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 Post subject: 44
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:59 am 
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As the 44th presidency draws to a close, how would you evaluate Barack Obama's performance? What were his biggest accomplishments? Your greatest disappointments? Do you think that he left the country (and the world) better or worse off than it was 8 years ago? Is anything that he has done likely to survive Trump?

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:19 am 
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I suppose Obamacare will leave some sort of impression. What exactly will depend on how the Trump administration manages to go on from here.

Overall i am not too far away from my initial impression, that he is good at PR guy of the "lets all hold hands and be friends" flavour, but unspecific in what policy details he actually wants to get through.

I think his international politics had some steps in the right directions, but sometimes also felt half-baked. Supportive neutrality to the arab spring, was IMO the right strategy and he started with that. (We give you plenty of rope, see we are not tyrants, but we also don't take responsibity, if you hand yourself with it).
In Libya though, the involved western nations however, should either have taken a more hands off approach or have had more of a plan for the aftermath. (My own favourite would have been to try to hand it to an arab peacekeeping force, but it seems the Wests (whoever exactly called the shots here) plan did not seem to go beyond "the rebels win and there will be democracy and stability").
In Syria i think the initial strategy was not wrong as such, but it failed and he then did not change to an other.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:48 am 
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The Good:

He was a supremely competant leader, who rescued the economy, eased global tensions and brought the country a measure of peace and prosperity. Symbolically, it's impossible to overstate the psychological impact of having a multi-racial, black-identified person successfully taking on the leadership of the world's most powerful democracy, particularly for African-Americans. In addition, he set a national tone of intellectual achievement, thoughtfulness and substance that was a welcome change from what came before (and what looks to come after).

The Bad:

He greatly expanded the role and powers of the presidency in ways that are almost guaranteed to be misused by his successors. He never found a way to work effectively with a Congress hellbent on his failure, culminating in the unprecedented rejection of his Supreme Court nominee. He did relatively little to address climate change, and to make it a national priority. His wide use of drone strikes set dangerous precedents, took innocent lives, and possibly aggravated situations in the Middle East.

The Ugly:

He apparently inspired a portion of the county to take a bet on Donald Trump.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:49 pm 
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I don't know if I'm reading you wrong kitoba, but it sounded like you damned him with faint praise. A competent and smart leader with few lasting achievements.

I'd say Obama burned all his political capital early on with the health care reform. The Republicans went completely scorched earth over it, and so there were 6 years of gridlock. He actually did do some stuff about climate change, but it had to be behind the scenes through executive orders. The EPA tightened vehicle fuel standards a lot, and they also decided they could regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. But if it's an EPA regulation and not legislation, it can be more easily undone.

Now I wonder how much of Obamacare will survive. The Republicans seem pretty dead set on total repeal.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:45 am 
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I suppose taking it away would cause ripples i suppose. So even if the program itself gets repealed, i guess future Democrats have different options to install different programs. I'd guess for some people, who don't have a positive view of Obamacare now, because they experience some of the shortcomings of the system, if it get's repealed in a year, in two years it will be the good old times.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:40 am 
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Kea wrote:
I don't know if I'm reading you wrong kitoba, but it sounded like you damned him with faint praise. A competent and smart leader with few lasting achievements.


Well I've never been happy with anyone I've ever voted for (and don't get me started with the people I didn't vote for). I'm an idealist in many ways, and the presidency demands pragmatism, so I'm always more displeased than pleased with any chief executive.

I actually think Obama was an exceptionally good president. Only history will tell if he has lasting achievements or not. But, speaking from the inside, it's hard to express how psychologically beneficial his presidency was for black Americans.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:18 pm 
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I think I am instinctively too much of a pragmatist to put much stock in symbolism, but at the same time I can't possibly know how you feel, so I'm not going to discount it.

I mean, I've heard the same said about Donald Trump. That his mere existence might help reverse the spate of working class white suicide and drug addiction even if he does absolutely nothing to improve their lives and his presidency is a complete garbage fire, merely by making them feel better about themselves. By making everybody else feel worse.

