Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Obama's doing well, considering...

by ormondotvos Sat Dec 19th, 2009 at 09:51:56 PM EST

I think of Hercules and the Augean Stables before I start criticizing Obama for not doing enough.

Of course I have desires about how the government should apportion its money and power, but I don't pretend to have the knowledge necessary to judge the behavior of someone I elected, since I can't predict the future.


I read Obama's books, even downloaded his final exams and comments that he gave to his student in constitutional law. I looked at his record in Illinois, carefully remembering how the Illiniois legislature actually works.

I've learned most of the ins and out of the operation of the Congress and Courts, and tried to remember the powers and limits of the executive branch.

All told, I'm amazed how much Obama has achieved in breaking the health care reform logjam and getting the logs moving again.

You must remember that the Democrats are barely holding on to a majority, because being elected as a Democrat, unlike as a Rethuglican, does not mean you have to vote a particular way, and therefore the sixty vote majority is not as solid as the forty vote minority, which is fighting for the life of the Rethug party, because if Obama pulls this off, he's going to increase the majority of the Democrats because he got something done.

Obama is building the base: Guantanamo, Health Care, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Climate Change, Restoring the Economy, Financial Regulation, and teaching Americans tostop being such energy hogs.

Yes, he's playing chess, long game.

I congratulate him on what he's done, and what he's obviously planning to do. He's not being run by anyone, and he shouldn't be abandoned by short sighted fair weather friends.

Please stop this pointless yammering, and try to understand how hard it is to clean up the mess WE made by electing Bush.

Poll
I could do it better.
. Yes 66%
. Maybe 16%
. No 16%

Votes: 6
Results | Other Polls
Display:
"Obama is building the base."

Tell us, for example, what justice does the doctrine of preventive detention serve?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 07:39:56 AM EST
Think about bail. Why does it vary, if people are presumed innocent until proven guilty? Is there NO evidence in these cases?

Obama is trying to bring these people to the USA, and some are screaming about giving American civil rights to "terrorists". Once again, the Congress passed the laws that allow it. Can Obama, as you say, a lawyer, ignore the laws? It ain't as simple as asking a paradoxical question, because the law is filled with paradoxes.

There are people who could be harmful to our society. We detain them. Do you think a professor of constitutional law doesn't have a view on this, that he's "just another Bush"?

Once again, presumptions of ill intent. Why?

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by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Politics should be a faith based initiative.
So what action has the WH actually taken that could inspire such confidence?

The Justice Department could as well still be headed by Alberto Gonzales as far as I can tell.
Were talking post acquittal detention powers here.
The healthcare bill could be an improvement or making things worse.
Iran is still regularly threatened with annihilation.
The war in Iraq is still ongoing.

by generic on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 07:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bail, huh. Thar be one hot second of a rudimentary comprehension of DUE PROCESS which is actually, you know, like, one in a series of events, but not the first procedure in this series of events by which the state investigates alleged crime, identifies a crime, arrests  alleged perpetrator(s), justifies continuance of arrest of alleged perpetrator(s) a/k/a arraignment, and proceeds to argue according to a definite schedule the evidentiary validity of the accusation and a proposed remedy of the crime before a jury of the accused(s) peers.

But apparently you haven't been paying attention.

So. Here and here are some homework for you on the topic of English jurisprudence, habeus corpus, and the "bail" canard.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 09:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Been there, done that. Is our law the best law? Does it scale to international terrorism?
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please justify your implicit assumption that "international terrorism" is a problem of sufficient magnitude that it justifies breaking with normal civilised jurisprudence.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Been there, done that.

Reading doesn't necessarily imply comprehending or valuing.
Is our law the best law?

This is an absurd response. Our laws are our laws. Were we to decide that laws deriving from Roman Law and The Code Napoleon are better, we would have to turn the society upside down to transition to those laws. Your response is a flippant invitation to anarchy or tyranny.
Does it scale to international terrorism?

Traditional law enforcement procedures have, over the last decade, proven much more effective than the lawless authoritarianism instituted by Bush and continued by the great Constitutional scholar Obama, who apparently would take law from opinion polls. One thing is apparent: the road down which Bush started is far worse than any constitutional process he could have followed. The Bush-Cheney-Gonzalez approach will likely, in time, be shown to have been part of a strategy of executive absolutism that further eroded constitutional rule in the USA. If Obama HAD any real principles, he would not be able to abide this and would have encouraged the investigation and prosecution of at least some of the miscreants.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 10:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dismissing questions as absurd or flippant isn't particularly helpful.

Your thesis that popular interest in a particular form of law would frictionlessly result in that form ignores social hysteresis.

I'm not inviting anarchy. Quite the opposite: I'm looking for a tuneup, not a revolution, as you'd have noticed had you answered the question instead of flippantly dismissing it.

If you weren't so busy assigning evil motives to Obama, it might occur to you that there was at least a little value in having a law professor as president instead of a jerkoff black sheep cheerleader drunk.

You've apparently performed every new job perfectly ab initio, regardless of how bad the previous occupant of it had fucked up. I, however, have sometimes needed some months, sometimes more, to make an operation successful. During those times, I heard a lot of shit from people that weren't in the stables. I sympathize with Obama. I'll be cheerfully accepting the changed views when the troops are home, employment back to 6%, the windmills and solar panels pouring out of the factories, and arms agreements being negotiated.

Israel, that's another whole can of worms, which I shall open someday to much complaint.

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 11:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dismissing questions as absurd or flippant isn't particularly helpful.

Neither is presenting half-baked questions based on an obviously fallacious and repetitively debunked narrative (in this case that the wrr on trr is a serious issue that calls for exceptional responses).

Your thesis that popular interest in a particular form of law would frictionlessly result in that form

Heavens, no. The point of having a strong, independent judiciary is precisely to prevent certain currents in public thought from finding easy expression in the law. Including, but not limited to, those currents of public thought embodied in the regime of torture, kidnapping and concentration camps that Bush started down officialised, and which Obama has not even attempted to roll back.

If you weren't so busy assigning evil motives to Obama, it might occur to you that there was at least a little value in having a law professor as president instead of a jerkoff black sheep cheerleader drunk.

Why, precisely, when they follow substantially the same policy playbook?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 22nd, 2009 at 12:58:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a strong meme in the world, spread by a very clever man, that the umma can be restored, the insults of invasion, domination and dismissal remedied, and Islam continue on its course of redeeming the world.

The UN, NATO and world courts cannot act quickly enough to stop its spread. BECAUSE the legal methods will not work, extralegal methods must be used, and that is the basis I argue on, not some utopian ideal.

True, it would be nice if Bin Laden hadn't _, and Russians hadn't _, and the UN had _ (fill in the blanks.) but here we are with a trillion dollars worth of weapons and a billion angry people who think we're dissing them.

