auto bailouts

On President Obama: The Black Swan

“Black swan” is used a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. I cannot think of anything that better describes President Obama. His win in 2008 was a surprise in every possible way.  His win against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries was completely unexpected.  His win against John McCain, even more so.  No one at the beginning of 2008 would have imagined a young black man with the name Barack Hussein Obama would be elected, twice, as the president of the United States.  As surprising as his elections were, the effect he has had on the country has been even more significant. Depending on what side of the political spectrum you belong, the effects of his presidency is either extremely positive or negative. What isn’t up for debate is whether or not the effects are significant.  He is also one of the most misrepresented, misunderstood, misaligned political figure in my lifetime, and an argument can be made in the past hundred years.  As a black swan, President Obama went against the entire American history of presidencies.  In every way, he stood out in contrast to his predecessor and opposition. From the first time I heard him speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 to his last days as President, he has reaffirmed my belief that America didn’t deserve him or Michelle, but I’m damn glad they were here for us.

In early 2008, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter.  I thought she had the necessary experience and qualifications to be a very good president. As the Democratic primaries played out, I saw something in Barack Obama that made me think he was what we needed at this time in our country’s history.  Not because he is a black man, I saw this was a secondary perk, but as someone who has a great grasp of history, ideals, and the importance of pragmatism.  As a devout pragmatist, I rarely see politicians who fully grasp how moving the country forward as much as possible is more important than ideological purity.  Like Justice Stewart’s view of pornography, when it comes to pragmatism, “I know it when I see it.”  The more I watched candidate Obama, the more I knew he understood progress in ways very few politicians have or do.  After eight years of one of the worst administrations since Hoover, what America needed was someone who knew how to move us forward ethically, legally, politically in a rapidly changing world. As much as I liked and respected Hillary, I felt Barack was the one who could move us forward at that moment in our history.

On election night, when he came out on stage in Chicago’s Grant Park to give his victory speech, I have never felt more proud of my country. As I wept, listening to him speak, I couldn’t imagine how African-Americans must be feeling.  As much as his election meant to me personally, I could not imagine the significance it had on Black America.  I grew up seeing the violent police actions against peaceful Civil Rights protesters.  Even though the Civil Rights Act became law, I have been well aware of how ingrained and widespread racism is in American society.  I never, ever thought I would see a black person elected as president.  Yet, here was the black swan president-elect in front of a quarter of a million people in Grant Park and millions more watching on t.v. and online laying out a shining beam of hope and a path towards progress.  Telling everyone that we are all in this together and it is up to us to demand and work for change.  It was everything I’ve believed in and worked for my entire adult life.  At that moment in time, I felt America had finally turned the corner towards the equality, justice, and fairness promised in the country’s founding documents.  

Within months, this feeling of hope was replaced with feelings of frustration. Frustration not at President Obama, but at the cabal of conservatives who met on the night of his inauguration to discuss their strategy of stopping and obstructing everything the new president proposed.  A group that included: Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Along with former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, and Republican consultant, Frank Luntz.  Their meeting has been well-documented and their purpose was to make sure that Republicans not support anything and obstruct everything put forth by the new administration.  Keep in mind that this strategy was laid out at a time when the country and the world was going through a serious economic downturn.  Their efforts were focused on making sure the new administration failed.  Even though he wasn’t there, then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it publicly known his main goal was to make Obama a one-term president.  The GOP was on board, lock-step, to make sure President Obama, and by proxy, America fails.

