Stuck In The Middle With You
John Heilemann has a cover story in the current issue of NY Magazine titled Obama Lost, Obama Found in which he details the challenges and opportunities facing the President. I took the time to read it last night, on the eve of the President's trip up to my birthplace and childhood home at West Point.
The President is going to irritate most everyone with his Afghanistan policy. The liberals want us out asap and a big troop increase is going be yet another sign that he's not one of their own. The conservatives will hate his emphasis on an exit strategy. And even if they approve of this decision, they'd never support him on anything and never will.
Heilemann points out that Obama's approval rating is now sub 50 percent and even more worrisome for him and his team is that his "job disapproval" rating is in the mid 40s, higher than any president at this stage other than Bill Clinton.
His support of Bush's economic policies on the meltdown (ie the splurge) were pro-business and placed him as a friend of the banks and wall street and an enemy of the man on the street. His push to get healthcare reform done early in his presidency has also eroded much of his political capital. And now with his decision to re-invest in the war in Afghanistan, he is facing another political hit.
I've got many liberal friends who are at their wits end with Obama and think he's completely blown it, that he is spending too much time negotiating/pandering to the right with nothing to show for it. And I've got plenty of conservative friends who are saying "I told you so". I can't think of too many friends who are happy with the choices Obama has made.
But I'm having a hard time arguing with any of the decisions he's made to date. He is a pragmatist and anti-partisan who seems to me to be doing a pretty good job of playing a pretty bad hand.
His decision to support and expand the splurge are distasteful on many levels, but we have restored the markets confidence and the financial system is functioning. It could have been so much worse.
His decision to focus on getting a healthcare plan passed that covers almost everyone early in his Presidency is borderline political suicide as Clinton showed. But if not now, when? The US is the wealthiest country in the world and it is just not right that we can't find a way to offer basic healthcare to our citizens.
His decision to support and expand the war in Afghanistan is the hardest of his decisions to date for me to support. The US-installed government in Kabul is corrupt and hated by its own citizens. Propping up a government like that has never worked long term and I can't imagine it will work now. But Afghanistan is a strange place where loyalties shift daily and troops fight for the Taliban one day and the Northern Alliance the next. I want to hear the President out on this one before I come to any conclusions. We'll get that chance tonight.
I believe Obama is suffering from governing from the "far center" and pleasing nobody in the process. My favorite quote in the Heilemann piece is from Alex Castellanos, a republican media consultant:
He’s stuck, and it’s kind of ironic. Obama has
tried so hard not to be George Bush and Bill Clinton, and yet he is
becoming exactly that. The guy who ran against ideological division has
brought it back with such a vengeance that he’s lost the middle, but
not sufficiently to make his base happy. He’s got no friends.
Have people – already – forgotten what it was like with Dubya (and his self-serving entourage) at the helm?!
He created high expectations and they are very hard to meet: his clean “beautiful” objectives on Guantanamo, Irak (is not as easy at it suddenly seems), Afghanistan, Palestine, Global Warming and Health Care got a reality check from global interests and partisan positions. We like what he stands for, but is he a Don Quixote ? In any case, I’ll ride with him, I think he is our best bet.
Yes he did create high expectations and others amplified them even higherI never bought into the hype and I’m not as upset as a result
I’ve never understood why people (on either side) think he’s an ideologue. He wants to fix health care not because he believes in “socialized medicine”, but because if he doesn’t medicare will fail spectacularly.The man is a pragmatist.
I agree. He lives in a partisan world though
As Megan McCardle asked, why not fix Medicare first? Wouldn’t it be simpler and cheaper to do that without adding a new, expensive middle class health care entitlement? The answer is pretty clear: the Democratic priority is to offer a version of government health insurance to every American; putting Medicare on a fiscally sustainable path is secondary.This is is similar to President Bush’s tack on Social Security years ago, except that Bush actually paired a real cost-saving reform proposal (progressive indexing of benefits) with an unrelated conservative policy priority (private accounts). There was nothing stopping Bush from setting aside the hobbyhorse of private accounts and fixing Social Security first by proposing progressive indexing alone, but fixing Social Security wasn’t his main priority, just as fixing Medicare isn’t Obama’s main priority.
Because medicare as it exists now is unfixable. It is a public health insurance program for only the most expensive patients. The actuarial tables just don’t work.Fixing it means one of two things.Killing mediacare.Or expanding it to include healthier people who are less expensive to insure.The pathetic thing is we already have public health care. It’s called the emergency room for the poor and medicare for the old. It is the stupidest possible way to run a public option. Treating people in the ER is one of the most expensive and least effective ways to provide health care.So if you really want to kill socialized medicine you need to allow ERs to turn people away. I don’t think we as a society are ready to find dead people on the street.
Adding younger people to Medicare won’t lower Medicare’s costs; it will increase them. If your proposed solution is to get younger people to foot more of the bill for Medicare, a simple way to do that would be to raise the portion of their payroll taxes that goes toward covering Medicare. Currently, only about half of Medicare costs are covered by the payroll tax. Let people see what Medicare actually costs and get a handle on that before expanding a version of it to everyone.Another way to lower Medicare costs would be to phase in a higher eligibility age for it, as was done with Social Security. Let non-indigent Americans stay on their private insurance a couple more years.Your mention of emergency rooms is a red herring. Poor Americans already have government-provided health insurance: it’s called Medicaid.
Point is that the incremental cost of adding young people to medicare is low. The vast majority of your lifetime medical expenses come in the last few months of life. Raising the age won’t help much except in that more people will die before coverage kicks in, it’s the end game where all the money is spent.As for emergency medicine… Most poor people (well over half) are not covered by medicaid. I spent summers in college working as an EMT. The emergency ward situation is no red herring. I suggest you spend some time in one.
The incremental cost of adding a younger person to Medicare may be lower than adding another senior citizen, but it is still an additional cost. You don’t save money by spending more. Raising the age of eligibility would save money because Medicaid would then cover fewer patients.I’m not sure where you get your stat that “most poor people” aren’t covered by Medicaid. It’s certainly true that some individuals who are eligible for it, are unaware of that and haven’t signed up for it. It’s also true that illegal immigrants are ineligible for it, and often show up at emergency rooms (a problem which can be ameliorated by enforcing our existing immigration laws).
Medicaid eligibility varies on a state by state basis.As for medicare; It’s not a zero sum game. Catch certain diseases early and the overall cost of those diseases is much lower. Put off treatment until medicare coverage kicks in and the overall cost of treatment goes up.In fact raising the eligibility age may increase overall expenses because treatment will take place later in the course of a disease and more extraordinary (e.g. expensive) treatments will be required.
I am aware that Medicaid eligibility varies by state. I remain skeptical of your claim that more than half of all poor people aren’t eligible for it.If memory serves, the idea that early detection lowers overall costs has been refuted by a recent study. Yes, it lowers costs in an individual where the disease is caught early, but in the aggregate it raises costs because the costs of applying the early detection exams to the thousands of individuals who won’t get the disease exceed the cost savings of the early detection in the individuals who will get it.In any case, a more detailed discussion of this topic is probably beyond the scope of this blog. I recommend you check out some of Megan McCardle’s posts on this. She’s not an ideologue on health care, and has had her share of criticisms for both sides. But she has a better grasp of the details than most commentators and she has raised valid questions about the proposed legislation.
I’ve seen young people on medicaid. My age, younger. It’s bad. really bad. Sometimes they don’t qualify. And everyone I talk to my age is very nervous, because all do realize that in fact, we do need some sort of insurance, and it is not the kind everyone else needs. It is that we may do stuff, and we are trying not to get pregnant or desperately ill. And if something super serious comes up (severe accident or sudden disease that is extremely lifethreatening), we have no idea what to do. And yes, I do know young people where this has happened to.It’s a scary world out there for the young… We’re not a red herring. We’re just floating by.
+1 on this comment
“We must expand the ponzi scheme, for if we don’t, it will collapse!”That’s the problem with liberal policy….eventually you run out of other people’s money. I hope that’s sooner than later and we can get back to the Constitution and the focus our efforts on increasing the role of LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
being the president is even more complicated than being a public company – people evaluate you today for actions whose outcomes are far in the future. That being said, I think he has made the mistake of not creating more specific benefits for citizens who don’t work in the finance industry. As JLM suggested a few days ago, if he is serious about job creation, why not create temporary – or permanent – tax relief for small businesses being hammered by a never ending list of fees; payroll taxes on payroll, bank fees to fund the FDIC bailouts, COBRA payments that last 18 months after you let someone go (making it extraordinarily difficult to hire someone full time and offer them health care benefits).
I can’t disagree with JLM’s suggestions. They are good
Where did JLM make these suggestions? In a different comment thread?
YesGo to disqus.com/jlm and look aroundSearch will be coming soon
I thought I saw it once upon a time.
Fred- I agree with most of your post, and like you, I think I’m one of the few moderates left. I think the TV media, in a blatant appeal for ratings, has pushed the electorate further from the middle. The hardest decision for me to support is not Afghanistan but the positioning of health care reform. To me, the driver of health care reform is not covering the uninsured (as noble a goal as it is). You can do that with Medicare. The driver is absurd cost escalation and rediculous practices for small businesses (like jacking your rates by 50-100% after your company has a few claims). Few businesses or consumers can handle the types of premium increases we have seen over the last decade. Obabma could have had business and consumers on his side in the healthcare debate if he had made reform about cost. He blew that one badly IMO.
That’s a great criticism
I agree with you Rob.
Agreed on the substance. I wonder if you can truly get the consumer on your side with a cost cutting message alone. Unless you find a way to get doctors & nurses on board with you and show how patients will get better outcomes though they receive ‘less’. It’s not about how much care you get – it’s about getting exactly what you truly need (and still afford). Long term it’s hard to see how you can avoid a multi-tier system: basic healthcare for everyone (with some form of rationing) and optional insurance for everything beyond that.
I usually stay quiet on politics online, but I have to side with you here Fred. Because of spin meisters on both extremes, he suffers from a perception that he is pandering to both sides and failing to accomplish anything with either. But I too am “stuck in the middle” (and disgusted with both political parties, but republicans more at the moment). Afghanistan really troubles me — I also want to hear his rationale but believe that the admirable motivations that are leading us down this path are papering over fundamental problems in that country we cannot fix.I’m just glad we have Jon Stewart. Our TV news media is starting to look straight from a sci-fi movie.
i hear the same things fred -i know its an easy out – but i feel we are falling victim to a grossly outdated system of government. Washington has become a heaving amoeba of inefficiency and corruption and will consume the best of administrative or policy intentions.it would be great if there were a market that treated these massive silo’s of inefficiency and ‘exploded’ them like whats happened in media and music.but i also echo JLM’s POV in that he would do good to show a measure of stronger leadership.
Too bad JLM’s not a CEO coach. Obama could use his coaching
or put prodigy’s firestarter on his ipod 😉
I need to put it on mine!
Those of us in the middle should be proud to stand up and shout it in an age of polarization. There is nothing that gets me more excited online than when a person is comfortable admitting that he or she agrees on one issue and differs on another. For my part, I am strongly pro-health care reform. On the flip side, I am against protectionist legislation (pro-free market).Hey moderates, let’s get it together by being open to support “our guys” on some issues and “the other guys” on others. Wish we could make that cool again. Here’s trying.
On the popularity issue, here is a collection post from a friend that shows (second bullet item) that the drop isn’t necessarily a drop. Also an interesting tidbit about election trends.http://jdeeth.blogspot.com/…
“The US is the wealthiest country in the world and it is just not right that we can’t find a way to offer basic healthcare to our citizens.” I agree with the sentiment of this statement but on a governmental level it just isn’t true. We are looking at a $13 trillion national debt and >$1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see. While there is personal wealth, the government is bankrupt and I have zero confidence that placing an already broken system in the government’s hand is the solution. I would love to see a our innovation economy attack this issue. I tell everyone in favor of a public option to spend a week working with MSPRC and CMS (both Medicare related agencies) and find out what you’re really asking for. It isn’t pretty.
Not to mention that a generous first world welfare state is incompatible with the effectively unlimited third world immigration Obama hopes to see when he gets around to immigration reform (this is another policy area where he and his predecessor are on the same page). If you want to offer generous government benefits to everyone, you can’t continue to import poor, unskilled immigrants who consume more in government resources than they pay in taxes. The math just doesn’t work.
Dave – is there a 3rd party objective data set on the “consumer more in government resources than they pay in taxes” meme? My intuition would be that unskilled immigrants contribute a factor more to overall GDP growth than they consumer in gov’t resources but at this point it’s only an intuition. Is there a non-ideological think-tank that’s done a study on this? I hear it a lot but don’t believe it. But always happy to be wrong in the face of facts.
See The High Costs of Cheap Labor, by the Center for Immigration Studies. The CIS describes itself as independent and non-partisan, and the data set it used for this study came from the Census Bureau. The CIS also notes that the results of its study are similar to those of previous studies by other organizations. From the link:Our overall conclusion that education level is the primary determinant of tax payments made and services used is very similar to the conclusion of the 1997 National Research Council report, “The New Americans.” The results of our study also closely match the findings of a 1998 Urban Institute study, which examined tax payments by illegal aliens in New York State. In order to test our results we ran separate estimates for federal taxes and found that, when adjusted for inflation, our estimated federal taxes are almost identical to those of the Urban Institute. The results of this study are also buttressed by an analysis of illegal alien tax returns done by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Treasury in 2004, which found that about half of illegals had no federal income tax liability, very similar to our finding of 45 percent.
Am I being spurious when I conjecture that measuring tax payments of illegalaliens is the wrong metric.How would the cost of goods and/or what would be the drag on the economy ifwe starved it of low-cost labor?It seems we’d need to take into account the estimated increase in the costof labor and/or the decline in productivity with a decline in the illegallabor force and then measure that total dollar figure against the economiccost of supporting these folks. Again, my instinct is that, given thechoices US businesses already make every day, the answer is overwhelminglyin support of letting more illegal immigrants into the country rather thanless.