Rather than dither, and compromise spinelessly, the US is acting. We're in an existential situation. It's easy for Europeans to explain to the cop on the beat that he's being too crude in his remedies, but he's working in the rough neighborhood their tragedy of the commons created.

It's at this point I realize how very small tweaks to a viewpoint can change it from liberal to reactionary.

I like neither. But these facts don't have liberal bias. For too long the liberals have presumed a Blank Slate. They prescribed, and acted (when they acted at all) as if promises of ponies would make everyone nice.

Now, we're dealing with the fallout. A little bit of bloodymindedness would have been a help, but now we're going to need a big hit of bloodymindedness.

Rwanda, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Kashmir, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Phillipines, ... on and on. Ponies for everyone. You betcha.

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by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Dec 24th, 2009 at 04:06:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ormondotvos:
There is a strong meme in the world, spread by a very clever man, that the umma can be restored, the insults of invasion, domination and dismissal remedied, and Islam continue on its course of redeeming the world.

The UN, NATO and world courts cannot act quickly enough to stop its spread.

The only way that sort of works is by lumping together a multitude of local movements and people with local grievances into one monolithic islamofascistic whole. In other words by making things up.

ormondotvos:

We're in an existential situation.

That being?

ormondotvos:

Now, we're dealing with the fallout. A little bit of bloodymindedness would have been a help, but now we're going to need a big hit of bloodymindedness.

Are you seriously suggesting that the US lacked bloodymindedness?

by generic on Thu Dec 24th, 2009 at 10:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"lumping together a multitude of local movements and people with local grievances into one monolithic islamofascistic whole."

Worked for the colonies of Great Britain in 1776.
Worked for Hitler. Works for Bin Laden. Worked for Martin Luther. Not Islamofascism, but gathering the unhappy into a large screaming suicidal mass doesn't seem that hard. Sarah Palin comes to mind.

The real question is the level of grievance: poverty, education, health, hope. Tamin Aswary is good on this.

"Existential situation?"

Perhaps you missed the combination of energy prices, crashed housing market, bleeding of the economy into the world police force and don't forget total lifestyle greed that's dismantling the USA.

Which segues nicely into bloodymindedness. Not by the USA, but by Europe, which has sunk into impotence and dependency as its political correctness causes serious floundering about culture, ethnicity, and immigration.

Unwilling to make the effort to preserve its various national ethnicities, and unwilling to take a stand about what culture really is, and what it's based on, it's setting itself up for a battle of civilizations in each major city slum, and some entire nations.

Bloodymindedness has a meaning for me: it's the ability to act instead of denying the pressure of time in reality. The opposite is dithering, of course.

Sometimes you have to make up your mind. Israel comes to mind.

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Dec 24th, 2009 at 10:29:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you really know about Europe? Where do you get your information? The kind of doom scenario of civilisation-clash battles for towns and entire countries is straight out of the US ultra-neocon playbook and is a delirious specious narrative. Do you have any credible sources?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 25th, 2009 at 02:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about the need (and possibility) of mobilizing large chunks of the population today, this:


Europe, which has sunk into impotence and dependency as its political correctness causes serious floundering about culture, ethnicity, and immigration.

Unwilling to make the effort to preserve its various national ethnicities, and unwilling to take a stand about what culture really is, and what it's based on, it's setting itself up for a battle of civilizations in each major city slum, and some entire nations.

is the kind of silly [Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert] talk that we spend a lot of time debunking here on ET and it's a pity you feel the need to bring such hopelessly wrong concepts here.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 25th, 2009 at 06:11:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you missed the combination of energy prices, crashed housing market, bleeding of the economy into the world police force and don't forget total lifestyle greed that's dismantling the USA.

No, I think we just missed the connection between all those - largely self-inflicted - issues and your putative existential threat from brown people with home-made bombs.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 31st, 2009 at 01:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

We're in an existential situation. It's easy for Europeans to explain to the cop on the beat that he's being too crude in his remedies, but he's working in the rough neighborhood their tragedy of the commons created.

Terrorism is not an existential threat. In terms of actual damage, it ranks rather far below many things that we could solve at least partly and yet have no problems living with or treating as statistics... As a political tool, it's only effective in so far as we overreact to it.

The "cop on the beat" mindset is, to a large extent, the biggest danger we face.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 25th, 2009 at 06:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi, Jerome. We met you at YearlyKos.

Sorry to offend, but I speak my mind. I note that the dismissing isn't on a factual basis, but by reference to the constant "refutation" so I guess someone will supply a link to the FAQ about how everything is all right. The banlieus, slums, Turkey v. secular, Hungary, British racism, Germany v guest workers, Italy v itself, Spain v ETA, right wing parties springing up. And the global economic interactions seem to be hovering on the edge.

What I see in Europe, and yes, I've visited, is the same political paralysis of analysis I see in Berkeley and San Francisco, which I've been actively following since 1960.

Yes, technical solutions are wonderful, but Copenhagen wasn't very hopeful, and we're reacting, not pro-acting, and in that situation, you're possibly doing a holding action until chaos throws you a curve ball you can't hit.

It's not that Europe doesn't mean well. It's that after a certain level of governmental funk is reached, the malleable mob turns to the Man on the White Horse. I'd love to follow Candide, but reality has been my guide so far.

I guess the applicable quote is Adlai Stevenson, who, when someone from an election crowd yelled out "All us intellectuals will vote for you, Adlai!" quipped back:

"Yes, but I need more than 20%!"

So I'm always looking for that insight into the mob that translates all these wonderful ideas into legislation that beats the shortsighted corporations. It's always Golem we're battling, it seems.

Merry Christmas. Keep up the good work. Maybe my kid will be installing windmills soon. Be more fun than fighting in Iraq...

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Fri Dec 25th, 2009 at 02:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're certainly welcome to speak your mind. If you've been paying any attention to ET over the past five years, you already know this is exactly what we do.

I say "if", however, because frankly, it doesn't look like you've been paying much attention to what we have been discussing here.

I'd hate to be rude on Christmas , but I hope you won't mind if I'm being blunt here.

You know as well as we do that there's no such thing as "the FAQ about how everything is all right": if you've been paying any attention, you know we have never shied away from the issues you listed, quite the opposite.

What we take exception to, is the characterization of an impotent Europe that is lazily letting itself slide into a phantasmagorical "clash of civilization" and other alleged failures to protect our "ethnicities" and cultures, while America, at least is supposedly acting instead of dithering.

This is European extreme right language and is now being regurgitated by the mainstream right in an attempt to stroke their electoral good fortunes. As afew and Jerome said, this is also straight out of the neo-con playbook.

But this is only one minor point: the main point is, and you'll have to read part of my French here, that this is complete bullshit.

