The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

So, compared to McCain, was Obama actually the lesser evil?

I thought so at the time, but I’ve been wondering for a while.  As I’ve pointed out, frequently, Bush failed to slash Social Security.  Obama is probably going to do so soon.  I doubt McCain, any more than Bush, could have done so.

Of course, on the negative side McCain might have gone to war with Iran, wouldn’t have given up on DADT no matter how hard he was pushed, and, er, other stuff.  And Palin as President isn’t something to look at lightly.

But domestically, would he have been worse?  Maybe, maybe even probably, but it’s no longer clear cut.  The fact that one can even ask the question, can even argue it, is beyond sad.


Stirling Newberry and Ian Welsh on Virtually Speaking Tonight at 9pm Easter


Marcy Wheeler, aka. Emptywheel, has a new home


  1. guest

    Was McCain even trying? Picking Palin and that whole thing where he suspended his campaign during the financial meltdown? His behavior was just bizarre. And there was almost zero chance of a Republican winning after 8 years of Bush. My bet is he wouldn’t have been any worse than Obama ben Lieberman. They would have found a way to ditch Palin, they would have reined in his stupider impulses, just as they did with Bush. There would have been a puppetmaster behind the scenes just like with St Ronnie or Arnold or Bush. But it doesn’t matter, because Wall St wanted Obama and they will want him again next year no matter how much noise they make to the contrary. It was preordained. There was no choice, or rather your choice had no more effect than mine (and I have the right to vote here). They’ll steal the next election for him if they have to. At this point I’m just shocked at how compliant and quiet the Democrats in the House have been, not even any back benchers rocking the boat. Can’t say I’m surprised by the Dems in the Senate. They were all co-opted by the money party long ago, which is why Obamas sweep from obscurity to Senate to Preznit in just a few years does not surporse me.

  2. Notorious P.A.T.

    “McCain might have gone to war with Iran”

    And an unconstitutional war with Iran is worse than an unconstitutional war with Libya because…because…well, just because. And I don’t see how DADT would still be in effect under McCain since it was a lawsuit by a Republican group that ended it, not anything President Evolving did.

  3. bystander

    Agree. I started asking myself this question about a year ago. I’d voted for Obama on behalf of the Iranian people, but Notorious P.A.T. has a point. Clearly, I hadn’t anticipated Libya (or, Yemen, or Syria?).

    Does make me wonder – given that the foreign policy is the same – if on the domestic front we might not have been better off had the Democrats not taken the White House. Maybe they’re just better as the “loyal opposition.” At least, when they’re in the bleachers they make an effort to distinguish themselves from the other team.

  4. Looking at Obama, his big failings are in financial and labor policy. His Department of Justice is so-so on civil liberties; could be worse, but it’s not great. His education policy is rotten, too, but education policy largely isn’t made at the Federal level. McCain would have failed across the board. Domestically, McCain likely would have supported the whole ALEC agenda at the Federal level–the thing we’re seeing put into practice in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana. His Supreme Court picks would have been far to the right. His Department of Justice would have been toxic. We’d probably have a climate denialist managing the Department of Energy and an anti-environmentalist in charge of Interior–remember James Watt?

    So, yes, likely McCain would have been worse on domestic policy.

    Which doesn’t make Obama’s labor, financial and educational policies the less poisonous, or his Justice department anything but mediocre on civil liberties.

  5. Ian Welsh

    A war with Iran would be a much bigger deal than one with Libya. It’s a far more important country.

    Obama is, actually, worse on most parts of civil liberties than Bush was (minus gay marriage, which wasn’t ended by him, as pointed out.) I had a chance to chat with folks from the ACLU early last year, and they were livid even then. He’s not mediocre on civil liberties, he’s poisonous.

    Obama institutionalized Bush – he can spy on anyone, assassinate anyone and has pushed presidential authority even farther than Bush.

    He is cracking down on whistleblowers far harder than Bush, has shielded everyone from torture prosecutions, has cut deals to slash abortion rights, instituted groping at airports, and so on.

  6. Ian Welsh

    McCain: as best I can tell, TARP is where he lost. His initial instinct, to go back to DC and oppose it, was correct and I think it would have won him the election, but his funders/controllers yanked his leash and told him not to, and that was the end of his chances.

  7. BTW, Libya, Yemen, and Syria are “small” wars. There is even some case to be made for Lybia, though I fear it will end badly. Iran would have been huge. Probably disastrous on a scale no US war has been, perhaps even the beginning of World War III. The right-wing militarists are itching for a global war on the Islamic world and McCain probably would have been glad to begin it. Let us be glad that Obama has not, at least, given them that.

  8. BDBlue

    I’d say that it’s not so much as Obama was the lesser evil than McCain or vice versa, but I suspect the Democratic Party overall would be more strongly the lesser evil with President McCain than they are with President Obama. Put another way, McCain with a Democratic majority Congress doesn’t get a lot of what Obama’s gotten with the same majority. Just as Bush couldn’t slash Social Security and actually reigned Cheney and the war machine in a bit after 2006.

    The real question is which is the lesser evil with the GOP Congress – Romney or Obama? And I’m not sure there will be much of a difference. To me, to the extent Democrats perform any sort of brake on GOP excess, that would come from a majority in the House since – while complete corporate sell outs, they’re still the most progressive institution. I think if Dems can win back the House, we’d be better off with Romney in the White House. He won’t be able to roll the House Dems so easily – a better brake – and the Senate Dems might obstruct on at least some issues just to do so and to try to help their election prospects in 2014.

    None of this is an answer to the problem, of course. But I think in my perfect world of what the short-term goal should be – it would be for Dems to take the House (the Senate I think is destined to go GOP) and for Obama to lose to Romney, preferably with a third-party challenge to his left inflicting 5-10% damage since he’s obviously not going to be primaried. While I don’t have a lot of hope for the third-party part, the rest of it – provided the House members don’t give up the Medicare/Social Security issue, a big but – could very well happen. If you assume we’re going into an anti-incumbent election (and really none of them deserve to be returned), then the Dems could take back the House and lose everything else.

    Of course, there is one good thing that Obama has done and his re-election could continue – and that is to help lift the blinders off union and other Dem base eyes and make it more likely they might be peeled away into backing an alternative or actively challenging the Democrats. If we get the GOP, it will once again unite the left behind the Dems who will once again sell it out the minute they get back in power. So from a long-term perspective, we may suffer less overall pain if the Dems hold power and keep inflicting conservative policies on us. Of course, this also has risk because it presumes union and other leadership isn’t so corrupt that they would actually destroy their own organizations for “a seat at the table”. I’m not so sure that’s the case.

    Long term, whatever happens in 2012, there needs to be a breaking away of the left from the Democratic Party and the founding of true left institutions. I was reading a little bit about Latin America after neoliberalism and how the left is attempting to build more resilient institutions, less easily decapitated by the loss of one person. I’m hoping to read more (if anyone has any book suggestions, I’d be very grateful).

  9. Morocco Bama

    I’m so sick and tired of the “lesser evil” trope bandied about by liberal apologists. Anyone who still adheres to this nonsensical explanation is still donning some serious blinders, and should not be taken seriously……yet they are.

  10. someofparts

    Well, in an odd way, this makes it easier to talk to conservatives. Now that folks like me have been so obviously betrayed by Mr. Hopey-Changey, my right-wing neighbors are more willing to admit that their favorites have betrayed them too.

  11. In Bought and Paid For, Charles Gasparino details how McCain thought the investment bankers were a bunch of spoiled brats who if given bailouts would keep the money for themselves. He was right. And when they approached him he basically told them to go fcuk themselves.

    He sure as hell wouldn’t have shoveled hundreds of billions to them.

  12. Morocco Bama

    “Betrayal” is also a trope, because it assumes that Obama at one time was sincere rather than duplicitous. He was never sincere about any of it……those who bought the illusion want some shred of redemption for being so naively gullible, so they cling to the notion that Obama, or Bush, once had noble intentions but gave into, and even went over to, the Dark Side. I have news for you. They were always part of the Dark Side. Those who bought the Brand were just too stupid to see it, and until they admit it, they will continue to make the same mistake over and over again.

  13. Morocco Bama

    He sure as hell wouldn’t have shoveled hundreds of billions to them.

    Bullshit. If he were a serious candidate, which he wasn’t, purposely, just as Kerry wasn’t in 2004, he would have done anything his bosses told him to do….they just would have sold it differently because it was another Brand.

  14. Tom Hickey

    As I said during the campaign, Obama will be a disaster, McCain a catastrophe. My thinking was that McCain would like dig in in Iraq and expand the war to Iran, but that otherwise, not that big a difference in domestic policy with Obama in the pocket of Wall Street. Also McCain’s appointments would move government and the courts much far to the right than Obama’s, affecting the US for decades. So on balance I would still maintain that Obama was the lesser evil, which is only option the two party system presents voters.

  15. nihil obstet

    I wonder what McCain would have done on TARP. He called his involvement in the Keating five scandal the worst thing that had ever happened to him. I’d guess that McCain just wasn’t bright enough to figure out that he was acting corruptly at the time, and was genuinely shocked at the dishonor. There might have remained a personal animus towards the financial world and a fear of repeating his errors that would keep him from kissing bankers’ ass the way Obama has.

  16. StewartM

    Morocco Bama:

    “Betrayal” is also a trope, because it assumes that Obama at one time was sincere rather than duplicitous.

    I think it was betrayal, but my disagreement is only semantical, because I agree with you that he was duplicitous. I think Obama positioned himself in the primaries to *appear* to be to the “left” as an alternative to Hillary (to those listening carefully, he wasn’t) because Democratic voters *knew* what they were getting with Hillary: more triangulation “Third Way” crapola. Hillary essentially proposed ObamaCare as her “solution”; as one example, Obama offered up the public option.

    As for Obama’s motives? One weighs all the alternatives:

    Is he intellectually stupid? No, that can’t be. I think his intelligence is overrated, the more I listen to it it’s more like the smooth buzzwords-talk of someone with a superficial elite-school eduction with appeals to conventional wisdom (like, how many times have you heard him say things like “All economists agree” with his actions on a given topic when it’s clear that that all economists *don’t*?) But stupid? There have been dumber presidents.

    Is he politically blind and deaf? No. You don’t get to be president if you are.

    So I am now concluding he’s was always a Trojan Horse candidate. His mission is to destroy the Democratic party from within, or what was left of it after Carter and Clinton.

    The White House rejected the political advice from his own messaging team in 2010 which found his message “Go Forward, Not Back” actually *drove voters away from Democrats*:

    Why would they do this unless they *wanted* the Dems to lose and give the Republicans power?

    Why would Obama have continued the Bush tax cuts in December 2010 (which gives the $4 trillion Obama says now he wants, and all he had to do to extend them is *nothing*). Why would he and Dems not permanently done away with the debt ceiling, not permanently extended unemployment benefits, and a whole host of issues robbing the Republicans the chance to play hostage-taker in December 2010? Why would Obama now, after Ryan’s budget and Scott Walker have put the GOP in a world of political hurt, now come to their rescue by offering to slash and burn SS and Medicare and Medicaid himself, with Democratic help?

