Angry Left Needs Hugs and Kisses

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is Needed

The angry left is angry with Barack Obama. It’s lying on the floor kicking and screaming and holding its breath. Goodness is not being accomplished. Injustice continues sort of unabated. Bad people are doing bad things. This is obviously all the president’s fault.

I wish.

The angry left presumes that the president is in full control of the government, when he’s obviously not. Even George W. Bush learned that and he was a Republican.

Obama won the election. Lincoln won the Civil War. But the South won the peace because the North was unable to consolidate its victory. Reconstruction was a failure. Yes, slavery was gone, but the rest of the Jim Crow way of life remained, and in some ways got worse. The red states are an almost perfect match for the slave states and territories. The government and media are infested with unreconstructed rebels who faithfully represent the interests of their corporate masters. The rats haven’t abandoned ship. To the contrary they are mutating so desperately they will soon have fangs like tigers.

All government serves the interests of the owning class to the detriment of the people. Revolutions occasionally occur and just plain folks soon become the new weaponized ruling class. All governments use repression, torture, injustice as a means of maintaining power. A reporter asked former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari why he made a certain annoying policy decision. “Because you govern by governing,” he answered.

The United States has gone off the deep end and created a state of permanent war in order to increase the wealth of the ruling class. It isn’t something that can be corrected easily.

Imagine that you are a businessman instead of a social activist. You discover that key employees have abused your trust and run the ship on the rocks behind your back, ruined your credit, stolen your trade secrets, changed the locks and passwords. They are so deeply embedded in your infrastructure that some of your own board is in on the scam and others are so deluded that they think you’re a bit daft. The stockholders are being enriched through some kind of Ponzi scheme, so they don’t want to know what’s going on as long as those dividends keep on trucking.

Now let us suppose that your employees are armed and dangerous and have a lot more firepower than you do. Do your criminal employees simply hand over the new passwords on being notified that the jig’s up? What if the only way you can get them out is with flamethrowers, thereby destroying whatever’s left.

The United States is a plutocracy. This is frankly acknowledged by the business sector, as in the Citibank report on plutonomy .

In The Rich and the Super-Rich

, Ferdinand Lundberg argued very convincingly that that one-half of one percent of the United States population then owned or controlled 95% of its assets. Since then, things have gotten much worse. The more charitable — but grotesquely skewed — benchmarks conceal the real ratio by omitting control of capital and only considering income (totally fake figures from known tax evaders) and directly owned assets.

The United States government is their administrative agency. The president is CEO. Although he has a big role in shaping the agenda, he ultimately carries out the orders of this inner ring of power. How could it be any other way?

Now this plutocracy selects a new business manager to replace a total frat boy goonball with the reverse Midas touch. The new business manager attempts to steer the brand away from a generalized economic and social Kristallnacht. He does not immediately reform the security sector because they have guns (read that in the broadest sense of weapons while repeating after me “JFK, RFK, MLK”) and they do not especially want to be reformed by outsiders, thank you. Despite this, he does make significant progress in other areas.

“This is harder than it looks,” Van Jones (who resigned from the White House after being linked with 9/11 doubts) told Netroots Nation.

“President Obama volunteered to be the captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg,” Jones reminded his progressive audience. He might have also pointed out that the Titanic sank because the owners changed the safety specifications of the steel and rivets in order to make the ship go faster. That’s exactly what’s going on now.

Whether you are passenger or crew, you better hope it gets fixed, because they also reduced the recommended number of lifeboats (chilling fact, but true in both the Titanic and the ship of state). Democrats want to lay on more lifeboats by stripping some of the materials from the lounges. Republicans are blocking that because they think that the worse it gets, the better for them. What?

I’m not disappointed in President Obama in terms of what he’s accomplished, but in his utter lack of political good sense in allowing Rahm Emanuel to purge Howard Dean and then to insult the liberals who worked so hard and contributed so much money to assure the 2008 victory.