See p. 6 of this report, also from the CIS. It focuses on unskilled immigration from Mexico, but the same points would be true of unskilled immigration from elsewhere. Excerpt:There is no evidence to indicate that the United States has a shortage of unskilled workers that needs to be satisfied by immigration from Mexico. The real wages (adjusted for inflation) of high school dropouts who work full-time actually declined 7.2 percent in the 1990s, while the real wages for other workers increased. Also, the number of jobs available for unskilled workers declined by 400,000.Although Mexican immigration is likely to have a significant impact on the wages of unskilled natives, its overall impact on prices in the United States is very modest because unskilled labor accounts for a very small share of economic output. By lowering the wages of unskilled workers, Mexican immigration in the 1990s reduced prices by between 0.08 and 0.2 percent. As a result, immigration from Mexico is almost certainly not an effective tool for holding inflation in check during periods of economic expansion.That was written back in 2001. Today, we have 10.2% unemployment, and 25% teen unemployment. There is no shortage of unskilled labor in this country, and no compelling reason to import more of it.
I agree but working with a health care insurer is awful too. Its not clear to me that there are any innovators in health care insurance right now
Why would anyone risk capital “innovating” in health care insurance right now with the industry literally in the crosshairs of the federal government?
It would not be in the crosshairs if it had been innovating instead of sucking us dry
Why not open it up across state lines and increase competition first??There’s about a 4% profit margin as it is. Personally, I find my choices of plans to be extremely innovative….tons of options….premium vs deductable, etc.The real issue here is we are subsidizing the world’s R&D and technology in health care. Once we turn it over to Sam, the results will be a catastrophic drop in advancement. That, and people demand insurance for expected, routine costs!! Wtf?
The debate about health care is not about health care insurance, it is about FREE health care.Automobile insurance does not provide for gas, oil, tires, brakes, maintenance or depreciation.The current health care debate provides for the payment of the first dollar — for a tongue depressor.Everybody should have skin in the game and provide for their own routine health care and health insurance, like automobile insurance, should pay for catastrophes.
No question….on a side note….I’ve never seen a group of soldiers sounenthusiastic about their “leader as last night”. Of course, it was “enemycamp” http://bit.ly/8SWm8J
Every cadet sitting in the audience is convinced that they will ultimately wear 4 stars and they are willing to risk their lives to make it so. Only 0.0001% will actually attain that rank.They are the best and brightest that America has to offer and they are disciplined to be polite, couteous and respectful — in particular to the chain of command which ends with the guy performing the linguistic gymnastics last night at the teleprompter.Some of those kids were thinking — don’t end the war before I get there and have the chance to garner three rows of ribbons and two promotions; and some were thinking — good, damn good! Some of those WPers will volunteer for the Infantry and some will volunteer for the Finance Corps. Not everybody is really a warrior even at WP.It would have been interesting to hear their chatter afterwards.It is a sad commentery on the state of the media when they think that West Point is an “enemy camp” when in realty it is the altar at which we prepare the sacrifices which in the future will be necessary to ensure our freedoms as a Nation.These kids are literally the leaders who will ensure we remain free. They barter 5 years of service for a college education and are prepared to die for the country in the bargain.Any person who cannot see or imagine the reverence in such an arrangement is a thoughtless stooge.
Because we don’t have a better system….also what is routine for some is not routine for others…
what do healthcare, banking, and education have in common?three industries with1. enormous opportunities for entrepreneurs2. inspirational to entrepreneurs and most humans in general3. impossible to capitalize upon because govt steps in and ruins everything for anyone who isn’t their friend (99%+ of the world population)
Perhaps if there was a free marketplace where you could innovate what goes into the plans and sell to a pool of 300 million customers, there would be innovators in health care. We sure need them.
Fred, I find myself right there with you, as well. I consider myself a pragmatic moderate, who is in favor of free markets, in favor of health care reform, and is wondering how our country seems to have developed some kind of ADD. It’s been amusing to watch the liberals who bashed Bush for everything he did suddenly go out to defend Obama on everything he does (I was no fan of Bush, but he didn’t do everything wrong). In the same vein, it’s amused me how the conservatives who didn’t mind huge deficits for things like Iraq have suddenly found religion on spending and debt with a Democrat as President. I wondered on yesterday’s post if the growth of new media has helped give rise to fringe beliefs, and either way you can see the cable news (which need to fill 24 hours of programming) and others have this sort of ADD, where they fixate on a certain story that means nothing in the grand scheme of things.Afghanistan was a thorny issue for me, but I sincerely hope Obama made the decision according to his conscience rather than a Lyndon Johnson-like belief that not escalating the war would cost him a 2nd term.I think Obama needs to do 2 things moving forward. First, he needs to simplify his explanations. I never understood why he spent so much time trying to say what a “public option” was when he could have so easily said they would drop the age restriction and let anybody who wanted buy into Medicare. Second, he needs to really call for sacrifice and common purpose. It bothered me that Bush had the uniting event of 9/11 and capitalized on it by….asking us to go shopping. I think we’re all ready to pull together for a common purpose, and our President needs to help the cause.
I think he’s doing the tough stuff first so that he can get it out of the way well before the next election. It makes sense to me. Now let’s see how the next few years shape up. Clinton may have not done well at this point in his presidency, but many people I know say he was the best president we have had in a long time and he did a very nice job winning the second term.
This is exactly why I originally supported Clinton in 2008. We knew we would get populism, pragmatism about the war(s), and some bold quasi-liberal moves from her (health care). Obama ran as the guy who voted against Iraq and “change” – us cynics knew the realities of that happening when someone becomes an executive. Clinton’s speeches mocking his idealism are sounding exactly on point now. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt but his jiu-jitsu politics are really annoying me.
Like giffc, I tend to stay mum on politics online. What’s the point really as my opinion is no better informed than anybody else. What I think Obama has not done (and no one before him has done) is to take a look at what the US would like to do – and then match it up with what the US can afford to do. If there is one thing that sitting in front of a Bloomberg screen all day teaches you – is that there are capital flows around the world that determine what certain countries can do. Currently, Dubai can do nothing at all – they have mortgaged their future on a Vegas like dream. The question for Obama has always been where to spend his political capital pushing things through and how to pay for these things. When I read about the surge in Afghanistan I wonder why we are there (are we still looking for Osama bin Laden 9+ years later?) and how we are going to pay for it (a 5% surtax on the wealthiest to pay for the war in Afghanistan? Really?) Universal healthcare is a noble cause for sure – but how are you going to pay for it? I’m not saying that the market should decide everything (probably a very bad outcome for many) but equally silly is the idea that the government should solve everything and can afford to solve everything. And I think that is why Obama is stuck in the middle – he would probably like to be more left in his social policies – but he is running up against political realities. When you have 60 votes in the senate (and some of those are tenuous) a congress that is hugely unpopular, approval ratings slipping and disapproval ratings rising – you become a pragmatist really quickly.
Yup. That is very true
Interestingly enough in the history of American taxation, ESTATE TAXES were first enacted as war taxes. In the past, they were terminated when the war ended. They forgot to terminate them at the end of the First WW.
the american people love to be taxed….add up all the taxes (state, county, federal, gas, sales, cigarettes, property, capital gains, etc) and the average person is paying over 50% of their income. and this does not count the inflation tax, in which more money is created and purchasing power lost.the department of defense also used to be named department of war up until mid 20th century….teh renaming has to be one of the greatest PR i’ve ever encountered IMHO
Add payroll taxes, excise taxes and fees and you are @ 70%. We are sheep.
Fred,Obama did continue the Tarp policy that was started during the Bush Administration, and you’re right that, for all of its faults, it has at least temporarily stabilized the financial system. But the “splurge” could also be used to describe the ~$800 billion fiscal stimulus Obama signed, which was poorly designed and would be a stretch to call “pro-business”.In reality, Congressional Democrats used that fiscal stimulus as a blank check to enact a number of their longstanding policy priorities, and President Obama signed onto it. A smart stimulus package would have acknowledged that we can’t have a sustainable consumer-led recovery, given the burst of a secular consumer debt bubble, and would have included more fast-acting measures to stimulate business investment (e.g. a 50% tax credit for purchasing new equipment which was set to expire at the end of this year). Also, longer-acting infrastructure spending with the potential to increase future productivity would have made sense (e.g., JLM’s suggestion of building more nuclear power plants).Regarding your question of when to create a new government entitlement: how about not when our federal debt is expanding so sharply that confidence in the dollar is starting to shake? It’s worth quoting Yu Qiao, a prescient Chinese observer who wrote the following in the FT earlier this year:Most of Mr Obama’s stimulus spending is devoted to social programmes rather than growth promotion, which may exacerbate America’s over-consumption problem and delay sustainable recovery. On top of this, the unprecedented fiscal stimulus, with the Federal Reserve’s move to inject money into credit markets, contains self-destructive seeds. The US risks ending the dollar’s role as the reserve currency, especially considering there is already $10,000bn (€7,535bn, £7,009bn) in US Treasury debt, and much more in liabilities from the costs of social security, healthcare and financial institution bail-outs.The provision of stable, reliable and viable dollars may be subordinated to short-term US interests, posing a risk to global monetary stability. In the long term, America may seek to resolve its economic mess by devaluing the dollar at best and a default at worst. This is depicted in a Chinese proverb: “Drinking poisonous liquid to quench thirst”.Professor Yu’s proposed solution, in summary, was for Chinese and other foreign savings in U.S. dollars to be channeled into business investment in the U.S. instead. It would have made more sense — from both a political and economic perspective — for President Obama to focus on achieving a sustainable recovery first, and hold off on adding expensive new entitlements until our current entitlements have been placed on a sounder fiscal footing.
All true but when dealing with congress perfect is the enemy of god
Hahaha, Freudian slip? I know you meant “perfect is the enemy of good” but I kind of like the idea that Congress is the enemy of God better! LOL
It could also be that my blackberry keyboard is slowly dying from all this disqus action over the years
You should have the ruggedized 1MM mile Blackberry based on level of abuse alone. You may also require a thumb transplant? LOL
Its dying. I gotta get a new one
Not yet. Getting the bberry bold 9700 today
1. 9/11 was an inside job, so that settles the afghanistan/war issue right there.2. the economic/financial problems stem from government monetary policy. we can fix monetary policy through social gaming and game currencies. 3. once the entire global economy is virtualized (i.e. run through virtual currencies), there will no longer be an ability to finance war. 4. or, if you want to fix monetary policy through conventional legislation, check campaign for liberty. and support the audit the fed legislation in congress. contact your rep and tell them they must vote to pass the audit the fed bill. make sure it is the bill ron paul is supporting and not the other one they stuck in there as a diversion. the movement to audit the fed is growing and gaining awareness which is critical and a trend that needs to continue to be cultivated.
I could have written this comment for you kid. You are consistent with your convictions. That is admirable
i’m going to try to use zemanta’s api to create the kid mercury blogging widget, which interprets the content on the page and gives the appropriate conspiratorial response from kid mercury. will be disqus compatible
I support the wondrous utility of semantic pattern matching.
That would be so cool….
I’m finding in my conversations with friends, family, etc., that agreeing or disagreeing with Obama’s decisions isn’t really the most important attitude.It’s how much slack we are willing to give the guy – it’s how willing we are to say, “it’s only been a few months,” or “let him be the president” – that is the lens that filters his performance.
Fred, I know you get grief for your occasional political postings, but I just wanted to offer a vote of support. As media becomes more and more fragmented, the loudest voices tend to be the most polarized. It’s therefore refreshing when someone who has a megaphone (like this blog) voices a moderate opinion and reminds us that we’re not alone in trying to take a pragmatic view of things.
I just wish I could vote this up about 10 more times…
Amen! I am tired of hearing nothing but hell, fire, and damnation from BOTH aisles. Both sides think the other is the evil spawn of Satan, trying to destroy America. Can we forget all the partisan stuff for a few years and just stop spending the next generation’s money?Thank you, Fred, for using your megaphone to voice a reasonable political view to our community. Political discussion should not be taboo.
Andrew, you are a nice guy.
Fred – He was dealt a bad hand, but he has made it progressively worse on his own. He campaigned as the anti-Bush but he has reverted back to Bush over and over. 1) Guantanamo: said he would close it, now has no plan to do so. 2) Don’t ask don’t tell: said he would fix it, hasn’t done a thing. 3) Bush had a poorly conceived, unaffordable prescription drug benefit; Obama has a poorly conceived, unaffordable health care overhaul. 4) Bush had his protectionist moment with steel; Obama has had his protectionist moment with tires. 5) Bush delegated the leadership, governing and legislation to ultra-partisan Cheney; Obama has delegated leadership, governing and legislation to ultra-partisan Pelosi and Company. 6) Bush was nasty talk, no action on Iran; Obama is nice talk, no action on Iran. 7) Members of the Bush team were exposed as being unethical while in office; many Obama appointments were shown to be unethical before getting to office. Yes, he was dealt a bad hand. But WTF! He keeps digging holes that neither he nor the party will be able to climb themselves out of. Being articulate only gets you so far.
Unfortunately, only Allstate Insurance is in the “good” hands business. Every President is left with a leadership challenge. If one can’t cope with solving problems, then the Presidency is not a good job fit.Dwight D Eisenhower — 5-star General, Commander of NATO, President of Columbia University, Chmn of Joint Chiefs, Commander of Allied Forces — balanced 8 budgets while facing down the Chinese at Quemoy and Matsu, getting us out of Korea, defusing the Berlin situation, built the US nuclear arsenal and initiated the Interstate Highway system.The Russians were scared shitless by Eisenhower (declassified documents from Goldsboro Krushchev summit) because they knew this guy could run a damn war.DDE turned the government over to JFK — Navy Lt who had his only command sunk — who the Russians pressed by actions in Europe and putting nukes in Cuba. They thought he was a pussy.Who we elect means something and our enemies will test the weaklings.Perhaps America was dealt a “bad hand”?
