January 29, 2010

"[P]eople ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president..."

What Howard Zinn wrote, just before he died, when asked by The Nation to cite the "high point" and the "sharpest moment of disappointment" in the first year of Barack Obama's presidency:
I've been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama's rhetoric; I don't see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies.

As far as disappointments, I wasn't terribly disappointed because I didn't expect that much. I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that's hardly any different from a Republican--as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. So in that sense, there's no expectation and no disappointment. On domestic policy, traditionally Democratic presidents are more reformist, closer to the labor movement, more willing to pass legislation on behalf of ordinary people--and that's been true of Obama. But Democratic reforms have also been limited, cautious. Obama's no exception. On healthcare, for example, he starts out with a compromise, and when you start out with a compromise, you end with a compromise of a compromise, which is where we are now.

I thought that in the area of constitutional rights he would be better than he has been. That's the greatest disappointment, because Obama went to Harvard Law School and is presumably dedicated to constitutional rights. But he becomes president, and he's not making any significant step away from Bush policies. Sure, he keeps talking about closing Guantánamo, but he still treats the prisoners there as "suspected terrorists." They have not been tried and have not been found guilty. So when Obama proposes taking people out of Guantánamo and putting them into other prisons, he's not advancing the cause of constitutional rights very far. And then he's gone into court arguing for preventive detention, and he's continued the policy of sending suspects to countries where they very well may be tortured.

I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.
I agree that a mediocre President is dangerous. But if a non-mediocre Obama would go in the direction Howard Zinn wanted to push, I prefer a mediocre Obama.

135 comments:

Fen said...

Mediocre? Thats optimistic.

Its really a shame that our first "black" president is so lame.

Of course, the Revisionist History will make him into another FDR.

Fen said...

Take away from SOTU:

"Jimmy Carter is no longer the worst president in my lifetime."

Chris said...

I don't think too many people who hang out here would trade an effective Zinn fantasy Obama for a mediocre real Obama.

Jane said...

I didn't know the people of the whole world had constitutional rights.

If they do, then by that logic Bush was justified into going into Iraq.

Big Mike said...

@Fen, with three years to go, no less!!! He might get to Buchanan territory the way he's going.

I predict that Obama is going to start some serious shooting war some time after the middle of next year, as in "Wag the Dog."

Tibore said...

Zinn, as usual, has got it wrong. Mediocrity is the only thing saving him from being dangerous. Had he been the sort of President Zinn wants, he would in fact be more dangerous in absolute terms, not less. He'd be like Ken "the Red" Livingston, except on a national stage.

We should be glad that Obama's merely mediocre in Zinnian terms.

The Drill SGT said...

When a Leftist like Zinn is calling you mediocre and dangerous, you have more problems than a recalcitrant GOP.

Zinn is right though, that a weak POTUS is a danger in foreign policy. for 2 reasons.

- our enemies look for weakness
- weak Presidents have no where to turn for "legacy" except foreign policy and can make mistakes that are exceedingly stupid to boot.

Diera said...

is mediocre one step above completely inept and braindead pawn of cheney?

ricpic said...

Wonder if Zinn sounded off about the Tea Party Movement before he croaked. From what I can see it's composed of the ordinary people who are always, in the Zinnian world, helped by Democrats. By what tortured logic would he have explained the revolt of the ordinaries against The Party Of The People?

Greg Hlatky said...

Racist.

Joe said...

Ah Diera, tightly reasoned, and well-supported argumentation..Good Show! now that the economy's roaring along the Stock Market is booming, we're pulling out of Iraq, Gitmo is closed, oh wait.

No I'm thinking "mediocre" must be BELOW brain-dead pawn of Cheney...how's that play for you?

Meade said...

@Jane: Not all the people of the world have constitutional rights but every person of the world has human rights.

One thing that justified President Bush's use of military force in Iraq was the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.

Another thing was Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations weapons inspection program.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president,..."

"In our time"? So, now that Zinn has passed, that must mean Obama will get better, right?

The One can hope, eh?

Steve said...

My political views match Ann 95% of the time. However, Zinn's People's History of the U.S has its share of strong arguments with much factual support. Our we really the greatest country that ever was as most of us think?

He always seemed like a very decent person despite his leftist views. I will miss his insight.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Meade, in all seriousness, and without "re-litigating the past," do you honestly feel that the war in Iraq was worth it?

William said...

The best thing that you can say for Obama is that he has dashed the hopes that he aroused in Castro, Chavez, and Zinn......Mediocre is grade inflation. I have worked very hard to achieve mediocrity in most areas of human endeavour. So far as the liberal agenda goes, Obama has not been mediocre so much as a flaming failure. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

slarrow said...

Two observations: first, if Zinn thinks Obama started with a compromise, then what in the world would a "pure" bill have looked like?

Second, the remark about Obama's Harvard background is another example of the rampant credentialism running through our self-appointed "betters". They mistake pedigree for capability and alma mater for proof of moral worth. Shows a limited imagination, really.

shoutingthomas said...

Of all the things Obama said in his SOTU, I disagreed most with his repeated assertion that partisan politics is a bad thing.

Partisan politics is exactly what we need, as I explain here:

http://shoutingthomas.typepad.com/harleys_cars_girls_guitar/2010/01/partisanship-is-good.html

Meade said...

@Montagne Montaigne: Yes.

John Lynch said...

The economy is growing again. That's good for everyone, and may eventually redeem this whole mess.

Zinn was clueless and only appealed to people who didn't have the education to know better. If the teaching of history hadn't collapsed in the last three decades, Zinn would never have become popular.

Lem said...

