The Barack Obama Memoir: Don’t Trust the Process

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/02/dont-trust-the-process

This is a critique of the memoir. Some of you may find this interesting, if not a little off-putting. I think it succinctly illustrates the left-of-center criticism of his administration, and his hubris.

44 thoughts on “The Barack Obama Memoir: Don’t Trust the Process

  1. Interesting read, although I feel that our effects upon the world’s problems are based on the “we saved Democracy” after WW2 victory.

    Our culture is to a large degree determined by those who make guns. Just as Eisenhower predicted and warned.

    Not that secret meetings necessarily force war by coercion, pragmatism or expertise exploitation, Rather, that our economic vitality is so dependent upon the jobs in the industry. What may have been military decisions based on realities on the ground, are now viewed through a lens that focuses the following: “we have the latest and best hardware, it will make the job easier than diplomacy”. And I believe that 46 out of 48 mainland states have some industry that makes weapons, a result of political strategy to keep defense programs alive and well. Iraq and Afghanistan are both the latest and perfect, if gruesome, examples of wars we started because we were told it was a cake walk.

    In other words, it is in our DNA for the last 75 years to maintain military superiority at all costs. And the costs are huge.

    Obama’s book seems to lend credence to the tight bubble presidents live and work in. Like the pope in “Shoes of a Fisherman”, we need to allow our leaders to walk among us, anonymously is best, once in a while. If not actually, then at least through meetings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s all true, though I’d add the caveat that our empire building (particularly post-WWII) is about maintaining capitalism— whether through unrivaled access to resources or unrestrained markets– rather than democracy. Often, the two are mutually exclusive.

      Also, the impression I get from most politicians, and this reading in particular, is that far from wanting to understand “us,” our ruling class regards us as ignorant, unwashed rubes whose expectations need to be managed rather than met. Then again, I loathe all these pricks so maybe I read too much into it.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. Capitalism Free markets, open competition, no coercion.

            Cronyism Markets but with regulation that favors select, established firms, subsidies to guide market choices to favored firms, forced purchases for compliance.

            Most of the ills people assign to capitalism are really cronyism.

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          2. About.

            In a truly free market, both parties benefit from the transaction, or it would not take place.

            But in a crony market, your choices are limited and often artificially more costly.

            A common example is hair braiding. Unti a recent court case, to braid hair for pay in VA required a cosmetology license and 2 years training including such things as dying and tinting hair, which braiders didn’t do.

            The purpose of the regulation was to protect established salons at the expense of the public by eliminating their competition in a niche market.

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          1. It will end when “progressives” stop voting for candidates who will put their thumb on the scale when it benefits a cause they support.

            When you give the government the power to intervene in markets for a good cause, that same power will be used on behalf of donors.

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          2. By voting for regulations that protect entrenched businesses from competition.

            They are not protecting capitalism, they are protecting their party donors.

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          3. It is not a right-left or progressive-conservative issue. That is the problem with people who live life with blinders on. You accuse others of doing the exact same thing you are doing here. But your personal blindness does not allow you to see it.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Well, it sure isn’t Libertarians, or even conservatives, who are sending representatives to Congress who support heavy regulations that suppress competition for the benefit of big business. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the Democrats who get the big corporate donations these days.

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          5. …”it’s the Democrats who get the big corporate donations these days.”

            That is because the of the former president.

            Again your blinders prevent you from seeing that it is NOT a partisan issue. Finger pointing doesn’t address the issue of crony capitalism.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. “It will end when “progressives” stop voting for candidates who will put their thumb on the scale when it benefits a cause they support.”

            Laughably partisan and willfully blind. Republicans and “conservatives” work just as hard for their corporate donors as do any progressives. And since they get so much more from their corporate donors than do Democrats it is the Republicans who have blocked every effort for decades to reduce the influence of those big donor dollars.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. “In a truly free market, both parties benefit from the transaction, or it would not take place.”

          That is obviously FALSE. Both parties may think that they benefit from the transaction but often they do not because of fraud or deception. Regulations have come into existence because a significant portion of the participants in “free markets” do not hesitate to deceive. Denying that reality in favor of some dream of an ideal is simple minded.

          Would you be in favor of a “free market” in dentistry where anybody could put on a white coat and offer dental services? Maybe with a nice diploma on the wall from the Trump School of Dentistry to reassure the public?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Actually, a certificate of liability insurance would protect the public better than the state, since the insurer is on the hook for losses.

