The Obama Disconnect: Arlington, Korea and Catfood

Marcy wrote earlier this morning about David Axelrod’s despicable announcement of Obama’s capitulation to the oligarchs on tax cuts (another lead balloon the Obama White House incompetently tried and failed to walk back). Later this morning, however, were a couple of events that put an even starker gloss on this pig.

First, was this from The Oval:

President Obama is in Seoul, South Korea, where today he said lawmakers in the United States should hold off on comments about his fiscal commission’s proposals to slash the federal budget deficit through spending cuts, ending tax breaks, and a revamping of the Social Security system.

“Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts,” Obama told reporters.

He added: “If people are, in fact, concerned about spending, debt, deficits and the future of our country, then they’re going to need to be armed with the information about the kinds of choices that are going to be involved, and we can’t just engage in political rhetoric.”

So, Barack Obama is in Korea lecturing Americans to suck it up and embrace the catfood he and the wealthy elite have deemed necessary to feed us in order to pay for their grotesque largesse. Notably, at the same time Vice President Biden was left to be the White House representative at the traditional Arlington National Cemetery ceremony to honor America’s Veterans, where Presidents usually pay their respects and appreciation to veterans and the military. Especially during a “time of war”. Obama couldn’t make it to Arlington for the Memorial Day Ceremony either.

But Mr. Obama could not be present at Arlington this time because he was in Korea. And just what was so pressing in Korea? As Jane Hamsher points out, it is the desire to press for a horribly conceived US-Korea free trade deal:

It would be a truly horrific blow to whatever is left of American manufacturing at a time when unemployment is rampant. But from a political standpoint, fighting for another so-called “free trade” agreement right now has got to represent some kind of death wish for the Democratic party.

Yes indeed, but thus is what we are constantly served by Barack Obama. As Paul Krugman today rightfully termed it, Mush From the Wimp.

You know, it is not just that the arrogant and cluelessly detached President Pangloss is steaming toward a one and done Presidency, it is that he is literally destroying the Democratic Party and liberal ideology in the process and leaving them in his wake.

UPDATE: I guess Obama couldn’t even sell crack free trade to Charlie Sheen the Koreans.

  1. wavpeac says:

    Okay, so I say to my mother, Obama is about to give the rich the tax cuts and slash social security. She says (and I promise she’s a very smart lady) Obama is being pressured. He has no choice. He can’t help it. The big corporations have too much control. It’s not his fault. I say “but mom, he has choices he isn’t making”. She says “no he doesn’t…they will kill him”. Okay..what the hell do you do with that???? I guess she admits that we are a plutocracy and the constitution is null and void…and perhaps she has a point that ANY dem as POTUS would be acting this way…but what the hell? I think that many dems feel like my mother. The cognitive dissonance causes them to support him and to accept at the same time that we are powerless. If HE couldn’t change it, no one can. This is a despicable and dangerous thought. I don’t know how to help her see that not holding Obama accountable does nothing for our country…and that it in fact plays into the hand of victimhood.

    I am tired of the hood…and would like to move on up…”to the East side”.

    Any suggestions of how to respond to this idea of Obama the victim?

    • econobuzz says:

      Any suggestions of how to respond to this idea of Obama the victim?

      With all due respect, I would tell your Mom that voters don’t re-elect “victims.”

    • EarthquakeWeather says:

      Nothing against your mother, who I assume is a fine woman. But I’ve said this before. This is part of what we’re up against. People have been WORN DOWN, smart people who can only keep up outrage for so many years before they throw up their hands and say, fine it’s a plutocracy, but maybe if I hide my coins in the yard I won’t be so bad off. There won’t be a revolution.

    • tjbs says:

      If Dr. Martin Luther King acted on his fears instead of his hopes and dreams there would be no Obama debate today.

      My conclusion is he’s Rove’s handpicked place holder for Jeb. That’s why it’s come out he could be comfortable being a one term president. Jed is electable in the diebold universe.

