Obama’s Victory

I said my piece before the vote as to what the election would mean for the Republicans (thank God Nate Silver was right), but a few quick thoughts on what it could mean for President Obama and the Democrats.

  • The Fiscal Cliff-My advice would be to do nothing during the lame duck session. Let the Bush Tax cuts expire and let the sequester kick in, effecting the first major cut in defense spending in 60 years. Then in January with a slightly stronger Democratic Senate, push for a middle class tax cut combined with some tax reform that eliminates corporate tax breaks and try to revive the Jobs Act to spur some of the lost government fiscal stimulus. The economy is recovering and so private demand will take up some of the slack.
  • Filibuster Reform-The Senate has once again got to be a functioning legislative body. Anyone who wants to filibuster a bill is going to have to play Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. They are going to have to come to the floor of the Senate and talk until they are hoarse. They are going to have to have the people that oppose cloture on the floor for continuous votes. My guess is we will not have another session of 350 filibusters if that was enacted.
  • America 3.0-When asked how a huge bureaucratic company like IBM became so flexible, the CEO Sam Palmisano said, “We had to lower the center of gravity” at IBM, by which he meant push power out to the edges of the company. Obama has to use the miracle of the Federal system to get money to the states and cities to experiment with solutions for education, transportation, energy and housing.
  • The Smart Grid-As Hurricane Sandy proved, we are operating with a 19th Century energy grid in a 21st Century world. As the folks in Chattanooga Tennessee have proved, a smart grid can recover quickly after a catastrophic weather event and that makes all the difference.
  • Climate Change-Maybe Sandy will also get the climate change deniers to STFU. Energy independence and green power are of a piece. If Germany could run 50% of its electrical power off of solar for a couple of days last summer, surely the US could do better with vast stretches of desert just waiting for large solar and wind arrays.
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17 Responses to Obama’s Victory

  1. len says:

    Take a minute to savor the other side of the interregnum, Jon.

    Today for the first day, we really are a nation of color. Those long lines we saw yesterday were the living proof that we will not be bought, we will not be denied, we will not fall back.

    Yes, there is much to do, but Pharoah’s army lies beneath the waves, their chariots settled into the mud, their arrows floating on the waves.

    In New York and New Jersey, they can burn campaign signs to stay warm instead of furniture.

    Today in Alabama, black people are smiling. Yes they are. 😉

    Today we know we have health care. Our financial house is being put in order. Gays can marry in some states and in others, people are lighting up in their front yards.

    Today more women are serving in Congress confident that their rights over their bodies are enshrined in law.

    Today we have a President we chose instead of a man chosen by the one per cent.

    America is back for the whole world to see.

    It’s a beautiful thing.

    “Paul and Silas were bound in jail, t’wanr’t no money to go their bail, keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on. Won’t ya hold on?”


  2. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Sign me up for Americ 3.0 and for Smart Grid…

  3. Roman says:

    No surprises, the better campaign and candidate won the day. As a friend put it this morning, “the key to winning is running a ‘good’ candidate.” Mr. Romney never had a chance. Mr. Obama had Mr. Axelrod.

    Give credit where credit is due, Mr. Axelrod deserves several Wall St. sized bonuses for his masterful work this past year. He nailed Romney from the get go, and never let up.

    It will be interesting to see if he moves back into the White House after the election, or if he’ll stay in Chicago to pursue ‘other interests’.

  4. Rick Turner says:

    O is going to have to take to the bully pulpit to get the obstructionists in the House to move with anything.

    I’m still amazed that nobody is stating the obvious…that “the money” is there to do a lot of good. All “they” have to do is to stop spending it on killing people in the Middle East and start spending it right here at home where the ROI would be incredible.

    Has anyone every figure out how much it’s cost per head to kill “enemy combatants” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.? A million bucks a kill? That’s where the money has been going…

    And I guess instead of “Let my people go”, it’s “Let my people smoke”…

  5. len says:

    Sigh… couldn’t get a whole day of enjoying the moment.

    Well, Rick, the big Iron Vendors such as Boeing are announcing today that they “anticipate” layoffs as a result of upcoming talks in Washington about budget cuts. The announcements, of course, are timed to take maximum revenge on the voters. What they aren’t saying and of course people won’t think about much is these cuts were coming no matter who won. For reasons we all know the defense budget has to be cut.

