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Obama's tightrope

by melo Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:14:18 PM EST

 Obama's redefining centrism, walking a tightrope between the plangent wails (free health care for all, yesterday!) and brassy challenges (legalise weed!) of the extreme left, and the immense forces invested in the status quo, brittly unwilling to give up their perks under the old, dying system.
  So he throws bones to both sides so they quit yapping and snapping. No more missile defence, but bases, no more Iraq, (eventually), and more Afghanistan. Yes on FISA, yes on greening the grid. Close Gitmo, expand Baghram, etc.


  It's not pretty or safe, driving in the middle of the road, but he's already won the popularity sweeps, now he has to pull the rabbit of recovery out of the wolf-jaws of inflation and deflation, moving quickly and decisively, without losing his grip on the public imagination as doler of mojo extraordinaire.
  Unfortunately for the more thinking, feeling types, (and even more unfortunate, innocent Afghani civilians), Obama can't force the pentagon, big pharma, big banking, the agri/food scandal 'policy-makers', coal/oil/nuke companies, homeland security, the cops/prison business and compagnia bella to go cold turkey. As it is, the course he's taking as a centrist in times like these, with the likes of Limbaugh whipping up the hate, and many very powerful people who stand to lose what they're most attached to, makes his enterprise enough of a life-risk, such as only very few would have the courage to make his mission.
  Just undoing the damage of the Bush years would be an Herculean challenge for any leader, then when you think he has to also uproot attitudes that have been embedded in the US psyche since practically its inception, the more extreme practitioners of which will stop at nothing to obstruct this (beginning of a) redistribution of wealth, screeching 'socialism' and the 'death of the American dream', 'family values' and the rest of their musty catalogue, to increasing ridicule, as more and more thinking, sentient people are grateful for a leader who can string three sentences together, keep cool under pressure, and dole out hope to the desperate like soup to the hungry. With self-possession of that calibre, no-one has used the 'flip-flopper' tag that was thrown around so freely back and forth, thankfully!
  The continued frenzied destruction of neocon hegemony as daily horror show seems like a near-death experience/nightmare we've just awoken from recently, (unless you're looking at Gaza) but even though his election has downshifted (some of the most execrable parts of) that nightmare for the moment, Obama knows he only has one shot at doing the dauntingly near-impossible, uniting the most disparate collection of people possibly ever to collect under one flag, shepherding them through the valley of shadow of economic depression, maintaining relatively civil society into a new era where Americans can feel more proud of their government, and travel even the Moslem world without feeling hated.
  If he puts the brakes on the juggernaut too hard, it'll catch fire. Being more (to scary levels, I find) pragmatist than anything else, neither utopian, nor authoritarian, he will have already done the moral math, and calculated he'll (maybe just) squeak out ahead, if he can keep the rhetoric abreast of the unwinding economic reality, and if Americans who previously thought themselves as candidates for Wall St. hijinks, or some such tomfool chicanery, can get their heads around being happy they have a job at all, even if it is weatherproofing houses, laying rail track or looking after old boomers. The soaring rhetoric is the sugar to help swallow his advice to lower expectations of an easy or quick fix.
  He's got quite the challenge cut out for him. Nothing short of epic, in fact. That tightrope is strung so tight it's fraying, and the rope itself is covered with ground glass, like an Afghan kitestring.
  And the winds of change pick up speed more strongly every day. To make them well winds that blow good, they'll need a lot of new turbines for that shiny new grid, so our interests don't have to include fossil fuels under someone else's sand.
  Good luck, Mr President, you are the best hope we have! Speaking as a European, may I say that we need change almost as badly as America did under Bush, especially as way too many of our 'leaders' thought his lap was the right place to be. We don't want you as leader, but we earnestly hope your actions as most powerful human being on the planet will inspire movement towards more caring, equitable and transparent forms of government also here, on this side of the Atlantic.

  Please, reread your history, and reconsider your plans for Afghanistan. That hatred of America over there was engendered by policies of an old, failed administration puffed up with hubris-as-policy and in bloody love with some messianic biblical-era concept of 'smiting', and certainly doesn't need any more petrol on the fire. Clean your own hearth, and foreign relations will certainly take a mighty turn for the better, sharing in the downwind benefits of that overdue set of actions.

