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Thinking About Trauma and Euphoria

chicago dyke's picture

This is a dense, sober, fact-based post that people should read, but likely won't. That's a shame. There are many lighter and easier to read posts out there which say, more or less, many of the same things; you can find them if you search for them- here, and at other "hater" blogs. I'll try to simplify what I've taken away from the writing I prefer to read of late (a body of works which I'll note is growing in number rapidly) that responds to the stated aims and policies of the administration, which of today, is "official."

Put simply: America is suffering from PTSD. The traumas resulting from the last 8 years are myriad. War, poverty, anti-Constitutional criminality, inflation/deflation, unemployment, environmental and energy crises...and the sad part is that much of that was avoidable. That these things were avoidable is the reason why so many of us are sore in our metaphorical throats, our fingers tired from writing the same "No! We *are* predicting!" type precursors to the inevitable 'no one could've predicted!' response to collapse so common in our SCLM. It's a hard, lonely road, and it's made lonelier today, by the fact that our new Leader essentially has one message: you haven't been traumatized enough; get ready for more pain.

Speaking to non-blog readers, moderate liberals, and people who respond more forcefully to good speechifying than to hard policy, I think I understand the problem. Bluntly: people are tired. They're scared. They're traumatized. And they don't want to hear any more bad news. They want to believe, they want to hope. There's nothing wrong with that. Except, "nothing fails like prayer," and "hope is not a plan." Worse still, a bad plan is guaranteed to cause or increase existing problems, more than no plan at all. In a strange way, I find myself wishing that today's speech had been emptier, more filled with meaningless platitude and feel-goodism, than it already did. But the message I heard was clear: sacrifice. I don't believe President Obama meant those most responsible for our current crises, nor do I believe that he means it for those most able to make those sacrifices truly needed. I believe he means it for you and me, however.

As the author of the linked posts notes in some detail, I have my reasons. FISA. Warren. TARP. The proposed escalation in Afghanistan (and the insufficient plans for 'drawdown' in Iraq). Tax cuts instead of tax increases. "Entitlement reform." Moving "forward," rather than creating a stable, more just future by prosecution of those responsible for the problems that are guaranteed to unfold in it, due to their criminality and incompetence. The scope and range of the proposed stimulus bill does very little to offset the list above, nor do I believe it's more than a calculated, political plan that has more to do with reelection in '10 and '12, and less to do with actually addressing the problems that are hurtling down upon us all, "hope" and "change" notwithstanding.

There is also the problem of the track record of Republicans, of which I for one, have not forgotten. Or, what- do Obama and his supporters actually think that Republicans really mean to play nice, in exchange for plenty of hearty "bipartisanship" and "looking forward" talk, along with the elevation of a few moderate to outright hard right conservatives in the new administration? Sorry, Clinton tried that, at various times over the course of his term, and we all know where that got him: impeachment. How many times does Lambert have to say it: you can't trust Republicans. They will fuck you over every time, stab you in the back after every deal, pull the football out from your foot at every approach to the kick. You literally can't be cynical enough with them. What is so hard about this lesson, truly? It's no longer rhetoric, it's history and demonstrated fact.

But getting back to my original point: why won't anyone listen to people who speak like I am here? Because people are hurting, and afraid, and suffering from a desperate need to feel good. I thought I'd make it through this week without commenting, hoping to let people have a little moment of sunshine after 8 long years of bleak, gray hopelessness and pain. I think the reason I'm writing this post is because I want to go on record. Not out of bitterness, not out of doominess, not out of jealousy. But because I am angry. How dare Obama speak of "sacrifice," four times in under 5 minutes, at one point by my count, after directing Dems to hand over $350B in the initial TARP, no strings attached, and rushing to get the next round, and more, all while holding not a single Wall St. executive or Bush era regulatory agency actually responsible? It sickens me, because I understand, even if many don't, what it is that Obama means when he speaks of "sacrifice." He means for me and you, our SS dependent grandmothers and neighbors who rely on Medicaid and Medicare, veterans and the unemployed and students and the poor, to make his noble "sacrifice." Well, Fuck That. Seriously. I'm sorry, President Obama and CoS Emmanuel, that the Chinese national bankers have refused to agree to fund continued American idiocy and fiscal mismanagement, instead turning their available cash inward and towards their own, often green, development. I'm sorry it's so messed up in the world of high finance and credit, and that you find yourselves unable to make the hard choices with respect to our foreign creditors, such as the Saudis. But you really can't expect me to be happy to hear you talk about "sacrifice" and sit here silently, with a fake smile on my face, because I pity my friends and their desperate need to feel better after 8 years of feeling depressed and powerless.