"People ought to begin to understand.."

Its like coming down from a high.

Montagne Montaigne said...

slarrow-- a single payer system, obviously.

the health care bill that came out of the senate is well to the right of the reforms proposed by Nixon. and yet we hear from the right that Obama is a socialist and that it's a "government takeover."

simultaneously the republicans in congress protest any cuts in entitlements. that's what "death panels" was about. any attempt to find ways to limit medicare expenses is demagogued. because the right has no interest in governing (government is bad).

Joe said...

However, Zinn's People's History of the U.S has its share of strong arguments with much factual support.

Sure it did in the same sense that Goebbels could recite a list of Jews who were:
1) Communists; or
2) Plutocrats.
But did it "Prove" Jews to be Communists or Plutocrats? No, citing evidence is not proving a case...

Blacks were slaves, OK...400,000 Americans died liberating slaves....Many other people have been slaves too. Does this make ALL slave holding societies "bad?"

Womyn had no vote...OK, suffrage was passed....Womyn didn't have the vote until modern history...does this make all non-suffragette societies bad?

America is an "Empire"....really akin to the British, French or Roman? Please note and discuss differences....

The rich are rich? OK, that the "wealthy" exploit the workers is an a priori assumption of Marxism...please define "exploit" and then discuss US exploitation and overall economic wealth with other societies, extant and ancient in those same terms....

My point being, if you just let me focus on your flaws, weaknesses and foibles, I can make you out to be quite the slug...and everything I say can be true, but without context, true is also MEANINGLESS.

Yes, this IS the greatest nation that has been...founded not on being "British" or "French", i.e., blood but upon the acceptance of a transcendent and liberating ideology, that of the European Enlightenment.

Fen said...

diera: is mediocre one step above completely inept and braindead pawn of cheney?

Oh, thanks for reminding us that Bummblefuck Biden is our 2nd.

Doomed.

Chris said...

Obama, like Clinton, was pretty much backed into a corner by his constituency. He needed to take a hard left and fail before he could move to the center. If indeed he moves to the center. Many Republicans just don't understand how many disparate interests there are behind the Democratic congress that must be fed. The only people who truly have a right to be disappointed by Obama are the eternally credulous who believe after every election that their man is finally going to change how things are done in DC.

Montagne Montaigne said...

@meade I think that if Saddam had been left in power, fewer Iraqi civilians would have died and eventually the regime would have fallen under its own weight.

Fen said...

Ya know, for the first time in my life I'm reassured by the presence of Bill Clinton near the Oval Office. Hope he gets a seat at The Table before we lose NYC or LA to terrorism.

Fen said...

I think that if Saddam had been left in power, fewer Iraqi civilians would have died and eventually the regime would have fallen under its own weight.

And let him fund and support terror ops against the West, like Iran. Speaking of Iran, how's that working for ya?

Obama = Nuclear Iran

slarrow said...

MM: thank you for the response. I suppose I initially tend to think of a compromise as something in which you actually include something the other side wants in order to get them to accept the other things that you want. I see now that Zinn was operating from the idea that if you don't ask for everything you want, that's a compromise. Not how I'd negotiate, but a fair reading.

The Crack Emcee said...

@Montagne Montaigne: Yes.

Ditto, dude.

John Lynch said...

MM-

I agree that more Iraqis would be alive.

However, the Shia/Kurdish revolt in 1991 killed about 40,000 people. The eventual collapse of the B'aath regime would have triggered a civil war. Whether that would have been as bad as the one that happened is unknown, but it still would have been bad.

On the American "empire" thing, of course we're an empire. So what? Empires work so much better that the Europeans voluntarily made a new one in the EU. Is the EU bad?

History is the story of 40-50 empires.

Joe said...

@meade I think that if Saddam had been left in power, fewer Iraqi civilians would have died and eventually the regime would have fallen under its own weight.
Uh yeah I guess, IF you buy into the badly flawed and horribly wrong Lancet Study that says 600,000 civilians died in toppling Hussein.

If you believe in this reality, rather than some alternate reality, no fewer civilians WEREN'T going to die without the invasion, because 1991 demonstrated that the Tikriti clan would do anything, up to and including using chemical weapons on its own civilians to stay in power. Hussein wasn't going out without a bloody fight. And how anyone can honestly ignore the lessons presented before their own eyes astounds me.

Chris said...

@MM, I seriously doubt it. On the other hand, the question remains as to what we eventually end up with in Iraq. A relatively stable, relatively democratic, government that protects the rights of minorities including secular ones will prove out the Iraq war.

Scott M said...

If Zinn didn't know the object of discussion, he would describe the actions of the grass in my yard as expansionist, warlike, and imperialist.

Fen said...

Seriously, my Esteemed Liberal Colleagues from these United States, if you Impeach this empty-suit we'll go along with Bill Clinton serving out the term. Do it for America.

Because coming soon to a city near you: another Fort Hood, another underwear-bomber, another 9-11.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Monty,
" I think that if Saddam had been left in power, fewer Iraqi civilians would have died"

Not if reasonable extrapolations are made of the domestic murdering that Saddam's regime did over its lifetime. Do some reading on the mass graves that have been found to this point.

Paul said...

Re Iraq;

The most important result of the Iraq war, which so far has gone unmentioned, was the Anbar Awakening and the rejection of AQ by Sunni Muslims.

The jihadist recruitment movement suffered a devastating blow which I think people grossly underestimate.

Imagine if John F'n Kerry became president, we cut and ran with our tails between our legs, and AQ took over Iraq.

Imagine the PR coup they would have had in defeating the Great Satan, the paper tiger, and how it was proof of Allah's plan for the Jihadists to rule the world.

