Hope and Work

There have been times in the last four weeks when I have wondered if the Republican’s overwhelming money advantage and their very effective voter suppression operation might overwhelm Barack Obama in November. But listening to Michelle Obama’s inspired speech tonight has done what political conventions are supposed to do. It has given me the encouragement to get to work helping to re-elect the President. What I liked so much about the speech was that it felt so damned authentic. Yes I know there were speechwriters involved, but it felt like Michelle’s voice from the first word to the last. I loved this section.

And I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.

I love that he’s never forgotten how he started.

I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.

I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas…he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.

And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating it – when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost – Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.

Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.

And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here…and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.

But eventually we get there, we always do.

And as she was speaking these words the camera was on shots of the wonderfully rainbow colored audience, drinking it in and basking in the pride that we all feel in Barack and Michelle. My sense is that Barack is now moving into the lead in the race. Nate Silver tells us why.

1. Polls usually overrate the standing of the candidate who just held his convention.
2. Mitt Romney just held his convention. But he seems to have gotten a below-average bounce out of it. The national polls that have come out since the Republican National Convention have shown an almost exact tie in the race.
3. If the polls overrate Mr. Romney, and they show only a tie for him now, then he will eventually lose.

Michelle is right that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to defeat the plutocrats. But it is work worth doing.

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44 Responses to Hope and Work

  1. Paul Zullo says:

    Jon

    Thanks for good words. I wish I lived in a swing state, in NY & CA we’re almost bystanders in close Presidential elections. I’ve been trying to convince everyone I communicate with that, in this election, protection & expansion of rights (women, voters, gays, immigrants) trumps economics.

    Obama/Biden 2012

  2. Rick Turner says:

    If Romney gets in then economics would be truly trumped…and Trumped.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jon,

    “Michelle is right that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to defeat the plutocrats. But it is work worth doing.”

    Ugh!!! (extreme voter angst)

    Certainly no argument with the last sentence, but the one preceding it caused a double take.

    Wasn’t it Michelle’s husband’s responsibility to take it to the ‘plutocrats’ these past three and a half years? I thought so. And? Ugh!!! (extreme voter angst)

    Richard Cohen’s column today, ‘Obama, enigma in Chief’, sums up that angst best, and has me wondering if Barry’s actually worth the fight, particularly if he’s not willing to make the fight himself.

    It’s one thing to fight and fail; it’s another to choose not to fight at all.

    Sadly, Barry has a demonstrated preference for the latter.

  4. Roman says:

    Apologies, the previous post is mine, too much caffeine this morning.

  5. len says:

    @roman: I’m not as impressed by a speech as good a speech as it was as I am terrified of the litany of lies from Romney and Ryan. Whatever they have in mind, they sure aren’t opening up for consideration and they sure are making up a history I didn’t see. Here Jon Stewart had it right: the chair was occupied by a President only they see.

    So yeah, it’s a fight worth fighting.

  6. Roman says:

    @len

    Ominous clouds are forming on the horizon, both parties know it, neither are leveling with the public, and both will use them to advance their own agendas.

    Knots began forming in my stomach after two Bear Stearns’ hedge funds collapsed in June 2007. Those same knots are forming again. Regardless of who wins, I’m afraid we’re on the verge of revisiting the worst of the last four years all over again.

    Watching Emanuel’s speech reminded me of his now infamous quote ‘you never want a serious crisis to go to waste’. So, how would both parties ensure the next crisis isn’t ‘wasted’?

  7. Alex Bowles says:

    Given a choice between a party that generally underestimated the last crisis and one that sees the next crisis as a chance to further consolidate its gains, it’s possible the that GOP would actually make the most of it. That, of course, is the problem.

  8. Roman says:

    @Alex Bowles

    The well connected in both parties did very well. After all, it was the biggest heist in the history of the world. But for the rest of us, it was a royal screwing.

    At the party level, the Dem’s got ObamaCare, and the Rep’s got…the House back? It could be the Rep’s turn for a big prize, wonder what it is…?

  9. JTMcPhee says:

    As a noted conservative once said (actually many conservatives, many times), “If you’re gonna get raped, whatever you do, might as well lie back and enjoy it…” This, from the Party of Wide Stances who know how to Go to the Glory Hole…

  10. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee I am genuinely baffled as to how people who have mothers, wives, and daughters can even think such things, let alone say them.

