Monday Reads: Happy National Napping Day!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Now this is a national day of observance that I can go all in on! I’m thrilled BB let me know about the reason for the season having taken two days of morning naps in a row!

National Napping Day is observed annually the day following the return of daylight saving time. National Napping Day provides everyone with the opportunity to have a nap and catch up on the hour of sleep they lost due to the spring forward time change.

So, now that we’ve established a visual and emotional happy place, let’s move into the utter display of corruption and incompetence presented by Education Secretary “I’m mostly misunderstood” DeVos. Can any one be more clueless about a job than this woman other than KKKremlin Caligula himself? Leslie Stahl managed to ask her basic questions that left the Secretary flummoxed and stumbling on 60 Minutes.

The reason Betsy DeVos wanted to be secretary of education was so she could promote school choice, offering parents options other than traditional public schools – where 90 percent of kids go. She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding and wants to shift billions to alternative players like private, parochial and charter schools.

Betsy DeVos: We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level And we have seen zero results.

Lesley Stahl: But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished?

Betsy DeVos: Well actually, test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up. And we have continued to be middle of the pack at best. That’s just not acceptable.

Lesley Stahl: No it’s not acceptable. But it’s better than it was. That’s the point. You don’t acknowledge that things have gotten better. You won’t acknowledge that, over the–

Betsy DeVos: But I don’t think they have for too many kids. We’ve stagnated

Lesley Stahl: Okay, so there’s the big argument. So what can be done about that?

Betsy DeVos: What can be done about that is empowering parents to make the choices for their kids. Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don’t have the power, that can’t decide: “I’m gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child” if they don’t have that choice – and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don’t have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.

Like most right wing extremist theocrats, DeVos isn’t interested in the truth about a train wreck in Michigan she helped create. Choice is a code word for publicly funded Christian Madrassas that are segregated by social class and race.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, former chair of Michigan’s Republican Party, appeared taken aback when asked during a 60 Minutes interview Sunday whether her home state’s school’s have become better under policies she pushed.

As chair of the American Federation for Children in Michigan, DeVos worked to expand chartered private schools in the state. Most of the reading and math scores among students at charter schools in Michigan are below average and overall academic progress lags behind other states.

“Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?” 60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl asked DeVos in the interview, pointing out that public schools also haven’t flourished under policies she championed.

“I don’t know. Overall—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better,” DeVos replied.

Along with her husband Dick DeVos, a billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, DeVos has backed state bills in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida for voucher programs where students can get public funding to subsidize the cost of attending a private or religious school. She proposes expansion of that system and has pushed for it in Michigan for decades.

“Your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here,” Stahl said.

“I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them,” DeVos replied. She said she had “not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming” to find out what is going wrong.

DeVos will be heading up the Task Force on School Safety. Wonder if that means Blackwater units in every school? And what about those Grizzlies?

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will lead a commission tasked with broadly examining ways to protect schools from gun violence, the White House said Sunday.

Administration officials also said the White House would support arming school personnel who volunteer for the job, offering federal funds to provide “rigorous firearms training” to qualified employees.

The proposal has angered education groups, who have said arming educators could put both adults and students at risk. National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García last month said, “Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence.”

But DeVos, who has met with students, teachers and families in the wake of the deadly Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., said little progress had been made protecting students over the past several years. “No student, no family, no teacher and no school should have to live the horror of Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine again,” she said.

While not immediately committing to any ideas or timetables, DeVos said, “No stone will be left unturned” in the effort to uncover and highlight evidence-based approaches proven to reduce violence.

“We’ve had to talk about this topic way too much over the years,” DeVos told reporters during a conference call Sunday. “And there’s been a lot of talk in the past but very little action.”

Still not convinced she’s like one of the worst people in the world. Take her student loan storm trooper attitude and link it to this headline: ‘Education Department awards debt collection contract to company once tied to DeVos’.

A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. – the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary – arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision.

The selection of only two [companies] opens the door to protests from the unsuccessful bidders,” wrote Michael Tarkan, senior research analyst at Compass Point, in a research note on Performant. “Based on prior contract awards, we would not be surprised to see protests, lawsuits and appeals which could all delay the start date for the new contract.”