And as for the American Exceptionalism schitck, America-is-acting-while-Europe-is-dithering: peuh-leease...

How pray tell has America's action been part of the solution instead of part of the problem? How about stopping digging first?

The standard here is that you demonstrate your allegations; the burden of the proof is squarely on you.

We tend to respect people who know what they are talking about (and this is a reason, BTW, why Jerome has built a loyal following on DK). On the other hand, people who show up and start talking authoritatively about Europe while unwittingly showing how they don't know jack are to expect some pushback.

What I'm trying to say here is that I'm afraid you've really made an ass of yourself. And that's too bad because you've started an interesting discussion. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

by Bernard on Fri Dec 25th, 2009 at 06:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dismissive and trollish. Happy New Year.

You answered NO point.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 27th, 2009 at 07:52:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No intent to be trollish here: the strong language is aimed at your arguments, not your person.

However, your statements and opinions are absolutely fair game: you exposed some views that several of us dismissed as long debunked and discredited neo-con vulgate. So, please, let me ask you again: Would you care to demonstrate?

by Bernard on Mon Dec 28th, 2009 at 03:21:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain v ETA
Please elaborate.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 28th, 2009 at 05:31:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Government of Spain has been involved in a long-running campaign against the separatist and terrorist organization ETA ("Basque Homeland and Freedom"), founded in 1959 in opposition to Franco and dedicated to promoting Basque independence through violent means. They consider themselves a guerrilla organization while they are listed as a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States on their respective watchlists. The current nationalist-led Basque Autonomous government does not endorse ETA's nationalist violence, which has caused over 800 deaths in the past 40 years. wikipedia

It has to be noted that almost in any Spanish jail there is a group of ETA prisoners, as the number of ETA prisoners makes it difficult to disperse them.

Under Article 509 suspected terrorists are subject to being held "incommunicado" for up to thirteen days, during which they have no contact with the outside world other than through the court appointed lawyer, including informing their family of their arrest, consultation with private lawyers or examination by a physician other than the coroners. In comparison the habeas corpus term for other suspects is three days.

In January 2009, ETA threatened that engineers, senior technicians and executives of companies involved in the construction of the high-speed train line would be targets for assassination as well.

Sounds like fun.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Wed Dec 30th, 2009 at 04:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And this is supposed to be the end of civilisation or something?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 30th, 2009 at 05:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

(source: Spanish Ministry of the Interior, linked from wikipedia)

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 30th, 2009 at 06:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
La izquierda radical fía su supervivencia a que ETA asuma la propuesta de Alsasua. El CorreoThe [Basque Nationalist] radical left depends for its survival on ETA accepting the Alsasua proposal - El Correo
Un sector de sus bases baraja distanciarse de la banda si prosigue con la actividad violentaA sector of their base is considering distancing itself from the gang (sic) is it continues its violent activity.
......
La izquierda radical es consciente de que su supervivencia política depende del éxito o el fracaso de la conocida como iniciativa de Alsasua. Alejada de las instituciones después de sucesivas ilegalizaciones, sus dirigentes reconocen que la situación es complicada y que la presión policial y judicial, incluida la resolución del Tribunal de Derechos Humanos de Estrasburgo que ratificó la proscripción de Batasuna, les ha hecho «mucho daño». Los problemas organizativos, la falta de movilización y los cambios en la sociedad, azuzados por una fuerte contestación ante el fracaso de los dos últimos procesos de paz, les han empujado a la búsqueda de un «cambio de ciclo». Más aún si se tiene en cuenta el avance de Aralar en los últimos comicios. The radical left is aware that its political survival depends on the success or failure of the so-called Alsasua initiative. Excluded from [political] institutions after successive illegalizations, its leaders admit that the situation is complicated and that police and judicial pressure, including the resolution by the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg which ratified the outlawing of Batasuna, has 'hurt a lot'. Organizational problems, lack of [popular] mobilization and changes in society, spurred by the failure of the last two peace processes, has pushed [radical leaders] to the search for a 'change of cycle'. Even more taking into account the advance of [independentist, anti-ETA political party] Aralar in the latest elections.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 30th, 2009 at 06:28:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they are listed as a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States on their respective watchlists.

Those lists are compiled by legislative or executive bodies and not subject to judicial review. As such, they are statements of political preference rather than statements of fact.

Any given organisation on the lists may or may not be a terrorist outfit (and ETA probably is, along with what's left of the IRA). But its presence on the lists does not in and of itself tell you anything about it. Except that it has attracted the ire of the US State Department.

(For those keeping score of such matters, the Basques are overwhelmingly Catholic, when they are religiously affiliated at all.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 31st, 2009 at 01:16:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is actualy very good.

The War Nerd: Basques My Ass! (The Exile, March 11 2004)

The ETA is a good example of what I call "boutique terrorism." It's the kind of war where the rebels kill a few carefully-picked people a year, usually local government officials or cops, just to remind the locals that they're still around and get a little free publicity for their "cause." The Corsican separatists are the same kind of pitiful wimps, and the IRA isn't much better. In about 30 years of "war" against the English, the IRA killed about 1,300 people. That's 40-odd people per year. Less than a three-day weekend kill total for Los Angeles. The only reason these Irish wimps have such a big bad rep is that the British hype them so much, just because don't want to admit they had so much trouble with a neighborhood possie of illiterate drunks.

These aren't armies -- they're little ethnic gangs, like Crips for white guys with a grudge and a lot of free time on their hands. Even the Spanish police, who do their best to hype the ETA the same way the British do the IRA, admit that there are only a few dozen guys active in the ETA.

In this kind of war, the rebels go way out of their way to see that they only hit the right people. Spain is a rich Western country, with lots of videocameras wandering around. The last thing the ETA wants is to lose the propaganda war by shredding a bunch of civilians. They'd rather do nothing than deal with bad publicity like that. So they spend months and months setting up some poor Spanish Guardia Civil cop or pro-Spanish Basque politician, then hit him when they're sure nobody else will get hurt. They mess up sometimes -- these aren't the brightest guys in the world -- but the whole notion they'd set off a dozen no-warning bombs in the Madrid train system was just totally ridiculous.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 1st, 2010 at 07:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't think the illiterate jab is on target: I'm pretty sure at least some of the IRA had read their Hegel and Marx, for example.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 1st, 2010 at 07:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BECAUSE the legal methods will not work, extralegal methods must be used

So extralegal measures are justified in every case where the legal measures would not work as intended or desired? No tradeoff is required between the magnitude of the illegality and the magnitude of the problem you are attempting to deal with? No consideration is required of the actual, empirical effectiveness of the extralegal measures proposed?

If you want to start me down that primrose path, then I'm afraid we're going to part ways, politically speaking, before we even get to the substance.

We're in an existential situation.

Last month, private automobiles killed approximately 3000 Europeans, and a comparable number of Americans.

