Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another Brick In The Wall

Digby outdoes herself:
Of course the real question is why on earth did the administration pull this cadaverous joker [Alan Simpson] out of his own cushy, federally funded retirement to head up the ill-conceived deficit commission in the first place? The only generous reason I can think of is that someone thought that he would sabotage it,

Oh no! We've been stopped by an enormous wall! Can't see through it, can't see over it, can't see under it!
but there's no evidence they want to do that.

The appointment is the evidence. Digby sees Obama sabotage his Catfood Commission, yet still can't believe he's obeying the elite who put him into office because he wants to obey them.
And in this era of batshit insane politics, counting on some right wing kook to discredit anything is a very risky thing to do --- even they must know that.

So you have to assume that Simpson's fulfilling his designated role. He will make a deal. All he asks is that the geezer parasites, current and future get it out of their heads once and for all that this society should provide some basic security for everyone.

So close, yet so far. All it takes is one teeny, tiny step to make it through that wall. One little push.

I'll help.

Obama does not care about you. You are not his friend. You are not his constituent. He does not have warm and shiny feelings for you. He does not want you to live long and prosper. He wants to make a lot of money and get a lot of respect. He wants to prove before the entire world--and by that we mean the daddy who abandoned him--that he is both Special and Fits In. And like all authoritarians, all hurt children who bury the pain, he is perfectly willing to make a few small sacrifices to get what he wants.

And we are those small sacrifices.

Digby can't see over the wall. If she did, she wouldn't be part of the liberal tribe anymore. So she stops thinking. Just like that--she comes to a screeching, rubber-burning, head-rocking stop. She doesn't let herself see the blindingly obvious.

Yes, lesser of two evils and so on and so forth. But at the very least, we should not lie to ourselves. At the very least, let us admit that we are screwed, so we can turn from the party of investment banking to the party of the poor and dispossessed. Even if we remain powerless we might finally help a few people in the process.


Unknown said...

Great post. Exactly my feeling towards Obama on practically everything. Liberal's should not have bought into his bull shit from the get go. Even early in the Campaign, Krugman stated that Obama's health care plan was the most conservative of the plans put forward. Right then and there, people should have realized that Obama was not, and more important, is not a progressive. Why create a Deficit commission and stack it with people that are deficit hawks that want to gut social security and medicare. There isn't a republican alive that ever supported social security, since whatever moderate republicans that used to exist don't exist anymore.

Anonymous said...

Obama: sending a Democrat to do a Republican's job.

Anonymous said...

Jules Feiffer skewered LBJ on the same issue in a cartoon 40+ years ago. I can't find the image, but in the captions LBJ says that in an effort to solve the nation's problems he is appointing a fact-finding commission that will be comprised of
1 democrat
1 republican,
1 intellectual,
1 anti-intellectual,
1 negro (it was 40 yrs ago), and
1 bigot.

In the last panel, LBJ says (quoting Isiah) "Come, let us reason together."

Anonymous said...

I think you are misreading Digby's meaning. Your reading of sabotage and her reading are two different things. Digby thinks the entire Catfood Commission is a bad idea. So "sabotage" to her would mean finding a way to kill the CC. Which would mean that she was positing that maybe Obama appointed Simpson in order to discredit any suggestions from the CC. This appears to be the opposite of your interpretation of "sabotage."

ScrewyCanuck said...

I'm with Harry V: great post. I'm so tired of conversations with liberals who perform that Jedi mind trick on themselves whenever something like this comes up.

Susan of Texas said...

Anon, Digby said there's no evidence Obama wants to sabotage the SS commission, which is the source of my criticism.

I think people tend to do what they want to do, and if Obama is trying to show the world he wants to save SS by doing everything in his power to kill SS, he's kind of botching his diabolical plan.

Anonymous said...

I'm incredibly depressed. That's all I can say. I agree with Susan that people do what they want to do, more or less, especially when its something they didn't have to do in the first place. Obama didn't have to choose an SS commission. Or he could have stacked it with viable leaders who are pro social security and pro people. He didn't because WAshington doesn't work taht way and because he overvalues the notion of comity, bipartisanship and grand old men. Anyone who didn't see where this was going, and just what kind of an asshole an 80 year old Alan Simpson was going to be, is either teriminally stupid (which Obama is not) or determined to fuck over Social Security. To know Simpson is to detest him. Plus--Eighty years old? Give me a fucking break.


Susan of Texas said...

The only constant in life is change, so we know it won't always be this way. We just have to keep pushing and pushing to get what we want.

Anonymous said...

Susan - You did not read my comment carefully enough. Digby thinks the catfood commission is a bad idea and serves no legitimate purpose because the most likely result is cuts to SS.

Your post, OTOH, suggests that the CC has a legitimate purpose but Obama sabotaged it by appointing Simpson thereby ensuring cuts to SS.

The entire point of her post was that Obama made a stupid decision in appointing Simpson. She concludes by saying "So you have to assume that Simpson's fulfilling his designated role. He will make a deal. All he asks is that the geezer parasites, current and future get it out of their heads once and for all that this society should provide some basic security for everyone." She is clearly not happy with Obama, Simpson, or the CC and believes that Obama intentionally chose Simpson for this very reason.

You have completely misread her. She suggests that Obama intentionally selected Simpson so that the result will be cuts to benefits.

Anonymous said...