    Months ago before anyone knew who would win DoD was already moving out of a new systems development posture to a sustainment posture because they know they are withdrawing. I mentioned some weeks ago a war college study. At least a few of you should have read it. Pay some attention: sustainment means they take systems off the line, demilitarize and sell them, take funds out of new systems development and shift them to swaps where some systems are replaced with fully developed commercial off the production line systems while some low-lifecycle (hours used) are stripped and refurbished with different gear for different missions. R&D comes down, buys of multiple copies are reduced to a few, logistics are cut, and so forth.

    ALL of this was in the pipelines by the first of the year. Awards of new or regular contracts have been being delayed so they could divide them up among more contractors they need to keep warm until after the first of the year.

    They are not stupid and they know what is coming before you do. What the political side of the machine does (say the political contributing side) is delay making a lot of that public until it does them the most good, in this case, to scare the hell out of voters and push that fear towards seats they want to keep or protect.

    Welcome to the game as played.

  6. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Jesus, the obstructionism has SO cut both ways! But let’s hope it’s over with, for at least the typical three months, because that’s the usual window for POLICY MAKING, the rest being ~ 92-Percent political, these days. And my percentages aren’t, to my knowledge, exaggerated. One problem is that we no longer have “lions” of the Senate, but only house cats all ’round. Jon is talking policy papers, which are his proper spoils — but only for six weeks or so before the VERY inside-Baseball pissing contests take over again. They’ll bump it gradually down the staff structure, and make occasional, personal outreaches to cover what they’re NOT doing about a given, sensible policy reform, but meanwhile it’s about Hill politics we never are allowed to know. So the time to strike is NOW, not eight weeks from now.

  7. T Bone Burnett says:

    “The age of Reagan is officially over, and the Obama majority is the only majority we have.”

    Ross Douthat


  8. Rick Turner says:

    So, Len, if every dollar taken away from DOD “new product development” was put into work on a smart grid, alternative energy, upgraded US infrastructure, and education…with NO net loss of jobs, don’t you think the ROI would be incredible over 15 to 20 years? A “swords into plowshares” industrial revolution in the US would be real world leadership. We could have a version of heaven on earth if we used our brains and resources wisely. This whole concept is at the heart of much of the writing of Buckminster Fuller who understood that the one ever-increasing resource is knowledge. All we have to do is use it.

    And thank god that Todd Aiken, a Know Nothing of epic proportions, won’t be around to sully the House Science Committee for much longer…

    Maybe there should be standardized tests like the SATs for anyone wanting to run for public office. Surely there should be standards for anyone serving on Congressional committees. You don’t see atheists in the College of Cardinals! How about some real qualifications for our fearless leaders? But I guess we still live in a world of Scopes monkey trials, don’t we?

    Also, the pot thing is interesting. I haven’t smoked in a long time, but I’d much rather be in a room full of stoned people than drunk people. In about 50 years of being around pot smokers, I have yet to see two stoned guys (or women) get into a fight. I’ve seen too many bar altercations… What are people so afraid of with pot? What’s with Holder? And if the pot isn’t crossing state lines, do the Feds really have anything much to say about it? Are they going to claim that at some point the seeds crossed borders? I’m pretty amazed that it was not California that passed recreational pot use laws, especially given how conservative many in Colorado seem to be. But, then, a proper conservative position would be hands off on victimless crimes.

  9. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Shee-yut. Must be my new specs. No kidding, I read that quote twice until seeing that it began with, “The Age of Reagan”, and not with, “The Age of Reason”.

    Informing the hardcore Republican Party strategists that Reagan was a quarter century ago is like trying to inform David Axelrod that Mr. Jefferson died. This electoral cycle had far less to do with nostalgia for dead presidents than any campaign I can think of.

  10. Rick Turner says:

    The funny thing about the “Age of Reagan” is that it depended so much on a “Father Knows Best” concept of governance. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about this; I’ll take care of it”… It was the “daddy state” with a dark underbelly…yes, the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer…it was the next to last gasp of the fraternity brother, Skull and Bones, football hero, over-privileged white male. GW out cutting brush on the ranch…for photo ops…pretending to be a good old boy rather than the preppie Yale boy he really was. Cheney out hunting and forgetting rule #1…know what the fuck you’re shooting at. And then the right wingnuts complaing about anyone to the left of them who might dare change an opinion based on new understandings…getting behind a guy…Romney…who sucked his finger every hour and held it to the sky to see where the wind was coming from. He should have shoved that finger up his own ass…

  11. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Astutely funny, Rick, as well as angry. That’s really good. It also explains why the initial, unamended Constitution, like the Code of Hamurabi, was about 85 percent property contract to 15 percent social compact. It gave a good clue to the mindset of, as I once described them, “those lacier Colonials, in their capacious waistcoats and silken pantaloons, pleased to postulate that the Rights of Man are the proper perquisites of men of property”. This seems to have been the gist of what rankled the woodsman Lincoln, no mean political philosopher in his own right.