Imagine the frenzy with which the Muslim world could produce willing foot soldiers in the sure to be successful war against the infidel.

Radical Islam today is but a rump of what it would be if we hadn't fought the Iraq war, let alone if the Democrats had been allowed to forfeit victory and achieve their wet dream of American defeat.

Joe said...

Gentle reminder...
the topic WAS Howard Zinn and Obama...not Iraq. I'm as guilty as anyone else, but I don't see why Monty gets the thread-jack.

Pogo said...

Monty needs a thread-jack, because the leftist Zinn called Obama a failure, and the pain is unbearable.

So ...SQUIRREL!

k*thy said...

I agree that a mediocre President is dangerous. But if a non-mediocre Obama would go in the direction Howard Zinn wanted to push, I prefer a mediocre Obama.

I would also, strongly, agree.

Fred4Pres said...

Howard Zinn was a radical propaganda revisionist who hated the United States and everything it stands for. His idea of mediocre is that Obama is not more like him.

All I can say to that is thank God.

My problem with President Obama is he needs to get even more "medocre" as Howard Zinn would see it, not less.

Chris said...

I think it would be really hard for our system to produce a truly dangerous POTUS.

former law student said...

Another thing was Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations weapons inspection program


Then why didn't we invade North Korea? They have nuclear weapons; they've tortured their own citizens for years; they threaten Japan whose protection has been our responsibility since we disarmed them after WW II. Surely the danger they represent was clearer and more present.

Pogo said...

fls

Howard Zinn called Obama mediocre.
Howard Zinn called Obama mediocre.
Howard Zinn called Obama mediocre.
Howard Zinn called Obama mediocre.
Howard Zinn called Obama mediocre.


Please address.

garage mahal said...

Howard Zinn thinks Obama is a corporatist Democrat. He is. That is supposed to sting how?

Scott M said...

@FLS

Because apparently China doesn't give much a shit about Iraq, but does care (at least officially and publicly) about NK.

Much bigger quagmire there.

elHombre said...

simultaneously the republicans in congress protest any cuts in entitlements. that's what "death panels" was about. any attempt to find ways to limit medicare expenses is demagogued. because the right has no interest in governing (government is bad).

Ponder, no shift key.

Montagne either forgot that he was not Jeremy today, or one of the keyboards at MoveOn.org is malfunctioning.

I see he corrects later.

holdfast said...

@Montagne Montaigne: Back in 2001, all the lefties were arguing that the UN Sanctions were killing 500,000 Iraqis a year, you heartless bastard.

Ok, we both know that number was complete BS - but the point is that "keeping Iraq in its box" also had some big costs - they weren't as apparent or large as a bull-blown war and occupation, but not insignificant. While the war has been very hard on the Army and Marines (although those institutions are now far more experienced, effective and modern than they were a year ago), the no-fly regime was slowly grinding down our our air forces (inc. naval air), the folks we'd need in any conflict with China, for instance.

To answer the question you asked Meade: I am not sure. If I knew then everything I know now, I think I might have advocated bombing the whole country flat and then bombing it again. I am still confident that the US had ample justification and authority for going to war, and I agreed with the decision based on the information available, but 7 years later I cannot say that invasion was the most efficient way to get the job done. Of course, I don't know that "international opinion (including Democrats)" would have permitted the alternatives.

Robert Cook said...

Fen said:

"Take away from SOTU:

'Jimmy Carter is no longer the worst president in my lifetime.'"


That was never true anyway for anyone alive during George W. Bush's presidency.

Richard Dolan said...

Zinn also thought that the US was, at best, a mediocre political entity, committed to oppressing the hapless untermenschen as a matter of first principle.

Those who find Zinn's historical work less than persuasive (that would include most commenters in this thread) should logically regard a grade of 'mediocre' from Zinn as the equivalent of the B+ that O awarded himself.

Robert Cook said...

Meade said:

"One thing that justified President Bush's use of military force in Iraq was the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998."

Nope. Unless we're reacting in self-defense, we are prohibited by our treaty obligations as a member state of the UN Security Council from waging war without UN approval. The UN did not approve our invasion of Iraq.

Such feeble justifications as Bush put forth for the need for an attach were lies and fabrications.

"Another thing was Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations weapons inspection program."

Wrong again. Saddam acquiesced to the UN weapons inspections programs, both during the 90s and in the months preceding our invasion.

Henry said...

Compare Zinn's book to E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class and you can see the difference between propaganda and history.

Unlike Zinn, Thompson honors and respects how the working people saw themselves (not as dupes, but as agents). Unlike Zinn, Thompson admits to the statistical analyses that show improving living conditions throughout the 19th century.

Zinn was a lightweight.

Comrade X said...

zinn and robert cook agree that obama is no true scotsman

Chris said...

Come to think of it, the last dangerous POTUS was probably FDR and his contemporaries were Hitler and Stalin.

John Lynch said...

FLS-

We DID invade North Korea.

It didn't turn out so well. Perhaps whether something is practical or not should inform our foreign policy?

Joe said...

Not really RC, all nations hold a right to self-defense under Art 51, with or without UN approval....the UN had found Iraq NOT in compliance...the UN warned of "grave consequences" unless Iraq acted....

And beyond the UN, the Kosovo operation had no UN sanction either...neither IIRC did the Indian-Pakistani war of 1971, which Walzer adjudges a "Just War" under the concept of Humanitarian Intervention.

At a host of levels your posting fails.

John Lynch said...