  2. storyofo says:

    > they will kill him

    There are a lot of dead veterans in Arlington today who thought this country was worth fighting, and if necessary dying, for.

  3. welshTerrier2 says:

    “… it is that he is literally destroying the Democratic Party and liberal ideology in the process and leaving them in his wake.”

    Has the Democratic Party stood up against all the anti-worker, free trade agreements? Is Obama destroying the party all by himself? Did we hear Democrat after Democrat campaigning in the last election for new laws and policies to stop treasonous corporations from exporting jobs?

    Did we hear the Democratic Party demand that corporations that export jobs should not be eligible for federal contract dollars? Did we hear them say that profits made on the sale of stock in these companies should not be eligible for discounted capital gains tax rates? Did we hear Democrats call the job exporters traitors to the American people and the country itself?

    Without question, Obama deserves the blame for the pro-corporate, anti-labor policies he has embraced. To say that he’s destroying the Democratic Party, however, fails to assign sufficient blame to the party itself. That noise you hear is the sound of two hands clapping; not just one.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      Well, in addition, US public as a whole should take a bow as well.

      They elected BushCo twice. They choose to be informed by FOX, Rush, et’al. They went along w/Iraq. They barely made a sound over Enron (eg. the beta test for this mortgage bond thingie), and bought BushCo’s selling of Ca. Energy Crisis (eg. attack on Ca.) as “market correction” (eg: punishment for going 63% for Gore in 2k election).

      All the while, happy to pat themselves on the back as their home values went through the roof (no pun intended) while their jobs went to Asia.

      When 98% of the public allows the other 2% to pick ’em clean for 8 yrs, then hangs problems resulting from that lynching on one guy (BO), well…

      That BO turned out to be Barney, well…

      Take a bow America. You’re getting exactly, precisely what you deserve.

      Every day, every-single-fucking-day, I read stuff like this.

      Nothing’s changed.

      This was first election of my adult life I didn’t vote. Agree w/BMAZ on destruction of Dems, but it’s a disease from within: other then Feingold (gone), Grayson (gone) and a small smattering of others, not much there there.

      Can’t see myself expending any more hope or energy on any of ’em, rather just get better at living in a MAD MAX environment.

      Maybe Howard Dean will start a 3rd party… I’d sign up for that.

      • jdmckay0 says:

        Every day, every-single-fucking-day, I read stuff like this.

        And just to be clear, the “this” has been brewing on backpages of biz/econ rags for several years, hardly drawing any interest from anyone.

        DailyBail had a thoughtful rant in response to Deficit-Reduction-Commision’s report. An excerpt:

        « Open Letter To Alan Simpson & Erskine Bowles Chairmen Of The U.S. Deficit Commission – Regarding Proposed Changes To Social Security »

        The American people are willing to sacrifice as part of a shared effort at righting our budgetary path, but they are not prepared to be sacrificial lambs led to the ‘benefits and promises slaughterhouse’ while the Wall Street Banker Pigs gorge on trillions in stealth FED and FDIC bailouts, ZIRP giveaways and a record $144 billion in bonuses – an amount equivalent to the 49th largest GDP in the world – $144 billion in bonuses being paid by criminally insolvent banks that are only still operating due to a Wall Street financed K-Street lobbying tsunami that forced FASB to change the accounting rules that now allow these same insolvent institutions of usury and arrogance to apply Faustian valuations to complete shit assets all over their lying, godforsaken, Enron resembling, off-balanced, imbalanced, bs-balanced, sheets.

        Banks exist in the lala land of leveraged deferred tax assets representing most of tier-1 capital at Citigroup, of hundreds of billions of helocs at Wells Fargo worth pennies, but marked at dollars, of hundreds of billions of fraudulent MBS pumped out by Countrywide, whose liability now sits with Bank of America. This is a mere glimpse of the great banking lie that provides cover for the $144 billion insolvent bonus river that bathes the Street, all supported and paid for by taxpayers, Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Therefore, ultimately, taxpayers.

