the households in NJ get by on less than $70k. In 2007, just 7.5% of NJ households had money income above $200k. You seriously mean to say that the top 7.5% of households in NJ are having a really tough go of it? Wank wank wank. (That’s Census-based data, use the googles).

  41. 41
    WyldPirate says:

    mistermix, I think you just missed the point that raises so much ire with people in the Klein article.

    It’s not the fact that Obama is dealing with a recalcitrant bunch of Republicans in the Senate. It’s that there was a laundry list of example where Obama just “weakened” legislation time after time by giving the Republicans things out of the gate. He undercut negotiatons in the Senate by giving away bargaining chips.

    That’s where the ptoker analogy comes in. Rolling on things like the 300 BN in ax cuts in the recovery proposal out of the gate was dumb. The point is why weaken your legislation (bargaining position) at the start before you even start negotiation for the non-existent “bipartisanship” of Republican votes.

    Another example is with HCR. Obama could have saved an enormous amount of goodwill on the left if they would have put together a plan that included everything but the kitchen sink including single-payer health care. Sure that wouldn’t have passed, but it would have looked like he was at least trying.

  42. 42
    aimai says:

    @Ash Can:

    I agree that Obama, like Bush, ought to be able to stay above the fray and look presidential. Bush had Cheney out there doing the dirty for him, and a huge host of angry/bitchy/agressive surrogates who could say and do whatever Bush needed doing. For some weird reason Obama doesn’t have that, however. The thing about the “I’m a grownup” squeeze play is that its a variant on “good cop/bad cop” and you actually need a bad cop to backstop the whole thing (rhetorically speaking.) I very much fault the top Dems, from Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to everyone except Nancy Pelosi for leaving Obama out to dry while he tries to do the dance of the good guy for a confused electorate.

    General Stuck and the other idiots always get hysterical when other commenters talk about what Obama should and shouldn’t be doing but “Obama” just stands in for the concept of a co-ordinated, top down, Democratic messaging strategy that includes people staking out hard left, center, and right positions that Obama can triangulate to the public, well, publicly.

    At this point to continue to insist on “bipartisanship” and to explain that *he* has failed simply comes across as weak. It is indeed the “bitch slap” theory of politics that John Cole alluded to up above. The difference doesn’t lie in the act–we could just as well describe Obama as a fighter who keeps getting up after he gets knocked down– as in the interpretation of the act. He and his team are just horrendous at interpreting what is happening to the American people. Just like everyone always blathers about the debt (because they’ve been trained to do it like dogs) they always blather about bipartisanship. But they don’t care. They really want government to work for them and if it can’t they need to have an enemy pointed out who is preventing it from working for them. The Republicans point to the Democrats/Muslims/immigrants and that’s their story and they are sticking to it. The Democrats point to–well? Who? Obama is pointing to his own chest and saying, on our behalf, that the fault lies in us, the Dems. That means that the Republicans and the Dems are, as far as the voters are concerned, agreeing. That’s bad news for democratic strategizing. If we were to actually have any.

    aimai

  43. 43
    Xenos says:

    @Christin: Here is the problem – the social and work contract for these high earners (high loans, high stress, lack of security) is not really that much better than for people who earn less. But having internalized the meritocratic principle that success is proof of personal worth these successful types get resentful about their lack of happiness instead of challenging the system.

    So you get this ridiculous bitching about a marginal rate increase of 4%. Someone earning $260,000 per year is all butthurt about paying an extra $400 in income taxes? Someone making $300,000 is paying an extra $2,000? They need to be laughed at and ridiculed so they can get a clue and get out of their groupthink.

  44. 44
    JohnR says:

    Just as a filling-in: Half a loaf is better than none, but when you need a whole loaf, and most of the town is calling for you to buy a whole loaf, and the shopkeeper who hates you is afraid of mobs and stuff if he doesn’t sell you a whole loaf, why do you go in there and ask for half a loaf and then let him sell you just the end bit for the price of a whole loaf? And then come out of the shop and say “Well, something is better than nothing!”

  45. 45
    cleek says:

    @General Stuck:

    after getting himself elected president

    do you not realize that campaigning is not the same as governing ?

  46. 46
    RalfW says:

    @aimai: This is absolutely it. When I woke up to NPR burbling about how Congress failed to extend unemployment yesterday, I knew we were fucked. REPUBLICANS failed to extend unemployment. But the fair and balanced news media has to say it was Congress. Because actually reporting the scorched earth tactic would be, I dunno, unseemly?

    And the NPR recent obsession with the deficit. Oy vey, playing into the GOP frame like crazy. If the deficit is so full of oh noes that we can’t extend unemployment to poor schlubs, howzat bazzilion dollar tax cut for the rich gonna get paid for, NPR? huh?!

  47. 47
    General Stuck says:

    @aimai:

    General Stuck and the other idiots always get hysterical when other commenters talk about what Obama should and shouldn’t be doing but “Obama” just stands in for the concept of a co-ordinated, top down

    the only “hysterical” I get is laughing at idiots facing off against common sense derived from actual results, and “man up” aimai is one of the leaders of that clown posse.

  48. 48
    Suck It Up! says:

    The third is institutional reform, specifically, ending the filibuster.

    He can’t do this w/o Congress right? so I have no hope for that unless the GOP is convinced that they will take the Senate and the Presidency in 2012.

    The only analogy that springs to mind when I look at the Republicans’ recent behavior is a bad divorce. Think of a situation where Lisa and Bob are getting a divorce, and Bob is so hell-bent on hurting Lisa that he doesn’t care about their kids or their bank account. Bob will deploy a hundred variations on the same tactic: put the Lisa in a bind where she has to choose between damaging the children and losing money. Lisa will lose money almost every time in order to save the children.

    Exactly.

  49. 49
    Suck It Up! says:

    @geg6:

    Uhm, Obama has used executive power. Look it up.

  50. 50

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus): Silly me living in Europe and outside the echo chamber, I just assumed this was the intended endgame. Let tax cuts (my mother still call’s them ‘Bush’s bread and circuses’) expire for everyone as was originally proposed, use tax revenue to fix country.

    Blaming tax rises on the republicans would be a sweet bit of revenge messaging, but i doubt our ‘middle class’ press corps will let that flag fly.

  51. 51
    mistermix says:

    @WyldPirate: I got his point, that’s why I characterized Obama’s attempts to compromise as “flailing around” – his timing is off (too early) and he’s hurting himself with the base by doing it.

    But, my overall point is that it doesn’t really matter what Obama does, because capitulation is inevitable when you’re in the bind he’s in. Perhaps he could capitulate more elegantly, by not pre-compromising, and by putting forth compromises that make the Republicans look even worse, but in the end he will look powerless, because he is.

  52. 52
    geg6 says:

    @aimai:

    Exactly. As always, you say it better and more elegantly than I.

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:

    @cleek:

    negotiating is negotiating, and what appears at face value, isn’t always what is happening. Do you not understand this? What do you think campaigning is? it is one long negotiation with the voters, against someone else doing the same thing.

    Or are you going to tell me, Obama failed for the stimulus not being big enough, or no PO from passing HCR. And have you ever governed, or campaigned?

  54. 54
    4tehlulz says:

    @JohnR: Except the shopkeeper knows that the mob will tear you apart instead of him, so there’s that minor difference.

    Also, half the mob works for the shopkeeper and will spread rumors throughout the mob that your getting the whole loaf is proof that you robbed the storekeeper and that you are the guy we really need to tear apart.

    Also, there are those in the mob that treat getting the whole loaf and nothing as equally victorious.

    Other than that, great analogy. The only rational choice is to firebomb the store and spray the mob with an AK-47.

  55. 55
    Suck It Up! says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    So, the question becomes: how do you, while trying to govern and given the current media wiredness for Republican messaging, get that information about the GOP out to the voters?

    I have long wished for Dems to tell cable news to go piss off and deal with their local media outlets more often. I would like for Dems, whenever they go back home, to actually go and talk to their constituents instead of preaching to the choir on msnbc.

  56. 56
    gnomedad says:

    The only analogy that springs to mind when I look at the Republicans’ recent behavior is a bad divorce.

    How about “suicide bombers”?

  57. 57
    geg6 says:

    @Suck It Up!:

    I realize he has. I’m not stupid or unaware. But the only useful instance that I can think of off the top of my head is the ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf.

  58. 58
    jwb says:

    @steviez314: Because they’d rather yell at Obama from their couches than even pick up a phone to call their congresscritter, much less organize any kind of meaningful protest. That takes real work. And every day the “organizers” of the left are getting their clock cleaned by the organizers of the right. Whatever you want to say about its aims, it’s hard not to conclude from the evidence that the right is far better organized, has more money, and is much better politically disciplined than the left. About the only thing you can count on from the left is that they can put out good one liners about the latest predictable shiny object put out by the teabagging brigade and they are most excellent at blaming Obama for all that ails the movement.

  59. 59
    Suck It Up! says:

    @guster:

    don’t forget the 10,000 a month summer rental in the Hamptons.

    god i hope you are joking.

  60. 60

    @General Stuck:

    You gotta love it. A gaggle of bloggers on the internet claiming Obama doesn’t negotiate right, after getting himself elected president and passing HCR, and a bunch of other stuff.

    Plus . . . with all the whining about the economy [from me too], the US is much better off than some European countries.

  61. 61
    JohnR says:

    @General Stuck:

    Oh, yeah – you’re our very own David Brooks here. So proud of your common-sense, reality-based, clear-sighted, pragmatic vision that the mouth-frothing, smelly-hippy children just refuse to see. Keep up the good work.