Over the last ten years, private bombs killed approximately 3000 Europeans and Americans.

If terrorism is an existential threat, why is are commuters still permitted a personal automobile?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 31st, 2009 at 01:00:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its not really a presumption at this point, or if it is its a presumption that Obama needs to rebut.  As a lawyer he is well aware that these are illegal detentions.  The law may be filled with paradoxes (paradoxi?), but its very clear that the government can't just lock your ass up because it thinks its a good idea.  It has to prove that you violated some criminal statute and it has to do that in a specified time period using competent evidence.  That is a simple and unparadoxical as it gets in law.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 04:05:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet the "honorable" USA dishonors their own treaties, disregard others, acts the empire.

Maybe the current paradoxi can be resolved by considering the USA an empire, accountable to no one.

Not saying it's good or bad, just needs considering.

Do NOT presume my views, please.

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of us doesn't know what you are talking about.  That is no presumption.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Dec 28th, 2009 at 05:20:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - Obama's doing well, considering...
the mess WE made by electing Bush.

Did you vote for Bush?

Or is this a we that includes the whole electorate, except Obama?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 10:36:19 AM EST
I think he means the mess you made by not voting for Gore. You didn't, did you? (I did, but I've no idea if my vote was counted).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 10:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if askod was eligible? I didn't vote for Gore, but then I'm not an American citizen.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 12:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither do I have the right to vote in US elections.

Though if we all have to support the empire, the least we could get is the right to vote for our emperor.

No troops without votes!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 02:51:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I refer to humans who can't think past their noses about politics. Specifically, of course, in the USA.

I don't separate myself from my culture or species.

We voted Bush in, he wrecked the economy, our status, and encouraged idiocy because he was a total tool of the corporate class.

I don't see that history with Obama. It's a delicate judgment, which is why I outlined my voting decision process. I think his intentions are better, and I think he's considered much more dangerous by the powers that be, for good reasons.

I think Obama thinks about the future. I don't think Bush lived anywhere but in the pretzel. And not very well at that:=)

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 04:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... election coming up and the corporations would like nothing more than for the focus of the netroots to be on a question where we can have no impact whatsoever, when there is work to be done in primarying Blue Dogs, backing progressives and pseudo-progressives who went to far in the eyes of corporations, and trying to send obstructionist "Republicans" down to defeat.

I don't accept the frame in the first place that the point at issue is whether or not Obama is doing well. The question is how well the Congress is doing and how well we are preparing for the task of forcing them to do better.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 10:49:54 AM EST
The question is how well the Congress is doing and how well we are preparing for the task of forcing them to do better.

OK, how do I do that?  I'm in northern CA, and the potential progressives (Greens; Peace and Freedom) seem worthless.  What horse do I back?


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 01:04:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From local, out.

There are few progressives in Congress, but they have more clout if there are more pseudo-progressives and fewer "moderates" and fewer Blue Dogs, so the first priority is identifying any progressive or pseudo-progressive challengers to a "moderate" or Blue Dog incumbent, and work for them. Early Money Is Like Yeast, but so is early volunteer effort.

If there is an incumbent Republican, it's the same as if there is an incumbent "moderate" or Blue Dog: try to get a progressive or, failing that, a pseudo-progressive nominated in the Democratic primary.

When there is a "moderate" available at best in the primary or general election, vote for them but don't waste any resources supporting them. When there is a Blue Dog running against a Republican, its hard to see what difference the vote makes, so picking whichever third party is likely to get the largest vote and voting for them would be a defensible strategy.

In grown up politics, forcing the incumbent to work for re-election is a penalty, whether they win or lose. For one thing, money they spend running for re-election is not money they can hand out to increase their clout inside the beltway. Enough 1 in 100 odds challengers being pushed to 1 in 20 odds challengers is electoral success in some few districts and more caution on the threat on the left flank in the rest.

If there best there is available is a phony progressive who seems likely to turn but is willing to tick all the progressive boxes during the race, they are still more vulnerable to field operations during legislative season than "moderates" and Blue Dogs, so its not a waste of resources to support them beyond voting for them, bearing in mind it is fairly inefficient, as they will require constant babysitting.

If there isn't anyone, and there is a neighboring district close enough where there is, work there.

If there isn't anyone close by, pick a progressive or pseudo-progressive under threat somewhere else in the country and back them.

That's one reason the "Movement Conservatives" punch above their weight: once pulled into the movement, they always find a horse somewhere to back, which means there is no "off" button for the market research professionals to find, which means nobody bothers with trying to turn them off. Self-described progressives, on the other hand, quite often have multiple "off" buttons available to push, with competent full time corporate persuaders with massive incentive to find out how to push as many of those "off" buttons on as many unorganized clusters of progressives as possible.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 01:59:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Purists.

Self-described progressives, on the other hand, quite often have multiple "off" buttons available to push, with competent full time corporate persuaders with massive incentive to find out how to push as many of those "off" buttons on as many unorganized clusters of progressives as possible.

Ah yes, Yeats, 1919. A pretty bad time.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 05:06:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do not tell to any one, but the Senate bill is year lights better than the house bill... now if they only could improve the subsidies, get rid of the monopoly exception and put the regulations at the state level (making it able to create a trigger of a public option at the executive branch, for example), that would be the best bill coming out of the US.. in well....my life?

In two years , due to deficit worries of course, will ask for allowing the reimportation of drugs using reconcilation... they better have 50 votes in the senate if the US wants cheaper drug... but, you know, Pharma is really powerful... so... I do nto see.

In any case, the short term future of the US sits around the financial regulation.. it is going to be fun to watch.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Dec 23rd, 2009 at 01:43:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When Obama came to office there was a financial crisis,  popular expectations of reform of financial regulations and of  a once in a century opportunity to force fundamental change in the power, influence and mode of operation of Wall Street due to the vulnerability the TBTFs. I believe fundamental change was then possible.  But Obama, through his choice of advisers and his choice of policies, doubled down on all of the bad policies and choices made by Paulson and Bush.

Granted, he never campaigned on anything but vague phrases, preferring to allow the electorate to project onto him any hopes and dreams they might have without having to deal with the facts of conflicting hopes and dreams, as they were never explicitly stated. And granted he is NOT Bush nor is he a carrier of the virulent fundamentalism that Bush's administration did all it could to spread and strengthen. But he seems quite happy to accept and either hold in reserve or use the, in my view, illegitimate accretions to executive power made under Bush, and he is a scholar of constitutional law!  Instead of a repudiation and a roll back of the erosion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights we get, at best it seems, a pause in that erosion until the next right wing storm, in which even the semblance of Constitutional government could be lost.