All fair criticisms but hopefully he’ll deal with many of these in good time, unlike Bush
I hope so too but the amateur-hour aura is just killing me and his administration. The Economist editorial this week, mostly on foreign policy, is worth reading. http://bit.ly/51cOs2 “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”
Interestingly, I was speaking with my mother about this issue not just a few days ago. She lives in SC, without getting into details about the local population, she is somewhat disillusioned by the local residents who seem to criticize everything and anything his administration has done, whether it has results were positive or not. Not to mention there is still a not insignificant minority who are holding up the “Show us the birth certificate.”I personally think his Afghanistan strategy is a good one, but I also think his exit strategy is a little optimistic. I’ve always said that Afghanistan needs a Marshall-esque plan that would make Europe 1940’s look like a playground project for NYC. I also always said that Iraq was a distraction away from Afghanistan, which was the real problem and will continue to be. If one examines the last 6-12 months of the Bush presidency, we can see the failed Afghanistan approach, and I think now we are starting to gain some traction (pardon the buzz speak).Interestingly, his detractors (on the right) often will say things like “he’s accomplished nothing” and yet in the same breath say “he’s changing everything!”. People are always reluctant for change, even those on the left. This is especially true when it comes to changing ideas, but he still has 3 more years (and maybe 7).
“Pragmatic” is a funny word. In one sense it means ‘practical’ and in another definition it means ‘officious and meddlesome.’ I do not think that President Obama is pragmatic. I think he is overwhelmed and is one of those overly smart and clever people who has a tendency to “fake it until you make it.”He is a “philosopher king” not a “warrior chieftain.” He is a weak and ineffective leader whose schooling unfortunately has been in the Chicago School.He came to office in a perfect storm — very, very unpopular President in very trying times when no President could have been particularly popular and he had perhaps the worst/best opponent possible. Every strength that Candidate Obama possessed was mirrored by a glaring weakness in his opponent.In addition, he ran a masterful campaign, communicated like a wizard, employed technology brilliantly, completely seduced the media and raised money like a dervish. Unfortunately, none of these accomplishments are particularly useful when it comes to formulating policies that will work.Nonetheless, we have elections in the US to pick OUR President and though I may not agree with his governing philosophy and policies, he is MY President and I will do everything possible to ensure he is successful for the sake of our Nation and countrymen.I do not park my conservative view of the world at the door but I do not resort to small mindedness in opposing his policies — I suggest “better” policies or refinements of his policies. Therein lies the real debate.In my simplistic — perhaps pragmatic? — view of the world that is the difference between being a patriot and being a political hack. I put the good of the Nation before the interests of any political party. I support or oppose policies on purely intellectual grounds. I am not afraid to support good policies regardless of from whence they come and I feel no obligation to support policies simply because they are propounded by those with whom I may have some affinity. I only consider the policy or the idea.
As my father used to say, you are a gentleman and a scholar.
“Nonetheless, we have elections in the US to pick OUR President and though I may not agree with his governing philosophy and policies, he is MY President and I will do everything possible to ensure he is successful for the sake of our Nation and countrymen.”Great comment. More right-of-center folks should think this way.
Do we all put too much power into the role of president?I read over the wiki on presidency in order to refresh my knowledge of their leadership role.The origin of the presidential role is pretty amazing, glad I was motivated to read it by your comment JLM. As a non-politically interested fellow, thanks for inspiring interest. Well worth the time.
You are a gentleman and a Scholar, but he was not schooled here. And I’m slightly offended by that, because I’m sitting in one that School’s dormitories! He did not publish for a law school journal while here, he never spoke for the Aims of Education or Remains of Education addresses, etc. if anything, beyond Pickup, he was fairly inactive, unlike his wife (who worked for the hospital, and was part of a number of very controversial decisions that the hospital made).If you value my comments, it is in large part that I took the Core, particularly classes that are known as more “classic core” (though I regret not taking either western civ or european civ). The school teaches a way of writing and thinking that is distinct. Even though there seems to be a tendency to graduate a lot of teachers/professors, I’m not sure that’s the goal. Sitting in on classes where I was required to read the Republic (I really need to get another translation, Blooms of course), it seems the goal always was to get you to question the underlying reasons why something is the way it is. They drilled me, and it was a challenge, and a good one at that.And trust me when I say this: Chicago People are different than East coast people. We’ll never get over the fact that we are in the Midwest, not an Ivy League School, and try to think too much. If anything, the last administration had just as much UChicago influence as this one. Paul Wolfowitz ring any bells? He also went here. So did many people. So am I (currently).It’s an education. I liked mine. I made friends. (Hi guys!) I’m proud of the Maroons. Judge the man, not the school…
I was speaking metaphorically and actually meant the Chicago School of Bare Knuckle Politics, you know, the Chicago Machine.I certainly did not intend to cast any aspersions toward your school as I know next to nothing about it however your spirited defense indicates it must be a very, very good school. Sorry.
It’s considered a top ranked school, but I would have gone anyway. I think they did a great job, being so close to graduation. I wish more people could appreciate the toughness, the dorkiness, and the intellectual atmosphere that they really try to cultivate so that students really learn and want to continue learning their entire lives. That’s a great quality to have in a school, even if it weren’t considered top ranked. The people are extremely nice, well mannered, friendly, in that midwestern way where people are actually trying to be average and work hard. (even if the student body is from all over)It is a very unique school, with unique traditions. I’m glad I went here (even though I had to fight to go…)Edit: There was a whole note here about how there is such thing as the Chicago School of ______ particularly for economics, and the school itself is having parts of its public image slaughtered. So I wanted to apologize for misreading. That’s all.Edit: They actually have a wikipedia page on this. That’s depressing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…
Schools that teach you to learn and love learning are worth every penny. So few do that. MIT did that to me. Wharton didn’t
A lot of people I know who went there said that.I have to ask: Did you do a hack while you were there? I’ve heard of some really crazy ones…
I did not. But I have a great coffee table photo book of the best hacks that my dad gave me
Amazing. There are many good points mentioned here. One I would like to elaborate more on is Afghanistan’s technology- or lack thereof. Technology educates societies, informs individuals, and disseminates information. Look no further than Iranians use of Twitter during the last presidential election.Currently, social (or any) technology is unavailable to millions of uneducated Afghans. As a result, Afghans are swayed by the Taliban everyday through false accusations against Western civilization. I mean, what else do Afghans have (in terms of information gathering) to base their opinions on?The main difference between Afghans and Iranians is that most Iranians are tech-savvy and can afford technology-enabled devices individually. In Iran, hackers and bloggers kept the information networks open during the last election. The same cannot be held true for Afghanistan. However, I will speculate that even ONE computer connected to the Internet (and taught to be used by Western countries) will empower an entire village to make decisions on their own- without the terrorist’s political intervention.What our country needs to do is help Afghanistan establish technology standards and infrastructure to reach out to the uneducated majority. Cell towers (or satellites) need to be built (and protected) and technology devices, such as cell phones and netbooks, need to be affordable (or free).Instead of spending billions on the traditional War, we should be spending billions protecting and setting-up technology hubs for “freedom-fighters.” The State Department is already doing a fantastic job promoting Western technologies (particularly in Iraq). (@alecjross, @jaredcohen, @twitter, @google, @howcast, et al)In my opinion, war (both international and civil) is not won (mostly) on the battlefield any longer. It is won on the Internet. It is won by the people who fight for change. Hell, it was won that way here…
Modernizing afghanistan seems like a monumental but worthwhile goal
That is true. It has to start sometime. Sitting back to wait would be tragic.
How do you keep the seed investment safe. The conduits for information are great targets.
“. . . you got to get yourself together, you got stuck in the [middle] and now you can’t get out of it, don’t say that later will be better, you got stuck in the [middle] and you can’t get out of it.”- U2, “Stuck In a [Middle] You Can’t Get Out Of”But why is he stuck? Yes, pragmatism, inexperience, being dealt a bad hand, being non-partisan, but is there something else going on?What’s bugging (and driving crazy in some cases) his supporters, of which I am definitely one, is not simply (some of) the decisions he’s making but the fact that those decisions seem to have lost the guiding spirit that brought him into office.”… but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, / nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”If Obama loses whatever guided him in the election that’s encapsulated in the above, whether it be through his own failings, the people around him, or circumstance, then he truly will be stuck.I’m happy as one citizen who elected Obama in these “interesting times” to let him govern from the middle, take the long view, and make mistakes (or decisions I don’t agree with) in the process.But what he owes me is an explanation that’s consistent with the spirit behind the leader that I elected. I know I’m owed that. The real definition of being stuck will be losing this connection with the people.
Ah, now that I’ve read John Heilemann’s piece, I can say that I agree very much with his conclusion:”The challenge for him—and what he does so well when he is so moved—will be to explain those choices, to educate the electorate, to speak to us as adults. To lay out what he believes and why, along with a vision of the future to which he wants to shepherd the country.”
Proposals/Actions:Socialized Healthcare first step.Massive expansion of federal government spending via “stimulus”Government takeover of auto industryAdmitted Communists in “Czar” positions”Apologize for America” world tourCap and Tax slow industry takeover based on a hoax”Pay Czar”Citizen trial rights granted to terrorists committing acts of warCeding of US interests to international organizationsThere is nothing “center” about any of this, and he will have to continue to be a “pragmatist”, because WAY too many of us love our individual liberties to stay silent.Bottom line: He beat Bush/McCain in a natural kneejerk reaction to a bad presidency, with the unrepentant aid of the unquestioning mainstream media and the votes of millions of Americans who were doing nothing more than placating some bizarre white-guilt and proclaiming “I’m not a racist!”Welcome back, Carter.
Honestly I don’t know any conservative that disagrees with the concept of insisting on a proper exit strategy, as long as it starts with “after we win” 🙂
View the surrender ceremony of the Japanese on the deck of the Missouri to define “exit strategy”.
Wait….I thought “winning”, “profit”, etc were bad now?
Havng been a professional soldier and having been educated at VMI and having studied all of the traditional military subjects and philosophers (von Clauswitz, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Moelder, BH Liddell Hart, Thuycides, Xenophon, von Schlieffen, Caesar, Vauban, Jomini, Eisenhower, etc), I can only say that the war in Afghanistan is a pissant, little skirmish which a Command & General Staff class exercise or an Army War College class would dispense of within about 4 hours. Maybe 90 minutes if they were under the gun.The military challenge of the Afghan War is a pissant little war and our enemies are an 18th century bunch of foot soldiers with lousy weapons and the inability to operate on an organized basis greater than in company strength (2-300 riflemen).They have no ability to conduct sustained combat operations, no ability to respond tactically or to deliver a meaningful riposte, no ability to resupply on the run, limited abilities to communicate beyond the battlefield, no ability to bring reinforcements to a decisive engagement, no ability to exploit local success in battle and no ability to care for their wounded.The elephant in the room is not being addressed — Afghanistan is a “narco” state whose livelihood is drugs. Since the American intervention cultivation of opium poppies has increased 20 fold.Drugs are illegal and this illegality spawns a level of corruption beyond one’s wildest dream. Afghanistan is a corrupt political state with no functioning law enforcement or judicial system. All outcomes are open to barter.Afghan GDP is about $12BN on a currency exchange basis and about $23BN on a PPP (purchasing parity power) basis. We will likely spend more than the entire Afghan GDP on our military in the field. At some point in time, we should “tender” for the entire country and make it part of New Jersey.Al Qaeda is in the NW Territories of Pakistan and the solution is unbearably simple — find them, fix them, kill them where they live. Pakistan is going to have to get over their sovereignty issue (read — their support for Al Qaeda and the Taliban) and allow the US to unleash the Rangers, Special Ops in the first wave to pin them down and the Marines, 10th Mountain Div, Airborne and straight leg infantry in the second wave.Give them fair warning and anything that moves and is bigger than a donkey gets a dance card filled by a waltz with an MQ-9 Reaper UAV.The road to victory in Afghanistan does not require advanced calculus. It requires a blood thirsty employment of naked power and a fierceness which will ultimately save American lives. It will require steadfast leadership and will not be solved with a beer at the WH picnic table.A commander would simply command his generals: “Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden and the deed to the country side of Afghanistan within six months or bring me your resignation. Set your watches, gentlemen, it is now zero hour. Good day.”
Great “post” JLM. So spot on. The problem with all of these “wars” is that they are actually over within hours or days of beginning. My theory (works in personal life as well as military): Don’t go to war unless you’re willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to completely destroy your enemy….AND willing to BE completely destroyed for the cause. If you’re not there yet, don’t start the fight.
You post is spot on JLM! I came from the aspect of having to work with the tribes in Afghanistan while executing exactly what you’ve proposed. You said it so much better!What really concerns me about the current situation in Afghanistan is the President’s own words:”I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur,”Mr. President, that’s exactly what victory is and what we want. Eradication of Al-Qaeda and surrender.
The President is not the student of history he contends he is.The Japanese surrender was rendered by General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Japanese Army General Staff on BEHALF of the Emperor and the Japanese Government. The Emperor Hirohito never appeared on the deck of the USS Missouri — one of the ships sent to the bottom of Pearl Harbor.It is important to note that Gen MacArthur did not allow only the military forces to surrender but forced our opponents to state unequivocally that it was the Nation of Japan and the Emperor himself who surrendered. This was no accident. MacArthur was a shrewd student of the Japanese culture and knew that the Japanese people would follow whatever the Emperor said.Gen MacArthur was equally shrewd when he did not provide for the execution of the Emperor after the end of the war though the Emperor personally approved the attack on Pearl Harbor. Can you imagine not executing Hitler?Thereafter, Gen MacArthur, the American Caesar and the Proconsul of Japan, appeared in public with the Emperor any time he announced a controversial policy — such as giving Japanese women the vote. Gen MacArthur made the Emperor his bitch and Japan fell in love with Gen MacArthur.
I didn’t point out the obvious Hirohito gaff from his quote in hopes that your outstanding knowledge would present itself in a reply. As usual, I was not let down.Thank you!
The most talented american military man since robert e leeBut he overplayed his hand in koreaA fascinating man. One of my favorites
He wanted to go into China when they attacked UN forces in Northern Korea. Such an devilish decision to be faced with.