Give me a reason to feel differently, and we can talk about "sacrifice." I have a long list, as a student of pagan religions, of fun ways we can employ that word. Unfortunately, I think you do too. I prefer the Sumerian version to the Phoenician, if that's not too cryptic. But unless and until I see (to hell with "belief, yo?) that you mean "sacrifice on the part of those most able to pay, and who are most responsible," I'll have a hard time distinguishing you from a moderate, Reagan-era Republican. Sadly, because of the last 8 years, the language of that era sounds "good" to many ears, who have forgotten what true liberalism and true progressivism sound like. I haven't. And I'll be here, as often as I can, reminding you of that fact, along with the storied history of failures that such neobullshit smoke and mirrors "fuck the poor and call it sunshine" have created, over and over and over again.

I suppose it's interesting and worth noting that Wall St. took a big dump on the speech today, going down by lots of points. Not that that, or this blog post, mean much, but stealing from Star Trek and lots of other fictional and historical narratives: when a friend and an enemy agree, the Wise Woman has no choice to listen. Think about what it means when two far-separated poles like that come to the same conclusion. But tonight, enjoy the champagne. There's nothing more painful than a champagne hangover.

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bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

These sorts of little aberrations are disturbing; sudden interest in sobriety is something that should probably concern me, some sort of early warning sign or another.

Big deal, this transition, even if it is just a shift from the Hard Right to the Centrist Right. I'm sure there are prospective haves, the new pigs waddling up to the trough, and the still hopeful old pigs who seem to believe there will still be room for them as well, all of whom are planning to suck as much life out of us as possible; they’re always around.

I'm counting on greed to separate them, seeing as how there's not much meat left to pick off the bones of the rest of us. Sooner or later they'll fall to squabbling and Obama will realize he's either got to protect his allies or have them turn on him because he's spreading the wealth around too widely. This bipartisanship shtick won't last the year.

Seeking small mercies, I did take note of this paragraph from Obama:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

He didn't need to do that, there aren't enough of us to shake a stick at, much less recognize as worth thinking about. If he keeps it up, Warren won't be able to hang around without losing his own base. It may be this guy is serious about playing one side off against the other and if that turns out to be so, we should end up OK - not great, but OK, and a damn sight better off than we would have been with McCain&Palin.

Still not enough to justify a drink, but I'm also not going to bang my head against the wall like I was doing this time of day four years ago.

carissa's picture
Submitted by carissa on

The ones in the closet. I imagine there are many more.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

freethoughtpedia? C'mon, eh, we can do better than that.

This is from Pew, where they've built a pretty good record on surveying religion over the years, data in 2007:


Guess it comes down to what the meaning of "non-believer" is. Unaffiliated, I think, is not the same as non-belief. With self-described actual Atheists at 1.6% they are as big a group as either Mormons or Jews, but tough to organize - like herding cats, some might say. That failure to organize sharply diminishes their influence. Starting to sound like a refrain, isn't it?

Are Agnostics "non"-believers, or just uncertain? Maybe the "secular unafilliated" group can be included, as closeted Athiests, which would boost the total to 7.9% - about one tenth the religious cohort.

A very scattered 7.9%, and that's a generous number. My experience, a great many of that "secular unafilliated" group would admit to some lingering belief in some sort of Higher Power, just not specific to an established religious concept.

Regardless, I was mildly surprised and mildly pleased to hear the inclusion. If Obama sticks with that phrasing, the evangelicals will refuse to have anything to do with him and Warren will pay a steep price if he hangs around. I hope he does, just long enough to cripple his image as a leader of the thumpers. Couldn't happen to a more deserving jerk.

Final thought, and maybe I'll poke around a bit, but I wonder what the percentage breakdown is for voters. Wonder how many of those "Nothing In Particular" folks feel the same way about politics and voting.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i just picked the first compendium of surveys that google barfed up, being waaaaay too lazy to look for and compile them all myself. i could probably find you tons of more authoritative links were i so inclined.

seems to me those unaffiliated-but-might-have-lingering-beliefs were largely found to be closeted atheists after all, according to at least one survey, maybe even a pew survey. then again, your nothing in particular thesis might be closer to the mark.

dunno about your evangelicals, but the ones i know hate the agnostics even more than they hate the atheists. used to be at one time in my life i could have pointed to the exact scriptural reference for that.

i too was glad he tossed us that tiny bone, but he did get way more faithy further on. ick.

edited to add: my experience, if you cop to being an atheist, you get death threats. much easier to let people think you still believe, but are just too lazy to get up and go to church on sunday morning.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

straw there too.

I suppose by any commmon measure I'd be classed as an atheist, but I honestly can't bring myself to make such a bold assertion. Seems to me that's taking on a topic about which I haven't sufficient information to decide. Nor, on long consideration, do I have any need to.