  11. len says:

    Here in the Solid South. the angry white men have big knots in their stomachs. They are asking people to quit posting political stuff on facebook. They are writing to those whom they know who do and telling them they “aren’t quite right”. Suggestions of a Gaslight treatment ahead.

    They watched the Republican Convention and it unsettled them, created cognitive dissonance in the minds of people who had convinced themselves they wouldn’t have to endure Obama for more than a term, and now they are seeing wives, children, ministers and others going exactly where they don’t want them to go. It feels like it did a few months after the Birmingham church bombing. They sense they are about to lose, be on the wrong side of history, and aren’t coming back.

    Keep up the pressure. I think we’re going to win.

    Then we better act fast because that sense, Roman, is a fiscal cliff and we have to get past it without all these guns we are carrying sinking us like a bad bag of cheap slugs from an old steel foundry tied to another full of yowling cats.

    It is time to take down the sets, turn up the lights, close the textbooks of myths and face some hard hard facts. The show is over. Sober up, gents.

  12. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    Alex, might I suggest that if you don’t already, you need to read the major metro newspapers more often. Skip the front section with the Narrative crap in it and go to the local news. People beating their infant kids to death, spouses drawing down on spouses, dousing others with gasoline and adding a match, of course priests and coaches and teachers fucking and sucking with the young spirits entrusted to their protection and care, how easy to go on and on just out of memory without even having to look up all the horrid examples. Ted “That buff boy was just carrying my bags” Haggard, Jimmy “I really like it when you pull that thong up tight in your crack” Swaggart, the Bakkers on that plane, and how about turning over a new page up there in Congress? Oh, that’s right, they don’t have “pages” any more. If that stuff in the back sections don’t give you some insight into what humans, too many of us, really are, and how our minds and muscles work, I don’t know what will. Male and female created He them… It’s not like any of us of any age or gender have any kind of lock on what might be called “bad behavior.” The DSM and proceedings of various psych organizations make for some fun reading too. The third panel of that illuminating triptyh, Breughel’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Milton and Dante, the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=770213541

    And didja hear this one, that I ran across somewhere on the net? A 96 year old guy is arrested and arraigned for raping a 14-year-old girl. The judge takes one look at him, calls the prosecutor up to the bench, and says “I’m directing you to reduce the charge to, heh heh, ‘assault with a dead weapon.'” Yuk yuk yuk…

    It’s what way too many of us are — and what way too many of us pretend not to be. The gulf between the pretext-pretense, and the reality of what populates and motivates our dreams, is one source of likely fatal cognitive dissonance. Writ large, and I am not watching any of the Democonvention so I don’t have a clue if the dysconnect is operative there too, it’s the excuse-the-expression “meme” that for me sums up everything I observed and read about the Reptiliconvention. How “they” operate, in their brainspaces. (Tampa is noted for its strip-and-pole clubs, which did a land-office business for a few days last week — they put up screened entrances so the “delegates” and the rest of the people whose private jets clotted up the area’s airports for a week could go indulge, without fear of observation, I hope Joe Rudner has installed spy cameras to record the action, Prebius gettin’ it down and dirty from some pro named Bambi there in the Mons Venus…)

    Maybe if we were more aware of the Naked Ape hulking around in there, there might be more chance for the Higher Functions to, you know, like, “function.”

  13. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee You know, I don’t think I’d make a very good cop.

  14. len says:

    President Clinton did an outstanding job with bringing the facts to bear on the Republican fantasy of a President Obama that doesn’t exist. I expected to be impressed and he didn’t disappoint. I see that the punditocracy is taking odds on whether or not Obama can outdo his spouse and former Democratic nemesis. By contrast to the Tampa debacle, this is at least good TV.

    I see the same naked ape behaviors, JTMc. I feel them too. We could speculate endlessly about the cause so much of it is out front although I think we are hearing more and seeing more because we are looking. It’s a very observed and reported society these days and between that and hypersexualized media feeding one of if not the dominant channel to the mammalian brains, things are getting rather randy. If it were not for the rise of pervasive cynicism that obstructs the healthy social impulses to work together for common good, I wouldn’t be too alarmed. The sex doesn’t bother me. The inability of increasing numbers to respect the social boundaries does.

    In the chair and the benadryl is clutching at the frontal lobes, so not too lucid. Enjoy the day!

