“Barack Obama, who I voted for twice, is on his way to becoming the worst US president in my lifetime, at least — and maybe in the whole cavalcade going back to the very start of the republic. I don’t want to get too sidetracked in this brief blog space today, but isn’t it stupendously asinine that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department and his SEC appointees only just last week became interested in the pervasive swindle of high frequency trading on Wall Street after author Michael Lewis went on 60 Minutes. Like, they hadn’t heard about this years-long orgy of front-running until now? Strange to relate, I actually might feel more comfortable if Vladimir Putin was massing troops on the Mexican side of the US border to keep Americans safe from our own bungling and destructive government.”
Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan disappointed me because he gave speeches like a libertarian but governed like a practical politician and didn’t do much of anything to reduce the size and scope of the federales, no matter what his followers say today.
Obama must be a huge disappointment to progressives and true believers like Kunstler (not the moronic masses who blindly voted).
After almost six years Obama has shown he was nothing but an attractive Chicago-style pol with the right skin color who could write nice speeches and read a TelePrompter real good.
Instead of bringing a socialist paradise to America, which is what his followers and haters both thought he would do, he’s just screwing up healthcare stuff and still doing evil military and financial stuff that any Republican could do.
Maybe it’ll be Obama who brings us the WWIII everyone thought RR was going to bring us by doing something stupid in Ukraine (this time, unlike Syria, he won’t have Putin around to save his intervening ass).
He’s proved, for those who are paying attention, that there is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats who go to Washington. Both parties suck for the same reason — they’re in it to get more power over us, not for freeing us up and leaving us alone.
To boot, and for the benefit of all, and I hope but I’m not counting on it, Obama’s made it impossible for any openly Big Government guy to get elected again.
He did the whole country and future generations a favor by botching health care because now no politician like Hillary who wants to be prez will ever dare to approach the subject of national single-payer healthcare. Half-assed federal healthcare, as we see, is awful enough.
Obama, bless him, has betrayed the “promise” of national healthcare and given it the third rail it didn’t have before.
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Although President Barack Obama still has a few years left, it’s becoming clear that he has no intention of bringing any sort of increased transparency to government. His administration has continued the abysmal precedent of the George Bush administration and has even sunk to new lows.
Since the very beginning of his term, Obama has hurried down a path of obfuscation and redaction, denying more Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in his first two years than George “Patriot Act” W. did.
Even when the Obama administration wasn’t denying requests outright, it showed a disturbing tendency to censor or withhold information. In a 2011 report by the Center for Effective Government analyzing the percentage of requests fully and partially granted since 1998, the Obama administration was found to have fully granted only 44.4 percent. This placed the administration well behind both Bush, who granted 62.8 percent and Clinton, who granted 72.4 percent.
How did we reward Obama for his new-found affection for opaqueness? By giving him a transparency award. Which he received in private. Okay, it wasn’t the end of the world. It made more sense than the whole “Nobel Peace Prize” thing, and, after all, he did release the White House visitor logs. There was still plenty of time to set his administration on the right path.
But then 2012 happened, and another report on FOIA by the Center for Effective Government found that:
Although the number and timeliness of the FOIA requests processed has improved, fewer people are getting complete and full documents. Over the last four years, the proportion of FOIA releases that go out with redacted information has significantly increased. Well over half of all processed requests withhold some information. Agencies are increasingly using exemptions to limit the amount of information disclosed in response to FOIA requests. This is a troubling development for an administration with an avowed commitment to openness.
Unfortunately Obama’s recalcitrance towards enacting any real reforms to improve the FOIA process was only one of his failures. In October of 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalism released a report that accused the administration of “prosecuting more more people as whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined.” Hardly the actions of a president worried about transparency.
With the administration busy prosecuting journalists, maybe 2013 would be the year it rolled up its sleeves and got serious about improving its FOIA response. After all the boss no longer had to worry about running for re-election, and (theoretically) had more time to concentrate on the issues. Let’s go back to the Center for Effective Government for a report!
