Obama Awards Billions in Government Contracts to Labor Law Violators

25 Apr

Josh Eidelson, one of the best up and coming labor reporters around, writes at Salon:

A 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the federal government had awarded over $6 billion in contracts in fiscal 2009 to contractors that had been cited for violating federal labor laws, from wage and hour rules to organizing rights. Earlier in 2010, the New York Times reported that the White House was planning to implement a “high road” contracting policy that would direct more government contracts to companies with better labor and environmental records. But by 2011, Obama OMB nominee Heather Higginbottom told senators in a confirmation hearing that there were no such plans afoot.

Imagine the outcry if the government was giving big contracts to companies that violated anti-terrorism laws.

Read more here.

40 Responses to “Obama Awards Billions in Government Contracts to Labor Law Violators”

  1. brahmsky April 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Vote Romney. Or Nader.

    • Sam Holloway April 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      There are better options available than certain blurts of cynical smugness would suggest. Dr. Jill Stein and Stewart Alexander will be on the ballot in enough states to win the office.

      • jonnybutter April 27, 2012 at 6:21 am #

        yeah, great strategy. I know that if either a.) Obama wins by a few fewer votes from the Left, he’ll feel so chastened, or b.) Romney wins, he and the GOP will forget how to manipulate people via politics, and the contradictions will be heightened irresistibly.

        As shitty as the Dems are – and they are certainly half the problem – it’s quite a leap to say that voters who reluctantly vote for them get the government they ‘deserve’. I’m not even sure that Reagan Democrats who participated in that mass self-hypnosis got what they ‘deserved’. Enough with the scolding please.

    • David Kaib April 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      Right, because the only option one ever has in politics is the choice of who to vote for for president.

      Such a crabbed view of citizenship.

  2. Courtney April 26, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    I’m voting Obama but we need to call him on these examples of his Admin not living up to the rhetoric.

    • Todd April 26, 2012 at 7:41 am #

      Granted Obama’s not as much of a reactionary lunatic as Romney or a hair-shirt, petty bourgeois as Nader, but what makes you think he can be “called” by workers on what he has done or will do? He’s demonstrated quite openly whose side he’s on.

    • Jeff April 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      You can “call him” until the end of time, but he’s deaf. He’s a silver-tongued wolf in sheep’s clothing and if you vote for Obama, you’ll get what you deserve. Plus you’ll sentence the rest of us to your version of Hell. If you want to throw away your vote (which we all do, since the government isn’t listening to us and doesn’t give a fat rat’s ass about what we think), you would be better advised to vote for Jill Stein. In the ’60s, there was a saying, “What if they gave a war and no one came?” Time to update that: “What if they gave an election and no one voted?” Stay home, vote for Stein, do anything but vote for Obomney.

      • Todd April 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

        Nobody won’t vote: the US ruling class has demonstrated very well that its members vote consistently with their (broad) interests in mind, so not voting at the moment isn’t a very good option (except for moralists, but that’s a different point).

      • Sam Holloway April 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

        The most common excuse I see for choosing Obama is fear of the other major party candidate being worse. Well, how do you like that? Cowardice has become an electoral strategy.

        It’s like Jill Stein says: “The politics of fear has brought us everything we were afraid of.”

        We have the government we deserve.

    • Ford Prefect April 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      You cannot have it both ways.

      If you vote for Obama, he will see that (quite rightly) as your tacit approval of his behaviors. So vote for him, as you wish, but don’t kid yourself your support is viewed as anything other than support for his agenda.

      The Obama campaign understands all this very well. They know that they will get votes, no matter how badly he behaves. This is precisely what gives him permission to do so. Your vote is your seal of approval on what he does.

      • Courtney April 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

        I don’t totally buy that! We do not have a Parliamentary system that allows for a lot of different minority parties to share power and form coalitions. Effectively we have a two party system. I can’t vote for Romney. Period. I will not NOT vote in the next election. Period (barring some really egregious stance the Admin takes). Any third party whose name I don’t know at this point has no chance at all. If enough of Obama’s voters let him know they disapprove of a particular stance then I believe that message at least gets to his ears. Whether or not he responds is a whole different topic….but how is that different than any other POTUS we’ve had?