  15. Roman says:

    @len

    WOW! ‘Billy the Kid rides again!’ What a terrific speech!

    President Clinton delivered as only a pol of his caliber can. He was fit, tan and as smooth as ever. Age or nerves quickened his cadence at times, but he always had complete control of the moment. He hit his marks on cue; the highs and lows, laughs and groans. He definitely did not disappoint.

    Did anyone notice Michelle and Chelsea’s body language? Unfortunately, Michelle’s eyes betrayed her permagrin; I sensed a strong dislike, no, a loathing for the former President. Not sure what to make of it. Chelsea’s on the other hand had love and pride, and perhaps even a hint of surprise, as in, she knows something we don’t, but will soon. It was beautiful to watch.

    Any chance we’ll see another Clinton on the podium tonight (the ‘surprise’?)? Obama and HRC, hands clasped held high, with expressions saying ‘We’re here, we’ll fight, and we need you’. Talk about a game changer. The MSM would have a collective orgasm; the Clinton’s deliver again (think 1992).

    Who knows, ‘Forward’ might actually mean something…if nothing else, it would finally jump start the wine and cheese party circuit…it’s been too long.

  16. len says:

    @roman:

    I’d be very surprised. The Secretary of State is in China at last mention. The problem of Mrs. Clinton is not the MSM or the First Lady but the women in Democratic Party (who tend to be ultra-left and from New York) who dislike her. They may not count for much in the big numbers.

    Still I’d hate to see them push Biden aside. He is the bulldog that Obama needs.

  17. Roman says:

    @len

    Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE would be VERY surprised. Imagine the news cycle for the next week to ten days, no one with any contact to the media would escape the news. Instant name recognition, every politician’s dream!

    I sensed some tectonic plates shifting as the former President spoke last evening. And as good as it was, I didn’t attribute it to his performance either. Something’s amiss when the current VP’s speaking slot is set aside for another, even if the ‘other’ is a former President. Perhaps the decision’s been made to shuffle the deck so to speak, and Mr. Clinton was actually the opening act for tonight’s announcement.

    WRT Biden, if asked (told), he’ll step aside with a good public face. His departure would be forgotten in less than a week, particularly if HRC joins the ticket. Out goes the bulldog, enter the pit bull – with brains! No argument, HRC is one of, if not the most polarizing figure in American politics today. But, you can almost hear the cash register now…

  18. len says:

    It would be a strong ticket, no doubt, and a perspicacious executive branch.

  19. len says:

    So it’s Joe and he deserves to be there.

    The relief that this week is over for the convention is palpable among the Repugs. They know they were just delivered a body blow to their messages of massive negativism in service of making people more desperate. So it is on to the debates which will be centered on attacking the record of the President. To win, a judo move that turns that punch into an attack on the record of the American people is needed.

    We get to see if enough 30 second negative ads can beat a positive but underfunded messsage. The nattering nabobs of American decline have to be met by the We Know How To Work Together and If You Don’t, That’s Your Problem Americana.

    A We Worship This Man and Want To Have His Baby campaign will lose. Caveat Vendor.

  20. Alex Bowles says:

    @len I’ve got high hopes for Cuomo, so I’m glad to see the field’s open for 2016.

    After waking up elated after days one and two, this morning feels much more reserved. We’re not out of the woods yet, and I’m glad Obama didn’t end the show pretending otherwise. The line that struck me the most came early on.

    Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace – decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come. On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.

    Illuminating that would be an excellent use of the debates.

  21. len says:

    “…we travel together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes…knowing that Providence is with us.”

    Neither Obama nor Romney can pull us out. They can only point and enable. Romney points for the ultra-wealthy and wants them to be even more wealthy. Obama points for the rest of us and asks us to pull our wagons a little closer together. I do look forward to the debates.

    My health problems are known. I’m fine because of health insurance and keeping an underpaid job that is stressful but adds value. I took a terrible beating financially in the last eight years. Catastrophic in the last four. The two good things were Affordable Health Care and scholarships for my daughter. I don’t need Economics 601 to divine which guy is on my side.

    As for our tasks, we should be clearing out the weeds in our own gardens. I want to help the artists because that is where my love lives. My day job has plenty of supporters.

    My response to FB acquaintences who repeat the negative talking points of the Repugs is simple: “Why do you hate Americans so much?”