    There’s an interesting idea floated. Obama has supposedly said before the 2008 election that “the next president who ‘does right’ might be a one-term president”. Ergo, maybe he doesn’t want to run in 2012? Maybe like LBJ, but for different reasons, after he sinks Democratic chances he’ll step out at the last minute, crying that he was not appreciated by those “old school libruls harkening back to the 1930s” and leaving the Dems even more in disarray, helping to ensure his “Republican friends”, as he calls them, get a President TeaBag elected in 2012? There’s always the lucrative past-President speaking tours, you know.


  17. Yes, Obama definitely was the lesser evil and McCain would have been worse. As I pointed out then, what they actually do is besides the point—it’s what people learn from it. What the Democrats would have learned from a McCain victory—particularly with Palin at his side—was that they needed to run a candidate that was notionally even further to the right (and that they shouldn’t run black or female candidates as serious primary contenders).

    You have to get through eight years of any Democrat and at least one or two failed “crazy” Republican campaigns before things are ever going to get better. I’d love for the world to surprise me—that a Democratic defeat would push the party leadership leftward—but this hasn’t happened in a long time and won’t.

    The dogs of Wall Street have been baying against “entitlements” for a long, long time, and Social Security is to them a deep and terrible wound; it was going to get “treated” no matter what.

  18. S Brennan

    “…compared to McCain, was Obama actually the lesser evil?”

    Hmmm…how about:

    Could the extremist right wing and moneyed interest accomplish more with Obama or McCain?

    Could McCain have destroyed the left thoroughly as Obama has?

    Could McCain have destroyed civil liberties as thoroughly as Obama has?

    Could McCain have toadied to the moneyed interests as thoroughly as Obama has?

    Could McCain have done all these things and handed the blame to the Democrats?

    No. Only Obama [D] could have. The fools that supported this clown, are left with facile arguments that substitute conjecture for actual data. I have yet to meet one of Obama’s supporters who actually apologized for their thuggish behavior in foisting a narcissistic borderline sociopath, whose indifference to the needs of the nation in favor of the privileged few is in plain view every single day.

    Nobody who ran against Obama could have accomplished as much evil, just as the middle class Jews of Italy helped Mussolini to power, the “left” supported a right wing politician ensuring that there would be no effective opposition to extremist policies. So even as the “left” is being loaded onto the camp bound trains…they say “Turati would have been worse”

  19. S Brennan


    I have yet to meet one of Obama’s supporters who actually apologized for their thuggish behavior in foisting [this] narcissistic borderline sociopath [upon us]. [Obama is a man]whose indifference to the needs of the nation in favor of the privileged few is in plain view every single day.

  20. Tom Hickey

    I sympathize with those that feel betrayed. I don’t, since I saw it coming from the get-go, so maybe I am more sanguine about it now.

    The fact is that that the problem is institutional. The cost of generals now is so huge that candidates have to take large sums from special interests to whom they are then beholden if they want funding for the next election. Even a presidential candidate that is a lame duck after six or seven years will still be pulling for his party and not alienate the big donors.

    Moreover, add to this the revolving door and the elite has captured the apparatus of the state, turning what is supposedly a liberal democracy into a functional plutocratic oligarchy run by and for the top 1%.

    The only real solution is getting the money out of politics and locking the revolving door. That is going to take a virtual revolution.

  21. grs

    If you think Obama has rolled on domestic policy, McCain would have straight up flattened it. Too many blue dogs in the senate. Obama might be BFF’s with financial industry, but they would have run all over McCain while cutting deals with McCain’s admin. Obama acts like he’s in control while the corporate tightens its grip. McCain would have floundered through it all similarly to Bush.

    Whatever, it’s in the past. Obama will remain in his seat if the current field of GOP’ers is the best they can offer. Obama will not be primaried. It’s a lose/lose situation for any Democrat. It just wouldn’t be allowed. If you want Obama out of the White House, you’d need Ron Paul to run independent or Libertarian to scoop up the Tea Party crowd, then whichever loser GOP’er, then Bernie Sanders to run. With proper campaigning, Sanders may be able to pull off the win against Obama. A Sanders run for president is pretty unlikely, but it’s the only I option I can see to getting a more progressive president.

  22. Tom Hickey

    Here’s a something to that effect that Ed Harrison of Credit Writedowns wrote some time ago (11.6.09) and has just reposted at Naked Capitalism.

    Summer Rerun: Geithner and Summers as Obama’s Cheney and Rumsfeld

    His conclusion:
    So, I see George W. Bush’s presidency as having been defined by foreign policy and the War on Terror and, by extension, on Rumsfeld and Cheney.
    Fast-forward to Barack Obama’s presidency and you have an almost identical situation, this time with the economy instead of foreign policy and Tim Geithner and Larry Summers instead of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
    But, as with George W. Bush, it goes to pre-disposition. Paul Volcker was a critical member of the Obama 2008 campaign. He also was a key member of Obama’s economic policy team. But, he has been speaking a very discordant message that is not in sync with team Obama. So, as with Bush and his marginalization of Powell, one has to believe Barack Obama has chosen to side with Geithner and Summers over Volcker. Why anyone would do so given Volcker’s experience is beyond my comprehension.
    The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that Barack Obama shares the blinkered and captured view of his policy makers and that this is why he has decided to go down this chosen path. And when it comes to Obama’s other ‘change’ decisions on the Guantanamo closure, torture, rendition, state secrets, and health care, the same logic also applies.

  23. Ian Welsh writes:

    McCain: as best I can tell, TARP is where he lost.

    Bob Morris writes:

    In Bought and Paid For, Charles Gasparino details how McCain thought the investment bankers were a bunch of spoiled brats

    In a sense, Ian’s earlier quote trumps Bob Morris’s later one. My perception of McCain, at least the 2008 version, was that if you didn’t like his position on an issue, just wait a few days. He even recanted on torture. Given how much folks on the other side of the political spectrum think of being “decisive”, that can’t have been a good selling point.

    I still suspect, though, that what really worked against McCain was the sudden collapse of the finance industry. Rightly or wrongly, things turned around markedly for the Democrats in late summer, including for Obama. Maybe there have been other swings of political fortune in the past, but that one was pretty spectacular in my limited view. His collapse on TARP just put one more nail in the coffin.

  24. Ian on the O admin civil liberties record: true, true. There are some positives in the O Justice Department, and even its civil liberties record, however. The Bush II Justice Department was uniformly awful.

    The betrayal was self-betrayal. Granted the Democratic field was unusually poor that year (why?), still, progressives bought the “Hope and Change” line, despite O’s waffling on critical issues.

    I think in the final analysis, we have to look at the zeitgeist, rather than failings of specific people. That has the advantage of avoiding unwinnable name-calling disputes, too. The USA is now in one of its authoritarian periods, similar to the 1950s, and I don’t think it’s now possible to elect truly great liberal leaders. Question is, what can we do instead?

    One thing that may be possible in this period: voting reform at the state & local level, so as to make third parties a viable option. Google for “Instant Runoff,” “Range Voting,” “Common Cause,” and “America Votes” for more ideas and details.

  25. anon2525

    So, compared to McCain, was Obama actually the lesser evil?

    Contemplating the past which cannot be changed? It seems that Ian Welsh is not immune to the charms of the Shiny Distraction.

    A worthwhile question would be “Compared to the republs, is obama the lesser evil?” Of course, the problem with that is they do not have a single candidate yet, so the discussion would be a mess.

    A more worthwhile question than that one would be “Given what obama stands for and given the results of the elections of 2008, ’09, and ’10, why haven’t the democrats cut their ties with him, and forced him to run as an independent?” Or, put another way, “So, compared to McCain, are the democrats actually the lesser evil?”

    How much longer can the country or the planet take this incompetent leadership? Because we are on the path to continue with bush/cheney ad infinitum…

  26. coloradoblue

    I don’t think that the DOD would have allowed McCain/Palin to start even a small tussle with Iran. US war-games have shown that the Iranians could kill 10,000 US troops/sailors and sink a lot of Naval tonnage on Day 1 of any war. Iran would shut the oil shipments from the Middle East very easily. Compared to 1973 Oil Embargo, this new oil ‘shock’ would send the entire world economy into a massive depression. There is also no ‘winning’ a war with Iran without boots on the ground. An actual invasion of Iran (rather than an air war/blockade) would require a new draft and a million or so new army/marine troops. A war with Iran just won’t happen unless the head of the Joint Chiefs was named Jack D. Ripper.

    I agree with previous comments that Preznit Peace Prize is a disaster but that McCain would have been a catastrophe. With McCain, the huge Dem majority in the House would have never given him anything he wanted and the destruction of the Dems in 2010 would not have happened.

    O’Failure has done more to reinvigorate what was an almost destroyed Repub party, and more to destroy the Dems than McCain ever could have. Old Hopey-Changey has also done massive damage to the Liberal brand, because too many low-information voter now think that Liberal policies have failed, when in fact Barry is just a Repub in wolf’s clothing.

  27. Bruce Wilder

    Obama’s function in American politics is to prevent the organization of an effective opposition, from the Left, populist as well as progressive-liberal, to the plutocratic takeover of the government.

    Obama is not going to be primaried. He’s not even going to be terribly unpopular with large swathes of Democratic voters, even if he manages to lose the 2012 election.

    In these circumstances, it has become increasingly difficult to keep even the theoretical possibility of “an alternative” vision for the future, alive. If I criticize (or “bad-mouth”) Obama among my less-political friends, that’s the reply: “what’s the alternative?”

    Liberal democrats have become like the neurotic, who goes to the psychologist, hoping to become a better neurotic. The hope of “solving” the obsolete problem of childhood is the neurosis; the patient does not recover as an adult, until that hope is given up.

    Until we fully recognize that we have lost, and lost pretty completely, we will not be able to organize realistically to oppose what has won.

    Obama is the greater evil, because so many will simply not recognize his role in destroying what little remains of the New Deal state, and the associated ideals of political and economic conduct. A complete and final right-wing takeover is coming.

    We will be asked, whether we want the Red Pill or the Blue Pill.

    But, things are not what they seem. If we choose the sugar-pill called Obama, we may swallow, and keeping it down, remain mired in illusion, exploited to the end. If we choose the a more explicit right-wing takeover, we might throw-up and wake up.

    The plutocrats have amassed so much wealth, corralled by nothing more than legal fictions, an increasingly fragile technical structure, and a scary, but fundamentally ineffective military, one might suspect that a sufficiently unscrupulous sociopath thrust into a position of power, might be tempted to turn on his Masters, and bring the whole thing down, with a grab for the gold ring. Surely, turning on Goldman Sachs, in a critical moment, would be tempting for a certain sort. (Not, of course, a McCain, overgrown puer, playing at hero, but, maybe, a Romney?)

    But, maybe, Obama, overconfident in his mastery of the politics, will screw the pooch on the economics. It is one thing to stabilize the plutocratic economy, with a Dark Master, like Larry Summers, doing the hard math on just how much stimulus is necessary to keep us on the cliff road to a bankster’s Shangri-La.