To me the key to progress on all significant fronts in US politics is reform of the financial sector, which is currently a millstone around the neck of the economy, and key to accomplishing and securing that is campaign finance reform.  But I am reasonably convinced that, at most, Obama will acquiesce to such reform as Congress is frightened into by an alarmed public. Obama went to Harvard where he learned how the society works and he wants to facilitate the workings of the existing order.  That order has come to be one of the massive exploitation of >99% of the population by <0.1% and Obama identifies with that 0.1%.

To me it is not a question of the mess he inherited but of the change required to secure a future for the next several generations. This includes:

  1. Resurrecting some semblance of an economy that functions for even >50% of the US population, and which economy and social order has the prospects of being sustainable, which the current order does not possess.

  2. Re-establishing respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and rolling back the encroachments made there-upon over the last 30 years. To secure that it is also important to de-legitimate the right wing authoritarian view, so recently ascendant, that it is advocacy of revealed truth and particular religious views and attitudes that is fundamental, not the words on documents written by men. Embarrassments to right wing authoritarian attitudes, such as Oklahoma City, seem to be quickly forgotten. Work is sorely needed in this area.

  3. De-legitimating the currently dominant paradigm of economics--Neo-Classical Economics as buttressed by the libertarian economic and political views of Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand and disseminated by the Chicago School under Milton Friedman. Since 1980 these dystopian views of "freedom" as it applies to the economy and society have been written into the brain structres of hundreds of millions of US citizens. The political consequences are profoundly undemocratic and have driven much of the degeneration into the current disastrous situation.

  4. Taking all necessary steps to transition the USA to an economy based on sustainable energy and to minimize to every extent possible the increase in the release of greenhouse gases, economic incumbents not-withstanding. It is mad willful blindness to put the economic interests of coal mining and oil and gas extraction ahead of the carrying capacity of the earth by the middle to end of this century.  Yet that is what we are doing.

Obama has great rhetorical ability and a good intellect, but either no concern for the cliff over which we are headed or an internalized inability to see the problem if it means going against the pillars of the existing order. I don't think Obama has betrayed anyone, but I do thing he successfully gulled a large portion of the US electorate from the progressives to the independents, especially the young, during the election. The backlash could give us a Republican president in 2016, if not 2012. Personally, despite his many faults, I would have to seriously consider if Ron Paul would do a better job than Obama. At least he has the will to rein in the Fed and Wall Street and would bring home the troops. His economic views might well plunge us into a depression, but we likely already clearly will be there by 2012, and if not by 2012 even more likely by 2016. The system as currently run is going to melt down big time sooner or later.

When Leo de Medici became Pope Leo X in 1513 he is reported to have said to his associates: "Now that we have the Papacy, lets enjoy it!" Meanwhile anger and resentment towards the Papacy was building, especially in Germany and especially in the form of Martin Luther.  One of the German cardinals at the time of Leo's death in 1521 said: "When Leo was elected the Church needed a moral giant. But Leo was a moral midget." The result of lack of appropriate leadership at a time of crisis, among other factors, was the Protestant Reformation. Leo was quite able in many ways, but would not look at or consider addressing problems in the basic operation of the Church.

I fear that Obama is to the US Government what Leo X was to the Catholic Church. An able advocate of the status quo at a time that fundamental change is needed.  I have hoped he would step up to the challenge, but see little evidence that he will.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 04:19:36 PM EST
Well written, but its axioms are based on mind reading that I don't agree with:

"But he seems quite happy to accept and either hold in reserve or use the, in my view, illegitimate accretions to executive power made under Bush"

"Obama will acquiesce to such reform as Congress is frightened into by an alarmed public"

"he wants to facilitate the workings of the existing order"

"Obama identifies with that 0.1%."

"an internalized inability to see the problem if it means going against the pillars of the existing order"

It seems you're basing your argument on negative perceptions that I just don't see.

What, very specifically, do you think he could have done, considering the long game, that he did not do?

I guess I'm admitting I'm not a better tactician than Obama, especially since I have no access to the facial expressions of the gunslingers for the military prison insurance pharmaceutical complexes that he's dealing with.

I don't think Obama's chicken. I respect him for still being alive and still fighting. And he IS fighting, just maybe not exactly how you wish.

If you need evidence, log on to RedState.com

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 05:18:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're making the 'Obama is teh genius!' argument - which seems to be popular with parts of the left in the US, but doesn't seem to have a lot of reality backing it up.

What could he have done?

He could have filled his cabinet with real progressives, not people like Rahm and Geithner.

He could have knocked DINO heads together to make it clear that he's the boss man and if DINOs don't support him, he won't support them come re-election time.

He could have maintained contact with the base, rather than alienating real progressives almost immediately.

He could have pressed for progressive judges throughout the judicial system, and progressive appointess throughout the US equivalent of the civil service.

He has always had plenty of options. But he hasn't done these things, because he's not interested in being a real progressive - he's interested in being everything to everyone to the extent that it furthers his career.

He could have taken a stand on torture, instead of confusing justice with PR.

How long a game do you think he's playing? Will you still be saying the same things in 2012 when nothing much has improved, and his prospects of a second term look slim to non-existent?

Here in the UK we've seen all of this before with the NuLab - which was based on throwing some pennies to the peasants, while keeping the bankers happy and fat, and larding it all with spin, lies and persuasive rhetoric to make it look far more populist than it really was.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:12:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I do subscribe to the "Obama is a genius" theory. The bare facts support that.He ain't exactly a run of the mill politico, however much the purist idiots on the progressive uber alles left think.

There's a huge difference between pleasing all the left, which is impossible, and getting legislation passed.

You ignore the possibility that people with experience in the infighting in the financial system might have been waiting for a smart president like Obama to align with.

Consider that a lot has been done, and will be done, to whittle away the problems the progressives see.

Progressives are neither monolithic nor motivated by hatred, in my opinion. They're susceptible to motive, which is why I keep posting about Obama's motives and possibilities, rather than his inability to walk on executive water. I think as time goes by, and the details of the compromises are revealed, progressives, like you I assume, will begin to come off their purist high horses, and realize that good people can disagree on legislation and the governance of vast tribes.

Quick, hard moves to the left would possibly raise opposition. Do you concede that more opposition would slow the progressive agenda?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
he's interested in being everything to everyone to the extent that it furthers his career.

I don't think that really applies to the US president - he has nowhere further to go in his career.

ormondotvos:

Frankly, I do subscribe to the "Obama is a genius" theory.

So do I: to get where he is with his colour he has to be.

He has now had a year to get his feet under the table. I think that the events of 2010 - as the next wave of the financial crisis sweeps in - will give him his chance to shine.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 07:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would not be so optimistic.. nor pessimistic. financial regulation is make or break for the US. From here, it looks like this has been is unique, big, humongous blunder... but I could be wrong. We will see what the senate passes. The House bill is a very good bill for a first round of regulation.. but would the Senate bill be better than the House bill (like the Health care bill), and if not that much, when we will have the second round of regulation?

