Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Uncomfortable Observations

In case you're given to ask; the reason these are getting posted as blogs instead of new "American Bob" episode is that A.) I'm tinkering with that format and B.) This takes five minutes whereas the videos take several hours...

There is not a single "radical" thing about either President Obama or the era in which his Presidency is taking place. Everything from his policy proscriptions to his general tone to his fixation on centrist-compromise are the polar opposite of "radical." The non-superficial differences between him and the last 30-40 years of Democrat Presidents and politicians in general are essentially nonexistant. What's more, the economic downturn currently occuring is, while grim, not meaningfully worse for most Americans than the economic/energy crisis of the late-70s to the recession of a decade or so later.

Despite this, both Obama and his Presidency have been regarded AS "radical" to such a wide and fervent degree that an entire movement, the so-called "Tea Party," has sprung up specifically as a "counterweight" this supposed radicalism. Given the (empirically provable) lack of actual radicalism or even meaningful policy difference between Obama and pretty much ANY Democrat or even moderate-Republican who has taken the national stage in any of our lifetimes... what, precisely, would be the "Occam's Razor" answer to the question of what it is about him that really fills the "Tea Party" - on the primal, subconscious level - with so much panic and consternation?

The key problem facing Obama's so-called "Buffet Tax" or "Robin Hood Tax" is that - despite the fact that a plurality of Americans tend to favor such a measure - 40 years of an incredibly successful campaign of subtle race-baiting subterfuge on behalf of conservative/Republican political strategists has successfully conditioned huge chunks of Middle America to hear "Tax the wealthy to help the poor" as "steal from hardworking Whites to give away to 'undeserving' Blacks and 'illegal' Latinos." (What, after all, do you suppose the repeated dog-whistle stump phrase of "Real Americans" is supposed to mean?)


Lex said...

Its not that i cant see you having a different opinion than mine, bob (happy to call myself a 'Tea-Bagger' and a religious person)but i am going to point out that in every other topic, even religion (unless it involves Michael Bay. Seriously, screw that guy)you make it clear that your stating opinons, not provable facts. regarding politics, all you seem to talk about are FACTS including ones that conservatives like me are WRONG and you are RIGHT. I know you wouldn't so staunchly say your a liberal and would be more inclined to say your independent, but the criticism goes 1 way mostly and the way you affirm the certainty of your stance goes about a way that sounds a lot to me like talk show hosts i used to listen to and you abhor, like, I don't know, Glen Beck?

Sigh... moviebob i LOVE your blog, your reviews, your game commentary (Game Antithinker notwithstanding...) and your entertianment- related articles. and if someones knee-jerk reaction to this is "dont listen to American Bob then, sheesh!" well, okay, will do. But i AM going to point out that earlier you clearly put your support behind the author of the article in "How To Torpedo Your Own Point" pointing out that he, well, torpedoed his own point regarding how the "nerd community" showed hypocrisy in slandering that Gizmodo writer.

Can i ask what you intend to do with American Bob if not to do the same divisive banter you accuse talk show hosts and the tea party of doing? your not asking for a debate- Your making it clear your right and others are wrong. who are you inviting to this party aside from those who agree with you? how are you NOT like the people you disprove of?

antecedentless said...

So you are saying that the President who said in so many words "let em eat painkillers"; who said the Warren Court wasn't "radical enough"; who had the most left leaning voting record in the senate; who has a deficit record second only to George W. Bush; who has hung out with undeniable radicals and has tried to nominated undeniable radicals to cabinet positions; who has tuaght from Saul Alinsky's book; is a centrist?

Other than that, I'll just leave these here:

Redstate (yes, I'll continue linking to that blog; they explain this stuff much better than I can...)
"So, it cannot be denied, the GOP acquitted itself well during the Civil Rights Acts' fights for survival in congress and were key players in getting them passed. In fact, of the twenty Senators who filibustered the key Civil Rights Act in 1964, only one was a Republican, John Tower of Texas. The rest of them, Richard Russell, Allen Ellender, Jim Eastland, Al Gore Snr., Robert Byrd, Herman Talmadge, J. William Fulbright, etc. were all Democrats.