Display:
Extreme left?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:46:00 PM EST
"free health care for all, yesterday - is a bit extreme - isn't it ? :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
"free health care for all, yesterday - is a bit extreme - isn't it ? :-)

thanks Ted, that one slipped through the net!

animal spirits, irrational exuberance...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:47:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, good one!

baby steps...

maybe he has to make it through scylla and charybdis before he sprouts ailerons and turns gasoline into algae biodiesel.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the stark raving unwillingness of the US "left" to think about any of Obama's problems realistically or even to believe their own rhetoric about the structural nature of the US system is pathetic. The same chuckleheads who blather on about "hegemony" and "corporate state" seem to believe that the President can snap his hands and change the entire economic order of the nation in an instant. The US left couldn't win a game of wits with a dead Republican.
by rootless2 on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 09:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
The US left couldn't win a game of wits with a dead Republican.

dittoheads have ant power...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 01:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, as always, a seemingly-endless supply of suckers who'll buy into any rural white dipshit who calls himself a "populist".  And there's an obsession with framing among them -- you know them, as they're the Rosenbergs and Sirotas and Bowerses -- that I find both useless and pathetic.  I guess it's because I'm not a proper "progressive" that I can't appreciate the constant need to obsess over words.

To me, it's a bunch of pampered pseudo-academics sitting around listening to each other talk about Important Things.  It's the same garbage you can find in the Washington Post, except that Gene Robinson and EJ Dionne aren't idiots, and at least Charles Krauthammer and George Will don't sit there lecturing me about what being an OutsiderTM is all about (and, yes, it's just as ridiculous coming from David Sirota, formerly of the House Appropriations Committee and AIPAC, as it would be coming from those two).

This rhetoric crap might be useful when faced with a fairly stale electorate with a rigid ideology, but this ain't the 1990s, and Luntz and Penn's time has passed.  Word games don't cut it.  Telling people what you want to do, and why, in a simple, raw way is "in".  And that is the fundamental failure of much of the "activist left".

(And "activist," my ass, these clowns didn't do anything but sit around bitching during the campaign.)

It's about them saying, "We know, and anybody who questions us is subject to accusations of 'Hero Worship'."  Now that we're discovering that Obama is not the Second Coming of Something Really Bad (whatever the fuck that is this week), they're looking much like the court jesters many of us saw them for long ago, and they're retreating into ever-sillier discussions of word games.

My hope is that, one of these days, the Very Important People -- not to be confused with the Very Serious People, of course -- in the blogosphere will admit that they are, in fact, morons, and that the rest of us aren't the silly and naive filth that they believe we are.  I'm not optimistic.

But somebody's got to fill (as Al Giordano rightly called it) the Matt Stoller Memorial Dunce Stool, so whatever.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 11:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Good luck, Mr President, you are the best hope we have!"

True, and, given recent US voting (and allowed vote-fixing), we're very lucky to even have such hope. Better to give him what backing one can in trying to deal with the incredible mess he's taken on, than deplore any deviation from what we think he ought to do. There's a lot to be grateful for already - all that money for the health system.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:40:07 PM EST
  Yup, we are. It's very difficult to be a centrist, (a bit like a triple agent), you attract the most vitriol because you don't render satisfaction to either pole. If you play it right, and I think we're seeing some artful, long game moves, you reach the millions of folks who don't want to care about politics, (that's what they pay pols for), through sheer common sense, and because times are hard, a lot of rock just revealed to be styrofoam, people are flocking to a pol who symbolises a new way of doing the prez thing, just by the colour of his skin, leave aside the strato-speechifying.
 He has to watch his footing, no US prez, in fact no state leader has ever been under such microscopic global media scrutiny.
 By going to the people directly with his rhetoric, he bypasses politics-as-usual, and yet still not be so populist that he leaves behind too many of those vested interests that bought him his dance card, be they the hopes of the poor volunteers who worked their tushies off networking and knocking on doors to get out the vote, and the big wheels behind the little wheels, to whom he still appears to be doffing his cap.
Pro forma...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I look forward to getting a sense of it all when I hit LAX in a month.

I don't mind being hard on him though. There's no long-term strategic sense to a couple of the things he has allowed.