Historically, the department has used as many as 17 companies to recoup past-due student loans. Earlier attempts to whittle down the number of firmshave been met with resistance. Companies that lost out on a 2016 debt collection contract have been embroiled in a lawsuit that has prevented the federal government from assigning new accounts.

But, hey, she’s “conservative” so Twink DeVos should be all about state’s right! Am I right? Uhmmmmm, nope!

The Education Department issued guidance Friday informing state regulators to back off the companies managing its $1.3 trillion portfolio of student loans, arguing that only the federal government has the authority to oversee its contractors.

“State regulation of the servicing of direct loans impedes uniquely federal interests,” the department wrote. “State regulation of the servicing of the Federal Family Education Loan Program is preempted to the extent that it undermines uniform administration of the program.”

The notice arrives as states have stepped in to fill what many see as a void in the federal oversight of student loan servicers, the companies the Education Department pays nearly $1 billion to handle debt payments. The move has created consternation within the industry, which has lobbied Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Congress to prevent states from imposing additional rules and regulations. Now the department is taking action, but some legal experts say the declaration is a hollow gesture.

“Nowhere in this document does the Department of Education quote a statute from Congress that says the department is authorized to block states from stopping deceptive debt collection practices. That’s because such a law does not exist,” said Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah and former enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Many states are likely to view this document as legally dubious . . . and will wait for courts to weigh in with their own interpretation.”

California, Connecticut and the District of Columbia require servicers to obtain a license to operate within their borders as a way to bring the companies under their regulatory purview. Their local agencies have the authority to monitor loan servicers’ compliance with federal laws, investigate their behavior and refer cases to the attorney general.

And from that radical rag Forbes Magazine“4 Ways Betsy DeVos Plans To Make It Harder For Ripped-Off Students To Get Loan Forgiveness.” Trump University any one?

With thousands of “borrower defense to repayment” applications pending, Betsy DeVos wants to impose a higher burden of proof for defrauded students seeking student loan forgiveness.

Borrower defense offers federal student loan forgiveness for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, including the now-closed Corinthian Colleges.

If this revision from the Department of Education goes through, students will face bigger hurdles along the path to borrower defense student loan forgiveness.

Although it’s unclear whether the proposal would affect existing applications, it would at least introduce four major challenges for future applicants.

Other headlines guaranteed to drive you back under the covers via Memeorandum:

John Bacon from USA Today: Death penalty for drug dealers? Count Trump in

Anita Kumar from McClatchy DC: Ivanka Trump never cut ties with the Trump Organization. That’s turned into a problem.

NBC News: Qataris opted not to give info on Kushner, secret meetings to Mueller

Jake Pearson from Associated Press: Trump Jr., donor have longtime undisclosed ties

Annie Gowen from The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says ‘follow the money’ in the Trump-Putin relationship

And now, you can close your eyes and repeat after me: Let’s make America and America again!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads

Posted by Bette Midler on Twitter 6/4/17

Good Morning!!

Just looking at the headlines this morning, it’s hard to see how Trump can last much longer. His administration seems to be crumbling under the weight of Trump’s own stubbornness and stupidity. I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just start with this incredible story from The Daily Beast (emphasis added):

White House Looked at Dropping Russia Sanctions—Even After Firing Michael Flynn, by Kimberly Dozier.

The White House explored unilaterally easing sanctions on Russia’s oil industry as recently as late March, arguing that decreased Russian oil production could harm the American economy, according to former U.S. officials.

State Department officials argued successfully that easing those sanctions would actually hurt the U.S. energy sector, according to those former officials and email exchanges reviewed by The Daily Beast….

the March NSC request to the State Department, asking its experts to consider the possible damage of U.S. sanctions on the Russian oil industry, came under the tenure of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, long after Flynn resigned because of misleading the vice president about conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington about lifting sanctions.

A senior Trump administration official said NSC strategist Kevin Harrington was simply examining the sanctions on Russia and trying to determine their impact, as part of the review of overall policy toward Russia.

So much for the sterling reputation of HR McMaster. I wonder who gave the emails to The Daily Beast? Harrington, who had almost no government experience tried to claim that the sanctions on Russia were hurting the U.S. economy. State Department officials had to explain the facts of life to him.

In the March email, the State Department official explained to Harrington why helping Russia’s oil industry would damage the U.S. energy market, in particular, the shale oil industry.

