Sunday, March 20, 2011

Part I: A More Formal Critique

Apparently critiques of President Obama are not popular among some of my readers. In previous posts about the President, here's what a few people stated:

Anonymous, "I don't understand Cryn's harsh treatment of Obama. No one to the left of Obama is electable and even he must move to the center for purposes of reelection. If he somehow loses in 2012, the Repubs will run wild."

Liz, "I am just done with hearing all the complaining from Progressives . . .  You ran against your own party. YOU LOST."

Before I list the10 explicit reasons why I criticize the President and believe it is patriotic to do so, I think it is worth mentioning that I've been thinking a lot about the whole cockamamie saying about voting or supporting the "lesser of two evils." I despise this idea. Max Lerner added a good twist to that adage, "When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil.” That's just one reason why I hate it and am fed up with people suggesting that my criticism and stances are dangerous or wrong. As for Liz's remarks, she is quite wrong about the way I voted in the last election (we've already discussed it, too). I went out on the streets for President Obama. I called people and urged them to vote for him. I was there in Manassas on the eve before his election. Not only that, I was part of the actual Inaugural events. My name was drawn out of a hat that was filled with thousands and thousands of others, and chosen to be part of the day he was sworn in. On that day, I stood a few feet from the White House, and when the limousines came by us (I was standing with just two other women), soon-to-be President Obama waved at me. That's right. He waved and he smiled. The power of that face-to-face moment still blows me away. But when I think about that profoundly moving moment, as well as the hope I felt in Manassas, those feelings are now coupled with deep anguish. The sense of betrayal keeps me up at night.

Here are the 10 reasons why I criticize President Obama (mind you, it is not just the man  - that is naïve - but the administration behind the man):

(1) Pfc. Bradley Manning. Manning has neither been tried nor convicted, and yet he is being held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. He has also been forced to sleep naked and stand outside of his cell naked. Check out the Geneva conventions and see how they describe torture and inhumane treatment. Manning is on OUR land. He is in Quantico, VA.

- "PJ Crowley Resigns After Bradley Manning Comments,", Washington Post, March 13, 2011
- "PJ Crowley: Bradley Manning Treatment 'Counterproductive and Stupid,' Huffington Post, March 11, 2011
- "WH Forces Crowley To Resign For Condemning Abuse Of Manning," Salon, March 13, 2011
-"With Crowley's Ouster, Obama Fully Owns The Torture Of Bradley Manning,"  FDL, March 13, 2011

(2) Ah, yes. Change we could all believe in. Change like . . . the continued surveillance on American citizens? But when it comes to national security policy, I am clearly just a nincompoop. Ethics? Pish-posh! As Tony Soprano would say: "Forgettaboutit, Cryn . . . pass me some prosutt and capacol." (Then he'd take his two paws and wrap them around the back of my neck).

(3) Obama's New Executive Order On Guantanamo - Huh. This kinda reminds me of the guy he replaced. What was his name? Oh, yeah . . . Buuuuusch. But I'm probably just thinkin' like some nincompoop again.

(4) Higher Education - In President Obama's first State of the Union Address, he mentioned the issue of student loan debt and the problems we're facing as a country when it comes to financing higher education at least 5-6 times. I credit the continued work of people and organizations like NCLC (Deanne Loonin, et al.), New America Foundation (specifically Higher Education Watch - Steve Burd has and continues to do superb work),, EduLender, All Education Matters, the Scambloggers (such as Third Tier Reality, First Tier Toilet, But I Did Everything Right! , Subprime JD, Esquire Painting, Fluster Cucked, The Law School Tuition Bubble, and so forth), etc., etc. for pressuring the administration about helping current borrowers, and raising questions about the absurd nature of why so many graduates are drowning in student loan debt. These efforts come from the ground up, and I have no doubt that all of our hard work - and that includes all the volunteers who help me on a consistent basis - were a reason for the President's remarks. My favorite one? "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."

Now did President Obama make any mention of student loans or those struggling with student loan debt in his latest SOTU? Nope. He made not a peep. NOT. ONE. WORD. Instead, we still hear the same old tired policy claims, exemplified by Heather Higginbottom's remarks when a woman wrote to her about having a lot of student loan debt. I have news for her and the administration: you cannot use current debtors interchangeably with prospective and current students. Those groups of people ARE NOT THE SAME. Plus, I have yet to hear from Roberto Rodriguez. AEM has carried out countless letter writing campaigns to him. At least 40-70 people have sent letters to him, expressing their concern about the student loan debt crisis. We have implored him to listen to our side of the story. Hell, I've even spoken to Mr. Rodriguez on the phone. That was a year ago, and he failed to respond to my question about how the administration plans to help current debtors. But I know that addressing the issue is toxic, because the administration is filled with people who continually talk about the whole 'moral hazard' issue. You owe it to us, Mr. Rodriguez. We deserve a spot at the table.