But among the other things the happened in the 1960s to sour the black community on the GOP is its Presidential nomination of Barry Goldwater, who had opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

National Black Republicans
"The essence of Nixon’s strategy was to convince Christians in the South to stop supporting the Democratic Party that was denying blacks their civil rights and support the Republican Party that was fighting for the civil rights of blacks.

Southerners who switched to the Republican Party did so because they got over their dislike for the Republican Party that was known as the party for blacks and realized that the Republican Party shares their traditional values of faith in God, personal responsibility, hard work, and strong families."

Nixon himself:
"Legally segregated education, legally segregated housing, legal obstruction to equal employment must be totally removed. On the other hand, while I am convinced that legal segregation is totally wrong, forced education, forced desegregation of housing or education is just as wrong."

I'll save the tax issue for another post...

Mads said...

I'll tell you why the Tea Party is scared of Obama: Because he's popular, charismatic and well spoken. That's the Occams Razor reaction.

They're afraid of Obama because of his potential influence. Not because he's half black.

And if you _wanted_ to make that argument, stop being a pussy and say it and argue why, rather than have peoples own prejudice about the tea partiers use the dirty words. And maybe you can explain why Occams Razor is a falacy while you're at it.


antecedentless, and if you have terminal cancer that'll kill you in 3 months, you shouldn't get hip replacement surgery, you should just get a load of weed and other drugs, and someone to help you around the house for a couple of hours a day.

Surgery is painful, undignified and above all _takes a long ass time_ to recover from. I'd much rather be high, laughing at everything, hungry, and eating a lot of steak dinners.

lemonvampire said...

@lex Bob's criticism generally goes one way because the FACTS point his opinion that way.

It's hard to call oneself TRULY independent in today's political climate, which many consider to be more divisively split than ever, with the Republican party having become so radically conservative that a subgroup has actually formed for all the people that think they're not radically conservative enough.

When I was a boy just starting to take an interest in politics I remember watching a presidential debate and I asked my mother, a moderate conservative, what the difference between Democrats and Republicans was, since at the time all I saw were too old guys generally agreeing with each other on a stage. One didn't particularly seem that different from the other and they both danced around the questions so much that nobody actually seemed to be saying anything. How do you know which one to vote for?
My mother explained to me that the Democrats want to change everything and the Republicans don't, which seemed simple enough to me at the time. I figured things were fine the way they are, so the Republicans must be the good guys. The first time I got to vote was in the Bush/Kerry election, at which point I'd started to hate Bush not because he was Republican but simply because he was incompetent. By the time Obama was running, I still had no particular interest in one Party or the other, and only wanted to vote for the guy that was as far removed from Bush as we could get.
My point is that, in the last three years I've seen my political views radically redefined as, since Obama's election, every single thing I've heard coming from the Republican party has been so unbelievably absurd that I just can't see any part of conservatism as being right about anything anymore.

Anonymous said...

1. You know the Tea Party started while Bush was still president protesting his increased spending right?

You're right about all your points, but some how fail to get the point. Government spending as passed 25% of GDP, the only time that has ever happened before in the history of the country was WW2. That's what's so different here and that's why the tea party is angry.

*BTW, thanks for not going to the left wing stand by of 'tea bagger'*

2. Anyone else see the irony in calling anything a "Robin Hood Tax"? The whole Robin Hood had the poor being taxed to death and his fight against the government at the time King John, the Sheriff, and the Tax collectors.

Xirema said...

I love the number of people on your blog who seem to completely lack understanding of what the words "Objective" and "Subjective" mean. Especially the ones that insist that your whole point is "I'm right, you're wrong"

So far as I can determine Bob, there isn't anything logically wrong with your analysis, and there's nothing I've observed that indicates the facts are misleading, insofar as you presented them.

