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When presidential candidate Barack Obama promised change in 2008, no Progressive could have imagined that the change he meant would require a revamping of the Democratic Party to look more Republican than Progressive.

But now, five years later, the current Democratic administration is filled with Wall Street insiders and former Bush appointees -- people like Eric Holder, Jack Lew, and Chuck Hagel -- and many of Obama’s policies have been nothing more than a redux of G.W. Bush’s policies.

Even the Republican’s have expressed glee about the transformation:

“Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. Renditions. Military commissions. Obama is carrying out Bush’s fourth term, yet he attacked Bush for violating the Constitution,” Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary, told Politico adding that Obama was “vindicating Bush.”

If there is any justice in this world, G.W. Bush’s failures will never be vindicated, but at the same time, it is disheartening to know that Obama has given new life to many of those failed policies.

And now that Obama has nominated former Bush official, James Comey, to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director – especially when viewed contextually with Eric Holder’s appointment – it brings into question the reason for the nomination.

Legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, who has called for Holder to resign, said this about the Attorney General:

His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty. Holder is what we call a "sin eater" inside the Beltway -- high-ranking associates who shield presidents from responsibility for their actions. Richard Nixon had H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Ronald Reagan had Oliver North and Robert "Bud" McFarlane. George W. Bush had the ultimate sin eater: Dick Cheney, who seemed to have an insatiable appetite for sins to eat.
For Obama, there has been no better sin eater than Holder. When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution. When the Obama administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it. When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the "kill list" policy

What does that have to do with Comey?

From the ACLU:

As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration. Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig.

By choosing Eric Holder and James Comey, Obama has effectively insulated himself from prosecution for war crimes.

And then there is Penny Pritzker.

One writer described Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker as “the smoking gun,” the move that pulled back the curtain, revealing the president’s true ties to Wall Street.

“Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit,” Palast writes. “What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.

“Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better—an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.”

In return for Rubin’s help raising campaign money from the major banks, Obama agreed to appoint Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner to the highest economic appointments in his Cabinet, Palast notes. All three of these men had played an executive role in creating the deregulated banking industry that brought the U.S. economy to its knees in 2008.

But high-level positions for Summers and Geithner were not the only returns Obama was supposed to make for Rubin and Pritzker’s help raising campaign money, Palast writes. Pritzker was supposed to be made secretary of Commerce at the start of Obama’s first term.

And recently, the Washington Wire reported that Obama will appoint another former Bush official to his team:

White House Taps Former Bush Official for Housing Post
ByAlan Zibel  May 31, 2013, 11:25 AM ET

The White House has taken an unusual tack in filling a key housing policy post, turning to a former Bush administration official who later helped design President Barack Obama’s response to the foreclosure crisis.

Seth Wheeler, a former Treasury Department official under the both Bush and Obama administrations, joined the National Economic Council earlier this month as senior adviser on housing policy, a White House spokesman said.

If you were unlucky enough to have had any dealings with HAMP, Obama’s response to the foreclosure crisis, then you know that the program was a colossal failure. The National Taxpayer Union stated that HAMP has been grossly ineffective:
HAMP has proven a colossal failure that has done more to harm than help debt-laden homeowners. Having only achieved slightly more than 500,000 permanent modifications, 40% of which the Treasury expects to default, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of its goal of helping 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. To date, far more borrowers have dropped out of the program than successfully achieved permanent loan modification. These borrowers, along with those who later default, will often be left with larger outstanding debt, worse credit scores, and less home equity. Congress should pass legislation that eliminates the HAMP program, to put an end to these counterproductive outcomes while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said this about Wheeler:
"I think he's as disappointed as everybody else that this HAMP program failed so miserably."
And yet, Obama has been unable to find a more qualified Democrat to fill the position.
But the bad news doesn’t end there.

Last week Bloomberg News posted this article:

May 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama plans to nominate Jason Furman, a White House official well-versed in staff rivalries and relationships, to replace Alan Krueger, as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, according to two people familiar with the matter.
How bad is Jason Furman? immediately released a statement describing Furman’s nomination this way:

Bloomberg reported late yesterday that President Obama plans to nominate Harvard economist Jason Furman as his next head of his Council of Economic Advisers.