  28. Morocco Bama

    Until we fully recognize that we have lost, and lost pretty completely, we will not be able to organize realistically to oppose what has won.


  29. polyblog

    I no longer see any difference in either party or candidate. The differences are similar to our choice of food: which animal shall we eat tonight, dear? Which candidate shall we choose this election, dear? We simply don’t have real choice anymore. Preferences, perhaps, but not choice.

    What one person/candidate could possible save us? There is no messiah. There is only each of us doing what we can to make things better or less worse. And, no, it’s not the same as Obama saying “we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for”. That was a pr trick. B’rer Rabbit in the thicket (go ahead; call me a racist). But that’s where our country is right now.

    So either brave ones with much help from friends, neighbors, and like-minded supporters run for local office/councils and move up the grid as best they can without big money support (difficult), or an “American Spring” (harder), or violent uprising (dangerous and probably from the Right). I wish I had a crystal ball. But I’ll say from experience, that the assassinations in the 60’s were not fun, so I hope we don’t go that route.

    Good luck to us all.

  30. dugsdale

    Mildly amusing topic; I think most of these comments can be read in part as expressions of either “there’s no difference between the two parties” and “Yes there is too, and here’s why,” and it’s in the latter camp I find myself. Policy decisions in the Executive Branch affect our lives enormously, and we have not yet, under Obama, seen the National Parks privatized and sold to Disney (something I fully expect to see in the next Republican administration) or the final shuttering of OSHA, the NEA, or selling the Smithsonian to Six Flags (ibid).

    For a template on how the next Republican administration will behave, just look at Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and John Kasich (and Christie, for that matter) in which decades’ worth of hard-fought gains for regular Americans will be destroyed in a pen-stroke, and will not be restored, if they ever could be, without a lot of pain, effort, and even bloodshed. But part of the next Republican president’s undoubted success in ramming craziness and fetishistic legislation down America’s throat will come courtesy of Barack Obama, steadfastly parroting right-wing talking points and making the unthinkable “thinkable” in the process.

    I made a rash of phone calls to the WH and my Democratic legislators the other day, the gist of which was “cut SS and you lose my vote.” But hell, they don’t NEED my vote. In whatever way Obama ultimately decides to cripple Social Security and Medicare, he’ll win the undying love and devotion of Washington’s Laughing Hyenas–the detritus that disgraces our Sunday Morning chat shows. Once he makes partisans out of them, and he will, every regular voter left of Steny Hoyer can go take a hike. The Washington detritus has been resisting Obama up until now, but this “Cut Social Security” thing will win him lots of respect, since hurting the poor and elderly is the “manly” thing to do for these goons (and also, I’m sure, for our nation’s “independents” who are really Republicans but are ashamed to say so in public right now due to the craziness of their standard-bearers).

    No, we’re in for a long swim in a sea of sh*t, and no shore in sight that I can see.

  31. S Brennan

    This comment reminds me of the early days blogging:

    “I think most of these comments can be read in part as expressions of either “there’s no difference between the two parties” and “Yes there is too, and here’s why,”” – dugsdale

    1] Force everybody into two groups, those that agree with you and those that don’t.

    2] Now create a straw man argument for those who disagree with your world view that paints them as ignoramus’s.

    3] Having shoved words into their mouth that make you look like the smartest guy in the room..destroy “their” arguments.

    4] Never argue the facts presented, just shovel shit.

    Thanks dugsdale, for taking us back!

  32. Bernard

    Obama praised Reagan in his Grant Park speech. that was when i figured America was in for a Manchurian candidate.

    there is only one Party with two branches, and the choice of a black man was astute on the elite’s part in further splitting America in to black and white, a la Southern strategy. after all the violence of the 60’s and the specific assassination of the left’s leaders, extreme poverty will be the only spark for any form of violence. that probably will take some time, as the effects will take time to be felt deep enough. a lot of white people still buy the us vs them ploy.Look at today. the theft has been going on for over 30 years now. just now intensifying due to the crash of ’08.

    the Republicans only need enough white folks to keep the Us vs Them working. Look at most of the Republican Governors around the country. the Blue Dogs are a temporary necessity, until enough of the groundwork is laid.

    that’s what the Republican Governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio are passing those prescripted/already formulated laws now. there has been a plan all along, if you remember that group Alec, if i remember their name correctly. one step at a time. the guy who introduced the Arizona law cracking down on aliens. or the one in Georgia, Alabama lol. all by that quiet group of lawmakers who then enact these “laws” once elected to state office.

    smart and forearmed with the necessary laws to further the easy pickings of a gullible and already propagandized public

    the destruction of education, unions, control of the media, are just pieces of the puzzle that have been underlain by those involved. how many years have the Right Wing foundations been around. AEI, Heritage just to name two. just in case things went their way, other pieces would be able to be put into play. such awesome planning.

    to think there is a Democratic “opposition” is naivete. every single Democratic Senator and House Representative has folded under pressure. Pelosi said Impeachment was off the table the minute she took power. and shutting up Weiner was imperative to keeping things in control. Bernie Sanders talks a lot but hasn’t filibustered, nor has Dennis Kucinich. sound and not fury. did anyone notice how Hillary went to Mellon and begged for his help when she was running for President. begged for help from the Money Man who funded the Whole Whitewater, Vince Gill, ad infinitum/Clinton impeachment effort

    the Democrats want their share of the booty. and since they didn’t take the lead, they only get “seconds” as compared to the Republicans. the DLC and Clinton more or less decided this a during the Clinton Presdiency.

    At least the Greeks are out in the streets doing something, but like Ian said, until the rich are inconvenienced or threatened, this is all kabuki and not a serious response.

    Violence may not be the American response yet. i do think one day it might come to that. when people lose “Hope”. when there’s nothing left to lose, then maybe. We American could never be like the Egyptians, who know who their “masters have been”. George Carlin said we have to be dreaming to believe in the American Dream. how true.

    i also think McCain was “put down” so as not to threaten via Iran, the proper functioning of this Ponzi scheme. an attack on Iran would have upset everything, fccking up the plans the Elites had already in place. the price of oil and the resulting chaos in the Middle East with Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia in flames, that would get in the way of sucking every last drop of money out of Zombie America. Obama was a fine choice, even include the blacks in on the scam, have a token black, like Clarence Thomas is on the court. Be gracious to the people they have put in jail and kept from voting, more Jim Crow measures using other means. The Republican learned how to use the “N” word without saying it.

    and so called “liberals” like Kagan and Sotomayor have the appearance of being left of center. especially in this day and age, appearances are what the Elites have used to finesse their Shock Doctrine. the Overton Window will never be allowed to move to the left.

    what still amazes me is the depth of willful believing of the white people who continue to believe in the basic inherit evil nature of Government, any Government. on doing away with Government programs. except for Defense. Government is bad, always bad from Reagan on. Welfare, in particular as the epitome of evil Government. and that these people still believe the Republicans have always been on “their side”. not that i don’t understand the dynamics, being from the South and seeing how effective the Southern Strategy is and has been. the destruction of Government’s rule in our society. privatizing, outsourcing, destroying unions, and NAFTA, thanks to Clinton. the further erosion of any Government role that could be seen or portrayed as “good” or helpful.

    I even voted for Reagan in 1980. but immediately afterwards saw what was what. that i would consider voting Republican today to help undermine the Democratic party shows how little difference there is in my opinion in the Party apparatus. Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

    George Carlin’s videos on Youtube say it better than i can. The American Dream. and all the Zombies still under the Propaganda spell.

  33. Bernard

    vince foster, oops, lol not vince gill, i like his music. lol

  34. apishapa

    In 2008 I voted for a Republican for the first time in the 35 years since I turned 18. I resent having my party taken over by a bunch of stupid children in love with a mirage. I am no longer a Democrat. A really part of who I am was my indentity as a Democrat and I truly believed in what I thought my party stood for. But, Democrats don’t really stand for us workers anymore do they.

    I could not ever see the attraction to Obama. Everything was so rehearsed. So manipulated. Obama raved about how he admired Reagan. He courted Republicans all through the primary in order to beat Hillary. I figured if he would stoop to the levels he did, well, he did not have the character to be President. So, I left my party and voted for the enemy. I detest everything Republicans stand for, but McCain was a better man.

    AS I remember it, Democrats encouraged John Kerry to choose McCain as his running mate in 2004. I thought Obama would be a disaster. Anyone who thinks McCain would trash Social Security and Medicare is wrong. Democrats would never have let him. Anyone who believes McCain would have continued the torture program is wrong. McCain may have continued the wars but … I don’t know that he would be dropping bombs willy nilly all over the world like a psychotic 3 year old. We got a worse health plan that McCain was proposing. Democrats might have held out for more against him.

    McCain is a Republican and he would probably treated his base better than Obama does the Democrats, but most importantly Democrats would not have lost in 2010 if McCain had won. Obama lost the 2010 election for Democrats.

  35. Three years ago I said:

    “McCain is the lesser of two evils, Obama is the evil of two lessers.”

  36. Celsius 233

    Remind me again, please, why this is important; McCain vs Obama? Sorry, maybe I got distracted by the shiny…

  37. Morocco Bama

    Exactly, Celsius. Paper or Plastic. Coke or Pepsi. Pork or Chicken. Firing Squad or Electric Chair. Debit or Credit. Chevy or Buick.

    Neither, please.

    Exactly, S Brennan. You just knew what was coming when it started with “mildy amusing topic.” A mildly amusing comment, of course, except I’m not laughing. I gave that up several years ago……the laughing, and yet I’m not quite sure how to adequately describe what has replaced the laughter.

  38. A lame duck second term Obama should run shivers down even the spine of a pro centrist humanitarian bomber D constituency… But it wont. Thank goddess I am no longer a Democrat.

  39. Lex

    I actually wish we would have seen a McCain presidency (but not a Palin vice-presidency). It’s not that i am/was/will be a fan of John McCain; it is only that i think he could well have been a wildcard.

    I don’t feel comfortable saying that McCain would have done this or that. I’m sure he would have pissed me off plenty, but he was as likely to turn on his campaign talk as Obama was. The difference being that McCain turning would probably have been a good thing.

    Let’s keep in mind that he’d been recently screwed by the new GOP and Bush; that he almost switched parties. More importantly, had he won, his age probably dictated a single term. That’s important because he’d be less likely to make decisions based on personal, political ambitions.

    The left would have actually been against shit like war and torture (but only because McCain is a Republican) and might have been able to push him.

    I think McCain would have been far better – excepting Palin’s presence – than Obama. Seriously, he couldn’t be worse. He wouldn’t have gone to war with Iran; the stage isn’t fully set yet (that’s Obama’s job) and there’s no way that the US has the strength to do it right now. He would have blustered about it more, but whatever.

  40. groo

    I am deeply impressed by the moral rigor which still has its home in some minds in the US.

    Finding a way out of this mess is worth all the sweat of noble people.

    What discredits McCain is his Rumpelstiltzchen-dance “Bomb bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys.

    How deep can a person fall?
    This was not even evil incarnate, it is dumbness
    and fishing for the most primitive emotions of the reddest of rednecks squared.

    Whatever else he may have been said -regarding Wallstreet etc- pales w.r.t to that.

