Open Thread: Some Political Ruminations That Taken Together Offer a Way to Think Coherently About the Present Chaos

I have put together three "commentaries," that pull things together for me as I try to decipher the situation we are facing. I accept the necessity for finding pragmatic solutions to the problems we face as a nation, but in the end I think it is philosophy (n.b. not ideology) that triumphs.

 

The Knives are Out

Robert Kuttner had an interesting commentary, The Post Partisan President, on Huffington Post this weekend. The short version is: No more time for sweet talking. He discusses the legitimate concerns to progressives that Obama's post-partisan approach will be that all too familiar Democratic cave-in as the Republicans heighten the pressure.

Barack Obama has made it very clear that he intends to govern as a bridge-builder. Ideology is a bad word in Obamaland. He will lead as a pragmatist, and also reach across the aisle to Republicans.

This stance has stimulated a passionate debate among progressives, on HuffingtonPost and elsewhere. For some, this is just the latest disappointing case of a candidate arousing the hopes of the center-left but governing from the center-right (viz. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gerhardt Schroeder).

Or, are these worries really uncalled for?

In the new normal, what is pragmatic is actually fairly left wing. If massive public spending, and re-regulation of Wall Street, and green energy, and universal health coverage can be characterized as mere pragmatism, bring it on. We can acknowledge later that we have moved the center to the left and shifted the prevailing ideology. Clever guy, this Obama.

...snip...

The Republican story is that the best stimulus is more tax cuts, and that the money should be found by reducing the deficit. That leaves no room for more public spending, only for more spending-cuts. And despite the fact that deregulation caused the financial collapse, Republicans still insist that regulation did it--the evil Community Reinvestment Act (which in fact explicitly required that sound lending standards were not to be waived. Most subprime lenders were not even covered by CRA.)

Here is an easy prediction: When President Obama reaches that hand of bipartisanship across the aisle, he will find that the Republicans bite it.

In Kuttner's view the die is cast although the future may not be rosy.

By the end of his first year, either Obama will have put the economy on the path to recovery based on a progressive program that represents a radical ideological shift; if he achieves that, he will have done it with precious little Republican support. Alternatively, much of his program will have been blocked by Republican filibusters enabled by a few conservative Democratic allies.

Let's hope it's the former. And let's hope he has the audacity to call progressivism by its name. Either way, one thing Obama will not be is post-partisan.

A Different Take on the Future in Light of the Recession

Robert Reich wrote a blog Monday that I highly recommend, The Logic of Keynes in Today's World. I will quote only from the end here.

Reich does not suppose that even under the most optimistic scenario the economy will recover to the point that the middle-class spending spree will resume, but he asks is that so bad really.

[E]ven if Americans had the money to keep spending as before, they could do so forever. Yet only the most myopic adherent of free-market capitalism could believe this to be true. The social and environmental costs would soon overwhelm us. Even if climate change were not an imminent threat to the planet, the rest of the world will not allow American consumers to continue to use up a quarter of the planet’s natural resources and generate an even larger share of its toxic wastes and pollutants.

This would be a problem if most of what we consumed during our big-spending years were bare necessities. But much was just stuff. And surely there are limits to how many furnishings and appliances can be crammed into a home, how many hours can be filled manipulating digital devices, and how much happiness can be wrung out of commercial entertainment.

Filling Out The Content

Truth is Roosevelt said it all before. Turning to the speech he gave when he accepted the Democratic nomination in 1932, we see how he addressed the question of Wall Street versus Main Street. One of the accepted commonplaces is that he came to his New Deal program out of necessity once he was in offices and faced the challenges so like the ones that President Obama will be dealing with. Not so as you will see:

The Democratic Party by tradition and by the coninuing logic of history, past and present, is the bearer of liberalism and of progress.

...snip... [he contrasts the philosophy  of what today we shorthand with the soundbite Wall Street versus Main Street.]

The first sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small business man.

...snip...[but that didn't work]

"You know the story. Surpluses invested in unnecessary plants become idle. Men lost hteir jobs. Purchasing Power dried up. Banks because firghtened and started calling loans. Those who had oney were afraid to part with it. Credit contracted. Industry stopped. Commerce declined and unemployment mounted.