      • Ford Prefect April 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

        Interesting. First off, change isn’t possible because we don’t have a parliamentary system. Second, you admit to being willfully unaware of any alternative parties and then rationalize that away by saying they don’t have a chance anyway. Of course, when tens of millions of people adopt this mindset, it rather becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, doesn’t it?

        Third, while you maintain your duty to vote (good), you also abdicate any responsibility for the results of that vote (bad) on the basis of a fantastical wish that after completing the last election of his life, Barack Obama will magically start listening to The People for some reason. This, even though he has every reason to believe that people voted for him to continue all the various works that have had (small-d) democrats, liberals, progressives, women, people of color and so on apoplectic for these last four years. He will continue killing jobs with “trade” deals. He will keep thinking natural gas if Fan-Fracking-Tastic. He will continue his assault on Social Security and the rest of the social safety net. People voted for him because that’s what they want!

        Basically, since Obama’s agenda is indistinguishable from the GOP version, you are voting in favor of that agenda. You are now pro-war, pro-nuke, pro-surveillance, pro-inequality, pro-corporate criminal and basically anti-everything liberals used to stand for (human rights, civil rights, the Rule of Law, democracy, free speech, accountable government, accountable elites and so on).

        I realize you don’t see it that way and I don’t blame you. But that is precisely the way the Democratic Party elites see it. I’ve been a registered Dem for 34 years, but having worked for the Party, I can tell you that the only way to get bad leadership out of office is to throw them out at the ballot box.

        Keeping them in office only encourages them to keep doing bad things.

  3. jonnybutter April 28, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Has the GOP/Reactionary ascendency of the last 30+ years had a salutary effect on the Dem party? So we should keep that going for the sake of the Dems? I think ‘Ford Prefect’ is a concern troll. Either that or…wow.

    The Democratic party is a big problem, but the GOP is a bigger problem. Only a fool chooses sure death in the form of terminal anal cancer (GOP) over chronic humiliation and pain in the form of colitis (Dems). It is a terrible choice, but that’s life as a grown up.

    My own fantasy is that the GOP never does the intellectual re-bolstering Corey suggests in TRM it would behoove them to do, and they are relegated to what they might ought to be – a regional party. Sly legislation is introduced and passed in Congress making it easier for a state to secede. Mississippi, Alabama, and maybe S. Carolina and WV are successfully goaded into secession, since the pro pols have long since lost control of the ‘tea party’ and similar ‘rabble’. This time the Feds don’t fight it, and let them go, wisely noting that the Deep South has consistently been more trouble than it’s worth, from the beginning of the country until the present. (Also, the South would be smaller now, no longer including a lot of the states it once did, like TX and VA.) These few backward states confederate and set up their own little Paraguay, with legal fireworks, legal Absinthe, semi-legal Prostitution,in the form of ‘massage’ (but dry counties of course! Got to keep those guilty pleasures guilty!). They are a pain for the US, but the money saved once the Federal Teat is taken away from them makes up for some of it, and the rest of the country is able to move on politically, which is a huge change for the better.

    • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Yes, we “grown ups” have to face some difficult choices. I’m guessing you’re not dealing with a 50% loss in income due to a deliberately bad economy. You don’t see the suffering and destruction and you don’t care to. I’m guessing you can kiss off the social safety net with a blasé, “Well, it was nice while it lasted, but thankfully I’m too affluent to ever need it.” Sadly, I know quite a few people of this view. I also know that the vulnerable in our society will never have a friend or ally in such people.

      There are millions of “grown ups” whose children’s schools are being gutted. Millions who can’t get an ambulance in a timely fashion. Millions who have no access to healthcare. We send troops to far flung places, ruin their lives, pump them full of drugs so they can function in the field and then act all surprised when they come home and commit suicide (one every 80 minutes, by the way). Millions more have had their homes stolen from them fraudulently by both parties’ biggest supporters. Inequality has increased more under Obama than under Bush, though some of that is just the fruition of Bush-era policies coming home to roost. Indeed, African-Americans have lost 50% of their net worth since 2008. We now have three “trade” deals which sanctify, 1), money laundering in Panama, 2), murdering labor organizers in Columbia and 3), corporations using North Korean slave labor (I can remember when that was illegal). Some “progress” we’ve got going here.