    Not even Sarah Palin performed an absurd dance like that, as far as I can remember.

    So the sorry state of affairs is, to prevent the worst.

    The ‘interesting’ thing -sorry to say- is, how to recover from this dire state.

    a) make the crash as hard as possible, hoping that people come to their grips, by breaking their coconut enclosed minds.
    b) reverse the direction, by gradually changing the minds in their perception of the vector of gravity.

    Both seem equally improbable.

    But maybe the metaphors are false.

    Maybe the way out is: localize, localize, localize.

    Thus starving the beast, and getting even the rednecks into the boat, whom we all despise.

    Survival mode.

  41. groo

    By ‘starving the beast’ I meant the Reaganite kind, which, by some self-fulfilling prophecy now has an existence by voodoo, which created the beast by its own intent, working for a couple of decades and hollowing it out, so that it now looks like a Halloween cucumber. Glowing from the inside.


  42. Celsius 233

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    July 10, 2011
    …except I’m not laughing. I gave that up several years ago……the laughing, and yet I’m not quite sure how to adequately describe what has replaced the laughter.
    A primal up-welling of sound, somewhere between cackling, crying, and hysterical emoting; silently…

  43. Bob Morris, you write,
    In Bought and Paid For, Charles Gasparino details how McCain thought the investment bankers were a bunch of spoiled brats who if given bailouts would keep the money for themselves. He was right. And when they approached him he basically told them to go fcuk themselves.

    He sure as hell wouldn’t have shoveled hundreds of billions to them.

    And BHO said he was going to ‘put his foot on BP’s neck.”

    Big deal. Both constitute empty talk, like a drunk who screams “lemme at ’em” at a much bigger drunk when he knows his buddies are restraining him and the other guy won’t throw the first punch.

  44. beowulf

    “It’s not that i am/was/will be a fan of John McCain; it is only that i think he could well have been a wildcard.”

    Agreed, he was overdue to cycle back to the progressive side of the fence. I voted for the guy.

    “McCain’s voting behavior during Bush’s first term is almost never mentioned in the press anymore. Yet McCain’s secret history is simply astonishing. It is no exaggeration to say that, during this crucial period, McCain was the most effective advocate of the Democratic agenda in Washington. In health care, McCain co-sponsored, with John Edwards and Ted Kennedy, a patients’ bill of rights. He joined Chuck Schumer to sponsor one bill allowing the reimportation of prescription drugs… On the environment, he sponsored with John Kerry a bill raising automobile fuel efficiency standards… He was also one of six Republicans to vote against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. McCain teamed with Carl Levin on bills closing down tax shelters…”

  45. sglover

    “And an unconstitutional war with Iran is worse than an unconstitutional war with Libya because…because…well, just because. And I don’t see how DADT would still be in effect under McCain since it was a lawsuit by a Republican group that ended it, not anything President Evolving did.”

    Proportion is everything here. Obama’s Libyan adventure is stupid and wrong in countless ways, but it’s not going to set off a global-scale catastrophe. War with Iran could. I essentially voted **against** McCain for this very reason. He gave every sign of **wanting** a war with Iran, and as far as I can tell he still does.

    By election day it was obvious that Hope’n’Change was never going to be anything other than the usual status quo Dem loser, so I can’t really claim to be “disappointed” in him. Even so, his ineptitude at pretty much everything he tries is slightly astonishing. As a strategic and tactical operator he’s actually **less** competent than Bush, which is really saying something.

  46. sglover

    “What discredits McCain is his Rumpelstiltzchen-dance “Bomb bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys.
    How deep can a person fall?
    This was not even evil incarnate, it is dumbness”

    Agreed. From then on it was simply embarrassing watching McCain: Why is this poor old man making such a public fool of himself?

    Although it’s sadly true that Obama’s not going to face a primary challenge — not a whole helluva talent in Donkland, is there? — I don’t see a 2012 win as assured at all. Romney might have a hard time getting the GOP nomination, but I think he could wipe the floor with Hope’n’Change. Not least because there’s no real difference between the two.

  47. S Brennan

    Again, folks that think McCain was actually going to, or be allowed to start a war with Iran are living fantasy land…if you voted because of this issue you are a fool. Both Obama and McCain made the same types of threats with Obama as always coming under the radar.

    The Pentagon made it clear that attacking Iran was off the table. McCain’s talk was for his base…the Iranians, unlike the Obama supporters knew it was campaign talk and ignored it.

    The disgust I have with the Obama administration isn’t Bush’s policies redux, it’s Obama’s supporters new found love of Bush policies so long as they have the [D] imprimatur.

  48. O3

    For those who assert that one more Republican presidency would mean the end of the human race–supposing the probability of this happening were 50% for any given election, the odds of the human race making it to 2056 are less than 1 in 1000, and of making it to 2096 less than 1 in 1,000,000.

    Given then that American democracy apparently gives markedly worse prospects for survival than skydiving without a parachute, isn’t it only reasonable to demand that either the United States be dissolved forthwith, or else that the Democratic party seize dictatorial power in a coup d’etat and cancel all future elections?

  49. BlizzardOfOz

    @O3, ha! That is awesome.
    Also, if the insane evil republicans are in fact, what, 1% more evil … that means if humanity would become extinct within, say a year of a Republican taking office, then our extinction would take a year plus an extra 3 and a half days under a D administration. That’s worth my vote!

  50. Jean Paul Marat

    The disgust I have with the Obama administration isn’t Bush’s policies redux, it’s Obama’s supporters new found love of Bush policies so long as they have the [D] imprimatur.
    Well said.

  51. nick

    I’m starting to imagine a one-termed Obama, amid the wreckage he created, being led away in cuffs at the direction of Special Prosecutor James O’Keefe. He’s thrown so many hippies to the hounds I almost smile at the thought.

  52. groo

    @ D Brennan

    Again, folks that think McCain was actually going to, or be allowed to start a war with Iran are living fantasy land…if you voted because of this issue you are a fool.

    Well I’m watching this from the other side of the pond.

    Maybe the US-electorate is so alert and fit to judge if a candidate is mentally sane.
    Hope so.
    I am not.

    I am quite frightened to see a president like GW Bush, who is known to put crackers into the abdomens of frogs and cats, and having fun with that.
    Typical early carreer of a later full-blown sociopath.

    Besides of that, McCain had a quite strange history of being a serial crash-pilot in his Vietnam era and other things.
    Which means (to me) Mc Cain is a risk-taker, which gives him a point in the DSM IV-scale.
    If you believe in metrics like that or not:
    NO Candidate for US-high office should have any doubts about his mental sanity!

    Is there still any rational choice between candidates, when three out of five Republican candidates support the creationist view, as happened during the Republican primaries in 2007/2008?
    Are these opportunists, liars or plain lunatics?
    You voter have to decide by discerning how fast they raise their arms.
    Funny to watch, but frightening, depressing, when going to bed with an impression like that.

    Something else.
    I have been scanning the devolution of Western democracies for quite some time, and dare to posit a bold thesis:
    There is a rapid devolution of the democratic ethos within a time-frame of approximately 50 years.
    Example: in post-war Germany the first generation of Politicians were some quite decent people. Intelligent and insightful. Both Left and Right.
    This diminished from legislature to legislature.
    No nostalgia here.
    Now the case is , that a 80-90% voter-opinion is needed, to change something.
    As is the case with nuclear technology and other issues, which are, and this infuriates me, more often than not, imported form the US! E.g. cutting social-security.
    The way of transmission-coordination is the soccalled ‘transatlantic bridge,’ which seems to be unidirectional. US->Europe.
    Thank You, BTW, for this much-needed help, and keeping alive some residuals of McCarthyism.

    This, I suspect, hints to a fundamantal flaw of western democracies, i.e., that at t=0 (a catastrophe or 1930s-type recession) decent people take over.
    (Which is, btw, quite the opposite of Naomi Kleins Disaster-Capitalism. I dont know, where this chism comes from, but it exists.)
    This dissolves quickly into constellations of bi-multipartisan cronyism.

    ‘Mature’ democracies do not stop at cronyism, but select for the most manipulative electorate.
    W.r.t that, the US seems to be way ahead of the pack.
    Ponerology anyone?
    How many Sociopaths are there in Congress, Senate, Office?
    80%, I guess, in the US.
    (In the European case it is an estimated >50% pure naivite)

    The high price, ofcourse, is, to place a flexible Sociopath (not all S.s are created equal), or Manchurian Candidate if You will, into high office.

    With strings attached.
    GW Bush was somewhat over the top.
    Cheney/Rumsfeld were the ‘rational’ evils in the background, I#m afraid to say.

    McCain was/is difficult to figure out.

    So Obama, if my thesis somehow resembles reality, is a more smooth candidate, who predictably reacts to the impulses of the strings, which he is attached to.

    Is this a good thing?
    It depends.
    In the short run: Yes.
    In the long run: It does not seem to make a difference.

    All in all: This is the choice.
    Where is the way out?

  53. groo

    …but select for the most manipulative electorate. …

    should be
    …government, Senators, Members of Congress…

    The current scandal in Germany is the selling of 200 Leopard II tanks to Saudi Arabia, where the government refuses to make this deal public, and explain its rationale.

    (Israel nodded Yes. No ‘security’ concerns.)

    The tanks are especially equipped to combat internal unrest.
    CF Bahrein.

    This is exactly the habit of protecting the status quo, simultaneously paying lip-service to the Arab Spring.

    Devolution in action.
    A split mind helps a lot.

  54. Heh. Just got this email a few minutes ago from, subject line: “BREAKING: Obama Outrage”:


    “BREAKING: Today, in a press conference, President Obama came right out and said it: He’s pushing for benefit cuts in important programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid…”

    Shocked, shocked! I was.

    Mighty bold, that

  55. Damn, didn’t close a tag…

  56. Jay

    I disagree McCain could’ve gone to war with Iran (or even Libya and Yemen) – he just wouldn’t have had the political capital. We would have still had an anti-war left to check him, as opposed to the war mongering Obama.

    I also disagree he could’ve ever gotten that tax cut “compromise” through – or the impending deficit reduction disaster that’s coming.

  57. Everythings Jake

    “Lesser evil” has gotten to sound too polite I think.

    How about choosing between two sick lying sociopathic fucks?

    Obama’s betrayals seem staggering due, perhaps to the very successful and powerful branding techniques the campaign used. McCain was always a mean and nasty piece of work and his “maverick” reputation was cooked up by the press and belied by his voting record. Both are completely craven in their pursuit of power.

    In the end, it probably doesn’t matter, because the real fault lies with in the suffocating silence of those who acquiesce. We pretend, pretend, pretend and are complicit in the ruthless, vicious subjugation of the less fortunate and the destruction of the planet on which our existence depends.

    Maybe there will be no revolution, it’s at least a long ways off. But it truly and well sucks – is actually a kind of torture – to just be witness to and victim of the decay.