MacArthur had a bunch of wacky ideas but he was a brilliant strategist.He managed to get himself fired in Korea because of his lack of respect for President Truman, his willingness to entertain national political ambitions, his suggestion Chinese Nationalist forces (who were truly worthless) of Generalissimo Chiang should be used in Korea, his insistence that the US should be authorized to follow Chinese Migs (some piloted by Russian pilots) in “hot pursuit” to their Manchurian airports and the willingness to discuss the usage of strategic nuclear weapons on the adjoining Chinese assembly areas.All after he had been advised to STFU in no uncertain terms and not to make direct releases to the press from his Tokyo HQ.It is interesting to note that Gen Marshall agreed completely with President Truman’s decision and was prepared to level a charge of “insubordination” (a violation of the UCMJ) which is significant because such a charge would entitle Gen MacArthur to a Board of Inquiry and the opportunity to appeal the decision.In addition Sec of Def Acheson, Presidential Advisor Averill Harriman, Gen Bradley and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff.What is funny is that Gen MacArthur in his memoirs chalked all this opposition to old scores and had an answer for each and every one of these folks.
I was always amazed at that decision. Leveraging the Emperor to reduce civil unrest and rebellion was spot on.
Not all victories require the eradication of the enemy
You’re absolutely correct Fred. However when you have the enemy, Al-Qaeda, making it painfully clear that their goal is the eradication of you; when their only focus is the destruction of the Western world, then eradication is the only course of action.
Not really. Their other focus is on gaining power within their own culture. They do this by defining the West as the ultimate enemy, and condemning moderate Muslims as cowards. The more the West attempts to eradicate Al-Qaeda using “hard power”, the more collateral and political damage is done, and the harder it is for moderates to resist the extremists. Of course some of them think it’s all about fighting the West, avenging past wrongs and defending Islam, just as many American soldiers believed the war in Iraq was about defeating Saddam, preventing nuclear terrorism, and avenging the twin towers. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I hope you see the point.
It’s exactly the point that Al-Qaeda wants us to come to. The eradication of Al-Qaeda solves many issues:- The moderates won’t have 2 worry about resisting the extremists (terrorists). They’ll be eradicated.- The global war on terrorism will have made major advances once Al-Qaeda is eradicated.- The modernization of Afghanistan, as Fred & others have talked about, will be on a much faster track with extremely reduced barriers to entry.- It will send a clear message to the world, through a broad coalition, that no one will tolerate terrorism.- It will provide a solid foundation from which liberty and freedom can thrive.Your analogy compares terrorists to American troops. Let’s be clear on one thing, Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization with the goal of destroying the West. Nothing more, nothing less.
Let me spell out my point more clearly: in any given war, the leaders tend to have different, more complex and (usually) more self-serving goals than the foot soldiers. But even foot soldiers will have a range of different goals – in Al-Qaeda’s case some of them will want to avenge a loved one recently lost, others may be trying to right more ancient wrongs. Some may think this is the best way to get to heaven and their 27 virgins. Members of the US armed forces all have different reasons for being involved as well, some of which overlap with their leaders, some of which do not. It is of course, quite a different style of leadership now vs when the Iraq War got started, and I’m not trying to imply any moral equivalence between the two forces, I’m just saying in neither case can you understand them by assuming that they all have the same set of goals, let alone the same singular goal.If you want to eradicate Al Qaeda, you will have to understand them. It’s not like they wear a uniform, and it’s not like they’ll all suddenly surrender after Bin Laden and the other “leaders” are caught or killed. If you really think all that is required to understand them is to know that they have the “goal of destroying the West”, then you are, I believe, playing into their hands.I can see the value of destroying their training camps and killing their leaders, but only so long as it’s done with an eye to minimizing civilian casualties, respect for national sovereignty, and within International Law. Otherwise it will just make the global terrorist movement even stronger and provide yet more justification for attacks on the West, whether in the name of Al Qaeda or otherwise.
I really appreciate you taking the time to elaborate. I understood where you’re coming from the beginning.I and many others are pretty clear on understanding Al-Qaeda. They can wear whatever uniform they want; they can be in Afghanistan, Iraq, anywhere in the world; their objective is to destroy the Western World. Can u name me one other objective that Al-Qaeda has?When u eradicate Al-Qaeda, not just the training camps and leaders, the outcome is pretty clear:- There’s no playing into their hand. They’re eradicated.- Terrorism is severly damaged.- The signal to the rest of the terrorists is simple. You want to be a terrorist? Fine. Welcome to death quicker than u ever thought.Bottom line, their is no justification for terrorists to attack, whether “in the name of Al-Qaeda or otherwise”. Al-Qaeda is a global network of terrorists that need to be eradicated. The world will be a better place in so many ways for every human being on this planet.
Both of you:Extremism relies on belief that one is right. Even as one dies, one is right. I’ve sat at tables with people who affiliate with Kach/Kahane Chai (I in no way affiliate with Kach, don’t ask why this was happening). For those interested, in the US they are labeled a terrorist organization. They believe that they have some sort of essential truth, and that no one else have, and that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t make the situation better…you can’t argue anything, and asking questions to people who even marginally agree with similar, more, yet slightly more mild worldview creates some very blank stares (Having done it.)How do you break a meme like that. A group that thinks it has truth, but may not. As oddly postmodern as this down, how do you go out and convince someone that in fact they don’t have truth…That’s what you are really facing..
Al-Qaeda is based on religious fanaticism. This can best be illustrated by Osama bin Laden’s fatwa:”In compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it”IMHO there is no cognitive dissonance here. Al-Qaeda is interested in one thing only. The cleansing of the Western World of all non-believers. Their words and actions demonstrate that every time. Their interested in amassing power. Why? Because their warped interpretation of the Qu’ran tells them that they are superior to all. There’s no conflicting ideas or “truths” within them.There is no ability to go out and convince Al-Qaeda. This religious fanaticism dates back to the beginning of the 18th century with the beginning of Wahhabism. If you want to understand Al-Qaeda then look to who was the main influencer of bin Laden – Sayyid Qutb.If you want to talk to Al-Qaeda and convince them that terrorism is wrong. That the murder of innocent men, women, and children is not right. Good luck unraveling a centuries old meme. It’s so deeply ingrained that they’ll kill fellow Muslims who don’t agree too.The only thing that we’re facing is a religious fanatic terrorist organization bent on cleansing the western world through whatever violent action is needed.
And Kach isn’t? And I had dinner with them one night. Did you know they make board games? http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Most people don’t realize that they are an extremely radical read of Rav Kook Sr.
We’re talking about Al-Qaeda here. If you notice in the link that u provided it states clearly “Following the banning of Kach and Kahane Chai, the movements officially disbanded.”Did you know that Al-Qaeda kills innocent men, women, & children right now, in the present. If only we could get them to just make board games huh?
That’s because you don’t know actual Kachists and how things change over time. They may or may not be doing stuff, they’ve just become savvier over time. There are a lot of random murders that are clearly jewish on Palestian that no-one can trace, and now their are hilltop youth whcih are much more amorphous (one guy very extreme, another a hippy love child)They became very amorphous and attached themselves to other people. it’s extremely strange in person. And very smart, their point of view now has much more pull and became much more normalized because of the ban…
Which board games? (I’m a rather keen boardgamer myself)
Children’s game, for under age 10. It was a shabbos meal. I just saw itand there was a discussion about the game and the person’s children.
Right, not really my sort of game then 🙂
Excellent question! I really have no idea, but one thing I believe is that almost any group of sufficient size has extremists and moderates, and to some extent it’s about figuring out which ones are the moderates and convincing them that they really don’t want to be associated with the extremists any more. As those people leave the group then the people in the middle have to make a decision, and their own faith may waiver. That’s just a hunch, and IANA Anthropologist! Oh, and I haven’t read Dan Dennet’s “breaking the spell” but I suspect it may help address your question. Here’s a very short clip relating to it: http://www.youtube.com/watc… – note that here in New Zealand, we have more or less arrived at option 4.
I used to study this ad-hoc as a non-professional. Plus I was raised in apretty religious environment I even wrote a paper for a class about theinternet about this intersection once upon a time.The data out there, both case studies and hard data, is pretty bad. Fromexperience.
Well, if you have any useful insights or data you actually believe in, I’d be interested.
I have a huge amount, as well as some ancendotal evidence that seems moreanthropological in focus about the data set, but it was written up poorlybecause I grew up since 2007.But I have great case studies. If you work really hard, you may get to meetsome of the personalities involvedDo you want my contact info or should I get yours?
I certainly agree that wiping out Al-Qaeda would be a good thing. All I’m saying is that in order to do it we will need to understand them better, and not treat them as one homogeneous block of evildoers with a single goal and a central command structure. Here is what I believe to be true: Any group of extremist Muslims can decide tomorrow that they’re going to join Al Qaeda and go blow something up. Or convince some angry young men to go blow it up for them. Some of these people may or may not have been trained in Afghanistan or Pakistan by Bin Laden or his associates at some point in the past. For any given part of the “network” one can be reasonably sure that there is a difference between their claimed goals and their actual goals, their claimed size and actual size, their claimed command structure and their actual command structure (or lack of it). Usually their claims are translated by people who have their own agenda, so there are more layers of truth and un-truth here than for just about anything. Apart from destroying the west, various people claiming to speak for Al-Qaeda have claimed such goals as (1) Restoring proper sharia law to all muslim nations (2) evicting all foreign influence from various holy areas in the middle east (3) building a massive Islamic “caliphate” across some huge swath of the planet. But as I say, what they claim as goals and what their real goals are are two different things, and of course, they could always change their mind, as they have in the past. They lie to eachother, not just the media, and their current “network” is so amorphous that parts of it are not under the control of or even in communication with Bin Laden. That’s my understanding of it. How one eradicates such a beast I’m not entirely sure, but my suspicion is that the more we trample individual and sovereign rights in the process, the worse it’s going to get.
indeed. the “war on terror” thrives on the enemy being perpetually at large….that’s the justification for the security state…..when fear is the objective, the enemy needs to be sustained, not eradicated
Not only that, but America always needs a boogey man. A face or person who inspires a concentration of our enmity. It is also helpful if our enemy does not look “American”.I sometimes suspect that Osama bin Laden has been uncaptured because he provides that utility. To say nothing of the prospect that if were eradicated it might change the geographical concentration of Al Qaeda’s leadership in the NW Terroritories, a very good location for our purposes as it restricts freedom of movement for 6 months of the year.
when is it good to bring your enemies closer, always wanted to know that (keep your friends close, enemies closer deal…)
We should legalize them, regulate them, and tax them
OMG, Fred, Fred, Fred — you CANNOT legalize, regulate and tax OPIUM and HEROIN — but let’s hold that for another discussion
Sounds like a worthy discussion. I like my vices upfront and on the table.
At the very least, as long as we are in Afghanistan we ought to buy up all the opium there directly from the farmers. We can burn it, turn it into pharmaceutical grade products, or whatever, but buying it up directly from the farmers would deny the Taliban revenues from selling it.
the CIA is the one who is taking the drugs out of afghanistan and bringing them to the USA. check the testimony of LAPD officer michael ruppert, DEA agent cele castillo, the film “american drug war” by kevin booth, the work of journalist gary webb before he was “taken care of,” and many others.the money that comes in from drug running then gets laundered through the banks and a bunch of CIA front companies, and basically becomes part of the black budget which congress has no oversight or even awareness of. this money gets used to finance overthrows of governments (like the CIA’s overthrow of Iranian govt in 1953) as well as the development of technology that is suppressed, such as free energy technology which has been obtained through reverse engineering of extra terrestrial technology.all of this information, if consciously embraced, could change the world. too bad we are still coddling ourselves with lies, unwilling to accept even self-evident truths like 9/11 being an inside job. in due time, though, the truth will prove itself to be the most essential ingredient in creating liberty.
I truly believe that much of what you say is absolutely correct.When the CIA latches onto a individual and makes them a CI, they are prepared to allow whatever front or cover story supports their guy to continue and they are prepared to make him successful in whatever endeavor — criminal or othewise — which serves their purpose.Of course, the CIA by the very nature of its business finds itself dealing with some pretty rough scumbags — guys prepared to betray their countries, betray their colleagues for cash or to avoid being killed.I suspect that entire war on terror has become so complex that literally anything is possible.
JLM, legalizing regulating and taxing heroin – is the only way to register the users and keep them from being parents, driving cars, and generally removing the crime from the picture.It is exactly the lack of “functioning smack addicts” which proves the case. These people will do anything for the fix, USE THAT, to remove them from society.
Well, only if we can give them all uncut product?
Opiate derivatives you can. It’s called Morphine, and we use it as people are dying to release them of pain. We could just do “organic drugs”
OK I’m REALLY going to have a problem paying for the healthcare of an entire generation that gets addicted to HEROIN after one legal hit when they turn 21.Weed I can see….but heroin? Damn.
One word: Portugal.
care to explain this one…
In 2001 Portugal decriminalized all drugs. After 5 years, their drug problem was reduced by almost every possible metric. Legalizing and taxing is obviously a step further, but the idea that an entire generation will suddenly get addicted to heroin just because it’s no longer illegal for them to try it has certainly been comprehensively disproved. http://www.cato.org/pub_dis…
There are other reasons to legalize weed….
Oh yes.The only way to control dangerous substances is to legalize them.Anything else forces a black market economy which bypasses all possible constraints.
Awesome post.”Pakistan is going to have to get over their sovereignty issue (read — their support for Al Qaeda and the Taliban) and allow the US to unleash the Rangers, Special Ops in the first wave to pin them down and the Marines, 10th Mountain Div, Airborne and straight leg infantry in the second wave.”I will forever wonder why President Bush didn’t follow that advice. Musharraf was not worth it.