“We explained, you’ve got it backwards. There’s an oil glut. The reason global oil prices originally collapsed is our shale oil,” the former U.S. official said in an interview, speaking anonymously to describe the interagency conversations with the White House.

In the email, the State Department official wrote “Russian production competes with US tight oil production at prices above $50/bbl,” meaning $50 a barrel. He was referring to the U.S. shale oil industry’s ability to make more money as long as the cost of oil stays above $50.

Please read the whole article. These excerpts don’t begin to demonstrate how idiotic these Trump people actually are.

McCay Coppins has a fascinating piece at The Atlantic about how Trump’s crazy management style will likely lead to this downfall: What Trump Really Fears.

As the blast radius of the Russia investigation continues to expand, Donald Trump is facing an unnerving new reality: The fate of his presidency may now hinge on the motley, freewheeling crew of lieutenants and loyalists who have long populated his entourage.

Last week, a subpoena for Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was approved as part of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the presidential election. With that, Cohen was added to a range of Trump allies who are reportedly entangled in the investigation—from outer-orbit figures like Roger Stone and Carter Page, to more visible senior advisers like Michael Flynn and Boris Epshteyn.

Sources close to the president say there is growing concern in the White House about what skeletons may emerge as investigators comb through a coterie of aides, past and present, who would have done virtually anything to win favor with Trump.

“My fear is that a bunch of people were freelancing—doing things not thinking about the repercussions, but thinking Trump would be so impressed by it,” said one person close to the president. He said that with all the resources the government is putting toward the investigation, “they’re going to want a return.” And in a climate like that, any misguided meeting, bluntly worded email, or undisclosed contact with a Russian official—whether or not Trump himself knew about it—could surface as an incriminating bombshell.

On Trump’s management methods:

Long before he entered politics, Trump established a managerial M.O. that came to govern his universe of aides, allies, and hangers-on. Essentially, he populated his team with a cast of scrappy, hard-charging mini-Trumps—people who idolized their boss, and sought to emulate him in every way—and then infused them all with an eat-what-you-kill ethos. Employees are rarely paid impressive salaries at first, but nor are they micromanaged. Instead, they are encouraged to hustle their way up the food chain, competing ferociously with each other to win Trump’s respect, and always seeking out new ways to prove their value.

“He likes to pit advisers against each other,” said one former campaign aide. “He likes the infighting … It’s definitely an environment where you might feel pressured to go the free-range-kid model and say, ‘Hey, let’s see what I can drum up to impress him with.’”

Again, please go read the whole thing. We may be fortunate that the Russians picked such a moronic candidate to support.

Paul Waldman reacts to the Coppins piece at The Week: Trump’s unwinnable war against his own administration.

If you’re like most people, you’ve had a boss you couldn’t stand. But what if your boss couldn’t stand you either? And what if he felt the same way about lots of your coworkers? And if he seemed to be trying to destroy your organization from the inside, not merely through incompetence but through genuine malice? How weird would that be?

Pretty darn weird, as those in the executive branch of the United States government could tell you. Because right now it appears as though President Trump has practically gone to war against his own administration.

Even at the best of times, working for Trump is no picnic. “He likes to pit advisers against each other,” a former campaign aide told McKay Coppins of The Atlantic. “He likes the infighting.” In theory a healthy spirit of friendly competition could produce better results, as everyone vies to get that “Employee of the Month” mug to put on their desk and win the admiring glances of their colleagues. On the other hand, it could devolve into an endless demolition derby of schemes, recriminations, and leaks to the press about how the other factions are a bunch of idiots. Which is what the White House is like right now.

But the real problem is less the staff’s conflicts with each other than the fact that the president seems terribly unhappy with the people who toil in his employ, particularly when they’re trying to restrain him from making a fool of himself or creating policy nightmares.

A case in point: Trump is now turning on one of his most loyal supporters, according to The New York Times: Trump Grows Discontented With Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Few Republicans were quicker to embrace President Trump’s campaign last year than Jeff Sessions, and his reward was one of the most prestigious jobs in America. But more than four months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has grown sour on Mr. Sessions, now his attorney general, blaming him for various troubles that have plagued the White House.

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a “politically correct” version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it.

In private, the president’s exasperation has been even sharper. He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.