Do we really need a second financial crisis?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Dec 23rd, 2009 at 01:48:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Raise opposition from whom?

In this case, the only possible opposition that matters would come from other Democrats.

Yes, of course moving to the Left would arouse opposition. But dealing with opposition is exactly the measure of a politician.

You define leadership not by being clever and making meaningless speeches but by leading - which means setting an agenda, and controlling what people are talking about, what they're spending their time on, and how much attention they're paying to you and what you value. Leadership means facing down challenges and imposing your will on the values of a country.

On that measure, Obama is an epic failure. He's dithered about financial reform, he's dithered about health care, he's dithered about the morality of wiretapping and torture. He could have transformed the US with an epic green revolution, reined in the finance industry, ended a pointless war, and restored pre-Bush moral values. He has done none of these things, and his actions prove that he's more interested in supporting the rightward shift than in promoting any kind of progressive renaissance.

Bush was more successful as a politician, because although his values were loathesome, you always knew what he stood for.

Obama isn't a leader, he's a PR machine. His job is to fill media space with platitudes and promises, while making it possible for business to continue with as little change as possible.

Some minor concessions to the voters who supported him will happen along, but the reality is that Obama isn't really interested in what his popular supporters think, feel, or want.

And in the final irony it's John McCain, not Obama, who's promoting new legislation to return finance to pre-Glass-Steagall conditions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 07:20:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"controlling what people are talking about"

R U Serious? Have you heard of the noise machine? Tea Baggers? Fox News?

When the competition is between the rational/progressive, and appeals to fear, guess which wins?

You might recall McCain was for Social Security buy-in, until it actually came to a vote. You fool easy.

I'm really uninterested in assignations of intent, what you think is a candidate's motivation. We all have our private evaluations. I think Obama means well and is smart, and is doing the best he can.  I'll continue to think so absent real evidence this isn't true.

I've seen some good things happen that are inconceivable under Rethugs. That's what people forget. I've been watching politics since 1948.

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm completely serious.

You're not understanding the difference between ends and means. The teabaggers aren't successful, because outside of the Fox camp, no one takes them seriously.

The difference between that and the Bush years is that after 9/11 almost everyone on board with the anti-trrrism message.

That's very poor leadership pragmatically - anti-trrism is a crock, and always has been, even if you take 9/11 into account. But politically, it was hugely successful, and immensely influential.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:40:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What?! You're saying that paying attention to public fear of terrorists is incompetent politics?

No one takes teabaggers seriously?

Best polling I know indicates that Republicans intend to vote 2010 at TWICE the percentage Democrats do.

In my math, two to one beats five to three.

The Dems need to energize their base, and sniping ain't the answer.

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand correctly, TBG says that fear of terrorism was always irrational, but Bush used it in an efficient way to grab and hold leadership. Obama has not used his bully pulpit nearly as effectively.

ormondotvos:

Best polling I know indicates that Republicans intend to vote 2010 at TWICE the percentage Democrats do.

In my math, two to one beats five to three.

Last time I saw on of these at FiveThirtyEight it was because Democrats intended to stay home.

ormondotvos:

The Dems need to energize their base, and sniping ain't the answer.

As this is a european site, arguments about what can be discussed or not based on what effect that discussion has on the base of the democratic party rarely works here. We feel as free to snipe at Obama as at Medvedev.

But I agree that the Dems do need to energize their voters, and preferably also the potential voters in the about 50% that do not vote in federal elections. I would think they could do that by political leadership, and preferably also by showing clear political results.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 04:54:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but once again, there's the legislature, and its deals, and the corporate lobbyists and THEIR legislators, the party system, with its allocation of funds, and then, way down the list, the voters who can probably be disregarded because at the least little violation of their single issue will sit on their hands.

Progressive politics is about personal freedom, which seems to imply "me first" politics, which progressives are fond of tagging the conservatives with.

Funny thing, the conservatives think the same way, "me first" about money and family, but nonetheless other-directed in the sense they think about region and nation.

"'Tis a puzzlement..."

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:22:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ormondotvos:
Yes, but once again, there's the legislature, and its deals, and the corporate lobbyists and THEIR legislators, the party system, with its allocation of funds, and then, way down the list, the voters who can probably be disregarded because at the least little violation of their single issue will sit on their hands.

I would say it is the voter that is loyally voting for the same party no matter how many times their interests get run over that can be safely disregarded.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 22nd, 2009 at 04:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Leadership means facing down challenges and imposing your will on the values of a country.

Imposition smacks of dictatorship to me.

In order to be a leader, Obama has to have a government willing and able to be led. This he does not and never will have because Congress and Senate are with a couple of honourable exceptions bought and paid for.

Having said that, with his powers of rhetoric, he could appeal directly to the people, but only if he has a narrative capable of stimulating them to force the politicians to follow him. Such a narrative still evades him.

ThatBritGuy:

He's dithered about financial reform, he's dithered about health care, he's dithered about the morality of wiretapping and torture. He could have transformed the US with an epic green revolution, reined in the finance industry, ended a pointless war, and restored pre-Bush moral values.

I agree that he could and should have acted in relation to wire-tapping and torture and begun to roll back the Bush era moral values. But in all other areas he is entirely a prisoner of the financial system, and only the conclusive final discrediting of the system - which I believe will not be long in coming - can release him from those shackles.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:31:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's dictatorship if you use violence to impose your will. That's certainly one option, but it's not a very Western one.

And there's no reason why you can't impose your will for the benefit of the weak and disenfranchised. Chavez is a bruiser and an unsavoury character, but this seems to be an interest of his, at least in part.

As for finance - of course finance is more politically successful than the electorate, precisely because the corporates and Wall St have been able to force their will on everyone else, in spite of popular sentiment.

Obama could have changed this. It would have taken immense courage, but he could potentially have enacted provisions that would either have neutered Wall St, or - more subtly and most likely more effectively - moved the focus back to small business and direct community/government funding relationships, bypassing Wall St altogether, and then delivering a knock-out once the industry was marginalised.

Obama could have left Goldman Sachs to rot, and put the TARP money directly into the economy, or into smaller banks. It would have been dramatic, messy, risky and challenging, but it wouldn't have been impossible - even with a paid-for legislature.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TGB
Obama could have changed this. It would have taken immense courage, but he could potentially have enacted provisions that would either have neutered Wall St, or - more subtly and most likely more effectively - moved the focus back to small business and direct community/government funding relationships, bypassing Wall St altogether, and then delivering a knock-out once the industry was marginalised.

Obama could have left Goldman Sachs to rot, and put the TARP money directly into the economy, or into smaller banks. It would have been dramatic, messy, risky and challenging, but it wouldn't have been impossible - even with a paid-for legislature.