JLM,I’ve been thinking more about this comment of yours and have a few questions for you. – How many troops do you think it would take for us to invade the NW territories of Pakistan? Do we even have enough ground forces for this? – If, as you say, our enemies are an 18th century bunch of foot soldiers with lousy weapons and the inability to operate on an organized basis greater than in company strength (2-300 riflemen).Why are we wasting billions of dollars and hundreds of American lives fighting them? What threat are they to us here? I understand that Al Qaeda trainees climbed across monkey bars in Afghanistan a decade ago, but arguably more important preparations for 9/11 took place here in the U.S. More diligent pursuit of those who express jihadist sympathies (e.g., a U.S. Army officer who gives a presentation about how Koranic law supersedes U.S. policy) and of those who violate immigration laws would probably do more to lower the chances of another mass casualty attack in the U.S. at considerably less cost. – More generally, what sort of ROI do you think we’re getting on the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on defense every year? I ask that as a conservative who considers himself pro-military, and to partially answer that question myself, I’d say that one invaluable return has been the lack of direct wars between major powers since WWII. That dividend has been enjoyed also by Europeans and Asians who have been able to free ride on our deterrent. But our ROI seems to be a lot lower in shooting wars such as the current ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite spending more than the rest of the world combined on defense, we’ve been stymied by a bunch of “18th century foot soldiers” for 8 years in Afghanistan. We have highly-educated, highly-trained generals such as McChrystal matching wits with illiterates. Something seems off here.
Bottom line is both this and the last several administrations have systematically sold out the American Public to corporate special interest groups “public” and private alike. War aside the globalist’s agenda is a steaming locomotive coming to Copenhagen (“now Hopenhagen?”) in the form of a thinly veiled treaty Section 38 of which establishes a new world government and tax usurping the powers of our legislature altogether (Google: “FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/INF”. Whistleblower leaks of data, emails and most damningly source code proving the climate change hoax aside, if you care about this republic then care enough to read the actual text of what they hope to sign next week. It’s time we all stop pointing right and left which they love and instead point at all of them and demand accountability from our mutual representatives legislative, judicial and executive now!
I just finished reading the article and I’m amazed at the complete disconnection of thought and reality. In the article it talks about how Obama is a pragmatist and Fred brought that out in his post:”He is a pragmatist and anti-partisan who seems to me to be doing a pretty good job of playing a pretty bad hand”Let’s remind ourselves of what the definition of pragmatic is – “advocating behavior that is dictated more by practical consequences than by theory or dogma.”Now the definition of ideologue – “An advocate of a particular ideology, especially an official exponent of that ideology.”I have a very hard time agreeing that Obama is a pragmatist or anti-partisan.Over 90% of his Administration (432 cabinet members) have zero, yes zero, experience in the private sector.Every one of the programs that he and his party have implemented or tried to implement has been a program of Big Government. These programs, at best, have been band-aids and not true solutions.Obama is an advocate of a certain ideology – that of Big Government can solve all your problems.As for the President being non-partisan? Really? This doesn’t look to be a non-partisan President. http://www.youtube.com/watc…Want real pragmatism?Stop this current sham of health care reform. The overwhelming majority of Americans are happy with their health care. Take care of the current problems first. – Start with the $38 Trillion of unfunded Medicare debt.- Allow insurance companies to offer plans across state lines. It will reduce costs dramatically.- Tackle tort reform and defensive medicine. Defensive medicine accounts for between 9% and 25% of the total spend of health care in the US.- Promote HSAs. It’s been proven to work already. Whole Foods & Safeway are just two examples.- Let small businesses join together to purchase health insurance for their workers the way large businesses and labor unions do. Just starting out with these 5 items on health care will bring about “an improved form or condition” which is what the real definition of reform is. The current bill in Congress is nothing close to real reform.The Economy?- Allow small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income. This will immediately free up funds for small businesses to retain and hire new employees.- Lower taxes for all taxpayers by reducing the current 15 percent rate to 10 percent and reducing the current 10 percent rate to 5 percent.- Repeal the “splurge” package. Deficit spending by governments doesn’t work. Just ask Japan who is entering their 3rd lost decade as we speak.- Freeze ALL new government spending immediately.Afghanistan?What most people don’t realize about Afghanistan is that it is run by the tribal chiefs. There’s a thousand years of tribal protocol and customs. Establish relationships and work with the tribes in Afghanistan, not the corrupt government of Afghanistan. You will find success every time. I encourage everyone to go and read “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. It gives a clear, first hand account of the dealings with Afghan tribes and their customs among other things.What I want to see from the President during his speech is a clear plan for combating terrorism within Afghanistan. I want to see a “this is where we are at, this is where we want to go, and here is the plan to get there”. Nothing more and nothing less.Let’s address what I think is a clear failure in leadership from the current President and members of his party in Congress. That is the consistent blaming of President Bush for the current situation. Don’t get me wrong, I blame both sides of the aisle but the US did not start 8 years ago. The current situation that the US finds itself in started decades ago. A good leader doesn’t go around saying “Hey, I didn’t create this mess, give me a break” after promising that things were going to change in Washington. That’s called being a whiner.In closing, let’s start dealing with reality. Big Government does not create or save jobs, it never has and never will. The current health care bill has nothing to do with real reform. Every program that Congress has put in place this year has been a band-aid or an outright failure.The job of the President and Congress is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and in doing so, each American is able to freely enjoy their individual pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness through limited government. Right now, that’s not even close to what is happening.
scesc–Very well written and thoughtful . I do think Afghnstan is a bottomless hole and what do you have when you win–a country that you have to rebuild at the tune millions dollars.
Thank you Bob. What do you have when you win in Afghanistan? The foundation for freedom. Nobody said it would be easy. Freedom never is.
Peter….that’s just an excellent post. I really have nothing to add, other than the “compassion at gunpoint” crowd can shove it. I’ve had enough of the PC collectivist nonsense and I’m quite certain the pendulum is about to move back towards individual liberty and founding principles with high velocity. At least, that’s what allows me to sleep at night 🙂
Thanks so much Andy. I agree that the pendulum is swinging back with high velocity. I love “compassion at gunpoint”. Isn’t that a form of terrorism? Just kidding, I think. 😉
LOL….It is, at least, the height of arrogance.
I’m closer to your and Andy’s side of the political spectrum than most here, I’d venture, but to play devil’s advocate: couldn’t one argue that “compassion at gunpoint” is what we’re attempting in Afghanistan?
I don’t think anyone can clearly elucidate what exactly we’re attempting inAfghanistan. Could u argue that “compassion at gunpoint” is what we’reattempting in Afghanistan? Maybe. Then again if that’s what we’re attemptingwe would have heard that from the President by now.I’m going to reserve the balance of my time for after the President’s speechtonight. 😉
Any chance you’re related to Bill Fleckenstein?
I guess there’s a connection somewhere around the 1700s but other than that no.
Peter,To casual observers, President Obama often appears more centrist and pragmatic than he actually is. That’s partly a result of his skill as a politician, and partly a result of most observers being insufficiently informed.Good comment, btw.
So the only crisis we have then is an educational crisis. Abolish theDepartment of Education! 😉
President Obama is a MASTER of perceptions. No camera angle is left unexplored, no prop is ignored.Witness only his setting for tonight’s speech. Amongst America’s pre-eminent school for the development of warrior chieftains. Thereby implying that he too is a warrior chieftain. Nay, not so but pretty clever trompe l’oeil? You betcha!President Obama always ensures that you will receive him as he desires you to perceive him. He is masterful.
It goes without saying that Obama is an exceptional politician and that the average observer is pretty clueless. On the other hand, Fred is anything but a casual or uninformed observer, and he still feels Obama is centrist and pragmatic. Me too, fwiw. And let’s just be clear that “pragmatic” means good for the nation, not necessarily good for Obama’s re-election chances, although one might hope there’s a certain amount of overlap there given the timeframe.
I don’t know how closely Fred pays attention to the political details; he may be basing his perception of Obama as a pragmatic centrist on casual observation. Fred’s got a pretty full plate, taking in information related to his businesses and potential investments all day, so it would be understandable if he didn’t have the time to delve into the political details. His response to this comment of mine would be consistent with that possibility.
Just what level of attention to detail are you looking for here? Fred clearly has a pretty high bandwidth brain, and politics is well within his wider interest area. I’d say he’d be within the top 0.1% most politically involved and informed people in the nation. You might want to look back at some of his posts before the election if you haven’t been following him for very long.
Sethop,Instead of arguing from authority by linking yourself to Fred, why don’t you tell me — based on the policies President Obama has enacted so far — why you consider him to be a moderate.
I don’t think I made such a claim. I think he’s primarily acting for the benefit of the nation. Whether that makes him a “moderate” depends on your point of view. One thing I will point out is that many of the best economists in the USA (and the world), who to some extent will tell you capitalism is the only game in town, will also say that massive govt spending is the appropriate policy response to a massive global recession. I’ll also point out that from the POV of the rest of the western world, the democrats are very much a right wing party – highly corporatist, dominated by religious people, very pro-military….I’m just saying.
As I noted in a comment on Bijan Sabet’s blog, Most people were in favor of a fiscal stimulus. I was too. The problems I mention above relate to this fiscal stimulus. You stated that you support the President’s policies to rebuild the economy. I’m still wondering which ones you are referring to specifically. If your argument (and Fred’s) is that this was the best of all possible stimulus packages Obama could get through Congress, I have to disagree. He didn’t even attempt to pass one that would primarily address the imbalances; he went for hair of the dog. The difference between his position and Congressional leaders’ seems to have been one of degree, rather than one of principal.As for your contention that the rest of the world considers Democrats to be “highly corporatist”, I don’t disagree, but I have to ask: compared to what? In any non-communist semi-advanced country (i.e., any country that has corporations) corporations will attempt to influence the party in control of the government that has the power to tax, regulate, and subsidize them. Why wouldn’t they?
Compared to what? I guess compared to the rest of the western world – I’m not sure if there are any other western nations where corporations have quite as much pull with the major *center-left* party as they do in the US with the Democrats? Perhaps with Labour in the UK? Hard to say. I’m not saying that corporations shouldn’t have a say, I’m just saying they have more of a say in the USA. Actually, I’d forgotten all of the stuff Obama has done to prevent corporate influence on his whitehouse, so that particular point is irrelevant. The democrats may be highly corporatist by world standards, but Obama isn’t. Does that make him a flaming lefty? No, not really. It does mean that he’s far more likely to enable good decision making based on solid evidence instead of subtly favoring the businesses and industries that gave him the most money for his campaign. Surely that’s a good thing?As to the stimulus, I certainly didn’t claim this was the best package Obama could have got through Congress, and neither did Fred or Bijan. It’s not like Obama was the architect or the controller of the various stimuli anyway, though he certainly had some influence. I’m sure everyone agrees the money could have been spent better, and I’m sure everyone has different opinions on *how* it could have been spent better. Shrug.
Not that it has much to do with the original discussion, but corporations are more closely entwined with ruling parties (left or right) in parts of the Western world that still have substantial government ownership of large corporations.”It does mean that he’s far more likely to enable good decision making based on solid evidence instead of subtly favoring the businesses and industries that gave him the most money for his campaign.”On what “solid evidence” are you basing your claim?”As to the stimulus, I certainly didn’t claim this was the best package Obama could have got through Congress…”I’ll ask you again, since you haven’t answered: based on the policies President Obama has enacted so far, why do you consider him to be a moderate?
Evidence not provided by corporate lobbyists? Evidence that comes from the scientific community and reputable economists instead? Empirical evidence rather than faith based “evidence”? It seems obvious that sort of stuff will have a greater sway with Obama since he didn’t take money from lobbyists to win the presidency and won’t take it to win the next one.As I said “Moderate” means different things to different people, but I’ll make the argument that the far left and far right both seem to hate Obama, so that probably puts him fairly close to the “far center” if there is such a thing. I sortof like the label “Post partisan” – it implies that he’s not planning to pander to the democratic “base”, and will take principled and reasoned positions on individual issues rather than pushing the party line for each one. Sadly it looks like the republicans in congress will oppose everything regardless, because it seems like their party line now consists mainly of “we hate Obama and everything he stands for” – which has got to be a bit tricky for him to work with. To be honest I’m not paying much attention right now. I’m living in a different country and it’s not like there’s an election around the corner or anything. In light of that I’ll try very hard to stay out of this sort of comment thread till 2012!
Bravo, Peter. I agree with almost every sentence you wrote. (Rare for me on a blog comment!)Without necessarily disagreeing with your points on Afghanistan, I still think that fundamentally finishing the job will require a surge of troops, so here’s one conservative willing to say “it looks like the President is doing the right thing on Afghanistan.”There is nothing “middle” about what the President is doing. He has lost the middle of the country. One pollster recently put it this way: if you ask voters about a government program President Obama is proposing, the ones who haven’t heard of it automatically assume it’s large, centralized and involves huge amounts of government spending.Republicans have made just as big of a mess as the Democrats have. Let’s not forget that it was President Bush who passed a brand new Medicare prescription drug benefit that layered another $400 billion of debt onto the economy over 10 years.What I especially love is how the current administration is claiming this health insurance bill costs less than $900 billion. If any entrepreneur went into Fred and said they could do a startup for 33% of the normal cost over three years, he’d naturally ask how? When the reply was “we won’t actually start spending any of your capital until the third year,” he’d throw the person out of his office.
Thanks so much Aaron. I’ll be able to say “it looks like the President is doing the right thing on Afghanistan.” When the President, who has zero military experience, does what his profoundly experienced Generals suggest to him. Why would a President say 30,000 troops and deploy them in 6 months instead of giving McChrystal the 40,000+ and 1 year time frame he requested? Simple – The President wants to claim this as his.I think Fred is one of the smarter peeps out there and he’d probably have thrown the guy out after he said I can do it for 33% of the cost.;-) Perhaps that’s what the American people will do in November 2010 & 2012.
I hear you on the troop levels and timelines. What we don’t know is if the general’s recommendations have truly changed, or he’s sucking it up and accepting half a loaf.If the former, the President is doing the right thing. If the latter, I’m right there with you.I’m actually more interested in McChrystal’s testimony to Congress than the President’s speech for that very reason.
General McChrystal proposed 3 troop level scenarios to the President. He took none of them.http://blog.heritage.org/20…McChrystal’s testimony will be interesting.
I think it may be relevant here to point the fact that McChrystal is a total asshole.