    For years now, I sit scratching my head, bothered about the assumptions of the biennial Op-Ed coroners: Does the Republican Party make its own base, or does it mainly cobble it together? And what does Democratic Party do? Who/Whom?

  12. JTMcPhee says:

    @Rick Turner
    The numbers depend on how you count the dead, and whether you amortize all the running programs or only some of them. If it’s per “enemy combatant,” as denominated by the body counters in the Pentagram, it’s over $5 million a corpse. If you count all the collaterals, including those killed in violence facilitated or encouraged or triggered by “us,” it’s a relative bargain, going about it as McNamara did during “my” war: only $750,000. Considering that each dead “gook” in “my war” ran about $400,000, hey, it’s in the range of inflation.

    A wag suggested in 1970 that it would be cheaper and more effective in the long run to carpet the two parts of Vietnam not with Arc Lights and Daisy Cutters and Cluster Bombs and napalm and Agent Orange, but with millions of those little gold ingots the size of postage stamps, each on its own little parachute, to put effective wealth and investment opportunities in the hands of the common schmuck. Yeah, there’s real-world objections to what would more likely occur (wealth aggregation at the point of a gun, etc.) but it sure would have fucked over the mythology of Ho and his pals. But that’s not how war is done: Generals don’t get big heads and chestfuls of stupid medals unless they fucking manage large resources and troop numbers and kill people and blow stuff up. No profit or promotion or advancement in that other kind of game.

    So now that the fuckers who brought us that fraudulently induced war are writing their apologies and memoirs (see McNamara, e.g.) and dying off without consequ3ences or representing foreign governments (see Kissmyassinger), we have the new crop of mothertruckers who are selling the vision of the Unstoppable Unsinkable Incredible Networked Interoperable Battlespace, way ahead of where they were in stealing oiur wealth a few decades ago.

    And the US Navy is conducting joint war maneuvers with the Navy of Vietnam. And the shelves of Walmart and Target are fucking filled with the products of Godless Communists who it turns out are Just Like Us and our rulers, after all.

    I wonder how many of the curent crop of cannon-fodder vets will also be asking themselves “What the hairy fuck was that all ABOUT, anyway?” as they wrestle with mental and physical demons from their own war…

  13. Rick Turner says:

    Gee, might it not be more cost effective to just hire the Mexican drug gangs to go over and have their version of fun?

    Are there any valid reasons other than (hopefully) maintaining a close view of Pakistan’s nukes for us to be over there?

  14. len says:


    So, Len, if every dollar taken away from DOD “new product development” was put into work on a smart grid, alternative energy, upgraded US infrastructure, and education…with NO net loss of jobs, don’t you think the ROI would be incredible over 15 to 20 years?

    First I wonder how much of that requires big box reengineering and development and how much of it is buy big box items off the shelf? They are putting up solar farms and wind farms here at a surprising clip so they can sell the energy straight to the TVA system. Somewhere some group needs to create The Plan and The Goal. I haven’t seen one of those.

    The politics of converting the money is hard. The problem is converting the expertise, the wetware in the human brains. The folks who do that work are a) in the Big Boomer Business and their expertise and focused on that. b) users of Big Boomers who were recently discharged and transitioned to column a. IOW, you have to recycle their brains and training. After WWII, we sent a lot of folks to college and retrained them. Today, they get jobs with their former vendors. It’s a tightly knotted system and just cutting the knot will let the logs loose to damage everything in their way.

    So in principle, yes. In practice, a knotty problem. Would I rather be working on that? Assuredly. I was working on health systems. Turned out to be a crooked game with a lot of crooked players. Went back to twenty five year old skills and am re-employed. Hard to break the habit of eating and paying. Sitting in the waiting room right now waiting for wife to come out of surgery. Must have Blue Cross even for Affordable Health Care. Very knotty.

    No one seems to have notice Puerto Rico voted for statehood. Once upon a time that would have been big news. That tells us where our priorities and fears are.

  15. len says:

    @T Bone Burnett

    Mostly so. Obama won the first time because a) anything was better and b) the change was ready. Yet metaphorically, it was the first part of the finny fish onto the beach almost ready to evolve legs. This election was the first time there are discenible toes.