Not long after learning of conservatives’ plans to obstruct President Obama,  my frustration turned to the far left who turned on the new president because they didn’t get what they thought was their due.  They wanted single-payer health insurance, banks taken over, and bankers thrown in jail.  Single-payer was never going to happen with a coalition of only sixty Democrats and Independents in the Senate.  All it took was one to be against it and the whole deal fell apart.  With Blue-Dog Dems like Jim Webb, VA, Landrieu, LA, and Ben Nelson, NE, and Independents like Joe Lieberman, there weren’t the votes to get single-payer even put up for discussion, let alone voted on or passed.  For reasons that can only be explained as a complete lack of basic civics knowledge, the far left blamed President Obama for these Senators never going to vote for single-payer.  It doesn’t matter that President Obama accomplished something every Democratic president since FDR had tried to do but failed, comprehensive health care reform, they were upset.  Never mind the number of uninsured would drop to the lowest in history, they didn’t care.  They had their mind set on a unicorn and when they didn’t get it, they blamed President Obama for not personally delivering it to their doorstep.  

The far-left had the same unrealistic attitude about the bankers.  Never mind that most of the damage done from the mortgage crisis came from products and actions that were perfectly legal, the far left wanted heads on pikes.  Never mind during his administration the largest fines ever imposed by the government have been against financial institutions.  Never mind he helped get Dodd-Frank passed that is the strongest laws and regulations against the financial sector since FDR.  Never mind he came up with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and put far-left hero Elizabeth Warren in charge of it, they didn’t get the unicorns they felt was due them.  While the right was organizing and whipping up the masses into an anti-socialism frenzy, forming the Tea Party, having town hall meetings around the country, and spreading lie upon lie on social media and in emails, the left was pouting. Democratic members of Congress ran away from Obama and the Affordable Care Act because they were scared to stand up to the crazies on the right.  Progressives sat out the 2010 midterms because they didn’t get their unicorns.  The results of this have been catastrophic. Meanwhile, the black swan president kept finding ways to move the country forward.

It wasn’t just far-left progressives who abandoned President Obama in 2010, it was also many Democratic members of Congress who lost their spines and balls at the sight of a bunch of angry octogenarians at town hall meetings.  They could have stood up for the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus, the auto bailout…but they didn’t.  They ran away from the President and his policies.  Policies, now that he’s left office, Democrats in Congress are saying have to be defended with every ounce of effort.  Instead of touting how these policies helped the working class, these cowardly Democratic officials hemmed and hawed out weak ass explanations while the opposition was organizing and pushing outlandish talking points and lies that became ingrained in conservatives’ belief systems.  Meanwhile, the black swan president kept finding ways to move the country forward without help from lawmakers from his own party.

With no way to get anything passed in a now Republican-controlled House, President Obama moved the bar of progress forward anyway.  He made sure the DOJ didn’t defend DOMA.  He expanded protections to the LBGT community.  He had the DOJ investigate corrupt and racist police department practices.  He got Syria to turn over its chemical weapons.  He negotiated a treaty with Iran ending their nuclear weapons program.  He did more to fight climate change than any president in history.  He helped push a revolution in renewable energies.  He expanded federally protected lands.  He oversaw the longest positive private sector jobs growth in history.  Whether it was the environment, health care, rights or jobs, President Obama did more than just about any modern-day president.  And, he did it all with the least amount of help.  FDR had major majorities in both houses of Congress every single one of his terms.  President Obama had a slim majority in the Senate for a couple of months that was lost when Ted Kennedy got sick and eventually passed away.  From that point on, he had no luxury of a working majority in the Senate and Republicans making sure nothing would get done.

Despite unprecedented political opposition, President Obama moved the bar of progress forward.  Despite unrelenting racist attacks, he never lashed out.  Despite the lack of support from members of his own party, he never turned on them.  Despite having his legitimacy questioned from day one, he held his head up and acted with dignity.  If you had to construct a president from scratch, you’d be hard pressed to construct one that would be better than President Obama.   This doesn’t mean he didn’t have his flaws.  Every president has them. However, his flaws were his willingness to believe his opposition had some bottom to the level to which they’d go, some basic ethical principles, some common ground from which he could work with them. Unfortunately, Republicans had no such limitations on their morals or conscience.   It is easy in hindsight to blame President Obama for missing the nature of his opposition.  That he wanted to believe the better nature of people could only be called a flaw by the most cynical of people.  