The Freedom of Information Act was purportedly a priority for both the executive and legislative branches in 2013, although nothing made it over the finish line. Our report analyzing the FOIA performance of major federal agencies found that agencies were processing more requests and reduced the number of unprocessed requests; at the same time, they were using exemptions to redact or withhold information more often.
Zing. When even the .govs are getting in on the action you know you’re in trouble.
Finally the mainstream media seemed to take notice — not until after the election, naturally — but better late than never. In January The New York Times editorial board asked What Happened to Transparency, as they cut into the Obama administration over a secret memo that “outline[d] the supposed legal authority for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect Americans’ telephone and financial records without a subpoena or court order.”
Now with 2014’s sunshine week here at last, we can again take a look inside the administration’s once and future promise of being the most transparent ever. And the news is not good.
In a devastating report, the AP castigated the government’s pathetic response to FOIA requests, saying:
The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found.
In category after category — except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees — the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.
These recent revelations should not be a surprise. The Obama administration has spent 6 years slowly tightening its grip on government information. And with 2014 being the worst since Obama took office, there’s no reason to believe the future will hold any improvement.
After all, why would Obama even care at this point? It was a virtual non-issue in 2012 during the presidential campaign. His awful record was public knowledge, yet it was hardly ever mentioned by anyone in the press other than Jon Stewart. He skated by unscathed and now Obama has nothing to gain by attempting to work towards his original promise of an open government. Obama won his re-election, and there’s no one left to pander to anyway.
The Loathe List is a
weekly monthly whenever I have time feature where Joe Steigerwald, erstwhile Stag Blog “hater,” takes on the worst of the media world, and literally disembowels them (figuratively).
Joe Klein enjoys looking smug and possibly playing basketball for the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics in the 1980s. In his spare time he writes “In the Arena” for Time magazine and stumps for the murder of foreign children.
Joe Klein (the writer) is part of a large group of mainstream journalists that pretends to be non-partisan while writing about how great liberals are and how awful and out of touch conservatives are. He’s constantly stumping for the “third way,” an unholy mixture of statism that pulls the worst parts of the political spectrum together under the guise of compromise.
Klein pretends to be a centrist. His Time columns bear headlines like “A Tea Party Test Case: A headstrong conservative faces an Iraq war heroine in a pivotal House race,” “Closing Arguments: We will not jump off the fiscal cliff. We’ll be find despite an unsatisfying campaign,” and “No Labels. No Agenda. Some Hope: Why, in one centrist group, Republicans and Democrats are talking to each other.” Nothing there screams “I’m a dirty liberal with an ax to grind,” but even a cursory glance at his writing reveals the true Joe Klein: a dirty liberal who indeed has an ax to grind.
Klein’s November 12 column “Closing Arguments,” in which he wraps up the 2012 Presidential campaign, is the perfect example of his writing style and reveals Klein’s true ideological identity. He sets up the column with what sounds like a moderate, even balanced approach, writing:
Barack Obama’s inspirational whoosh to the presidency in 2008 was unusual. Most campaigns are less exhilarating; indeed, they are downright disappointing–until someone wins. Then, suddenly, it becomes “clear” that one candidate magically understood and responded to the needs of the electorate and that his team of strategists were, ahem, geniuses. But in the days just before a closely contested election like this one, the missed opportunities and tactical blunders seem painfully obvious on both sides. The pettiness and lack of substance are suffocating. Has this year been particularly awful? It certainly seems so now, especially as the devastating truth of Hurricane Sandy beggars a campaign in which major issues like climate change were either ignored or denied by both sides.
Besides the explicit tying of global warming to Hurricane Sandy, he toes a centrist line. He rails against both sides’ “missed opportunities and tactical blunders.” But after reading the next two paragraphs, all you can think of is how hard it was for Klein to abstain from slobbering over Obama for an entire 15 seconds.
The President has run a tactical, largely negative campaign, more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record. It is almost as if his victories–with the exception of Osama bin Laden’s death and the auto bailout–were too technical or abstract to explain. His various economic moves in early 2009 prevented another Great Depression, but on the advice of his consultants, Obama isn’t even using the word stimulus anymore because it’s too controversial. His health care plan represented not just a moral step forward but also a path to lower prices–especially for small businesses–and a reform of a wasteful medical system, but it hasn’t been implemented yet, and it has been demagogued to near death by the Republicans.