If it turns out there really is a god who's responsible for this clusterfuck, it and I won't be seeing eye-to-eye anyway; after I've said my peice, real sure I won't get an invite to hang out together for all eternity. If there is no such god, I won't have wasted my time kowtowing to a myth. Guess that makes me a Dontgivearatsassian.

Lived a very long seven years in the Salt Lake Valley, where 49% of the people are Mormons and another 49% hate Mormons with a burning passion. Both camps want everyone to chose sides, and if you are a Dontgivearatsassian they both see you as suspect. I got shunned a lot, until I found some of the other 2%. The number of truly decent people in this world is small; in some parts, very small indeed.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

Because people are hurting, and afraid, and suffering from a desperate need to feel good.

The US Airways flight which ended up in the Hudson wrote this fact large for me, personally. I'm normally immune to being sucked in emotionally like a giant suckered thing when stuff like that happens, but my heart was all over it.

Previously, I think I'd be reluctant to admit that such as you wrote above was applicable to me, but there it was, all over me, after last Thursday's crash and rescues. I've been much more understanding towards the hopium smokers ever since, because, well, damn, it does feel good to have a hit on the hope bong.

Going forward to this week, I still disapprove of the precise weed the Hopey-Changey crowd have been loading their pipes with, especially after that "Brace for Impact" speech of his today, but I genuinely do not begrudge them today's party.

HeroesGetMade's picture
Submitted by HeroesGetMade on

The landing on the Hudson reminded me of a couple of blasts from the past that maybe even have something to do with Stirling's essay.

One was a ground school teacher who said that a good pilot never stops flying the plane till it hits the ground. As a flight instructor, he specifically weeded out those prone to pre-emptively giving up flying the plane when things went woolly. All those who survived the Hudson landing are no doubt grateful to a good pilot.

The other was a discussion regarding a marketing ploy to paint a certain aircraft as a rugged flying fortress that could be ridden to the ground in dire straits with no loss of life. Some partaking of this discussion were wont to recount the heroics involved in landing aircraft that had outlived their usefulness, while others were wont to cry, "Bullshit, my ass is riding silk if we lose all the engines!"

The people who landed safely on the Hudson had no option of riding silk, and the pilot had no option but to keep flying till he couldn't. A lot of skill was involved, but also luck. In this defunct economy we have, basically a metal-fatigued airplane with no engines, many don't have the option of riding silk since only enough chutes were packed for our betters. With a good pilot though, most could live to see another day after a rough ride, as long as we give up this notion of a rugged flying fortress that will survive no matter what. It's time to build a much better airplane with a new kind of engine, but that will take time, political will, and some really good economic engineers.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

Bluntly: people are tired. They're scared. They're traumatized. And they don't want to hear any more bad news. They want to believe, they want to hope.


I was never there in the first place, even though the last few years have personally been traumatizing and filled with loss.

Am I stronger than the average American? No. This country is filled with fighters.

I think we need to stop ascribing feelings to the over 300,000,000 people that live here. We're survivors, most of us, strong enough to survive. Obama isn't going to save us.

You are who you have been waiting for. :)

p.s. You rock.

Submitted by jawbone on

But a more attractive, more acceptable "same boss." And Dems will not fight this "boss" to preserve Democratic principles, so possibly more dangerous.

Obama is not a rejection of Bush, not a change from Bush, but "Smart Bush." That is why the financial community flocked to him. Progressives mistook Obama's identified race, and that he is more easy going about social issues than Bush seemed to be, for Obama's membership as a progressive. In fact, if one watches body language, George W. Bush is more comfortable around gay men than Obama is, and is less comfortable with overt homophobia. While Bush preaches being a born again Christian, he has not made a point of sharing the stage with the overtly homophobic. Ken Mehlman, to take only one example, is one of the gay men without whom Bush would not be able to function. The Republican Party hierarchy, one could almost say, is against gay marriage, becuase it wants gay men to be closeted and married to their jobs.

This bluntness will offend many people who are self-spinning. That's unfortunate, but such self-spinning on the part of progressives is a luxury which we can not afford, because time is running out. The period of Ophoria is going to burn yet another piece of irreplaceable time. To riff off a line from a not very good movie: fake boobs are a luxury we have, iPods are a luxury we have. Time is a luxury we do not have.

Some very good terms to use to try to understand what is acutally happening. I'm not sure I accept the PTSD idea, but am playing around with it in my mind.

Thanks for your post and link, ChiDy.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

If a "Corrente's Greatest Hits" is ever compiled, this post belong in it!
The Obamamania reminds me of nothing so much as how Bush was regarded after 9-11. Then too, people were traumatized and scared, and looking for a "daddy" to take care of things and make it all better (also know as "hope").