  62. 62
    cleek says:

    @RalfW:
    Monday, i think, NPR did a long piece on the deficit and what contributes to it. they spent probably six minutes talking about the tax cuts and Medicaid/Medicare, Medicaid part D, and SS and defense, etc.. they talked about how the budget was in surplus under Clinton, but that it changed “in the last decade”. not a bad story, really – probably informative, if you didn’t already know this stuff.

    but, somehow, it took them till the last 20 seconds to say the word “Bush”. Obama and Clinton were mentioned right at the start.

  63. 63
    JohnR says:

    @4tehlulz:

    Don’t pick at the metaphor – it leaves an ugly scab.

  64. 64
    jwb says:

    @aimai: I think you are in the minority on this. The right regularly out calls the left in contacting congress, and by wide margins. Even when we are actively pushing an item such as HCR, we rarely show any advantage in contacts with congress.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @geg6: Take a quick look through this.

  66. 66
    General Stuck says:

    Well, anyways, might as well wank about something, till all this plays out, and the chips fall where they do.

    There will be a test afterward though. And grades.

    please carry on. everyone knows i am but a simple obot, not schooled in the art of politics like my progressive masters. and are only a shill for obama, et al.

    take it away aimai.

  67. 67
    NSinNY says:

    In law school negotiation class, we learned that the key piece of information before a negotiation is the BATNA, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement, for both parties. Meaning, what’s your downside if you walk away with nothing. BATNA sets the floor; a party will not reach an agreement for less than their BATNA.

    The problem with approaching discussions with Republicans as if they are negotiations is that to Republicans, their BATNA is ALWAYS far preferable to any negotiated agreement. If a negotiation is reached, Republicans merely get what was negotiated for, and pay the price with their donors and base for any concessions made. If no negotiation is reached, Obama fails, are lauded by their donors and base for their spine, and they get precisely what they want in two years (as they see it). There may even be the added bonus of a government shutdown. There is simply no situation where the former is preferable to the latter for them.

    You can never negotiate with people who don’t stand to benefit from the negotiation.

  68. 68
    dr. bloor says:

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com.....hings.html

    As re: the tax cuts, Obama should veto anything short of letting them all expire, propose a new package targeted to middle- and lower-class citizens after the new year, and dare the Republicans to vote no.

  69. 69
    Suck It Up! says:

    @JohnR:

    and the shopkeeper who hates you is afraid of mobs and stuff if he doesn’t sell you a whole loaf,

    except in reality the shopkeeper isn’t afraid of mobs and stuff and when the mob comes the shopkeeper will distract the mob by telling them their black gay poor lazy neighbors took all the bread that’s why he has none to give them. And then the mob turns on their neighbors while the shopkeeper escapes by private helicopter.

  70. 70

    @General Stuck:

    Hang in there, General.

    And remember the old Chinese proverb: “It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

    :-)

  71. 71
    JohnR says:

    @mistermix:
    “..but in the end he will look powerless, because he is. ”

    That’s a matter for debate. It may be that he is, but he’s never yet actually tested that. The Presidency comes with a lot of potential power, and Obama seems unable or unwilling to use the fully legal and precedent-tested methods of putting pressure on recalcitrant opponents in the legislature. I’d trade Obama’s soaring rhetoric for LBJ’s brutal arm-twisting in a second. None of the present GOP bozos have shown any signs that they could resist Johnson’s persuasive techniques for a second.

  72. 72
    cleek says:

    @General Stuck:

    it is one long negotiation with the voters, against someone else doing the same thing.

    it certainly is. but that’s not governing.

    Obama is not negotiating with voters now – the voters are almost out of the picture. there’s no third party. now, he’s negotiating with that “someone else”, where all of his considerable personal charm is apparently useless, and his hoards of volunteers can not go door to door convincing their neighbors to get off their asses and vote, where a TV blitz and a few speeches can’t swing things a few points in his favor. it’s a different situation.

    now, he’s trying to negotiate with a party that comes to the table in bad faith, farts, then leaves smirking.

    Or are you going to tell me, Obama failed for the stimulus not being big enough, or no PO from passing HCR.

    i’m going to stick to the point i made.

  73. 73
    Jman says:

    @NSinNY: It is like negotiating handcuffed to a suicide bomber.

  74. 74
    General Stuck says:

    @cleek:

    i’m going to stick to the point i made.

    so am i :-)

  75. 75
    numbskull says:

    @General Stuck:

    And grades.

    Yep. We’ll see if the tax cuts will be allowed to expire. It’s an awfully low bar to set for success, and it’s not much of a stretch as predictions go, but you’ve staked all your credibility on it. Not sure why. Regardless, I’m not sanguine. I’d love for my pessimistic opinion to be proven wrong, though.

  76. 76
    jwb says:

    @aimai: On the other hand, you might ask yourself what you think you are accomplishing in blaming Obama like this. If it’s just the equivalent of sitting on the couch, blowing off steam by yelling at the TV, that’s fine. We all need to blow off steam. But what’s the alternative? Obama is who he is, and for better or worse he’s governing pretty much as he said he would. Consequently, I just don’t see him altering his approach in a significant way, however much I would like him to come at the situation differently. So what are we going to do about it? Advocate that the Dems need a different candidate for 2012, with all the considerable risk that entails? Or try to figure out another way of engaging the political process that doesn’t require that Obama act as the savior of the left?

  77. 77
  78. 78
    Rick Taylor says:

    This is what’s frightening me. Republicans have gotten to the point where they’re willing to use extortion to get what they want. Of course there’s always negotiation and give and take, but when we get to the point where its, pass these tax cuts for millionaires, or we’ll make sure the United States will be unable to monitor Russian nuclear weapons, it will be embarrassed in front of the world, and the President will not longer be taken seriously as a bargaining partner by any other country, we’ve crossed a line. I expect that when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling, they’ll have a long list of demands.
    __
    I don’t like it, but we have to say no. Now. The longer we keep caving, the worse their demands will get. When it gets to the point of, do what we want, or the country gets it, we can’t play along.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suck It Up!: In the end one of the biggest problems the democrats have is that there is actually a debate over policy going on in the country, it is just that it is taking place entirely within the confines of Democratic party and its constituents. Look at HCR, there was a center-left/center-right debate. It was the Progressive Caucus v. Blue Dogs (I am not going to touch on the pragmatist v. idealist debate that erupted over the value of the actual bill; it has little or nothing to do with the policy issues that were debated.); while this went on, the GOP stood on the sidelines and threw eggs at the participants. The GOP looks strong because it is easier to do so when saying “Not just no, but hell no!” than it is when trying to explain the difference between two decent, well-meaning, but differing view of how to get to a goal.

  80. 80
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @General Stuck:

    We can sit in the back and fire spitballs at the smart kids. More fun too.

  81. 81
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: Well, a very good argument could be made for the idea that Obama and the Dems would not be in nearly this much trouble if they had had a much larger stimulus, because with a much larger stimulus, the economy would be in better shape.

  82. 82
    General Stuck says:

    @numbskull:

    but you’ve staked all your credibility on it.

    I’m a false persona on the internet. I have no credibility.

    and besides, I was about the only one who ‘staked their credibility” on HCR coming back from the dead and passing.

    Not to mention the midterms being about repubs being pissed about HCR passing, coming out in large numbers to win the election.

    If I turn out to be wrong on this one, then so be it, I will admit it and take my lumps. I would accept a one year extension on all cuts though, but not a two year one.

    But regardless, the implication that folks like me and you and everyone else on this blog, or in the netroots has some leg up on Obama relating to “negotiation skills” will remain laughable.

  83. 83
    Nick says:

    @steviez314:

    What I don’t understand is why all the people mad at Obama over this don’t get off their asses instead and go picket and sit-in at the home state offices of Snowe, Collins, Brown, etc.

    MoveOn is holding a protest in front of our Congressman’s office today. I’m going to go and cover despite my editor saying “this isn’t a story”

  84. 84
    Suck It Up! says:

    @geg6:

    http://1461days.blogspot.com/2.....bamas.html

    Here’s a site. I didn’t even know it existed until like 2 seconds ago. Came up right away in a Google search. This site says he has done 68 executive orders so far.

    I never said you were stupid but for someone who follows politics closely you should know that Obama has been doing executive orders since he took office. It just comes off (to me) as if you were deliberately lying to justify your argument against Obama.

  85. 85
    slag says:

    So, in other words, nihilism always wins. I’m pretty sure there’s a children’s book in here somewhere.

  86. 86
    WyldPirate says:

    @mistermix:

    But, my overall point is that it doesn’t really matter what Obama does, because capitulation is inevitable when you’re in the bind he’s in. Perhaps he could capitulate more elegantly, by not pre-compromising, and by putting forth compromises that make the Republicans look even worse, but in the end he will look powerless, because he is.

    And people wonder why the optics have clearly turned to that of Obama is looking weak and ineffectual.

    Look, you’re even saying it yourself when you say, “…but in the end he will look powerless, because he is.” Moreover, he’s choosing to look this way when he continually pursues the magical pony of “bipartisanship” that is never going to materialize.

    You hit the nail on the head as to his options concerning the optics of the matter. He needs to toughen up and NOT “pre-capitulate”. He needs to start wrapping the stalling and foot-dragging around the Rethugs’ necks. By doing what he is doing, he is starting to look the 95 lb weakling on the bitch that the bullies love to kick sand in his face.

