blue bits. red rocks.


Rick Perlstein: By the Book

  • NYT: If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
  • Rick Perlstein: The Book of Job, maybe. It’s the best story I know at driving home the fact that the world just isn’t always a reasonable place. Not grasping that, I think, is Barack Obama’s tragic flaw: He still seems to stubbornly believe that if he just explains clearly and calmly enough to his friends across the aisle why his ideas will bring the greatest good to the greatest number, there’ll finally be no more Red America and no more Blue America. But my 18 years studying conservatism has convinced me the right just doesn’t work that way — they’re fighting for civilization stakes, and he’s a liberal, so, Q.E.D., he’s the enemy. His longing to compromise with them just ends up driving the political center in America further to the right.

In 2008, as an Arab American and person of color, I voted for Barack Obama. I didn’t vote for him because he was a Democrat. I didn’t vote for him because he was a community organizer. I didn’t vote for him because he was young, or educated, or magnetic. I voted for him for one reason and one reason only. I voted for Barack Obama because he’s black. Where is my black president?

We can’t expect the president to do everything. But we can expect him to do something. He Has a Dream

Obama has limited patience for the idea that he should act like he’s doing his job rather than just do his job. A Democratic political consultant once told me that the problem with President Obama is that he doesn’t care to “get caught trying.” That is to say, he doesn’t put on a show of trying to get things done when he doesn’t think the show will help get the thing done. My favorite thing about President Obama

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I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Cornel West

…the thing is he [Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility. Cornel West

A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistleblowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation. James Risen

Continetti and his publishers–some of the most powerful figures in the conservative movement–are perfectly within their rights to back Israel in its war in Gaza, to favor continuing the massive amounts of aid that the United States gives to that country, and to criticize Obama administration rhetoric on the conflict there. (I certainly don’t know if Obama and Kerry have it right or wrong.) When they advance their narrative of Israeli persecution by eliding the significant financial and military support the Obama administration has favored giving Israel; when they claim that Obama is interested in intervening only in Israeli affairs; and when they say that Israel is the only country Obama criticizes, they spread obvious falsehoods, and illustrate why their foreign policy judgment cannot be trusted. It is informed by delusions. The Right-Wing Delusion That Obama Is an Israel-Hating Dove

Hebrew transcript of Obama and Netanyahu’s phone call

  • Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?
  • BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.
  • BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
  • BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.
  • BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.
  • BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.
  • BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.
  • BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.
  • BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –
  • BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.

And what’s going on with Republican statehouses and the Medicaid expansion should draw a line under that. The typical Republican state politician is willing to turn down huge pots of free money from the federal government to validate the principle that if the working poor get sick it should be left to the Great Market in the Sky to sort things out. To believe in this context that the collapse of the private American health insurance industry was inevitable absent the ACA is to enter a land of fantasia. The Teleological Fallacy

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