The problem is that our 9-11 daddy didn't know shit, and (what is worse) thought he did know. And all signs lead one to conclude that our "financial meltdown" daddy is just as bad in the "thinks he knows but he don't know shit" department.

Just as an aside, does anyone else remember feeling like they were "center left" three years ago, and now are starting to feel like they're "radicals"?

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I've always been radical, especially in my conservative family. But, honestly, I feel like I have more company in the RL, than I ever did before.

That gives me (*GAG*)"hope", because a lot of people are already seeing through the media created facade. We might see a revolution yet.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I am so glad you posted before the week was over. My emotions have been all over the place coming to grips with all my emotions in this fraught day, so thank you, your post really helped me focus my own feelings about this.

President Obama, I got your sacrifice right here!!! I get that the pomp and circumstance surrounding today, was all just the lube to go one the giant c*(& that's about to be shoved up our a$$. The reality of that was truly hit home to me today, when my coworkers were still talking about you, my boss informed me that I was going to have to cut my hours. So there goes $400 a month in my income, Mr. President.

"you can't trust Republicans. They will fuck you over every time,

Amen, sister.

The VP, who ordered my boss to cut my hours. White male Catholic, former jock, Republican. Gave me a $1000 "donation" to his son's school(perfectly legal, and tax deductible), not less than hour later.


Please ignore them, Mr. President. They mean only harm to you, me, and the nation. They don't care about the things you "profess" to care about.

carissa's picture
Submitted by carissa on

The reality of that was truly hit home to me today, when my coworkers were still talking about you, my boss informed me that I was going to have to cut my hours.

We were having the same discussions at work today too. Work is drying up, how do we keep it going until things get better?

Submitted by jawbone on

... the public thinks...the great wise leaders of the system protect the little people from harm. What is only gradually becoming obvious is that elites do not have this function. What function they do have is not clear to ordinary people. That function, is, of course, to make the poor pay. It is not that Obama's job is to protect ordinary citizens from the financial system, it is to protect the financial system, from ordinary people.

In his inauguration speech Obama told the public not one thing that Bush could not have said. His ideology is the same in every poetic detail. Hope, past, change, hard work. Let me say that Americans do not know what hard work is. There are people around the world right now who work harder than Americans, longer, and risk more. America is not America because of "hard work." While Obama can deliver a football coaches exhortation to forwardness and work, he does not have an idea, beyond the neo-classical synthesis, and a game theory idea of an unbalanced stag hunt. not to cooperate is disaster, then people must cooperate, however badly they do as the result. In this area of the solution graph, the only motto elites need is "vote for us serfs, or it is so much the worse for you." Right now the Democratic Congress is having it's proxies go forth and tell opinion leaders to back a bad stimulus bill, or they will make it worse. They are doing so with a brute arrogance that radiates from the top. It is the conversation that a dean has with a wayward student, a principal of a high school has with a tardy genius, the boss with the one employee who sees that the numbers do not work. Vote for us, serfs, or it is so much the worse for you.

Obama's inaugural address: those of you who have little, will give what little you have, so that those who have much will keep all that they have.


Submitted by jawbone on

got to the presidency from state senator in 12 years. Everything was planned out, except the loss to Bobby Rush--and that became an important learning opportunity.

Should be available at some point on the web.
More from Stirling:

For Obama and the powers that be, disruptive moments are "cram down" moments: removing some group from their expectation of profit, in the short period of time when the normal procedures for protecting interest are suspended.

If Obama were a progressive, then the stimulus bill would have been larger, and it would have had about 200 billion for training medical personnel, and shifting effort away from health pollution, to health production. There would be a dismantling of the industrial food system, the system which turns oil into corn, and corn into virtually everything else, and the establishment of a traditional agricultural system based on organic methods. We seen none of these things, but instead small bribe sized billion bites that hit check lists.

Since Obama has not pursued agenda items as part of his "shock" moment that are progressive, a time when history and practice show that he could, he is not a progressive. Since he has not sought to liberalize the system, but is now pursuing the conservative "bad bank" strategy where the public will, in essence, eat the cram down for the bad bets of the mortgage credit game, he is also not a liberal. Since his proxies engage in arrogant bombast and threats to opinion leaders, he will not listen to progressive and liberal ideas.

This is realism. When Bush was at 90% approval, after 9/11, I looked at policy, and at facts, and determined that Bush had to fail. I now do the same with Obama. People want Obama to work, they are in a state of ophoria, believing that he can dump the cost of past failure on people who follow - marginal choices. Since there is not enough marginal change in his wedge to pay back the money that is owed, nor enough to convert the present industrial system, he must fail. There is not enough money on the planet to pay back what is owedEvery hour of work, every barrel of oil, every house, every factory, every gallon of water has been promised to someone.