    This might not seem important to some, but it is hugely important. Optics matter. Someone said up the board that he is always in “campaign mode” or should be. Where it is going to matter is with the enthusiasm from the base. He is not going to generate it this time around as he has disillusioned much of his base. They are going to be necessary to do much of the groundwork GOTV that helped him squeak by in so many places in ’08.

  87. 87

    @WyldPirate:

    Sure that wouldn’t have passed

    And that’s where I leave the boat. What we got with HRC was a damned bit better than what we had, and I say this as someone who actually has had to make COBRA payments for a loved one. So, to me, that’s key to this discussion. I feel like I elected a Congress to pass the best legislation they can, not to posture to Progressives.

    They can always do better. We should pressure Congress to do better. We should pressure Obama to do better. Yet the idea that they should craft bills to appeal to a single interest, and not to get the best deal possible without losing the core of the bill’s ideal, for a winning law, is exactly what I dislike about the GOP right now. I do not wish to see Democrats go down that road, and if that’s what’s needed to “win Progressives”, I question their wisdom and interest in actual lawmaking.

  88. 88
    Hawes says:

    I would like to endorse mistermix’s original post. Very cogent.

    Well done, sir.

    (My effort for more civility.)

  89. 89
    uriel says:

    @geg6:

    I’m sorry but $250,000 a year is NOT middle class no matter how much some people want to make it so.

    God damned fucking thank you. This crap irritates me to no end. How the hell you can honestly claim a middle class that extends from people making <30k to people making eight times that amount is frankly a mystery to me. I do notice you never hear this argument coming from the people on the 30k end of the spectrum, though.

    I just wish all these 250k earners would suck it up, man or woman up, and and admit to the horrible truth: "Yes, I'm doing really well, god help me." (Although I do sympathize with how daunting saying those words may seem, given the horrible onus this society puts on being wealthy and successful, and the attendant hardships. The only thing worse than being young and beautiful, i imagine…)

  90. 90
    WyldPirate says:

    @dr. bloor:

    As re: the tax cuts, Obama should veto anything short of letting them all expire, propose a new package targeted to middle- and lower-class citizens after the new year, and dare the Republicans to vote no.

    As highly critical of Obama as I am now, I just don’t see this being a viable alternative at this point.

    Now a year ago, it was the best option. Put together the tax package. Put it up for vote in the House where it would have passed. Take it to the Senate and bang the Rethugs over and over again on the issue in public on a daily basis for their foot-dragging and past history of blowing holes in the budget by not funding their own damn cuts under Bush.

    Now, bringing forth a new bill with a limit on the rates at 250K is a losing proposition. First, it will never get out of the House. Second, the rates go up. Third, the Rethugs hang it around his neck in 2012 as the largest tax increase in history.

  91. 91
    JohnR says:

    @General Stuck:

    There will be a test afterward though. And grades.

    Nothing personal, but what is this supposed to mean? I must be slower than usual: what test? Do you mean the outcome of whatever we’re ranting about will be a standard against which we will somehow be measured? I’m confused.
    Also rushed, but a couple quick thoughts – What we have now isn’t what we had 2 years ago, when Obama had the wind at his back and then proceeded to reef his sails for reasons best known to himself.
    And no opponent is as fearsome and unbeatable as you make him out to be. Convincing yourself that you can’t win is most of the way towards losing.

  92. 92
    General Stuck says:

    One last little note, before I retire for some quiet room time.

    While my credibility doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, what I object to are internet liberals and progs, staking Obama’s credibility on this one issue, like so many times before on other issues. And this time, seemingly, more as a line in the sand for continued support. That is why i’m as assholish as I am over all this.

    anyways, that is all for now. later alligators, bj is still tops, at least for the time being :-)

  93. 93
    General Stuck says:

    @JohnR:

    just a figure of speech. means nothing much really.

  94. 94
    Napoleon says:

    Great post.

    I think he actually also has the option to simply never capitulate and that is the option he should choose (which Clinton did).

  95. 95
    dr. bloor says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Third, the Rethugs hang it around his neck in 2012 as the largest tax increase in history.

    Meh, they’ll do that no matter what happens–hell, they had a huge chunk of Americans believing that Obama had raised their taxes during his first two years in office.

    The reason I can see doing this now, particularly as it relates to the article Digby linked to and her comments, is that it offers the opportunity to start putting individual R’s in tight spots. I think a middle-/lower-class only cut would get out of Congress, because too many members will be facing primary and general election opponents who will hammer them for a “no” vote, regardless of the national message re: Obama and taxes.

  96. 96
    WyldPirate says:

    @Rick Taylor:

    I don’t like it, but we have to say no. Now. The longer we keep caving, the worse their demands will get. When it gets to the point of, do what we want, or the country gets it, we can’t play along.

    This. And your point of neutering the President in foreign relations, too.

    It is fucking stupid to continually come out and say that you are going to work across the aisle when the assholes across the aisle are not going to work with–announce they are not–and then lord it over you and start extorting things.

    It’s like a little kid that gets his lunch money stolen at school every day. There comes a point that you have to fight and risk getting your ass kicked instead of just meekly handing things over to the thief.

  97. 97
    Skippy-san says:

    Your divorce analogy is backwards. The way divorce works in this country is that the man is always wrong-even when he is right. Lisa will use the kids, the bank account, and anything else as a weapon to destroy Bob-regardless of what it does to him or his future ability to relate to his kids.

    Been there done that got the T-shirt. The only way to fight it is to call their bluff and drag the process out as long as possible. Obama won’t do that-he will cave in a few days.

    What he should is say, ” fine we will just let all the tax cuts expire.” If they bring it up next session-filibuster the hell out of it or veto it.

  98. 98
    cleek says:

    @geg6:

    I’m sorry but $250,000 a year is NOT middle class no matter how much some people want to make it so.

    i agree it’s a giant step up from $30K. but if it’s not “middle class”, then what is it?

    what’s your definition of “middle class” ?

    if you’re making $250K, you still have to get up and go to work like everyone else. college for your kids is still expensive. you don’t buy cars or houses with cash. you don’t have private jets and servants and Swiss bank accounts. it’s not enough money that you can retire at 40 and spend your days painting at your villa on St Croix. it’s not the kind of money that lets you buy your own pet Senator. (all of this in general, obviously)

    there’s a huge gulf between $250K and rich.

    (no, i don’t make $250K)

  99. 99
    Ash Can says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Just to clarify, I wasn’t taking issue with anything you said, just tossing in my $0.02 (which, in my hands, tends to be subject to a high rate of inflation).

    @aimai: Why bother saying “for some weird reason” when you specifically name that reason two sentences later? And I agree, btw. But this: “General Stuck and the other idiots always get hysterical when other commenters talk about what Obama should and shouldn’t be doing but ‘Obama’ just stands in for the concept of a co-ordinated, top down, Democratic messaging strategy” is just silly. No, it doesn’t “stand in for” anything, at least that’s evident when you immediately proceed to complain about Obama specifically. And keep in mind that when people do say “Obama,” it’s normal for everyone else to assume that they mean, well, “Obama.”

    We “idiots” don’t get “hysterical” about reasonable criticism of Obama, only that which doesn’t appear to be grounded in fact. I happen to agree that Obama is weaker than he should be on messaging. I think Javamanphil makes an excellent point about being a legislator vs. being a CEO. But it’s ludicrous to say that he’s doing nothing about it. And some of it is even getting through — our thick-headed press dubbed the latest confab the “Slurpee Summit,” after all. Likewise, it’s ludicrous to claim that the Dems, including Obama, are actually blaming themselves for the nation’s problems. It may seem that way to you because talk of bipartisanship makes you crazy (and I sympathize, but face it, it’s never going to go away as long as the majority of voters want to hear it). But that’s not what’s really happening.

  100. 100

    remember how Obama used to be able to turn the tables on the gop and the conservatives? Like back when they were pulling all the Jeremiah Wright shit, and he went and gave that awesome speech about race, and they had to shut the fuck up?

    what happened to that guy? where did he go?

  101. 101
    Judas Escargot says:

    …never was much of a card player. :P

  102. 102
    Nick says:

    @JohnR:

    It may be that he is, but he’s never yet actually tested that

    I think he has. It was proven with Gitmo, with cramdown, and now with tax cuts. Obama can pound the pavement all he wants, and he did often, if Congress isn’t going to respond, there’s nothing he can do.

  103. 103
    WyldPirate says:

    @uriel:

    I do notice you never hear this argument coming from the people on the 30k end of the spectrum, though.

    Most are too busy trying to put bread on the table or a roof over their head.

  104. 104
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    For me, the analogy is more like Republicans are a dude in a dynamite vest and Obama is the guy that likes to hug. Obama needs to stop hugging on dynamite vest guy.

  105. 105
    valdivia says:

    Great post. Dispiriting but probably the best analysis I have seen so far. You combine this with the Benen post about sabotage and you get a picture of US politics in 2010.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cleek: I think it might be useful to define income/class issues into a few more categories than rich (top 5%-ish), poor (bottom 10-20%-ish), and middle class (everyone else). The issues facing people with $250,000 in income and those with $25,000 are different.

    ETA: Class issues probably should cover more than simple income as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

  107. 107
    Nick says:

    @brendancalling:

    Like back when they were pulling all the Jeremiah Wright shit, and he went and gave that awesome speech about race, and they had to shut the fuck up?

    they had to shut the fuck up? Whaaaa?