It's been my contention (for awhile now) that Obama really is pretty moderate, almost more than Clinton was (emphasis on the "almost", however) and, while I'm not convinced that the Tea party's efforts to "react" to Obama are, in any way racially based, I also remain unconvinced that there is a rational excuse for their behavior.

Mind, I actually AM a Socialist, so the rest of you can take this for the vile hate speech and communist-loving propaganda that it obviously is.

While I'm here, and since I suspect you and I feel the same way on this specific issue, I'm going to address the nay-sayer's directly with two things that seem to come up too often:

1. No one here has a problem (well, to the extent that it influences our voting habits in this particular political climate) with "Fiscal Conservatism". Suggesting that the government probably needs to spend less money, to me at least, sounds perfectly reasonable, and while I personally may not remain convinced of this fact, I don't consider it "stupid" or "wrong" to think otherwise. Furthermore, so far as I've been able to determine, I don't recall any intelligent liberals suggesting otherwise.

2. The modern republican and Democratic parties represent virtually the opposite viewpoints they represented when first established. (Remember, the republican party supported the abolition of slavery, which would have been, and was, the first, or if not the first, then at least the earliest notable instance of the government restricting the rights of states, and transitively, the people) I don't think there's a specific moment when these parties switched, but I think it was concurrent with the re-merging of the democratic party during the 1970's-1990's (making a very rough estimate with regards to the date). So trying to cite civil rights with regards to the records of today's parties doesn't really present a whole lot of empirical data.

Dan Backslide said...

@Chris Evans:
But why did it suddenly become a bigger interest the minute Obama became a President? Because you let the Republican dick-wavers hijack your party from an opposition to tax hikes to parade every other fucking piece of shit far-right crap that I've heard them spouting day-in and day-out. Don't talk to me about what the Tea Party's angry about if the "Real" Tea Party isn't able to fucking stop the idiots who talk about "9/11 was a warning for Abortion" and "Homosexuality should be recriminalized" and "We should overthrow the Government" and "Obama's a Muslim". That's what I saw when I passed by your rally, and until you fucking purge THOSE people, fall of numbers be damned, the Tea Party has nothing to say to me.

Anonymous said...

Are you being dense on purpose?
1. It takes time to build up a movement, it doesn't magically appear over night. It wasn't really until Rick Santelli's rant on NBC that it got national attention.
2. The Tea Party suddenly became bigger after Obama became president because the problem got bigger. The spending Increased when the democrats took control of congress in 2006 and drastically increased after 2008 election with the stimulus and Obama care.

Now then. Do you know what a grass roots movement is? It's not people standing around with identical professionally created signs. You're going to get nut jobs. You can find them in EVERY rally. Since they're just every day people and not political strategists they're going to say stupid things. You're focusing on the noise of the group. I could find similar things in any left wing rally (Especially anything related to Bush). The core is simply to reduce spending and not raise taxes.

They are getting more organized and they are kicking out those people and focusing their message. Focusing on those people as representative is wrong. Do you refuse to acknowledge the DNC because 9/11 truthers tend to be democrats?

Pat said...

Everyone who has come out against Bob's observations in these comments so far has yet to really make their point.

What has the Obama administration done or even tried to do that can be considered "radical"? Or at least more radical than previous Democrats?

Don't mention his voting record while in the SENATE. That doesn't count. What he did as a Senator has nothing to do what he has done in these past three years as President. Don't mention things he's SAID because things can be taken out of context. Don't mention PEOPLE he's associated with, because that too can be taken out of context or blown out of proportion.

Show SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of the Obama administration's supposed radicalism within their actual policy, and then you'll have an actual argument. Show me a bill they supported or passed into law that you consider to be radical, or a position they have publicly stated that they hold.

If you're going to bring up Obamacare, I'll stop you right there. You can say Obamacare is unnecessary spending that we can't afford and that will potentially make the health care system worse. That's a perfectly valid argument (though I personally think it's a weak one). But nothing about the passed legislation is radical. If Obama stubbornly refused to pass it unless it included a public option, then you might have had a point, but the fact is that just about every "radical" element of the original bill was compromised.