  58. S Brennan

    You can scarcely total up the number of liberal activists and writers who swallowed Obama’s self-serving lies whole and then helped him propagate them to millions of other people, but you wouldn’t even need a second hand’s worth of fingers to count the ones who’ve had the honesty and humility to offer a mea culpa like this….Greenwald’s [admissions] aren’t just important in and of themselves; they’re important because they represent a public commitment to avoid making the same mistakes again. And when I see Obama’s former progressive cheerleaders refusing to take any responsibility for their active role in putting him in power, I think just one thing: you did it before, and you’ll do it again.

    Posted by John Caruso

  59. jcapan

    S Brennan, thanks for alerting me to that. Was even more delighted to find this in JC’s comments:

    This is from GG’s address to the Socialism 2011 conference last week:

    “The idea of working to reform the Democratic Party by electing better Democrats or more progressive Democrats is something that I thought was a viable course of action even as recently as a few years ago is something that I have completely rejected.”

    “And I think the only means of true political change will come from people working outside that system to undermine and subvert it and weaken it and destroy it and not try to work within it to change it.”

    “There have been lots of people who have made radical critiques of the government like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and others who have said that as horrible as the Democrats the fact that they’re even a little better than the Republicans means that it is important that they win because with an entity as powerful as the U.S. government even small differences can make meaningful differences in the lives of millions of people.

    “And that to me was an argument that was persuasive for a while. (But) what I have actually concluded is that even if there are short term benefits to electing Democrats instead of Republican-you get Sonia Sottomayor instead of Antonin Scalia that’s a benefit that will sway cases in better directions-there’s also extreme costs to pledging your fealty to a political party.

    “Knowing as party leaders do that many people on the left are convinced by this reasoning they can continue to ignore people on the left, because they know that at the end of the day they’ll scare enough of them with scary images of Michelle Bachman or Newt Gingrich so that they’ll continue (their) support even though they’re ignored and get nothing and they’ll get nothing and be ignored forever, and that’s a huge cost.

    “Another huge cost is the opportunity cost of doing activism for a political party which doesn’t care at all about you instead of using your money and time on more meaningful changes. And so that is the ultimate formula which needs to be evaluated, the ultimate weighing of costs and benefits which needs to be assessed, not just that there are some benefits to Democrats therefore let’s vote for them. But what are the costs from continuing to support and prop up this party and having them know that they can take the support for granted and putting our time and energy into that rather than into something more significant that can achieve something more enduring and more fundamental and longer lasting benefits.

    “That’s the calculus which has swayed me away from that view.”

  60. sglover

    S Brennan has the word from on high —

    “The Pentagon made it clear that attacking Iran was off the table. McCain’s talk was for his base…the Iranians, unlike the Obama supporters knew it was campaign talk and ignored it.”

    Funny, I never knew “The Pentagon” spoke as one. Everything I know about the history of the Department of Defense and associated agencies suggests that it’s got about as many factions as any of the empires of yore. There have been numerous, legendary doctrinal battles between aviators and ground forces. “The Pentagon” was far from uniformly enthused about Bush the Lesser’s Iraq adventure — but you’ll notice it happened. Of those flag officers who opposed it, I’m not aware of any who resigned.

    I live in the DC area. “The Pentagon” is actually here, and it’s common to see military personnel all around town. Prior to the election I was asking officers — O-3’s to O-5’s — what they’d do if they got an attack order from the president. Would they wait for some kind of Congressional imprimatur, or would they just fire up the jets and go? Every one of them said that they were obligated to follow the orders of the C in C.

    So you’re kidding yourself if you think that an erratic president can’t unleash all kinds of mayhem on sheer whim. It seems to me that Hope’n’Change has pretty well closed that case with his own thought-free spastic adventures in Libya, Yemen, wherever.

  61. groo

    S Brennan,

    I’m afraid it does not matter.

    If a structure, may it be big corporations or political ones, is shaped by sociopaths for a couple of decades, the structure becomes the molding form of the ambitions of the sociopaths.
    individual1->structure1->i2->s2 … .

    Well mannnered individuals avoid going into the structure after a certain point in time.
    Ralph Nader maybe was the last rare individual.

    After the structure has evolved out, You have the choice between a rational sociopath or a maverick one, a liar or a mass murderer.
    Whom to choose?

    In addition to that, the set of rules, the DNA so to say, is carefully protected from any change to the better.
    Enron is a good example.
    What sane person would have gone into a company like that?
    It invariably ends in catastrophe.

    Hope I’m not right, though.

  62. Morocco Bama

    So you’re kidding yourself if you think that an erratic president can’t unleash all kinds of mayhem on sheer whim.

    You’re kidding yourself if you think an erratic president is a possibility in this day and age. You actually believe that the most powerful interests the world has ever witnessed are going to allow their vested fates to be determined by the whims and fancies of a nobody. That’s absurd. In fact, it’s insane, and if that’s what you think, then you are the one kidding yourself, not the other way around.

    I noticed that GG left out Sarah Palin in this spot on statement:

    because they know that at the end of the day they’ll scare enough of them with scary images of Michelle Bachman or Newt Gingrich so that they’ll continue (their) support…

    She should have been front and center in that list of scary names, because the “Left” cannot take their eyes off Sarah Palin…..she’s so convenient of a distraction in so many ways…..and yet, seemingly intelligent people fall for this shiny ruse time and time again. Do you really believe, once again, that the world’s most powerful interests would ever allow their vested fates, their vaunted status and fortunes, to be determined by the irrational and arbitrary dictates of the likes of Sarah Palin, let alone a nobody junior senator from Illinois? If you do, you are certifiably nuts.

  63. John Emerson

    At this point, I’m worried that a two-term Obama will get to pick his Democratic successor, with the result that we either get four terms of Obama, or else two terms of Obama followed by two Republican terms.

    I’m convinced that the marginalization of the left wing of the Democratic Party was high on Obama’s list of goals. Think of him as a representative of the Daley machine, taking revenge for 1968.

    I’m less confident that an erratic President is impossible. That looks like the same old inevitability crap I heard for years from Marxists who just knew that the executive committee of the ruling class was united and coldly rational and never made mistakes. A President is required to be interventionist and hawkish, but the safeguards against adventurism are much less secure.

  64. “Lesser Evil” is one of those poisonous Libertarian tropes mindlessly injected into political discussions all over the so-called “progressive” or “lefty” blogosphere.

    How many readers question the premise and the presumption of the “Lesser Evil” trope? Is it true that Government is — by nature? — “evil?” That’s the underlying premise of the “Lesser Evil” notion of electoral politics. Likewise, the presumption of the “Lesser Evil” trope is that reducing or eliminating the underlying “evil” of Government itself is a far more important calling than voting for this or that character running for office in this “evil” Government.

    A far more progressive, liberal, or lefty point of view is that Government is not by nature “evil,” nor is the two party electoral process in our country designed to either winnow out or encourage more or less “evil” among its office holders. It is instead an amoral (not “immoral”) institution that in theory — and sometimes in practice — can represent the People’s interests. The candidates we are allowed to choose from — especially for the Presidency — are pre-vetted servants of the Ruling Class. We do not get a vote on Federal policy, only on personality.

    On that basis alone, I would much rather have Obama and… Biden in the White House than Gramps McCain and the Undefeatable Mrs. Palin. The policies pursued and implemented by Obama may not be all that different than those of McCain, but as I said, you don’t get a vote on policy at the Presidential level in this country.

    Nor are you voting on the relative “evil” of one or the other candidate (though it may be pleasurable to think you are.) The whole system is set up to be neither “good” nor “evil.” It — and its candidates — are fundamentally amoral. Call it “practical” if you want. The point is to make it difficult and unlikely that a true Evil will come into rule.

    As for Iran, I note with some interest that the new DoD head has been pushing his chin out over Iran’s involvement in Iraq (gee, who’dathunk, right?) and has been puffing himself up in threat displays at Iraq for not “deciding” about whether American troops should stay after the deadline for them to leave.

    Of course it is all posture, but it does remind one that Attacking Iran (for cause or just because) has never been taken off the table.

    Once all the other wars of aggression are resolved sufficiently, the Iran Attack is just as likely as it has ever been.

  65. John Emerson

    “Lesser Evil” is an old, old phrase describing forced choices between inferior alternatives. The phrase was not invented by libertarians and does not assume that all government is evil. It merely assumes that there could have been a third choice superior to either of the others, but that for some reason this choice is not possible.

  66. groo

    Ché Pasa,

    …“Lesser Evil” is one of those poisonous LIBERTARIAN tropes mindlessly injected into political discussions all over the so-called “progressive” or “lefty” blogosphere. …


    …A far more PROGRESSIVE, liberal, or lefty point of view is that Government is not by nature “evil,” …

    I agree.
    Actually I would -philosophically- ofcourse, vote for the ‘PROGRESSIVE’ view.

    But the condition must be established in the first place, that a PROGRESSIVE view is on the table in the first place.

    IT IS NOT!

    As a conclusion, it is NOT a LIBERTARIAN trope, but a matter of fact, at least in the US, that there currently is ONLY the choice between lesser evils.
    One has to work on the PROGRESSIVE option, to make it at least theoretically possible.

    If a certain structure like the current one is established, You only have the choice between lesser evils: TINA light.

    The ‘beauty’ of the situation is, that its belief-system succeeded in convincing 9x% of the people, that the Libertarian worldview is correct.

    I do not even have to be a Libertarian, to say it is correct.

    Only the Utopian in me says, that there must be a another way.

    Apart from that:

    Can we agree on the nature of ‘evil’? And its ways?

    Probably not.
    But possibly on stable versus unstable societies.

    So the Question is:
    Does anybody want an unstable society short(10y) -medium(50y)- longterm (>100y).
    And if so, why so?

    And please, do not reject the longterm view by just denying its theoretical possibility. Then I would have to ask questions about resources, energy, climate-change etc.

  67. John Emerson, you refute your own argument. If another (superior, ie: “not-evil”) choice is “not possible,” then there effectively isn’t another choice that is more or less “evil” — or somehow is not evil at all — than the ones we are allowed to pick from.

    In the context of the so-called progressive or lefty blogosphere, the whole LOTE discussion is largely the product of poisonous Libertarian injection of a mindless trope that really has no meaning in our political and electoral system.

    You do not get a vote on policy in our contemporary American electoral system (more accurately put, you rarely do, though almost never at the presidential level). You get to vote on personality, always.

    Quite likely, none of the candidates you are allowed to choose from can or will meet your standards of “superiority,” but that’s beside the point. You have the choice you have; you are not permitted your ideal choice except in the abstract — simply, your “ideal” cannot win.

    So what do you do? You either throw your vote away by not voting at all or by voting for a protest candidate (who can’t win) or you choose between the two candidates who can win, neither of whom is particularly “evil” or “un-evil,” at least so far in our muddled up, cocked up, befouled electoral system.

    Are Obama’s policies sensibly different from what McCain’s might have been? Probably not in any substantive way. Are they sensibly different than the previous regime’s? Only on the margins. If you were paying close attention during the campaign (which most people don’t do), you realized that Obama or McCain would largely continue the policies of his predecessors, neither was into really big changes. Would you rather have Gramps or Obama in office on style points then?