Sure. When someone in America:1. Through his talent and hard work puts himself in a position to make millions of $$, and2. Turns down these millions of $$ to serve his country after 9/11, and3. Loses his life in the mess that most wars are. you owe such man and his parents some respect! You don’t fabricate some fantastic lies, and use his death to further your career and to please your bosses. Everyone I know is completely disgusted by this creep. (Those who don’t know, McChrystal ordered the Pat Tilman coverup)
Having been a Ranger (though I never served with a Ranger unit), I can understand a bit how an elite unit is reluctant to expose casualties from friendly fire.I understand it but do not condone it.I agree completely with your criticism and assessment of the role that Gen McCrystal played in that debacle. I suspect he did not “order” the coverup but rather allowed it to happen, added to its scope and did nothing to allow the truth to solve the problem.For that he is culpable and he was reprimanded.What hangs in the balance is whether that disqualifies him for further command or whether that is sufficient to dismiss him from the military. Understand that General officers are reluctant to discipline each other at that level.It calls into question the relationship between Eisenhower and Patton during the Italian campaign when Eisenhower relieved Patton over the slapping incident but gave him command of 3rd Army in the invasion because he was America’s best tank commander. The ultimate results appeared to vindicate Eisenhower’s judgment though he ultimately relieved Patton at the end of the war.McCrystal is President Obama’s boy as Gen Petraeus was President Bush’s. Both were selected and jumped over senior officers — not an unusual action — to get their positions.
Impressive comment Peter.I admit to not paying close enough attention to politics over the past 35 years or so. I think we need to reboot the system (guess I fall under libertarian if I had to pick a bin).My ideal government is one where the checks and balances paralyze them all. Split supreme court, and democrat vs republican executive and legislative branches.Lobbyists without a hope of passing anything.Generally government decisions leads to more problems than they address.
Thank you Mark. Let me catch you up on Congress & politics over the past 35 years: Spend, Spend, Spend, Waste, Waste, Spend, Spend, Spend.Given the fact that I am conservative it surprises a lot of people that I am disgusted with both aisles of Congress. I have been for quite some time.The government that you wish for can be found by following the U.S. Constitution as it was written and through the founding principles of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and limited government.Thanks again.
I probably shouldn’t get into this, but…I am a pragmatist. I also know quite a bit about health care. Not having reform will continue the dramatic cost shift that’s been taking place in America since the 70s at least, in which the poor show up at the emergency room, the most expensive place to get treated, and the middle class and the rich pay for it with high health insurance premiums. Costs are shifted all over the health care system, allowing for incredible waste and fraud. That’s why it costs $10 for an aspirin in a hospital.The uninsured also cost businesses a pretty penny in lost productivity, especially in the small businesses that can’t afford the premiums.I could go further, but you might want to see http://www.ushealthcrisis.com or HuffPo for more of my posts on this. Political issues to the side, we can’t afford not to do health care reform, although I’m disgusted with the way Obama is handling it.The idea that 85% of Americans are satisfied with their insurance is hilarious to me. It means they haven’t had to use it yet. When do you get angry with your home insurance company? When you find out what it DOES NOT cover. You don’t find that out until you have been robbed. When you get sick, you find out what your health insurance, which you and your employer have been paying for all these years, doesn’t cover. Sometimes the consequences are horrifying. Truthfully, the uninsured get much better care than the insured. I’m the widow of a doctor and I ran his office, so I know. We used to laugh about the irony of this before he died twelve years ago.I love how Americans like to jump into conversations and offer “simple” solutions to complex questions. And you can’t enjoy your individual pursuit of life, liberty or happiness if you have cancer and can’t afford treatment. Medicine was not a business for the Founding Fathers. It was an art. Why is it a business now?
Your reply was so important that I wrote a blog post in response – http://blog.flecksoflife.co…
Are you kidding? Middle? Does a middle Democrat politician push legislation that is opposed by 99.5 percent of the Republican legislators? Does a middle politician put Navy Seals on trial? Put terrorist murderers of nearly 3000 in a legal system guaranteed by God to citizens, not enemies of our nation? Accuse our industry of destroying the planet with this Global Warming Hoax? Appoint a Gitmo Terrorist Lawyer to be AG? Appoint a tax cheat to watch our treasury? Appoint a Dakota Tax Cheat (Tom Daschle, unsuccessfully) to ruin our free market health care system? Obama is Acorn, embracing prostitution and tax dodging while accusing the worlds best doctors of performing surgeries just to make a buck. Shame on you for calling this horrid hater of America, and hater of the God Given rights that limit Washington DC as being middle. He is not middle and neither are you.
But you clearly are
me too. apparently it’s lonely at the top, the bottom and the middle. life is hard (and good).
agree in many cases he’s stuck in the middle, and so long as that is a reasonable and realistic place to be with real conclusions and action that moves us forward, i got no problems with it.but in areas like health care, he is way unstuck in my mind and firmly on the left. and to me, that is the single biggest thing he’s tried to do with his presidency thus far.the stimulus was great, but would have been done by anyone on the right or left in that dire circumstance.in afghanistan, he is (as my grandmother would say) trying to sit with one tuchus on two toilet seats. you know what happens when you do that — you shit all over the floor.his foreign trips are nice and all, but what concrete value will they bring?this is all about health care, and i think there he is overspending, undercutting, and i fear we may not end up with a system better than what we have now with rational coverage for all americans at the end of the day rather than a bloated, inefficient system with a huge tax on the populous.
+1 Fred – I’d like to think there’s a silent majority that cares more about the future of our country and all of its citizens than they do about party ideology (on the left or the right), but even if our numbers are smaller than that I appreciate your willingness to speak up.
Fred -Disagree on a lot here but there are two issues where I think even his most ardent supporters should have a hard time defending Obama.First, his continued willingness to sacrifice his leadership responsibilities to whatever Nancy Pelosi drafts is insane. He has shown a complete lack of leadership on all major issues since coming to office and has been very willing to sit by and allow Congress to do the same BS they have been doing for years. A LEADER would have softened some of the most extreme liberal positions in healthcare, cap and trade and the bailout and would have forced his party to get in line. That would have bought him support of more moderates. Additionally it would have given him legitimate bi-partisan high-ground against the most ardent conservatives like myself.Second is his continued rhetoric of blaming his predecessors. It is truly stomach turning. Obama continues to act and speak as if he has somehow been conscripted into service and is ‘stuck’ with problems. Every President is stuck with problems created by predecessors. Obama campaigned that he was most qualified to be the leader of this country, he has been President almost a year and continues to rely on a ridiculous device of blaming everything on those who came before him. You know I am a George Bush fan but this has nothing to do with defending Bush, it again has to do with acting like a leader.Imagine you were a Board member of a company with great potential that was facing a lot of problems and huge strategic problems. You decide you need a new leader and fire the old CEO. You interview and find the best candidate. Man can he interview. He can speak so well, man what an exciting first Board meeting. Then at every subsequent Board meeting you sit there as the big strategy presentations are done by waring members of the executive team and the CEO, the leader you’ve brought in, sits quietly as they argue. Ultimately the biggest bully gets her (Pelosi in case this example is too contrived) way and that’s what the company does. As things continue to be shitty for the company the new CEO continues to blame the previous-CEO for all problems seemingly oblivious to his own faults.I suspect you would be pissed. I suspect you’d be outraged. I suspect you’d call the CEO and say something along the lines of ‘You are the leader, we hired you, you need to create a strategy, you need to rally your team, you need to shut up about the past and worry about the future, you’ve been here a year act like it is your job’.Ultimately the ‘I told you sos’ aren’t just typical partisan squabbling, it is that the biggest fear of Obama was that he was a great speaker with no actual leadership experience. He seems quite eloquent, he seems quite intelligent but I cannot think of a single thing he has done thus far that makes him look like a better choice for your party than Hillary.
Russ is very artful in many things. I don’t agree with him on politics but I’d want him on my team in any game
Madame Secretary has begun to grow on me just a bit. Long gone are all the show pony Ministers with Portfolio (Holbrooke, Mitchell, et al) and Sec Clinton has done a commendable job — well, absent that goofy RESET button. What adult thinks up such nonsense? The Russians must still be laughing about the error in translation. Sheesh!Interestingly enough, Hill exactly framed the issue when she noted Candidate Obama’s ability to deliver a great speech while being devoid of any — literally any — executive experience.She certainly has been a team player. And many thought she would be a pain in the butt.
Just to make sure: the “biggest bully” is the 69-year old grandma Nancy Pelosi? That’s what you are saying?
I guess I default to David Brooks analysis on Obama’s handling of key issues to date when he says that “some administrations are staffed by hedgehogs, who are guided by a few core principles (Bush). But this one is staffed by foxes, who respond flexibly to situations.”Not only does that positioning freak out individuals on both extremes, but the reality is that it’s messy, and in political discourse we don’t deal with nuance real well. It’s all broad brush stroke.My biggest frustration with Obama to date is simply that in such a context people need a clear narrative, and he has done a poor job communicating the core philosophies and trade-offs that will drive his presidency.After all, there is a big difference between pragmatism and expediency, and communicating how that intellectual parsing will be handled by the Obama administration is where I think people ultimately get anchored on what to expect the next three years.
I agree with where you are headed but think it is perhaps a false choice to be limited to only one or the other. Take, as an example, Gen of the Army George C Marshall.A fantastic military commander/planner, SEC of State, SEC of Defense and the proponent of the Marshall Plan.He most effectively waged war — in Winston Churchill’s words the “architect” of allied victory — and then as effectively waged peace saving all of western Europe from Communism.We may be looking for foxy hedgehogs in the mold of George Catlett Marshall.
@JLM, I think that we are saying the same thing; namely, get away from the tyranny of the Either/Or, and embrace the AND where logic dictates. These are paradoxically complex times, after all.My only point is that in absence of a clean/clear narrative, it is easy for either side of the extreme to paint you as they see fit, and the bottom line is that it legitimately freaks people out, as the other extreme is absence of convictions and just an embrace of expediency for expediency sake, which is the worst kind of political pragmatism.
One can be smart, tough, idealogical and principled. And progressive and effective.If when President Obama first took office he had called in Pelosi and Boehner and said to them:”Please bring me to a list of the ten (10) most important short term health care reforms we can effect and which your caucuses will support unconditionally.”and then when they arrived, he had selected three from each list (maybe initially the ones that overlapped to the maximum extent) and said to them”This will be the first, simple health care reform bill we will all support.”he would have successfully effected bi-partisan health care reform.Not health insurance reform. Not free health coverage. Health care reform.We have got to get done first the things we all agree about, ignore for a short time the things we don’t agree about and build some trust on how we reason together and be unafraid to allow our competing views and ideas to wrestle with each other.I suspect that in the end, we will find there are infinitely fewer things upon which we disagree and many things upon which we agree and a great deal upon which we can compromise. And those upon which we cannot agree, we will realize they are not worth sacrificing all the progress we can otherwise make together.It is amazing how much one can accomplish if nobody cares who gets the credit.
If common sense prevailed in politics, then the process that you describe would be a certain practice.But, it’s become extraordinarily toxic at the national level.When something pathetic, like one Republican congressman, sides with the healthcare bill pushed by the President – and the birthing of the bill was seeded IN congress – you know that your peer isn’t receptive to a bi-partisan conversation at the present time. In effect, the Republican Party is playing the ‘single term at all costs’ hand.That’s a harsh truth, but if you’re playing at home, that suggests a move whereby you reset the context by changing the field of play.To do that, Obama could set the Administration’s Narrative as being about ending partisan politics, and then have a national conversation on priorities, values, costs and our willingness as a society to pay the real price in either direction.Make the process really transparent across all sorts of media and social services, as under those bright lights is a great place to effect common ground. I think that you’d get something truly bi-partisan in that case.
Of course, we are all “just playing at home” here but the very tone of your rejoinder shows the nature of the problem. No sooner is the “idea” surfaced than it takes on a partisan character — your words describing the conduct of the Republicans rather than the legislative process.It is all too easy for us to take sides because it suggests to us what we should think — the talking points trap. Most of us do not need talking points to formulate our opinions. We need facts, concepts, ideas and discussion that informs us on the tasks at hand and enough time to evaluate them, consider them and to arrive at our own conclusions. Once we have our conclusions made, then WE need to influence the legislation.It is worth noting that the development of the health care legislation was done without the benefit of the refinements which might have been the result of committee hearings, subcommittee meeetings and a meaningful floor debate on a more refined product.Instead the legislation was written by invisible third parties, compiled under the cloak of darkness, rationed out to supporters, produced as a final product in such a gargantuan proportion that no person could reasonably expect to read, evaluate and respond to it and then precipitively voted upon as a matter of partisan loyalty.I actually think that Candidate Obama had it right but frankly his paucity of experience in the Senate did not arm or inform him sufficiently to “change” the process.It is worth noting that the process I suggest has, in fact, been the norm of the conduct of the Congress as an example I would suggest a careful review of the civil rights legislation passed during the Johnson administration. The tapes at the LBJ Library in Austin, TX @ the LBJ School (Univ of TX) show President Johnson discussing the proposed legislation with members of both parties and engaging in the type of legislative compromise which is necessary to enact meaningful legislation.Of course, Pres Johnson was an experienced legislator and had been VP before shouldering the burden of the Presidency. It is also worth noting he was known as a mean SOB and that the legislation itself in his view “delivered the South to the Republicans for the next 50 years.”Leaders take followers to places they would never go left to their own devices.
Well, I knew that I was setting myself up by citing the hard data on voting (or lack of votes) by the Republicans in this case, but I think that fact is telling as to the definition of the situation.That said, and to your point, the very decision to birth this in Congress, speaks to leadership/decision-making, as Obama had to know that the Democratic leadership would fortify the bill with partisan provisions, which in itself affirmed the partisan, business-as-usual tone. Been meaning to read one of the Caro/LBJ books. Maybe put one on Obama’s Amazon Wish List, too. 🙂
Please do not take from my comments any personal angst, I see us as a couple of guys reasoning together.The Republicans should propose meaningful legislation themselves. Hell they have access — though not the same power — to the same legislative process. Shame on them for not burning the midnight oil and coming up with a superior idea. If I were the Republican majority leader, I would be showing off a PPT of OUR competing ideas at every opportunity. Being a back bencher does not mean you have to keep your seat.It is however a bit laughable when a single nominal member of the other party obtained under whatever circumstances stands for the proposition that this legislation is bi-partisan.The Caro books are great. LBJ was quite a crook but he was the driving force behind the advance of civil rights in America. I have driven through Johnson City — hardscrabble little Hill Country town — and looked for the roots of the genius that drove this decision. I have never found it.Conventional wisdom was that it was Ladybird. Quite possible.