Behind-the-scenes frustration would not be unprecedented in the Oval Office. Other presidents have become estranged from the Justice Department over time, notably President Bill Clinton, who bristled at Attorney General Janet Reno’s decisions to authorize investigations into him and his administration, among other things. But Mr. Trump’s tweets on Monday made his feelings evident for all to see and raised questions about how he is managing his own administration.

“They wholly undercut the idea that there is some rational process behind the president’s decisions,” said Walter E. Dellinger, who served as acting solicitor general under Mr. Clinton. “I believe it is unprecedented for a president to publicly chastise his own Justice Department.”

Read more at the NYT.

Trump whined on Twitter yesterday that Democrats are blocking his appointments.

But the real problem is that Trump himself has announced appointments and then failed to submit them to the Senate!

Politico: How Trump is stalling his own nominees.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at Democrats for allegedly stalling his appointments and agenda, but it’s his own administration that is frequentlRy sitting on the necessary paperwork for nominees.

Trump tapped Kevin McAleenan on March 30 to lead Customs and Border Protection, a critical position for his drive to revamp U.S. immigration policy. But the White House didn’t formally submit his nomination to the Senate for confirmation until May 22, nearly eight weeks later.

And McAleenan’s nomination is far from alone in taking weeks to be sent to the Senate, where Republicans are growing impatient and bewildered with the Trump White House’s historic lag in filling administration posts.

Trump’s two nominees for the Export-Import Bank board — ex-GOP Reps. Scott Garrett and Spencer Bachus — haven’t been submitted to the Senate, despite being named April 14. Trump rolled out a batch of 10 judicial nominations to much fanfare on May 8, but two of them have yet to arrive on Capitol Hill.

And Dan Brouillette, nominated by Trump to be Rick Perry’s chief deputy at the Energy Department, was announced on April 3, yet his nomination wasn’t sent by the White House until May 16.

Read the entire shocking story. It’s hard to believe how dysfunctional this administration really is.

As the Comey testimony on Friday approaches, Republicans are growing anxious about Trump’s inability to control himself, according Robert Costa at The Washington Post: As Trump lashes out, Republicans grow uneasy.

President Trump, after days of lashing out angrily at the London mayor and federal courts in the wake of the London Bridge terrorist attack, faces a convergence of challenges this week that threatens to exacerbate the fury that has gripped him — and that could further hobble a Republican agenda that has slowed to a crawl on Capitol Hill.

Instead of hunkering down and delicately navigating the legal and political thicket — as some White House aides have suggested — Trump spent much of Monday launching volleys on Twitter, unable to resist continuing, in effect, as his own lawyer, spokesman, cheerleader and media watchdog.

Trump escalated his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, incorrectly stating that Khan had told Londoners to not be “alarmed” about terrorism. He vented about the Justice Department, which he said pushed a “politically correct” version of his policy to block immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries, which Trump signed before it was halted in court. He also complained that Senate Democrats are “taking forever to approve” his appointees and ambassadors.

Inside the White House, top officials have in various ways gently suggested to Trump over the past week that he should leave the feuding to surrogates, according to two people who were not authorized to speak publicly. But Trump has repeatedly shrugged off that advice, these people said.

On Republican reaction:

Trump’s refusal to disengage from the daily storm of news — coming ahead of former FBI director James B. Comey’s highly anticipated public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday — is both unsurprising and unsettling to many Republicans, who are already skittish about the questions they may confront in the aftermath of the hearing. In particular, they foresee Democratic accusations that Trump’s exchanges with Comey about the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign were an effort to obstruct justice.

Some Republicans fear that Trump’s reactions will only worsen the potential damage.

Gee, no kidding. Some Republicans are going to go down with Trump and they’ll deserve what they get.

One more and then I’ll put the rest of my links in the comment thread. It seems Trump had a hard time getting a lawyer to defend him in the Russia investigation.


Michael Isikoff: Four top law firms turned down requests to represent Trump.

Top lawyers with at least four major law firms rebuffed White House overtures to represent President Trump in the Russia investigations, in part over concerns that the president would be unwilling to listen to their advice, according to five sources familiar with discussions about the matter.