The UN has zippo say on whether we go to war or not. UN approval is nice, but it's not necessary and we've ignored it many, many times in the past. We went to war with Serbia with no UN approval because Russia would have vetoed it.

The only constitutional requirement for a major war is the US Congress, and they signed off on the Iraq war. That's something a lot of people like to ignore. Forms were followed.

former law student said...

Zinn is right -- when you start with a compromise you signal weakness. Obama should have pushed single-payer and compromised with the public option.

He's a people pleaser.

John Lynch said...

FLS-

Single payer would have at least been honest. It would probably cost less, too. I don't understand why the President and Congress decided to go this route.

bagoh20 said...

"I think that if Saddam had been left in power, fewer Iraqi civilians would have died and eventually the regime would have fallen under its own weight."

I've read that 4 million died as a direct result of Saddam's wars and "security". He was mowing down between 100K - 200K per year of his 2 decades of fun in power. Including some really sweet methods of torture.

In addition, estimates were that 100K children were dying every year from the sanctions.

I think it pretty desperate to say Iraq would be better off today if we left him alone.
And there is no way he or his wonderful sons would not be the ones in power. Even the the most powerful nation in history had a hard time getting rid of him.

Robert Cook said...

John Lynch said:

"The UN has zippo say on whether we go to war or not. UN approval is nice, but it's not necessary and we've ignored it many, many times in the past. We went to war with Serbia with no UN approval because Russia would have vetoed it.

"The only constitutional requirement for a major war is the US Congress, and they signed off on the Iraq war. That's something a lot of people like to ignore. Forms were followed."


Wrong. Per the Constitution, our treaty obligations are the law of the land. Per the UN Charter, no member nation may engage in war against another except in self-defense or unless ratified by the UN.

Neither condition held with regards to our invasion of Iraq.

To the extent we have ignored this UN obligation in the past, we have acted illegally.

Big surprise.

John Lynch said...

That's an interesting reading of the UN charter and our obligations under it. I can't think of any, not one, single Security Council member that has followed it.

Robert Cook said...

Joe said:

"Not really RC, all nations hold a right to self-defense under Art 51, with or without UN approval....the UN had found Iraq NOT in compliance...the UN warned of "grave consequences" unless Iraq acted...."

There was no self-defense justification for our invasion of Iraq. They were not threat a to us and they had not made threats to us. Any such "threat" they posed as the American people were made to perceive was a fabrication of the Bush adminstration.

As far as whether Iraq "acted" to be in compliance, they did allow the UN Weapons inspectors in four months before our invasion, and the inspectors were in the middle of their inspection regime--with no hindrances by the Iraqis--when they were advised to abort their inspections and leave the country for their own safety, as the invasion was about to commence.

While they were engaged in their uncompleted inspections, their reports were consistent: no sign of WMD. Subsequent post-war searches merely confirmed that no WMD existed, which the Bush administration finally conceded and admitted.

Our invasion was illegal...a war crime.

The Crack Emcee said...

FLS,

"Then why didn't we invade North Korea? They have nuclear weapons; they've tortured their own citizens for years; they threaten Japan whose protection has been our responsibility since we disarmed them after WW II. Surely the danger they represent was clearer and more present."

Jesus, not this tired shit again:

North Korea's also a giant cult where everyone thinks Kim Jong Ill makes the sun come up in the morning. China cares what happens between N. Korea and us, not because they care about N. Korea, but because they don't want a bunch of delusional loonies streaming into their country as refugees - and neither do any of N. Korea's other neighbors either.

Now I hate cults, especially dangerous ones - hate 'em - but even I can understand that different countries call for different actions. Saddam had kind of a cult going, too. We took him out. Good for us.

Good for the Iraqis.

Good for the world.

Joe said...

RC, the Art 51 reference was simply to refute the idea that ONLY UN permission is acceptable...

and NO, though, the Weapons Inspectors, were to be allowed in, neither the IAEA or the UN Inspection Teams found Iraq to be "in compliance"...with the UN's requirements.

Sorry, not a "war crime"....but thank you for playing.

What's your opinion of Zinn, BTW,, you know the ostensible topic of this thread?

And remember, this wasn't going to be a review of history...and yet it has become one hasn't it?

Meade said...

former law student said...
Zinn is right -- when you start with a compromise you signal weakness. Obama should have pushed single-payer and compromised with the public option.

Yes. Obama should have campaigned as a communist and compromised with being a socialist.

Instead, he's nothing but a Jimmy Carterist.

traditionalguy said...

If making a just War under the UN approved resolution is still a war crime, then Bush gave up our sovreignty to the UN for no reason at all. The realpolitik of the Persian Gulf Oil control is not that the USA steals it, but that the USA has an interest in stopping other Nations from stealing it. To do that we ally ourselves with the Saudi Royal family. Then we put Natan Sharanski's vision of Democracy into Iraq whether they want it or not. It's worked so far. So what is the gripe with Bush for having a plan and working that plan? Oh yeah, its still a crime for the USA to be an Empire that stops other Empires in their tracks. Then, as Zinn preached for 50 years our winning WWII was a war crime too.

garage mahal said...

When did Meade turn into a wingnut. That's what I want to know.

What the hell you been reading?

former law student said...

Crack -- if the arguments used to invade one country apply with even greater force to another country, you have to come up with a stronger argument for not invading than "war will create a lot of refugees."

Consider that our invasion destabilized the Middle East by defanging Iran's biggest rival for regional power. Look how Ahmadinejad has been flexing his muscle since Hussein was removed.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

He's a people pleaser.

Now that's funny!

Henry said...

Obama should have campaigned on transparency and compromised on corruption. Oh wait...

bagoh20 said...