    ;)

  22. Rick Turner says:

    I just hope that Obama, Biden, and the rest of the too-gentle people take the damned gloves off and hit hard. The Repugs have dazzled too many with a kind of lottery mentality where the plebes all think they’re next into the 1% club and they’ll do anything to step on the heads of others to get there. And this is at the heart of what I don’t understand about Papola and Warstler’s thinking. Don’t they see that? Do they really believe that it’s possible to have an unregulated free market economy without the rich and greedy rising to the top and then stacking the deck and loading the dice for the hoi polloi? ‘Cause all you have to do is look at the last 150 or so years of the American dream to see that the cards were marked a long time ago by the rich and powerful. The playing field is not level, and the Goebbels wool has been pulled over too many eyes. Bread and circuses and wars is what we get…

  23. Roman says:

    Joe it is. Not my pick, but just one of many to cause a double take or two (or three…). You have to give him credit though, Joe’s an old school pol who can still deliver the platitudes with complete impunity.

    It’s too bad Obama couldn’t have swallowed his pride and put HRC on the ticket…’jobs report, what jobs report? What about Obama – HRC?!?’ Cha-ching!!!

    Obama’s speech was a yawn-fest. Too dour, where were the foam columns?? Like the VP pick, I’m not sure I follow the strategy.

    And enough already with ‘Obama needed to cast a serious tone’ last night? Who’s kidding who? We’ve lived the ‘serious tone’ for three and a half years, while the guy giving the speech has been ‘tone deaf’ all awhile. Welcome to ‘our world’ Mr. President.

    Ugh!!! (extreme voter angst)

  24. len says:

    Like the VP pick, I’m not sure I follow the strategy.

    Why do you hate the Americans, Mitt?

    Notice, not America. Mitt loves America. It is country full of resources that he and his can strip mine at will, build nothing and load up their overseas accounts. Better, it has a ready made squad of defenders of the resources and his right to exploit them. Mitt LOVES America.

    Mitt hates Americans. Ryan is a suck-up so unless one wants to talk about Operation Ryan and Yuri Andropov, we can discard the suck-up paranoids. Why does Mitt hate Americans? Because they are like poor cousins; they are needy. They need health care, they need roads, they need educations, and most of all, they need good paying jobs. All of that takes money and resources that won’t be deposited in Mitt’s Cayman accounts. He would be asked to actually build something, invest in America and not just strip mine it like a West Virginia hillside.

    Mitt doesn’t need Americans. He actually doesn’t need anything. He has all he needs. He just wants more and America is where he can get it for next to nothing because so far, no one and nothing stood up to stop him.

    Until now.

    Be as angsty as you like. I believe we are about to see an expression of American will unlike any we’ve seen since they elected FDR four times because he kept getting the job done. America may be for sale. Americans aren’t. He doesn’t need us and sad to say, he isn’t of us. Nor are his friends. So it is time for them to put their hearts in America or get their asses out, to rephrase an old redneck saying.

  25. Alex Bowles says:

    Just saw this. It’s an MJ piece in which David Corn also cites the sharply divergent paths on offer as being the core of the message. He underscores the idea that fundamental middle-class values are the deciding factor.

    What’s really interesting is the long-range political calculation needed to anticipate–in 2010–that this would be a basis for a 2012 strategy viable enough to bet the campaign on.

  26. Alex Bowles says:

    Here’s more on what middle-class values entail. The takeaway is that entitlement cuts are unavoidable, but that making them means that they are the last thing to go. The military, the very rich, and the heavily subsidized will all be expected to cut, to cut deeply, and to cut first.

    Whether he can deliver on that is another question, but this looks like the framing for the next four years. If When the GOP continues to oppose him, expect to see their attacks getting framed as disregard for the middle class. Sustained, I can see this message turning into the core position of a reconstituted Democratic party – one that sets the stage for whoever follows him in 2016.

    After all, it took 30 years to get ourselves into this predicament. It’s going to take more than one Presidency to pry loose all the fingers that are choking the vast and vital middle.

  27. len says:

    The weird thing here, Alex, is the number of posts from people, mostly men, saying that they just can’t vote for either of them. Their despair is proof of the cognitive dissonance and that is evidence the message is working.

    If they don’t vote, they don’t count. On the other hand, getting them to vote against their own interests just got a lot more expensive. And that’s a good thing.