The unwillingness of some of the country’s most prestigious attorneys and their law firms to represent Trump has complicated the administration’s efforts to mount a coherent defense strategy to deal with probes being conducted by four congressional committees as well as Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president’s chief lawyer now in charge of the case is Marc E. Kasowitz, a tough New York civil litigator who for years has aggressively represented Trump in multiple business and public relations disputes — often with threats of countersuits and menacing public statements — but who has little experience dealing with complex congressional and Justice Department investigations that are inevitably influenced by media coverage and public opinion.

Before Kasowitz was retained, however, some of the biggest law firms and their best-known attorneys turned down overtures when they were sounded out by White House officials to see if they would be willing to represent the president, the sources said.

Among them, sources said, were some of the most high-profile names in the legal profession, including Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly; Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Paul Clement and Mark Filip of Kirkland & Ellis; and Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Quelle Tristesse!

Obama vs GOP
In what will go down as one of the most egregious acts of calumny, many smart people accused Barack Obama of being incredibly brilliant and politically savvy, in addition to having the highest IQ of any political figure ever to set foot in Washington, DC. Some of these people hung on to that defamation in the course of the first two years of the Obama administration. Every display of ineptitude and every questionable political act were justified with “he knows exactly what he’s doing”, or “he got the enemies where he wants them”, or “he’s playing eleven dimensional chess”. Now the whole experiment is taking worrisome a turn.

At this point, the verdict on the Obama presidency seems to be a variation of the same idea: He is not who his supporters thought he was and he is by miles not “the one we’ve been waiting for”.

1st School of thought: Barack Obama is an incompetent bumbler who lacks the training and probably the personality to be POTUS. Moreover, for some incomprehensible reason, he seems to be dead set on being liked be the GOP, who in turn would like nothing better than crush him. (Sub-group: Obama was never the candidate of change he pretended to be, he is the incarnation of the status quo.)

Frank Rich has a very interesting op-ed column today, detailing many of the sorry aspects of the Obama presidency so far, especially the length to which he would go to please the GOP, without success, of course: All the President’s Captors

THOSE desperate to decipher the baffling Obama presidency could do worse than consult an article titled “Understanding Stockholm Syndrome” in the online archive of The F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin. It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Soon enough, the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ “good side” and develop psychological characteristics to please them — “dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.”
This dynamic was acted out — yet again — in President Obama’s latest and perhaps most humiliating attempt to placate his Republican captors in Washington.

This column is a good companion to Paul Krugman’s latest in which he pretty much throws in the towel:

Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.


What’s even more puzzling is the apparent indifference of the Obama team to the effect of such gestures on their supporters. One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.

I would like to step back and address another issue: Obama’s preparedness and his personality to be POTUS.
Throughout the 2008 Primaries, Hillary Clinton kept making the point that she had garnered enough experience to get things moving in the right direction in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, that argument was ridiculed by Obama’s supporters. Now, it has become clear how detrimental Obama’s lack experience and knowledge of “Washington” is. Some of this is not necessarily Obama’s fault: Through his meteoric rise, Obama did not have the time to cultivate relationships necessary to get some things from law makers. Sadly, his cold and aloof personality just compounds the problem. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, political hacks from Politico, wrote a surprisingly insightful article laying some of these problems bare.

In his effort to change Washington, Obama has failed to engage Washington and its institutions and customs, leaving him estranged from the capital’s permanent power structure — right at the moment when Democrats say he must rethink his strategy for cultivating and nurturing relations with key constituencies ahead of 2012.

Then there are faux pas like these:

On their own, some gripes about Obama look like little more than trivial violations of Politics 101. But they have had the cumulative effect of leaving the president and his team isolated from many of the constituencies required for success in Washington:

— When Obama was giving the commencement address in the University of Michigan’s “Big House” stadium last May, he mingled in the home-team locker room with university deans and regents. Across the tunnel, in the visitors’ locker room, several members of Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation — including Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. — waited patiently.

Some had brought grandchildren so they could get their picture taken with the president. But they never got to see him. Obama didn’t cross the tunnel to see the lawmakers.

This is not how the President behaves towards elderly members of his own caucus. Worst of all, he is not not loyal at all.
Let’s take the case of Nancy Pelosi, who spent all her capital shepherding Obama’s agenda through the House. For that, she was vilified six ways from Sunday. Not too long ago, a poll showed that she was by far the political figure with the highest negatives. Not once did Obama come to her her defense. From the Politico article:

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) expressed a much deeper frustration to POLITICO: that the president never had House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s back — and it cost both of them. “They not only failed to defend her and her accomplishments on their behalf,” said Miller of the White House, “they failed to defend themselves.”