In fact, the President has bought the basic Republican assumption: that the public loathes government action. This has severely limited his ability to talk about his plans for the next four years, even though the libertarian trope is a delusion easily refuted. The federal response to the hurricane is Exhibit A; just ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And Obama’s failure, or unwillingness, to make the case for his essentially moderate vision of governance has raised major questions about his continuing ability to lead the nation.
You can actually see the drool marks on the pages of the magazine. Where to even begin? Klein’s biggest complaints are a “largely negative campaign” and that Obama is “… more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record.” Hey Hammer, don’t hurt ’em. And that’s the end of the negatives for Mr. Obama.
- Tactical, largely negative campaign
- Failure to make the case for his moderate vision of governance
- Killed Osama Bin Laden
- Bailed out the auto industry
- Saved country from another Great Depression
- Health plan represents a moral step forward, lower prices for businesses and a reform of a wasteful health system
That’s it. In a piece that’s set up as a look at the failures of both campaigns we get two mealy, halfhearted criticisms of Obama and four accolade’s that if true would place him atop of the pantheon of greatest Presidents of all time. Let’s look again at the previous two paragraphs, this time with with the slobbering removed.
The President has run a
tactical,largely negative campaign, more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record. It is almost as if his victories–with the exception of Osama bin Laden’s death and the auto bailout–were too technical or abstract to explain. His various economic moves in early 2009 prevented another Great Depression, but on the advice of his consultants, Obama isn’t even using the word stimulus anymore because it’s too controversial. His health care plan represented not just a moral step forward but also a path to lower prices–especially for small businesses–and a reform of a wasteful medical system, but it hasn’t been implemented yet, and it has been demagogued to near death by the Republicans.
In fact, the President has bought the basic Republican assumption: that the public loathes government action.This has severely limited his ability to talk about his plans for the next four years, even though the libertarian trope is a delusion easily refuted. The federal response to the hurricane is Exhibit A; just ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.And Obama’s failure, or unwillingness, to make the case for his essentially moderatevision of governance has raised major questions about his continuing ability to lead the nation.
Apparently Joe just needed to add to his word count and without anything negative to say, he had to fill the article with Obama’s virtues instead.
Okay, so maybe Klein is just a teddy bear, he talks tough, but really he’s just an ol’ softie. Hopefully he extends the same charity to Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney hasn’t made much of a case for himself either, and his quick-change policy reversals, false claims and false advertising raise serious questions about whether he has the character and constancy to be President. In the week before the election, he put up an insultingly false ad about the President’s record on the auto bailout. He claimed that Obama had “sold Chrysler to Italians” who were sending Jeep jobs to China. Chrysler immediately repudiated this. The truth is, Chrysler is adding Jeep jobs in the U.S. and, given its resurgence here, may boost Jeep production in China for Chinese consumption. This sort of ad seems particularly galling given the fact that Romney opposed the auto bailout and has spent his whole business career embedded in the global economy, selling companies to the “Italians,” or whomever, so that they could send jobs to “China,” or wherever. It is rare to find a candidate so willing to repudiate his life’s work.
I suspect that Ohioans, who are legitimately grateful to the President for saving the auto industry, will see past the arrant cynicism of Romney’s ad. But perhaps they won’t. The Romney campaign’s assumption from the start–from its very first television ad, a sleazy attempt to pin John McCain’s 2008 reluctance to “talk about the economic crisis” as something Obama said more recently–was that it could get away with practically anything, including the full-body transformation of its candidate in the debates from severe conservative to warmhearted moderate. Given the closeness of the election, who can say Romney’s gamble hasn’t paid off?
Republicans will say Obama has been every bit as cynical as Romney, and there have been moments when the Obama campaign has been less than heroic. But we need to be clear about this: there is nothing close to moral equivalency here. The Romney campaign has indulged in many of the worst fantasies promulgated by the GOP’s wingnuts, from the Obama “apology tour,” which never happened, to blatant misrepresentations of Obamacare and the President’s Middle East policy, to the constant undertow of implication that the President is not quite American enough.