  28. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    Entitlement cuts unavoidable? What happened to our Keynesians here? We got fiat currency, so what’s the problem? What is with the assumption that nations have to work like households when it comes to budgeting and expenditures? We sure do not have that horror, “inflation,” now do we, especially because inflation might reduce some of the crushing debt load that our financial masters have heaped on us. Anyone reading Graeber’s “Debt”? About how the powerful and wealthy use incremental impositions of debt to enserf or enslave those who don’t have mastery of the game of financialization and a head start through inheritance or fortuity to have “money to lend”? The European Crisis is all about lenders trying to crush and steal the property of debtors. Henry Potter in his long-game plot to turn Bedford Falls into Potterville, a place with only debt slaves and underclass, and him owning everything.

    Seriously, attention to categories is important here. Which “entitlements” are at issue here? Social Security is prepaid retirement funding that over half of our fellow citizens have as their only safety net for stuff like a roof and food. And if you read behind the bullshit that “economists” put out about how “the fund” will “go bankrupt,” seems to me the reality is that lifting the cap on SS wage withholding deals with funding on into the far future (barring nuclear war or what-everrrr…) I know there are a lot of politicians and their financialista cronies, of all party labels, who are ready to default on the $4+ trillion in “special treasuries” that stand in lieu of the actual cash wages that were supposed to have been paid into a “trust fund.” and I can hardly wait for Wall Street and the Fed to tell people who have EARNED and been forced to SAVE 14-odd percent of their WAGES for their LABOR to eat cake, or eat shit if cake is too expensive. And dumbshits like Warstler and friends would like to steal that $4 trillion onaccounta how “bad” they have been treated by SOMEbody. That would, I hope, actually engender the real class war, the kind that leaves blood and body parts everywhere. Query where most of the military and police people might line up in that cataclysm…

    Medicare or some other single-payer variant on that theme is THE potential “affordable” solution to health care for all of us. As a nurse and thus a tiny bit of the machinery, I know there is a lot wrong with the whole thing, and a lot that’s very right. The wrongness is created by creeping or galloping greed and the usual kind of capture and subterfuge of moneyed interests that are like black holes, picking up more and more mass and thus attracting more and more mass, until… There are bad incentives, like the present fee-for-service and billing and coding structures, and weak anti-fraud enforcement efforts (read about little Ven-A-Care, originally a pharmacy providing IV therapies to HIV patients that saw the evil, saw the potential in “qui tam” actions, and has done well by doing well in a productive niche: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/02/04/whistleblowers-recover-taxpayer-money-from-drug-company-overchar/). There’s a whole lot wrong with the “delivery of medical services” that has more to do with the evil that lurks in the hearts of men than any “Keep your filthy Government hands off my Medicare” TeaParty crank dares to approach.

    Nobody asks nurses and office staffs and billers and coders and such what THEY observe, day to day, the evil of for profit nursing homes and hospitals, the fly-by physicians, the artful and flat-out fraudulent billing by institutional shits like our FL governor Rich Snott who stole, unindicted even, at least $4 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, right from the neediest of us. And drug companies that charge a huge profitable amount just because they can, and “insurance companies” that deny services and drop coverage and all that bad-faith stuff, yet get 30 percent in free money for providing unneeded bundles of “services” under the Medicare-substitute “complete” plans, and have sales people who just lie to old folks to get them to switch to private medicare-replacement plans telling them of course you will still see the same doctors (or ones like unto them) and about what medications will cost and which ones will be available to them, or switching after baiting and telling people sorry, that med you have relied on for years is not covered or is now a “Tier 4″ without any recourse. It really is complicated, but if it gets addressed via slogans and bullshit and the crap that K Street pukes out, the fucking will continue until the tissues of the orifice that the rich mothertruckers are pleasuring themselves with rip, and the patient bleeds out.

    Unemployment insurance? How’s that supposed to work again? Local health departments in part funded by federal redistributions? Medicaid, that keeps several wonderful people I know alive and somewhat healthy? What other “entitlements” are hidden by that one mindless, heedless, easily-bullshittable and -manipulable “category?” “Entitlements” is a pluralized singular noun, all of a sudden, and is being used most cynically to conceal the multifarious dirty deeds of the Kleptocrats. It’s of a piece with another sick, obscurant meme, “freedom.” What you mean “freedom,” kemosabe?