      Wow. Right? I must be a concern troll!

      I understand that being privileged and overly comfortable in a time like this means putting on some massive blinders. What you fail to understand is how people are being radicalized by a system that essentially preys on them. And since you aren’t willing to deal with actual issues and at least try to address them in a constructive manner, you end up with “concern troll” or “grown ups don’t see it that way,” (as if you’re so mature yourself!) or the last ditch, “Sure, Dems suck, but at least we’re not Republicans!”

      Very convincing “argument.” At this point, the Party’s defenders really don’t have anything interesting to say. They sound a lot like Republicans, in fact––blandly authoritarian and incapable of factual argument. “You have no choice. Either vote for Our Corrupt Guy, or the Other Corrupt Guy will win… and you don’t want THAT, do you?”

      When I suggest third parties, I’m not suggesting that’s going to solve all our problems. What I do know is there is no easy way out of the managed decline we’ve collectively chosen for our fellow citizens. And voting for the Status Quo doesn’t suffice as anything positive. Unless, of course, you really think all this is perfectly okay. In which case, you are right to vote for either conservative party.

      • Jeff April 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

        Sigh … Obamabots, so many Obamabots. It’s a waste of time trying to deal with them. They are terminally deluded. But thanks for stepping up to the plate.

  4. Todd April 28, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Ford Prefect wrote:

    “Basically, since Obama’s agenda is indistinguishable from the GOP version, you are voting in favor of that agenda.”

    And if you vote in favour of a third-party that’ll get beaten for sure by the other two, you’re secretely voting in favour of those parties? Come on! One can vote _against_ something without being in favour of what’s seen as a lesser evil. It’s a systemic problem that can’t be solved just by voting.

    “You are now pro-war, pro-nuke, pro-surveillance, pro-inequality, pro-corporate criminal and basically anti-everything liberals used to stand for (human rights, civil rights, the Rule of Law, democracy, free speech, accountable government, accountable elites and so on).”

    Oh, please! Liberals are _far_ from lily white.

    • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      I’m not voting for Obama, or my Dem House Rep, or either of my Senators (both Dems), because they violate my values. They signed off on permanent war, trade deals, “austerity,” the Bush Tax Cuts and so on––one of them even voted to put Bush’s selections on the Supreme Court and that’s working out really, really well, right? Such a voting record is really more fitting of a Republican… and I don’t vote for Republicans. Ever.

      I agree institutional problems can’t be solved solely by merely voting. I was being provocative in my outlining one’s “support”, because that is the way practicing politicians view their voters: as supporting their agendas. Politician X who just won his last election ever will take that as support for his or her agenda. That is standard practice. No one cares if you hold your nose or not. You are providing a “mandate” with your support. Leadership simply doesn’t care about your angst about the future, as long as you support them. Especially when they’re not up for re-election in a few years.

      One of my pet peeves with Democrats these days is this: with a right-wing Dem in the White House, the “liberalish” opposition is effectively split. He can trash Social Security and other Dem legacies without any political costs, for example. I’m concerned with the future. It goes well beyond this election cycle. In four years, Obama will be replaced with a Republican and Obama is laying the groundwork for a far more brutal regime than we have at the moment.

      I tend to think (and I could be wrong) that a better discussion about the future might yield some better results than focusing on this election cycle as if it’s the MLB playoffs. I ask my loyalist friends what they think is going to happen in January 2017. No answer. They can’t even go there.

      Am I really so weird that I see this as a terrible problem?

      • Jeff April 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

        Not weird at all. Americans (and humans, in general) are incredibly myopic. We rarely act until we’re bitten in the ass, which is going to happen, big time, real soon now. The conservative agenda is not complete, by any means. But Obamabots keep engaging in wishful thinking instead of critically reading Robin’s book and applying the lessons therein. Obama is all about implementing the conservative agenda in a very sneaky way. He’d give William Jennings Bryan a real run for the money.

      • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

        I use the term “magical thinking” towards this brick wall of pseudo-liberals. To be blunt about it, it’s an increasingly surreal “conversation,” if we can call it that. I’m having arguments now with fellow Democrats (I won’t be one much longer, although I’m still on all the party lists and get calls every week) that are eerily like the ones I had with Republican acquaintances a decade or more ago. And yes, there is an authoritarian bent on the loyalist side that can’t even discuss basic facts. This mindset that one can wipe away legit criticism with casual swipes of trollishness and “immaturity” now strikes me as projection.

        I’m starting to think we are really becoming a totalitarian society, in which the polity is mesmerized with a vacuous political “contest” that resembles a major league playoff series than any discussion of Fate Of The Nation stuff. Go Team Blue!

        If the hammer comes down while Obama or another Dem is POTUS, Democrats will prostrate themselves in the appropriate fashion. Of course, since Obama signed off on the “Homeland Battlefield Act” (NDAA), that’s entirely possible. These “bots” don’t care in the least.

        Oh, but if Republican X does it, well, then they might rediscover their dedication to democracy once more, as they did with Bush. Still, principles that change depending on who is in office are not principles, are they?

      • Todd April 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

        Ford wrote:

        “One of my pet peeves with Democrats these days is this: with a right-wing Dem in the White House, the “liberalish” opposition is effectively split.”

        Cry me a river! This has been going on at the federal level and the provincial here in Canada since about the late 60s. Splits happen all the time to the left of the Conservatives (they happened a bit when there was another, more right-wing party to the right of the then Progressive-Conservative party, but they’ve since merged), and they take advantage of that. And see what’s happened over in Europe with ostensibly left-wing parties that then go in for austerity drives. So long as we’re confined simply to voting, there’s not going to be much change unless something outside that framework happens.

        “that is the way practicing politicians view their voters: as supporting their agendas.”

        Your politicos must be living in a bubble; here in Canada, the papers are full of talk before and after elections about vote splitting, strategic voting, etc.

      • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

        Indeed, our politicos are living in a bubble. At least you have the NDP, which may or may not pan out. But in our case, we have two conservative, corporatist parties. Two sides of the same ideological coin, if you will. The lack of real choices is what is leading us to social strife.

        But judging by your students’ strike, it seems you have a lot of the same problems. My Canadian friends seem just as perplexed, even frightened at times, of Harper’s regime and the utter bankruptcy of the Liberal Party. At least on that level, it seems we have that much in common, sadly enough.

        As far as being confined to voting only, I have to agree with you. Voting simply isn’t a part of any solution at the moment, until that opportunity is created. That’s depressing, of course, because I think most here understand what that means more broadly.

  5. jonnybutter April 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    “Yes, we “grown ups” have to face some difficult choices. I’m guessing you’re not dealing with a 50% loss in income due to a deliberately bad economy. ”

    On what basis do you guess that? Actually, I’m dealing with more than a 50% loss of income. And I know full well that this recession/depression has been deliberately prolonged for most people.

    Look, life is full of dilemmas, which if they were easy to deal with wouldn’t *be* dilemmas. Confronted with the choice of terminal anal cancer and chronic colitis, you decide that choosing is not ‘pure’ enough for you, so you opt for a third option. Unless your state is not competitive, you are opting for anal cancer and rationalizing that choice with the conceit that there’s no difference between the two.

    In fact, I won’t be voting for Obama this time, unless the race in my state tightens up considerably. I also will think twice about voting for Stein (but will consider it), due to the moronic comments of her supporters here. I have no illusions about the Democratic party or Obama (who represents the modern Dem party all too well). But pretending there is no difference between a conservative party and a reactionary party is foolish and ignorant at best.

    • jonnybutter April 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      One more thing. I sincerely apologize for calling Ford Prefect a concern troll. He/she is not a concern troll, clearly.

    • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      Well, it seems we have a few things in common after all. Much more than your initial response would indicate. Good! (That’s my opinion, your mileage may vary.)

      The Duopoly that rules us gives us the choice between getting cancer or AIDS, or your analogy is fine too. That’s not a choice. That’s just the choice between hanging or firing squad. And smoke ‘em if you got ‘em in the mean time.

      Notice how Obama defended Ann Romney against the attack from one of the Party’s own surrogates, a corporate lobbyist named Hilary Rosen. Class matters to them, more than anything else it seems.