Although I’m known as a writer, most of my income comes from graphic design, giving me the freedom to write whatever I please instead of whatever some publisher pleases. I once had a client in a corner. I set a price that made the color drain from his face. I was the only one who could deliver the job. He said, “Jeez, if you’re going to fuck me, could you at least give me a kiss first.” I said, “The kiss is that I am not going to double it because you are being insolent. Just make out the check.” And I laughed. And he laughed, too. He also increased his fortune considerably as a result of my work, so I’m sure he laughed all the way to the bank, too.

President Obama needs to hand out some real kisses between now and November. Addressing the Netroots Nation is not enough. He won’t get rid of Rahm Emanuel* (who is surely too useful in crucial ways), but he can rehabilitate Howard Dean and use his executive powers to make highly visible moves that will re-energize the liberals. I do not recommend total fasting while praying for that. Let’s just hope he orders Timothy Geithner to endorse Consumer Protection Agency nominee Elizabeth Warren* enthusiastically with a big smile and a hug so hearty it will make his special other jealous. The president can then do whatever is necessary to make sure she’s immediately dispatching highly visible orders smiting those who would do evil to consumers. If a recess appointment enrages the angry right, so much the better. They aren’t going to vote for Democrats, are they?

I’m not angry, so I won’t need any kisses from the president, which will surely be in very short supply. But I’ve always been a sucker for blondes, so if Elizabeth Warren is going to be handing out any kisses, you can be sure that I will be first in line.

Jules Siegel

Jules Siegel is a long-time writer, photograph and graphic artist, reporting now from Cancun, Mexico.
*Note: Since this piece was published, Rahm Emanuel resigned from his position with the Obama Administration and became mayor of Chicago. Elizabeth Warren was not selected to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


  1. Janet says

    It seems to me that we want everything and we want it now. The problem is we haven’t given Obama the support and tools he needs in order to get us everything. Right wing media keeps screaming that he has total control of both houses but that isn’t true. The votes aren’t there because we have too many Democrats who seem to always vote with the Republicans. Instead of realizing that we’ve got to go to work to give him more Democratic support in order to “get us everything” its easier to rant at him. If Obama had beat his chest and insisted on getting the full left agenda he would have accomplished nothing. Had it not been for him negotiating with Senator Snowe HCR wouldn’t even have been allowed to come to the floor for debate. With the way the votes are stacked everything could have come to a standstill in the Senate and he could have accomplished nothing. He did the best for us he could with the cards he’s been dealt.
    In fact he’s accomplished more than Roosevelt accomplished. Compared to the tiny social security bill Roosevelt passed which only covered a few Americans in the beginning, Obama’s health care bill looks like heaven. If we get busy and get him the votes he needs instead of constantly criticizing him, it will get better too and eventually include a public option. However, if we keep listening to the media and buy into their right wing tactics to turn his base against him by saying he isn’t doing enough or fighting hard enough, we’ll just help get more Republicans elected. Then we can forget about everything we’ve accomplished so far and forget about EVER changing anything again. This is it. If we let the Republicans take over again, we’ll never have another chance. They will see to it.
    After all of Roosevelts programs to create jobs, there still were no jobs because jobs always lag behind. He’d been at it for a lot longer than 4 years too. Our President has only had a couple of years with constant opposition and slander from the Republicans and right-wing controlled media. The only reason Roosevelt was re-elected was because the poor got out and voted for him, not because they had jobs but because Roosevelt had given them hope that one day they would have jobs. The poor were right to have faith.
    Roosevelt raised taxes on the rich and increased wages for labor.
    It paid the enormous deficit he had incurred and it gave Americans money to buy products. That in turn saved this country by growing the economy. Businesses had to hire more workers, who could spend more money and keep growing the economy. It was the ONLY thing that worked.
    If the Republicans take over again they will lower taxes for the rich and corporations who take our jobs overseas and crush wages, which means no one will have money to spend on products. Businesses will cut back shrinking the economy even more and more and more. This country will plunge into a depression but the Republicans won’t care if Americans starve to death. The rich don’t suffer in a depression. There will be no help or social programs of any kind. Is this what you want?
    Everytime we complain about our President, we elect another Republican to office. I, for one, am grateful for what he has been able to accomplish for us so far and I’m not willing to let the Republicans take away everything he’s accomplished so far. If he had played it the beat my chest way, we would have nothing right now and personally I think we got a lot with the HCR bill and I don’t agree with the Repubs and pundits who try to tell us that the financial reform bill doesn’t do anything. It’s a tactic to fool Obama’s supporters into disatisfaction with our accomplishments so they can take over again. Is this what we want?