    Time to trust the public, the little people, to face and handle some complexity, to educate them instead of picking their pockets and tricking them into thinking their neighbors are the thieves.

    I don’t think the corporate person known as “Obama, LLC” has the intent (though it might, if it chose, have the wherewithal) to deal fairly and honestly and kindly with the flow of wealth that is one view and one part of our “economy.”

  29. len says:

    GM $39 hr. Staples $9hr.

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee

    Entitlement cuts unavoidable?

    That was me trying to paraphrase the message of the convention, not my own take. Personally, I don’t know nearly enough to say one way or another. But I do know that typing ‘entitlements’ made me uneasy.

    I mean, I know that’s what they’re called and for the sake of efficient communication, it’s helpful to use common names. At the same time, there’s a subtext that I don’t like on bit. When you think about the negativity (not always unjustified) in describing as having “a sense of entitlement”, it implies a lack of gratitude for an unearned boon.

    In this light, “cutting entitlements” isn’t something you agonize over. Nor do you feel compelled to give up something in return. I suspect that’s a big part of why so many competing interests haven’t hesitated to use this subtly pejorative name the programs in our social safety net – never mind that the payroll taxes that pay for them are heavily regressive, while people least likely to need these programs are also being ‘spared’ the burden of that regressive taxation.

  31. Alex Bowles says:

    Sorry, that got a bit garbled. But I hope the essence was clear.

  32. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    All too clear, of course. I’m just doing that futile thing about asking that words mean something like what they purport to represent. Makes for a little less dream-state foolishness when it comes to trying to see through the spin-doctored haze, and makes it a little harder for the Machiavellis to manipulate and sucker and drain the rest of us. Words, as I say, like “freedom.” Which “everyone knows what that means,” but can’t define, like for example in the context of GIs killing Wogs “in defense of our freedom.” And that shit about “freedom isn’t free:” maybe if taken into some particular context, there might be a bit of truth in there, but as used most often it’s just noise, sick, dangerous noise.

    Another pet peeve is reification/hypostatization, you know, sentences like “Canada has just severed diplomatic relations with Iran, castigating Iran as the current greatest threat to world peace and stability.” Which has so much bullshit in it that one hardly knows where to begin, but I bet there is a big chunk of “Canada” that thinks that what a few people (their version of Wolfowitz and Rove and such-like) have done in the name of all is, like, a really dumb-fuck idea. And “the US” did not invade Iraq and Notagainistan, a small fraction of “us” drug the rest of us into dead-end imperial futility. But hey — all that goes along with how you manipulate the sheeple into following the Judas goat up the chute to the “humane killers” at the start of the slaughter line…

  33. Roman says:

    @Alex Bowles

    “What’s really interesting is the long-range political calculation needed to anticipate–in 2010–that this would be a basis for a 2012 strategy viable enough to bet the campaign on.”

    Sooo, Did Mr. A get his man or what???

    That observation aside, what’s truly scary is the idea that policy decisions (i.e. financial crisis, employment, housing) have been in play since 2010 (probably earlier) to ensure this strategy unfolded in 2012. If true, the implications are staggering…

  34. Alex Bowles says:

    @Roman Well, McConnell did say, straight up and early on, that his overriding priority was to ensure Obama’s failure. And even if he hadn’t been so explicit, it didn’t take a political genius to see that any success enjoyed by the President would just add more nails to the coffin that the GOP built for itself during the Bush years. As far as I could tell, they’d slit their own wrists before handing him a win since the effect, in the end, would be the same. This meant their position was simple: “If we’re going down (which we are), y’all are coming with us.”

    A big part of my frustration with Obama came from his apparent inability to recognize this. Cooperation and compromise are one thing when you have two differing but otherwise healthy parties who share at least some common ground. But if one is stuck in a death spiral, advocating nothing but nihilism, you can’t even have a conversation. Nor can two parties compromise when one has said that the total failure of the other is the only thing that will satisfy them. I kept wondering “How does he not recognize what he’s dealing with?”

    Since then, two things have become clear; Obama is willing to play a long game, and he likes the rope-a-dope strategy. Assuming that the logic and sincerity of McConnell’s position was clear to him from the word go, I can see how he’d conclude that the GOP’s “We’re all in this alone” ethos would eventually make itself clear.