[And the two concluding paragraphs]

On the farms, in the large metropolitan areas, in the smaller cities and in the villages, millions of our citizens cherish the hope that their old standards of living and of thought have not gone forever. Those millions cannot and shall not hope in vain.

I  pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people.

 

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Wow..what a good idea that I found in comments on this article in the Houston chron.com this morning.

Bush to leave plans in case of crisis when Obama moves in

WASHINGTON — The Bush White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration, part of an elaborate operation designed to smooth the first transition of power since Sept. 11, 2001.

The memorandums envision a variety of volatile possibilities, like a North Korean nuclear explosion, a cyberattack on U.S. computer systems, a terrorist strike on U.S. facilities overseas or a fresh outbreak of instability in the Middle East, according to people briefed on them. Each then outlines options for Obama to consider.

I read this article out of curiosity and astonishment.....as well as the comments. Enjoy!

Chaos, chaos chaos.

The question for you. Is Bush worth wasting one's shoes on?

carol

aren't they?

Huge Iraq Weapons Stash Found

IRAQ HAD SHOES ALL ALONG, CLAIMS VINDICATED BUSH

More than 400 lethal shoes including sandals, pumps, desert boots and a solitary brogue were revealed as Mr Bush paid a final visit to Iraq to see if there was anything left.

Meanwhile the Kremlin said most of Iraq's shoes had actually been bought from ex-US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he worked for Hush Puppies in the early 1980s.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Rochdale to send shoes in peace protest

Following the example of organisations across the world, Rochdale and Littleborough Peace group has urged people to send their shoes to former president George Bush.

This echoes the act of Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaida who threw his own shoes at Bush in an act of protest last Monday (15 December), crying “This is for the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq.”

Philip Gilligan, a member of Rochdale and Littleborough Peace group, stated: “Throwing shoes is a sign of contempt in the Middle East and we certainly want to express our contempt for the man who launched the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. Many here will be joining the British shoe protest at the US embassy in London at 1pm on Friday 19 December 2008.”

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Don't take my last pair of shoes!!!!!!!!

carol

You expect this old male to believe you, as a woman, have only One Pair Of Shoes Left??

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

I'm mortally offended, (no offense to TG's etc.)

carol

Failure is Air Force’s third so far this year at nuclear weapons

The Air Force’s 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming failed its nuclear surety inspection this week, the third nuclear unit to fail a security investigation this year, a nonprofit watchdog group reported Tuesday.

Officials with the Project on Government Oversight say members of Congress received a memo from the wing’s inspector general, Lt. Col. Mark Avery, noting that the unit’s management of nuclear missiles and its "tools, test, tie down and handling equipment" were both rated "unsatisfactory" by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

"We talk to guys [in the Air Force] about the security of the nuclear program, and they don’t think the Air Force is up to it these days," said Peter Stockton, a senior investigator with POGO.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

what in the world could the AF be thinking of? They are acting like Wall St.....reckless. OMG, could the AF take America down?

Total, is one of the Legacies that Will Stick in the History Books, it's Unbelievable just how Wide Spread it has become across All the Agencies including those not Directly Attached to the Administration!!

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Store Won't Make Cake For "Adolf Hitler"

Couple Names Kids Adolf Hitler, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, And Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie

Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived his entire
life in Hunterdon County. On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he
said were worn by a German soldier during World War II.

He said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to
mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to
raise his children differently.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Expense account dinners, first class travel, luxury hotels and top pay. Sounds nice, right?

That's how a nonprofit group "squandered" federal funding it received from Congress to help veterans start small businesses.

A Senate investigative report said the group, the National Veterans Business Development Corp., aka Veterans Corp, spent just 9 percent of its budget last year on the small business centers it was supposed to start and run.

One reader writes: "The Veterans Corporation is not a veterans group or organization. It was created by Congress and not by military veterans. Even the use of the word 'veterans' in their name is tainting 'real' veterans organizations."

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."