David Bromwich, in his article The Fastidious President, published in the London Review of books noticed that:

Obama does not like to be associated with defeat. He scuttled his support for several Democratic candidates – Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas – before election day when he came to believe that they would probably lose. He allowed his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, to say as early as last summer that the Democrats might well lose the House of Representatives. This degree of self-protectiveness is unpleasant in a politician, and is bound to make his party ask itself sooner or later: should we be more loyal to him than he is to us?

In Obama’s speeches the word ‘I’ (which appears frequently) and the word ‘Democrat’ (which appears rarely) are seldom found in proximity.

A combination of lack of experience and search for acceptance among the establishment is probably what explains some of his appointments. From David Bromwich:
We are learning now, from such sources as Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, about the oddness of some of the president’s other appointments and his treatment of them. General James Jones, whom Obama had never met, was asked to become national security adviser. Once chosen, he hardly ever saw the president alone. To head the CIA Obama picked Leon Panetta, a former congressman who had served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. Panetta was a complete outsider to the world of spies: it could have been predicted that he would be overawed by the company he now kept and come to defend their actions present and past with the anxiety of someone who has to prove himself.

And there’s this:

Of all Obama’s appointments, the most damaging to his credibility with liberal supporters were Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, the chief economic adviser and the secretary of the treasury. Geithner has the air of a perpetual young man looking out for the interests of older men: an errand boy. The older men in question are the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, AIG, and the big banks and money firms. Geithner at the New York Fed had enforced – or, rather, let flow – the permissive policy on mortgages that Summers pushed through in the last years of the Clinton presidency. Summers himself, renowned for his aggression and brilliance, came too highly recommended for Obama not to appoint him. (…) The Obama economic team, with its ‘deep bench’ of Goldman Sachs executives, might have done better if mixed with economists of other views like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. Obama knew little economics, however, and he took the word of the orthodox.

2nd school of thought: Obama is and has always been a Conservative. He is friendlier and more receptive to Right-wing ideas (err, if by ideas you mean with ideas, toxic and destructive thoughts) because he agrees with them. He despises the Left and he is about to destroy the soul of the Democratic Party. Oh, and his worship of Ronald Reagan should have seriously raised the red flag long time ago.

Adherents of this school of thoughts have become much more blunt and much more vocal lately.
Here’s Yellow Dog, in a post entitled We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For … Because Obama Isn’t:

It’s up to us, kids. This White House cannot lead, does not follow and will not get out of the way.

Face it: we elected a conservative.

Brilliant at Breakfast Jill doesn’t mince words either:

56% of American voters were hoodwinked by a guy who’s more like the Republicans than anyone even now wants to believe; a guy who BELIEVES in torture and assassination; a guy who BELIEVES in tax cuts for the wealthy and screw everyone else; a guy who WANTS endless war; a guy who is all about doing the bidding of corporations BECAUSE HE WANTS TO; a guy who feels every bit as “icky” about Teh Gays as John Edwards did, only who lacks even the courage that a weasel like John Edwards had to admit it; a guy who WANTS to gut Social Security and Medicare; a guy who decided to become president as a kind of ruling class internship; in which he spends four years doing Wall Street’s bidding in exchange for a nice eight-figure gig upon leaving office.

This group has very good reasons to adopt that opinion or to feel reinforced in it. Since the November 2 “shellacking”, Obama and his team has been sending out worrisome signals. Democrats have noticed and have began to seriously wonder. This explains why we have been seen a slew of stories like these recently:

  • On tax cuts, liberals wonder if Obama’s really got their back

    Democrats in Congress are largely united on the major issues before them this month: extending tax cuts for the middle class and the poor, but not the rich, before they expire Dec. 31, and giving more help to the long-term unemployed.

    Yet they’re unable to enact either provision because of united Republican opposition in the Senate. The Senate plans two test votes Saturday on the Democrats’ tax-cut extension plans, and GOP resistance is expected to block both efforts until the Bush-era tax reductions are extended for every income group.

    While most Democrats blame Republicans for the impasse, a lot of liberals are grumbling that President Barack Obama is hurting their cause by not fighting strongly and instead actively seeking compromise.