EXACTLY! Had he started on Jan 21 and moved vigorously I doubt that the Dow would have dropped more than another thou below its March lows but GS, JPM, Citi, WF, BofA, AIG would be dismembered and the hit would have been to those who caused the mess, including foreign banks and the governments who indulged them by allowing CDSs on junk to suffice for reserve capital. Valuations of "assets" would have been marked to some believable reality, unpayable debt would have been written down and the basis for a real recovery would  be in place by now, whereas what we have now is a bogus recovery courtesy of the Fed, the Treasury and the regulators and the manipulation of markets by the TBTFs. It is great for the executives of the TBTFs but a disaster for everyone else.

Had Obama slaughtered the TBTFs he would be a folk hero of mythic porportions, would almost be assured increased majorities in the House and Senate and re-election in '12. By defending the status quo he is sinking in quicksand. He might not be looking to further his career, but he damn well better be concerned with his position in history. His only real accomplishments to date are to be the first black president, to insure the survival of a predatory financial sector for another year and to push through a revision of health care that is so flawed that it may further damage the economy.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 11:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really don't think that Obama had control of the levers of power in a way that enabled him to take such radical action so precipitately.

And I hate to say this, ARG, but at best it would just have kicked the can down the road. It may have cut the debt burden, but it would have done nothing to redistribute wealth (ie productive assets) and nothing to make the population more creditworthy. The system is terminally fucked IMHO whichever way you look at it. Nothing deficit-based works in the medium and long term.

What we will shortly see is that all of the remedies prescribed by these voodoo economists fail. And they must be seen to fail. No-one may be able to say to Obama - as they would do when the action that you recommend fails, too - that it's because voodoo economics was not tried.

I think that in the next few months we will definitively see the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.

This will be Obama's challenge, and opportunity.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 02:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...I really don't think that Obama had control of the levers of power in a way that enabled him to take such radical action so precipitately.

And I hate to say this, ARG, but at best it would just have kicked the can down the road. It may have cut the debt burden, but it would have done nothing to redistribute wealth...


The Secretary of the Treasury is his appointee and, had he chosen a better one, things could have gone differently. He might not have accomplished wealth redistribution FROM financial elites, but he could have stopped pointless continuing wealth distribution TO these same elites and he could have demanded that they cease all lobbying and provide massive returns to the public if they survive.

How much could have been done may be open to argument. That he did NOTHING to reform the system during the biggest crisis in 80 years is not open to argument.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 05:00:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All Obama HAS done is to kick the can down the road and undermine his own legitimacy. Bush would have had no problem seizing the authority do do what ever he wanted but he was clueless and chose to let Paulson do whatever he wanted in the interest of GS.

I think that in the next few months we will definitively see the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.

I too am anticipating another big down leg.  The current situation is so unstable it is almost certain to blow. If Obama then steps up and does the right thing, I will be happy to applaud him at that time. But I expect that he will only take the minimum actions that he can and will do everything to protect the very institutions that have to be destroyed in order for the economy to survive. I am fucking sick and tired of waiting for Obama.  It is turning into Wating for Godot.

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 05:15:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
I expect that he will only take the minimum actions that he can and will do everything to protect the very institutions that have to be destroyed in order for the economy to survive.

I don't think it's necessary to destroy the old to create the new. In fact, I think that the new is already beginning to create itself in the most extraordinary way.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 07:15:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We" didn't quite give Obama enough power, with failing to get sixty solid votes on progressive issues. He's not a dictator, he's an executive. He has a veto, but the bills have to get to him to sign.

The sheer power of the lobbies arrayed against him is impressive. It may not impress Obama, but it impresses those who still have to get elected in 2010 and 2012.

It's a chicken and egg problem. Obama says vote for my progressive bills and my coattails will carry you to victory. But right now it's a t-shirt. And politicians are notoriously uninterested in promises and hope because their job is lying and hope.

Donate to Wikipedia!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would substitute dither for "humengous blundered" financial reform,  diter onthe oraliy of torture but ending torture in the US Empire for the firt time ever..

and regarding Health care.. well, here I disagree. Obama has been more than impressive, he has been brilliant on Health Care. The agreement with pharma, the basic structure of the law, the approach to the problem, the approach to congress. The US will have a universal health care system...and this will make/fix the rest (as Krugman puts it).. even pharma.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Dec 23rd, 2009 at 01:56:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ormondotvos
its axioms are based on mind reading that I don't agree with

No. My reading is based on what Obama has and hasn't done, considering what he has implied, or, at least, has allowed people to believe.  I never believed that he would do all of the things he implied, have always feared that he would turn out to be just what he now seems to me to be, but I hoped for the best as he was the best hope. Certainly better than McCain and Palin. So far I don't see that he has done much to applaud, except not be Bush. He has not led. He has held himself aloof from the fray. Where he has engaged too often it has been to preemptively cede ground to opponents, such as the insurance industry, big pharmaceutical companies, the executives of TBTF banks, etc. Such evidence as there is from his actions tends to confirm that he aligns himself with the interests of the business elite.

I will be only too glad to be proven wrong, but by now it is up to Obama and his administration to demonstrate that they understand the seriousness of the problems facing us and are serious about addressing them regardless of the consequences to their own careers or re-election prospects. Continuing to wait for him to take actions that we would like to think he supports absent any evidence that he will do so seems to me to be the way religious believers behave. In Shia Islam, The Twelvers believe that Ali, the Twelveth Imam, didn't really die but is just hiding, waiting for the right time to return---for twelve hundred years! The "Obama wants to do the right thing" crowd is not YET quite that bad.  But for myself, I will await deeds, not wondrous rhetoric.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 09:41:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I've said, I'm waiting. The economy hasn't crashed, the stock market is holding, the standard of living is on a glide path to making a soft landing, prices are pretty stable, no terrorist attacks, health care plodding along. Health care is a BIG deal for us. People in Europe may not realize what fun it is to worry that getting sick will drive you to destitution.

As a military dependent with a Marine Corps son, I follow the military, and I think Obama's fighting the military AND defense contractors to a draw right now, and I think the effort is to trade arms production for green production. Same profits, but its jobs. The transition would be best with overlap, because it would be more jobs.

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by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:53:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The economy hasn't crashed,

For certain values of "crash."

the stock market

For certain values of "market."

is holding,

For certain values of "holding." Or, perhaps more accurately, for a certain amount of holding taxpayer dollars that could have been spent on more productive things.

the standard of living is on a glide path to making a soft landing,

For certain values of "soft," "landing" and "glide."

prices are pretty stable,

For certain values of "pretty."

no terrorist attacks,

For certain values of "terrorist."

health care plodding along.

Turning one corner after another, I gather. At this rate, y'all will go all the way around the block by the midterms. Then all that will be left will be catching up to where you are now...

