Thursday, June 17, 2010

Better a half a loaf repost than no loaf post at all

Following is something I posted over in the forums.

The first three blockquotes are excerpts from previous posts I had put up elsewhere in that thread, while arguing against both righties and lefties who are bent on bashing Obama. As with my post, I included the excerpts for context, and as a lead-in for the real meat, from Jim Newell, which follows.


Originally Posted by bjkeefe

It is also true that some of us, at least, who remain in the "approval" column have never thought a president got handed a magic wand on Inauguration Day. Some of us were and continue to be realistic about the checks and balances, to coin a phrase, that exist in our system. Some of us are more inclined to be pissed at the Congress and/or certain Dems and "Independents" in the Congress than we are at the President when it comes to passing legislation.

Originally Posted by bjkeefe

And of course, our media environment being what it is, we tend to see and hear those most willing to scream the loudest. It's not much of a news story to report on someone like me -- kinda phlegmatic, reasonably satisfied, willing to give him four years before passing final judgment -- as it is to report on someone howling that he is JUST LIKE BUSH!!!1! No, worse!!!1!

Originally Posted by bjkeefe

So, at the end of the day, I still consider him far better than the thought of McCain/Palin, and I still can't imagine voting against him in 2012, given any even remotely plausible options.

damn it all, i agree with that too.

Yep. It does kind of suck, in some ways, doesn't it?

Tying the above, and more, together, Newell get serious for a while, and as is usually the case in these situations, his post deserves to be stolen reposted in full.

C'mon, Give Barack Obama Some Credit For Making BP Pay

The weak, spineless worst president ever, whose abysmal speech yesterday eliminated any hope for American prosperity for countless generations, is such an evil corporatist that he's... found a way to make BP pay claims. Will he ever "show leadership"?

The reaction to Barack Obama's mediocre speech last night revealed one of the more annoying trends in parts of the Left: you're less vulnerable bashing the shit out of him at all times than trying to defend him, or even consider his motives.

It was disappointing that he didn't acknowledge the environmental need or the economic merits of pricing carbon in the wishy-washy second half of his speech, absolutely. The public has, sadly, grown more skeptical if not outright dismissive of the need to address climate change and the transition to an advanced, high-tech, clean energy economy — something only achievable through carbon pricing, be it a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. This is understandable — most people are too busy worrying about unemployment right now — but the president can't let our carbon problem disappear entirely from the public arena. A line or two would've been nice!

But there are not and will not be enough votes in the Senate this year to pass an energy bill with a strong carbon pricing mechanism, and that's why he didn't bring it up or "set markers." This was the takeaway from his speech. You can ask him to "lead" more, but the votes will not show up in the Senate. They're not there. He cannot twist enough arms. It would go down in flames and ultimately be a major misread of the public mood, in an election year. The same people would be calling him "weak." This is the situation.

So if Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman and pretty much every other liberal pundit who freaked the fuck out over the quality or modesty of the president's 20-minute television speech last night would like to help the situation, they should direct more ire at the Senate. That is where people write laws. And they don't have the collective will or numbers right now to write a good law pricing carbon.

But what of today's White House agreement with BP for it to set up a $20 billion, independent escrow fund to pay claims, cancel its dividends for at least the rest of 2010, and set up another fund compensating oil workers for lost wages? (And that $20 billion is not a cap, either — it can, and probably will, go up.) Those seem like pretty strong results and displays of leadership! BP probably wouldn't have conceded its hand like this, either, if it thought the White House wouldn't try more aggressive legal ways of getting them to pay up were they to refuse.

This fund is going to help many, many people along the Gulf Coast, immediately. That doesn't change the fact that Barack Obama doesn't "act angrily," like a clown, for the personal amusement of pundits, but it's something.

And look at how crazy Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is reacting!

The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund. And now it appears like we'll be looking at one more gateway for more government control, more money to government

Thanks for the confirmation, Michele. Now we're making progress.


TC said...

Nixon said we needed to get off our dependency on oil, Carter said the same thing and did something about it then Reagan got in and revoked it all. The Bushes and Clinton said we needed to get off oil and did nothing about it. Now Obama says we need to get off oil. Well, sure, we're all agreed, but what's the Obama plan to do something about it?