      If Jill Stein isn’t your cup of tea (I think she’s alright), there’s also Rocky Anderson. The dude does progressive populism in a rather pitch-perfect manner.

      But in any case, it’s almost certainly true that outliers have no chance. That is because too many people have been indoctrinated to think and act on that notion. But they will never have a chance as long as people buy into that idea. For a chance to exist, people have to grant them that possibility. That’s you and me, among many others.

      Lastly, I apologize if I was unduly harsh in some of my rhetoric. It’s not that often anymore that I engage in these kinds of arguments, mostly because they seem increasingly pointless.

      You’re no troll or “bot” either.

    • Sam Holloway April 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      “I also will think twice about voting for Stein (but will consider it), due to the moronic comments of her supporters here.”

      ‘I’d rather stab myself in the eye with an icepick than be on the same side as that guy who hurt my fee-fees…’

      “But pretending there is no difference between a conservative party and a reactionary party is foolish and ignorant at best.”

      You keep choosing between terminal anal cancer and chronic colitis. Why not choose someone who’s not a sick a–hole? Either way, since you’ve already quit, and it looks like you’re just rationalizing your surrender, why not go out swinging instead of cringing behind smug rationalizations?

  6. jonnybutter April 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    “The Duopoly that rules us gives us the choice between getting cancer or AIDS, or your analogy is fine too. That’s not a choice. ”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to make it any clearer that what you said is exactly what I *don’t* mean. Our analogies are not the same at all. I DO mean that it IS a choice – a bad choice is still a choice. Because I live in a state where the trend is very lopsided, I can at least salve my own conscience a little by not giving BO my vote, but if I lived in a state where it was close, I wouldn’t hesitate to vote against the GOP by voting for Obama. If the general election were very close, I might also even work for his campaign: forget about Obama ‘setting up the GOP’ in 4 more years (which doesn’t make sense anyway); what about those four years with a GOP pres and congress again? THAT is both totally possible and very scary. There *is* a difference, and the reason is kind of a foreign, unnatural concept to both younger people, and to Americans generally, and it’s this: things can *always* be worse. We Americans like to think in terms of what’s better than what, but pretty often the decisions humans actually have to make are between what’s bad and what’s worse. Don’t blame me for it please.

    It’s you’re business what you do, but we really don’t agree about strategic voting.

    • Ford Prefect April 28, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Fair enough. And no, I don’t blame you. Or any number of other people.

      I will continue to quibble on the notion of “strategic voting,” because frankly, I don’t see any strategy at all. I would love to see one, but some people have a way of confusing strategy and tactics. Voting for Obama is only strategic if your interests align with his.

      Anything else is just tactics. Tactics borne of desperation.

      In any case, sorry for my misinterpreting you.

    • Sam Holloway April 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      Christ on a crutch. I’ve seen this sort of pretzel-logic before, but I just can’t place it… Oh, yes, that’s it:
      “Certain questions get answered– others spring up!
      Your mind plays tricks on you– you play tricks back…”

  7. Haviva (@cherylpet) April 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Something is wrong with this story. I am betting some important information was “accidentally” left out to make the author’s point. People who lean to the Right, rarely have a problem with disguising the truth!

    • Corey Robin April 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      Neither the author of this story nor myself leans right.

    • Ford Prefect April 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      I’m afraid your “bets” are not equal to truth, unless you can provide some evidence which even the White House can’t be bothered with producing itself.

      What’s wrong with this story is that there is even any basis for it in the first place… not that it doesn’t comport with your “beliefs.” The story looks solid to me, as in good reportorial practice. Indeed, I have yet to see any substantive response from anyone “that matters.”

      If you can debunk the story with some evidence, please do so. No false story should ever go unpunished, as it were.

  8. Corey Robin April 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    The tone here is getting nasty. If folks keep it up, I’m going to close the comments section on this post. Argue you all you want, as forcefully as you want. Just keep the name-calling to a minimum and the tone not unduly uncivil.