  108. 108
    celticdragonchick says:

    @General Stuck:

    the only “hysterical” I get is laughing at idiots facing off against common sense derived from actual results, and “man up” aimai is one of the leaders of that clown posse.

    A legend in your own mind.

    Oh…and fuck off, asshat.

    Aimai is too polite generally to say it, but I have no problem telling you to get bent.

  109. 109
    DanF says:

    Lisa needs to constantly remind friends and family what an asshole Bob is being. Daily press releases of what a dick Bob is and what dick move he pulled yesterday. The press would start to look forward to the daily release – especially if the press releases were written in a breezy, Hollywood tabloid style. They would relish the gossip.

  110. 110
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    what’s your definition of “middle class” ?

    The two income deciles flanking either side of the median income.

    Without looking it up, I would bet that the 250K level falls firmly in the top 10% of earners if not the top 5%.

  111. 111
    Merkin says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    For me, the analogy is more like Republicans are a dude in a dynamite vest and Obama is the guy that likes to hug. Obama needs to stop hugging on dynamite vest guy.

    If the Republicans are the dude with the dynamite vest, Obama hugging him is the least of our problems.

  112. 112
    slag says:

    @brendancalling: I wonder that too sometimes. At some point, I can only assume that guy never really existed. Which is weird because I have him on video. Dunno.

  113. 113
    valdivia says:

    @brendancalling:

    wait, did they shut up? because I clearly remember them NOT shutting up at all. And then when Obama would make a speech about something, all we would get is why doesn’t he do something, JUST WORDS! blah, blah, blah.

    I am not happy with the tax extension at all, but making a speech won’t fix this because we are dealing with saboteurs. plain and simple.

    I do think there needs to be a change of strategy here–they better figure out how to bypass the filter of Fox and the MSM, they did it well in 2008.

  114. 114
    celticdragonchick says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Without looking it up, I would bet that the 250K level falls firmly in the top 10% of earners if not the top 5%.

    Yep.

  115. 115
    General Stuck says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    You have a merry Christmas celtic. I mean that.

  116. 116
    cleek says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The issues facing people with $250,000 in income and those with $25,000 are different.

    oh, i would never argue otherwise.

  117. 117
    Nick says:

    @Skippy-san:

    Lisa will use the kids, the bank account, and anything else as a weapon to destroy Bob-regardless of what it does to him or his future ability to relate to his kids.

    I think you’re missing the point of the diary. Lisa would probably do that, but what he’s explaining is that Lisa (in this Obama) actually cares about the not putting the kids through that and would rather just look weak than hurt the kids.

    I’ve seen women do that in divorces too.

  118. 118
    Merkin says:

    @brendancalling:

    remember how Obama used to be able to turn the tables on the gop and the conservatives? Like back when they were pulling all the Jeremiah Wright shit, and he went and gave that awesome speech about race, and they had to shut the fuck up?

    brendan, that speech wasn’t to get Republicans to shut the fuck up, it was to get racist Democrats to shut up. It was during the primary.

  119. 119
    Nick says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Obama could have saved an enormous amount of goodwill on the left if they would have put together a plan that included everything but the kitchen sink including single-payer health care. Sure that wouldn’t have passed, but it would have looked like he was at least trying.

    This bullshit again.

    “looked like he was at least trying” is bullshit. The left would’ve accused him of not fighting hard enough for it, or for never intending for it to pass anyway, just like they did with the 9/11 health bill, DREAM Act and DADT repeal, which ALL FAILED ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS despite the Democrats trying to pass them.

  120. 120
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Merkin: Yes, I would prefer Obama keep away from dynamite vest guy while loudly proclaiming dynamite vest guy has a dynamite vest on but it is my understanding no one will be able to hear him over the din of the crowd and the store won’t let him use its loudspeaker.

  121. 121
    WyldPirate says:

    Ok. People making 250K a year just need to shut the fuck up and pay their extra taxes. They are doing very well.

    n 2006, the “real” (adjusted for inflation) median annual household income rose 1.3% to $50,233.00 according to the Census Bureau.[4]

    In 2006, there were approximately 116,011,000 households in the United States. 1.93% of all households had annual incomes exceeding $250,000.[6]

    The source for the two above is here.

    This is the link to the census data from 2006 showing household income distribution.

  122. 122
    cleek says:

    @WyldPirate:
    so, you define simply it by income, not by the lifestyle that income allows you ? i did a bit of Googling, and most sources define it by lifestyle.

    and just to be clear, i’m only asking about this stuff because i do have friends who make $250K, and they don’t strike me as “rich” – they just have nicer versions of all the stuff my family has. and i also have friends that are unquestionably rich – they’ve crossed into the realm where work is pretty much optional and a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Bahamas makes for a fun weekend, a million dollar house and an ever-changing stable of new cars.

    the two lifestyles are dramatically different.

    and just for the record, yes, i know what it’s like to be truly poor – first hand.

  123. 123
    WyldPirate says:

    @Nick:

    Are you denying that it pissed off a lot of Obama’s most vociferous supporters? Why do this?

    at least look like you give a shit and are trying. It’s called optics.

  124. 124
    Nick says:

    @geg6:

    Perhaps you don’t consider Philadelphia the NE, but based on the average annual income ($36, 600) and median annual income ($32,600), there just aren’t that many people raking in over $250,000.

    I think he’s wrong about “the NE” but it’s certainly true in Northern New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County, parts of NYC, Connecticut, Hawaii, and parts of California that $250,000 is not exactly “rich”

    Doesn’t change my POV on taxes, but it changes theirs.

  125. 125
    R. Johnston says:

    Obama isn’t playing poker. He’s playing Go Fish. He’s asking for threes every turn, and every turn the Republicans tell him to “go fish” even though they’ve been holding a pair of threes all game. The Republican’s even show their cards to Obama, yet he still plays, still keeps asking for threes, keeps giving away his cards even when the Republicans ask for cards he doesn’t have, and keeps just moving on to the next turn when the Republicans say “go fish.”

    Obama’s really, really incompetent as a negotiator and a politician, but he’s a great campaigner. He should quit his job and sign on as campaign manager for the next Democratic nominee.

  126. 126
    Nick says:

    @WyldPirate:

    at least look like you give a shit and are trying. It’s called optics.

    again, bullshit. You mean to tell me forcing the Republicans to filibuster unemployment, DADT, DREAM, and 9/11 health bill didn’t look like “giving a shit” or “trying?”

    The only time the left gives him credit for anything is when he wins. He tries and loses, they accuse him of not trying enough, because God forbid it be possible to try and then lose.

  127. 127
    JohnR says:

    @Nick:

    I have to stop this and get some work done..

    It was proven with Gitmo, with cramdown, and now with tax cuts.

    I don’t think so; I think Obama made a half-hearted effort, at best, and then gave up. I suppose we can disagree about that, but even if the good General doesn’t actually think so, too many of us seem to feel that results are a measure of something intrinsic. Let me use another silly metaphor:
    You’re a baseball player – a big, hulking fellow who’s exceptionally good at hitting home runs. You’ve blasted through the minors and gotten up to the major leagues. Your rookie year you start off the first month with 20 homers and 40 runs batted in, while batting 6th in the lineup. Your batting average is about .235, and the manager (Billy Stuck) calls you aside. “Kid”, he says, it’s obvious that you can’t handle major-league pitching the way things are. I want you to shorten up on the bat and work on a shorter, more controlled stroke. Let’s get that average up.” Sure enough, his method works. You finish the season with a batting average of about .260, to go with your final tallies of 23 home runs and 47 runs batted in. The manager calls you into his office. “Kid”, he says, “The results are in, and they tell us that you’re just not cut out to be a major-league ballplayer.” Back to the minors you go, where you end your career.
    In other news, history tells us that the Confederacy was doomed to defeat, just like Harold Godwinson up on Senlac hill. They could have done nothing to possibly change the outcome; it was preordained, and the outcome tells us that – they did everything possible (and correctly!) and still lost.
    I hope this was at least somewhat entertaining. And now, I follow the General’s good advice and retire to a quiet room (where, unlike him, I get to brutalize small animals to restore my spirits).

  128. 128
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    You have to define it someway, cleek.

    Your lifestyle is a choice. Your friends that make 250K/per year may not be rich, but they are making a choice to have nicer versions of the things you and your family have on lesser incomes.

    They could choose to live at the median income level for a number of years (and not that long, either), save and invest the difference, and they would have a million dollars in assets/savings in probably under ten years.

    The middle income folks don’t have that option.

  129. 129
    Tsulagi says:

    In this situation, capitulation is inevitable

    Nope, Lisa taps Bob. Problem solved. If she goes for a more PC solution, she tells and convinces Bob if he won’t agree to and abide by a reasonable divorce and settlement she will dedicate her life to making his a living hell to the point his dick will be in a permanently shriveled state. And she follows through.

    If you find yourself in a relationship, business or otherwise, with a petulant self-serving asshole who senses if they bring the right circumstances you will capitulate, they’ll consider that their first option. If you’ve capitulated in the past with no consequences for asshole, that is what asshole will bring every time. Behavior reinforced. In their cost benefit analysis benefit has far outweighed cost. See Dem/Pub relationship.

    Democrats, at least many in Washington and apparently Obama are like the battered submissive spouse. That if they capitulate just this time, again, and be extra nice, Bob will finally love them and be reasonable. Not ever gonna happen.