            And in this age of reputation services, bad actors will get weeded out by Yelp.

            Are truly free markets safe for idiots? Probably not, but neither are government directed markets. We pay 10 times the world price of sugar, driving confectioners out of the country and burdening consumers.

            And you still haven’t told us why that hair braider must be licensed to provide services she doesn’t provide and her customers don’t want.

            A truly free market would require getting used to, but it provides better than government can or will.

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          2. As someone on this forum is fond of saying, “Why, because you say so?”

            “Actually, a certificate of liability insurance would protect the public better than the state, since the insurer is on the hook for losses.”

            That’s exactly what I want to do when I have a toothache–do a ton of research to determine which insurance companies are legit and will actually pay out if something goes wrong and who is some huckster that will write policies for anyone off the street. I shouldn’t have to hire an attorney to go over contracts just to get a tooth filled. If there’s one thing people love, it’s having an insurance company between them and the care they need. Lets give them more power.

            “And in this age of reputation services, bad actors will get weeded out by Yelp.”

            This is a more reasonable solution, but only after Dr. Nick Rivera has already botched a few root canals and caused some poor test dummies irreparable harm. I guess those are the “idiots?” Fuck them, right? They don’t deserve safe medical procedures, they should be honored to have sacrificed at the alter of St. Ayn.

            And didn’t you say a lawsuit sorted the hair braider situation out already?

            Liked by 2 people

          3. “Actually, a certificate of liability insurance would protect the public better than the state, since the insurer is on the hook for losses.”

            No way.

            I would rather be protected up front from incompetents and dangerous products than be injured, maimed or killed and then having to seek redress in the courts. Besides which, preventable injuries to people should not be in the province of the bean counters. If it is cheaper to let X people die than to fix the product, they will let X people die. History is FULL of examples of EXACTLY that kind of corporate decision making. No thanks.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting book review. The author’s premise seems to be that Obama failed as president because he wasn’t sufficiently radical to address America’s real challenges.

    I lack the author’s implicit zeal for revolution, but I’m happy to share his view that Obama was a presidential failure, just for different reasons.

    To me, Obama’s legacy will always be that he was our first post- or non-American president. I’m not saying he was born in Kenya, but he might as well have been, given the strangeness of what he seemed to imagine America to be.

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    1. ” I’m not saying he was born in Kenya, “…

      You may not be saying it implicitly, Dr. Semantics, but you sure as hell are implying your belief in the much disproven thought.

      …”what he seemed to imagine America to be”

      And exactly what do YOU think he imagined America to be?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @rssllchndlr
        @Adam Green

        I believe Obama imagined the USA as essentially a social democracy, instead of a constitutional republic. For example, when he famously said to business leaders who use the roads, “You didn’t build that,” he apparently thought it should be obvious in light of the American creed that social or collective goods are the foundation of our nation.

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        1. If that’s how he imagined the US, he had a funny way of showing it, bailing out the banks instead of homeowners, subsidizing insurance companies, etc.

          I think there’s very little Obama did that Romney or McCain wouldn’t have done and the image you all have of Obama as the second coming of Stalin is odd.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Is it wrong that doing business in America is dependent upon a lot of collective actions, projects and public spending?

          DOD, DOJ, infrastructure, universities, public schools, R&D money from the government, municipal services, etc. are, or were, the best in the world for decades. Did you build that?

          Or did you benefit from all of that and were able to innovate and create because of the quality of our national resources, man made and natural.

          For that matter, people like me, Don and anyone else who ran their own businesses were able to “shrug” because of the achievements of those before us. Nothing new, but it bears repeating in a world of “me, me and me”.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. RE: “Is it wrong that doing business in America is dependent upon a lot of collective actions, projects and public spending?”

            Yes, in my view.

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          2. Well, undo it. 😇

            Other than moving to the Happy Valley touted by Randian aficionados in a fit of childish temper (called “shrugging”), you are dependent upon those who built this nation stone by stone so you don’t have to. Then you can concentrate on innovation and entrepreneurship rather than spending decades to built a road. Or build a university to teach you engineering.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. RE: “…you are dependent upon those who built this nation stone by stone so you don’t have to.”

