Obama's appeal to SF's divided Left draws mixed reactions


President Barack Obama has a divided political base, as local Democrats who showed up at the Laborers Local 261 hall last night to hear his nomination acceptance speech were immediately reminded by leftist protesters. And despite the belief by some true believers that his speech won over its target audience, I have my doubts.

Courage to Resist and its allies from Code Pink, the Occupy movement, and other groups targeted this Democratic County Central Committee watch party (and 24 others around the country) with an appeal that Obama free Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of turning over classified documents to Wikileaks who has been kept in solitary confinement for almost two years without trial.

“President Obama needs to live up to his promise to protect whistleblowers,” said Jeff Paterson, founder of Courage to Resist and himself a Gulf War resister (and coincidentally the ex-boyfriend of newly elected DCCC member Kat Anderson). For more on that protest, read this.

DCCC member Hene Kelly (and a phalanx of SFPD cops) helped keep the entrance clear – something the good-natured protesters didn't seem to threaten – and said she understood their perspective: “They're here because they have a right to ask President Obama to free Bradley Manning, and I agree with them.”

But inside, DCCC Chair Mary Jung wasn't so happy about this rain on their parade, telling the Guardian that she supported the ideas behind Occupy but said, “I think the message is misdirected at us,” ticking off Democratic Party positions on same sex marriage, immigration reform, and other issues.

When I told her that the protest was actually about Manning, whose fate is pretty clearly in the hands of Obama and his appointees, she offered this hopeful assessment: “I would hope it's going to work it's way through the courts as it's supposed to. There is a process.”

When I tried to get District Attorney George Gascon's take on whether that process comports with normal legal and civil rights standards, he told us, “I have no opinion. I need to digest the information a little more.” (That was more than Willie Brown offered, with the former mayor, unregistered political lobbyist, and San Francisco Chronicle columnist responding to my questions with, “I'm a columnist. I don't make comments to other newspapers,” after he gave a speech to the gathered Democrats.)

But it didn't take Gascon long to digest Obama's speech, telling us afterward, “I think he hit it out of park. If this doesn't get the enthusiasm up, nothing will.”

Yet my reaction, and most that I've heard since then from people who listened to the speech, wasn't quite so enthusiastic. Yes, Obama had some good lines, and yes, he fairly effectively countered many of the Republican misrepresentations of his record and ability to quickly turn around the failing economy he inherited. And yes, I think the substance and messaging were more progressive than his centrist acceptance speech of four years ago.

“Times have changed and so have I,” Obama declared at one point.

But this is a party that still shares the same basic paradigm as the Republican Party, this story of American exceptionalism, protected by noble military “heroes” and guided by altruistic virtues, working within an economic system that can just keep growing and expanding the prosperity of US citizens indefinitely – the kind of rhetoric that still drove the crowd to a jingoistic chant of “USA, USA, USA!” at one point.

Yet it was a crowd where not a single person in the local hall applauded or cheered for this line by Obama: “Our country only works when we accept our obligation to each other and future generations.” He's right, but he's also been running the country in a way that robs from future generations in many realms (debt, infrastructure, global warming, energy, education, etc.) and doesn't address our obligation to the protesters out front and the valid perspective that they represent.

“There are many shades of blue in the Democratic Party. We're all blue,” Jung told me.

Perhaps that true, because I felt a little blue coming away from this event, but maybe not in the sense that Jung intended.


Because they have nowhere else to go. Likewise he doesn't need to court blacks - they have even less choice.

So Obama will say nice to the liberal wing, but he knows that, with Mitt level on polls and ahead in some key swing states, he cannot afford to sound too "scary left".

The American moderate middle-classes who will decide this election don't have any place for socialism, except maybe in a cold war bunker somewhere.

I think the SFBG sometimes forgets just how far out of left field they really are, nationally.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

"He's right, but he's also been running the country in a way that robs from future generations in many realms (debt, infrastructure, global warming, energy, education, etc.)"

Just to flesh out the "etc." and drive the point home: One the ways he's been robbing from future generations in his extra-constitutional activities mentioned in your article.