  130. 130
    rickstersherpa says:

    Steve Benen put this note in column today. It is really sad that because of McConnell, Corbin (who is famous for his right to life screeds), some people are going to die, some are going to be permanently disabled in some way, and lots will be miserably sick for a few days. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

    And why: “Just for a bunch of money.” Sherriff Marge Gunderson (Frances MacDiarmid), Fargo.

  131. 131
    J says:

    @aimai: Absolutely spot on. The electorate needs to understand what’s going on, and someone, i.e., Obama (meaning as you helpfully say not just Obama personally) needs to do it. He (they) aren’t doing it by saying that he is to blame for not reaching out enough.

  132. 132
    dr. bloor says:

    @WyldPirate:

    The source for the two above is here.
    This is the link to the census data from 2006 showing household income distribution.

    This meshes with the admin’s argument that the upper-class cut is only benefitting 2% of the population.

    I assume most of the “middle-class” stuff is just optics to soothe the doing-pretty-well public. People at $250K are doing pretty well indeed, although I assume there’s a risk of alienating them involved in labeling them “upper class” or “rich,” because they may not feel like the former and almost certainly do not feel like the latter.

  133. 133
    WyldPirate says:

    @Nick:

    Winning matters. Fighting back does, too. Enforcing the optics of being the “gop’s prison bitch” via your actions, inactions or piss poor coordination with your party in Congress matters as well.

    We’ll see how it all matters in ’12. Right now, given the recent past and current events, the optics suck.

  134. 134
    Nick says:

    @JohnR:

    I think Obama made a half-hearted effort, at best, and then gave up…

    As will be the judgement of everything he fights for, loses, and then compromises on, because for some, it’s too difficult to say “wow, we can fight, and despite that, we can lose” so obviously something had to have gone wrong.

    I don’t know how someone can look at what he did with tax cuts this fail and call it “half-hearted” What is full-hearted then?

  135. 135
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Nick:

    I don’t know how someone can look at what he did with tax cuts this fail

    Priceless.

  136. 136
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WyldPirate: Doesn’t happen often, but I completely agree with WP.

  137. 137
    Suck It Up! says:

    @brendancalling:

    remember how Obama used to be able to turn the tables on the gop and the conservatives? Like back when they were pulling all the Jeremiah Wright shit, and he went and gave that awesome speech about race, and they had to shut the fuck up?

    what happened to that guy? where did he go?

    they shut the fuck up? really? cause I remember them going from saying Obama goes to a church that hates white people to saying that Obama threw his white grandmother under the bus. remember that part of the speech where he used his grandmother as an example of how good people can be prejudiced? the right sure did and latched onto it the very next day. they didn’t shut the fuck up? they never do? they change tactics, they change the language, the changed memes on occasion but they never ever shut the fuck up.

  138. 138
    WyldPirate says:

    @Tsulagi:

    Democrats, at least many in Washington and apparently Obama are like the battered submissive spouse. That if they capitulate just this time, again, and be extra nice, Bob will finally love them and be reasonable. Not ever gonna happen.

    Yep. The Dems are the GOP’s prison bitch.

  139. 139
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Folks, I’m here to tell ya that a million dollars a year is not a lot of money. Do you know how much live-in help costs? Generally speaking, you can go illegal pretty cheap for servants, housekeeping and groundskeeping. But a quality chef will cost you big $$$ as will a good mechanic for your antique car collection.

  140. 140
  141. 141
    Tim H says:

    Again, capitulation is inevitable. It’s unthinkable that the US won’t ratify START, so the Bush tax cuts will be extended.

    Whatever. Then get up on your hind legs and tell Democratic voters that START is more important than their paltry welfare and the GOP is making you choose. Maybe you’ll get pity points for the truth.

  142. 142
    cleek says:

    @WyldPirate:
    middle class means you can’t save/invest your way out of middle class…

    hadn’t seen that definition yet.

    interesting. (seriously)

    most definitions i’ve seen read like this:

    “…having a reliable job with fair pay; access to health care; a safe and stable home; the opportunity to provide a good education for one’s children, including a college education; time off work for vacations and major life events; and the security of looking forward to a dignified retirement.”

  143. 143
    Suck It Up! says:

    Mistermix, you’re analogy is spot on. the internet left should recognize it in their own lives. they do this when they go to the polls and hold their nose. also, for those thinking that a “true” progressive would not capitulate, the progressive members of congress do it all the time. all the bills that you don’t like, those half loaves, right leaning, not real progressive bills? yeah they voted for them because they’d rather not let the children starve.

    but hey, we have all the time in the world to get it 100% right and looking like a manly man to give the professional left an orgasm every day is more important than getting that half a loaf that would help the other 99% of this country.

  144. 144
    aimai says:

    @jwb:

    This is true. But why is it true? Because the “organizers on the left” are, in fact, independent and grass roots and therefore subject to job loss, exhaustion, demoralization while the “organizers on the right” are wholly paid for subsidiaries of the wealthiest segment of the population. See, e.g. Dick Armey’s army of Tea Partiers, Rush Limbaugh and his ditto heads, and etc… The left has absolutely nothing comperable–Dean’s “fifty state strategy” was intended to start to rectify this difference in organizational reach and depth by simply putting into place a couple of professional organizers *per state*–not even on the left but simply pro-democrats– and that was considered an incredibly radical move at the time.

    aimai

  145. 145
    dr. bloor says:

    @cleek:

    most definitions i’ve seen read like this:

    Christ, using that definition, you can make the case that $250K is the lower limit of the middle class.

  146. 146
    Corner Stone says:

    @aimai:

    For some weird reason Obama doesn’t have that, however. The thing about the “I’m a grownup” squeeze play is that its a variant on “good cop/bad cop” and you actually need a bad cop to backstop the whole thing (rhetorically speaking.) I very much fault the top Dems, from Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to everyone except Nancy Pelosi for leaving Obama out to dry while he tries to do the dance of the good guy for a confused electorate.

    IMO, he never desired a bad cop and in fact had his administration chastise or otherwise shut down anyone who stepped up to be the distraction.
    GWB always demurred when someone he was associated with stomped on an opponent. He’d say, “Aww, Johnny’s a good guy and a good friend. That doesn’t sound like something he’d do. But I don’t know anything about it.”
    When anyone on the D side tried playing knuckle smasher Obama would own the action, and allow people to pin it on him.
    WTS, I do not want my own D version of GWB. But some things are outside of ideology. And having a hatchet man (or group) is essential if your desire is to be above the fray.
    Because somebody has to be in the fray for your side.

  147. 147
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Nick:

    You mean to tell me forcing the Republicans to filibuster unemployment, DADT, DREAM, and 9/11 health bill didn’t look like “giving a shit” or “trying?”

    The problem with this is not Obama, it’s the stupid rules in place in the Senate. The public is only going to notice these filibusters if they’re actual filibusters; they pay no attention to what passes for a filibuster now because all that entails is Senator Douchebag telling Reid he’s filibustering. Make these fuckers put on a show and people will start noticing. That’s why I like Merkey’s proposed changes.

    Of course, somebody’s going to have to explain to me why filibuster reform matters now that the GOP can ensure that nothing passes in the House.

  148. 148
    aimai says:

    @dr. bloor:

    There’s no true middle class anymore, if by that we mean people who aren’t worried about where their next paycheck will come from and what their children will do when they grow up. Mr. Aimai has been using the term “jackpot nation”–don’t know where he got it but I presume its buzzing around the internet–to describe where the widening gap between middle class education/values/aspirations and the economic reality facing that class is leading us. More and more people who I would once have placed solidly in the middle class (with 250,000 at the absolute upper end of that being people who earn a lot of money but have no job security and don’t “own” any real productive assets) seem to be placing their hopes for retirement and their children’s future on some kind of jackpot model of fortune. They are spending money on their children’s sports careerrs hoping that they get some imaginary “scholarship” to a good school, they are continuing to spend on social goods and consumables because what they are saving doesn’t seem to be securing their retirements. Etc..etc…etc…

    Its not that people making 250,000 aren’t rich. They are. But they aren’t secure. They don’t belong to the real ownership class which never has to worry about the future. They owe more than they own. They envy more than they are satisfied. And that, it seems to me, is the hallmark of the modern American Middle Class.

    aimai

  149. 149
    Corner Stone says:

    @dr. bloor: I know. Lots of banksters would argue they qualify under that umbrella.

  150. 150
    MBunge says:

    @Tsulagi: Nope, Lisa taps Bob. Problem solved. If she goes for a more PC solution, she tells and convinces Bob if he won’t agree to and abide by a reasonable divorce and settlement she will dedicate her life to making his a living hell to the point his dick will be in a permanently shriveled state. And she follows through.

    That’s the best laugh I’ve had in a while. If you have any more hilarious fantasies about how people behave, let’s hear them.

    Mike

  151. 151
    cleek says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Make these fuckers put on a show and people will start noticing

    that’s not how it works.

    but, Reid has vowed to make some changes for the next congress. we’ll see.

  152. 152

    @Suck It Up!:

    obama, if i am correct, won the news cycle though. with the exception of FOX, most analysts were all dreamy.

  153. 153
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    middle class means you can’t save/invest your way out of middle class…
    hadn’t seen that definition yet.
    interesting. (seriously)

    I didn’t mean to imply that it can’t be done, but you seriously can’t be implying that someone falling within your definition that makes the median income has the same opportunity to increase their socioeconomic standing as someone making 250K, are you?

    the data would disagree with you as we are experiencing a stupendous rise in income inequality in the US and, as would be expected, a decrease in the opportunities for social mobility–or the Horatio Alger version of the “American Dream”.
    Understanding Mobility in America

    The United States of Inequality

    From the latter link:

    It’s generally understood that we live in a time of growing income inequality, but “the ordinary person is not really aware of how big it is,” Krugman told me. During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth—the “seven fat years” and the ” long boom.” Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.