    If you say neither, then what is your alternative, and how do you get that alternative into office at all? In our system, there basically is no way to do that without an enormous amount of corporate and media financial and propaganda backing. You’re basically stuck with the electoral products on offer. You don’t have a realistic choice of “something else again.”

    You may think this system sucks.

    But it is what it is. Changing it to something better is a hugely daunting project that many have been involved in for decades without noticeable success. Incremental positive changes have been thwarted and reversed. Electoral reform is not getting anywhere soon.

    So what do you do? My own choice is to understand what the political/electoral system actually is and does, and who/what really controls it. And to work outside it so far as possible to come up with a viable alternative for the future.

  68. John Emerson

    I knew you’d say something like that, Che. You argue like a college freshman.

    When you say “lesser evil” you’re saying “I now only have two options, both bad but one worse, whereas to start with I had a third option superior to either.” In other words, this takes place in historical time, like all of human life, and you don’t start the clock one minute before the polls open. And in the same way, you’re not only thinking about this one vote, who gets elected now, but also about the long-term consequences if the lesser evil wins. Maybe a short-term lesser-evil gain will turn out to be a long term loss, by strengthening the lesser evil.

    “It is what it is”. What a fucking moron. Sorry I ever said a word.

  69. Emerson,

    You seem to be putting way too much faith in the political/electoral system to produce the outcome you desire — if only you can get your superior choice past the finish line. Yet realistically, history shows that’s not an option. You will always only be able to choose between “viable candidates” who you will regard as inferiors. That’s how the system is set up to work. And by golly, it does work. Your superior choice “somehow” never makes it to the finish line. It’s almost as if it were designed that way. Huh.

    It’s still surprising to me that so many people apparently believed they were getting something they absolutely were not in Obama, and that they apparently believed that he was some sort of “superior” candidate, well outside what the electoral system will allow. I can understand the yearning, I just can’t understand the projection of so much of that yearning onto someone who was quite clearly and openly not what some enthusiasts were making him out to be.

    Nevertheless, just on personality alone, he was far preferable to Gramps McCain. Since there wasn’t another viable candidate on the ballot…

    If you know of some perfected way to get your “superior” choice across the finish line — in our political system as it is — you ought to share it. But I don’t think there is a way, nor do I think the Lesser Evil trope is in any way helpful.

  70. BlizzardOfOz

    It’s almost like basing your political ontology on these two fucking sub-moronic legacy parties. It’s like this see, there are two parties who run candidates every four years, and that situation will continue linearly until the end of time. All you can ever think to do is choose one or the other.

  71. Celsius 233

    John Emerson PERMALINK
    July 13, 2011
    “It is what it is”. What a fucking moron. Sorry I ever said a word.
    One of the reasons I enjoy posting here is the civility normally shown by all involved; if that were to change (it won’t) I’d be outa here.
    It’s easy to find sites where there is all kinds of flaming and yelling; people acting crazy because they have apparent anonymity and losing all sense of propriety.
    Disagree heartily, but please stop with the name calling; I’m sure you’re not really as impolite as you appear…
    I say this as a fellow poster; this is Ian’s site, so this is my opinion, thanks…

  72. Celsius 233

    Actually; the main reason I post here is because of the collective brain power and the subsequent, considered, and often alternative (for me) P’sOV.
    I have no idea who most of these people really are, but they’re pretty damn savvy…

  73. Ian Welsh

    Yes, let’s keep the personal attacks down.

  74. John Emerson

    No, Che, I was just explaining the ancient phrase “lesser evil” to you. It’s not something the libertarians invented, and it doesn’t have a lot to do with the religious concept of Evil. It’s a conventional term used to designate forced choices where neither option is desirable, since both are significantly worse than some other option which is no longer available. It recognizes the fact of history, during which options drop out successively and not all at once, so that there are still choices to be made after the preferred choice has been eliminated.

    Regardless of how much or how little any of us expected from the 2008 election, unless we thought there was some reason to boycott the election or give up on politics entirely we still had to decide between the two candidates. Many of us thought that Obama was the lesser evil, and this post put that in question, but without concluding that McCain was the lesser evil. In my own post I suggested that maybe McCain indeed *was* the lesser evil, since Obama’s election gave control of the Democratic Party to its worst faction for 4 to 16 years depending on how things play out.

    I have few illusions about the electoral system and was quite skeptical about Obama starting in early 2008 (when Geithner and Summers came board). I did not “believe I was getting something I absolutely was not in Obama”. I just made a couple of lesser evil choices which I am now not so sure about. I didn’t expect much from Obama, but I got even less.

    You do not get a vote on policy in our contemporary American electoral system (more accurately put, you rarely do, though almost never at the presidential level). You get to vote on personality, always…..But I don’t think there is a way, nor do I think the Lesser Evil trope is in any way helpful..

    Basically, you have accepted the lesser evil choice not as a choice that often has to be made, but as the only choice that there ever will be (or “almost ever”). And for that reason, you want to call it something else, since “lesser evil” sounds bad. Calling these choices lesser-evil choices is a way of keeping a space open for the possibility that better choices might sometime be there.

    There are many reasons why Obama is, for me, a lesser evil choice at best. His Attorney General has ratified and defended some of the worst outrages of the Bush administration, and there has been no significant change in military strategy. Obama is far too close to finance, which in the present context has been a disastrous stance, and what he’s said about the deficit and entitlements has been alarming and basically Republican. I could go on but those are the big ones.

    Sorry for my intemperance, but the people before you who used the “it is what it is” argument were uniformly cynical but not too smart, and I wrongly generalized from my personal experience.

  75. Morocco Bama

    Salvation, if there is any, does not, and will not, reside with your provided (by the Plutocracy) choice for the Presidency. There is no lesser evil, there is no evil, there is just an illusion of choice and that you somehow have a say or vote, or say in things, when you don’t.

    What’s disconcerting to me, is the fact that there is not a consensus about this on a intelligent blog such as this. There still seems to be a substantial contingent who continue to cling for dear life to the aforementioned antiquated and delusional notion of participation. Until a consensus is reached, nothing, and I mean nothing, can ever be accomplished, because all of us will be working at odds with each other……just as it was devised.

  76. John Emerson

    Morocco, I was on the non-electoral left for 30+ years starting in 1965, actively between 1965 and 1982 and after that as a fellow-traveler. The impact of the left was dwindling during that entire period, and I ended up returning to lesser-evil electoral politics because of my perception that what we had been doing had been futile. It’s not as though I’m not aware of the problems of electoral politics. But in my experience non-electoral leftism has ended up being correct-position politics, personal-conscience politics, or theater politics, but mostly pretty fruitless. For this reason I don’t take especially kindly to criticisms such as yours.

  77. Emerson,

    Clearly we agree on most points.

    And yes, I am saying that in the real world and with the political and electoral system we have, we will only ever have what you would characterize as inferior (“Lesser of Two Evil”) choices. It has been thus for many a long year, almost as if it were designed that way (hint: maybe it is) and all our gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over it does not change it.

    You don’t have to explain “Lesser Evil” to me. I agree with you that Libertarians did not invent the Lesser Evil trope. I didn’t claim they did. What I said was:

    “Lesser Evil” is one of those poisonous Libertarian tropes mindlessly injected into political discussions all over the so-called “progressive” or “lefty” blogosphere.

    Meaning: The Lesser Evil metaphor is a standard — and as I see it, mindless and quite poisonous — Libertarian trope for a) denouncing the viable presidential candidates on offer and b) voting for Ron Paul or someone else (“principled” and therefore superior) who doesn’t have a chance of winning the Presidency in our electoral system, or not voting at all. No matter what you think of the electoral system under which we conduct our political affairs (and I’m no fan of it), this is not a way to effect positive change in or of the system, nor does it lead to replacing it with something better. In fact, it is a way to perpetuate its worst aspects — which is why I call it poisonous. Which isn’t useful in my book. You find it all over the “progressive” or “lefty” blogosphere, though, as a kind of calling card from some of our Libertarian friends.

    Strangely enough, I think words do matter, and when you start down the road of discussing political and electoral choices as lesser or greater “evil,” then you are ultimately denouncing the very act of choosing, not, I would argue, the system that prevents voters from having a wider range of choices. You are also run the risk of setting up a thought process that presumes that Government is itself an “evil.”

    You may deny it at this point, but think it through and you see how easy it is to reach that conclusion, a conclusion that synchronizes nicely with Libertarian ideology.

    I long ago gave up any illusions that the system under which we conduct our political and electoral affairs is capable of producing a better outcome than it does. The best it can do is middling to atrocious, and as we saw in 2000, direct intervention from outside the electorate (and for that matter outside the Constitution) will be applied if the outcome desired by the owners and sponsors of the system isn’t immediately forthcoming.

    OK, if that’s the reality, what then do you do about it? You can choose to subvert it or “destroy it” as some claim they are trying to do; but if you’re successful, what then? What do you replace it with? Direct Corporate rule? You can withdraw to your chamber and brood. Many have been doing that for generations. It doesn’t accomplish anything, but it can be glamorous and romantic. 😉

    Or you can try to come up with a viable alternative — outside the political system as it is — that can be implemented once The Revolution comes, or the whole thing collapses from its own internal contradictions, rot and corruption, whichever comes first.

    That’s the halting path I’ve chosen.

  78. Morocco Bama

    I’m not criticizing you. If that’s how you take my comment, then I can’t help that. It’s my observation, or the conclusion I have drawn based off of the perception of my observations. It has been discussed here that at this point, considering the crisis facing not only U.S. citizens, but Humanity at large, that an incrementalist approach, for lack of a better description, is too little, too late, and at this point, not even possible considering the complete hijacking of the Government by Corporate and Special Interests.

    I take it a step further and make the claim that it is the System that is the problem. It won’t provide a solution to itself, and if we can all agree that that is indeed the case, then we can chart a course for TRUE change, otherwise we’re just spitting into a strong headwind.

    Also, if we you want to play the lesser of evil game, and that’s all it is, IMO, a game of semantics, then a strong case can be made that Obama is not the lesser evil, but in fact, the greater evil. Of course, “Liberals”, because of their propensity for exceptionalism, cannot grok such a notion, but I know there are readers and posters here who understand what I mean when I say that….however, I hate to say it, because, once again, it gives legitimacy to the notion that voting for a President will somehow change the trajectory. It won’t. It’s a device to make disempowered people think they are empowered and that they have a say and some influence.

  79. The fact that any of the current Republican candidates–save for Ron Paul–can be considered at all as a serious candidate speaks volumes for just how desultory and plain disappointing Obama’s presidency has been. As Matt Taibbi said in a recent Rolling Stone article, they’re like a bunch of guys in suits who just sit by while a woman is being attacked on the subway.

    The best way, I think, to understand Obama–or much of politics generally–is to read Alberto Moravia’s “The Conformist.” The film Bernardo Bertolucci made from it is also excellent. They both show how one can rise in politics and other areas by allowing one’s self to be bought by whoever is in power and betraying their friends and supporters. Most important, it shows why some people are susceptible to becoming one of Yeats’ “best” who “lack all conviction” or “worst” who are “full of passionate intensity.”