        In this environment, selling ‘cuts to social security’ is not going to work, and considering the role you both played in creating the irresponsible federal spending machine that now controls Washington and has bankrupted future unborn generations, fuck you for even bringing it up.

        IMO, these recommendations are end game of what BushCo’s undeclared initiatives intended from the beginning. EG. bankrupt the country while leaving remaining wealth in their top +/- 1%.

        That BO carried the water on quarterback sneak the last 1/2 yd, oh well…

      • lechero says:

        “Liberals” like Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich eventually capitulated to Obama’s demands to support the health insurance bailout bill to continue supporting the patient killing for profit regime. I wouldn’t expect much change from guys like Dean or Kucinich.

    • b2020 says:

      I agree. If Bygones Habeas Obama, torturer and assassin-in-chief, can damage the “liberal brand”, it’s because too many of those so-called liberals are no less sectarian, and no more principled, than their Tea Bag counterparts. Greenwald has been ably dissecting this tribal determination to follow the leader, but I think this cuts much closer

      Maybe what you hear is just the sound of one hand wanking.

  4. OhioGringo says:

    The Democratic Party started destroying itself in 1985 with the formation of the Democratic Leadership Council, which has always advocated being more conservative and more pro-business. The abandonment of the New Deal therefore goes back at least a quarter-century. Obama is just the latest manifestation of this trend.

    I don’t think the Democratic Party can be saved, at least not on the national level. I think it must be destroyed by its own base in order to save it. But that’s just me.

  5. TuffsNotEnuff says:

    Some people believe that Obama raised their taxes, made health care more expensive, destroyed the American automobile industry, hates Capitalism, lost the Iraq War, and married Joe Biden after oomphing Helen Thomas behind a rose bush.

    They also believe that Axelrod made the attributed statement, as reported here. What nonsense.

    In democracy, voters get what they deserve. Sadly. Misreporting Axelrod is one more straw on the camel’s back.

    • bmaz says:

      So, you believe the Obama WH is NOT in the process of bending over and selling out on the Bush tax cuts??? Really? If not, then what is your point?

    • TarheelDem says:

      Collective action is the only possible way to change shit.

      I think that this is true. The major question that folks seeking policy and government action that actually helps people (screw the label “The Left”) is what kind of collective action will be effective. Angry rallies in DC aren’t; polite rallies in DC aren’t; the Iron Curtain of the media falls on them and no one knows what happened. Electoral politics for the moment is not. Blogging is not.

      And the issue for big organized actions of any kind is who handles the logistics.

      Network organized events have not had any impact yet. Dispersed simultaneous actions haven’t either.

      The second issue is geographical. How do you have effective collective action when your supporters are mostly confined to two coasts?

      There is some fundamental ground work that must happen in the intermountain West, the Great Plains, the “Rust Belt”, Coal Country, and the South before collective action really has traction.

      • bluedot12 says:

        the geographical thing is interesting. I presume you are from the south. But the south went full out for the republicans and kicked out all or nearly all the blue dogs. I read somewhere that it is now culturally unacceptable to vote democratic there. I have no idea if that is true?? I once lived in the south and I do know there are hard over prejudices there. A liberal place, it is not. We can become old trying to make them progessive and get nothing. Maybe time to let it go.

        • sixtysomething says:

          It might be a surprise, but I really thought that if Obama did what he campaigned on, the South might head in that direction. Populism is key in the south. Of course when he named Rahm COS that went out the window. There are lots of democrats here in the south, but pretty clustered along the least in the gulf states…. As far as culturally unacceptable…. I don’t see that… you can’t go back a generation without finding rafts of FDR Dems…and everybody has them in the family. Going back 5 or 6 generations I can’t name a person in my family who’s ever voted R. Just as food for thought, if the west can be brought in, the south will follow…might take time, but follow we will. We tend to like westerners

    • jdmckay0 says:

      Hedges has been pretty stand up guy (AFAIC) for a long time.