    The risky (savvy?) thing was betting that their nihilism would crystalize in synch with the election cycle, which it appears to have done. Last week, the Economist ran a remarkably obtuse cover story giving Obama middling marks for his first term without mentioning the obstructionism of the GOP. The comments (when sorted by reader’s recommendations) excoriate them for their oversight. Obviously, this is a sharp crowd, but if the polls are to be trusted, the perception is shared widely. In other words, McConnell’s very short-sighted ploy is backfiring, which suggests he didn’t read Obama nearly as well as Obama read him.

    In the process, the GOP has changed the landscape. Back in 2008 is was possible to run on the promise of bipartisanship. Given what we know now, that pitch sounds ridiculous. Having make their own awful and incoherent values so incredibly clear, the GOP made values in general a basis for discussing governance. That’s new. So now bipartisanship is out, and there’s a clear choice in its place; “You’re on your own” vs. “We’re in this together.” Another big loss will leave the GOP with a choice between reinventing itself around its own positive concept of citizenship, or it going to its grave denying that such a thing exists. What it won’t do is get back into power by following the advice of Grover Norquist.

  35. rhbee says:

    I am thinking about the time I returned from my first sabbatical. I wanted to share my experience so much that I spent most of the next two years trying to make friends and influence people. I think wanting one thing so much can kill you. Hope. Besides, he does profess to be a christian.@Roman

  36. Alex Bowles says:

    Thinking about a little more, I’m realizing that bipartisanship is not a fundamental value. Agreement is meaningless in the absence of something deeper that you’re agreeing upon. If there’s a one-word takeaway from this week, that something is “citizenship.”

    This can mean different things to different people, and there can be further disagreement about which policies do the best job fostering it, and why. Even so, these debates don’t admit the desire to “shrink (Federal government) down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” since that’s so nakedly driven by a desire to abandon the responsibilities of citizenship, which is a rejection of the concept itself.

    My own concept of citizenship remains fuzzy, but one of the best encapsulations comes from one of my very favorite artists, the architectural theorist Lebbeus Woods. In a 2009 blog post titled Rules of the Gamehe articulated a principle of urban design that extends well beyond the built environment.

    For the city in the most stable, developed countries, the greatest challenge today is to create a ground for individual human beings, one that not only supports their legal and economic and environmental rights, but nurtures their sense of autonomy and at the same time of responsibility, in a personal way, toward others. The way to do this is to show people, by example, that their autonomy—their freedom—is dependent on the autonomy of others. That is a fact of the human condition. I cannot be free unless those I live with are also free.

    The key concept is recognizing that this sense of autonomy is the product of a well designed game in which competing interests find their places in the urban field. It’s also a firm rejection of the idea that rules which do this can write themselves, emerging – as if by magic – from the tumult. Policy matters, and a policy of rejecting policy is no policy at all.

  37. len says:

    There is still an election to win. Let’s not get too sure given it is still tight in the polls and any screw up can tilt it.

    The Canadian news is worrisome. Regardless of who said what, that’s a serious diplomatic move because once out, turning that around isn’t easy without “regime change” and that is not where we need to be going. It’s a stupid move. Iran is not a Middle Eastern country. It was not created by British colonels. It has a very long history and will not dissolve into factions. It is modern, it is well-armed and it is ready to put up a very tough fight and there won’t be an end to it. They can make very hard hits on the fleet. They can swallow a force and make logistics a frikkin’ nightmare. The Russians and Chinese will supply them and may get involved. With Syria collapsing and ports up for grabs, this is big player strategic lotto time.

    Not where we want to be. Not now. Not ever. If this is brinksmanship to get them to give up their nukes, we aren’t holding the right cards.

  38. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Worrisome indeed. Here’s a long but largely overlooked story the WaPo ran a few weeks ago about a contingent in the Navy spoling for war with Iran, told from the perspective of the advisor whose career was sunk after she thwarted them.

    Murky.

  39. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    Speaking about stories in the news, how about this one? “U.S. Aircraft Carrier and 15 other ships sunk in the Strait of Hormuz in 5-10 minutes.”

    The United States and Iran have a history of conflicts in the strait — most recently in January 2008, when the Bush administration chastised Iran for a “provocative act” after five armed Iranian speedboats approached three American warships in international waters, then maneuvered aggressively as radio threats were issued that the American ships would be blown up. The confrontation ended without shots fired or injuries.