Nor do I accept that the American left is a bunch of bumbling idiots. The Environment Resources Defense Council, The Working Assets Group, and many others kept pressure on the system, to not let all of the US go into Phlegyas's little boat. The Climate Change crowd did wonders in keeping the noise level up when in a perfect 1984 world, Cheney would have had won that thought-police battle as well.

Continuously pushing to the left also gives the putzes we call leaders some feel that there is some room to move. I won't say that my milque-toast version of a congress-critter, Adam Schiff, has gotten any better, but he seems to have lost some of that 'always cater to the least offensive position' attitude. Expecting them to actually lead may be to much, but encouraging them to grow some attitudes isn't bad.

The fact is that the USian population has been out in front of the leaders for a long time with many of the issues. If the opposition had actually been an opposition and made their points to the constituency, we would not be in the place we are now.

I do acknowledge that Obama is 'leading' for a change, and educating his public correctly and consistently. How responsible is that? But the rest of the band has to learn some jazz or it is just a holding pattern until the right figure out how to beat this latest weed patch to their plans.

Great essay Melo.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:41:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As FD Roosevelt is reputed to have said:  "I agree with you, now MAKE me do it".  Obama needs an active left criticising him to allow him to continue to appear to be a centrist...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Overton window, in other words.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and he also needs an active left cheering what things they do welcome after the eight-year nightmare. It"s very easy to sit on the sidelines saying "Why don't you do more".

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 03:06:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well said, Ted.

Obama may be a closet progressive, but he'll need a lot of support to come out, and it won't be overnight.

he's wise enough to start with the basics, economy, health, more social justice.

if we're wise we'll cheer even incremental positive growth. he has a lot to do in a short time, and the repubs will try to spoke his wheels as hard as they can, that's why the centre is where he's invested himself. if he pulls the Great Apathetic left from where it is now by concrete improvements to many levels of society, then his political capital will be sufficient to outweigh the fossilised holdovers that are stymieing so much good change.

to not expect too much too fast, yet still goad him on, seems to be the best balance.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, to bite the hand that pats me on the head :-) - I don't like stuff like "the Great Apathetic left". That's as easy as criticising Obama for not doing more. I wonder just how many leftists were out doing the hard work getting people to vote - quite a few I imagine - with historic voting levels - not entirely due to Obama's web site. Some of the left works bloody hard with minimal resources to combat the heavily financed right-wing think tanks, lobbyists, TV and radio stations, etc. The Twank's introduction (for me) of TPM the other night gave an example.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:58:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, ted, i wasn't clear enough, i meant 'left' as direction, not noun. try rereading the phrase with that in mind, please.

here's another important clue to O's unifying rhetoric.

Daily Kos: Obama's historic speech, Republican nightmare

I have never seen an issue thought so partisan to one party to be framed so powerfully in the rhetoric of the other party.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:15:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we need to remember the scale of Obama's ambition.  It's not just about winning the next mid-terms or the next Presidential election, it's about overturning 30 years of Reaganomics and (hopefully) enabling at least a generation of Democratic rule.  To do this he needs to shift the Overton window of what is "normal" gradually, and also to avoid serious defeats which might stall his momentum.  

So long as he keeps winning and moving things in the right direction he is also undermining the basis of any possible Republican comeback.  He he avoids overreaching there is no limit to what he, and his successors, might achieve in the longer term.  His genius is in hios ability to mobilise and bring people with him, people who might not ordinarily have supported a Democratic, or liberal agenda, but who are blown away by the coherence, the logic, and the justice of his agenda.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 05:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
His genius is in hios ability to mobilise and bring people with him, people who might not ordinarily have supported a Democratic, or liberal agenda, but who are blown away by the coherence, the logic, and the justice of his agenda.

yup, too right.

the other charm he has is his lack of obvious ego, while projecting a deeper sense of self, connected.

very difficult man to browbeat... i saw o'reilly pull it off for a few seconds, berating him about the surge, but bill had to fight so dirty to get that one cheap win. the rest of the time he was disarmed by O's lack of belligerence, i think, and his ease in his own skin.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The left media/blog is full of stupid crap about Rham Emmanuel, what some rumor in Politico means, and why Obama should say something or speak in some way (something I find akin to sports radio callers who want to give Ronaldo advice on how to play football).

