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      No, really. They’re not even Swedish! They’re a “charity” that’s based in the Netherlands, allegedly to promote design and architecture. But they don’t spend much of their money – they seem to be a big old tax shelter: Ikea’s association with Swedishness and Swedish values is so ironic that one would be hard pressed to […]
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      Quantitative Easing, to put it simply, no matter what form you do it in, is only marginally effective. Most of the money goes to the rich, you may or may not get a technical win in GDP, and in many cases the money may flow out of the country. If you want to improve the [...]
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Hillary, the VP rumor and what men don’t understand about powerful women

Gosh, it seems I have a lot to say today.

Charles Pierce is freaking out about the poll numbers.  Oh, sure, it was all fun and games to poke at Obama until someone loses an election.  After yesterday’s dystopian description of Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago that chilled me to the bone, Charles is backtracking today and telling the left to suck it up and vote for the bastard.

Not so fast, Charles.  In fact, if the Democrats want to dodge this rendezvous with electoral obscurity, now is the time for voters to lay down the law, draw a line in the sand and say, “You Shall Not Pass!”.  I’d make any grand bargain on Social Security and Medicare my rubicon but there are half a dozen other legitimate issues that Democrats should be forced to defend vigorously before voters yield.  No, I am not afraid of Romney, believe it or not.  At this point, the states are gleefully slashing through all of women’s reproductive rights and there are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Democrats yielded women’s issues without much of a fight so they can’t fall back on that old trick anymore.  I hate private equity firms and sons of rich family firms as much as anyone but Obama’s negotiations with Wall Street have been so godawful that it hardly makes a difference who’s the coldhearted Mr. Moneybucks in the White House.  In this case, it is perfectly fair to talk about equivalence.  Pierce just better hope that Democrats fare better in Congressional races.

My problem with Obama is that it’s not enough to have good intentions but a hostile opponent in Congress to blame stuff on.  You need to look as though you’ve actually broken a sweat defending our rights and quality of life and Obama hasn’t.  No one in my generation should settle for a Democratic president doing a lackluster job and then throwing up his hands in frustration and saying, “It’s inevitable that your life is going to suffer.  Deal with it, late babyboomer.  Sucks to be you.” I’m not settling for that.  We knew the job was going to be tougher than average following a disaster like George W. Bush.  He shouldn’t have run for the job if he wasn’t ready, and it was obvious that he wasn’t.  No excuses.  He had his chance to sit it out and wait but he had to have the White House now, now, now.  So, now it’s his responsibility and solemn obligation not to screw us over even if it’s really hard to do.

But it’s not Pierce alone who is starting to panic and grasp at straws.  Over at the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky is testing the “Hillary-Biden VP Switch” idea again and seeing if it gets any more traction than it did before.  I’m not sure Obama would get the bang for the buck everyone expects from this ticket though and in some respects, it might almost be worse.

For example, did you know that recently Hillary compared the VP position to being First Lady?  That’s not necessarily derogatory but does touch on something that I think men just don’t get about powerful women, which I’ll get to in a moment.  The reason why Hillary says VP is like First Lady is because although the VP can be an important and influential advisor to the president, constitutionally, the position doesn’t have much power.  The VP can break ties in the Senate annnnd, that’s about it.  Otherwise, the VP is just hanging around for the president to experience some catastrophic event.  It’s sort of like being a political vulture or hyena.  A carrion pol.

I just finished the Passage to Power by Robert Caro about LBJ’s Kennedy years and what happened to him when he was VP was a textbook case of what you do not ever want to happen to a person with as much power potential as LBJ.  Johnson was a Senate powerhouse, a legislative genius who understood every representative and senator in Congress, their hidden desires and flaws, and how to manipulate those desires and timing to generate momentum and force legislation through.  The Kennedy brothers brought Johnson in as VP in order to neutralize his power and they were exceedingly successful.  They were so successful that they jeopardized their own policy agenda.  And Johnson was miserable as VP.  He was emasculated by the Kennedys who made sure that he couldn’t even make a trivial speech without having it cleared by the Attorney General.  When JFK was assassinated, Johnson revealed himself to be a great leader.  If he’d been as astute on Vietnam, we’d be worshipping him along with FDR and Lincoln.  But if Kennedy hadn’t met his fate in Dallas, Johnson would have faded into obscurity and the Civil Rights Law of 1964 might never have happened.  I’m no fan of Obama’s but even I wouldn’t wish that on him just so someone else could benefit.

