I woke up this morning preparing to finish a post on capitalism and the right wing this morning, so that I could put it up this weekend, when I received an email from the “Truthdig!” web site. The author, who is also the Editor of Truthdig, was Robert Scheer. I dropped my capitalism post immediately, out of concern for what has to be the worst case of Obama Derangement Syndrome I've ever seen in a professional lefty.
Robert Scheer was a liberal reporter and columnist of incredible note for many years. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid. Unlike many on the professional left, Scheer has unquestionable journalistic chops. He’s one of the few on the professional left who can boast of Pulitzers and legitimate acclaim.
So, when I found the following article linked in my email this morning, I was concerned. If ODS can hit a pro lefty with his reputation, is anyone really safe? Here's the article of which I speak.
The title itself is not meant to be a compliment. You see, Robert Scheer is an old-school liberal, who inarguably knows a lot about politics. In relation to most of the rank amateurs in the professional left, Scheer knows a hell of a lot more. And it is that knowledge that makes this particular attempt to throw basic logic out the window more concerning than recent attacks of ODS exhibited by Greenwald, Hamsher, Moore and the like. That Robert Scheer is just trying to attract pissed off liberals to his site and his columns just makes me sad.
This is troubling, folks. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Scheer is retreading the same tired, ridiculous arguments the far left has been pushing for years, and which have never had any validity. He pushes the absurd “President Obama is in Wall Street’s pocket” meme so hard, he had to have herniated himself after writing it. The entire column is a whine about the people Obama’s hired in his administration, and the things he hasn’t done, without any consideration of what he’s actually accomplished. And there isn't an actual fact in the entire piece. Not one.
That's how ODS works, folks. It sneaks up on a pro lefty and takes away his formerly rational sense of reason. For example, he actually claims that he feels “betrayed” by President Obama:
… I get angry because betrayal by the “good guys” for whom I have ended up voting has become the norm.
Yes, betrayal, because if Obama meant what he said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address about holding the financial industry responsible for its scams, why did he appoint the old Clinton crowd that had legalized those scams to the top economic posts in his administration? Why did he hire Timothy Geithner, who has turned the Treasury Department into a concierge service for Wall Street tycoons?
ODS strikes the memory first. Apparently, Scheer's current memory is that his vote for Obama was a vote for a far left progressive when he voted for him in 2008. After all, that's the only way he could feel “betrayal.” To feel “betrayal”, you have to have trusted the person in question, don't you?
Fortunately for Robert, I was a regular listener to KCRW’s “Left, Right and Center” podcast at the time. I can assure you; in 2008, Robert Scheer continually reminded the other panelists, Matt Miller, Tony Blankley and (sometimes) Arianna Huffington, that Obama was a centrist and not a full on liberal. His columns before the 2008 election (such as this one) and after the election but before the inauguration (like this one) also reveal that he knew he was voting for a “centrist,” and one he didn’t seem to like very much.
In other words, Scheer's ODS has been part of his life so long, and has been a part of his life for so long, he can't possibly feel betrayed.
It's especially sad to see an actual professional left journalist stricken by ODS, because they're so rare. His ODS is so severe, that he even engages in irational attacks on Tim Gethner, which seems to be a major symptom of ODS. From an ODS sufferer, the attacks on Geithner are always non-specific, because he really hasn’t done anything objectionable as Treasury Secretary. An off-hand remark that is absolutely unsupportable by fact such as “turning the Treasury Department into a concierge service for Wall Street tycoons” is unworthy of a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and a sure sign that the ODS has advanced almost to the point of no return.
Another example of the effects of ODS is apparent in the following passage:
Why hasn’t he pushed for a restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, which Clinton’s deregulation reversed? Does the president really believe that the Dodd-Frank slap-on-the-wrist sellout represents “new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again”? Can he name one single too-big-to-fail banking monstrosity that has been reduced in size on his watch instead of encouraged to grow ever larger by Treasury and Fed bailouts and interest-free money?
This has to be the ODS speaking. The journalist Robert Scheer knows the answers to all of these questions, and the implications are flat wrong.
Obama actually did push for a restoration of Glass-Steagall, which is why we have Dodd-Frank. What the president proposed what was pretty much a full restoration of Glass-Steagall in June 2009; it was in all the papers. If the ODS wasn't so debilitating, Scheer could have looked up the history of the bill on THOMAS. It seems to be too much to ask that the opinions of OGS sufferers be backed by facts. The ODS has clouded Scheer's judgment so much, he seems to not realise what a miracle it was to get Dodd-Frank passed at all, since Republicans in the Senate were filibustering everything Democrats proposed. He should know this; that’s his job as journalist. But alas, the Obama Derangement Syndrome has taken its toll on his journalistic judgment.
If he isn't suffering from ODS, why would Scheer imply that Obama and Geithner bailed out the banks? The bailouts were passed before he became president. I would also point out that, assisted by Geithner, Obama has recovered MOST of the bank bailout money. And only an ODS sufferer would think a president could simply order private companies to break up? A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist without ODS would certinly understand that CONGRESS would have to pass a law that leads to them breaking up, and that such a law would never pass the Republican brick wall.