Pressure to withdraw from Iraq or limit Afghan adventures or move more boldly on health or global warming would be useful. Whining about the appropriate negotiating strategy with Congressional Republicans is just dumb.

by rootless2 on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More than that to be grateful for.  Man, I'm liking this budget so far.  Taking subsidies from Big Agro?  Taxing the hedge-fundies?  Pulling in $300bn (and eventually $600bn) of new revenue from emissions trading?  Wiping out half the count of the uninsured without even having to clear a filibuster by ditching the prescription drug subsidies to Big Pharma and implementing a de facto payroll tax hike on the wealthy?

You can call that a lot of things.  Milquetoast Clintonism?  No, I don't think so.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 08:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've stopped writing about Obama, but I am in awe of the quality of the speeches he has been giving and the pace at which he has been moving.  My major concern is that they are still talking megabucks for the banks instead of nationalising them, but there seems to be progress on every other front bar Afghanistan.  

The budget - with a 12% current budget deficit puts European Governments and their paltry responses to shame.  At least Obama is thinking big and taking coherent action.  Having been so far ahead of Bush Europe now risks falling behind.  Where is our leadership going to come from?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:29:36 PM EST
I wouldn't give up on Afghanistan just yet.  There may be method to his madness there as well.  Things have deteriorated there some much over the past few years that a little correcting is necessary before any reconciliation can take place. I don't want the repressive Taliban back as it was and doubt most Afghan citizens do.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 12:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringo:
I don't want the repressive Taliban back as it was and doubt most Afghan citizens do.

yes, but why focus on the taliban, and not mcgabe's state murder squad? as just one example?

it's the lack of clear mission, no one buys the 'video-making cave-dweller' bullshit, yet, just like with iraq, we are going to teach them democracy, the magic pill that will make millennia of tribal feuds, imagined affronts, twisted religion, and medieval honour codes get all better.

Zimbabwe, Palestine...

it's that they can't come clean on motive, because if it came right down to it, the public doesn't like sacrificing their kids in resource wars, when tides and sun and wind are offering them a valid alternative that doesn't involve slaying.

that's why energy is much more important than the public realises yet, (duh!) and chris' idea of valuing units of fungible energy is so attractive...

the maelstrom of media disinfo has successfully stopped the public from fully connecting the dots, but the elephant under the rug is waking up from its tranquiliser.

bombing, drones, these are recruitment ads for taliban.

genuine reconstruction, of course, would work better, but there's not much talk about that.

maybe they're planning to give the afghanis a bunch of solar panels and well-digging kits, but if so, why don't we hear more about it.

on bill moyers i heard an american woman who lived in afghanistan saying the best way for america to help the country would be to send over a bunch of retired mayors and city councilmen, with experience of administration and local government. she had set up a natural cosmetics company employing afghani women.

it was a great interview, i wish i remembered the name of the woman, who was passionately eloquent.

there was another great story of a brit, or new zealander,who started the farmers growing pomegranates instead of poppies, with great and spreading success.

THAT is what obama could be doing to confront the taliban, instead of more killer hardware and soldiers, and until we do, it won't get better.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 02:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...THAT is what obama could be doing to confront the taliban, instead of more killer hardware and soldiers, and until we do, it won't get better."

YesYesYes. Indeed. The Taliban were a response to the hatred and strife of the tribal leaders that filled the vacuum after the Russians were forced out. They solved problems for people, the rapes and murders and drug running gauntlets that one had to run when traveling from one 'controlled' village to another.

Nobody's favorite people (perhaps their mothers were proud of them), but they did put some positive control into the scene, and they stopped the poppy production. (I don't need to read the list of things the didn't allow-women's education, statues of Buddha, etc.)

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:52:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't get me wrong, I agree with a lot of what you say.

 My concern is that if we just leave now the Taliban will be back in an instant. As I've said before, I don't know what the solution is in Afghanistan. The same goes for all the other places you mention.  The reason we went into Afghanistan was to get at al-Qaeda - good enough reason for me at the time - everyone has their own opinion about that now. But there's no oil there and maybe that's Bush and Chaney  kind of abandoned it after a few months and went to Iraq instead.