If I wanted to use less oil tomorrow what could I do about it? I can't make the electric company go solar or geo thermal, or install salt towers that melt salt and produce energy. It seems to me only the govt. can do anything about it. What is the Obama plan to put me in an electric car or convert my house to solar electric?

Rachael Maddow last night on her show gave the speech that Obama should have given. I can't disagree with her. Sure Obama is better than McCain/Palin would have been, but that's damning with faint praise indeed.

Brendan said...

If you follow the "Originally posted by bjkeefe" links in the post, you'll see my responses to much of the above. Briefly, my view is that this impatience with Obama is a little out of hand. Yes, we would like him to be pushing more on moving our country (and the world, for that matter) into alternative energy sources, and yes, it would have been nice if he had touched on that during his Oval Office address. On the other hand, a president's powers are not limitless. On an initiative of this scale, especially, he is limited by what Congress can be pushed to do and what the public is ready to accept. Right now, the reality is that neither of those groups will go along with what you and I and people like us want to see.

As to what you could do, right now, personally, there are a number of things, which I won't bother listing because I'm sure you're aware of them and I suspect you're already doing most of them. I'd just add that at least some utility companies (the last two I have been supplied by, for example) have programs that allow customers to elect to receive some of their electricity from alternative energy sources, for a nominal per month surcharge. You might look into your company's offerings, and if they don't have such a program, you might write them and ask them why not. You might also organize your friends and neighbors into a pressure group to do the same thing. And maybe you could even build on that, using your local group as an example to encourage people elsewhere to do the same thing. If the teabaggers can get nationwide attention merely for being incoherently angry, moving a positive idea forward ought to be doable, don't you think?

Point is, we're not going to change the US's habits overnight, we certainly can't look to one person to do it by himself, and griping about how he is less than the ideal president on matters he can't control is going to be nothing but counterproductive. You think anyone the Republicans might run against him will do anything more than support "Drill, Baby, Drill?"

Brendan said...

I'd add the following, from Gail Collins's latest column.

We are frustrated, too, and it’s possible that Obama may never be able to give the speech that will make us feel better. He may never really lace into the oil companies or issue the kind of call to arms on energy that the environmentalists are yearning for.

That’s because it won’t get him anywhere. Unlike Bush, he has no national consensus to build upon. He’d barely finished his muted remarks on Tuesday before the House minority leader, John Boehner, accused him of exploiting the crisis “to impose a job-killing national energy tax on struggling families and small business.” Michael Steele, the Republican Party chairman, claimed that the president was “manipulating this tragic national crisis for selfish political gain.” And the ever-popular Representative Michele Bachmann denounced the BP restitution fund as “redistribution of wealth” and “one more gateway for government control.”

As a political leader, Barack Obama seems to know what he’s doing. His unsatisfying call for a new energy policy sounded very much like the rhetoric on health care reform that used to drive Democrats nuts: open to all ideas, can’t afford inaction, if we can put a man on the moon. ... But at the end of that health care slog, he wound up with the groundbreaking law that had eluded his predecessors for decades. The process of wringing it out of Congress was so slow and oblique that even when it was over it was hard to appreciate what he’d won. But win he did.

Ironic. The man we elected because we hoped his feel-good campaign speeches might translate into achievement is actually a guy who is going to achieve, even if his presidential speeches leave us feeling blah.

TC said...

Pacific Gas ans Electric derives some of their electricity in this area from the Diablo Nuclear power plant, but that's not the direction I'd want to go even though Obama has endorsed more nuclear power plants. But blaming things on the Senate is only partly an out. I think the President has to use the office as a bully pulpit to pressure the Senate and rouse the people to pressure them. I think if he had a real program he could whip up the people and make it unpopular for the Senate to oppose his program. Democratic lawmakers were afraid to oppose Reagan because his program seemed to be popular with a majority of the people. The polls seem to show that people are ahead of Obama on these issues and he could do more than follow along and offer prayer as a solution to our problems. How about pushing people to go further than they have already and take the lead. Punishing BP is well an good, but it's not a strategy for out energy crisis. So BP designs better well heads that won't blow out, what do we do then -- drill more oil deeper? How abut a regulation that electricity produced by burning fossil fuels or nuclear power has to be sold to people at a lower price than electricity from wind, solar or any of the "good" sources. That would be a policy with positive incentives at least. What we have now is a policy of talking about getting off of foreign oil and doing nothing to bring it about. That was the Bush and Clinton policy too.