As the black swan president, Obama had to walk a razor’s edge that no one in history has had to tread.  He had to be twice as good, twice as nice, twice as everything in order to even be considered “normal.”  If he would have been “No Fucks To Give Obama” from the onset, he would have accomplished nothing. His pragmatic nature knew and understood this.  Unfortunately, like so many other things, too many progressives did not understand or appreciate not only the unique situation President Obama was in but how deftly he handled it to the betterment of us all.

Unfortunately, the razor’s edge he had to walk was not understood by even those who claim to have been his allies.  Whenever I hear criticism of him from the left, I always ask, “What would you have done differently?”  Inevitably, their response comes down to some idealistic act that completely ignores the realities and variables President Obama was faced with at the time he had to make his decision.  “I would have pushed for single-payer!”  Great, now explain how you would have got the Blue Dog Dems to even consider it so it would be discussed in committee, let alone reach the point where it would be voted on and passed.  “I would have closed Gitmo!”  Not without approval from Congress.  “I would have jailed bankers!”  Okay, on what grounds?  A lot of the causes of the financial and mortgage meltdown were legal.  “I would have helped those who suffered from the mortgage crisis more!”  How? What mechanism would you have used and how would you have gotten the majority of Congress to approve it because it would have to have financial help and that has to go through Congress?  It is easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback.  Hundreds of thousands of fat, lazy, living off their self-perceived glory days of high schools sports do it every day on sports talk shows.  Political decisions don’t occur in a vacuum.  They happen in a very complex environment with dozens of moving parts and hundreds of personal agendas.  Wanting someone to do what you think should be done does not translate to what can be done. I’ve closely watched major political figures here and abroad for the good part of forty years.  In this time, I’ve never seen anyone get more bang-for-the-buck than President Obama.  Democrats had a workable majority (60 votes) for all of four months and one week in 2009.  That is the amount of time President Obama had legitimately get all the things the left say he could/should have.  For two hundred and eight weeks of his presidency, he had a workable majority for seventeen with an opposition party that refused to work with him on ANYTHING but please go ahead and tell me about how he should have done X or Y.

When the history books are written fifty years from now, when I am long dead and gone, I have no doubt that President Obama will be viewed as one of the most influential presidents in American history.  Sadly, like other influential presidents before him like Lincoln, FDR, and Johnson, he was not truly appreciated in his time, even by those of his party and those who claimed to be his ally.  I will always be proud of my vote for him, twice, to be our president.  I will always be upset at those on the right and the left who tried to undermine him.  I will always believe that America didn’t deserve him.  I will always be damn thankful we had him.  He was the black swan.  He came out of nowhere.  He defied all conventions and history.  He had and will have a dominant role in history.  He will forever be my president.

When I think of President Obama, I am reminded of the scene at the end of “Excalibur” where King Arthur is talking to a mortally wounded Sir Lancelot: 
“You are that and much more. You are its greatest knight, you are what is best in men.”  President Obama was our greatest modern-day president and what is best in men.

anonymous asked:

non-white people can afford not to care about the policies implemented by Clinton and Obama that have destroyed the lives of certain americans, right? I don't understand why white blue-collar workers (most damaged by globalism and liberal policies) should care about the racist comments Trump made and vote for a candidate that would damage their lives even further. It's this kind of entitlement that got Trump elected. In fact, you know who else doesn't bloody care about them? Democrats.

1. There are plenty of non-white blue collar workers too. How are white blue collar workers most damaged by globalisation and liberal policies? How does their whiteness single them out for further victimisation? When a factory closes down, is it only white workers out of a job or everyone working there, no matter their race? Did you forget about these people too? This is exactly what I mean. This is a racially-exclusive class analysis that looks only to white blue collar workers and you’ve neglected how non-white blue collar workers can be hurt by the decline of manufacturing AND racism. It compounds their problems. Many non-white Americans for a long time have lagged behind white Americans in income. Black Americans in particular, due to the ongoing legacy of slavery and racism. Black working class people have to deal with both racism and economic problems. There is a huge problem of black unemployment in states like Michigan. It’s often several times the rate of white unemployment.  White blue collar workers, being white, don’t need to worry about institutional oppression because of their race. They have one less problem. Such white voters have problems because of their class, not their race. Don’t conflate the two together.