Social status is powerful. Bosses live longer than their employees, even in the civil service where everybody has the same access to health care. Childhood bullies grow up to be physically healthier.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:22 pm 
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I think they're going to die off faster, Kea. This is Hitler's electoral coalition without the smallest chance of the temporary prosperity the Nazis created when they rearmed Germany. Being told that it's acceptable to hate women, blacks, and what not the way they always have won't give the racist majority anyone new to lord it over, or give them the smallest hope economically. And there's nothing but increasing economic marginalization coming the way of the non-racist minority who decided to believe the obvious lie that lots of low skilled, high paying jobs are going to come back to their states. Yeah, there might be a brief buzz; but it'll only be a matter of months at most until they all realize that they're all still in a hole and that someone is still shoveling in dirt on them. This will stop no one from avoiding reality by doing drugs, drinking, over eating, or just eating bullets; but Republican policies will mean they'll have less health care assets to deal with the damage when they do.

As for Obama, I was never impressed. He struck me as being hellbent on being Eisenhower when we obviously needed FDR, and in practice came closer to being Hoover.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:11 pm 
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Weremensh wrote:
Yeah, there might be a brief buzz; but it'll only be a matter of months at most until they all realize that they're all still in a hole and that someone is still shoveling in dirt on them.

Never underestimate the power of perception. Three days after election day, Republicans' view of the economy jumped up, and Democrats' plummeted. Trump obviously isn't going to reverse globalization because that's stupid, but he'll keep up a never-ending stream of Carrier-style publicity stunts to convince his fans that things are looking up. Absent a major recession, it'll probably work. Banana republic governance.

And maybe that's all they actually need. Working class whites do not in fact endure worse economic conditions than Hispanics or black people. By any objective measure they're still better off, but their health has been declining while that of ethnic minorities has been improving. And immigrants - who take the worst crap of anybody - are often healthier than the native population. Access to health care, while important, is actually a weak determinant of a population's health.

I really think that optimism and status makes the difference.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:29 am 
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I just got an SF idea, where filter-bubbles are used to tell different population segments different election results, so everyone gets the best possible motivation from (perceived) political backgrounds.

An other point about Obama, that i think i have made in a different thread already. I think it is not suprising, that during his reign partisan rifts have aggrevated. He used a "great unifier, overcome partisan differences" sales pitch, and if you do that, you have a good chance to make the rifts deeper. After all you leave the other side the options to roll over and let you lead and get all the spotlight, or to find just anything to bicker, so they can celebrate their otherness. If you want real bi- (or multi-) partisan cooperation, you are better off at first coming up with a very radical plan, that is then reduced a lot as compromise, so the other side can point out a lot, that they have prevented. If you already start with a workable compromise, they will reject it.

I am not sure if Obama had thought, that preemtive compromises would have worked for bipartisanism, or if he had some masterplan to paint the Republicans as irresponsible naysayers.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 1:17 pm 
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Kea wrote:
Weremensh wrote:
Yeah, there might be a brief buzz; but it'll only be a matter of months at most until they all realize that they're all still in a hole and that someone is still shoveling in dirt on them.

Never underestimate the power of perception. Three days after election day, Republicans' view of the economy jumped up, and Democrats' plummeted. Trump obviously isn't going to reverse globalization because that's stupid, but he'll keep up a never-ending stream of Carrier-style publicity stunts to convince his fans that things are looking up. Absent a major recession, it'll probably work. Banana republic governance.

He won't do it. That stunt cost money that other Republicans had to come up with, and there's nothing in it for them to repeat it. Carrier was a one off election year stunt, not a precedent.

More importantly, it's already too late. On the same day he got the Republicans in Indiana to put those 200 workers on white welfare, some 4800 others in that state were told that their industrial jobs were going south (literally and figuratively). The 200 might give the Republicans some credit, but the 4800 will openly blame them (and Trump especially) for their lost and mostly never to be replaced jobs. After all, if he can stop the sacking of those 200, why not them? And why not the hundreds of thousands all over red state America who are losing their industrial jobs with no tangible sign that Trump (or any professional Republican) gives a damn? The very brief rush of winning aside, they and many of their acquaintances will be largely immune to tales about things getting better, folks in dying industries like the coal miners soon will be, and they're all a legion that will only grow faster when the economy tanks (as it inevitably will, and probably fairly soon).