            I’m sure you mean that I am a beneficiary of prior social investments, but it is just as true that I am a victim, as well. For example, I live in an old house with a view of the Lafayette River, but I dare not eat the oysters in the water near my home because of urban pollution.

            The challenge for you is to show that collective actions, projects and public spending produce better legacies than private actions, projects and spending.

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          4. Which, of course, he won’t be able to do since any example he provides won’t meet your arbitrary criteria for “better” because you’re arguing from a position of pure ideology.

            Speaking of the Lafayette, it’s pollution was noted back in the 30s by (GASP) the Virginia Department of Health. Currently, those working to improve it include the EPA, the Elizabeth River Project, and various civic leagues. All volunteer or non-profit collective action.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. No, it is up to you to prove that what I said was wrong.

            Dirty water in the Lafayette is pointless for this discussion. The damage done to the water quality comes from commerce, defense, private boats, shipping, sewage, etc. A mix of private and public sources that come from a city. Eventual public, government, regs have helped clean up our waterways in conjunction with a private foundation getting tax decuctible donations. A subsidy. So the next innovators and entrepreneurs may have a cleaner system.

            The real point is that the collective actions in the past helped you. You want to go back in history and try all private, go ahead. But the Time Machine was only a novel.

            Obama was pointing out that actions by other Americans in the past made it possible for you to work. Your work for the DOD contractors would not exist without the DOD.

            I think you are afraid to admit that their is a collective history for us. For any nation for that matter. We can build on that or reject it. But rejecting it means reinventing the wheel. almost literally.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. And then, there is this…
    Washington(CNN) Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell is claiming in a new court filing that reasonable people wouldn’t have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.

    The election infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems sued Powell for defamation after she pushed lawsuits and made appearances in conservative media on behalf of then-President Donald Trump to sow doubt about the 2020 election results. Dominion claims that Powell knew her election fraud accusations were false and hurtful to the company.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe this rhetorical technique is known as “Shrodinger’s Douchebag.” The speaker makes a bold statement or joke; if it goes over well, they were serious. If not, it was obviously not what they meant and you’re a moron for taking it seriously or inferring what they strongly implied.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know about the Schrödinger part, but the rest is an apt description of a Trump Republican, which given the polls and behavior of Congress is nearly all of them.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. “…reasonable people wouldn’t have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.”

      Yet, 3/4’s of the Republican voters who supported Trump did believe her. And still do.

      Can we now stipulate that according to one of the right wings legal-eagles that many if not most Trump voters are not reasonable people?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. Sydney is attempting to invoke the satire exception to libel and slander laws. The notion is that if a statement is so outrageous that a reasonable man would recognize it as such then the charge is invalidated.

        The problem she has is that she was directing her statements to unreasonable people.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I find this left wing screed full of opinion not fact. I think it was written by one those “activists” who enjoyed spitting on American troops who returned from serving their country.

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      1. There you go. Claiming truth is a lie. It was shown on the news, photographed, reported in the news over and over and reported repeatedly by Vietnam veterans. Guess you must be one of those “activists” to deny the obvious.
        https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1187%26context%3Dgvjh&ved=2ahUKEwiF4bvJ4MfvAhV-TDABHVLtCXQQFjAQegQICBAC&usg=AOvVaw3xftmFnxno4Kz-sOQeGY8p

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That would be the original paper, not the one that came out later, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam, debunking it. We could have a conversation about methodologies of the two papers, but it seems like your mind is made up.

          I think we’re all familiar with the WWII “Zoot Suit Riots” when servicemen would beat up (usually minority) young men for flaunting wartime fabric rationing. I find it hard to believe that battle-hardened Vietnam veterans would allow someone to spit in their faces without retaliating. Presumably, this would generate some news coverage of soldiers brawling in airports, bus stations, etc. Alas…

          Further, this narrative contradicts the right’s usual depiction of hippies as effete, pot-smoking flower children. But we’re expected to believe these people summoned the courage to spit in someone’s face? You can’t have it both ways.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You can try to convince yourself of a blatant lie all you want but the truth shall prevail. Vietnam verterans were indeed spat upon by you and your friends.

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      2. I don’t if it was regularly but some veterans have said that they were indeed spat upon. My neighbor served and upon his return his parents picked him up at the airport. As they were leaving the parking lot someone attempted to spit on him. Luckily the car window was up.

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