This would be very bad news for progressives because of Furman’s advocacy for right-wing policies. Here are five reasons why Furman shouldn’t be Obama’s top economic adviser:

1.    He’s An Advocate Of Job-Killing “Free Trade” Deals
2.    He Supports Wal-Mart’s Anti-Worker Practices
3.    He Is An Advocate For A “Jobs Plan” Based On Unpaid Internships.
4.    He Wants To Lower Corporate Taxes
5.    He Supports The Chained CPI Benefit Cut To Social Security

It was Furman who wrote the following statement about Progressive efforts to improve working conditions for Wal-Mart workers:
“…I understand why progressives are so upset about low wages and inadequate benefits. I am also upset by the rise of inequality and the relatively slow economic progress that the bottom 80 percent of Americans have made over the last several decades. I just think Wal-Mart is the wrong place to put the blame or to expect the solution.”
Obama created a roadblock for Progressives when he supported former Republican Joe Lieberman instead of championing a real Democratic candidate. Now, it appears he is set to repeat the same mistake with former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee.

As David Atkins, at Hullabaloo said:

Good progressive Democrats with real progressive economic values can and should win in Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee is not the best of a bad bargain. He's the worst of a good bargain.

Not surprisingly, then, the Neoliberal-in-Chief has wholeheartedly supported him even as it rankles the state Democratic establishment in Rhode Island:

Obama has returned the favor: he declined to endorse a Democrat for governor in 2010, when Chafee was running as an independent in a three-way race. And when Chafee ran TV ads featuring archival footage of the president praising him, Obama and his aides did not object.

Why so many Republicans? Why not Democrats?
There is very little about the present administration that resembles the Democratic Party I first embraced 51 years ago.

And perhaps it’s safe to say that the Democratic Party of today has developed an identity crisis. We have changed so much that we now resemble a moderate Republican Party -- much more than any previous Democratic administration that I’ve lived through.

And I’m not alone. Many Progressives have felt the same loss of identity.

But yet again, even now, we are suffering an intraparty fight because this administration’s NSA data mining efforts have been revealed to be more intrusive than we were told.

And for the record, there was a time when Bush’s implementation of NSA warrantless surveillance caused people on this site to come unglued:

Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.
But now that Obama is in charge, many of his supporters are saying it’s no big deal. And it seems they have forgotten this little tidbit of information:
In April 2009, Department of Justice officials acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in "overcollection" of domestic communications that exceeded the FISA court's authority. The NSA claimed the acts were unintentional and were rectified.
Rectified? Not even close.
From yesterdays diary, Snowden's Own Words, by Kos member catilinus:
Asked what he though about Friday's denouncement by the president while at the same time welcoming debate on security and openness
"My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."
If you haven’t noticed, Progressive morale has reached a new low, and the apathy of Party members is starting to have consequences.

According to PolitiFact, Obama only kept 37% of the 503 campaign promises that he made in 2008. And many of those programs were so watered down by Republican/corporate/lobbyist influence that they were ineffective.

And if you think the new Republican/former Bush appointees won’t make a difference, think of NAFTA. The odious trade deal that the Obama administration has negotiated – in secret - will fall under Penny Pritzker’s domain, which – if her past actions are indicative of her future actions – could prove to be a nightmare for the labor market.
More secrecy revealed by the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — THE Obama administration has often stated its commitment to open government. So why is it keeping such tight wraps on the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995?

The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October.

Although Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade, so far the executive branch has managed to resist repeated requests by members of Congress to see the text of the draft agreement and has denied requests from members to attend negotiations as observers — reversing past practice.

For many American’s, Obama’s Hope & Change spiel – when put in action – has left little reason to hope. It has only benefited the top 1%.

Digby recently made this observation:

…my impression is that liberals are either bored or disillusioned right now for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a liberal majority has been effectively obstructed and the president seems to be ineffectual.  (I realize that political scientists tell us that the presidency isn't very powerful, but most people don't believe that since we've extolled the office as the most powerful on earth for decades.)