Not at all (no angst). Discourse is a good thing. 🙂
That’s the point Heiliemann makes in his NY mag pieceLet’s hope Obama reads that or your comment and adresses it
The ‘narrative problem’ is a recurring thread in the media so he and his advisers have to know about it.One can only guess that given how measured this guy is combined with how steep the learning curve is for figuring out how the presidency really works (most new presidents waste two years of their first term just figuring it out) he has invested the year in truly ‘compositing’ his constituent audience so as to discern how best to address it relative to his end goals.That’s the hope, at least.
Fred-I tend to agree with your assessment. Obama’s issue is that he is a thinker and a pragmatist and is only concerned with “the art of the possible”. Thus, to many, on many sides, he is uninspiring and may be the most effective but least emotionally satisfying president we’ve had in a long time. I was and am an Obama supporter but I always understood the change he described not to be about wholesale reform of the government but of applying reason thought and an amount of dispassion to problem-solving that seems to have been absent in both the White House and Congress.I tend to disagree that the time to “reform” Healthcare is now given our economic state. And I tend to agree that it’s not really reform the bill is proposing but a vast expansion of an already troubled government bureaucracy that I have no confidence will be effective.I also think it’s hard to understate the role that the Congress plays in forcing Obama’s hand. I think he is extremely focused on getting done what he can and that’s left him in the current situation with declining approval and declining job satisfaction numbers.I think these problems are pretty complicated, actually, and I’d rather him in the White House than John McCain or Sarah Palin by a very wide margin. And I think the idea that JLM’s Afghan proposal is workable in the real world is laughable. Traditional warfare tactics are the reason that Petraeus helped develop the COIN counter-insurgency tactics.At any rate, good stuff, Fred, and great comments. I believe in Obama and want him in power as opposed to any number of proposed alternatives even if I wish I found him as inspiring as I did on the campaign trail.
While I have not really sketched out an “Afghan strategy” I would take issue that anything I suggest is incompatible with the Army’s thinking on counterinsurgency as proposed by Gen Petraeus. If I have failed to articulate that sense, then I have come up short of what I was trying to say.By way of background, I knew DP and went to Jungle Warfare School in Panama with him when he was a shavetail and newly married to the Superintendent of WP’s daughter. He has always been a masterful politician since he was a cadet. He always stood out a bit from the crowd. In those days the Regulars were a fairly small group with only about 2,000 being commissioned per year with the balance being Reserve commissions. The Regulars had a tendency to know each other and to go to the same schools (Airborne, Ranger, JFK school, Jungle Warfare, Pathfinder, IOAC, C & GS).His year group ’74 was one year late to go to Viet Nam and thus much of his company grade service was without the benefit of lessons learned in VN. Nonetheless, with the benefit of his Woodrow Wilson School PhD, his writings on counterinsurgency as encapsulated in the revised Army manual are excellent. He is one of America’s most important military scholars.I fully subscribe to his theories and the practice as executed in Al Anbar province in Iraq. There is no necessity to fight anybody who you can purchase or rent.My comments are intended for the execution of military operations AFTER you have completed compromising any and all locals you can whip with the checkbook. You will note that I suggest leading with Rangers and Spec Ops warriors — quite a different view from the N German Plains “here come the Russians” armor crowd.They give out CIBs (combat infantryman’s badges) to guys who have actually closed with and killed the enemy. PD unfortunately did not get one until he was a brigage commander and missed the earthiness of being either a platoon or company commmander in combat. A brigade commander is not quite forward enough to actually experience the chaos of war.Once the combat elements of an army are engaged, it is vitally important that the engagement become “decisive”. Gen McCrystal — a special ops guy for almost his entire career — gets this and that is why he has asked for additional combat troops. To close with and kill the enemy.
“There is no need to fight anyone when you can purchase or rent”That is what the tribal leaders have been doing in afghanistan for years.What I don’t understand is why we don’t play their game.
lol, because how would hte military industrial complex make money that way, and what would be the pretext for enslaving the americna people without the war on terror?
Well, of course, we did in Al Anbar province in Iraq. And, it worked. It will work in Afghanistan. It is not a new idea.It is not unlike the approach championed by the Jesuits in converting S America to Catholicism — “you can convert in which case you get the protection of the Jesuits (the Pope’s Special Forces in those days) or we can kill you.”OK, which one? This is why S America is primarily Catholic.
I’m all about the art of the possible too. Maybe that’s why I like Obama. I’m not much for taking a stand that gets me nowhere
George Clemenceau once said: War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men…From a military point your are absolutely right, but, from a geopolitical standpoint, you are not.The current Pakistan government did a great job at turning the Pakistani population against the Taliban (offer the Taliban to rule the Swat valley, if they stop their expansion.. Something that was impossible for the Taliban to hold on), allowing Pakistani troupes to fight them all the way up to the tribal regions.Supporting the Pakistani effort is the best bet at this moment, by having US troupes to do the job, you will just push the population to support the Talibans. The challenge is not to take out a few bad guys, but, to turn the vast majority of Muslims (not only in Pakistan,but, in the world) against the extremists and to consider the “western countries” as a model again. I currently leave in a Muslim country and i can experience first hand that the Obama Administration is starting to succeed at it.This was meant as a reply to JLM comment..
Georges Clemenceau, one of my favorites, also said:”My home policy: I wage war; my foreign policy: I wage war. All the time I wage war.””I don’t know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.”The Pakistani ICI (Inter-Service Intelligence), a rough equivalent of our own CIA/FBI/Homeland Security, is riddled with Al Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers. In fact, by law the head of the ICI must be an Army Lt General thereby creating a permeable membrane between intelligence gathering and military action. This ensures that the terrorists holed up in the NW Territories and the Taliban always know what the Army is going to do before they do it.The theater of operations is clearly the Afghan/Pakistan theater and I agree completely that success against the Taliban in Pakistan is necessary to create success against the Taliban in Afghanistan for no other reason than to forbid them a Cambodia-like safe harbor and refuge.The Taliban is not so much a political idealogy as it is a reaction to the “invader” whether he be Russian or American or the Afghan government itself. A huge number of Taliban — anti-government agitators and armed opponents — have been created by the logging policies emanating from Kabul. Nonetheless, the military destruction of the enemy is paramount to begin the work of creating peace in the countryside.Just as American Spec Ops provided close air support, artillery and fire direction for the N Alliance in its fight against the Taliban initially which resulted in about 45,000 Taliban being killed, the first wave of security must be the elimination of every single Taliban who can be identified and who is willing to come out to play.I fully support the sense of contructive engagement and even a Marshall Plan type approach but first it is necessary to tidy up the theater just a bit.The civilian supervision of the military in the US is one of the best elements of our governmental organization — one of the reasons why we are able to change governments without listening to tanks in the streets. Nonetheless, we require enlightened, commanding, informed leaders when they don the mantle of Commander in Chief. The ability to give orders is a different skill set than being able to give a good speech.
The powers that be in Pakistan have long looked to their relationship with the Taliban and Afghanistan for strategic depth in their conflict with India. Changing Pakistani government attitudes toward the Taliban would be easier if the India-Pakistan conflict were resolved, or at least turned down a few notches. And yet we spend far more diplomatic resources trying to unravel the Israel-Palestine Gordian Knot than on a conflict between two nuclear-armed countries which together have about 100x more people than Israel and the Palestinian territories.
I agree completely with your comment. I think our relationship with India is the low hanging fruit in that part of the world.I have always thought the solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue has always been to cede Florida to Israel and give Israel to the Palestinians. Hey, it could work!The implications of a nuclear armed Pakistan falling under the control of either Al Qaeda or the Taliban is the real Doomsday scenario. Both on a regional and international basis. Scary!
Is that a better plan than giving Germany back to Israel? That would be fair. Move Israelis to Germany and the Germans to Israel.
There are 82 million people occupying 357,022 sq km in Germany. If you tried to squeeze them all into Israel’s 22,072 sq km, they might start agitating about a lack of lebensraum and planning an eastward expansion.
Have you ever met any of those people? They believe the messiah is coming, and they must help bring him…That is why they are called “Bloc of the Faithful” or Gush Emunim.
This is not going to happen. Even though Orthodoxy/ies according to the last National jewish Population Survey has a defetion rate of around 40-50%, it’s prayers explicitly mention for the past ~1500 years bringing back sacrifices to Temple Mount. They also have an higher than average birthrate, and they are more likely to make Aliya. And when they do, they tend to affiliate with Right Wing/Religiously oriented parties. You would have to do a lot of convincing intrenationally: that kind of move would affect how converts are legimitized, who has the right to recognize a marriage and a divorce, certain kinds of property contracts, and who says who is Jewish enough. That attachment is now affecting a law decision in Britain right now, it might go all the way to the House of Lords, so unless you have a plan for that one…The ties between the Orthodox communities, and other Jewish communities, here and Israel are so high but monetary reasons keep a lot of people back I’m actually surprised that no one in the High tech community is taking advantage of them since people in the neighborhood I grew up in who do have the skillsets are willing to go and commute back and forth. Israel actually developed funding and free loan society groups to get Americans to come (they’ve been targeting me since I was a teen.) It’s not gonna happen. Really not gonna happen…Then again, I used to keep reading most majopr studies on this stuff, particuarly how it realted to social media and 20-30s…me being surprised is
I agree, it is a known fact that the ICI is riddled with Al Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers, and this is my point, we should focus on helping Pakistan reform and get all its agencies under control. A direct military intervention may create enough support to the Islamists to take control of the country giving them access to nuclear weapons… a scary perspective.
there is a network within the CIA, ISI, MI6, Mossad, and some other intelligence agencies that are al qaeda sympathizers. there are intelligence agencies within intelligence agencies, these compartmentalized units are treasonous and do things like support al qaeda in a variety of ways. obama’s boy brezinski admits this in how al qaeda was used by the CIA in the 70s to distract and weaken russia (though he seems to think it is good strategy and not problematic or related to the current problem).
As it relates to the CIA, it is always worth noting that Osama bin Laden was our boy when we were supporting him against the Russians in Afghanistan. He was on our payroll and we built Bora Bora.When the Russians were driven out, we had no further short term use for OBL and he turned on us.It is worth noting that the enemies of our enemies are not our allies or friends. These kind of marriages of convenience are the norm rather than the exception.
That is a very happy thought. I hope you are right
The Obama administration is perceived by many, in this part of the world, as willing to dialog to find solutions. Most of them do not hate the “West”, but, they hate it when a foreign government tries to impose policies on them. Obama soft approach is seen as a major improvement (as compared to the previous administration) helping to defuse tensions. This helps the cause of “moderate” Muslims that prone friendly relation with western countries. The problem with this approach is that it is a slow process and, unfortunately too many people expect (unrealistic?) immediate results.
Fred, thanks for this post. The President is very able, intellectually and emotionally, so I’m hoping he will learn on the job — that the bubble around him won’t keep him from continuing to grow and extend himself — and that we might yet see a very different leader in the second half of his term. (Maybe he should even shake up his staff earlier than most presidents do.) It’s amazing, though, how even the sense of relief we felt (that his administration was at least ACTIVE) has dissipated so quickly . . . This is probably not attributable to the President or perhaps not even to his administration, but while we are on the subject of national politics, I would like to point out that Sen. Dodd’s financial system reform bill contains two provisions that I think will be very harmful to startups, if passed as currently drafted: (1) it calls for the threshold for accredited investors to increase, and (2) it ends federal preemption of “all accredited” offerings, so that states would be permitted to regulate such offerings, even if they meet federal requirements under Rule 506 of Reg D. Point (1) could knock many angels out of the startup ecosystem, particularly if a full CPI-based adjustment were made for the past quarter-century (since the current thresholds were first set); point (2) would gut something that is currently working, and would greatly increase legal fees and costs for financings, perhaps even make modest seed financings not do-able at all where investors may be from different states.
I was not aware of those two provisions. I agree they are concerning. Can I do anything to help?
Fred, thank you, I’m sure you can. If you were to blog about this, the issue would get on everyone’s radar.A group of 25 entrepreneurs, investors and attorneys in Washington State sent a letter on this to Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell. The group includes Marcelo Calbucci, who also published the letter on Seattle 2.0: http://www.seattle20.com/blog/Entrepreneurs-Inv… The Seattle 2.0 post is a good overview of what’s in Dodd’s bill that should be of concern to startups.I may be naive, but if we could get the attention of a Senator on the Banking Committee, we might at least get a debate on this. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia issued a statement on Sen. Dodd’s bill in which he says, “We need to fix our capital markets so that the engineer graduating from Virginia Tech with an idea for a startup can find access to capital and grow that startup and develop the next transformative technology.” But at the initial hearing Sen. Warner didn’t seem to be aware of the two provisions in the bill that would actually impede the ability of entrepreneurs to raise seed money. On my blog at http://www.wac6.com/wac6/2009/11/appeal-to-the-… I published an email I sent Senator Warner drawing his attention to the issue. (No response as yet from any of the three Senators contacted.)I would be thrilled to share any of the analysis that I’ve done, seen or collaborated with others on to date on this.
One of the prerogatives of the Commander in Chief when he sets foot on the Plain at West Point is to forgive all of the cadets for all of their demerits. I wonder if President Obama will do this? I am pretty damn sure they have focus grouped this action. LOLIf those cadets could choose, who do you think those future warrior chieftains would prefer as Commander in Chief?a. George W Bushb. Dick Cheneyc. John McCaind. Barack H ObamaThe correct answer is…………………………………….
I’d say c.McCain… Being the only one of the group who has ever served… and whose children are serving, too. Doesn’t make him the best CIC, though…
Do I have to do this again….
