and now there are none.

These quotes are attributed to Benjamin Disraeli (late 1800’s) but might well serve us today. I've changed a few of them but I don't think that Ben would mind)

To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection, it is plunder.

John Boehner has not a single redeeming defect. (I’ve substituted John Boehner for William Gladstone)

Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay. (a lesson Obama and his administration have yet to learn)

You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public life.

The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps. (what the Republicans want to do with the current “debt crisis” in order to replay today’s events during Obama’s presidential campaign)

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader? (another lesson Obama hasn’t learned)

If Obama fell into the Potomac, that would be a misfortune, and if anyone pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity. (I’ve substituted Obama for Gladstone and Potomac for Thames)

Life is too short to be small. (yet another lesson Obama missed)

On the education of the people of this country the fate of the country depends. (never truer, never more readily ignored)

If you are not very clever you should be conciliatory. (this lesson, sadly, Obama has learned all too well)

Great countries are those that produce great people. (and where are ours?)

There is no gambling like politics. (the two parties are now betting the country)

We moralise among ruins. (the ruins are all around us)

The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.

Action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.

That fatal drollery called a representative government. (the U.S. government now represents the rich)

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable, for in politics there is no honour.

In politics, nothing is contemptible.

I repeat that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that from the people, and for the people all springs, and all must exist. (few, if any, of the current crop of politicians understand this or, if they do, they ignore it)

Success is the child of audacity.


Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

"Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay. (a lesson Obama and his administration have yet to learn)"

True, but the kind of publicity I'd like to see coming out of the White House would represent a credible sea change in their entire mind-set. As long as Tim Geithner and the rest of his advisers are running policy, I don't think I want publicity from them that would result in public support of their plans for this nation.

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

Maybe in many respects you're right, Zenzoe, but I believe Obama truly wanted a comprehensive health care package and he flubbed it by not getting a clear, firm message out to the public. The same with this debt charade. I believe he would prefer not to touch either Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare but he failed to properly inform and engage the public. He has yet to explain clearly to a largely ignorant public just how Social Security works. It wouldn't take a half hour and could be tailored to fit, say, a 6th grade education level. He has allowed the Republicans to control the debate. Now, I could be wrong and his action, or lack of action, in these cases has been deliberate.

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

These paragraphs are only a few from Robert Reich's blog post. He, too, cannot understand why Obama fails to explain - to lay out the facts - to the public. The last two paragraphs are particularly depressing.

Don’t Fall for the GOP Lie: There is No Budget Crisis. There’s a Job and Growth Crisis.


He is well aware that the Great Recession wiped out $7.8 trillion of home values, crushing the nest eggs and eliminating the collateral that had allowed the middle class to keep spending despite declining real wages — a decrease in consumption that’s directly responsible for the anemic recovery.

But instead of explaining this to the American people, he joins the GOP in making a fetish of reducing the budget deficit, and enters into a hair-raising game of chicken with House Republicans over whether the debt ceiling will be raised.

Never once does he tell the public why reducing the deficit has become his number one economic priority. Americans can only conclude that the Republicans must be correct — that diminishing the deficit will somehow revive economic growth and restore jobs.

Instead of powerful explanations we get the type of bromides that issue from every White House. America must “win the future,” Obama says, by which he means making public investments in infrastructure, education, and basic R&D. But then he submits a budget proposal that would cut nondefense discretionary spending (of which these investments constitute more than half) to its lowest level as a share of gross domestic product in over half a century.

A president can be forgiven for compromising, if his base understands why he is doing so. That the health-care law doesn’t include a public option, that financial reform doesn’t limit the size of the biggest Wall Street banks, even that cuts may have to be made to Medicare or Social Security — all could be accepted in light of the practical necessities of politics, if only we understood where the President is leading us.

Why is Obama not using the bully pulpit? Perhaps he’s too embroiled in the tactical maneuvers that pass for policy making in Washington, or too intent on preserving political capital for the next skirmish, or cynical about how the media will relay or distort his message. He may also disdain the repetition necessary to break through the noise and drive home the larger purpose of his presidency. I have known (and worked for) presidents who succumbed to all these, at least for a time.

A more disturbing explanation is that he simply lacks the courage to tell the truth. He wants most of all to be seen as a responsible adult rather than a fighter. As such, he allows himself to be trapped by situations — the debt-ceiling imbroglio most recently — within which he tries to offer reasonable responses, rather than be the leader who shapes the circumstances from the start.

Obama cannot mobilize America around the truth, in other words, because he is continuously adapting to the prevailing view. This is not leadership.

Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

I don't know why, Alberto, Robert Reich would be surprised about Obama's failure to use the bully pulpit on behalf of demand-side economics or a single payer health care program. After all, how often has Obama consulted Reich himself on these issues? Not much, apparently. Rather, as I've mentioned before, all you have to do is look at the people Obama surrounds himself with, the people he's really listening to, and you begin to see what side he's really on. As I've also mentioned before, look at his economic team—you'll see Hudson Institute (Rand corporation associations—"commitment to free markets and individual responsibility..." Hudson inst.), Goldman Sachs affiliations, the CEO of GE; Lawrence Summers; the National Economic Council, with Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs) who was instrumental in the abolishment of the Glass-Steagall Act.

The fact is, in his heart of hearts he is not a liberal. He is more like a moderate Republican. When he uses the bully pulpit, it's going to be to promote trickle-down economics. He's plenty audacious, alright—if betraying the symbolic promise of his presidency can be described as audacious.

Gonads are not required here; we've had enough of that. A combination of brains and heart, and a little less attachment to campaign financing, seems to be a better mix.

Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

Huh? I doubt it, Alberto.

Why would you be banned? I don't remember seeing anything all that outrageous from you.

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

Thanks Zenzoe. My post had disappeared yesterday but this morning I found it in my "historical" folder and I've reposted it with comments and all. I must have made a mistake somehow and temporarily removed it myself. I owe a deep apology for my nasty thoughts about thought police. I jumped to obviously unwarranted conclusions. I've deleted my "MISSING POST - BANNING PROBABLE." I hope not too many read it.

Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

I just wanted to reiterate the point that it's not that Obama has either "caved" to conservatives, or that he's really a liberal who just doesn't use his bully pulpit powers adequately. To think so is to be blind to his true character and political bent.

(I post, below, an entire article from, since I have the impression my links are not followed.)

Published on Saturday, July 30, 2011 by
Time to Reset Our Moral Compass
by Norman Mathews

Progressives are suffering from debilitating cognitive dissonance. Incapable of reconciling President Obama’s rhetoric with his actions, they have created an elaborate, but flimsy, structure of rationales to harmonize this dissonance. These rationales began shortly after Obama took office, with progressives blaming all those nasty triangulating, progress-by-tiny-increment advisers from the Clinton Administration, who were leading him astray from his principles. From the outset, the Administration supplied it’s own excuses for its failure to achieve audacious goals: “Change comes slowly” and “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Then, despite control of the House and a sizable Democratic majority in the Senate, the party was deemed the problem, because it couldn’t keep its troops in line to get the 60 votes required to pass his agenda. This morphed into a much larger obstacle—the Republicans, following the 2010 landslide. In the recent debt-ceiling debate (and particularly with progressives’ denial that he would actually cut Social Security and Medicare) we’ve seen a rebirth of the meme: “He's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.” Numerous current articles indicate that we now face an epidemic of “he’s just not a competent negotiator” rationale.

Dorothy ParkerIn the 1930s, Dorothy Parker said, “Which is worse—the perpetrators of injustice or those who are blind to it?”Glenn Greenwald adroitly addressed this in his April 14, article, “Why Do We Assume Obama’s Actually Trying to Enact a Progressive Agenda.” The crisis is now so threatening that a rational mind can no longer make such excuses credible. His supporters correctly maintain that he’s a man of extraordinary intelligence. They seem blissfully unaware that it is impossible to hold this belief concurrently with the notion that he is just not capable of learning the most basic negotiation skills, or that his advisers, who have been both hardened politicians and businessmen and who, after all, include a vice president who was a senator since 1972, are incapable of instructing him in these arts.

Let’s look at the argument that his advisers are preventing him from delivering on campaign promises. Name a manager any field who is not held ultimately responsible for hiring choices. Again, if we assume that the fault is with the advisers, we must concede that Obama was so politically ill informed or did such a poor job interviewing these people that he had no idea what they stood for—not to mention that he refused to fire them upon learning they were reading from a different play script. Further, we would have to entertain the absurd idea that he is powerless to override his appointees’ suggestions. Beyond that, we would have to acknowledge that not only did he make poor choices with his first appointments, but also that he chose badly the second time around, i.e. William Daley and Jeffrey Immelt.

We are long past the expiration date for denying that the Obama we now know— through his actions rather than his words —is anything other than the real Obama. We must come to grips with the fact that much of the rhetoric we heard during the campaign was fraudulent—or more charitably, that we heard only what we wanted to hear. How many ominous signals did we ignore during the campaign?

• The choice of Joe Lieberman as his mentor in the Senate. And his campaign on behalf of Lieberman over the anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.

• NAFTA. Obama professed to seeking changes in this trade law, but when he was about to give a speech in Ohio (a state devastated by NAFTA), Austin Goolsbee delivered a message to Michael Wilson, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S., that his criticisms of the agreement should be considered campaign rhetoric, not to be taken too seriously.