If you know what the U.N. is and who runs it, you really would have to be quite insane to let them decide the fate of any people. It's like having your local police get permission from the local mafia before taking action.

bagoh20 said...

Actually the mafia is much more competent but equally corrupt.

traditionalguy said...

@ Meade ...I can see Barak working on the Habitat for Humanity houses with a Kool Cigarette hanging from his lip as he reenacts Jimmy Carter's path to glory , but no houses for Jews in Jerusalem will ever be built by either of those two Haman-type, smiley faced Democrats.

Chris said...

Obama should have focused on the economy before getting into the capntrade and healthcare weeds. It may suck that the economy sucks for your agenda but too bad. When unemployment is 10% any significant domestic policy that isn't directly addressing unemployment is going to be a loser. It may not be your fault and it may not be fair but deal with it.

former law student said...

Obama should have focused on the economy

Right again. Krugman said his stimulus package was only half what was needed. Fearing the Republican reaction, Obama compromised again. You can't cross a chasm in two steps.

bagoh20 said...

This argument of we should not do Iraq unless we are willing to N. Korea and others is silly.

Just because you can't solve all problems is no excuse for not solving at least one.

There may be other reasons against it, but that one is lame.

Scott M said...

@FLS

Zinn is right -- when you start with a compromise you signal weakness.

I sincerely hope you remember that sentiment the next time we have a foreign policy debate here. It seems to be diametrically opposed to recent policy coming out of the left.

lewsar said...

@Montagne Montaigne: Yes.

what meade and crack said...

on topic, i also agree with those that think obama is moving past carter in a race to the bottom.

that ancient chinese curse about living in interesting times is really being driven home, isn't it?

bagoh20 said...

"Obama should have focused on the economy"

I guess, if you want that to be the reason for what's happening. I'm sure it would work as well.

It's not his target selection that's the problem.

Chris said...

He was also boxed in by ideology. Why not 1/2 the stimulus be the usual crony payoffs and the other 1/2 be tax cuts?

Paul said...

"...I can see Barak working on the Habitat for Humanity houses with a Kool Cigarette hanging from his lip as he reenacts Jimmy Carter's path to glory , but no houses for Jews in Jerusalem will ever be built by either of those two Haman-type, smiley faced Democrats."

I can't. Too hard. Unless he's expending energy droning on and glorifying in the sound of his own voice he is a listless man.

Chris said...

What else is there other than target selection for a President?

bagoh20 said...

"When did Meade turn into a wingnut. "

There everywhere! They've infiltrated the halls of academia via the sliest of avenues. Look for pods, they come from the pods.

bagoh20 said...

"What else is there other than target selection for a President?"

Solution selection. A socialist solution would be no better for the economy than it is for health care.

garage mahal said...

Economy grew at fastest rate in 6 years last quarter. The strategy of waiting and hoping for the economy to collapse might prove to a monumental blunder.

bagoh20 said...

Spelling is for girls.

bagoh20 said...

"The strategy of waiting and hoping for the economy to collapse"

The money has not been spent yet, and pumping money in always helps, it's the cost after that's the problem.

We could all have wonderful lives if we
could just borrow and never pay it back.

The economy would be well back by now if the business community wasn't scared and confused by this administration.

Most of the negatives of Obama's approach have not hit yet, but the benefits should have if not for his person tendencies and those of his cabinet to attack and scapegoat the creators of jobs.

Chris said...

@bagoh20, fair enough. I was thinking more in terms of possible actions the POTUS might take. I'd rather he take a shot at a Krugman stimulus (if it is even possible given the logistics of such a thing) or for that matter, massive tax cuts, than fuck around with cap and trade and healthcare reform while the economy is in the shitter.

Robert Cook said...

"RC, the Art 51 reference was simply to refute the idea that ONLY UN permission is acceptable..."

Joe, the UN Charter permits a self-defense rationale; such a defense would not be an exception or addition to UN parameters.

Henry said...

Yes, according to Krugman, Obama should have pushed a 2.1 Trillion dollar stimulus and bank nationalization and settled for 2 Trillion and bank nationalization.

Unlike starry-eyed Nobel Prize winners, Obama's political people were well aware that following the bank bailout, a Trillion dollar stimulus plan would be dead out of the gate.

This meme coming from the left -- the stimulus failed because we didn't ask for enough -- is utter make believe. It's an unprovable alternate history based on the filling in of economic data after the first stimulus was passed and began to work its magical effects.

Thanks for the theories, Obama defenders, but your guy has already spent his trust.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

From Marketwatch.com

Even with healthy growth in the second half of the year, the economy shrank 2.4% in 2009, the worst year for GDP since the 10.9% drop in 1946, when the United States geared back to a peacetime economy. Business investment fell the most since 1942.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, about two-thirds of the growth came via the swing in inventories. Excluding the change in inventories, final sales increased at a 2.2% annual rate, a signal that the economy remained weak despite stellar topline numbers.

Consumer spending increased at a 2% annual rate, down from 2.9% in the third quarter when the government's so-called cash-for-clunkers program boosted auto sales.

Business investment grew at a 2.9% annual rate, the first increase since the spring of 2008. Investments in equipment and software increased at a 13.3% annual rate, but investments in structures plunged at a 15.4% pace. Commercial real estate is now the weakest part of the economy.


Looks like the Won has healed the economy. Markets are skyrocketing on the news!

Robert Cook said...

Joe, I haven't read Zinn, (as I'm sure most of those opining here about his also have not), so I cannot fairly offer any comment about his work.

Scott M said...