    In 2002, a classified, $250 million Defense Department war game concluded that small, agile speedboats swarming a naval convoy could inflict devastating damage on more powerful warships. In that game, the Blue Team navy, representing the United States, lost 16 major warships — an aircraft carrier, cruisers and amphibious vessels — when they were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in an attack that included swarming tactics by enemy speedboats.

    “The sheer numbers involved overloaded their ability, both mentally and electronically, to handle the attack,” Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper, a retired Marine Corps officer who served in the war game as commander of a Red Team force representing an unnamed Persian Gulf military, said in 2008, when the results of the war game were assessed again in light of Iranian naval actions at the time. “The whole thing was over in 5, maybe 10 minutes.”

    The other part of the story is how the fubar “Brass” called “cancel, cancel, do-over!!!!” to try to “win with spin” a battle where they got their asses kicked by an asymmetric inspiration. http://www.realitybase.org/journal/2012/1/13/us-aircraft-carrier-and-15-other-navy-ships-sunk-in-the-stra.html

    Gee, does anybody want to bet on which of the last wars our Brass will be ready to have their “troops” fight when they stick the dicks of maybe 20,000 of your fellow citizens in uniform, along with a couple of hundred billion dollars of expensive warware, in that narrow crack over there, because some few of those fuckheads are addicted to “regaining their honor” or what-ever by finally “winning one.” Worthless pieces of shit. Gee, I wonder if the Brass on “our” side have worked out some Brobdingnagian strategy for countering the small-boat armada response, and whether those evil, hook-nosed Parsees have also read about all that war gaming and come up with another asymmetric trick to pull on the Great White Fleet?

    Can’t somebody keep these guys on their Call of Duty-World of Warcraft keyboards and sand tables and Games of RISK!?

  40. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee Unrelated to our gameable Navy, but related to the concern with debt, here’s another fine argument suggesting the the deliberate inflation of asset bubbles forced massive assumption of private debt caused both of the major crashes that have happened in the past century.

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/09/private-debt-is-the-main-problem/

    It also makes the point that organic growth won’t return to the economy until the private debt is wiped out. Not mentioned here, but mentioned elsewhere is the fact that the current rate of growth is too slow to do this anytime soon. And by ‘soon’ I suspect 2018-20.

    Really disappointing to see the total immunity from criminal sanction that the banks at the heart of these bubbles enjoy – even when laundering money for drug cartels and terrorists. I always thought that the real virtue of sending a few busloads of these bastards to federal prison was not about simple justice, though that would be appreciated. Rather, the value would be economic.

    Afflicted with the deep stain of unequivocally criminal conduct, the TBTF institutions would have a much harder time arguing against a debt jubilee. At the same time, identification of criminality in the inflation of asset bubbles would make those debts far easier to cancel without establishing a serious moral hazard. Indeed, the precedent would give real pause to those who, at present, have every incentive to inflate another bubble. In the meantime, organic growth would return, along with real recovery.

    But without criminal sanction, and the accelerated unwinding of debt that it would facilitate, we’re looking at a decade of anemic growth. Same goes for Europe, which was afflicted by the same institutions, and a similar problem of high-level regulatory capture. Maybe something else will force a jubilee (another meltdown?), but right now it looks like our best and only shot has been squandered.

  41. Roman says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Perhaps I misread your post. I thought you were suggesting the Obama administration’s first term policies helped to frame their current campaign strategy. There IS a certain intuitive appeal to it.

    Agreed, McConnell stated the Rep’s goal, but not their strategy. Not certain what they’re trying to accomplish with Mitt at the helm. It’s not like Mr. A was privy to some inside opposition research, Mitt’s wealth and the manner in which it was acquired was well established (OK, maybe not the Cayman accounts…).

  42. len says:

    Established by the political operatives and press, but not well understood by the public. The more they see how the Bain and their types operate, the more they realize that all that glitters is not a decent day’s work. A turnaround is not about turning around the company for the sake of the customers, the product or the employees: it is about turning the value of the company around into liquid assets that can then be transferred to investors such as hedge funds and into the pockets of the small and highly cliquish group of people who take the helm and pull the wheel hard. The boys on the oars get burned.

    That is precisely what America needs less of, not more.

  43. Roman says:

    @len

    “That is precisely what America needs less of, not more.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

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