On this day of celebration, it would be far happier to say happy words and look forward with optimism. The reality is that Obama's Presidency began when he whipped for the TARP bill, and it has shown that he believes that by cramming people down, and by having regressive taxation which, because it is hidden is inescapable, this will be enough. He has saved the banks, but consumers are still paying 20% for their money.

Oooof. Not happy reading.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and be damned if I didn't, for just one second there, tear up.

The first thing was the thing I heard. It sounded almost LBJ-like in its Democratic framing:

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

If he really means that, he might be a Democrat after all. It bears watching.

Oh, and what did I see?

A President who knows how and when to return a salute, and keeps his hand over his heart reviewing the troops when he's not returning a salute.

It's a little thing. Etiquette. Old-school, so much so it goes back to Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn.

But boy howdy, I missed seeing that token of respect from the C-in-C.

HeroesGetMade's picture
Submitted by HeroesGetMade on

I believe that's the proper Obotic response to such a dense, reality-driven essay such as Stirling's. I have no desire to sleet on anyone's parade, and I doubt that's anyone else's motivation, either, but rather to get to the place where we turn this thing around by transforming our economy and along with it, our way of life. One thing a person learns early in any problem-solving profession is that people who won't honestly look at a problem, or even bring themselves to admit there is a problem, will never actually solve a problem. The American lifestyle is a problem because of its unsustainability. Maybe Obama gets this, but I've seen no evidence of it. What I have seen, by spending an evening with Audacity of Hopeis that Obama believes in a lot of mythology. As in there was some golden, gentlemanly age of politics where people were oh-so-civil and because of the goldeness, things were just better. As in Michelle's family represented some by-gone era of the Leave It to Beaverperfect 50s family that he never had growing up, but bought into when he married. Ad nauseum ...... and groupthink is nothing more than a collective belief that mythology is reality. Hence the groupthink belief that Obama is a progressive.

Everyone probably has personal pet mythologies that they buy into, and I'm not talking about religion, I'm talking about mythologies that are demonstrably false like the golden, gentlemanly era of politics and the golden 50s era of the perfect nuclear family. It's always some golden era that never was, that if we could just get back to it, everything would be perfect (again). This type of thinking is scary precisely because bad things like fascism rely on it, along with squelching dissent, which a certain president's fanbase really has a penchant for. I'm thinking Stirling's right, this essay won't win him many new friends, especially those believing in resurrecting what never was.

Submitted by lambert on

Sham pain.

[rimshot, laughter]

In common with, oh, maybe at least some, still, of the 18 million, I had to work today, and luckily on an actual, paying job. So I saw the speech -- the muffed oath, the part about "pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off," and the excruciating after-party of the punditocracy -- in disjointed snatches, on various teebees as I went from meeting to meeting. These are riffs I was thinking of running, but no time during the day. I'll repost on Obama's horrible, horrible health care page on the new White House site tomorrow.

And now I'm going to have a drink! And so I'm going to post a series of unintegrated responses to this terrific post. I think you've cut through the word fog, CD -- "More pain."

* * *

I was prematurely correct on the rhetoric of "shared sacrifice" -- 10/12/2008, riffing off a Newberry post, interestingly enough.

* * *

If the Village is like a high school:

Bush is that horrible gym teacher who was a bully, picked favorites, made fart jokes, was slightly dumber than you.

Some people think Obama's that cool history teacher you want to grow up to be, the one with the great looking wife who's even smarter and cooler than he is, if that's possible. He's older than you, so he's been around, but he's still young enough to, you know, really understand you. And his smile just lights up the room. And remember that great discussion the other day, when we had class outside and sat in a circle?

Other people don't like the way they don't seem to be, actually, learning a lot in Obama's classes. They don't like the way they can't actually seem to remember what he says when he leaves the room. And sometimes... Sometimes it feels like Obama picks favorites, just like Mr. Bush. And why does he smoke? When you get close, he smells funny.

* * *

Newberry's piece is terrific. So many analytical tools I couldn't begin to list them all. (Although I do note that Ophoria is tilling the same soil as the far more vivid Obamagasm. And it's extremely impolite -- perhaps even Uncivil -- to interfere with anybody in the throes of an Obamagasm. Birdsong at morning, and all that.)

* * *

I want to draw your attention to a riff or two I'd started to sharpen pre-emptively. You may find them useful for threads elsewhere.

1. Shared sacrifice is fine -- as long as we're clear that I've already done my sacrificing. This is, in fact, true. And true for the "middle class," too, whatever that means these days.

2. Shock Doctrine with a smile ((9/11/08).

3. The FKD -- The party Formerly Known as Democratic (I need to hat tip somebody for this, but the wine is taking effect, and I forget who...)