2.  You don’t think they should care? Are you saying basic empathy is not even possible? I mean, what are you saying then? If it’s fine for white voters to say “I know Trump’s saying racist shit and his policies sound pretty racist but he’s promised to bring back my job”, then why is it not fine for non-white voters to say “Trump’s saying racist shit so I’m not going to vote for him because that’ll be better for me, I have to prioritise my personal safety over whatever promises he made to bring back jobs.” I’m just applying your logic. And this is nothing less than a double standard against non-white voters. And economic policies obviously don’t have to be racist to address economic problems. They can help everyone.

3. But you know what usually has to be racist? Fascism. Fascism promises to make people feel good. It promises to restore national greatness, and promises to bring back prosperity. And it’ll often weaponise economic anxiety into a racist or ethnic direction against minorities. I live in Europe, so I would know. It’s a huge problem that these white voters, whether or not they voted for Obama before, either believed Trump’s crap or if they didn’t, thought it was something they could ignore. This is what happens when racism isn’t thoroughly rooted out a country. It comes roaring back with a vengeance whenever people are economically anxious and looking for a scapegoat. It’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s. Because Germany and all of Europe had antisemitism long before the Nazi party was even a concept. I am a SEAsian Chinese, and in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, there were riots against the Chinese minority in Indonesia. And, bingo- this wasn’t the first time. There has long been a history of such racial tensions. So don’t tell me the relationship between racism and economics is irrelevant, that it’s fine for one group of people to just ignore it.

4. I’ve no illusions about the Democratic Party, but I’m quite sure all this free trade economics and globalisation began long before Clinton and Obama and that Republican presidents encouraged and abetted it. It’s in fact the global economic order your country deliberately chose to construct in the aftermath of World War 2 when it wanted to remake the world in its image. That worked great when America had the most advanced manufacturing capacities, but less so when other countries started rapidly industrialising too and offering lower wages. The comparative advantage shifted there under the very rules of the game America itself wrote. And plenty of Republican presidents encouraged it too! Because American consumers like cheap goods and fits right in with the party’s ideology about minimal government intervention and laissez faire economics and about allowing the marketplace to be the solution. It was the Republican party that was against the economic stimulus in the wake of the recession, against the auto bailout, that was more concerned about destroying the ACA as a whole even though it originated as their own idea in the 1990s. It’s the Republican party that is always pushing most strongly for welfare cuts that hurt poor people, that fumed over letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. The last Republican president drove the economy off the cliff and screwed us all over. A Republican congress held the debt ceiling hostage and didn’t care about sending foreign markets in turmoil just so they could destroy a healthcare law they didn’t like. In comparison, yeah, if I had to pick, the Democratic party has better economic solutions.

5. It’s not even like Trump has put forth logical policies that would help. I’ve read his plans. They don’t make sense or add up. They’re likely to make everyone worse off or at best just waste lots of money. Yet his rants about the “Wall” or slapping enormous tariffs on China are eaten up eagerly by many of his supporters because I guess it’s easier to think there’s a clear group of people who are to blame. It’s easier to blame Mexican immigrants than a complex mix of factors like free trade, poor protections for workers globally, corporations, mechanisation and automation and just the global economy restructuring itself. I wouldn’t find it awful that people voted for Trump if he’d actually said things that made sense or was promising economic policies that weren’t steeped in racist scapegoating. So yeah, you can say I’m quite indignant. Cos I don’t even think Trump’s policies will help those people who put their belief in him, and on top of that we have an ill-informed man at the helm of the world’s lone superpower. And I guess we can kiss goodbye to American cooperation on climate change. You don’t think its reasonable for the rest of us to be infuriated by all of this? Nothing else matters if we don’t even have a habitable planet!