My point is that maybe Obama can work something out in Afghanistan involving the Taliban, but as long as they have no incentive to negotiate they won't.  Right now they are, in their mind, winning and may need to see that it won't be that easy in order to come to the table. As much as we might all wish to see peace and harmony in Afghanistan, I doubt that will happen whether NATO stays forever or leaves tomorrow.

An interview of Petraeus in Foreign Policy Magazine, last month (Jan-Feb 09) quotes him as saying

While general concepts that proved important in Iraq may be applicable in Afghanistan -concepts such as the importance of securing and serving the population and the necessity of living among the people to secure them- the application of those 'big ideas' has to be adapted to Afghanistan.

One of the concepts we embraced in Iraq was recognition that you can't kill or capture your way out of a complex, industrial-strength insurgency.  The challenge in Afghanistan, as it was in Iraq, is to figure out how to reduce substantially the numbers of those who have to be killed or captured.  This includes creating the conditions in which one can have successful reconciliation with some of the elements fighting us. Progress in reconciliation is most likely when you are in a position of strength and when there are persuasive reasons for groups to shift from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution.

The challenge in Afghanistan, of course, is figuring out how to create the conditions that enable reconciliation.

Another article, preceding the Petraeus interview, discusses military strategy for Afghanistan and the military's new Counterinsurgency Field Manual. The article discusses five paradoxes of the new counterinsurgency strategy and relates these to Afghanistan.

  1. Some of the best weapons do not shoot.

  2.  Sometimes the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be.

  3. The hostss doing something tolerably is often better than foreigners doing it well.

  4.  Sometimes the more force is used, the less effective it is.

  5. Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.

This article also deserves a read.


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 03:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringo:
industrial-strength insurgency.

now there's an odd adjective for an insurgency. irony free, i'm sure, considering the source.

Gringo:

Progress in reconciliation is most likely when you are in a position of strength

aka 'bash your way to the top, and then tell everyone else to negotiate'.

Gringo:

  1.  Sometimes the more force is used, the less effective it is.

  2. Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.

if only they really believed that...

perhaps the average afghan peasant knows more about the geopolitical reasons why america's there than the media-mystified american public, us bloggers, or even the pars-that-be.

thanks for the link, surfing on from that i found this, which is another well expressed point of view to take on board...

The one thing you need to read about Afghanistan By Christian Brose | Shadow Government

One of the great fallacies of development is that all we have to do is to show 'them' how to do it and they can take it on for themselves. This is not the case and will never happen. Our ability to provide this kind of assistance is rooted in a cultural bias which recognizes abstract notions like 'society', civic responsibility, public/private partnerships, and a whole host of mental infrastructure which has taken centuries to develop. In Afghanistan the conditions for self-development are unavailable as they have been corrupted by outside interference for most of their modern history. If we are going to stay and fix Afghanistan then we will have to do just that...stay and fix it ourselves....If we want them to do it the let's provide a generation of peace and a whole new system of education. Afghan ministers are like mafia dons who dispense favors to their friends and wallop their foes....development is not in their vocabulary.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the Brose link.  I saw reference to it in FP earlier and do want to read it.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:09:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Brose statement is one reason why sending them American or European mayors and other local administrators probably won't work.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and another, also from a great analysis of O's speech at the orangerie from monkeybrains.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oops, linky

Daily Kos: Obama's historic speech, Republican nightmare

 One point I saw from tweety (20+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
melo, Heart of the Rockies, mmacdDE, understandinglife, Philoguy, lilyvaldem, sherlyle, Silent Lurker, Libby Shaw, linkage, seabrook, Empower Ink, mommaK, HoosierDeb, kat68, sherijr, kfd313, I love OCD, ShowMeMoBlue

afterward was that they have nothing left because Obama occupies the left and the center so they have to move extreme right because that is all there is left.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 07:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Masterful!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 12:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I don't think Tweety gets is that people in the center generally agree with people on the left.  They're running about 60/40 or even 65/35 for Democrats right now.  They're just more hesitant about it than we are, so the problem is, I think, more one of leading them in the right direction than of trying to move to where they are.

That's also a point on which I think the "Obama Must Be Huey Long or He's D00m3d!" crowd fails massively to appreciate the politics.  Simply addressing people in the center as adults will do more than pumping "populist" bullshit in their ears ever will.  It's a problem at both extremes: They treat everyone else like they're morons and ultimately undermine their own program.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 12:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, great comment, drew.

seems the louder they are, the less adult...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 04:30:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nice example of out-the-box thinking, i thunk.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 07:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"My concern is that if we just leave now the Taliban will be back in an instant. As I've said before, I don't know what the solution is in Afghanistan."