4. Can we afford the rich any more?

5. Hank Paulson's golfing buddies... Though I'll have to change that one.

6. Big ______ Big Money. Big Pharma. Make up your own riffs! Can we afford the overhead?

And for open government and transparency:

7. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Have you tried leaving the basement?

Just a few edged weapons for the class warfare to come.MR SUBLIMINAL What do you mean, "to come"? Hey, just kidding!*

* * *

Meanwhile, one event occurred yesterday and today that -- listen, I know I'm a racist, crippled by hate, but allow me my small pleasures -- really, really encouraged me.

I'm referring to the success of DCBlogger's fundraiser. First, it exceeded her expectations (which were modest). Second, it really, really helped her -- and rewarded her for efforts. Those of you who helped out -- know that your help made a real difference. (Also, as I discovered when I asked for help with my pipes, asking for help is a good, freeing thing.) Third, it really speaks to the idea that microloans are, er, "feasible." It would be nice to make a real difference in people's lives in the 10s or the 100s or even the 1000s if we can open the doors of The Mighty Corrente Building to that kind of effort.

* * *

To some, it may seem that I'm eerily detached from the process, don't recognize the real, as opposed to the "HISTORIC!!!!!!!!!!!!" significance of Obama's victory. Thing is, I recognized Obama was going to win back in August, when it became evident that the Republicans weren't even trying. I assimilated Obama's victory and, as the deru kugi ha utareru thugs would have me do, "moved on" a long time ago.

* * *

And please, CD. More like this!


At least when I was subject to euphoria, it was drug-induced.

* * *

Ever notice that "feasible" sounds like "weasel"?

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

CD, I was able to pick parts and pieces I could indentify with, but more than being sad or angry like so many others, I've found myself absolutely confounded and confused. I don't know where we go from here with a president that's garnering some ridiculous amount of support before he's even done something.

This, though, his home:

Sadly, because of the last 8 years, the language of that era sounds "good" to many ears, who have forgotten what true liberalism and true progressivism sound like. I haven't.

This speaks to a much larger problem than Obama, and it's our nation's total and utter back-benching and shelving of learning from history and keeping ourselves vigilant about its lessons. It's exactly why this nation let Bush get away with murder not once, but again and again and again and again.

My biggest fear about the incoming Obama administration is that he will not just allow, but force us to collectively forget the past eight years, and that scares me to no end. I've already seen good liberals in the last few weeks making apologies for Bush, you know the whole "he was just misguided" kind of apologism. I'm absolutely convinced that a Hillary Clinton administration would have called much of the former administration's criminal acts to the carpet, and I don't think I'm being naive.

I don't hate Obama, and I don't wish him any ill-will, but he's a solution to a problem that we don't have. He has epically misidentified and misdiagnosed our central problems. We've been told again and again that it is partisanship and little more that's at the root of this, and that could not possibly be further from the truth.

Our problem over the past 8 years has not been that we're fighting, it's that our former president, his followers, and his sympathizes had this nation fighting the wrong things. And, quite frankly, Obama either doesn't get this, or he simply doesn't care.

Ironically, this was repeated after 9/11, but I want to make it relevant to our side and now: Never Forget. Don't you dare ever forget.

HenryFTP's picture
Submitted by HenryFTP on

Living overseas, I find I have been busily dampening expectations, as the rather baseless euphoria is certainly rampant all over Britain.

The depth of anger at the United States and Bush and Cheney has of course been systematically underreported in the mass media, even the European media. Notwithstanding all the exhalations of relief, the more skeptical (and astute) abroad rightly see Obama as sharing many qualities with Tony Blair (and I'm sure many here will recall the rather similar euphoria attendant upon Blair's smashing victory over the Thatcherite Tories in 1997).

The Nixon-Reagan Counterrevolution has by no means given up the ghost, and its fellow travellers are well entrenched in hierarchy of the Democratic Party and elite opinion. These are people who are really convinced there is nothing wrong with privatizing profit and socializing risk -- a system from which Dubya benefited his entire life. It should surprise none of us that once in possession of power such as that, they will not relinquish it without a titanic struggle. They are consequently only too happy to broadcast a grand spectacle of "change" in order to obscure how little change they are willing to permit.

On the other hand, we need not be entirely gloomy. The radicalism of the Republicans has left the country in such bad shape that we can agitate for real change not just because it's the best policy but rather because it's the only way out of the mess we're in. FDR was no "visionary", but he was able to lead the country to necessary transformation because he was able to frighten the power elite with the spectre of real revolution if they thwarted him.