      I saw those articles posted/linked all over, but hardly a word mentioned on political blogs I read. I would have thought he deserved more mention.

  6. TarheelDem says:

    Maybe the compromise on the Catfood Commission will falter as well as the extension of any Bush tax cuts. It only takes 40 Democratic Senators plus Bernie Sanders to stop both of those. And it takes 35 Democratic Senators to stop any “free trade” deal. In all three cases, the obstruction mechanisms of the Congress work to progressive’s favor.

    I wish the media had the guts to explain that “free trade” agreements are US attempts to negotiate bilateral agreements that reverse the disadvantages of WTO decisions that have handicapped US exports by calling environmental, labor, and accounting standards “nontariff restraints of trade”. And permitting other countries to protect their markets.

  7. fatster says:


    CIA May Face New Probe Over Destroyed Videos
    National Archives Tells NBC its Investigation into Possible Violation of Federal Records Act by CIA may be Reopened

    “A spokeswoman for the National Archives and Records Administration, however, told NBC on Wednesday that the government’s official records keeper may well reopen its own investigation into whether the CIA’s destruction of the tapes was a violation of the Federal Records Act.”


    • bmaz says:

      Yes, un unpublished letter from the NARA, with no possible criminal fines or penalties whatsoever, ought to really strike fear into the CIA and torquemada like US government. That’ll show em.

  8. Citizen92 says:

    FWIW, while VP Biden was at Arlington placing the wreath around 11, Mrs. Biden was at Tyson’s Corner Mall, shopping at Banana Republic.

    • bmaz says:

      Maybe not the greatest optics, but meh. At least she was’t at Saks or Givenchy or something. It was a rare workweek holiday for a teacher and probably a nice day; can’t get too worked up over Dr. Jill at Banana Republic.

  9. john in sacramento says:

    The opposite of the Sherlock Holmes story about the dog that didn’t bark


    … A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

    Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

    Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.

    Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.

  10. davidluke says:

    It is sad that our Democratic president that inspired so much hope in many has compromised to the point that I could care less whether he is re elected or not. Just like Blanche Lincoln, good bye is what I say. I do not know the answer to the tax issue but I know one thing. I need the money more than Wal Mart does!

    And Koch is a small business according to “TO BE” SPEAKER BOEHNER. So, I am very frustrated at this point that Obama for some reason has no ability to stand for anything strongly.

    I guess I misread him. I would rather we had Hillary. Her and Nancy Pelosi would have got the job done!

  11. phred says:

    we can’t just engage in political rhetoric

    Does the President even know what his job is? How the heck did we elect someone this dense?

    From the Oxford American Dictionary:
    rhetoric: the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing

    Nope, we sure don’t want any of that from our President, nosiree! We just want unpersuasive incompetent hacks spewing rubbish in the press in order to rob the public blind. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  12. shergald says:

    The way Netanyahu has recently pulled Obama’s strings, the last time only a day ago, I can’t imagine any world leader taking him seriously.

    • Stephen says:

      IMO whatever mojo Barry had with world leaders has evaporated to a great extent. They know he is lame. After watching body language and gestures in news clips with the Chinese I swear they want him to know he is not the toughest guy on the block anymore and that the country he represents is in rapid decline. The Russians and the Chinese are probably feeling pretty cocky considering the big pipline deal they signed just recently and after Hillary went hat in hand over hard to obtain exotic minerals that the Chinese seem to have cornered in the market. Now about these IOUs Barry, will that be gold, real estate, or how many jobs can you give us?

      • progress says:

        There is no single example in history do we see a totalitarian regime succeed over a Democratic regime. This is just a temporary blip.

        First we need Progressive Taxation, bring health care costs under control, followed by Fair Market playing rules which allow our exports to succeed to maintain trade balance or else we need to enact trade barriers ourselves and maintain rule of law in our markets too. BTW we still are the worlds sole super-power and there is time to correct the course.