If you bring up the repeal of DADT, I don't consider that radical either. It is not a left-wing vs. right-wing issue. It is a civil rights issue. Many of its opponents may be on the conservative side, but that's mostly because they know how their constituents want them to vote. There is nothing inherently left-wing about repealing DADT. In fact, I could see it being construed as right-wing since it is intended to bolster the military and stop the government from interfering in the personal lives of brave men and women due to perceived homophobia in the military.

Also, don't bother bringing up the administration's increased spending either. While it certainly could be argued (validly) that this is a problem, and increased spending is traditionally considered a left-wing thing, it's nothing radical. It's basically the definition of liberal. Par for the course. Heck, some of his economic policy has even annoyed Democrats (like cutting the shuttle program).

So tell us what has been particularly "radical" about the ACTIONS of the Obama administration, because I am actually genuinely interested to hear that argument, mostly because I haven't heard it yet. During the election everyone was talking about how his Senate record and the things he said and his suspicious friends implied how he would be super-radical. If you look at his administration's record, he really wasn't.

Anonymous said...

No argument here. Even most republicans will agree that his policies are the typical democratic fodder. It's why so many on the right compare him to Jimmy Carter. Heck, once upon a time, in the 1990's, Obamacare was called Hillarycare. Obama didn't even have much of a hand in the creation of the bill, he punted it to congress.

If you look, people haven't realy been calling him Radical lately. You're far more likly to see people calling the Tea Party Agenda ratical than Obama.

FDR is still the most radically left wing president.

He doesn't have to be radical to dislike his policies.

Nixou said...

Why do they pretend that Obama is a radical? Because it is one of the oldest trick in the book; extremists calling their archennemy du jour "radical" in order to pretend that they embody moderation and reasonableness.

No teabagger will ever openly say "Democracy sucks because we don't win every time so I'm happy that the people I'm voting for are actively trying to sabotage the system from the inside" (but you can bet your own neck than most if not virtually all of them are aware of the current attempts of the GOP to sabotage the system and approve it), so instead, they will playact the righteous indignation, beacuse they know that a lot of people will treat it like a genuine opinion and not as a smokescreen meant to hide the depravity of its originators.

Remember the "good old days" when communists in Europe claimed that everyone outside their group was inherently "fascist": that's basically the same thing: there's nothing subconscious or involontary about the teabaggers' faked outrage: it is a very conscious and thought-out act, and a very efficient act as well, since despite the fact that you are well aware that there is no reason for anyone to think that Obama is the second coming of comrade Ulyanov, you still obviously cling to the idea that there is something else than sheer dishonesty behind this simulacrum

counterpoint said...

i don't have much to add here, really, but i'm merely going to say I agree.

Why must this be said? Because otherwise it looks like your blogs are only watched by the Tea Party folks you seem to disrespect so much. But no, I'm here too.

and, clearly, Obama isn't nearly radical enough.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful demonstration of hypocrisy. You denounce people for calling some one a radical while calling them extremists, throwing around sexual insults, and over stating and miss representing their position.

Every single thing you've said could easily fit the Democrats as easy as the Republicans.

If you want to call out people throwing around the accusation of being radical you have to call out the left. If you search for the word radical in google news, the fist thing you find is Reid calling the tea party radicals. So cut the righteous indignation.

James said...

Obama's term isn't "radical"... what it is is disappointing. We just got Bush's third term with him.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

1) No, Obama is not a "radical" by any objective observation. He's a naive idealist who got in way over his head because he seemed to have the rather bizarre idea that the ability to play politics and wrangle congress could be substituted by earnest, well meaning policies. Always reminded me a lot of Carter like that.

My dislike for him has always been more about his complete lack of ability to actually get anything done (which was quite apparent long before he became president) than any of his actual policies.

2) The problem with taxing the wealthy, as it has always been, is that raising that tax rate for people who don't declare their income in the US anyway is a waste of time. They don't even have to do leave the country anymore...
just get a good tax lawyer, tweak the money around so you're technically getting your paycheck in a diffrent country, and you're all set.