@RC

I have, a ways back when given the book by a co-worker as a birthday present. I got a good part of the way through it...until I got to the part where Zinn claimed that our treatment of blacks was every bit as bad as the Nazi's treatment of the Jews.

I still own it (never, ever through away hardbound books), but it's not been cracked open since 2002.

Chris said...

@Henry, you may be right about the stimulus but at least Obama would have gone big. I'm not particularly ideological and don't really care what works so long as it works. Obama just doesn't give me the impression of being on top of things. He appears to be casting about in the dark. Maybe this isn't fair but the economy is what it is and he's the dude at the top.

garage mahal said...

Looks like the Won has healed the economy. Markets are skyrocketing on the news!

Keep rooting failure, I'm sure that will be a big winner for you!

The Crack Emcee said...

FLS,

"Crack -- if the arguments used to invade one country apply with even greater force to another country, you have to come up with a stronger argument for not invading than 'war will create a lot of refugees.'

Consider that our invasion destabilized the Middle East by defanging Iran's biggest rival for regional power. Look how Ahmadinejad has been flexing his muscle since Hussein was removed."


Dude, i hate to say this (because you seem to be asking these questions in sincerity) but you're misreading everything:

1) It's not "war will create a lot of refugees" but "war will create a lot of even more batshit crazies that nobody wants" and do you want to risk going to war with China over them? Shit, even China doesn't want to risk going to war over them - they're crazier than crazy!! Foreign policy is strategy, man, and you do what you can when the opportunity presents itself. It's all you can do. Declaring that, because we have a particular policy, it means we have to apply it, always, in every circumstance, in the same way, at all times, to everybody, etc., just ain't mature.

2) We didn't "destabilized the Middle East" - it's never been stabilized - stabilizing it is what we're after. Nobody said it's going to be easy (which is what I think you really want) and, really, Ahmadinejad is flexing his muscles because your boyfriend, Obami, told him (and showed him) he had nothing to fear. Everybody knew the score before, under Bush, where now, we - the American people - don't even know what our message to the world is with such a clueless commander in charge.

That's what makes him "a dangerous president".

The Crack Emcee said...

Garage,

It's 2.2 percent in real numbers.

Sit. Down.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Garage, I'm not rooting for failure. I rushed to marketwatch.com (hardly a conservative voice) to confirm the triumphant news. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. Maybe we can get there by flushing another trillion or two down the government hole. Then again, maybe not.

I think we would both love to see a healthy economy. Maybe we can agree on that even if we disagree on how to get there.

garage mahal said...

We agree.

traditionalguy said...

@ Chris..."The system worked" is a judgement that differs between the system of capitalism and the system of socialist equal distribution which must be started by a redistribution. To start the redistribution, all middle class American's pensions and IRAs and house equities and stocks must be sponged up to pay for the Crisis. The Crisis is the CO2 trace gas that has no known scientific effect on anything except better plant growth. But a plan to Mind Control the Globe into fearing it as the Pollutant called Carbon is supposed to jusify a plan to take all remaining private wealth at gunpoint. The Banking freeze in the immediate 15 months has wiped out all leveraged borrowers among the middle class dependant on selling secured assets, so the DAY of Socialist Domination is very close. To Althouse post, that Socialist system needs to fail, just like Limbaugh and says he hopes Obama's system fails.

Chris said...

@TG, you might be right but I hope not. I think things are good more or less. I do not think things are so bad that we need some Taxi Driver like cleansing. Be very careful about tearing things down because you might end up with something worse.

traditionalguy said...

Chris...The election in Massachusetts was the shot heard around the country. There will be no disaster unless the Democrats can bribe the outgoing Senators into passing a bill sinking us by affirming the recently EPA mandated CO2 strangulation regulations. This is a fight that cannot be lost. But there are a few fighters out there such as Sarah Palin and James Inhof.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Actually the mafia is much more competent but equally corrupt.

At least the Mafia is upfront about their corruption. No secret on their agenda or where they are coming from.

I'm glad glad glad that Obama is a mediocre President. I agree with the original premise of Limbaugh. Obama should fail at everything he wants to accomplish because NONE of his goals are good for the country.

I just hope he doesn't fail so badly that he flips out and goes all Captain Queeg on us.

Chris said...

@TG, never going to happen. I completely disagree with you re: Palin and Inhof. I'm more in the Lomborg/Gates camp. Plus, regardless what camp I am in, it is inconceivable to me that our government would pass an economy damping and transactionally expensive cap and trade bill at the present time.

Joe said...

Chris;
Why do you believe this, they're trying to nationalize 1/6 of the US economy still, even though 55-60% of the populace opposes it and thinks it would be bad. But Cap n Trade is different?

Further, would you argue that in better times Cap n Trade WOULD be passable, and even OUGHT to be passed? Again, why? Why cripple the US in the name of preventing an illusory problem, that Cap n Trade wouldn't fix, even were the problem real, but which will leave the planet DIRTIER?

traditionalguy said...

Chris...I hope you are right and Obama undoes all his work done so far to create a Green Jobs slush fund from huge energy taxes on coal, gas, and oil.The Cap and Trade game is a shell game to call these taxes pollution fees. It is the new SYSTEM. what don't you understand about a system? " A System" mean that the smarter scientists have decided what is needed and nobody better yell out You Lie. And all facebook free speech will need to be stopped if done by a Denyer. That is also in the system. These guys are not our friends, but they are Obama's best friends.

Chris said...