I’m of the opinion that had Hillary wanted the VP in 2008, she could have had it.  We don’t know how it all went down but my suspicion is that she knew that she would be de-balled like Johnson if she had accepted the position and so she pre-emptively asked for State if Obama won.  And so the original choice for SOS, Joe Biden, switched places with Hillary.

So, assuming this is true, why would she want to be Obama’s VP now?  My guess is that she wouldn’t.  What really drives me up a wall about Tomasky’s post is that it reflects the guy’s point of view about what would save Obama’s ass in this election.  The focus is still on saving Obama at all costs.  Yes, he is tremendously inexperienced and doesn’t seem to be learning his job very well.  Yes, he’s not a very good politician and doesn’t act like he likes being around legislators and gladhanding for votes.  Yes, he made too many deals with Wall Street, the insurance companies, the religious right to the detriment of his base. Yes, the economy is terrible and he’s done nothing about unemployment.  Yes, he’s planning to give away all the money the late baby boomers PREPAID into social security for their retirements.  But somehow, the guys feel we’ve got to re-elect this man.  I don’t understand it.  It’s got to be a male graduate student guy thing, the cluelessness of being near the top of Maslow’s pyramid. I keep picturing that iconoclastic image of soldiers pushing the flag up Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.  So much struggle for so little payoff.

But that’s the problem.  They act like Obama is the most-ut and those around him are expected to sacrifice their own needs for his future.   I understand that Obama has this power over people.  They want to help him achieve his own personal goals and it doesn’t seem that important that his goals should be subordinated to the welfare of the country. This is where the reasoning behind the guy thing breaks down.  For that matter, some women don’t get it either.

But if that’s the case, why the Hell would a woman with Hillary’s power and ability continually put her own needs secondary to Obama’s?? We don’t expect Obama to sacrifice his ambitions for the good of the party or country. If I were her, I wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t put myself in a four year sound proof booth just to help Obama achieve self-actualization as a two term president, country be damned.  What would be in it for me?  Would I be able to influence policy?  Sha!, Obama’s smartest guys in the room, like Kennedy’s, aren’t going to let her anywhere near a lever of power.  So, without the ability to affect policy, what is she reduced to but a series of ceremonial appearances where she would be dragged out in front of crowds of Democrats, like some hostage, to make Obama look good.  At the end of four years, she’s going to be permanently associated with whatever failures Obama’s administration is notorious for without having had any opportunity to influence them.  And with that she’s supposed to run for office in 2016?  Like some 69 year old Chernyenko who the party is going to feel obliged to unenthusiastically endorse until some young whippersnapper beats her in the New Hampshire primary?  Are you f^&*ing kidding me?

Did it never occur to these guys that maybe she has her own ambition that is independent of and does not make reference to Obama’s?  If I were her, I’d never settle for less than the top spot because I would have the confidence to know I’d be good at the job.  And if I couldn’t get the top spot, I’d leave politics behind and become a powerhouse on the outside, holding Obama’s feet to the fire on gender equality or education or scientific infrastructure or something equally important.  There’s no point to being powerful, competent and smart if there’s no way to exercise it.  And there’s apparently no place in American politics for a woman who is not seen as a traditional helpmeet to a man.  But seriously, ladies, why do it for a dude who is not your husband and who is secretly driving you crazy with his bumbling incompetence?

Tell them to shove their shotgun wedding, Hillary.

Martha Coakley for President Open Thread

I can’t reload that earlier thread anymore, so here’s a new one. From The Boston Globe:

Coakley: I oppose more US troops to Afghanistan

The Democratic front-runner in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy issued a statement saying, “I believe we should begin the process of bringing our troops home.”

Coakley has said repeatedly she trusted President Barack Obama but would wait to hear him make his case if he wanted to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Yet two days before Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the subject, Coakley said “based on what I know now,” she does not support a troop increase….

Coakley said she is “very concerned” the case for more troops still has not been made. And she believes there is no evidence Afghan President Hamid Karzai “is a legitimate or trustworthy partner.”