  154. 154

    @valdivia:

    oh, I’m not calling for a speech or anything like that. goodness knows that’s useless.

    No, what i am wondering about is what happened to the candidate i supported. the one i actually sort of believed in, because Clintoon (as i called her at the time) was a known quantity of cynicism, DLC-democratic triangulation, and race-baiting?

    i didn’t have the highest hopes, but man, i didn’t think it’d be this shitty.

  155. 155
    Corner Stone says:

    @cleek:

    they just have nicer versions of all the stuff my family has.

    That’s kind of the crux of it. They have the choice.

  156. 156
    numbskull says:

    @General Stuck:

    I would accept a one year extension on all cuts though, but not a two year one.

    Ah, the little pitter-pat sounds of a goalpost being moved.

  157. 157
    Corner Stone says:

    Aimai mentioned heightening contradictions. That’s something President Obama has been very inconsistent on.
    IMO nothing smoothed over the rough crazy edges of the Republican party like President Obama making them appear reasonable and willing to work with him.

  158. 158
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @cleek:

    that’s not how it works.

    I know that’s not how it works. That’s been the problem, the rules in place governing filibusters.

    Now, though, I’m not sure I see the point of changing the filibuster when the Senate isn’t going to be getting anything worthwhile from the Boner House anyway. It’s important on general principle, I guess, but not much more than that for the immediate future.

  159. 159
    Corner Stone says:

    @numbskull:

    Ah, the little pitter-pat sounds of a goalpost being moved.

    Get your suspenders on. The whitewash is going to be so furious, and the memory hole so deep, that the vortex they create will likely rip the pants right off your body.

  160. 160
    Tsulagi says:

    @MBunge: You keep going ass up on cue, Mike, I’m sure it’s served you well in life. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

  161. 161
    Corner Stone says:

    @fasteddie9318: They’re going to change the filibuster procedure right in time for the GOP to take back the Senate in 2012.
    Not that the GOP Senate gives a damn about the filibuster anyway when they’re in charge.

  162. 162
    numbskull says:

    @General Stuck:

    staking Obama’s credibility on this one issue

    And another issue, and another issue, and another issue.

    After a while, it adds up.

    But you’ll pretend it’s just this one issue. Today. And then tomorrow you’ll wake up to a brand new day, and nothing has gone before.

  163. 163
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    They’re going to change the filibuster procedure right in time for the GOP to take back the Senate in 2012.

    I’m not so sure that’s a done deal, but it wouldn’t matter anyway because the Democrats would likely never impose a blanket filibuster the way Republicans have done in the past two Congresses. That’s what happens when one party cares about governing and the other party only cares about winning.

  164. 164
    cleek says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that it can’t be done, but you seriously can’t be implying that someone falling within your definition that makes the median income has the same opportunity to increase their socioeconomic standing as someone making 250K, are you?

    well, no. i’m saying most of the definitions i’ve read don’t talk about the ability to “increase their socioeconomic standing” at all.

    and, perhaps what we’re skipping over here is the “upper middle class” – relatively wealthy, but not rich. perhaps able to save/invest their way to becoming rich, eventually, with luck.

  165. 165
    danimal says:

    There’s a lot of truth in mrmix’s divorce analogy, but it falls apart in one way.

    We are not powerless.

    The GOP is desperate to retain the Bush tax rates. If they don’t produce, the GOP base will dial it up to 11 in their outrage at the Dems and the GOP congressional delegation. It will be a firestorm of epic proportions. They can’t let it happen. Behind their confidence games that work so well on progressives, including the BJ community, they are sweating heavily.

    We have leverage, and unlike the majority of posters, I’m confident that the president knows this and is using it quietly during negotiations, despite all the ‘ bipartisan happy talk’ that is dissseminated to the idiot press corps.

    I’m sure President Hillary remembers the pivotal seating of the Michigan delegation that put her over the top against the naive, wimpy Senator Obama. If only he knew how to play hardball, he’d be president today.

  166. 166
    numbskull says:

    @danimal:

    We have leverage, and unlike the majority of posters, I’m confident that the president knows this and is using it quietly during negotiations, despite all the ’ bipartisan happy talk’ that is dissseminated to the idiot press corps.

    I agree, this should have been enough leverage. Then why the wage freeze for gubmint workers?

  167. 167
    cleek says:

    @Corner Stone:

    They have the choice.

    compared to someone making $25K, a person making $50K has all kinds of different choices, too.

  168. 168
    chopper says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    this is the minimum for me in terms of filibuster reform. i’m still not sure if i want to see the whole thing disappear, but at the very least it should be fucking difficult. make em stand up and read out of the dictionary for 18 hours straight.

  169. 169
    I have issues with Baltimore says:

    What if Obama got on prime time one night and just flat-out called these suckas out? I know he sort of did something like that at the last state of the union address, but what if he just did it without being interrupted every sentence with applause or booing or some punk bitch shouting “you lie!” in the middle of the speech? Just sat behind his desk in the oval office and named names. Would this be too much angry black man for the country, or would the media label him a whiner?

  170. 170
    General Stuck says:

    @numbskull:

    where in this thread did i set any parameters, or goalposts for what I would accept, other than a one year extension? I have said in other threads, that until Pelosi caves on her promise for only a mc tax cut in the House, then the tax cuts are set on autopilot to all expire.

    I think that is what will happen, but it wouldn’t bother me if a deal was struck for a one year extension for both, to at least keep the mc from paying more taxes in hard times. But not two because that would put it up for renewal in an election year.

    Call me a dreamer, a unicorn wrangler, obot, anything you wish, because I don’t preclude the possibility that, oh noes! Obama may actually personally care that the mc doesn’t get squeezed in these hard times, just now. That maybe politics are secondary to him on this issue, rather than not caving to goopers to please some parts of his base, or anyone else. Golly, the horror the horror.

    This isn’t about me nor you dude, or our little pol addict designs and egos.

    now I’m trying to leave you folks alone, unless you pull me back in.

    edit – and the grades and test remark i made was prompted by another commenter using it on me a few days ago over this issue. It was a stupid thing for me to repeat, and I regret it. K

  171. 171
    chopper says:

    @Tsulagi:

    and how do you dedicate your life to ruining someone else’s when you have three kids to take care of by yourself, with nobody’s help?

    i mean, i know we’re kinda beating the analogy to death here, but part of the analogy is that bob is holding her relationship with the kids hostage here. she’ll always capitulate to keep the kids safe etc, because bob wants nothing to do with the children and raising them is now on her.

  172. 172
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    and, perhaps what we’re skipping over here is the “upper middle class” – relatively wealthy, but not rich. perhaps able to save/invest their way to becoming rich, eventually, with luck.

    I’ll grant you that, cleek. We are skipping over that and it does leave a lot of room for living with nicer toys and the chance to save and invest.

    Still, 250K puts you at a level where your household is doing better than 98% of the rest of the households. In my view, that’s called being in the catbird seat.

  173. 173
    Elie says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil:

    Frankly, I just wonder what the H is going on in the Whitehouse right now. With the departure of the old team leaders (Rahm and Axelrod), is there a bit of confusion or power intrigues that are mucking up decision making and the message to the outside?

    I am also a bit surprised though with time becoming less surprised and more concerned about the disconnect from what is happening out here and the perception of being adrift or without a firm approach or message to deal with the opposition.

    I am not one of the folks demanding that he undertake chest thumping and major dominance moves — impossible in this situation anyway. But I would like some sense of his/the team being on top of this better than they are projecting right now… really would…

  174. 174
    chopper says:

    @WyldPirate:

    indeed, if being in the top 2% of earners doesn’t make you relatively ‘stable’, that’s more an indictment of the state of our society as a whole, rather than what the term ‘middle class’ is supposed to mean.

    250K aint ‘middle class’. maybe if you live in the upper east side.

  175. 175
    MBunge says:

    @Tsulagi: Let’s stop and think about this for a second.

    To go back to the divorce analogy, let’s imagine Lisa follows your advice… Lisa taps Bob. Problem solved. If she goes for a more PC solution, she tells and convinces Bob if he won’t agree to and abide by a reasonable divorce and settlement she will dedicate her life to making his a living hell to the point his dick will be in a permanently shriveled state. And she follows through. It seems to me that there are 4 likely results.

    1. Bob backs down.
    2. Bob backs down, but only after putting up enough of a fight to make Lisa’s life a living hell.
    3. Bob never backs down and he and Lisa ruin each other’s lives.
    4. Bob kills Lisa.

    So, you’re advocating an approach that’s mostly likely going to make her suffer or get her murdered. Now, sometimes that’s the only choice you can make in this poor world and I certainly wouldn’t defend every single decision Obama has made as President. But I absolutely cannot stand the total fuckin’ morons on the intertubes who are totally fuckin’ oblivious to the fact that if Obama did everything they want they way they want it, there’s a pretty good chance nothing would be any better and some chance things would be a lot worse.

    Mike

  176. 176
    patrick II says:

    put the Lisa in a bind where she has to choose between damaging the children and losing money. Lisa will lose money almost every time in order to save the children.

    In this situation, capitulation is inevitable, the only question is what form it will take.