    I also recommend Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” because it shows, not only what people will do to get into power and how they’re undone by it, but also what makes them tick (which, of course, is a major reason to read and watch productions of most Shakespeare plays).

  80. groo


    another try:
    (please be kind, I am from outside the US/english-speaking world , and just made four comments up to now here in the holy grail of Ians Avalon, and raise my insignificant voice amongst You shining knights, who battle the forces of evil.)


    There seems to be some agreement, that the ‘System’ is the bigger problem.

    The ‘system’, ofcourse, is constantly moved in to a direction to the like of those in power, i.e. those who set the rules.
    Now the point I want to stress, is, that the system is shaped in the image of these individuals, which I/we term sociopaths, which is at first only ONE side.

    The visible ingredients (the last 100years, enlightement long forgotten; history is different) seem quite harmless, when viewed in isolation:
    Gerrymandering, corporate sponsoring of candidates, Glass-Stegall, composition of the supreme court, etc.
    Construction of memes, advertisement, propaganda.

    Homeland security and other tools of force are then shaped to defend the status reached.
    The hedgehog takes shape, and is increasingly difficult to attack. (no offense to hedgehogs intended)
    Should be a metaphor for the omnidirectional defense of an organism, which is NOT an open society, but a system of exploitation of the many by the few.

    In the first phase there is, if a society is lucky, as Germany was after WWII, a group of quite benevolent people, who shape a new set of rules.
    Quite similar to the founding fathers.
    This was possible because of Roosevelt and ended with the McCarthy-era.
    Just as a hint, as to how I tend to develop my argument.

    The 2nd phase is one of nearly symmetrical battle between progressives and feudalists.
    The astonishing thing is, that with high probability the ‘feudalists’/suprematists win in the longer term.

    This makes them believe, that they are superior.
    They are the movers and shakers. The higher part of mankind. The loved childs of god. (this is, why they are Christians, or Believers in benevolent fate, which favors THEM, to a high degree.)

    Not recognizing that the power they gained was based on systematically lying.
    A pathology, as viewed from the other side.
    Like a peaceful society tends to loose against a warrior-society, because the arsenal of options is higher. The more options, the higher the chance to make a winning move, and ‘win’ in the end.
    (actually they loose, but this ais another story, which is beyond their comprehension, because they avoid the logical outcome, by believing in the rapture and other strange things)

    In the third phase, at least at its beginning, the underlings (we) have only the choice between evil and lesser evil.

    Here we are.

    The system as a whole constantly moves nearer and nearer to the brink.
    Choosing the lesser evil is a defensive strategy of the people in the know, which
    a) aims at delaying the ultimate collapse
    b) tends to distract from the central systemic issue, which is the DNA of this evil, self-destructive process.

    My conclusion, put to the extreme:
    On one side there is some entity, comparable to a virus, which tricks itself into the body politic,
    on the other some entity constantly self-reflecting –e.g. the ‘brainy’ left– which appeals e.g. to intellectual honesty (science could not work without that, all know).

    How could one explain the constant attack from the Koch-Brothers and all the other Liars and paid lobbyists against climate science.

    Viewed from that perspective, Obama is the lesser evil, but he is at most buying precious little time.

    The central issue is the DNA.

  81. groo


    I beg you all, to restrain from in-jokes,. eg. ones only Southerners or New-Yorkers or other ingroups understand.
    English is a ‘lingua franca’, i.e. a language everybody is supposed to understand.

    So if anybody wants to make himself understandable globally, he should restrict himself to a language most South-Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Muslims and others understand.

    Else this can easily be considered as imperialistic speech by the ‘lefty’ knowers of the NY or LA area or where-ever.

    Which is counterproductive, as should be evident.

    My Englisch is primitive, I know.

    But if I would speak in my native language, I assure you, You would neither understend the word nor the intention of what i say.

    Same with NY, LA or other slang.

    So watch the words You are using!

    The message of this blog and its commenters is too valuable to be clouded by inspeak.

    I use ‘Wordweb’ at times, just to find out what the hell XY is talking about, just to find out that I have to spend half an hour to find out what this acronym may signify, and that it can be said with simple, easy to understand words.
    More often than not I find out that it is not worth looking after that word, because the speaker is muddled in his brain anyhow.

    So why support indirectly the obfuscation party by using exactly their technique?

    Can anybody explain?

  82. Quiddity

    Overall, I’d have to say that Obama was the preferred candidate. Yes, he’s terrible on entitlements and health care reform, but you cannot ignore the Supreme Court. Two more conservative justices would have been a hammerlock (possibly made even more that way if the senior conservatives, like Scalia, retire and are filled by younger justices).

    Look, it was a crappy system that gave us Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to choose from. So no electoral choice was likely to be one many of us would approve of.

  83. groo


    …but you cannot ignore the Supreme Court…

    Yes, ofcourse.
    The point I want to stress is, that quite subtle settings can make a big difference.
    This I call systemic or structural.

    Compare e.g. the basic rules how a member of the supreme court is elected:
    US: (cited from wikipedia)
    The President of the United States appoints justices “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Most presidents nominate candidates who broadly share their ideological views, although a justice’s decisions may end up being contrary to a president’s expectations.

    Because justices have indefinite tenure, timing of vacancies can be unpredictable.

    Germany (I transcribe):
    The supreme court is divided into two branches:
    1) one is dedicated to the basic laws of the citizen (Grundrechte-senat)
    2) the other is dedicated to the laws of the state (Staatsrechts-senat)
    Justices are appointed by the executive branch (the politicians in power) of
    both the whole republic (Bundestag) AND the member-States (Bundesrat)

    Justices are appointed to a fixed 12year period, without any possible re-election.

    –hope, this is not too annoying to go go into such details–

    Although the basic structure seems quite similar, the subtle differences in the process of entitlement make a huge difference.

    There has been (in Germany) a tacit agreement up to now, to elect only universally respected Individuals, who are above the party-divide.
    A remnant of ‘honesty’, if you will.
    ‘Shame’ still seems to work here.
    Which is currently under challenge, by the Right’s ambition to propose one of their own for a vacant post in the supreme court.

    This is boring, I know, but it shows how the ‘system’ works.
    Position a vote for three legislative periods, or for a lifetime in the case of the US.

    If You have a stable majority, you basically can get rid of potentially embarrasing rulings.
    In the case of the Verfassungsgericht it means, that it potentially can bring down the whole EU-Edifice. So its important.

    This You can translate to all branches of state-power: Small adjustments in the rules can make a big difference.

    In the US this is much more advanced than here in the outer Provinces of backward Germany, which occasionally has to be bombed if it does not comply.
    The (US) system seems closed, akin to any totaliarian state of your choosing.

    With some astonishment one watches discussions about the possible appointment of Elizabeth Warren:
    “Elizabeth Warren Out as Possible Head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau”

    Concentrating on Obama as the liar du jour (which he is) is a distraction from the REAL forces, which seemingly are carefully crafting the overall structure, and do this with an intensity and dedication, which is simply astonishing!
    They literally do not leave any foxhole out!

  84. groo

    Immanuel Wallerstein:

    …Barack Obama is by conviction and by personality the quintessential centrist. He seeks dialogue and compromise between “extremes.” He acts with due reflection, and makes major decisions prudently. He is in favor of slow, orderly change – change that doesn’t threaten the basic system of which he is not merely a part but the ordained central figure and most powerful single player.

    Meanwhile, Obama is concentrating on getting re-elected. He stands a good chance of achieving this. The Republicans are moving further and further to the right, and politically they are no doubt overdoing it. But once re-elected, the president of the United States will have even less power than today. The world is moving on at a rapid pace. In a world with so many uncertainties and unpredictable actors, THE MOST DANGEROUS “LOOSE GUN” IS TURNING OUT TO BE THE UNITED STATES.
    (emphasis mine)

    Commentary No. 306, June 1, 2011

    I dont know if Wallerstein is correct on this topic, but at least he is consistent.

    People here, including me, tend to have a much more dire perspective.

    But it has to be grounded in some consistent reasoning in all cases.

  85. Morocco Bama

    groo, you make some great points and raise a lot of great questions, but I find some of your language a bit intriguing, especially since you claim you have a difficult time finding the “right” words to convey your thoughts in what is not your “Mother Tongue.”

    Specifically, you used the term “Founding Fathers” in a way that conveys exactly what that loaded term was meant to convey. I cringe when I hear that term…because it is a term of choice for those who have concocted and dispersed a propagandistic history of the United States.

    Considering what I have just mentioned, why did you choose that term? Where did you get it? I mention this because you and I have tangled on another thread about U.S. History, and you were relying on the propagandistic history to support your side of the debate. Presumably, you are not a U.S. Citizen, and English is not your native language, yet you are somehow going to school me in the official history of my own country in my own language. Something doesn’t add up, groo. Just as the Chinese Government writes a revisionist history to educate its people, so too does the United States, and yet you appear to be using the terminology of that U.S. revisionist history.

  86. groo

    Morocco Bama,
    …groo, you make some great points…

    (no numbers to the comments here)

    Yes, I am an outsider, concerning American Politics, but am forced to participate because of this globalization thing.
    I may not understand everything what the inner motives of american actions are, but want to avoid someone dropping words or bombs or whatever, because of mutual deficits of understanding.
    So please bear the dropping of eventual misunderstandings of words onto Your head.
    It happens everyday.
    It is an imperialist habit, imposing intricacies of wording in your native language onto other cultures.
    This is why Pidgin evolved.

    Concerning the ‘Founding fathers’ , I do not know what the problem is.

    The FF were informed by the European enlightenment, basically noble men, but, as Jefferson, nót immune to have lots of slaves.
    It is a VERY dark spot in Kant, that he also shared the habit of defining ‘inferior’ people, i.e. the black people and the Indians.

    It is a shame.

    But anyhow.
    Could you elaborate on my wrongthinking?
    I am very interested.

    Yes, there is a language-divide.
    Even after some Decades of rational discourse (in projects, to build something) I do not understand all the subtleties of american discourse.
    How can the Chinese eventually (mis)understand what is being said in the American Idiom?
    But maybe I’m simply too dumb to understand.

    There is a Saying in Bavaria:
    “He speaks five languages, but cannot find the way.”

  87. groo

    (note: this was written BEFORE my recourse to Morocco Bama, as above)
    I would very much like comments on that, even when it is only about finding out, whether a discourse over the pond –spare out the British– is even possible. That would be a big step forward:
    Finding out, that we cannot communicate in the first place! )


    Turning back the clock and reason in the ‘what if’ is an exercise in modality.
    ‘Modal logic’ says the philosopher in me.
    Modal logic is applicable to what has not happened yet.
    It is called imagination, and the action thereafter is the realization of an imagined future, in the endless bifurcations in the road ahead.
    This is perfectly legitimate.

    Rewinding the clock, as Ian suggests, has SOME legitimacy, by pondering what the decision process is, when going ahead by imagining the future.
    But one has to be careful.
    It is reasoning after-the-fact and can only serve the purpose of avoiding future mal-decisions.

    For me, as an outsider, being no participant of US-elections, just a worried global citizen, I actually crossed the fingers in favor of Obama. Not because I trusted him, but because he possibly interrupted the constant (eventually accelerating) track into insanity of American Top politics.