(5) Entrenched interests vs. the promise to 'clean up Washington.' In 2007, Obama promised to clean up Washington. Criticizing Presidential opponent Hilary Rodham Clinton, he said she didn't understand the problem. He added, "My argument is not that we're perfect [i.e. politicians of any kind]. I suffer from the same original sin of all politicians, which is we've got to raise money . . . But my argument has been and will continue to be that the disproportionate influence of lobbyists and special interest is a problem in Washington (and) in state capitals." He then promised, "The argument is not that I'm pristine, because I'm swimming in the same muddy water . . . The argument is that I know it's muddy and I want to clean it up." How's the clean up going, Mr. President?

To Be Continued . . . 


Nando said...

Obama is another neo-liberal. I am a bitter cynic - but even I was surprised by how many people were taken in by this guy's rhetoric. Well, guess what?! Talk is cheap, and actions are what matter.

He was acceptable to the elite, and was marketed to the masses. (Let's be real. No one gets into the Oval Office who is not "safe" and vetted to a T. Those in power are not going to let someone into their circle who is not FULLY on board with their program.)

Look at Obama the Weasel's choices for cabinet positions. He surrounded himself with financial thugs *the moment* he earned the nomination. Perhaps, it is irrational to expect anything other than a corporate tool in high office.

Anonymous said...

Working as a painter has, for better or worse, enabled me to listen to many years and thousands of hours of 3 hour long Hannity and Rush talk radio shows.

I have also gone through extended periods of listening to NPR in the mornings.

Linguistically speaking, one major difference between NPR and Conservative Talk Radio, is that NPR language is all open-ended and suggestive. NPR people say things like: "It seems that" or "it is likely that" or "this would indicate" or "can we conclude", "It tends to suggest" etc etc.

The Conservatives,on the other hand, all speak in absolutes.

I listened closely to talk radio before the last congressional elections, and one could tell several months beforehand that the Democrats were going to lose a lot of seats.

But I think all bets are off for the 2012 elections.

I remember 04, (or was it 06?) when the Republicans won full control of Congress all the Exec branch. The next day Rush and Hannity stated with absolute confidence that the Democratic party was finished and did not know its agenda any more, and that it would take decades before the Democrats would ever win again.

But they were wrong, because we all know how the 08 elections went.

Right now there is a stalemate, and President Obama can't do too much about the student lending situation even if he tried.(And I believe he wants to, along with others that are like-minded.

Between now and the 2012 elections, a lot might happen. The world inevitably turns, and SL Debt will probably pass 1 trillion.

Anyway, I realize my comments are not on point very much, and are just a few rhetorical remarks I guess.

Also, thats a great story about how your name was picked out of the hat. Do you have a pic of yourself standing with the 3 women at the Inaguration? That's one to show the Grandkids someday.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Nando - yeah, I was really duped and you weren't. Great work.

Liz said...

The executive branch serves the entire country - and the reality is that other viewpoints need to be represented too.

These other viewpoints often offend me (and any rational person) but that's just the way our government is set up, and I accept it.

The real problem is that our local elections are being lost, while we focus on somehow finding a president who will serve only the people who elected him. I think this is a lost opportunity, and I am tired of the whining.

If you want a president for you and your friends only, in this country, then GET RID OF THE CRAZIES. Not the president. Persuade them. Show them facts. Do whatever it takes to get their vote. But don't sit there and say, "Oh gosh, why is the president listening to all those other citizens TOO!"

Obama isn't a "lesser evil." He is the president of the entire country, and our country has become very weird. I think it makes more sense to address the weird at the local level than to yell at the guy who's stuck representing them at the top. And I don't think that's being a political realist, it's being a person who understands basic civil rights and the structure of our government. We're lawyers. We should know this.

PS - I had a longer comment, but the site ate it. Hope this posts.

Liz said...

The Daily Show explains the problem better than I can - "Kings don't have this problem..."

Cryn Johannsen said...

Liz, I have something up my sleeve that is about getting MORE involved. Stay tuned for it. I am also sorry you lost your earlier post!

Paul Franz said...

Howdy, howdy. Just found your blog, and I love. I have an MA in Education (and am about to start PhD work in the fall), and have served as Director of a nonprofit in Hawaii.

Anyway, on this post... While I was wary of Obama before his election, I also can see why so many progressives found him attractive. What amazes me is how so many progressives still find him (or his administration because, as you point out, it's not just him) attractive. It's Douglas Adams's lizards all over again (insert shameless link to own blog here):

Looking forward to part two of this post!