Obama needs to disavow his outrageous practices; the kill list, indefinite detention. Support for Obama is a non-starter otherwise.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

Without the support of purity progressives like yourself.

Posted by Troll II on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

progressive," eh?

Well, then lets have a term for the slob Democrats and reactionary pretenders who just can't be bothered to care about the legacy handed down to us through the hands of many past American patriots -- some of whom didn't get to die peacefully in their sleep -- and the legacy stemming from the tribulation of peasantry who lived and died under monarchal dictatorship and the great philosophers who reasoned out a better way.

Hmm... just call them slobs. Short, and to-the-point.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 7:07 pm
Posted by Troll II on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

You should know by now that only registered lobbyists and major campaign contributors are allowed to try to influence President Obama. Anyone else who tries to will be called names and accused of supporting Mitt Romney or, even worse, Ron Paul.

Posted by Alan on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 8:19 am

"Yet it was a crowd where not a single person in the local hall applauded or cheered for this line by Obama: 'Our country only works when we accept our obligation to each other and future generations.' He's right, but he's also been running the country in a way that robs from future generations in many realms (debt, infrastructure, global warming, energy, education, etc.) and doesn't address our obligation to the protesters out front and the valid perspective that they represent."

Does anyone on the left buy his rhetoric after he turned his back on his progressive base? Good job of reporting.

Posted by lp on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

What's the problem with debt for non inflationary expenses like Medicare and Social Security when the US Government has the power to fashion up an unlimited supply of dollars?

Posted by marcos on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

Doing that would simply cause inflation throughout the economy.

Posted by D. Native on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

Price Inflation only happens when wages rise faster than prices. Devaluation of the dollar as forex raises the price of imports.

The proof of this was when the banks injected trillions of dollars in shadow credit into the economy for mortgages. This drove up the price of housing alone and the cheap money had a side effect of driving up the stock market due to leveraged speculation.

Nobody had any problem when inflation was confined to housing and stocks, at least not until the bubble burst.

Maintaining the current levels of Medicare and Social Security does not inject any more money into the demand side that the economy has not yet adapted to. Therefore it does not contribute to rising wages which proxies out to consumer demand.

The only reason there is debt is because Congress has delegated its constitutional authority to the Fed. There is a growing consensus that the Fed is not the apolitical authority that it was supposed to be. If we're going to have a politicized monetary policy, then let's have one that reflects the political branches of government instead of the mega banks that take a cut off of lending us the money that we create.

Exercising monetary sovereignty and printing our own money instead of authorizing for-profit banks to lend it to us would free up tens of billions each year to be spent on worthy projects.

Ideally, the government fixes holes in demand by printing money to inject into the economy through spending or grants. When there is too much money in the economy, then the government applies the brakes to the top end of the cycle through taxation, withdrawing money from the economy by extinguishing it.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

inflation, because it is such a alrge debtor, and debtors always love inflation and hate deflation.

So as long as Obama wants to spend annually a trillion more than he earns, then he needs to print money to bail himself out.

The alternative would be to slash public spending but of course politicians always talk about that, but never actually deliver it.

And the funny thing is that we all know this and yet we vote for it anyway.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 08, 2012 @ 8:38 am

Lemme get this straight--you free marketeers want it so that the prices of good and services are determined by market forces, supply and demand, but you also want it so that the supply of currency is constrained as to restrict supply and conserve purchasing power as if that alone will keep prices of goods and services low enough that you will have the illusion that your currency has retained its "value?"

Currency has no value in and of itself. Tangible goods and services have value and are priced in terms of currency.

No matter what the currency is based on, if there is a shortage of any good or service, then the price of that good and service will rise and your currency will appear to be less valuable as it has less purchasing power for that good or service. Likewise, if there is an oversupply and low demand for something, then its price will fall irrespective how the currency is managed.

The only time that printing money causes generalized inflation is when the aggregate number of dollars, for instance, increases across the broad economy through rising wages. Wages are falling, so it would take herculean efforts to cause price inflation now.