  2. Albatross says

    I think the real problem here is between two Liberal factions with different motivations. On the one hand are partisan Democrats. Partisanship is good when it gets people to work together towards a goal, but it’s bad when it becomes a defensive reflex, and that’s what’s happening here. On the other hand are ideological progressives. Ideology is good when it helps unite a group with a common vision, and it’s bad when it becomes defensively proscriptive limiting what is and isn’t acceptable.

    Partisan Democrats want to defend the party, often at the expense of ideology. Ideological progressives want moral leadership, even if it means bucking the party.

    President Obama campaigned (as they all do) as a party stalwart and a progressive ideologue, but in practice he’s really only a party stalwart. Unfortunately he’s not JUST a party stalwart, but he’s a conservative Democratic partisan, further distancing him from progressive ideologies.

    That’s your split. Progressives see Democratic partisans as too quick to excuse the president, and too quick to abandon moral principles for expedience. Democratic partisans see progressive ideologues as unreasonable romantics with no pragmatic appreciation of what it takes to run a party.

    Now, isn’t that a more effective and helpful way of describing the problem, even if it doesn’t yet offer a solution, than the shaming and infantilizing language that appears at the beginning of the article. Possibly if liberals could work more cooperatively we could start to overcome the conservatives, rather than fighting amongst ourselves.

  3. Marshall says

    I began my life during one of FDR’s early terms. I can remember WWII black outs in city where he ruled. During my life there have been some average, some poor, and only a few good Presidents. When Truman took over the office, my older family members told me that not even lucky strikes liked him, the side of each pack had the letters LSMFT, or Lord save me from Truman. I was told this over and over and it was only years later that I learned the letters stood for “lucky strick means fine tobacco”. Now Truman is seen as one of the good presidents. It takes time for the truth to be known about Presidents and only time will tell for the last few.

    In my mind, FDR, Nixion, Carter, and Obama are at the low part of the scale. Of course is will take time to tell if Obama is as good as the left says, but I did not like any former progressives in that office so I include him there for now. I am afraid that his youth was not as well rounded as I would have like.

  4. Jody says

    I have come to realize that too many Democrats, especially so-called leaders, are adept at making excuses, the majority of time blaming others. I have lived through enough administrations to see a pattern.

    The last time the Democrats had a governmental majority was the first two years of the Clinton administration. The same unwillingness to wield political power was exhibited, nor the President used his Bully Pulpit. Worse, in Clinton’s efforts to compromise and show his bi-partisanship, we were left with the very tools the right has used to destroy rational discourse, and attack any progressive issues incessantly through the media, the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that deregulated the media, allowed the massive consolidation of the media, and removed any sense of requiring fairness or accuracy in reporting or balanced air time. That opened the door for hate radio, consolidation of ownership so editorial influence was felt in the majority of markets in both the print and broadcast media. He also supported and signed, and many Democrats supported the deregulation of the financial sector, leading to the crisis we are in today.

    The power elite use the Republican Party to accomplish their long-term strategic goals that include decimating the middle class, destroying unions, deregulation, and increasing further their economic and political power. They use what they consider a weakness of the Democratic mindset; understanding, compromise, altruism, and compassion and empathy for others.

    Today I heard once more how a Democratic initiative could not pass because it did not have 60 votes. Under Bush there were multiple times
    the Republicans pushed through legislation with a simple majority, but somehow Democrats have to have a super-majority. He also used executive orders to run roughshod over the Democrats, and our Constitution. He did not care what the Democrats wanted or what their views were. His administration gutted our Bill of Rights and the Constitution. He appointed ideologues to the Supreme Court who have further eroded personal rights, and was able to do so with the willing aid of Democratic Senators like Feinstein.