  9. Sam Holloway April 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Let me try it this way. The issue here is being made more complex than it needs to be made. There is sufficient reason to believe that the Obama administration is not ‘as bad as’ the Bush administration was in some ways; fair enough, I’ll give anyone that much. How far, though, do you let it go? How far to the right must the Overton window be pulled before one decides one has had enough and must look for a better option?

    I contest the analogy of the painful ailment vs. the terminal one. With Obama’s accelerating assaults on civil liberties, and his continuing imperialism, and his continuing fealty to entrenched financial interests, we’re clearly faced (considering the juxtaposition of the Democrats vs. the GOP) with two terminal conditions that may offer us slightly different life expectancies.

    Instead of shooting blindly at vapor trails with ‘strategic voting’ (which ultimately only serves the interests of the ever-narrowing bipartisan duopoly), why not aim directly at the target? If there isn’t a local electoral alternative that suits you, then run yourself, or organize around someone who can. Government ‘of, by, and for the people’ isn’t supposed to resemble “American Idol.” It takes work, and it’s going to take a lot more now that we’ve dug ourselves so deeply into this hole. Getting out can only begin with a stoppage of digging.

  10. jonnybutter May 1, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    “I contest the analogy of the painful ailment vs. the terminal one.”

    I didn’t say painful vs terminal. I said chronic and humiliating vs terminal, and I hope it’s implied that a chronic serious health problem is a dangerous problem.

    “two terminal conditions that may offer us slightly different life expectancies.”

    We agree here, except for the words ‘may’ and ‘slightly’. I think history – very recent history – shows that one party drifts towards, and one party *charges* towards, entropy. Again, try and get your head around bad and worse. And I would just stipulate here, as the original perpetrator of that analogy, that the main reason I’m not voting for BO is his record on civil liberties.

    I will agree with one other thing you guys are sort of saying, although it supports my view rather than yours.

    Our system of government was designed to make it incredibly difficult to change *anything* in this country (I think that’s a problem, but one for another time). For all the ballyhoo about – especially – presidential politics, there is an amazing amount of continuity at the presidential level. It’s sort of an informal system of precedents. Once something is done it’s very hard to un-do it. In this sense, the outcomes of government are often very similar regardless of which party is ‘in control’ (a dubious cliche). However, I do think the *inputs* are different enough that it’s worth thinking carefully about one’s vote, even if you
    don’t like either party. What you decide to do is up to you, but you can spout rhetoric (which is not argument) and deliberately misread/misrepresent what people write, and insult people all you want without changing the fact that there is a legitimate debate here. You aren’t convincing anyone with the current tack because you aren’t arguing well. Maybe you’re right, but you certainly haven’t convinced me, despite the fact that I agree with you about so much.

    For example, the Iraq war (the latest one). The fact that Dems voted to authorize Bush to start that war does not mean that if Gore had won the 2k election we would have had that same war after 9/11. That Iraq war was a pet project of the confluence of some seriously deranged people who admire a half-assed philosopher called Leo Strauss and Dick Cheney. These people would not have been in a position of dispositive power had Gore been president. And I also don’t think we – as a nation – would have rationalized torture the way we did under Bush. Do you say that it doesn’t matter, since they’re all imperialists or whatever? I’d say it does matter to the particular many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died in that war, and the ones who are still alive in their wrecked country. (And don’t compare sanctions with the war – they are both bad, but the war was much worse.) I’d say it also matters to the US taxpayer who will probably spend a couple trillion dollars for something so much worse than useless.

    This is not a pean to Gore or to Democrats – at ALL – so save your moralistic frothing please. The point is that history is contingent. A Senate vote authorizing a war is very different from a president promulgating a war. It just is. Bush made that happen. Obama deserves scorn for his civil liberties record, for not bringing anyone in the Bush admin. to justice for their crimes, and for his own crimes. But if you think a new American president can simply get out a broom and start over when they assume office, you are fatally naive. It MATTERS that Bush was president for 8 years before BO, and it would matter a lot if Romney is pres and has a GOP congress for 4 or 8 years. You choose the humiliating dangerous disease over the terminal one because with the former there is at least some hope for improvement – you survive while you try to repair.

    “If there isn’t a local electoral alternative that suits you, then run yourself, or organize around someone who can. Government ‘of, by, and for the people’ isn’t supposed to resemble “American Idol.” It takes work, ”

    I agree with all of this. We were talking about voting though.