Where does the idea come from that there is a "solution" to Afghanistan? Or anywhere else? There seems to be this idea that if somebody does just the right thing then Afghanistan will turn into a nice, calm, democratic state comparable to Pennsylvania or Sweden or something.

Since this obviously isn't going to happen, continued presence in Afghanistan must be justified by some very specific strategic goal, with a very clear implementation plan, including an exit strategy and a proposed stable long-term solution. None of which exists.

by asdf on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 06:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan isn't the problem. The whole area - including Pakistan - is the problem.

And particularly, Afghanistan isn't is a military problem. Diplomacy and economic pressure could cut Taliban supply lines through neighbouring countries.

Blowing up civilians - not so useful.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 08:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We had the same argument and the domino theory.  If the US didn't fight the Vietcong (all savages) would take over and the rest of south east Asia would fall to communism.

Didn't quite work out that way.  The Taliban are not nice people.  Bombing civilians isn't nice either.  Ultimately Afghanis will prefer Afghani bastards to foreign bastards because they have a stake in the game.

Why is "the West" in Afghanistan now? To liberate women?  To destroy the drug trade? To prevent more 9/11's?  Give me a break.  Admirable as these objectives are, they are not served by a foreign military occupation.

Obama is looking for a "peace with honour" way out so it doesn't look like a cut and run.  An equivalent to the Iraqi surge which produces a military victory/stalemate, however temporary, just long enough to enable a withdrawal that doesn't look like a defeat - well too much anyway.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 05:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Obama is looking for a "peace with honour" way out so it doesn't look like a cut and run.  An equivalent to the Iraqi surge which produces a military victory/stalemate, however temporary, just long enough to enable a withdrawal that doesn't look like a defeat - well too much anyway.

i think you're right.

his speech at camp leJeune got very little applause, (until he said 'semper fi' anyway.)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:12:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree Afghanistan isn't a problem per se and thus can't be solved. The problem is: how can we all learn to get along on this one small and shrinking planet. In that sense we are all part of the problem and the solution.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:43:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the one point on which Obama blows.  He still doesn't seem to get it on the banks.  If he had come out for nationalization, I'd be perfectly happy.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 08:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's not at all stupid; if he'd nationalised straight away the Republicans would have been very happy to be given this point of attack: "You see, we warned you; this IS socialism" - which, given the relentless propaganda of recent decades, would be seen in a very negative way by mainstream Americans. Better to gradually introduce steps which add up to it in practice - "slowly, slowly, catchy monkey" :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:07:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and no.  Yes politically.  No if it costs more Trillions of taxpayers money.  Ironically the Republican's are likely to come to his aid.  They are unlikely to approve another bailout.  Without authorised funds the choice becomes one between letting the big banks fail or nationalising them.  He can let them go to the brink - to the point where the shareholders funds are worth squat in any case, and then no one can accuse him of socialism as there were no capitalist funds left to be expropriated.  He's just saving jobs and the wider economy at that point.  What centrist/pragmatist/technocrat could object?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 05:32:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary melo. I've been asking myself what is Obama's administration doing in propping up Citi group and BA at such immense cost to the U.S. ( I won't say taxpayers since it's all done with Chinese and Japanese money.)
But the thought occurred to me that they're thinking that if they allowed C and BA to go bankrupt, suddenly,  the whole worldwide financial system could collapse as it almost did in reaction to Lehman's bankruptcy. So even though they know that these banks are lost causes, they are going to let them die slowly, on life support, so that when they finally do expire the world will be ready.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 09:50:57 AM EST
thanks LEP!