Okay, so maybe not. Not that Romney was beyond reproach. Klein could have dedicated an entire column to Romney’s shortcomings and called it “Why I’m Voting for Obama”, but that would have given away his actual political position. Instead Klein sets up his column as a look into an unsatisfying campaign, with himself as merely an observer writing from a position of impassioned non-partisanship. He never explicitly picks Romney or Obama, yet as soon as he begins writing about them he cannot help himself. Romney — who was arguably more moderate than Obama — gets excoriated at every turn for his campaign. Obama’s only faults are that he can’t make America understand how great he is.
This kind of writing is the gold standard in mainstream publications. Liberal writers are accepted as average. Their views are considered normal, unexceptional, the standard. Conservatives on the other hand are always labeled as such. In Klein’s article “A Tea Party Test Case: A headstrong conservative faces an Iraq war heroine in a pivotal House race”, the headline looks innocuous, but the bias is there. There is no labeling of the Democratic opponent; she is an Iraq war vet and a heroine. The Republican incumbent is a “headstrong conservative.”
This is Klein’s shtick, and it is repeated in every single column; play the impartial observer, then blame conservatives for all of America’s problems. He is a shill for the Democrat party and an apologist for Obama. His February 25 Time column “Aiming Low, Missing Greatness” tries to blame Obama’s opponents across the aisle for preventing him from rising to greatness and implementing his glorious liberal programs.
But what do you expect from a man who swore on his journalistic integrity that he didn’t write the book Primary Colors?
So carry on Joe Klein, keep writing your love letters to your liberal agenda. Keep pretending to be above the fray, a man unencumbered by bias, or political labels. Keep lying to yourself and to the unfortunate ever shrinking readership of Time.
Klein, you’re a partisan wolf in sensible centrist sheep’s clothing, and I’m happy to make you the opening entry of the “Loathe List.”
It’s a great, damning graph; two piecharts taken from a televised news report show how partisan and principle-free are Democrats. The problem is it’s not actually real. Intrepid editor Lucy Steigerwald looked through the source of the poll and found discrepancies with the graph’s supposed numbers.
Glenn Greenwald, a noted Guantanamo opponent, likely knew that outrage over the prison among Democrats had diminished. So without looking up the actual numbers, he retweeted the graph. This is confirmation bias, and it’s easy to fall into its trap, especially on social networking sites like Twitter. Sadly, the real numbers are actually very close — close enough for it to seem strange why someone would go through the trouble to fake a graph like this in the first place.
The actual Washington Post/ABC poll shows that 70% of all respondents favor leaving Guantanamo Bay open. Furthermore The Post revealed that 53% of self described “liberal Democrats” and 67% “moderate or conservative Democrats approved.
Although the numbers from the graph aren’t accurate, they are close enough to make you wonder what the hell Americans are thinking. When Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay by 2010 he had a lot of support amongst his constituents. A 2009 Marist poll of Democrats showed 72% favored closing Guantanamo. During his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Obama constantly referenced how he would close the prison if he won the election.
But he didn’t.
It’s 2013 and Guantanamo still holds 166 enemy combatants. Obama has talked a great deal about his desire to close it down, but shown little real interest and has taken no action on the matter. The lack of interest has sparked a sea change in the opinions of Democrats and they have abandoned their once hardline stance and now stand firmly behind their Commander in Chief.
And this is what’s wrong with America.
It’s funny how a change in the party running the White House can make such a big difference in the principles of the American people. When President Bush was in charge, Democrats couldn’t wait to close down Guantanamo Bay. It was a place which ruined America’s image and embiggoned our enemies abroad. But now Obama is in charge, he can spew empty promises about how he “wants” to shut it down, but why should he? He no longer needs to placate the people, their hearts and minds have changed. It’s a win-win for Obama and a lose-lose for America.
Joe Steigerwald is the Commander in Chief of Steigerwald Post and a hell of a model American. Follow him on Twitter @Steigerwaldino
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