Forex inflation is another thing entirely which has to do with the number of dollars in circulation the total exports of an economy and perceptions on the future of both factors.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 9:14 am

No government can simply print more money to get itself out of a fiscal mess. It does totally devalues the currency and causes inflation. If a government could do wht you suggest and not cause problems, why wouldn't every government do it? South American countries and other third world countries have tried this and all is causes is a mess.

Posted by D. Native on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 10:57 am

It fascinates me that liberals always want to control wages and prices, but then want absolute freedom to print and borrow as much money as it takes to throw at their pork projects and special interest groups.

Obama has increased the natioanl debt by 50% in just four years, and the solution to that is NOT to increase it by another 50%.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 11:20 am

The liberals at the Federal Reserve on Wall Street conjured up $15,000,000,000,000 to throw at mortgages and to make the banks whole on their failed gambles.

You were saying something about how printing up money causes runaway price inflation again?

Posted by marcos on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

a sensible economic strategy, but of course you must be aware of the truth that it is hopeless to convince the trolls to whom you are responding.

Two instructive CSPAN2 shows this weekend: one, an interview with well known economic and tax analysts Barlett and Steele by semi-conservative but sometimes reasonable Juan Williams, and the other, a talk by renowned right-wing nut bag Dinesh D'souza.

Barlett and Steele expound on the economic and tax policy in a sound logical manner as you do, while D'souza has seemingly increased his capacity for irrational excess beyond mortal bounds.

We are two nations, and one half has had some process worked upon it which is in all practical respects a lobotomization.

D'native, matlock, troll II and others of their ilk are *not* "moderates" in any sense of the term.

These are full blooded right wing ideologues and propaganists, and their pretense to the contrary is only a feeble ploy to falsely adopt for themselves some stature, some degree of respectability, which their true natures cannot give them; i.e. "concern trolls"

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

It was just the usual rant about Wall Street, and the "one percent" and all the other generic gibberish that the far left trot out, while all of about five people nod sagely.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 1:43 am

And the reason why it is a good idea for a cartel of private bankers to lend the government the money that the government creates out of thin air again and thus saddle further generations with intolerable debt is what again?

Posted by marcos on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

because you've shown yourself to be a bastion of open-mindedness.
The irony of you of all people calling others ideologues and propaganists.
you're quite the piece of work

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

I agree. Absolutely. Let's just print a lot of money and all our problems will be solved.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

On cannabis, Obama and Biden make Bush and Cheney look like Cheech and Chong.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

Dear Democratic Party:

If you bring Gabby Giffords to say the Pledge of Allegiance, you have to bring up the issue of gun control somewhere in your speeches or platform.

If you slam Republicans for foreign policy naivete, you have to explain why you just pissed off 1.5 billion Muslims by giving away all of Jerusalem to Israel as its capital.

If you boast of taking out Osama Bin Laden by saying if someone kills innocent Americans we will follow them to the ends of the earth, you have to explain why it is all right to kill innocent civilians in Yemen with drone strikes when there is no legal framework for US attacks on Yemen.

If you slam Mitt on Afghanistan policy, you have to explain why your Afghanistan "surge" was not a failure.

If you keep invoking the 'scripture' and 'God' you have to explain why we shouldn't just let the Republican evangelicals run things.

If you say you care about global warming and the rising seas, you have to explain why you are praising more oil and gas drilling.

If you praise the Arab masses' striving for rights, you have to explain why you continued in force the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act here at home through 2014, which allows warrantless surveillance of Americans of the sort deployed by Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Qaddafi on their populations.


Posted by Guest on Sep. 08, 2012 @ 11:20 am

The cops were there in force because...the "city family" loves nothing better than OVERTIME PAY!

The leftist don't like private-sector, blue-collar union members.

They only like public-sector unions (SEIU) scrambling around city hall for dollars.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

what's a Feltist?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

Saying that Obama will make any significant difference compared to Romney is like saying that you can treat cancer with aspirin.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 7:31 am

on gay rights, no difference between the two?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 2:07 pm