We've been through a number of elections, crises, other ups and downs over the past decade but I've not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months.  If it was just me I'd attribute it to my little project having run its course but it's happening across the liberal media spectrum. I don't (k)now what the answer is, but it isn't that there isn't a permanent audience. There was until very recently.  It's that the liberal audience is tuning out and one can only assume it's because they don't like what they see in our politics.

It makes me a little bit more concerned for 2014/2016 than I otherwise would be.

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Comment Preferences

  •  How Strange (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, Aspe4, sebastianguy99, Mannie

    All the Republicans needed to do to destroy the Democratic Party was leave us to our own devices.

  •  it's a debate (0+ / 0-)

    there is no Republican party, there is a crazy party and Democrats that hold both the old Republicans and the progressives/liberals.  

    But, we're having a debate, something we can't do with the new Republicans.  We don't need a fixed identity, we need principles - one person one vote, universal education, universal health care, civil rights, and free speech/free debate.  

    I don't agree with Obama's drone policy or his secret collection of private information policy, but, with him I can talk.  

    "oh no, not four more years of hope and change?" Karl Christian Rove

    by anna shane on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:00:49 PM PDT

  •  Liberals/Progressives Have No Major Political (8+ / 0-)

    party, while conservatives, on the other hand, have two to choose from. Those lucky bastards!!

    "The problem with posting quotes off the Internet is you never know if they're genuine."--Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Gettysburg, February 30, 1908

    by Aspe4 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:07:14 PM PDT

  •  From Gene and Bobby to Manning and Snowden (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aspe4, chuckvw, PhilK, Mannie, aliasalias

    We once had heroes, not perfect by any means but courageous, who fought the party establishment and gave me real hope for real change.  Well, so much for that.  Now, we have flaky quixotic zealots trying to do what our elected representatives should be doing if they weren't either cowards or corrupt.  

  •  The leadership of the Democratic party has (7+ / 0-)

    sold itself to Wall St. and corporations. No civil rights or social acceptance of peoples formerly discriminated against matters if American citizens have no voice in what kind of economic system we live under and work in.

    The working and middle classes have no political party that champions their interests.  

    The slaves are free to gay marry.

  •  Obama is a self-described moderate Republican (6+ / 0-)

    From an interview this past December with Univision:

    "The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican."

    In other words, socially moderate (not quite socially liberal) and fiscally conservative.

    I agree with the President's analysis of his place in the political spectrum.  However, I don't think that makes him "mainstream."  He suffers from the elite centrist belief that the U.S. is a "center-right country."

  •  Progressives are going to have to decide (0+ / 0-)

    if the United States government and the citizens it employs are friends of the people or enemies of the people. If you think they are enemy, that's fine but then don't take umbrage against right-wingers for screaming about "death panels" or "IRS hates conservatives" or "they are coming for our guns". It's all coming from the same distruct and cynicism towards those that represent us in our democracy.

    At the end of the day I think the U.S government and the vast majority of people it employs (even in the survillence and ops programs) are committed to the defense and well being of the nation. That doesn't mean oversight isn't needed or nessesary but it does mean I don't take a cynics view towards every action of the federal government.

     I think progressives do themselves a disservice and conservatives a favor in the long run by perpetuating a paranoid view of American governance

    •  The Difference is the Rigtwingers Lie (0+ / 0-)

      and their claims have no basis in law or in fact. What liberals are currently arguing at least has some basis in fact.

      "The problem with posting quotes off the Internet is you never know if they're genuine."--Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Gettysburg, February 30, 1908

      by Aspe4 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:41:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is no crisis. Fringe elements hissy fits is (0+ / 0-)

    ...all that is going on. Read the comments, it is the same people grinding the same axes.

    I think the truth is that citizens have made an uneasy peace with this and to the extent they haven't, the optics and characters behind this leak are not compelling to the masses.

    People do not like being spied upon by anyone but they also do not like people who break oaths to protect the country's secrets. Those who try to sell this as just an act of civil disobedience do an injustice to the concept while manifesting a privileged mindset.

    If there is a problem, it lies with those elected officials who voted for something they claimed to disagree with now. But I find them to be disingenuous as none of them have introduced legislation to repeal this stuff. So they bought in and now want us to excuse them. No, I don't think so.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:35:58 PM PDT

  •  In 2016 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We need to elect a real Democrat and take our country back. Unfortunately, we're probably going to be stuck with Hillary Clinton, so four extra years of Obama's conservative policies. I just hope someone else like Elizabeth Warren or (my personal favorite) Martin O'Malley wins.