    President Obama has continued many of the same executive orders that trashed our Bill of Rights. Since he has been President there have been several instances where good people were thrown under the bus because the administration was scared of the right wing media machine, the most recent being the Sherrod incident.

    We do not have the comprehensive financial reform that is critical to the people regaining control of the financial sector excesses and greed. We do not have the comprehensive health care reform that is so desperately required. We continue to have the Patriot act and multiple infringements on our personal liberties and privacy. It appears that the prior administration will not be held accountable for their violations of both international and federal law. Only middle class and poor private citizens are held accountable for obeying the law.

    This country is at a critical crossroads, not only as a country, but also as a leader it what will be the future of humanity. At such a critical time we need a leader with courage and Democratic leadership that will act with the urgency required. It is a fool’s path to compromise the future well-being of our country and humanity, with people who would not do the same if (and every time) they were in power. It is disgusting the way the very people who lost all three branches in the last election act as if they were the majority, and the majority lets them.

  5. Joe Weinstein says

    What a scattershot broadside! And yet it misses big reasons that not only is the ‘left’ angry, but the ‘center’ too, including many of us who in some respects count ourselves ‘left’ and in others count ourselves ‘center’.

    The problem is not only the ones identified in the article or its subtitle: Obama’s understandable lack of total intelligence or of total control.

    The unacknowleded serious problem is his demonstrated lack of moral good sense. George Bush is rightly blamed for a ‘cowboy’ ‘me-first’ or ‘me-only’ morality, but Obama merits blame – not praise or peace-prizes – for an equally untenable ‘everyone-else first’ super-altruistic morality, a messianic morality which – at home and abroad – not only tries to ‘love thy enemy’ but puts the enemy first, before friends, and for far too long a time; and indeed rewards enmity and intransigence. So Obama and his crew have indulged intransigents (Republicans and others), including Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, the Iran regime and its repression and its programs for nukes and genocide. And it crafts excuses to wimp away from and disregard inconvenient inimical forces, whether they arise from oil use and extraction or to violent Islam-Supremacy.

  6. says

    This is a very difficult war game, in which priorities must be carefully kept in order, cards played, and political and other resources expended with deep consideration and understanding of all aspects of the problem, unintended consequences, etc. A huge part of the outcome is totally uncontrollable (most notably the health of certain members of SCOTUS), effectively random inputs, so there is no guarantee of success no matter how well we play our hand.

    It really is a “war”, because the opposition would rather see Obama fail utterly, risking total social and democratic disaster, than lose their hope of regaining control and protecting their wealth and privilege, which they foolishly believe they cannot live without.

    I think Obama and his large team are clearly the best qualified force in America today to evaluate all these competing complexities, tactical and strategic issues, and make intelligent choices among the countless alternative policies. Yet of course they are human, and fallible as we all are, so they need constructive criticism as well as determined support, and some sympathy when the blow it, as they will from time to time.

    We are all ignorant here. Ignorance is the human condition, even on a small planet that is itself too vast for anyone to fully understand. It is a serious problem that so few people appreciate the depths of our ignorance, but as “you don’t know what you don’t know”, it is inevitable. So let us be grateful for what (we think) we know, and not too scornful or dismissive of those who are a little more ignorant. For in the end we must make peace with all but the truly unreachable fringes.

    Ultimately education is the only hope for us, but there are so many layers of problems in series with a solution to that one, that we will be lucky if any of us live to see it. Meanwhile we need to win most of the battles that are in our face merely to stay in the game, and yet do whatever we can to heal the poisonous political culture that has developed since in the past 50 years.

    Obama is a big boy, he can take criticism and recover gracefully from mistakes. Let’s just don’t shoot at him, please!

    I fear we will not see his like for a long, long time.

  7. GaryH says

    The left, for obvious reasons is always underfunded compared to the Republicans. — that’s a big part of the problem.
    — Gary the Grouch, a non-prophet person (pun intended)

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