It remains a daunting task. The populist and progressive elements in the Democratic Party that FDR could mobilize are but pale reflections of what they were. But the national trauma of Bush will not reverse 30-40 years of counterrevolution by itself -- it's only an aperture that gives us an opportunity to change the debate that has been so long stifled in our country. And it's down to us because we've known for a long time that there is precious little leadership to be found in the political and opinion elite.

Submitted by jawbone on

plan helps explain why Krauthammer and his ilk are quite complacent about this "change" president.

Henry, your point about Blair has been bothering me for a long time now. I recall how relieved I was when Tony Blair became prime minister after the long, gray years of Thatcher and that short-lived follow-on Conservative PM (forgot his name, remember his face). I was so happy, for both Britain and the US.

As the authoritatianism in Blair became more and more apparent over the years, and he became the bosom buddy of BushBoy and enabler of Bush's worst urges, I was aghast and so disappointed. Sickened. I can still hope Obama will not turn our that way.

Today's news, that Obama has signed an order postponing any Gitmo tribunals for 120 days, is good news. The econ plan is not such good news. The talk about SocSec, Medicare, and Medicaid by Obama and his camp is terrible news.

What kind of president will Obama turn to be? I can only hope....

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

The Agonist link posted had a very good summation of part of the problem with some of those that parade themselves in the public square as liberals and/or progressives:

Since watching what people do, and not what they say, is important, there is an inevitable and inescapable conclusion, one which Obama the politician understands: Americans do not hate George W. Bush, they hate that he fucked up. Americans would re-elect George W. Bush if given the chance, merely, they want someone who can do it right.

Obama is not a rejection of Bush, not a change from Bush, but "Smart Bush." That is why the financial community flocked to him. Progressives mistook Obama's identified race, and that he is more easy going about social issues than Bush seemed to be, for Obama's membership as a progressive.

It's quite a generalization, but one I've found to be true, at least among the non-political "average" American and those liberal poseurs amongst us. They weren't mad that Bush went to war in Iraq, for instance, rather that it failed so badly. Like everyone here, I'd held the view that even if the war proved to be the 'success' Bush was painting it to be in the run-up that no amount of good intentions and superficial positive outcomes could ever possibly justify it. Nothing.

Yes, if Obama's election really was a repudiation of Bush, the progressive and liberal community would have taken him to task from Day One, and not only did they not do that, but save for a few lone voices, still refuse to. And, just to add insult to injury they attempt shout down those do take him to task and hold him accountable for his words and actions. You see, to them, Obama's words aren't "just words", that is, until they implicate him as a hypocrite.

I'm expecting much work to do done on surface/superficial change, you know, maybe a show investigation or two, a rolling back of a few of the more obvious bat-shit crazy Bush-authored regulations, etc...

There will be no structural change, however. Not from up top, anyway. That, of course, is above his pay grade, after all.

Submitted by jawbone on

and Obama to be more progressive. Starting now. Just great.

However, the phrase "single payer" was used in the news report!! By the reporter!!

Which probably means they see MoveOn as a marginal organization--otherwise the MCM does not mention those words, unless to mock and deride.

Even Obama, in his "opposition" to the Iraq Invasion, essentially said it was not the right way to go to war. He made it clear that while he did not support the Iraq War, he was not against all wars. Now, Afghanistan will be ramped up, perhaps Pakistan will be taken on--and the right wingers and NeoCons are hoping that will lead to war against Iran. Those paragraphs you quoted really hit me as well as spot on.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

people are tired. They're scared. They're traumatized. And they don't want to hear any more bad news. They want to believe, they want to hope.

I think you have put your finger on it.
I walked around the city last night, it was an festive air, everyone had a skip in their step.

I don't know what happens now, I am just glad that Bush is gone.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I think many of us have had this experience, or had friends with similar experiences.

Even though they were infatuated with you, you knew you weren't going to get involved with this person long-term. Maybe they were too dumb, or too crazy, or into things you weren't into. Maybe they were too needy, had the wrong friends, or were geographically unacceptable. Maybe they were somebody else's ex (or current!), or maybe you were already involved in a relationship. Whatever it was, you knew you didn't want any long-term deal out of this. But what the hell, if he/she wasn't Mr/Mrs Right, they were at least Mr./Mrs. Right NOW, and what an ego boost that is too, "he/she WANTS me, BAD"! You didn't explicitly promise them anything, you chose your words very carefully to imply your honorable intentions without actually having honorable intentions.

Sure it was selfish, and immature, and reckless, because as surely as a war in Iraq follows a George Bush election, you will pay the price afterward. That price is going to be even worse if it was good. Like outer-planet good. Because although you wanted it to be outer-planet good, it was going to be a one-time thing, so you can turn it off afterwards. Thanks for the memories, babe! I'll call ya! And when it's over, you can't wait to get out of there fast enough, and resume life as it was before. That is over with.