    “The Republicans believe in the minimum wage — the more the minimum, the better.”-Harry S Truman

    by Generic Democrat on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:39:35 PM PDT

  •  The democrats are having a come-to-Jesus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    moment because they are having trouble extolling the virtues of the government being a force for good when what we see all around us is it being used to help the 1% or themselves. We used to believe the problem with policy is not enough or better dems as we cried for them but then the tipping point came and we realized, as this diarist points out, that most of the democrats we were electing turned out to be republicans in democrat clothing. I am beginning to believe that Obama was appointed by the 1% as the buffer. No matter how much the masses are outraged by the actions of the administration, the President's approval rating doesn't budge. I hope his approval ratings remain high but I want them to stay (or rise!) because he is a champion for OUR causes, and that would include foreign policy AND financial policy, not just social policy. We can't sell government as a force for good with what we are being given...we can't and it will come to bite us come '14.

    •  The reason why his ratings are still relatively (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude

      high is because most people realize (correctly) that he is a buffer between us and a radicalized, angry and aggressive right-wing party backed by an endless supply of money from multi-national corporate interests.

      He may not be a champion for liberal causes but he's definitely served as a bulwark against the barbarians at the gates that want to knock the whole place down.

      If that makes me an "Obamabot" around here, so be it.

  •  Regarding this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    There is very little about the present administration that resembles the Democratic Party I first embraced 51 years ago.
    51 years ago John F. Kennedy was President.  The same guy who hired a former president of the Ford Motor Company and architect of the firebombing of Japanese civilians as his Defense Secretary.  The same Kennedy whose Treasury Secretary was C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican who had served in the Eisenhower Administration. The same Kennedy whose Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, approved wiretaps on Martin Luther King, Jr., who got us deeper into Vietnam, who signed off on assassination plots against Fidel Castro.  the same Kennedy whose economic platform was based on a massive tax cut.

    As for Democratic presidents getting Republicans and Wall Streeters to join his administration, I guess you've never heard of FDR?  Who was his Secretary of War during World War II?  Henry Stimson, a conservative Republican, who hired thousands of bright young men from Wall Street and corporate America to run war production.  Who was Secretary of the Navy?  Another conservative Republican, Frank Knox.  And who held the top position at two of the most important early New Deal agencies, the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration?  Hugh Johnson and George Peek, proteges of the mega financier Bernard Baruch.  Who was FDR's first Treasury Secretary?  William Woodin, a Republican industrialist and formerly a president of the New York Fed.

    And speaking of FDR, you are aware that he had his Treasury Department go after political enemies like Huey Long and Father Coughlin, right?  You've also heard of the Smith Act of 1940 which was mostly used to persecute leftists?

    I'm not saying everything the present Democratic administration is doing is all gravy.  I have many complaints and grievances.  But this framing of the present administration as somehow being radical departures from Democratic administrations of years past demonstrates either a great distortion or ignorance of history.

    Again, I have problems with the current administration and this NSA stuff.  But if you're going to misrepresent or misstate history to make your point, then I have no choice but to correct the record.

    Lastly, as for "Progressive morale has reached a new low", what are you talking about?  The President's approval rating (based on Gallup) among liberals is 78%, virtually unchanged from when he was elected.  He has 87% approval among blacks, 63% approval among hispanics, 56% approval among the 18-29 cohort.  Generic congressional ballot polls still favor the Democrats over Republicans for the most part.

    Perhaps morale among liberals on Twitter, MSNBC, and Daily Kos is down, but that's not exactly representative of liberals in general or the President's base for that matter.

    “Th’ noise ye hear is not th’ first gun iv a revolution. It’s on’y th’ people iv the United States batin’ a carpet.” - Mr. Dooley

    by puakev on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:56:47 PM PDT

    •  JFK took us to the moon; (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, aliasalias

      Obama took us to the cleaners.

      Like Digby said:

      I've not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months.
      And she also said it was happening all across the Progressive blogosphere, which is what I have been hearing.

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