Really, while we all love the smell of fabric softener dew on freshly mowed astroturf, this is getting a little tiresome.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 09:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 05:26:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since it's EuroTrib, I suppose it's OK to ask if the problem is democracy itself, in the age of universal bullshit propaganda.

Example: Global Warming Remedition versus the NonHuman Global Corporations.

Corporations not only don't have morals, they don't even have the structure to generate morality, but they're making all the decisions.

Where is the control over corporations?

Is it time to consider the kneejerk axiom that democracy is best? We don't have it anyway, as so many here complain constantly.

What's a better system of governance?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:47:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good questions, but I got distracted by a reading you a wee bit wrong.

ormondotvos:

What's a better system of governance?

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All power to the wikicracy!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't have political democracy without economic democracy. Since economic theory is anti-democratic, pretty much by definition, the act of voting is irrelevant when real power comes from buying Senators and Congress people.

So no - we don't have democracy, and have never had democracy.

With economic and media democracy, rather than pantomime vote-for-nothing-much democracy, more enlighhtened management might become more likely.

Or not. But it would be an interesting experiment. And if the population were educated in social responsibility and participation from birth, who knows how it might work out?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 07:24:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Since economic theory is anti-democratic, pretty much by definition"

Example? Economic theory is about the interactions of humans, so I'll expect your theory to be more than the inane "rational actor" crap.

And, please, no presumptions that bad actors drive out good actors, since that is very much a subject of dispute.

Group evolutionary theory, etc. Now that we've finally got participatory communication, rather than broadcast top down communication, it's possible we can figure out how to sort out the overload.

I see the human perception of information as William James' description, "a buzzing, blooming confusion" talking about what the world looks like to a newborn baby.

The question is: "Who's the caretaking adult?"

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Example? Hayek and all of the neo-liberals, who believe explicitly that political power should be mediated by markets, and that if people are excluded from decision-making as a result, that's not in any way a bad thing.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:35:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gee, I wonder if "Hayek and all the neo-liberals" would take exception to your characterization.

And are they "economic theory" all by themselves?

Please explain.

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by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politically, they're the only economic theory that matters. No one cares what heterodox heretics think, and they certainly have absolutely no influence on US policy - the US being a country where a centrist like Krugman might as well be Karl Marx.

A bit of reluctant pseudo-Keynesian pumping over the last year hasn't done a lot to change that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 08:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't find any explanation in this, just assertions.
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 08:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ormondotvos:

Group evolutionary theory, etc. Now that we've finally got participatory communication, rather than broadcast top down communication, it's possible we can figure out how to sort out the overload.

I see the human perception of information as William James' description, "a buzzing, blooming confusion" talking about what the world looks like to a newborn baby.

The question is: "Who's the caretaking adult?"

as to the first point, this is indeed a radical change, and one that still gives me a lot of hope.

great james quote!

the caretaking adult has to be all of us, that way we reduce corruptibility, that's the real group evolution to theorise. (one of them anyway)

great discussion, btw. the varied and sometimes opposing viewpoints are all well expressed, and perfectly mirror my own schizophrenia about obama.

you make your case extremely well.

'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 Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 06:24:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Educated from birth" brings in another wonderfully annoying element: what part is the government allowed to play in the education of children in evidentiary thinking, or to be blunt, religious education?

My current guide in this is "The God Virus" which is a current application of meme theory. Following Dawkins and Susan Blackmore, positing the human mind, social aspects and all, as the substrate, the meme as virus can very productively be traced through many biological viral behaviors, especially reproduction and competitive techniques with other viruses, such as secularism and scientism.

Anyone who's ever argued with a religious person about the existence of gods knows the shutdown of reason that occurs in defense of faith. Transferring those crippled rational faculties to everyday life might be the reason for all these failures to function in voting and consumption of more than one's share.

There's a lot more.

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by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 09:11:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ormondotvos:
"Educated from birth" brings in another wonderfully annoying element: what part is the government allowed to play in the education of children in evidentiary thinking, or to be blunt, religious education?

yup, that's a very slippery fish to hold.

i appreciate your tact, it's obvious you fully understand just how close to the nerve that one can go.

i don't see why atheism and (comparative) religion can't both be taught, and then let the child decide.

anything more religiously specific should be a matter of family and individual choice.

allow for respect for all belief-systems, as long as practicing them does not impinge on others' space.

sayonara proselitisation!

'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 Tue Dec 22nd, 2009 at 02:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
And if the population were educated in social responsibility and participation from birth, who knows how it might work out?

well, from birth might be a challenge, (nursery wallpaper, tattooed breasts?), but pretty damn soon after!

this point is crucial,imo, and cannot be over-emphasized.

right now most of the social programming during our most impressionable years has remained diffident at best, breathtakingly ignorant at worst.

which explains so much of the oikiness...

'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 Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 06:05:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Democracy has shown itself to be without mate when it comes to creating rich and just societies. But first past the post democracy? That's where a part of the rub lies.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 12:31:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rich and just societies.

rich and just for whom, the few favored?

perhaps 'richer, and juster' might fly better...

PN alert :)

'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 Mon Dec 21st, 2009 at 06:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That takes the cake for dismissive labeling.

Boutique terrorism.

And of course, relate the number of victims to auto accidents and such.

Been done before.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 02:11:52 AM EST
If it's been done so often before, then you should have no problem answering this simple question:

If terrorism is an existential threat, why is are commuters still permitted a personal automobile?

Not that I seriously expect you to answer. Rootless at least has a structured argument, however much I may disagree with his premise and conclusions. This thread... not so much.

(I note in passing that depriving commuters of their automobile is a considerably smaller restriction on individual, collective and political liberty than - say - the Patriot Act, Baghram/Gitmo/Abu Ghraib, criminal wiretapping and telco immunity or any of a dozen other extralegal activities undertaken in response to the alleged threat of terrorism.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 09:09:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Care to reply to the other comments about the 'existential threat' that ETA does not pose?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 09:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, boutique terrorism, because
These aren't nice guys, but they're sure as Hell not up to planting ten no-warning bombs set to go off simultaneously in train cars all over Madrid. That's way, way out of ETA's league.

Whereas it's absolutely textbook Al Qaeda tactics. Multiple bombs; simultaneous explosions; maximizing innocent civilian casualties. That's straight out of the bin Laden playbook.

A couple years ago ETA bombed a parking structure at Madrid's airport. Two Latin Americans died in the blast because their failed to be evacuated after ETA's phoned-in bomb warning. ETA pretty much apologized for the deaths. Boutique terrorism sounds about right.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 09:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Ormond's comment is supposed to be a reply to this, not a top-level comment.

ET 2.0 feature request: the ability to reattach a comment at a different point of the comment tree.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 10:00:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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