But that isn't how it works, is it? Nope, they just don't get the hint when you never call. Instead, they call you, and call you, and call you. They call you at work, at home, on your cell. They demand to know why you aren't living up to your implied promises. Were you just using them (they are catching on, but you can't just come right out and say it!). Depending on their level of stamina and/or self-denial, they ratchet it up. Sometimes, you break down "Ok, you win, if you are that into me, maybe I should be into you too", or maybe they start stalking you, no matter where you go, there they are. It costs you though, no matter what happens, if you are in another relationship, it becomes strained, or maybe ends. Or maybe they realize early that you were just playing them, just using them. Maybe they have enough self-respect then to hate you. You have now earned an enemy for life; there is no easy way to rehabilitate a relationship where you deliberately took advantage of their affection, betrayed them, and tossed them away like a toilet paper.

Just speculating here, but what if Barack Hussein Obama finds himself in a similar situation? What about the Democratic party (if they didn't already after the 2006 election)?

Obama's crowd just stoked up the largest President-gasm in the history of our country. Millions and millions of people worked themselves into a four-day long knee-knocking, eye-rolling, spine-shuddering Obamagasm. And that was all Barack, baby, because they are that INTO him! Sure he didn't explicitly make any promises, but the implication was clear. He's not GWB, he'll call you. He's the first black president, he'll call you. He's going to change everything, he'll call you. Just stay by the phone, even though it doesn't look like it, he'll call. Promise.

Often times a person's major asset is their major failing. Obama is youthful and vigorous, and good-looking. He's clean and articulate (ahem), and that makes him easy to love, and he loves to be showered with the love, since he has a monstrous ego. He stroked this gigantic love-fest because it stroked his ego, and maybe because he thought it would increase his political might. But both are possible only because of those implied promises.

Despite the ruling classes' (and Obama's) intentions (and considerable powers), there are still dynamics outside of their control. Unlike Sterling, I can't predict if Obama will be a failure, but when he says "look at their actions", he should also consider the actions of the millions who worked themselves into an Obamagasm over the last few days. What prompted THAT action? I think he is on to something there about a certain segment of the population that just wants a competent Bush (the Sullivans, the Ballon Juices). But I also think there is a large and growing percentage of people who have both a certain degree of PTSD and also don't benefit from the Suburban Industrial Economy. They don't want that kind of competency, they want something different, and Obama has made implicit promises to them. They have been used and burned before so they know the dynamic. What they do about it is another question, but the more powerful the experience you had together, the more violent the reaction to being screwed.

Submitted by jawbone on

Party will probably pay for that more than Obama. His personal charisma will cushion him for most of the anger, but the Dems as office holders and reps are "just" pols and do not have the Messiah aura. They will pay and pay and pay.

As Stirling points out, if Obama does not do well for the non-powerful, the next prez will be another Repub Conservative (perhaps getting into office in the same manner as Bush, as a stealth candidate. Not a Compassionate Conservative again, but something similar, something misleading, something to gull the voters.).

Do Dem pols not get this???

elixir's picture
Submitted by elixir on

placed squarely on our shoulders. To repeat upthread comments, we've sacrificed plenty over the past 8+ years, it's time for those that hold power to sacrifice. Although I don't think we can talk about sunshine and flowers right now, the inauguration speech could have contained some references to positive steps toward the light that I believe is still at the end of the tunnel (or is that a train?) That's why I was so enamoured of Hillary Clinton's speeches, they were chuck full of goals, steps and tangible methods by which to reach them. Did we get any yesterday? No. And some may say that the inaugural speech is not the venue but I disagree. It's always appropriate for a leader to give detailed, tangible steps towards a "better tomorrow."

Thanks CD for a great post. I also really enjoyed bringiton's comment. Well done all.

otherlisa's picture
Submitted by otherlisa on

You really nailed a lot of my own unease about the O'naugural, which frankly I couldn't stand to watch.

I won't claim I read the entire Newbury article but he has good stuff to say as well. Of course, a bunch of us have been saying it all through this election, in our own ways, but that's apparently because we're bitter.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

really, i was worrying for a minute there. i've been able to dip in now and again and found a lot of comments elsewhere to have been/remain...a tad uncritical, at best.

just got some news today, and if i can find a link i'll post it. short version: all the "alternative transportation and improvement" money that was part of the stimulus package?

fuggedaboudit. that's gone, to pay for- you guessed it- tax cuts.

Submitted by lambert on

Nobody could have predicted...

Remember what DeLay (was it?) said? "This is our due." None of that from the FKD. Though, of course, there's that pesky word "our".... Another way of saying that is that the Republican Party, for good or ill, was totally unified with its base. The Democratic Party is not -- despite what the polls and the pundits and the rest of the Village apparatus might say.