6. You insist we’ve got to understand these white blue collar voters in a manner that’s just plain exclusive to how economic problems cuts across racial lines and that racism compounds it for poor non-white people. On a global scale, if you think white blue collar voters have been the most damaged by globalisation- that’s a truly Western-centric bubble to live in. I can write all of this, but it’s up to you whether you want to see the bigger picture. Not just about how race and class intersect, but about the many things under threat because of Trump’s presidency.

7. I’m going to repeat the fact that it’s ironic for an American to demand we understand these voters and accuse me of not caring as you did in your previous anon, when that favour is often not even returned when it comes to how American policies affect non-Americans. Don’t I have a right to do that too? NATO, the EU, US-China, US-SEAsia ties all are going to affect me. The ability of a number of American voters to not even think about how their president affects the world is a privilege that comes from being the citizen of a superpower. And I think it’s clear a number of Trump supporters didn’t. 

anonymous asked:

ppl didn't want to vote for hillary because obama hasn't done anything to create more jobs, and hillary's policies are similar. some people are so desperate that they're willing to vote for anyone who says they'll do something different. they figure that all the rest doesn't matter as long as the economy gets fixed.

at least trump is going to try new things instead of repeating the policies that haven’t fixed anything

huffingtonpost.com
Joe Biden Torches Mitt Romney For 'Flagrantly Dishonest' Jeep Ad

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden tore into Mitt Romney on Wednesday for running ads with a widely debunked claim about Chrysler and General Motors shipping American jobs to China, saying it calls into question the character of the Republican presidential nominee.

During a campaign event in Sarasota, Fla., Biden called the latest ad one of the “most scurrilous” and “most flagrantly dishonest ads I can remember in my political career.” The worst part, he said, is that the ad actually caused workers to call United Auto Workers and ask if it was true.

“What a cynical, cynical thing to do,” Biden said of Romney.

The ads, which are being run on TV and on the radio, state that Chrysler and GM are shipping their jeep production overseas. A GM spokesman responded Tuesday with an unusually sharp rebuke, saying Romney has “clearly entered some parallel universe” and that it reflects “campaign politics at its cynical worst.” Similarly, a Chrysler spokesman said there was “no validity” to the ad. Instead, the spokesman said, the company is looking to open new factories in China to meet increasing demand there, a move that would not involve outsourcing American jobs.

Biden’s comments on Wednesday marked the first time he’s addressed the matter. He said he’s never heard of a corporation wading into a election in the final hours of a campaign to give a description of what a presidential candidate is doing. But he said GM’s response was right on the money.

“That’s the best description I’ve ever heard of the Romney/Ryan ticket,” Biden said.

The vice president said the ad calls into question something even greater about Romney: his character. He asked people to consider who they trust more in this election.

h/t: Huffington Post

It would take Trump 30 years to do what Obama accomplished.

Obama saved the US auto industry. Trump opposed the auto bailout. Trump is trying to save coal. The differences in leadership are blinding.

Chrysler CEO: Please don't buy our government mandated electric car! We lose $14k on every one sold.

Here’s how much the government controls the auto industry in America: FIAT Chrysler is now forced to sell electric cars that cost them money every time a customer buys one.  Why?  Because Obama said so, that’s why!

from Reuters:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has a request for potential buyers of the automaker’s Fiat 500e electric car: Don’t buy it. He’s tired of losing money.

Speaking at a conference in Washington on Wednesday, Marchionne said Tesla Motors Inc was the only company making money on electric cars and that was because of the higher price point for its Model S sedan. Decrying the federal and state mandates that push manufacturers to build electric cars, Marchionne said he hoped to sell the minimum number of 500e cars possible.

“I hope you don’t buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” he said to the audience at the Brookings Institution about the 500e. “I’m honest enough to tell you that.”

The gasoline-powered Fiat 500 starts at almost $17,300 including delivery charges, while the 500e starts at $32,650 before federal tax credits. Consumers are not willing to pay a price that covers Fiat’s costs so it loses money on the 500e.