@Joe and TG, yes I think Cap and Trade might pass in a robust economy but only in a loose and dynamic way. A fine grained transactional system would be political suicide and if I were a Republican operative looking for a job in government I'd pray the Democrats would pass such a thing. More likely the worst they could get through in the best of times would be a very broad grained cap and trade system that only affected large emitters and set the cap very high. This sort of system would get ratcheted down by some and eased up by others and probably wouldn't cause too many problems other than being stupid. This is coming from someone who things global warming is real.

Joe said...

Upon what basis do you hold global warming to be real?

Further, why is global temperature change a problem?

What is the "correct" temperature of the Earth?

Chris said...

@Joe. I'm no scientist but I'm a skeptic and, I think, inductive. I hold global warming to be real because it seems plausible to me and it is supported by a lot of science. I may be wrong but given what I know of the world and my intuitions, my money is on global warming. This isn't to say that I agree with the "settled science" people. That crap drives me crazy. Where I have problems with the GW crowd is their extrapolations beyond the science. As I said earlier, I like people who accept that for every numerator there is a denominator. Bjorn Lomborg for instance. It isn't enough to try and sell a Pascal's wager about global warming. You have to convince me that the drag on the economy associated with your scheme to mitigate GW isn't worse that GW.

Scott M said...

@Chris

I believe most rational people that oppose things like Copenhagen and/or Cap-And-Trade are willing to be open-minded about changes in the average temps of the Earth. The main argument is the AGW part of it...that man is the principle cause of temperature change.

Unfortunately, even if that were true, it seems like every two weeks something else comes down the pike that makes the IPCC and the main proponents of AWG look more and more foolish.

Had we just plunged forward and hamstrung our economy based on that bullshit, we would collectively look just as foolish.

Chris said...

@Scott M, I'm frightened of people on all sides who can't be bothered to do a quick risk management calculation. At the moment, this means crazy lefties, but it could flip. Give me a world of critical thinkers and I'll take my chances.

Robert Cook said...

"...why is global temperature change a problem?

"What is the "correct" temperature of the Earth?"


To answer the second question first as a preamble to an answer to the first question:

There is no "correct" temperature of Earth. Over the ages it has gone up and down and it will continue to do so, and yes, this fluctuation in global climate is affected by the activity that occurs on the planet. It is a dynamic system. To say that the behavior of humankind affects global climate is no more controversial than to say the effusion of methane gasses by dinosaurs as a byproduct of digestion may have contributed to warming temperatures in their time.

A rising global temperature is a problem only for that foliage and those creatures whose survival depends on the particular global climate that exists at this time. That means you and me. If the climate gets hotter as is theorized, the global ice caps will melt, raising sea levels around the world. This will flood all coastal areas, sending the inhabitants thereof fleeing inland, and creating a stress on the remaining resources of food, water, shelter, etc. If the global climate were to continue getting hotter still, the ultimate effects would result in the dying off of many species of plants and animals, and possibly even humankind.

But, the earth itself would remain, and new creatures and new foliage would develop, adapted to the new climate. There have been many previous such die-offs, and there will be many more in the life of our globe. We won't be around, but the universe doesn't care.

former law student said...

Global warming won't bother me. Imagine Florida covered with houseboats, and people in Houston suddenly having beachfront property.

Henry said...

If the climate gets hotter as is theorized, the global ice caps will melt, raising sea levels around the world. This will flood all coastal areas, sending the inhabitants thereof fleeing inland...

So you're a believer in the small bathtub theory. Have you checked the IPCC consensus recently on sea level rise? Wikipedia has a pretty good article on this issue. Just read the first paragraph. Sure, it's Wikipedia. So check footnotes 8 and 9.

Synova said...

"Global warming won't bother me. Imagine Florida covered with houseboats, and people in Houston suddenly having beachfront property."

Yeah, I liked that idea too.

I think the whole drastic rise in Ocean water is hokum but it's a really neat idea for the back ground of an SF story.

So I looked it up and found a really neat map that showed the sea levels and coast lines in a dynamic way.

Even cranked up to the highest setting of 7 meters, it was a disappointment. Almost nothing was flooded *except* Florida and a slice up the Mississippi delta. The other coastal incursions were minimal... not even New York City was actually under water. The Sacramento Valley was a bust, though. And Tokyo would be pretty wet. But Tokyo is already building out over the water, isn't it?

In any case, it was highly disappointing.

traditionalguy said...

Chris... Your inductive reasoning on Warming being caused by rising CO2 levels has hit a road block of no warming for 10 years and sharp cooling for 1 year cooling while the CO2 levels are climbing all the time. It may be too late for the Scam Artists paid by the government to pivot over to Water Vapor and ozone holes as a shell to hide the decline behind, implying that CO2 levels are not of any interest since they are always culprits by a "settled science", but Water Vapor(Clouds) is a temporary partial cause. The dumb propagandists cannot even talk about the Sun and its storms (Sun Spots), because even all the money ever made in the world cannot be stolen to build faked schemes to control the Sun. As reasonable as you talk, there is a need for you to analyse from evidence rather than from suspicions that Global Warming from CO2 is a real scientific event. That evidence is why the CRU schemers had to hide the evidence that they could not just fake. The evidence is there or it is not there. Suspicions of Alien Space craft landings, and suspicions of CO2 being a pollutant instead of a known plant food, and suspicions of Bush faking airplane crashes causing the dynamited WTC towers to fall, are all equally Wing Nutter Cults.

Chris said...

I didn't mean to get into the specifics of AGW. I think there are better forums for those arguments. All I was saying is that the dems were dumb to waste time on it when the economy is so messed up.

Synova said...

"All I was saying is that the dems were dumb to waste time on it when the economy is so messed up."