• Reagan as hero: "I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

• FISA. Though an Obama campaign statement declared, “Senator Obama is unequivocally opposed to retroactive immunity,” for telecom companies participating in Bush’s warrantless wiretappging, he still voted in the telecoms’ favor.

• Safety net. Politico pointed out before inauguration that Obama echoed “Bush’s claim of an entitlement ‘crisis’, warning of ‘red ink as far as the eye can see’ in Social Security and Medicare. Obama promised that those programs would be a ‘central part’ of his plan to reduce the federal deficit.”

Should liberals blame themselves, as so many are suggesting, for missing these red flags? How can we when so many were convinced of his sincerity? He is the most gifted orator in generations. He made us hear what he wanted us to hear. We so needed to find hope after eight dispiriting years under Bush that we had to believe—the alternative, that he was just another slick-talking politician, would have been nihilistic.

We must stop making excuses for him and stop blaming ourselves for blindly supporting him. Rather, our fault lies in not holding him accountable and pushing back firmly when early in his presidency it was clear that he was not putting up even an appearance of fighting for the changes he promised.

If memory serves, it was during a press conference in which he was defending himself against socialism charges that he astoundingly said: “In many places in the world, I would be considered a conservative.” This may be the most revealingly honest statement he has made, but it’s certainly not what his campaign was about.

By continuing to absolve him, we are unable to move forward with any progressive policies or to demonstrate to Congressional Democrats that we still hold firm beliefs in justice and fairness. The madness of the Republicans has lowered the bar to such an extent that Obama’s capitulations seem sensible by comparison. In the 1930s, Dorothy Parker said, “Which is worse—the perpetrators of injustice or those who are blind to it?” Friends complained about Bush’s war mongering and civil rights abuses, declaring, “Not in my name, do you do this.” Now Obama is expanding these wars (note the Administration’s drive to convince Iraqis to let our troops remain beyond the signed deadline—and remember, ending the Iraq war was central to his campaign). He also is accelerating civil rights abuses, yet I hear not a word of criticism from these same friends. Our silence is surely leading to the death of liberalism—and of hope. What sort of moral compass allows us to condemn actions by one administration only to be silent (complicit?) when our own candidate commits them?

We sit passively as Obama appears intent on proving that his hero, Ronald Reagan, was right: “Government IS the problem.” Progressives must not allow this to happen.

Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

Strange, I suppose, but my spirits are raised simply in speaking the truth, even if the truth is an unhappy one.

Regardless, I love that song. Didn't know Peter could sing like that, either. & you can always count on Placido, eh?

Also, try this one, Alberto, with your eyes closed:

Just goes to prove that outrage and anger often have a deep and powerful idealism underneath. The trick is to make sure you're on the good side of human evolution. Even Anders Behring Breivik had an impossible dream...

So much for sentiment. (My grandmother used to insist there's a big difference between sentiment and sentimentality, the former being worthy of us, the latter not.)

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

I just listened to Luther Vandross. Great. Moving. Also, I added this to one of my earlier comments but you might miss it (and it's worth while for laughs) so here, in a new comment:

A little humor never hurt either. A friend just reminded me of this skit by Randy Newman:

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

Zenzoe, we cannot expect anything reasonable from either Congress or the president. People must, must, take things into their own hands. If not the U.S. is done.

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

Zenzoe, thanks for posting this fine article. I've posted similar thoughts (some even stronger) of Robert Reich and Paul Krugman. Ralph Nader, on Democracy Now, bluntly called him a coward. I believe I've used pretty strong language here as well. I cringe each time I see someone call him "intelligent." Unfortunately even folks like Robert Reich, in the midst of their sharp critism, continue to credit him with intelligence. We just can't believe that anymore based on Obama's performance BUT with this caveat: if his true objective is to destroy the middle class, the progressives and the liberals and turn the country over to the radical rich then he is indeed intelligent. I believe that's exactly what you've been telling me. I don't disagree with you though at times it may seem that way. Obama, I believe, is the worst president this country has ever had, and in a time in our history that cried out for a strong, mature leader of conscience and ability. My fear is that he will be re-elected. No one has shown the courage up to now to engage in the fight, to oppose Obama right from the start in the primaries. He's vulnerable, his approval rating right now is the lowest in his presidency. Good people must come forward, now, and those of us disenchanted with Obama must support them. Whether that would be enough to counter the apathy and ignorance of the general public is questionable.

I posted this as response to Lefty on another blog thinking that it might raise his spirits a bit. Maybe this from "Man of La Mancha" will help lift yours as well: and the version by my favorite tenor Placido Domingo:

Alberto Ceras 8 years 11 weeks ago

I just noticed that if you edit a previous comment it throws everything out of sequence.

Zenzoe 8 years 11 weeks ago

Funny Randy Newman bit, Alberto. Ameri-duh?

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