    As many of the other commentors do, I am going to disagree with this. Even if you are going to lose, you don’t have to capitulate. Losing is different from capitulating and capitulating is what you are advising. This is slow, incremental, unable to assess blame capitulation which will only lead to more losing and capitulation down the road since it is not made clear at the time why each of these is important how not implementing them will do damage, and who who exactly is the cause of the damage that will ensue.
    If we must lose START and DADT and unemployment benefits, which should stand on their own merits, then lose them. Half the reason we are in this spot now is because we did not take a stand earlier. If you don’t take a stand now, you are just losing them anyhow, but more slowly by giving more power and more money (which is what the tax breaks areall about) to people who are so ruthless they don’t care about the security of the country, their own gay brothers, friends and cousins, or people without enough food or a roof over their head. They care only about their own power and money.
    You can work out a deal now and hope that as we gradually concede power that we will recover power to do better later — that won’t reach a tipping point where we will never get any power back, where true democracy will cease to be a realistic hope. Obama believes in the “nudge” theory of gradual change, but I believe there is also the “black swan” theory where things seem to be going along in a manageable way but then a tipping point is reached and the system cannot be righted without correction from outside the system. You have to know where you are along the curve to know which theory to apply. I think we are pretty far down the curve — the tipping point is being reached, if it has not already been reached, where so much money and power has been aggregated to so few that the democracy we have is in danger of tipping over.
    So, the choices are not lose or lose. The choices are capitulate or lose. And capitulation inevitably leads to more and bigger losses down the road.
    It’s the opposite of that old saying we all learn “run away to fight again another day”, it’s more like “fight now or lose the ability to fight again another day.”

  177. 177
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @I have issues with Baltimore: That is either

    a) not possible
    b) has already been done to no effect
    c) would have no effect or negative effect if tried

    Pick your favorite answer from the menu (all are equally valid!) then move to your next idea and repeat.

  178. 178
    WyldPirate says:

    @chopper:

    I think Tsulagai’s point was that Obama was behaving like a battered spouse and expecting things to change (constant attempts at bipartsianship followed by constant FAIL).

    There are other alternatives. Obama isn’t alone. He can make a fray and still stay above it. He can chastise with cutting, low-key sarcasm (he excels at this. his best weapon IMO).

  179. 179
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I should also point out that with the rich getting richer in the last several decades, the middle-class has gotten middle-classier. So it’s reasonable to include someone making 5 or 10 million in the middle class when the top class is pulling down gazillions of dollars a year.

  180. 180
    danimal says:

    @numbskull –

    Then why the wage freeze for gubmint workers?

    I just can’t get worked up about that one. As a local government worker, my pay was cut 10% last year and I won’t be getting any kind of pay increase for at least two years. Obama’s doing what a whole lot of state and local chief executives (Dem and Rep)are doing.
    I believe this was a preemptive move; Republicans are less likely to succeed in freezing federal hiring or cutting federal pay now that Obama has ‘resolved’ the matter in the eyes of the public. I’m not sure if it was a good poker move or not, but that’s my impression of the move.

  181. 181
    WyldPirate says:

    @patrick II:

    I think we are pretty far down the curve—the tipping point is being reached, if it has not already been reached, where so much money and power has been aggregated to so few that the democracy we have is in danger of tipping over.
    So, the choices are not lose or lose. The choices are capitulate or lose. And capitulation inevitably leads to more and bigger losses down the road.

    Nice post, patrick II.

    I think you are right. I think our “Black Swan” moment has come and gone. The Citizen’s United case was the final nail in the coffin.

    Nothing stops the crazy train now except revolution, societal collapse or both. The first is dicey to the outcome and the second could take several generations to occur.

    Personally, I see a dying, highly armed Banana Republic in our future that is a danger to its citizens and the rest of the world.

  182. 182
    cleek says:

    @WyldPirate:

    In my view, that’s called being in the catbird seat.

    i suppose that’s true.

    what it really says to me is that the median is way too low. if people like my $250K friends are in the same 2% as Bill Gates, then the percentages are fucked-up.

  183. 183
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @aimai:

    ‘Obama’ just stands in for the concept of a co-ordinated, top down, Democratic messaging strategy

    You are fucking unreal. You rip me for being naive and then you come up with unmitigated bullshit like this. There IS NO coordinated top down Democratic messaging strategy. That’s the whole fucking problem. The whole. fucking. problem. You don’t just get to assume that there must be one. You have to MAKE IT. You have to BUILD IT. They don’t want it. We have actually-existing Democratic politicians who ACTIVELY REFUSE to participate in a coordinated top down Democratic messaging strategy. They would rather undercut it. You have to MAKE THEM STOP DOING THAT. How do you propose to do that? Tell me. Explain to me.

    I mean, this is like saying that it’s easy to fix the Pittsburgh Pirates. All they have to do is get better players and the ones they already have should play better too. Well, you know, that takes a lot of money and a lot of decisions, not all of which will work, and not everyone wants to play in fucking Pittsburgh in the first place, and money is finite. That’s not a strategy, it’s just fucking handwaving. But you think you’re being a savvy expert by suggesting it. What the fuck is that? Over and over and over again.

    It’s fucking unbelievable to sit back and hear this fuckwittery time and time and time again. And again, and again.

  184. 184
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    what it really says to me is that the median is way too low. if people like my $250K friends are in the same 2% as Bill Gates, then the percentages are fucked-up.

    Not really.

    It’s sort of like the example you had above about the difference in choice between people earning 25K and 50K and mine between people earning 50K and 250K.

    Certainly there is a difference in our choices, but the choices of the 50K person is not going to allow them to make up the difference to become well to do if they live at the 25K level as it would for the 250K income family to live at the 50K level.

    same thing is happening at the 250K level. Sure, the 250K people are doing OK. In comparison to the people in the top 0.1% of earners (who made, if IIRC 1.3M/year in 2006). they aren’t as able to live as well. Gates is orders of magnitude higher. People in his earning level are anomalies on the curve.

    The thing is, the needs for people at 1.3M, 250K and 50K are not that different. They still require roughly the amount of food, clothing, healthcare, shelter, transportation and fuel to support their movement and the production of goods they consume. The difference is the security and the grandeur if you will of what they can afford.

    I just don’t buy the argument that 250K is not rich in comparison to the vast majority of US citizens because they chose to live in a nicer zip code and have nicer toys.

  185. 185
    True Dat says:

    I guess I should give up hope that people will actually see reality and get off of Obama’s dick. He was never an answer, only a distraction. Hes the lefts rebound lay, and they still don’t know it.

  186. 186
    WyldPirate says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    You are fucking unreal. You rip me for being naive and then you come up with unmitigated bullshit like this. There IS NO coordinated top down Democratic messaging strategy. That’s the whole fucking problem. The whole. fucking. problem.

    There could be. It takes will and hard work and cut-throat tactics.

    And yes, their are people that undercut the President and his message. One Joe Lieberman comes to mind. But what did Obama do to him?

    Campaigned for him when he lost a Democratic Primary in his own state. How’s that for ignoring the will of the people?

    What did Lieberman do in return? Campaigned for fucking John S. McCain against Obama.

    What did the Dems then do? Reward Lieberman for his disloyalty with a committee chair.

    The Dems are their own worst enemies. Battared spouses going back to get the fuck beat out of them again

  187. 187
  188. 188
    Tsulagi says:

    @chopper:
    My point is capitulation is never inevitable, that it is the only option if an asshole or holes bring heat.

    As a personal example, I work in a small area of the defense industry. After 9/11, I was judged not to have the proper attitude by some(make that a majority) in my company. For some reason I didn’t pod thinking the Patriot Act and other rogerings of the Constitution, nor thought a civilian wet dream in their upcoming Iraq adventure based on specious intel/manufactured lies was an intelligent response to the attacks. That war was deemed “inevitable” at the time. Also didn’t think as some at that time that GWB was a savior virtually chosen by God to lead us at that time. I could understand God choosing a retard, but not also an incompetent one.

    Anyway, some people took offense. It was a weird almost two-year period for me. Got threatening anonymous emails. Some notes left on my car. Other stuff. Weird times. But at least two guys had the integrity and balls to tell me to my face they would work to have my contract terminated and see to it I didn’t work in this area again if I didn’t get on board the loony train. My livelihood and my family’s financial security was threatened. Guess you would say in those circumstances capitulation would be the only option, right?

    Bullshit. I’m still here, those two guys aren’t. And as far as I know, those two are still walking, breathing assholes. Elsewhere. Main defense was I do my job, and I do it well. Again, capitulation is never inevitable or the only option. How very un-Democratic of me.

    @MBunge: You should add a few more seconds to your thinking.

    In your four (that’s all you can come up with?) possible scenarios, using my situation above, #2 to a large extent is what occurred for me. Bob(s) backed down, but for a while, a limited time, brought pain and suffering to my working life. But as I mentioned, Bob ain’t here no more, and no doubt you’ll be happy to learn my contract not only has been extended, but been promoted and have even got a couple of retention bonuses. It all worked out. Starbursts.

    Actually, have to say not capitulating was the best thing for me financially. Made me scramble to develop other sources of income to provide for my family. All legal. Made investments that paid out, and some still providing good returns. Really, I should thank those Bobs for trying to fuck me over telling me resistance was futile for pushing my ass.

    Capitulation and going ass up is a choice, never an inevitability.