Well put together assessment of Obama’s personal situation, from a social traction perspective. It seems more about the individual opportunities in the actual life situations of Obama’s country and his opportunities to act, than about policy.My own hope is to work through conflict resolution (in a diff/merge code repository sense) and progress (in a journey sense, not in a task list sense) from an environment distanced from the problem itself, that is objective.It is difficult to prove you are truly objective, but once you are, you can show your self to be evident (which is the value to others, by getting there).Constitution framers said this, and the document itself (pending interpretation) keeps power in place. But countries do not have an objective space to assess other political entities because they compete for resources and individuals. Similarly, monogamous married people cannot see around each other, because they “are” each other in the sense a mirror “is” its imager. Mirrors do not hold an image, they continually create one by their own existence. If the mirror and the imager where to talk, without any outside perspectives in the discussion, there would be no need for objectivity (if there is an enjoyable harmony which self-sustains). The mirror itself gains an individuality for the imager, by enjoyment. Practically speaking, if a teenage girl needs to leave the mirror, a father needs to open the bathroom back up to the rest of the house. That is a more common issue.In front of a mirror, with only mirrors and no other outside perspectives, no one knows who is who, and no one can negotiate because the images are more and more complex by virtue of the format of relationship itself (the kind of space), which is the deliberate object of the relationship type. But one type of relationship does not decide the subject of relationship itself. I get frustrated because people cannot see beyond formats of relationship, to life. Right now we are deciding what relationship types exist at all! For a few hundred years a certain relationship type has been in place. It is more successful in most visible ways, but losing ground. This scattered position in time explains why people are one party or another in their own claims, or for/against rather than “always on” enjoying their life freedoms.The one-to-one, on-and-off, systemically monogamous type of relationship makes life an experience by default (and possibly only that, in a diminishing state). Other types of relationship continually create a situation where experience is not possible without participation in every case. Resource backed currencies balanced by true markets are this idea, until they lose their minds and subscribers. Governments and their various instruments allowed citizens to know the score of it all, fairly. Paired with currencies, there was traction for any individual of honorable intent, or at least an intent which ought to be honored (and will be, due to passion and persistence).I like the gaming currency way to fix a lot of the problems Obama needs to heal up, but only because it is a way to create a link to an ancient principle – not because it will run away with all markets and policy. Ultimately, all relationship types being free to “be” is the only way to “be” free. The formats possible are merely being found, so we need to just apply ourselves to tangibles. If stuck, that is at least tangible. Individuals who cannot admit being in a situation which is not ideal, cannot deal with being individual because we are all in this situation together. Once the problem is well stated though, with an objective perspective in the talks, the solution is the reward – not a difficulty. An investor is never one to want unattended interest accrual. That is a parasite eating a host. Investors cheer through fear. They take on an adventure with someone less experienced to act, gaining ground in their own life because an investor stepped back into a more abstract mode of their own participation in life.Obama is only flailing because citizens have not taught him how to relate to them, possibly because there has never been the bandwidth for total-national exchange. So as innovators go, Obama is a message system proof of concept, and his way of being elected was social media. His traction is always here. Buildings which are not digital, are not his home turf as much as this world. That is fine with me, for now. This is not at all about policy or positions in a theoretical battle. It is about all of us getting to a point of living, and not debating about debts and wars we are lost to. Youth is the situation of being ready to do whatever it takes, without explanation. Trust, passed down for generations, makes that a good thing to rely upon. Same as we bring our grandparents to social media, our grandparents brought us parents, and our parents came with all these systems we properly own and rightfully rule.Give the rebel kids the damn ball already. They know how to do this; I guarantee it. Sun Tzu would say this is just a sunken army, unaware it is even being militarized. Social participation is measurable. We just choose not to measure by sanity itself.Mad Love //de 9 Keme
Right on, Fred. You often express reluctance to comment on political topics – but you are expressing a nuance that has been generally left out of the national debate. Haven’t yet read the NY Mag piece, but Heilemann has been one of the most subtle political writers for years. Thanks for speaking up.
I think if our future national government has any chance of evolving with the will of it’s people, folks like JLM/Peter need to come up with a stronger solution than our current election chicanery. Unfortunately the masses dictating desires leads to mediocrity, not sure how else to address this.I know there must be a better election system, but can’t see it. But I can imagine some of it’s features: 1) Electronic voting via the web is a BIG first step, to hell with voting machines.2) no fund raising necessary, let social media be your soapbox (people will giggle at candidates who pay for ads. Ad driven TV watching should drop off heavily by 2012/16.3) candidates will pitch their plans to the nation. We’ll select a plan that best produces a state of the nation that we most desire. We’ll review a candidates performance every two years and have smoother/faster elections (why does it take so long to pick a pres).
Fred, i’m so with you… When I first saw the guy on TV, at the 2004 DNC, and heard the famous “there’s no Red States and Blue States, there is UNITED States of America”, i got goosebumps and almost fell from the StairMaster… And everything he has said and done since has been consistently center-right (according to global standards of Right/Left, of course)Increasingly, though, I think that quote was hollow. See what is happening now: the liberals are tearing him apart, even though Afghanistan was clearly a campaign pledge… The GOP loonies, what can i say? “Hitler, commie, birth certificates, death panels…” all kinds of garbage. The country is in some sort of soft civil war and does not tolerate a centist guy like that, unfortunately.
The greatest challenge to President Obama’s desire to govern from the center is the Pelosi/Reid extremely liberal leadership stanglehold on the US Congress. From the first, I have always believed that the greatest challenge to BHO will be and has been Nancy Pelosi.The reason that President Obama has not been able to control Pelosi/Reid is sheer executive inexperience.His heart may be centrist but his governance has been far left.
Ah, see you have these co-equal branches in the U.S… It is not a corporation, but if we want to follow such flawed analogy, then Pelosi is more of a Board Chairman: elected by the people (shareholders) as a check on the executive, not the other way around. I am kinda cool with a President who respects the Consitution for a change.Really. I don’t know if you know the story, but when Dick Armey was in her spot he was brought literally to tears by Dick Chenney, when he was selling the war to him. Armey was against it, and Chenney told him a whole bunch of lies; eventually Armey agreed and wept. Is this the type of an executive you want?
The only thing I can tell you, for real, is that the neighborhood is starting to move on. That to me is a bad thing.And by the neighborhood, I mean Hyde Park/Kenwood. You know you are losing political capital when the drugstore is selling less Barocks and less Barack Obama books. Just sayin…
Post President Obama West Point speech comment:An odd speech set in an interesting place, West Point. The word “victory” was not contained in this speech — not once — because the concept of victory is similiarly not contained in this President’s mind.We are discussing a war which will be waged with American blood and treasure and the concept of victory is not addressed once. Not once. A Mother’s son’s blood cries out for — nay, demands — a passing reference to the return on its investment in the hills and valleys of a foreign land. At least a passing reference that this measure of devotion would have a result that at the very least suggests victory as its objective.I detected no rigorous thought or plan which could account for the consumption of 92 days of deliberation. Every word spoken could have been drafted within 24 hours of the receipt of Gen McCrystal’s recommendations. The speech itself was well delivered, predictable and completely lacking in any new insights or thinking.We end where we started. The General requested 20-80,000 troops, the King Solomon mark is set at half and President Obama’s mark is at 30,000 — with absolutely no articulated calculus or reasoning offered.The Taliban, who seek the control of territory, will not be defeated. They will ultimately control the territory they seek when the US decamps.Al Qaeda, who is not seeking control of territory, but only enough space to set up a terror cell, fund a terror act and kill Americans anywhere in the world, will not be defeated. They will ultimately be free to recruit, train, send off and operate their terror cells and kill Americans when we decamp.We will collectively work like hell until July 2011 and thereafter have the day off, well the rest of the war off, right? Then we will go home.What do you think the VC, Maquis, American Revolutionaries, Red Brigades, etc. would do if they were publicly assured that their adversaries would call it “game, set and match” in 18 months? I think they would winter in Marbella, summer in the south of France and be home in about, say, August of 2011???Having been in Afghanistan and supporting a corrupt regime for the last 8 years, does anyone with a brain think we can actually transform the Karzai government into one that can feed, clean, suport and protect itself in 18 months? 18 months? They can hardly be expected to use flush plumbing, walk and say their ABCs in 18 months.And, is it just me or is that the real beginning of the 2012 Presidential election cycle? Right before Labor Day 2011? Oh, cynic that I am, shame on me.We are screwed. But, hey, I could be wrong.
“I think they would winter in Marbella, summer in the south of France and be home in about, say, August of 2011″Haha,see Jeff, when you have a President with extreme IQ, he can fool even smart guys like yourself! That’s the whole genius of the plan: keep them “vacationing” instead of killing American soldiers, and give time to the Afgni forrces to build-up. If it works: great; if not, you are at least out of there with minimal casualties. Let’s see if they’ll fall for this…
In the American training establishment, it is a bedrock fact that it takes two (2) years to form a new Division from scratch. This may be shortened by “cell mitosis” whereby you form new Divisions in accordance with the theory of Calhoun’s Expansible Army by dividing the cadre of a Division in half and thereby spawning two new Divisions.The problem with this is that you sacrifice a combat effective Division in order to end up with two untried Divisions some time later.The Afghans cannot hope to be as efficient as the American Army as they have no organic training structure. First, they have to build the training establishment, then they have to develop the training doctrine, then they have to train the trainers and then they have to train the individual soldiers and then they have to train squads, platoons, companies, battalions, brigades and Divisions. Only then will they have an Army.Then they have to go to war.The British have always said it takes two generations to develop a good NCO (a sergeant). That is why institutions such as West Point, the branch schools (basic and advanced), C & GS School, the Army War College are so important to the institutonal preservation of our Army and most importantly the academic and scholarly basis for the prosecution of military science.It is worth noting that Gen Petreaus is a PhD grad of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and was the author of the Army’s long standing project to revise its counterinsurgency strategy. This before he was promoted to Centcom Commander and got a chance to try those concepts in Al Anbar province. The primary concept — let’s make economic war first by attempting to coopt our seemingly natural enemies by appealing to their sense of greed and local tribal enmities by buying or renting them first rather than killing them and thereby providing an organizing theme — turned out to work.
JLM, you are a scholar far beyond me in this manner, but I still need to ask this question:Why the traditional divisions of military? Why not small, amorphous, and modular, ala flash mob? If they are terrorists, or using terrorist like means, to hit us, why not retrain in the exact same methodology. It’s lightweight, they move quickly, and they can strike. Why nor build an economy the same way- the land, the people have certain cultural elements that are there and they are using effectively.
Hey Fred – nice post. One of the sad truths of democracy is that when it comes to politics most people struggle to make fact based assesments and decisions
you know it nic. that is why i am looking through this thread, 160+ comments at the time of this writing, and thinking wtf, it is so simple, 9/11 was an inside job, that settles everything right there. but as you note people struggle with making fact-based decisions, opting instead to have long and meaningless conversations that will amount to nothing. too bad for the rest of us.
Interesting post. This week’s Economist has a good international perspective on Obama’s foreign policy. Titled “The Quiet American”, it asks the question “Which will he be, clever or weak? Does this president have a strategy, backed if necessary by force, to reorder the world? Or is he merely a presidential version of Alden Pyle, Graham Greene’s idealistic, clever Quiet American who wants to change the world, but underestimates how bad the world is—and ends up causing harm?http://www.economist.com/di…Seems this question could apply to his domestic policy as well. However, I am with you – you get one shot a being the President and it is worthwhile trying to make a difference. Then again, I also like startups!
I have major problems with the Fleckman drift.Unfortunately, we just completed 8 years of an administration that would agree with most of what was written. But it didn’t work out too well. That admin was packed with vets with lots of experience and they made some of the worst fiscal, political and diplomatic mistakes in our history. So, I’ll take my chances with the Obama start up any time.One other thing. I don’t believed that post was done off the top of his head but rather it’s some canned gibberish that gets pulled out everyday.
Tom,Specifically, what are your major problems with my post? Please pick one specific item, or many, from my post and let’s address it.What’s unfortunate is that instead of directly addressing the current situation, many people regress back into the “Yeah, but look at the last administration!”. It’s used as a distraction to discuss the real issues, the current issues, what’s happening right now.One other thing – I can assure you I don’t get talking points emailed or faxed to me. I research on my own, I think on my own, and I write my own posts.You’ve managed to use 2 Saul Alinsky tactics in one post, so let’s just get to specifics and deal with reality.
Ditto! I agree I’m a pragmatist also and stand in the middle. Everybody will have an opinion, as the Peter Fleckenstein post shows, about what they think should be done, in the end they aren’t in his shoes trying to bring a country together over a series of never-ending wars and an economic meltdown.
I’m sorry, I must have missed Obama trying to bring this country together. All the apologies to the world for our country, telling others to be quiet we don’t need your help, and the refusal to meet with the other side while saying your door is always open, I missed the Obama is the Uniter part.
JLM,I agree with most of your comments, but your analogy here is invalid. Health insurance cannot be compared to auto insurance.In the case of auto insurance, there are inherent economic substitutions. If you are poor, you can choose to walk or take the bus or ride the metro.If you are poor and you can’t afford health insurance, you are essentially screwed if you are unlucky, regardless of whether you have been negligent of your health.The health-care reform that Obama has been pushing has a lot of flaws, but the public option isn’t one of them.As for the ballooning deficit on Medicare, this has to do more with the increase in general spend on healthcare, which is driven by things such as defensive medicine, subsidizing the world’s RD spending on medicine, a large swath of the population which is negligent about maintaining good health (smoking, obesity, etc), etc than government mismanagement.Also, as other posters have mentioned, we already have a public option plan, but one that’s damn inefficient and expensive (people going to ERs unnecessarily), and one that’s focused on reactive care rather than preventive care. If we get the public option right, we can save the economy money, since right now all those emergency room visits are essentially hitting local budgets. And guess what…you are already paying for it in the form of higher local and state taxes.I know the focus was on Obama’s leadership and not health care reform, and so I don’t want to derail the thread too much, but ultimately our whole policy debate is on what type of country do we want to be.Do we want to be a country of philosopher kings or warrior chieftains? Do we want to be a country that stresses individual liberty or collective good?The Founding Fathers had an endless Western frontier. Today, we are forced by environmental and economic limitations. In other words, back then the externalities (as defined in economics) didn’t have to be taken into account.Now, given the limit on the country and world’s resources, and given the number of people, they do. And that’s forcing us to make the hard decisions.- S. Pandya