Through April, the automaker sold 11,514 of the 500 cars in the United States this year, down about 15 percent from the same period last year. The company does not break out 500e sales.

“I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more,” Marchionne said of the 500e.

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and received a U.S taxpayer-funded bailout. Italy’s Fiat took over the U.S. automaker at the time and completed the buyout earlier this year.

“If we just build those vehicles, we’ll be back asking … in Washington for a second bailout because we’ll be bankrupt,” Marchionne said of electric cars.

read the rest

Don’t call it a free market because it’s not.  Only an idiot would think this is a good idea. 

haruspicus  asked:

Regarding the Democratic Primaries and the legacy of the Obama Administration, do you really consider Obama the best president of the last 50 years? I'm down with incremental change, but from my -admittedly limited- perspective, Obama managed to squeeze by incredibly little, having been forced to play on the defensive by the Far Right, who continue to bully liberal politicians and keep a tremendously unfair status quo in place because the left remains steadfastly on the defensive.

I do indeed; in fact, I don’t think it’s even close. Who’s his competition? Bill Clinton’s Presidency pales before Obama’s, and if you gave the former truth serum, he’d admit it. Obama’s massively exceeded my expectations, and I’d go so far as to rank him in the top handful of Presidents, full stop. 

The ACA alone, and Obama’s heroic insistence on getting it passed even as his own administration and Party advised him to throw in the towel, puts him ahead of any President since LBJ at his peak. Then there’s the stimulus, which as well as saving the country from Great Depression-levels of unemployment, basically enacted the Liberal Wish List that neither Clinton nor Jimmy Carter were actually on board with. From infrastructure to education to above all the genuine revolution it unleashed in green energy, the stimulus had a gigantic impact at every level of American society, and we’re still feeling the ripple effects to this day. And, and, it was all paid for, on time, with virtually no graft, which is just staggering given its size and speed of its implementation. (Thank Joe Biden for that, as he was in charge.) 

Then there’s Dodd-Frank, the auto bailout, kicking the banks out of the student loan process, eliminating Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Fair Sentencing Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the new START treaty, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, two great SCOTUS Justices, vital tax breaks for the poor coupled with tax increases on the wealthy, just a flood of kickass regulations on issues ranging from power plants and fuel efficiency to tobacco and credit cards…Obama’s record of accomplishments is so broad and deep, I could honestly keep going for hours! But let me just point to three genuine historical landmarks from this past year, in three different corners of the globe: the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate treaty, and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Taken together, that trio sums up the hope and change I had in mind.

And of course, he got all this done despite inheriting the worst mess facing any new President since FDR, while facing a vicious, relentless opposition that (as both Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh inconveniently said out loud) cared more about bringing him down than fixing said mess. 

While Obama certainly has negatives on his record (especially on foreign policy), I think he has far fewer than any President since…fuck, I honestly can’t think of one! Even FDR had the Japanese internment camps and court-packing, and none of Obama’s mistakes come close to those two. He’s probably the straightest arrow we’ve ever had in the White House; his administration has been just ridiculously scandal-free, which is why the GOP latched so desperately onto the nothingburger that is Benghazi. 

Finally, some historical context: it’s easy to forget that FDR’s monolithic achievements (especially Social Security) were in fact iterative, incremental, and worked within existing institutions…just like Obama’s. This is what reform looks like. And let’s give Obama credit, he was very clear about that in his 2008 campaign. It’s not his fault so many of his supporters (and opponents) mistook him for a revolutionary instead of the reformer he is. 

It’s been really great to see in recent days a crystalline clarity capture the 2016 Democratic race: it’s about whether you consider the Obama Presidency a remarkable success that needs to be defended and expanded, or a sad corrupt failure that needs to be brushed aside. If you believe the former, you probably support Hillary; if you believe the latter, you probably support Bernie. I consider Barack Obama to be one of our greatest Presidents as well as my personal hero. As such, I’m all in on HRC.