  • Democrats Spoiling To Fight GOP Blast Obama, Prep To Go Own Way

    Top Democratic activists and lawmakers who allege that President Obama blew it by being too passive during the midterm campaign, are responding in at least two ways.

    They continue to criticize the president heavily. And they’re not waiting around for the White House to ramp up anti-Republican aggression.

  • Democrats unhappy with Obama’s tactics plot change

    Many disaffected Democrats complain that the Obama administration needs to be more aggressive in advocating positions to rally the party’s base and differentiate it from the Republicans. White House officials who attended the Democracy Alliance meeting, including Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, were pressed about the administration’s stances on taxes, job creation and the environment.

  • This attitude has certainly be prompted by Obama’s eagerness to give away the Democrats’ bargaining chips before Roight-wingers even show up. You just need to open any newspaper to come across articles like these:

  • Obama, GOP in quiet talks to extend tax cuts

    The White House and congressional Republicans have begun working behind the scenes toward a broad deal that would prevent taxes from going up for virtually every U.S. family and authorize billions of dollars in fresh spending to bolster the economy.

  • Barack Obama’s deals may leave liberals behind

    Back from Afghanistan on Saturday, President Barack Obama will find on his desk a two-week stopgap spending bill, designed to keep the government running through Dec. 18 but also marking a deadline of sorts for the quick deals he needs on taxes, the START nuclear arms treaty and next year’s spending.

    Each issue has its own set of variables, but all are interwoven in what’s become a major test of Obama’s ability to cope with the resurgent Republican power after November’s elections.

    Democratic divisions make this task harder since the necessary compromises by Obama will almost certainly come at the expense of the left.

  • Many on the Left seem to have drawn the line on the tax cuts for gazillionaires. Michael Hudson wrote a terrific post at Credit Writedowns explaining what a horrible idea it is and called for a revolt. He is not alone:
    Mr. Obama’s Most Recent “2%” Sellout is his Worst Yet

    Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his willingness to renew the tax cuts enacted under George Bush for the super-rich ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks increasingly like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by his promise of an end to partisan politics?

    To better represent this group, I’ll leave the floor to my peeps at BAR. They have been the proponents of this school of thought since Obama started running for POTUS. So, take it away Glen Ford:
    Obama Moves Effortlessly to the Right

    Only fools should feel sorry for Obama as he prepares for a Republican-led House and weakened Democratic control of the Senate. This is Obama’s “comfort zone,” where he can continue to woo Republicans to join his grand center-right coalition. The only people Obama has no tolerance for are liberalish Democrats, who will emerge relatively stronger in the new Congress thanks to the decimation of Obama’s Republican-Lite friends in conservative Democratic ranks. By freezing federal wages, Obama signals that he has no philosophical problems with the GOP’s general aims.
    True to his center-right DNA, President Obama surrendered critical political ground to the GOP even as the lame duck Democratic Congress remains in session.

    What was that with the “Catfood Commission”?

    On Tuesday, Obama’s Frankenstein, the budget deficit reduction commission – a monstrosity he invented on his own volition, under no pressure whatsoever from his own party and relatively little from the GOP minority – emerged from solemn conclave to announce all 18 members will vote on a “final product” on Friday, December 3. Democratic co-chair Erskine Bowles, a rich former investment banker from North Carolina, and his Republican counterpart Alan Simpson, the troglodyte former Wyoming senator, had earlier released their own, shared vision of a low corporate tax rate, barely existing safety net future. The irascible Simpson predicted that progressives will react badly when they see the end result: “We will listen now in the next few days to the same old crap I’ve been dealing with all my public life: emotion, fear, guilt and racism.” He means that people will be calling him, accurately, a hardhearted, racist bastard.

    For full disclosure, I’m adherent of the 1st school of thought. However, I have noticed that 1st group is getting thinner by the day and that it’s members have either been tuning out, getting cynical, or joining the 2nd school of thought. For example here are some of the post on Brad Delong’s blog, just in the last 2 days:

  • Department of “Huh?!” (Is Barack Obama Stupid? Edition)
  • Can Obama Really Lose a Fight When He Has Two-Thirds of Voters on His Side?
  • Barack Obama Once Again Goes Off Message
  • Mark Thoma Watches the Obama Administration Work So Very Hard to Go Off Message