Why are all those billionaires in support of the bill? Because it won't effect how much they actually pay in taxes in the US at all, and distracts from efforts to actually get them to contribute a bit here.

InnerPartisan said...

It would take far too great a toll to indulge in all of your "arguments", so I have but one question:
Do you SERIOUSLY believe that the Republican and Democratic parties of the 1950's and 60's are equivalent to todays Democratic and Republican Parties? REALLY?

I mean... I'm European, but even I can see how incredibly moronic that premise is.

InnerPartisan said...


Re: 2): Yeah, BUT. If they're declaring their losses under US jurisdiction (as is common), there's some leeway to *actually* tax them.
The most convinient way - there doesn't even have to be a raise in taxes! - would be to close all (or most of) the loopholes, while *lowering* corporate taxes. But guess who's against that...

Ryan said...


I want to shower you with praise for saying something conservative doesn't sound like a rhetorical dodge. 25% of GDP is going to Government programs? That seems like too much to me, too, and I'm a crazed socialist.

Of course, a little research reveals that that percentage has been hovering between around 20 - 23% since 1950, and only dropped below 20% during the Clinton years. Our current spike in spending started (surprise) in 2001. And what do spikes in spending usually correlate with? Wars. Which we're fighting because of Bush's reaction to 9/11. And also a radical drop in taxes. By the way, the last time government got around this big was in 1985...under Reagan.

So what does this tell me? Basically, it tells me that the Conservative case against government growth is a smokescreen. Conservative presidents, since Nixon, have grown the size of government as represented by Spending relative to GDP, while Democratic presidents have tended to shrink it. Obama is an exception, but the reason he's an exception isn't the health care bill (which saves us money) but Republican intransigence about raising taxes, which remain at their lowest level since the 1950s, where our fun began.

It also needs to be pointed out that, even at its current level, the United States remains significantly behind most developed countries in govt. spending as % of gdp, with the major exceptions of Japan and Switzerland. Even so, there's nothing particularly terrifying about this stat.

@All the other Republican commentators:

Anyone still making a "Democrats were racist in the 1960s" argument is either a troll or an idiot (I'm going troll, Antecedentless, you know better)

The "Tea Party" is just the Republican base, nothing more, nothing less.

That rant that "started" the Tea Party included the assertion that a group of floor traders constituted a representative sample of Americans, called people who'd been sold fraudulent mortgages "losers", and essentially attempted to deny the very obvious fact that it was financial practices, not customers, who were responsible for the 2008 collapse. That the Republican base is in denial about that should surprise no one. That it should start a fake movement based on that denial which immediately pivots to voter suppression, abortion rights denial, and income defense is also, sadly, pretty unsurprising.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ InnerPartisan

I'm not against closing loopholes at all. I'm just not convinced how effective that would be. I mean, the obvious issue is that if the government starts to tax losses, they'll just stop declaring them.

I'm personally more in favor of a consumption tax because while it may not be that difficult to move money around, it's a much larger ordeal to move purchases around.

Benfea said...

At least we have to give conservatives and libertarians credit for being honest about their goals. We the peasants (the bottom 98% of America) exist to serve the needs of the aristocracy (extremely rich people and multinational corporations), and should thank the aristocracy whenever they take time out of their busy days to step on our unworthy necks.

Anyone who disagrees with this (or worse opposes it) is an elitist.

David (The Pants) said...

I must say superb job of making me think "Because he's black" without hinting at it at all. Bravo , IMO.

As for the first one, but mainly for the second point, i really don't think it boils down to "Racism" even "Subtle, repressed, subconscious racism", I like to think were past that. Part of me refuses to believe there are that many people still racist. I dunno, call me crazy.