  189. 189
    aimai says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Oh, I see, you lack basic reading skills. I have been actually complaining about the lack of strong messaging, tight control, an unified brand thinking on the part of the Democrats. That is the problem we are trying to diagnose and to fix. As we talk about it you and stuck insist that its either not something that top democrats like the *leader of the party and our president* can fix, or not a problem at all. The rest of us are actually trying to figure out what we need to do if the Democrats can’t get their act together and Obama can’t figure out how to make them. Is that clear enough for you? Actually, I’m unable to believe you are so stupid as to actually think that anything you wrote has any basis in reality, but let me spell it out for you:

    Since I’m a member of my local Democratic Ward, have gone to the state level caucus as a voting member, have donated and worked for democrats at the state and federal level, have donated to the Obama campaign specifically in both the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, worked as clerk of the elections and have been politically active since I turned 18 I think I’m qualified to tell you to fuck off with your bad self you total and complete moron. You and stuck talk the loudest but I doubt very much that you’ve ever been seriously politically active in your lives. If you were more than the cheering section for the current popular pick as president you’d be as pissed off as the rest of us at seeing our hard work and hard earned money pissed away by the usual top democratic circlular firing squad.

    aimai

  190. 190
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @aimai:

    I have been actually complaining about the lack of strong messaging, tight control, an unified brand thinking on the part of the Democrats. That is the problem we are trying to diagnose and to fix.

    No, you’re not. You just call it “Obama.” Then you blame “Obama” for not doing the thing that you yourself bloody well know is a long, hard, irritating slog.

    ETA: There’s no reason to call the problem “Obama.” The problem is every single institution of the Democratic party and contemporary American liberalism and how well it persuades and affects human beings. Calling it “Obama” just makes you look and sound like Corner Stone and WyldPirate. Stop calling it “Obama.” Say instead that Obama, you know, the real guy who lives and breathes, should do something else than what he does. And also that Max Baucus and Ben Nelson _should_ do something else, and then _give them a reason_ to do it your way.

    This is the right project. You talk about it the right way here. But what purpose does it serve to call it “Obama”? All that does is divert the whole thing into another discussion of Obama’s shrunken balls. But you don’t mean Obama, you mean “Obama,” which is to say, contemporary American liberalism as it plays out in institutional politics.

  191. 191
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @aimai:

    The rest of us are actually trying to figure out what we need to do if the Democrats can’t get their act together and Obama can’t figure out how to make them.

    Maybe you are. 99% of the people who post here to criticize Obama, the guy, not Obama the embodied principle of the Democratic party since 1972, basically say that he’s not much of a man. They’re not trying to figure out anything. They’re just bitching because he’s not living up to their image of leftism they acquired from their Che Guevara T-shirt and the dogeared copy of Frantz Fanon they found at that coffee place.

  192. 192
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @aimai: I’m sorry, you’re not really the target of all of that, but I was pissed off about the notion that the point I wanted to make about “negotiation”–which I meant in more the way mistermix does in this piece–was somehow “naive,” but it wasn’t naive to say that what the Democrats need is a top-down coordinated messaging strategy. To me that’s kind of like saying that leaders lead and winners win.

    Defining and suggesting how to achieve that, given that very many Democratic politicians are highly unlikely to play along and indeed actively refuse to play along on principle, is indispensable, and I have no idea how to get there, and I have essentially no hope in ever getting there.

    It’s the Theory of Everything, and it would explain a lot and guide a lot of Democratic victories, so it’s _appealing_. But what is it? No one has figured it out yet, and the best suggestions so far, like economic populism, haven’t persuaded the business/corporate/DLC wing that still has a lot of influence because of how much credit they get for Clinton.

  193. 193
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Calling it “Obama” just makes you look and sound like Corner Stone and WyldPirate.

    Hey fuck you asshole. Your problem isn’t a “reading” one, it’s a “filter” one.
    You can’t see anything remotely critical of Obama or Democratic leadership without trying to parse it away.
    Because you’re filter is engaged you probably haven’t noticed that I do not call Obama stupid, weak, not tough enough or any of that bullshit. Or any derivative nicknames either.
    My criticism is focused on specific actions and outcomes.

    Your pathetic rebuttals all sound the same.

  194. 194
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: All right, I was pissed off and lumped you in where I shouldn’t have. My bad.

  195. 195
    AxelFoley says:

    @steviez314:

    What I don’t understand is why all the people mad at Obama over this don’t get off their asses instead and go picket and sit-in at the home state offices of Snowe, Collins, Brown, etc.
    Those “moderate” Republicans should be hearing from the people they need to get re-elected.

    Because that’s too much hard work, stevie. So-called progressives are better at being armchair quarterbacks rather than suiting up and getting their fats asses on the field and get dirty.

    See Kos, Daily

  196. 196
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You can’t see anything remotely critical of Obama or Democratic leadership without trying to parse it away.

    I’m still not sure why I got no credit for saying the federal wage freeze thing was stupid.

    Also, I think I’m trying to steer people towards better criticism, not _no_ criticism. “Negotiation 101” and its offshoots, and the even worse “bullies” variations, are dumb kinds of criticism.

  197. 197
    AxelFoley says:

    @geg6:

    Much as I hated it when Bush used it (for little reason, really; he would have gotten whatever he wanted anyway), I’d like to see Obama use executive power. But that’s too partisan for him, so forget that.
    He’ll cave on it all. I have no doubt about that.

    So, like many on the left, you want the left version of George Bush?

  198. 198
    AxelFoley says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    Let’s also be clear that the basic problem he has concerns the handful of Democrats ready to lend the GOP an assist from time to time. There certainly are a few who are happy to extend tax cuts to the super-rich, whether because they’re still spooked by their own shadows or are simply craven Congress-critters.

    Bingo. These are the same fucks who are the reason why so many bills got watered down before reaching the President’s desk to sign.

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @AxelFoley: Everyone loves a benevolent despot.

  200. 200
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @AxelFoley: Those are also the same fucks that aimai hopes will play along with the top-down coordinated messaging strategy. It would be amazing for Democrats and progressives if they did. But they haven’t shown any willingness to do it.

  201. 201
    AxelFoley says:

    @General Stuck:

    You gotta love it. A gaggle of bloggers on the internet claiming Obama doesn’t negotiate right, after getting himself elected president and passing HCR, and a bunch of other stuff.
    Comedy Central for morons

    You gotta realize, General, these are the same folks–progressives, mind you–who say that this President hasn’t accomplished anything.

    These assholes are doing the GOP’s work for them.

  202. 202
    AxelFoley says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    @AxelFoley: Those are also the same fucks that aimai hopes will play along with the top-down coordinated messaging strategy. It would be amazing for Democrats and progressives if they did. But they haven’t shown any willingness to do it.

    Exactly.

  203. 203
    AxelFoley says:

    @cleek:

    do you not realize that campaigning is not the same as governing ?

    Irony.

  204. 204
    AxelFoley says:

    @brendancalling:

    remember how Obama used to be able to turn the tables on the gop and the conservatives? Like back when they were pulling all the Jeremiah Wright shit, and he went and gave that awesome speech about race, and they had to shut the fuck up?
    what happened to that guy? where did he go?

    I believe cleek said something about campaigning and governing being two different things.

  205. 205
    AxelFoley says:

    @True Dat:

    I guess I should give up hope that people will actually see reality and get off of Obama’s dick. He was never an answer, only a distraction. Hes the lefts rebound lay, and they still don’t know it.

    LOL, you fuckers are pathetic.

  206. 206
    Joel says:

    The Democrats could just stonewall and see where that goes.

    I didn’t say it’s a good strategy, but it’s another option.

  207. 207
    DPirate says:

    To mistermix, all of what you say may be true, but it only points to how weak the democratic party behaves, and weakness will always be taken advantage of by cruelty.

    The fourth option, and the only one that really makes any sense, considering the opposition, is to come over the top. Veto everything that isnt exactly what he wants and let them hang themselves.

    As it stands right now, the democrats have little to no credibility with the people, and what they credit more than anything is individualism and strength. He needs to use the bully pulpit to the hilt.

  208. 208
    Josie says:

    @WyldPirate: Thank you. This is what I was getting ready to post. You said it much better than I would have. If I had that kind of income with my present enforced level of spending, I would be a millionaire in five years. Not a bad bargain.

  209. 209
    celticdragonchick says:

    @MBunge:

    That’s the best laugh I’ve had in a while. If you have any more hilarious fantasies about how people behave, let’s hear them.

    You remind me of a less funny liberal version of SNL’s “Church Lady”.

  210. 210
    dcinsd says:

    @Christin: If you read the other stories about the tax cut negotiations, the “millionaire” reference is to a compromise that will change the cutoff from $250,000 to a million. They are not referring to people who make $250k as millionaires. Regardless, most people earning $250,000 per year are millionaires as that term applies to assets, not this year’s earned cash. If you make that much, you probably have a house, vacation home, car, jewelry, stock, etc. that easily add up to a cool million or more. If you don’t, you’re a really bad money manager and have no business earning $250,000.

  211. 211
    Terry Holland says:

    Well, there is a Fourth Way. Obama can draw a line in the sand, too, if he can come up with a his own manifesto. I don’t know why it should be so hard for him. It isn’t hard for me.

    I stand for a government that stands for all the people, that works to protect and provide for those who struggle to protect and provide for themselves. The least among us are as important the most among us and if we lack the character to accept that notion of our common humanity, then we are lost as a people.

    And as for the knuckle-draggers who wrap themselves in macho posturing, I say a lot of old boys can spit, but not all of them can fight. I can fight.

Comments are closed.