The White House
Take a precocious 25-year-old and give him a venue at the Washington Post, and you get someone who knows that he’s got to polish a lot of turds to keep his job.
Record numbers of people are losing their jobs and homes, some dying from lack of health care, the economy is in the crapper, we’re still killing people in an endless war, the earth is (quite literally) on fire, no productive action on most of these issues, but Robert Gibbs’s feelings are hurt:
The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity.
During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.
“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
Yeah, except for that “assassinating U.S. citizens without due process” thing. Minor sticking point, bygones!
The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”
Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”
The White House, constantly under fire from expected enemies on the right, has been frustrated by nightly attacks on cable news shows catering to the left, where Obama and top lieutenants like Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have been excoriated for abandoning the public option in healthcare reform; for not moving faster to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and for failing, so far, to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Liberals have criticized Obama and his staff for moving to the middle and bargaining on healthcare reform, as well as the financial regulatory overhaul and even the $787 billion economic stimulus package, which some liberals said should have been larger.
Just last week, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow described Obama political adviser David Axelrod as a “human pretzel” for his explanation of the administration’s position on gay marriage. Axelrod had explained that Obama opposes same-sex marriage but favors equal benefits for partners in gay relationships.
Attacks from liberal political groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which raises money for liberal candidates and causes, are also frustrating to the White House.
Adam Green, one of PCCC’s founders, repeatedly blasted Obama for a “loser mentality” during the healthcare debate, criticizing the president and Emanuel for not trying harder to include the public option in the final healthcare legislation. The group even ran ads accusing Obama of ignoring the will of the millions who voted for him by courting the support of Republican Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe.
PCCC is now pressing Obama to nominate Elizabeth Warren, a hero to the left, as the first head of the new consumer protection office created by the Wall Street reform bill.
While visibly frustrated, Gibbs did not specifically name any of the White Houses’s liberal detractors by name.
Imagine. This is what Obama finally gets angry about.
Boo fucking hoo. Really, Robert. Maybe it’s time you looked for another job. It sounds like this one’s getting to you.
The White House wants to make its deals and pose for the cameras without any input from the DFHs. Get used to it, boys. We’re not going anywhere.
So, to recap: (1) The Professional Left are totally irrelevant losers who speak for absolutely nobody, and certainly nobody in Real America who matters; but (2) they’re ruining everything for the White House!!! And: if you criticize the President, it’s only because you’re such a rabid extremist that you harbor a secret desire to eliminate the Pentagon — that’s how anti-American you are! You’re such a Far Left extremist that Dennis Kucinich isn’t far enough Left for you, you subversive, drug-using hippies! As David Frum put it today: “More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base.” The Democrats have been concerned about a lack of enthusiasm on the part of their base headed into the midterm elections. These sorts of rabid, caricatured, Fox-News-copying attacks on the Left will undoubtedly help generate more enthusiasm — more loud clapping — for the Democrats. I know I’m eager to go canvass and clap for Democrats after reading Gibbs’ noble, inspiring vision. If it were Gibbs’ goal to be as petulant and self-pitying as possible, what could he have done differently?
Perhaps one day the White House can work itself up to express this sort of sputtering rage against the Right, or the Wall Street thieves who destroyed the American economy, or the permanent factions that control Washington. Until then, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with White House explanations that the Real Culprits are not (of course) them, but the Professional Left, that is simultaneously totally irrelevant and ruining everything. I’ll give credit to Gibbs for putting his name on this outburst: these are usually the things they say anonymously and then deny afterward on the record that it’s what they think.
Social Security’s okay to cut, boys, but don’t go touching our Homeland Security budget!
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that the Pentagon will cut thousands of jobs, including a substantial chunk of its private contractors and a major military command based in Norfolk, as part of an ongoing effort to streamline its operations and to stave off political pressure to slash defense spending in the years ahead.
Gates said he will recommend that President Obama dismantle the U.S. Joint Forces Command, which employs about 2,800 military and civilian personnel as well as 3,300 contractors, most of them in southeastern Virginia. He also said he will terminate two other Pentagon agencies, impose a 10 percent cut in intelligence advisory contracts and slim down what he called a “top-heavy hierarchy” by thinning the ranks of admirals and generals by at least 50 positions.
The reduction in funding for contract employees — by 10 percent annually over three years — excludes those in war zones.
Although the moves will save an unspecified amount of money, defense officials characterized them as a political preemptive strike to fend off growing sentiment elsewhere in Washington to tackle the federal government’s soaring deficits by making deep cuts in military spending. The Obama administration has exempted national security from its budget reductions, but Gates said he fears that Congress might not be able to resist for long.