      • jodo says:

        If Barry negotiates abroad like he does here then we can kiss many more jobs goodbye. Goodbye Barry, it was fun while it lasted, but please leave us some semblance of a liberal Democratic Party when you’re gone.

  13. econobuzz says:

    So, Barack Obama is in Korea lecturing Americans to suck it up …

    Yeah, and the South Koreans shoved it right up his ass. You know what he should have done? He should have said, okay asshole, where are you going to sell 600,000 cars next year?

  14. skepticdog says:

    No problem, but to be fair take 10% of all retirement and pension plans from everyone else including the police, teachers, unions, banks, congress, etc.

  15. Margaret says:

    “Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts,” Obama told reporters.

    Sounds like “STFU Hippies” to me

  16. bluedot12 says:

    I don’t think there is much doubt that O will extend the tax cuts. If it were otherwise, he would have said something much stronger much earlier. He never did. He could end up cutting SS and medicare while extending the tax cuts and two wars at the same time. Makes no sense at all if you really care about the deficit.

    The question for me is what happens now, what do we do? I feel like there is no democratic party anymore. It is only a blue dog minority party. It might be better to be a smaller “interest” group that could block some of the shit that goes through congress and use that to get some small improvements. Why do we need a President who does what O doesn’t do? And who marshalls liberals/progressives to a false cause, leaving the left with nothing. Maybe he will yet prove me wrong, but I doubt that.

  17. skepticdog says:

    This guy was a law professor? It’s becoming more and more apparent that everything we were told about the guy was a lie. I’d hate to see him around impressionable students anywhere. Bring on impeachment. Can I contribute to it?

  18. rmwarnick says:

    I don’t really know how to describe the political situation right now. It’s like, why do we even bother to have Presidential elections when the winning candidate does a 180 on every issue he campaigned on?

  19. Margaret says:

    I guess Obama couldn’t even sell crack free trade to Charlie Sheen the Koreans.

    Because we don’t have enough countries to send our manufacturing jobs to.

  20. CTuttle says:

    *heh* “A Ukrainian official later apologised to the audience for the disturbance, saying ‘at least we don’t have to be ashamed about what we have on display.'”

    Bwhahaha…! ;-)

  21. zeabow says:

    “You know, it is not just that the arrogant and cluelessly detached President Pangloss is steaming toward a one and done Presidency, it is that he is literally destroying the Democratic Party and liberal ideology in the process and leaving them in his wake.”

    The simplest conclusion … and the correct one, IMO … is that he is doing that on purpose. Mind you that he could barely contain his glee at the prospects of dealing with a strengthened republican hand in congress before the mid-terms. obama is a terrible person; it’s as simple as that.

    obama is a narcissio-path. He loves himself much more than anything else. His ego demands a large audience … you can see it on the way he just loves strutting and preening for the crowds and doing the talk shows … and he is willing to sell out 99% country, after misleading them with promises of change, all so that he can have the biggest stage on earth and the masses can join him in a celebration of himself. It’s the most important thing in the world to him … by far … so he caters to the power structure that he believes provides him that platform.


  22. TheOracle says:

    “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday blasted a bipartisan draft proposal by the co-chairmen of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission that would slice $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade.” (from Roll Call)

    Hmmmm, where have I recently heard about a similar $4 trillion figure over a decade?

    Oh, I get it. And I also understand what deal was cut earlier this year, similar to the deal cut over health care reform even before it was rolled-out early last year, a deal that nixed any universal single payer or public option.

    If all the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cuts are extended and made permanent, then it will end up costing the U.S. treasury about $4 trillion over ten years. If the Bush era tax cut covering any income over $250,000 is allowed to expire on time, but Bush era tax cuts remain in place for income below $250,000, then this will end up costing the U.S. treasury about $3 trillion over ten years.

    And (by chance) Obama’s Cat Food Commission heads, Simpson and Bowles, both conservatives, come up with their plan which cuts $4 trillion over ten years from the federal budget, while throwing in additional tax cuts for the wealthy, which (also by chance) just happens to be the cost to our country of extending permanently the Bush era tax cuts.