    In my opinion, this election is a much bigger victory because the change is permanent and will expand. This IS the other side of the chasm. We can’t predict the future but it is as Churchhill said, “the end of the beginning.”

    I noted on CNET that the top challenge they listed for Obama was piracy, a replacement for SOPA. The word is out and it is time to finish up some notes. If the culture is changing, some directed evolution is called for. Pick up the prize.

  16. Rick Turner says:

    Obama is going to have to deliver the goods, and that means he’ll get some little bit of praise if the economy does better. It also means he’ll get the big blame is it doesn’t. One funny thing is that nobody seems to be talking about how the rest of the world’s economic problems are affecting us. Both Rs and Ds seem to think it’s all about us in the US. It’s not. For instance, inflation in China as well as the Chinese desire for consumer goods is actually good for us here in the long term. The down side is that Chinese goods will cost more; the up side is that we’ll make more of our stuff here. The horrible situation in the EU is bad for us all. They did take the nanny state thing too far, and the Greeks tolerated too much corruption and lied about it. The EU never should have taken them in in the first place. But someone was making a lot of baksheesh on the deal.

    Piracy…do you know about the Chinese company that calls itself “C. F. Martin Guitars”, and makes forgeries of the output of our own US company? No, they don’t sell the stuff in the US, but that should not be tolerated under any circumstances, and it’s just one example of what is going on in China. I don’t care if their trademark and copyright laws allow that. We should shut the borders on Chinese goods until there is an understanding that the field has to be level for anyone to play in the international stadium.

    The Repubs… It’s not going to be pretty… A lot of the Tea Partiers are just going to double down and say that there was too much moderate appeasement. This election could be what finally splits the Grand Old Party in two. The realists are going to sniff the wind and make some changes. The ultra-right will retreat into political bunkers armed and dangerous.

  17. len says:

    Shutting the borders is not the answer. That’s too blunt. OTOH, people who own Martin’s are usually very prideful about them. When Rick at the Pawnshop has to tell them they own a fake, they aren’t happy about it. How would you spot a Chinese Martin at the Grand Ol’ Opry? How do you let the crew know their star is carrying one in front of the cameras? Don’t block them. Out them. Apply that technique liberally and often.

    If as CNET says, Obama has to deal with piracy, a certain level of awareness of impending events is approaching ubiquity. A phase state change may be on the schedule. An industry wants to defend its status and reputation so some imagined opinion leaders also want to advance and defend theirs. The cultural conversation is shifting to a formerly minority power domain. Speed that up. Increase the feedback and pump of the volume.

    The ultra-right will retreat into political bunkers armed and dangerous.

    Yes. As I said, an orc army haunting the fields around the shire picking off innocents. It takes a thief. To switch metaphors in mid para, the fishies being the slow change to air breathing up right walkers in a time of high change rates. The mavens of culture should be introducing the right kinds of fish food into the culture soon, objet d’arte that lead, entice the genome to take the right environmental cues. Let the ones who refuse to give up scales become bones in the clay. It’s a rennaisance for network programmers of many kinds of networks. There are opportunities but dangers:

    Adaptive control systems can create instability. Third order control systems employ corrective algorithms to the control signals to offset drift toward unstable domains as a result of

    o Inappropriate excitation (too little information given the response time for update mechanism to determine the right parameters) or

    o Unmodelled dynamics (adaptation control attempts to tune the wrong dynamics;
    information is available but the instance has modes not included in the reference model;
    aka, a phase mismatch). (source unknown)

    and limits to how much change can be exacted during the period of maximum excitation:

    Natural selection is shown to be an extended instance of a Maxwell’s demon device. A demonic selection principle is introduced that states that organisms cannot exceed the complexity of their selective environment. Thermodynamic constraints on error repair impose a fundamental limit to the rate that information can be transferred from the environment (via the selective demon) to the genome. Evolved mechanisms of learning and inference can over come this limitation, but remain subject to the same fundamental constraint, such that plastic behaviors cannot exceed the complexity of reward signals. A natural measure of evolutionary complexity is provided by mutual information, and niche construction activity—the organismal contribution to the construction of selection pressures might in principle lead to its increase, bounded by thermodynamic free energy required for error correction.

    David C. Krakauer
    Santa Fe Institute,
    New Mexico
    87501, USA

    The trickster is not all powerful but patient, opportunistic and accepting.

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