    To reason, whether McCain would have been better or worse is a matter of probability, Bayesian judgement if You will.
    Go over to , if You are interested in that.
    I am not convinced that this would provide practiccal help in this case.
    Because politics works differently:
    It is not about rational -left brain- decisions, but about having control about the right half of voter-brains.

    Scare them to death and they will vote accordingly.

    The beauty of this method is, that it abandons rationality and operates in a completely different domain.
    Which is, playing out different animal spirits against each other.
    Amygdala-politics, if You will.
    What else should tea-bagger-politice be?

    In the politics of Scare, consistency is completely out of the rules of the game, and this is where the right wing has been anyway for a long time, the rules are those of the GAME OF CHICKEN.

    Who ist scared the most by what perspective?

    See the current deficit-ceiling-discussion.
    The Repubs obviously want to drive as near to the abyss as possible, and Obama does not want to be the chicken, because this would be UNAMERICAN.

    So both drive to the abyss.
    Some rememberance of the MAD-strategy here (Mutually assured destruction of the old days of the East-West-nuclear conflict?)

    Question is:
    How often do we have a good outcome in a game like this?

  88. groo

    Communication by numbers versus words.

    This is not some Platonian exercise in duality, but –hopefully– a down-to-earth evaluation of the possible and communicatable.

    If it is true that numbers are more dependable than words, then something significant happens.
    (Hat-tip to the Marx Brothers-transcribed: “Do You believe your lying numbers or what I say?” )

    Where it should be evident, that numbers are abstractions, as well as words.
    So whom to trust?
    The numbers or the words?
    Statistics lie, but is this again a lie put out by the numerically illiterate?
    I suppose it is.
    It is a hidden war of words against numbers.

    Please meditate for a moment, and you probably find out, that if Your senses are somehow summoned and fit, it is the NUMBERS, embedded into a careful cast of WORDS, which make the difference.

    Communication by words alone is futile, nil, nada.
    The numbers add flesh to the meaning.
    As much as I hate this, this is where its at.

  89. groo

    Morocco Bama,

    there are
    the silent Listeners
    the Shouters,
    the Reflexives,
    the Reflexive Talkers.
    Only the last type is societyally active.
    May it be Tahrir square or here.

    More often than not I want to keep my mouth shut.
    What use is it anyhow to speak out.
    But accidentially I do, right now.
    Keep my mouth shut again.

  90. Morocco Bama

    Concerning the ‘Founding fathers’ , I do not know what the problem is…..Could you elaborate on my wrongthinking?
    I am very interested.

    Here’s a good start, but I think you’re still missing my point. Am I to believe that this enduring myth of “Founding Fathers” presaged by the use of that term is so ubiquitous as propaganda that even German publications have, and are, running with it in their description of U.S. history? A quick google search using “Founding Fathers” uncovered this link. After review, there’s much I agree with from this talk, and so I’ll let him say it for me because I don’t feel like typing a thesis right now. I’d rather watch Rosemary’s Baby after not having seen it now for fifteen years.

    I’m a U.S. citizen, and I will tell you here and now, I don’t recognize that term as legitimate. I see the use of it, and the propagandistic myth(s) it is meant to convey as rather transparent, and when people use that term just because they’ve seen it in writing, or have heard others say it, it makes me roll my eyes….and sometimes snort. Actually, the term itself was coined by Warren G. Harding in 1916…..and boy howdy did the disciples of Edward Bernays take it and run with it.

  91. groo

    Morocco Bama,

    thanks for the link.

    I dont know where the misunderstanding came from.
    I have to look through what I’ve written.

    Parenti is saying what my general impression is.
    And yours ofcourse also.
    See e.g. Howard Zinn:

    …Zinn argues that the Founding Fathers agitated for war to distract the people from their own economic problems and stop popular movements, a strategy that he claims the country’s leaders would continue to use in the future. …
    ( )

    The myth of the founding fathers is just one of many.
    The Pilgrim Fathers and the Thanksgiving Myth.
    Those is not only myths perpetuated in the US, but also in-presumably all- western societies.

    Free market, free will, freedom (to what?), and what have You.

    This ‘please help us’ meme, which Jonathan Schwartz over at Tiny-Revolution deconstructed quite some time ago, and is virulent up to the present.

    You are one of the last I want to quarrel with, and up to now I do not see anything, at least from my side, where I would feel compelled to fundamentally challenge Your view.

    The point I want to stress is, that there is a need to internationalize the discussion.

    To compare whats working and what not, and why not.
    To ponder about the past is very important, one aspect being: identify myths.

    Concerning the present and future: Investigate current systems. Which are working, which are, which are not, and why so?

    I am very well aware that people here are a TINY avantgarde.
    But they should not kill/neutralize themselves by accident or temporal misunderstanding.


  92. groo

    the mild critizism I posited here against Ians entry is called ‘Nachtarocken’ here in my homecountry.
    It is the process in a Game, which, when finished, the players think about, why it has been lost or won.

    After the fact.

    Card-game-players do that.
    It does not change the game, but somehow makes them more fit for the next game.

    The interesting thing is, that the players engage in a combat DURING the game, THEN freely exchange afterwards concerning the causes, motivations of the win/loose.

    This is totally absent in the game of life, as we experience/suffer it.

    It is about a godlike decoupling from the game. You do not loose Your life when gambling.
    And thus have a healthy distance. Making reflection possible .

    Because there is a next game, where the chances are possibly reversed, and the players are pondering about the NATURE of the game, and not the accidental win/loose.

  93. groo

    sorry, there are some minor errors in my wordings, but You figure them out.

    First, there is the general HABIT OF DISTANCE, which we project onto a godlike entity.
    Ultimately our reflecting selves.

    Second, there is the NATURE OF THE GAME, which we presume that ‘God’ does know it, and ‘we’ not.
    It is not about the outcome of game itself, which is arbitrary, but with some bias to the astute player, which he books as his sole success.

    Some believers fill this void up by ‘Kismet’, which the enlightenment rejects:
    “We are the masters of our fate.”

    Which we are not, as it dawns even the enlightened mind.

    Are there intermediate ‘gods’, as conspiracy theorists suggest?

    Maybe so.
    Enlightenment takes a second chance to find out, what those intermediate gods possibly are up to.
    What makes them tick?

    The reflective mind is moving forward and backward to identify its position.

  94. Shoes4Industry

    The Presidential term should be extended to one term of six years. It would eliminate this need
    to start campaigning for re-election the moment you’re sworn into office. As it is now, the president gets to govern for two years, then campaign for then next two and, if re-elected, govern for 4 more years. The net total is the same 6 years. Would it have been better to have Bush for 6 years instead of 8? Can’t same can be said for Obama? Campaign and election reform is not being discussed and it should be.

  95. David Kowalski

    Obama during the debates vs. McCain said he was in favor of ” entitlement reform” while McCain said he wouldn’t touch Social Security. Obama, like Bush earlier, got a free pass from the media. In a time calling for a new New Deal we get a man in an expensive suit who is quietly dismantling what is left of the New Deal and the Great Society.

    Obama’s great ability to dismantle what has been done exceeded that of any Republican and probably any other Democrat. After all, opposition is instantly labeled “racist” by the Obamabots (powereful in 2008 and still effective among some of the general electorate in 2011. This wiping out of the 20th century makes him worse than Hoover who meant well and did nothing or even Cleveland who vigorously supported the powers that be. Many of the same impulses that drove Buchanan are at work here but in my mind Obama has earned the title of America’s worst President ever.

    I voted for the Greens in 2008 and also talked a few others into voting for McKinney. Unfortunately, like Ian, I knew what was coming from Obama.

  96. groo


    …McCain said he wouldn’t touch Social Security…

    Would you have trusted him?

    Is McCain -has he ever been?- a trustable character?

    …McCain began as a sub-par flier[17] who was at times careless and reckless;[18] during the early-to-mid 1960s, the planes he was flying crashed twice and once collided with power lines, but he received no major injuries.[18] His aviation skills improved over time,[17] and he was seen as a good pilot, albeit one who tended to “push the envelope” in his flying.[18]

    His later image as being a ‘Maverick’ shows that he is by nature a risk-taker.

    What a bout that:

    So where is Gramm today? (i.e. 2008)
    Gramm serves as co-chair of the McCain 2008 presidential campaign. As one of the candidate’s chief economic advisers, he is mentioned as a possible secretary of the treasury in a McCain administration.

    My goodness.

    McCain proved EARLY, that he would not be fit for President, an nobody knows what he would have done.
    This is in any case a bad thing.

    Obama proved post factum that he is not fit for President.
    He is a liar, a Nobel Laureate as unfit as Henry Kissinger, and what have You.
    But this has not been known in 2008.

    Now it is.
    One can only -hopefully- have learned how deep the bag of tricks of the PTB is.

    The conspiracy theorist in me is quite convinced, that most presidents have their dark spots, which the puppeteers have tediously collected, just to keep them in check, by detonationg the bomb, if necessary.

    And if not, a bubble of scandal is constructed, like the Lewinsky-affair.
    Interesting enough, that not more substantial skeletons in his cellar had been pulled into the light.

    One has to wonder why?
    Maybe Clinton himself knew something about his adversaries, so that the MAD-strategy (mutually assured destruction) should be applied.

    This is, how the game of power seems to work, if I put my conspiracy hat on.

    See the current Murdoch case.
    Nobody can tell me that Murdoch does not have a whole arsenal of skeletons of his potential adversaries in his cellar.
    So why is he not blown up, plain and simple?

    Well. Because of the MAD strategy.
    The beauty with Obama was, that he was more or less a blank slate, protected by the Chicago Pritzker-Clan, who kept the books about the Obama dark spots, so to say, e.g. his dubious 2year term in a Chicago-based CIA frontend.
    McCain on the other hand had a very open record of nasty deeds, which had been effectively whitewashed, i.e. were not newsworthy anymore.

    Remember Kerry, who effectively had his character assassinatened for no misdeed at all. Rumors alone and the dumbness of the electorate sufficed, to keep him out of the race

    We can only hope, that one time someone who cannot be ignored, pulls the trigger, and the whole charade blows up.

    Conspiracy hat off.

    A last example.
    Al Gore.
    Why did he not fight against the obvious betrayals?

    Was he somehow compromised?
    Was he too noble a character?

    Someone is ridiculed, because he has not enough solar cells on his roof,
    the other is considered fit for presidency, when he just bubbles out something of his mouth , to promote phony actions, concerning the economy, or war, or the wellbeing of the people, or the planet, to not forget the most vulnerable of the lot.

  97. tdraicer

    Of course McCain was the lesser evil. He wouldn’t have blown up the world, and every bad thing he did would have hurt a Right that was already on the ropes. Instead, Obama has made the crimes and follies of the Bush years bipartisan, reviving the Right, and letting “liberals” take the blame for his Hooverish policies.

    And frankly, all this was predictable in 2008 (I know, because I was among those who predicted it). Sometimes winning an election is a disaster, and 2008 is a classic example. And liberals need to stop thinking only in two and four year increments and start seeing the bigger picture.

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