    Gee, this makes me think that early this year, while President Obama was busy establishing the right-leaning Cat Food Commission, the thought was already in mind to not let the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cut expire as planned (by Republicans), but to extend them while offsetting their cost of $4 trillion over ten years with the recommendations of the Cat Food Commission. Incredible. Just like what happened during health care “reform,” fat cats taken care of, with everyone else paying the price, primarily middle-class working families and the poor.

    Wild pigs have more integrity (and patriotism) than these conservative pigs. And the idea that President Obama is cutting deals with these conservative pigs only covers him, and his administration, in the same pig slop.

  23. maizenblue says:

    I understand your frustration and I felt it too today at the news about the tax cuts and the deficit commission. But I think the part about Charlie Sheen and crack was harsh. I say this from a strategic perspective– it’s probably not good strategically to overdo critiques of Obama because he remains a sympathetic person.

    • bmaz says:

      That line was a quote from long time and respected Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman. Party elders are saying such things, not just dirty hippies.

    • Mason says:

      I understand your frustration and I felt it too today at the news about the tax cuts and the deficit commission. But I think the part about Charlie Sheen and crack was harsh. I say this from a strategic perspective– it’s probably not good strategically to overdo critiques of Obama because he remains a sympathetic person.

      There is absolutely nothing; I repeat, nothing, sympathetic whatsoever about Barack Obama!

      His karmic reward for his narcissism, lies, cowardice, treachery, support for torture, covering up war crimes, his intentional destruction of the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, the Rule of Law, and his premeditated slaughter of thousands of innocents with drones to grow a new generation of terrorists to fear and kill is too horrific to contemplate.

      I choose not to hate him because I don’t want to waste my energy on such a pathetically twisted, destructive, and lost human being. He charted his own course long ago and deserves what the gods have in store for him.

  24. dugsdale says:

    I have to say, I am literally gobsmacked on a daily basis at our incredible shrinking president. Every day brings a new situation where he says or does the exact opposite of what great Democratic leaders of the past–Truman, Roosevelt–would have done or said.

    It’s almost as if the Republican party HIRED him to run for Pres on the Dem ticket, with the understanding that when he won he’d speed the Democratic party down the path into an ineffectual, unrepresentative, weak-willed, barely-breathing manifestation of learned helplessness. The one unambiguous, signal accomplishment of his presidency so far: to turn the Democratic brand to shit.

    you just shake your head and wonder if you’re trapped in someone else’s bad dream. What a sorry-ass traitor to the middle class (and to those who placed hope in him, of whatever class) this empty suit is.

  25. defogger says:

    To speak of Hillary is some kind of clinical denial that can’t come to terms with the irrefutable fact the dems and pubs are owned by corporate oligarchs and we are utterly powerless to change this reality.Honestly,we don;t even have the ability to take it to the streets because we have no national identity.My hope would be that Bloomberg would run and consequently create an opportunity for Feingold to run as an independent.This would give Soros an opportunity to finally do something meaningful with his political backing for prez.

  26. cregan says:

    Bmaz, you are seeing the implosion of Obama. Though I disagree with much of what Obama is about, it is quite sad to see. It is also bad for all of us, not matter the political orientation because his weakness is going to hurt all of us.

  27. geoshmoe says:

    Obama’s a lack of leadership, he’s a mouthpiece reading off the telepromter (or other,) So as far as the “how far to the right he might wander…” about as far has they tell him. Induce him.

    But he should know that, he has basic intelligence enough, they say… A decent man/woman, who finds himself… in over his head should seek to step aside.

    Morally he might be better off to resign_____ after firing Biden, and ____Which would give the speaker of the house a chance, That she deserves, (despite the “Off the table” faux pa.)

    She has leadership abilities obviously. I think that could work if he acted fast enough> One act showing decisiveness and leadership, and a leap into his/herstory!

    (Civic 101 the 3rd in succession to fill in the term of president is the Speaker of the House. right?)