I certainly agree with that.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Althouse, et al.
RE: Heh

I agree that a mediocre President is dangerous. But if a non-mediocre Obama would go in the direction Howard Zinn wanted to push, I prefer a mediocre Obama. -- Althouse

Glad to see some others are beginning to 'catch on'. And I've got a good—i.e., BAD—idea of what Zinn might be alluding too when he talks about when he says....

....a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction. -- Zinn

Unfortunately, Zinn doesn't know what (1) he's talking about let alone (2) what Obama has in mind for a 'national movement'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Remember the Kulaks!!!

Synova said...

Wow, how are you Chuck?

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Synova
RE: [OT] Greetings

Wow, how are you Chuck? -- Synova

Passably well.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.]

John Lynch said...

The economy did grow at a 5.7% annualized rate last quarter. That's a good thing. If we have a normal recovery, things will start looking pretty good right after the midterms...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This will flood all coastal areas, sending the inhabitants thereof fleeing inland, and creating a stress on the remaining resources of food, water, shelter, etc. If the global climate were to continue getting hotter still, the ultimate effects would result in the dying off of many species of plants and animals, and possibly even humankind.


Oh for crying out loud. You act like there is going to be a world wide tsunami and we will all have to run screaming for the hills in a nano second.

If there is a climate change, it will be gradual. If we, humans, with all of our gigantic brains, techonolgy and resources can't adapt just a tiny bit....we don't deserve to survive.

Get a grip. Stop being so hysterical

AND. what does all of this have to do with the fact that Obama is a dud, a failure, a mediocre President?

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: John Lynch, et al.
RE: Aaaaannnnd....

The economy did grow at a 5.7% annualized rate last quarter. That's a good thing. If we have a normal recovery, things will start looking pretty good right after the midterms... -- John Lynch

....the 'source' of this report is WHO? The US Government? Which department? Hey! Isn't that department part of the {nudge-nudge, wink-wink} pardon the expression 'Executive' branch? Who's in charge of THAT??!??!

I'll believe the report when it has been substantiated by a more reliable source.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Figures don't lie, but liars figure.]

P.S. Three guesses as to where Obama fits into that tag-line.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dust Bunny Queen
RE: Maybe....

If there is a climate change, it will be gradual. -- Dust Bunny Queen

....and then again....

....maybe not.

Ever read THIS?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The feminist movement died one millisecond after the first impact.]

Jack Okie said...

Hey Chuck:

I just reread that book, again. Those guys can write. Have you also read Footfall, and in the AGW vein, Fallen Angels?

Re Obumble (to at least make an effort to stay on topic), I get the feeling that he is absolutely clueless about the job of President, or really any executive job. He seems to always be in reactive mode, responding to advice and prompting rather than running his own show.

Jack Okie said...

And Garage and MM:

What is your take on the TOTUS? Why on earth would he need one at the school appearance, or for that meeting with members of his administration? Are the answers fed to him when he talks to the press?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"If there is a climate change, it will be gradual. -- Dust Bunny Queen"

....and then again....

....maybe not.

Ever read THIS?

Regards,

Chuck(le)


Well, if that's your scenario it really doesn't matter what kind of effing light bulbs I use or what my carbon footprint is...... does it? So why do you care about what I or anyone else does, if in the big scheme of things we are just asteroid fodder?

Der Lunchmeister said...

@Montagne Montaigne

There are worse things than death.

Revenant said...

I'm not normally one to defend Barack Obama. But if Howard Zinn ever had an intelligent or insightful thing to say about American politics or American history, he never said it within earshot of me.

So oddly enough, Zinn's declaration makes me inclined to think that Obama might not be so bad after all. :)

AllenS said...

the global ice caps will melt, raising sea levels around the world

Think about all of the rivers in the world, emptying their waters into the oceans, every second of every day, every day of every week, every week of every month, every month of every year ... since the beginning, and yet the oceans are not rising. Why? You'd think that Florida would have already been underwater, but it isn't.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dust Bunny QUeen
RE: [OT] Scenarios

Well, if that's your scenario it really doesn't matter what kind of effing light bulbs I use or what my carbon footprint is...... -- Dust Bunny Queen

Not MY 'scenario'. Rather something to keep you on an even keel with that comment that climate change was 'gradual'.

There's a growing body of evidence out there that says that we've been smacked by comets a number of times since the recording of history. And each time has been a SERIOUS problem for us. ALL OVER THE EARTH. Entire civilizations were knocked to their knees, if not wiped out.

Check out THIS!

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Don't forget the Dinosaur Killer. It was discovered AFTER Niven and Pournelle wrote that book....

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Jack Oakie
RE: [OT] Niven & Pournelle Books

I just reread that book, again. Those guys can write. Have you also read Footfall, and in the AGW vein, Fallen Angels? -- Jack Oakie

I read that book about once every 18 months. Just to remind myself of how bad things can REALLY get. Probably driven by having discovered those reports that it's happened before, albeit not on quite so large a scale. However, what HAS happened correlates well with the Biblical Great Flood, the collapse of the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Egypt and the onset of the Dark Ages.

Doing the math, the average time between events is roughly 720 years. And since these things don't happen like a run bus schedule, they DO occur. And the last one was almost 1500 years ago.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Big Dirty Ice Ball cometh!]

P.S. And yes, my collection of Niven and/or Pournelle is rather extensive. Like my collection of Tom Clancy.

HT said...

Why Howard Zinn's opinion is of any interest to people on this blog is beyond me.

It's not the least surprising or even news to leftists who propelled Obama over the top in the primaries. After that, the enthusiasm waned noticeably. Particularly over FISA.

For leftists, this is not news or interesting.