Scheer's ODS is apparently so ingrained that he even managed to take a little dig at Clinton in the passage above. To call it “Clinton’s deregulation” is a bit sophomoric. Phil and Wendy Gramm were the masterminds behind that amendment, not Clinton, a fact that Scheer actually once knew all too well before his ODS took over his entire mind.
Here is Scheer from his appearance on Democracy Now, September 22, 2008:
ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah, well, the point is, when Bush and McCain and Paulson, who was head of Goldman Sachs before he was head of the Treasury, say they don’t know how this happened, they designed this system. We had a regulatory regime in place ever since the Great Depression to prevent this kind of meltdown, and that said that stockbrokers, insurance companies, banks, investment banks, commercial banks, could not merge. And in 1999, they passed legislation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Gramm is the guy who McCain supported for president in ’96. He was co-chair of his campaign until he complained about the whiners out there, meaning the public. And that legislation is what caused this. It allowed the swaps and everything else.
And then, in 2000, hours before the Christmas break, Gramm introduced legislation. I’m holding it in my hand. This smoking gun is available on the internet; you can read it. And what it said is that the swaps is defined in the Financial Service Modernization Act, meaning that instead of going into a bank and somebody said, “OK, we’ll give you a loan, and we expect you to pay it over thirty years. We know your house has the equity. We know you have the means to pay it” — that was the traditional way — instead, they allowed these mergers, and as a result, they could buy insurance on it, they could do these swaps, they could do what they call hybrid instruments. And it is legislation that was never discussed, was — never had hearings or anything, says that all of this stuff is exempted from all previous regulation. The SEC cannot regulate it, the Commodity Futures Board cannot regulate it.
So they gave these institutions, of which Goldman Sachs was critical — so was Citigroup, where Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s Treasury secretary, he had also come from Goldman Sachs. And, by the way, even though this is Republican-led, there were plenty of Democrats, in fact, a majority of Democrats, who voted for this. And Robert Rubin, who unfortunately is advising Barack Obama — I don’t know how this guy can wake up and — you know, and not be embarrassed and how he can appear on television — and Lawrence Summers, these are the two guys in the Clinton administration who teamed up with Phil Gramm to pass that atrocious legislation.
A couple of things to note from the above. One is, obviously, Phil Gramm was the guy who wrote this crap, Clinton was given shitty advice from Rubin and Summers. But obviously, it’s not “Clinton Deregulation.” And look at his sideways attack on Barack Obama, just six weeks before the election. Again; how can someone “betray” you, if you never trusted him in the first place? Apparently, the ODS was already taking hold.
ODS is an insidious condition that turn an award-winning journalist's brain to irrational mush. Take this attempt to adopt what has become a de rigueur far left slur on Steven Jobs in his attempt to slam Obama.
It was also a bit bizarre for Obama to celebrate Steve Jobs as a model entrepreneur when the manufacturing jobs that the late Apple CEO created are in the same China that elsewhere in his speech the president sought to scapegoat for America’s problems. Apple, in its latest report on the subject, takes pride in attempting to limit the company’s overseas suppliers to a maximum workweek of 60 hours for their horribly exploited employees. Isn’t it weird to be chauvinistically China baiting when that country carries much of our debt?
Like I said; ODS is an insidious disease. Look at the complete disregard for facts.
First of all, the notion that Apple is simply about “manufacturing jobs” has been debunked before, such as with this article from ZDNet. The fact is, jobs have been leaving the United States for such a long time, we no longer have the factories or skilled workers to make something as sophisticated as the components in the machines Apple makes. But it’s also unfair, because Apple has created a class of entrepreneur that is huge in its scope. I’ll get into this more in a later post, but suffice it to say, Scheer’s ODS-driven whine about Apple is based on a Luddite’s approach to economy. Computers simply won’t work without the software and apps to run them. Without the software, which is largely made here, most computers, including Apple’s, would be doorstops. It's the software that makes these machines work. And with their app store, anyone with the ability to write code has the opportunity to create something that will work on one of these machines. Computers are not toasters.
But the best evidence of the effect of Scheer’s ODS comes when he accuses the president of tying to “scapegoat” China in the State of the Union Address. Seriously? He obviously didn’t listen to the speech very well. Here was everything President Obama said about China:
Tonight, I'm announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing finance or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.
I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.
Those were the only mentions of China in the entire speech. I don’t see any attempt to create a “scapegoat.” I have to be honest here; the ODS has progressed so far, I'm not sure Scheer can be helped. How can you take anyone seriously when they accuse the President of the United States for trying to “scapegoat” a dictatorial country that acknowledges use of slave labor, imprisons anyone who tries to bring democracy to the country, and that openly acknowledges the use of what is practically slave labor? Even if he was trying to "scapegoat" China, any progressive should reject the notion out of hand.
Apparently, The ODS-addled Scheer isn’t planning to vote in the next election, given the way he ends this silly column:
Of course, Romney, Obama’s most likely opponent in the general election, will never challenge the Wall Street hold on Washington, since he is the personification of the vulture capitalism that is the true cause of America’s decline. Obama should shine in comparison with his Republican challenger, but there is little in his State of the Union speech to suggest he will chart a much-needed new course in his second term.
Well, he won’t be able to at all, if Obama Derangement Syndrome continues to grip the professional left.
There is a way to curb the spread of ODS among the professional left, and that is by promoting the truth. Join me in spreading this cure, won't you?
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