Barring a miracle, or a major power war, their finances and lives will only get worse; and there will be no propaganda driven escaping from it into delusions of agency. Our unregulated collections industry will be a much more effective persuader than even a serious campaign of spurious job saving stunts could ever be; and there will be no such campaign.

Arcosh, I think he was just uninterested in fighting for the common folks. He knew it was war to the knife before he got elected, yet continually let the Republicans roll him. He openly sided with the bankers who collapsed our financial system, did very little to promote Dodd-Frank, did very little to get a serious stimulus package, did nothing to promote the Democratic Party and the labor movement, didn't even do that much to promote his own health bill once it was passed. I suppose we can be thankful he got interested in health care and alternate power systems, and now that it may be too late he's handing down a few executive orders; but that aside the Democrats just wasted 8 years on him.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:05 pm 
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Kea wrote:
I mean, I've heard the same said about Donald Trump. That his mere existence might help reverse the spate of working class white suicide and drug addiction even if he does absolutely nothing to improve their lives and his presidency is a complete garbage fire, merely by making them feel better about themselves. By making everybody else feel worse.


Well, there are obviously short-term psychological effects visible even now --the sports team effect. I've had any number of liberal friends tell me they've felt physically ill ever since the election. Meanwhile, the news have been full of emboldened racists --who clearly feel racism has won a victory, whether or not that feeling is justified.

But I don't see that effect continuing if Trump is as much of a disaster as seems likely. The positive impact for American blacks was partly because Obama was a living counter to so many different negative stereotypes. He proved you could be smart, well-spoken, highly educated, socially conscious, and successful at reaching the very highest echelons of American society without having to deny or belittle a black racial identity.

I don't see Trump fulfilling a similar role, in part because he's transparently contemptuous of his own base. A better analog might be Bill Clinton, who really did culturally identify with poor Southern whites, a fact that helped greatly in building his winning coalition.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:06 pm 
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Trump enjoys support based on "he's a bastard, but he's our bastard". Let's see how long it takes for everybody to realize that he's entirely his own bastard. With Bannon (blech) in the White House, the culture wars will be kept on high octane. If job stunts cost too much money to do frequently(1), culture wars are cheap - all you have to do is use Breitbart to goad Fox News into ranting about fake rape victims or whatever horrible liberal bogeyman they can dredge up. That'll keep the "sports team" effect going for a while, until enough people figure out that it's empty.

Obama - if people had read the label on the tin back in 2008 instead of listening to the inspirational rhetoric - he was promising to govern as a moderate all along. His platform was slightly to the right of Hillary Clinton. I don't think there ever was an FDR in him. By the time he figured out that the Republicans were never going to cooperate with him, it was too late to do much.

(1) Or maybe they won't cost that much. Corporations will be perfectly happy to let Trump take credit for jobs they were already planning on creating in exchange for regulatory favours.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:25 pm 
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Kea wrote:
(1) Or maybe they won't cost that much. Corporations will be perfectly happy to let Trump take credit for jobs they were already planning on creating in exchange for regulatory favours.

If a created or saved job might have a very local constituency (depending on how good it is), no one gives a damn about a promised one and a lost job effects an entire extended family. Since the tentative future jobs currently being credited to him will be in a very few locations (if they exist at all), but the much larger number of jobs certain to be lost to the same mergers will be everywhere, this won't be a net propaganda plus.

You're right, there's a bounce right now. I just don't see it lasting until Summer. Frankly, I don't see it lasting until Spring for most folks.

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 Post subject: Re: 44
 Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:08 am 
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You are assuming that people will henceforth blame Trump for any jobs lost to mergers, outsourcing and technological obsolescence, but who knows how they'll react politically. Sam Brownback gutted public education and other government spending in Kansas with his ill-advised Starve the Beast agenda and caused his constituents to suffer, but Kansas still re-elected him. Trump will certainly try to pin any of his failures on Democrats.

Plus, if the economy keeps chugging along, Trump will get the boost that comes to every president that's lucky enough to preside over a period of growth. But if we are in for what economists so bloodlessly describe as a "correction", Trump is toast.

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