LEP:

I won't say taxpayers since it's all done with Chinese and Japanese money.)
But the thought occurred to me that they're thinking that if they allowed C and BA to go bankrupt, suddenly,  the whole worldwide financial system could collapse as it almost did in reaction to Lehman's bankruptcy. So even though they know that these banks are lost causes, they are going to let them die slowly, on life support, so that when they finally do expire the world will be ready.

yup, i wonder how the chinese workers feel about being asked to front more credit to their 'consumer base', lol. the american taxpayer is in the loop though, as the pressure on the dollar will affect import prices eventually, though many say the dollar was way overpriced anyway. if america wants to produce and export stuff though, it should help that...

as for your last (very perceptive) sentence, the image that comes up for me is a rich old bastard who's screwed you over, on his deathbed, who knows you don't love him, but he has a bomb detonator in his hand, so to be sure he gets his champagne and caviar bonuses till the end.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 12:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...these banks are lost causes, they are going to let them die slowly, on life support, so that when they finally do expire the world will be ready.

I saw something to that effect in yesterdays news about Citi group.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 03:08:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very, very astute insight LEP.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 04:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so obama team is just emergency team (or how medical teams are called where you are). they are paying for mistakes made by greenspan and previous administrations which simply did not allow anybody to die a natural death, because all failed bankers from wall street were their pals. i don't know whether it's prudent not only in long term but also in medium term. the rotten fish must die and the system is in desperate need for total clean up. wall street and city did not change their bankers, there were only cosmetic changes, but it's still not clear who is in trouble and how deep. uncertainty is bad for markets. look at S&P's or Moody's credit ratings - it's just bewildering how and on what reasons they give ratings.
by FarEasterner on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. But I am afraid the Obama team is expecting, by letting the banks being alive, things might (just might) improve a bit so that their b/s would not look that bad, and things would become more manageable. If so, they will keep holding on to that expectation as more money is sunk down the drain, because they do not want to admit their expectation was misplaced to begin with.

This is what is known as Turning Japanese.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 02:31:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just replied to that blog post by Krugman that you link to, asking in what sense the Decade was Lost, and to Whom.

Nitendo and Toyota are wiping the floor with their competitors in product development, Wall Street benefitted from the carry trade, and Japan hasn't descended into social unrest. Was unemployment high? Did industrial production collapse?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 04:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A decade of GDP growth was lost, and GDP growth is what's important.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 04:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, the stock market touched bottom in 2003...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 04:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, we were given a temporary respite thanks to the Bush bubble. (The growth after 2003 was driven by the exports (to the bubblish China and US) and the domestic speculative demand.)

Not that we had alternatives...

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 09:01:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As it is, the course he's taking as a centrist in times like these, with the likes of Limbaugh whipping up the hate, and many very powerful people who stand to lose what they're most attached to, makes his enterprise enough of a life-risk, such as only very few would have the courage to make his mission.

Absolutely. It's gonna be interesting to see how far Obama can go.

P.S. Limbaugh is a joke.


"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 01:55:24 AM EST
Why do so many fascists look like babies?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 08:58:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(shrug) What's good for Lard Ass is good for us right now.  He gets publicity and money, and he only ensures the Republican Death Spiral continues on.

Everybody wins.  Except the other Republicans, but whatever.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...adding: Maybe he's worried Holder's going to be the one to finally bust him for sleeping with underage girls in the Caribbean, so he's lashing out.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:24:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My personal opinion on America's obsession with Taliban that it has much to do with OBL and 911 and deeply wounded American psyche. They simply want to eliminate him no matter what but they cannot say it openly - officially they want to bring him to justice. otherwise it would sound so uncivilized, so barbaric. Mr Obama tries to do away with many euphemisms in washington political jargon, with many hypocrises, but this one (he knows it) he cannot touch.  
by FarEasterner on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 10:04:48 AM EST
The U.S. openly says that it wants to eliminate OBL. I think the problem is that they can't because he's in Pakistan...
by asdf on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 03:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would that be a problem? Obama's already shown he's willing to bomb the crap out of the borderlands no matter which side of the nominal border they're on.

He might not be willing to start lobbing cruise missiles at major cities, but someone hiding in a major city is going to be easier to deal with in other ways.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 04:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless many people in that major city prefer OBL and his air strike to the USA and its air strikes...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 05:41:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you know, it was always funny to see this tragicomedy of outrage over the use of unmanned drones. Pakistani rulers as always just pretend outrage for domestic audience when in fact they not only gave the green light but also actively cooperated. The other question is efficiency of drone rocket attacks, which undiscriminately kill not only suspected terrorists but also some innocents, which only fuel further extremism in the region.
by FarEasterner on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 10:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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