Craig Aaron at the Huffington Post explores the gory details of the Google-Verizon agreement for internet service:
So Google and Verizon went public today with their “policy framework” — better known as the pact to end the Internet as we know it.
But cut through the platitudes the two companies (Googizon, anyone?) offered on today’s press call, and you’ll find this deal is even worse than advertised.
The proposal is one massive loophole that sets the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can’t discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
It’s what makes sure the next Google, out there in a garage somewhere, has just as good a chance as any giant corporate behemoth to find its audience and thrive online.
What Google and Verizon are proposing is fake Net Neutrality. You can read their framework for yourself here or go here to see Google twisting itself in knots about this suddenly “thorny issue.” But here are the basics of what the two companies are proposing:
1. Under their proposal, there would be no Net Neutrality on wireless networks — meaning anything goes, from blocking websites and applications to pay-for-priority treatment.
2. Their proposed standard for “non-discrimination” on wired networks is so weak that actions like Comcast’s widely denounced blocking of BitTorrent would be allowed.
3. The deal would let ISPs like Verizon — instead of Internet users like you — decide which applications deserve the best quality of service. That’s not the way the Internet has ever worked, and it threatens to close the door on tomorrow’s innovative applications. (If RealPlayer had been favored a few years ago, would we ever have gotten YouTube?)
4. The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into “two pipes” — one of which would be reserved for “managed services,” a pay-for-play platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.
5. The pact proposes to turn the Federal Communications Commission into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing consumer complaints but unable to make rules of its own. Instead, it would leave it up to unaccountable (and almost surely industry-controlled) third parties to decide what the rules should be.
“What created democracy was Thomas Paine and Shays Rebellion, the suffragists and the abolitionists and on down through the populists and the labor movement, including the Wobblies. Tough, in your face people… Mother Jones, Woody Guthrie… Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez. And now it’s down to us.
“These are agitators. They extended democracy decade after decade. You know, sometimes we get in the midst of these fights. We think we’re making no progress. But… you look back, we’ve made a lot of progress… The agitator after all is the center post in the washing machine that gets the dirt out. So, we need a lot more agitation….
“We can battle back against the powers. But it’s not just going to a rally and shouting. It’s organizing and it’s thinking. And reaching out to others. And building a real people’s movement.”
And in a related note: I’m not here to make Michelle Obama or her husband feel better. I’m here to agitate for fairness, for peace, dignity, and economic justice. Honestly, anyone who’s more worried about their feelings, go right ahead.
But don’t confuse protecting them with activism. Obama is the man who’s standing by and letting the corporations shred what little is left of the safety net. He’s not on the side of working people.
Try to remember that.
Aug 10th, 2010 at 7:22 am by susie
Chris Hedges today posted his speech the other night on the Gaza boat fundraiser, at truthdig. Beautiful. Read it. Excerpt:
I would like to remind them [the Israeli government] that it is they who hide in darkness. It is we who stand in the light. It is they who deceive. It is we who openly proclaim our compassion and demand justice for those who suffer in Gaza. We are not afraid to name our names. We are not afraid to name our beliefs. And we know something you perhaps sense with a kind of dread. As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, and that arc is descending with a righteous fury that is thundering down upon the Israeli government.
You may have the bulldozers, planes and helicopters that smash houses to rubble, the commandos who descend from ropes on ships and kill unarmed civilians on the high seas as well as in Gaza, the vast power of the state behind you. We have only our hands and our hearts and our voices. But note this. Note this well. It is you who are afraid of us. We are not afraid of you. We will keep working and praying, keep protesting and denouncing, keep pushing up against your navy and your army, with nothing but our bodies, until we prove that the force of morality and justice is greater than hate and violence. And then, when there is freedom in Gaza, we will forgive … you. We will ask you to break bread with us. We will bless your children even if you did not find it in your heart to bless the children of those you occupied. And maybe it is this forgiveness, maybe it is the final, insurmountable power of love, which unsettles you the most.
I remember having sinus surgery, waking up and having my surgeon proudly announce he’d also (as if I’d won a prize) “shaved off that bump on your nose.” I looked at him and said, “Why did you do that? I liked that bump.” I did; it was the family bump, every one of my siblings had it. And now I don’t.
I haven’t thought of that in years, until I saw this performance piece. Here’s Katie Makkai, a veteran poetry slammer, defining the word “pretty” (via Maya):