The Lord Doctor Master said...

so I didn't know what to think of barack obama (I voted for him because he was better than palin)

well, until now:

3 points:

the UN is an unethical organization - it is run by a dozen or so dominant countries who truly do not care about any countries not in that pact

- the United nations is a misgnomer - it is unethical by it's nature

- Isreal has NO RIGHT to exist. it was propped up by america and the UK after WWII because we felt guilty that we let the holocaust happen. it was a complete and total abrogation of the rights of the middle east, islam, and the people who inherited that region

- obama is an incompetant ass. it doesn't matter if what he says makes sense (I agree he is an effective speaker). he has failed in every single one of his initiatives. he didnt do squat to help the jobs or the economy, his healthcare package was toxic, he hasnt done anything to help Democratic subgroups (gays in dont ask dont tell and same sex marriage)

plus he is just another ivy league blowhard who assumes immediately he is the smartest man in the room (he's not - he's quite a fucking idiot) simply because he went to an ivy league

oh, and the democrats already have buyers remorse

and firing the general of afganistan for saying somethning offensive IN THE MIDDLE OF WAR was unforgiveable.

that would be like if Obama gave a dishorable discharge to Grant a week before he beat Lee because Grant leaked that he thought "lincoln was an ass" (which was effectively what the general canned by obama did)

so to recap: Obama is an idiot, a blowhard, and a liar. he is morally bankrupt and has only done harm to america

let's hope we boot his ass out next year

Ryan said...

@Lord Doctor Whatever

You know, your post is full of crazy, but what really bugs me is the fact that you're mad at Obama for firing a general in the middle of a war and you compared him to Lincoln, who fired, what, 3 Generals? Four? Before settling on Grant. Just saying.

Laserkid said...

Obama is not an extremis, and neither was W, Clinton, Bush Sr., or Raegan before him. BUT ALL OF THEM have been called such by their opposition.

It's a common tactic used against ones opponents to make them look bad. It's dumb, stupid, and childish - in other words typical politicians.

I may vehemently disagree with Obama but /I AM/ an extremist liberetarian ;)

Nixou said...

"What a wonderful demonstration of hypocrisy. You denounce people for calling some one a radical while calling them extremists"

I would have been an hypocrite if I had called the whole republican voting block "extremists": I've only called teabaggers extremists; moderate republicans are for the most part merely gutless and/or suicidaly overconfident in the hability of their leadership in canalising the Tea Party into a group of useful idiots. The funny thing is that there was once a similar dynamic between the moderate left and the admirers of communist regimes, with the pro-democracy leftwing politicians and voters giving a pass to the pro "People-Republic-of-Tyranny" crowd either because they did not want to openly challenge them or thought they would eventually be able to tame them, which is, of course, deliciously ironic


"As for the first one, but mainly for the second point, i really don't think it boils down to "Racism" even "Subtle, repressed, subconscious racism", I like to think were past that. Part of me refuses to believe there are that many people still racist"

Depends on how you define "racist"
If by "racist" you mean "People who genuinely believe that some ethnicities have a natural inclination toward vice because of a flaw in their bloodline", then racists are most certainly not very numerous.
But if you by "racist" you mean "People who genuinely believe that the metaphorical prosperity pie is too small and who would rather screw their neighbours to ensure the well being of their kin, and therefore decide to target to social/ethnic/racial groups which are both distant from their own direct kin AND not likely to have the power to fight back", then racism is alive and well.

My first point was that we tend too often to underestimate the cynicism and aptitude to consciously lie in the general population: ordinary people lie about their politics too: it applies to racism as well: chances are that most bigotry is actually faked belief used to hide unavowable opinions.

Phildog said...

I've got to admit, the genus behind "Real American" is fascinating. It's just so relative, not in that the selfish and ignorant people see themselves as being distinctly the "True Americans" but also allows them to view everyone else as "Fake Americans".

It's Jingoism, wrapped in a completely subjective chauvinism complex. Racists think it means white people like them. However, Rednecks think it means them, and Christians think it means them as well. The simple use of the world "Real American" unites groups of people who all think they are better than other groups and them directs their anger against their own economic interests. It's really brilliant.