    • Sam Holloway May 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      In 2008 the Democratic faithful got what they ostensibly wanted: a Democratic president and control of both houses of Congress. Where was the accountability for the crimes of the Bush administration? Where was the hasty withdrawal from Bush’s ill-conceived and disastrous foreign engagements? Nonexistent. Obama’s continuation of Bush’s imperial overreach– and his staunch refusal to hold Bush officials accountable– renders moot the Bush/Gore comparisons. Never mind the prostrate complicity of the Democrats to Bush’s satanic program; here was a chance to begin to atone, and Obama wasn’t interested. Of course, anyone who’d done their homework about Obama wasn’t surprised.
      There’s also that nagging little reality that Bush, Cheney, et al are still walking free, and Obama has taken over the slaughter of innocent Arabs and Muslims abroad and the persecution of them right here in the U.S. You can compare Bush’s body counts to Obama’s or Clinton’s if that makes you feel better. Meanwhile, the slaughter continues. We also have the NDAA, pushed in its current form by Obama, and that’s just the tip of the civil liberties iceberg. We still have no accountability for the parasitical financial interests that received billions in taxpayer money in the form of bailouts.

      So you can argue that there’s a difference between Obama and any member of the GOP, but you can’t make a convincing argument that there’s difference enough. They enable each other to our intensifying detriment. Either we find another way, or we’re doomed. It’s that simple. Some of us are busy working on electoral alternatives. You can join us, help us build the numbers we need, or you can sit back and write more pretzel-logic essays about how impossible change is. Your choice.

      • jonnybutter May 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

        “you can argue that there’s a difference between Obama and any member of the GOP, but you can’t make a convincing argument that there’s difference enough. ”

        I think I did argue that there’s a difference enough. I gave an example: Iraq war vs no Iraq war. You don’t think that’s difference-enough and I do. Fine.

        I think the burden is on you to show that it’s somehow worth it to effectively abandon the country to a bunch of crazy religio-reactionaries which will (somehow) facilitate us on the left to ‘start over’ and begin to rebuild – you have to argue that this trade off is worth it. You haven’t make the argument AFAIC – and I AGREE with you on probably most policy positions! What about people who don’t?

        You want to build a movement? Argue with people rather than berating them. You aren’t a serious democratic movement unless you can persuade.

  11. Sam Holloway May 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    “Iraq war vs no Iraq war”

    We’re still in Iraq. Furthermore, Iraq is still a hellish shell of what it was before the first half of the Gulf War. Last I checked, Obama hadn’t paid one dinar of reparations or prosecuted one high-ranking war criminal from the Bush administration. Not only that, but we’ve added Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya to the existing quagmire in Afghanistan. So, you could say that Obama’s actually worse than Bush.

    “I think the burden is on you to show that it’s somehow worth it to effectively abandon the country to a bunch of crazy religio-reactionaries…”

    This is either a run-of-the-mill bad faith argument, or an ironic indication that you are aware of the consequences of maintaining the status quo. By badly short-changing millions who were duped by his high-gloss, well-funded sales pitch, Obama along with his congressional majorities handed over the 2010 midterms to– you guessed it, “a bunch of crazy religio-reactionaries.” The solution is to actively seek something better than what’s being offered, not to assume that coming out from underneath the rotting consumerist security blanket will automatically lead to destruction

    “Argue with people rather than berating them. You aren’t a serious democratic movement unless you can persuade.”

    These are tough times that call for tough-minded people. If the only thing holding you back from progress is thin skin, then I don’t need you on my team. I can go on all day with facts and reasoned perspective, but not even I have the stamina to try and coax you out of a moral and logical labyrinth of your own making. Best of luck in November, whatever your plans.

  12. jonnybutter May 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    “If the only thing holding you back from progress is thin skin, then I don’t need you on my team’

    Wow. Ok. Good luck to you too.

    • Jeff May 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

      Read some history, jonnybutter. In particular, since this is May 1, read the history of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago on May 4, 1886. It began as a peaceful gathering to support workers striking for the eight hour day. Those people didn’t have thin skins at all…

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