We need a President with guts. Of course the last time we had a President who had the courage to speak up to the generals, he was shot down on the street in Dallas.

Ray McGovern at Truthout:

as he studied the options, cost and likely outcomes, Kennedy came to see U.S. intervention in Vietnam as a fool’s errand. Few Americans are aware that, just before he was assassinated, Kennedy had decided to pull all troops out of Vietnam by 1965.

The Pentagon was hell bent on thwarting such plans, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara found it an uphill struggle to enforce the President’s will on the top brass. Senior military officers were experts at “slow-rolling” politicians who favored a course that the Pentagon didn’t like.
When in May 1962 Kennedy ordered up a contingency troop-withdrawal plan, it took more than a year for the military brass to draw one up.

[....]

Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff, to whom fell the task of announcing President Kennedy’s death on Nov. 22, 1963, told James Douglass, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, that Kennedy’s mind was fixed on Vietnam the day before. Instead of rehearsing for a press conference that day, Kennedy told Kilduff:

“I’ve just been given a list of the most recent casualties in Vietnam. We’re losing too damned many people over there. It’s time for us to get out. The Vietnamese are not fighting for themselves. We’re the ones who are doing the fighting.
“After I come back from Texas, that’s going to change. There is no reason for us to lose another man over there. Vietnam is not worth another American life.”

Kennedy never returned from Texas and the war went on. Sadly, Obama is no John Kennedy.

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Obama’s 60 Minutes Interview and that Odd, Inappropriate Laughter

This morning I watched the 60 Minutes interview with President Obama that aired last night. You can read the transcript here. Part of the interview took place at the White House, with Obama discussing his schedule and how his daughters are adjusting to their new surroundings. The other part was a sit-down interview in which Steve Kroft asked Obama some questions about the economic crisis. I’m posting the first part of the interview below, along with some segments from the transcript that I’d like to discuss.

Just a personal note–I think Steve Kroft comes across as quite biased toward the Wall Street point of view throughout the interview. He expresses compassion for the unfortunate people working for the banks and thinks it’s terribly unfair to ask them to work for *only* $250,000 per year.

STEVE KROFT:
Your Treasury Secretary’s plan… Geithner’s plan, and— your plan really— for solving the banking crisis— was met with very, very, very tepid response. And you had a lot of people criticize… a lot of people said they didn’t understand it. A lot of people said it didn’t have any— enough details to— to— to solve the problem. I know you’re coming out with something— next week on this. But these criticisms were coming from people like Warren Buffett, people who had supported you, and you had counted as being your—

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
And— and— and— and Warren still does support me. But I think that understand Warren’s also a big player in the financial markets who’s a major owner of Wells Fargo. And so he’s got a perspective from the perspective of somebody who— is part owner of a bank. You’ve got members of Congress who’ve got a different perspective. Which is, “We don’t want to spend any more taxpayer money.” You’ve got— a whole host of players, all of whom may have a completely different solution. (LAUGHS) Right?

And— you know, one of the challenges that Tim Geithner— has had— is the same challenge that anybody would have in this situation.

people want a lot of contradictory things. You know, the— the— the banks would love a lot of taxpayer money with no strings attached. Folks in Congress, as well as the American people, would love to fix the banks without spending any money. (LAUGHS) And so at a certain point, you know, you’ve got just a— a very difficult line— to— to walk.

It seems to me that Obama perceives himself as someone who is trying to meet the conflicting demands of many different people; and that is certainly something that is going to happen to the President of the United States. What is missing for me is any sense that Obama sees himself as an advocate for a particular point of view. This is the thing that has bothered me about Obama from the very beginning. I just don’t get a sense of there being a real flesh-and-blood person in there beneath the polished exterior. I don’t get the feeling that he really cares about anyone or anything–except himself, of course. Continue reading

Missiles, Schmissles – Obama will deflect Russian missles with his mega-watt smile!

barackkennedy5

THIS IS NOT GOOD:

Obama denies Poland missile vow

US President-elect Barack Obama has not given a commitment to go ahead with plans to build part of a US missile defence system in Poland, an aide says.

He was speaking after Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s office said a pledge had been made during a phone conversation between the two men.

But Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, denied this.
Continue reading

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