Random observations on the primary subject under discussion...

...whether Alan Simpson is a "detestable person" is completely irrelevant, and focusing on that "issue" is just weak partisan vomitus.

...whether Susan reads Digby correctly, the answer is YES, and I would suggest Susan's even a bit soft on Miss Hullabaloo.

...the present obsession among some disaffected liberals and progressives, that of examining this so-called (ironically? if so, FAIL!) "Catfood Commission," is embarrassing. It is an irrelevant proposal because it will never achieve anything of relevance, because the sources of the problems aren't being addressed. The "Catfood Commission" is analogous to being a battlefield medic, who discovers a soldier with his leg blown off, and tries to "repair" the missing leg with a bandaid or 3 taped to the bleeding, life-seeping stump.

Nice bandaids.

Nice Catfood Commission.

Same effect.

Steve said...

With you on "He doesn't care about you" etc. but not on "wants to please daddy," exactly. Actually, I think psychological explanations for politics and political behavior are weird. I thought it was weird when West Wing had Bartlett talk to a therapist about his daddy problem (exactly the one you describe) too. It's out of place even in your argument, which after all is class-based. (Classes don't have a psychology, they have behaviors and ideologies.)

Susan of Texas said...

Start with the basis for political decisions. Why do we choose one candidate over the other? Sometimes it's purely political affiliation, which very often we've had all our lives because we adopted our parents' political ideas and party.

Sometimes it's money--if the economy is doing well we'll vote for the incumbent, whoever he is. There are multiple reasons for doing this, some practical and some "ideological" (we don't want to help anyone else, which demonstrates a lack of empathy).

It seems to me that politics, like everything else, is filtered through the experiences and temperament of a person. An authoritarian person--trained from birth by his parents to obey his authority--will choose the authoritarian candidate, unless he has separated his own views from his parents'. And he will feel comfortable and secure with people like him, since conformity is how authority is reinforced.

Class is very much mixed in with authoritarianism, since it is one way of establishing hierarchy, which is also used to reinforce obedience to authority.

We are all different but many of us experience the same types of problems, such as abandonment by a parent, through death, suicide, divorce, or emotional distance. Obama's issues with his father included that abandonment but also the issues of race, religion and nationality. Obama has said he's driven to be a good father because of that, so we know it affected him deeply. He turned to God (his father was an atheist) as his Heavenly Father because he felt something was lacking inside him, he said.

We look now at what he is doing, and we see a man who calls himself a Democrat and seems to feel he is one, but makes decisions that are conservative, that favor Authority over the powerless--wiretapping, bombing, bank bailouts. Many many people waver between the two--I've shown Megan McArdle do that repeatedly--but they almost always come down on the side of Authority, because that is the side to which they want to belong.

Steve said...

Point well-taken, Susan. Hard to disagree that forms of personal identification motivate an electorate, and that Americans (people?) generally identify with sadists. But if this is a social pattern, can it be described as a psychology?

I guess I avoid psychological explanations of political behavior (whether of an electorate or a particular politician) because I tend to believe that "what you think depends on where you sit," whereas your starting point is that who you identify with depends on what you think (or need to think) in the first place.

I like Adorno as much as the next guy, but to me, authoritarian psychology is risible, but it's also not The Problem. To me, that would be the particular distributions of power and wealth that arrange the social order and give people like McArdle and Douthat the opportunity to imagine themselves occupying a particular place in it, i.e., as authorities. It was always my assumption that such people are comical because they constantly imagine themselves as authorities, but are wrong and/or evil with similar consistency.

(Admittedly, this is a chicken/egg issue as far as I understand it, and you're obviously an expert in distributions, both macro and micro, of power and wealth. So I realize I'm not, like, telling you something you don't know.)

In any case, unless I'm missing something, the authoritarian personality doesn't explain Obama's desire to dismantle Social Security. I can think of a few explanations, none of them really adequate, for why he would want to do that, but daddy doesn't really enter the picture in any of them. My guess would be that he's not personally invested, but has picked up the flag of some class (The Village, investment bankers, I dunno), especially since Clinton was poised to make some similar deal to cut social security in the 90s. Whether Obama's motive is personal or impersonal doesn't make the project any more or less evil to me.

Susan of Texas said...

I'm not an expert in power distribution at all, I just think about it a great deal.

I thought about the lives of people I know, and how we all tend to repeat patterns of behavior that go back to childhood. Then I read that these behaviors were adopted to help people deal with pain. Alice Miller said that to rid yourself of that pain you have to stop avoiding it, accept it and realize that you have to live with it. Then you can let go of the damaging behaviors and give yourself permission to be who you are and not what others want you to be for their own reasons. It's permission to accept and like yourself. That part is key, and our world tells us it's evil because the world knows it's the key to control and therefore power.

Everything flows from that--religion, politics, even entertainment.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a mistake to say classes don't have psychology. I think that statement shows a misunderstanding of what constitutes a "class."

I have the dishonorable "privilege" of having been brought into an upper-class family through my mother's remarriage while I was a fully-grown adult. To say there is no distinct psychology constituting a "class" division or difference, that just doesn't square with my experience.

My experience is that wealthy, politically connected people have expectations that their needs and wants will be addressed before those of lesser Americans. And also, my experience is that this entitlement attitude is prevalent among those who are within the upper class of America.

I'd say that's a stark psychological difference.