On left blogs, sites such as smirkingchimp.com and firedoglake, one of the worst epithets you can use on a member is "Obamabot". This term captures a blind, unthinking follower of Obama prepared to accept every single decision he makes and find no faults - lest the other side might use them against him. In truth, most of such spineless "citizens" (and I use that term loosely) don't grasp that the presidency is not a personality cult no matter who's in office. And if you're not prepared to hold YOUR President's feet to the fire on specific issues then you have no right to do so for any other. The same applies to Mr. Obama.
Though yes, I voted for him twice, I've made it abundantly clear I am no "Obamabot"! I am prepared to call him out when I believe he's veering wrong, as he did yesterday in front of the press asserting "Mr. Snowden is no patriot!" YES, he is, Mr. President! Snowden's a hero and patriot if for no other reason than to get you to admit changes are needed at the NSA such as those you proposed yesterday! If you held faithfully to the actual constitutional principles you once taught, especially on the fourth amendment, you'd have acknowledged that. (You'd also never have approved the National Defense Authorization Act last year or the extension of the Patriot Act sections (e.g.. 206) that flout the original 1978 FISA law curbing mass NSA surveillance.) However, I don't necessarily hold this against you for reasons I gave before, i.e. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/06/one-blog-every-citizen-needs-to-see.html
showing that Obama doesn't necessarily hold total freedom on every decision, especially applied to so-called "national security" issues. In those he'd probably been read his "marching orders" as soon as he entered office. Then the shadow government that really runs this country let him know in no uncertain terms what they expected of him and when - then likely pointing to a freeze frame in the famous Zapruder film from November, 1963.
But that doesn't mean I need to agree with what he proffers, even if he's acting under some kind of external duress. It's still wrong, as wrong as other decisions he's likely made when given wider latitude. Often, I have had to point this out to the other side, including one local numb nut who claimed (before the last general election, in a letter to the Colorado Springs Independent) that I was an "Obama zombie". (Essentially meaning the same thing as Obamabot but in this case more living dead than not living at all and simply a cyborg.)
I then provided (in a reply letter, published later) all the examples of Obama decisions with which I energetically diverged, including:
- Ramping up in Afghanistan when our own country is falling apart from lack of attention to its infrastructure.
- Not fighting to make the stimulus package much larger. In hindsight a package of nearly $1.3 trillion was needed - and much less laden with tax cuts- to jump start aggregate demand and job growth.
- Turning the decision of a public option part of Obamacare over to a Senate committee composed of Dem conservos like Max Baucus (and three Reeps), instead of fighting for it himself.
- Creating a "deficit commission" with the likes of Alan Simpson ("Social security is like a cow with 310 million tits") and Neoliberal Ernest Bowles. This gave the Reeps an inside track to use Social Security and Medicare as budget cut wedges, for example in confrontations to do with raising the debt ceiling and later budget deals.
- In that debt ceiling showdown with the Reeps, capitulating to them using the device of a "sequester" when every rational and insightful person knew they would rather send the nation down the sewer (via sequester cuts of $1.2 trillion) than make a deal. He ought to have used Sec. 4 of the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own, but this would have triggered a bigger confrontation and Obama is known for his dislike of such. See e.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/07/time-for-talk-is-over-mr-president.html
Therein I noted:
"Obama's last best choice is to enact the debt ceiling increase on his own, and tell the Reeps to screw themselves. He can do this under the provision of the Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section 4), which stipulates:
The validity of the Public Debt of the United States, authorized by law, includes debts incurred for payment of pensions ....and shall not be questioned.
It is clear to me that if the Republican Congress refuses to act to raise the debt ceiling (and thereby honor the validity of paying the Public Debt) then President Obama can and MUST issue an Executive Order to override a putatively derelict Congress and invoke Article 4 of Amendment XIV to raise the debt ceiling himself"
I stood by that then, and do so again, since another debt ceiling brouhaha looms at the end of September. And let's get clear one more thing: this raising of the debt ceiling is NOT to garner more federal money via added debt but to pay debts already outstanding! Not to do so will be to risk our credit rating. So, again, Obama must not let the nation be held hostage and to blackmail by the Reepo Teabag crew.
Other Obama initiatives or decisions with which I have disagreed, sometimes extremely vigorously:
- His proposal on the whitehouse.gov site to use a chained CPI to cut Social Security when that would directly impact the longest living elderly who will need S.S. the most.
- His more recent plan to "means test" Medicare by raising premiums for moderate income seniors.
- His ill-advised "missile defense" system in Europe which every Russianologist or student of Russian history knew would antagonize the great Bear in a big way - and has been almost single-handedly responsible for souring U.S. -Russian relations, never mind Snowden. (Though here, again, his choice may well not have been his but the unseen secret government, see Kathryn Olmstead's 'Challenging the Secret Government', University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
- His giving the go ahead to set the Stuxnet and Flame computer worms loose on Iran, thereby creating a cyber-weapon that can backfire and be re-engineered to be used against us by enemies. (Here again, the decision may well not have been his own, but that still doesn't mean I have to agree with it.)
- His endorsement of natural gas and shale oil fracking which is wholesale destroying the environment of this country, and not adding one single benefit to containing CO2 emissions and global warming.
Robert Heinberg, in his new book, Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Endangers Our Future , is blunt in asserting that in terms of weighing environmental protection vs. economic growth fracking is a "false choice and a losing strategy". The problem is that as precious, finite environmental resources (e.g. water) are destroyed our long term costs will spike, even as natural gas-shale supplies plummet from demand. (Heinberg shows how Peak oil applies to these fossil fuels as well as to high EROEI light crude oil.)
My wife, of course, is discomfited by all of this because- while not an Obamabot - she doesn't like seeing any negatives expressed against the first African-American President. But she is also prepared to mildly express discomfiture at a number of his decisions (e.g. Social Security and Medicare cuts) though not as vehemently as me. Also, as I told her, the job of a real citizen is not merely to blindly follow a leader but to call him out on his decisions and when he falls down. No leader is perfect, and it's the citizen's job to recognize that. Just as I sent a letter to Mr. Obama praising him back in 2009 for rescuing this nation from a depression, I have criticized him for other decisions I believed went amiss.
I also believe it is possible to criticize him without resorting to the sort of vile invective and racial epithets (s well as odious depictions) seen on some hard right blogs and sites which shall go unnamed lest these reprobates get swelled heads.
What I'd like to see, truly, is far fewer occasions where I'd feel the need to call Mr. Obama out and criticize him. That could easily happen if he only governed the same way he campaigned last year, alas.