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    • The Technology of Violence and its effect on prosperity and freedom
        Prosperity is two things: 1) How much you can produce with your technology and social organization; 2) Who gets how much.   The second is determined by a number of factors, but the simplest is the structure of violence.  Those who aren’t good at fighting, don’t get as much of the surplus created by [...]
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No need for apologetics

Oh, my!  Hillary has astounded the left blogosphere again.  She hasn’t backed off on her “war hawkishness” and for the first time in 6 years, she has actually defied the White House and admitted that their foreign policy was full of holes.  So, now all of the left’s assessment of her is proven true, TRUE, I say!  She would have taken us into a new war had she been president, she wouldn’t have stopped with earth, she would have declared it on the Martians and then where would we be?  I can almost see the caricature Hillarys filling the souvenir shelves in 2016, hair standing on end and eyes wild and terrifying like some older, plumper version of Galadriel on ring steroids.

Will you people get a grip?  You’re starting to remind me of the right.  Yeah, I went there.  Those people are black/white thinkers without nuance. The left’s absolutism when it comes to war and pacifism is starting to resemble that.  I’m not apologizing for Hillary.  You can go back to her senate days until the present and really read what she’s said to figure out where she stands.  She’s allowed to be wrong.  God knows, the left is extremely forgiving of other politicians who were much wronger than Hillary.  John Kerry and John Edwards were given free passes and they were clearly motivated by politics.  But she’s also allowed to be right and we have to look at the bigger picture of the globe and our unfortunate and damning dependence on oil to see what might be going on here.

In the last couple of weeks, I have wondered why it is that this region of the world is still so tribal, why authoritarian religion has such a grip on the inhabitants, why it hasn’t allowed them to evolve and who is behind all that religious hierarchy.  I mean, why is it concentrated so heavily in the area where oil is located and where there are global chokepoints to the flow of oil and other goods?  You’d think that living in such a strategic area of the world that these people would have a better standard of living than they do.  Why aren’t the best minds coming from the middle east?  Why are so many of them poor?  What is the connection of religion to power and which side is wielding it?  I’m sure there are papers on the subject. But it’s not my area and I’m dissatisfied and embarrassed by the shallowness of the discourse on the left when it comes to these questions.  All I ever hear is, “why are we there?”, “why are we spending money to bomb other countries?”, “when can we get out?”, “get out now!, Now!, Now!” and “See, that was a waste, they’re back to killing each other”.

Back in 2008, I tried to warn people over at DailyKos and here that getting out of Iraq wasn’t going to be easy and shouldn’t be rushed.  The Bushies went to Iraq to steal and experiment, and, in the course of that experimentation, trashed the place.  Pulling out was going to be destabilizing and we were probably going to have to stay longer whether we liked it or not.  And what happened?  The White House, ever in campaign mode, pulled out without stabilizing before the 2012 election and the place fell apart.  (See this Frontline episode on Losing Iraq.  The evidence damns the Bushies and the Obama administration.)

I keep coming back to responsibility.  We on the left seem to think that if we didn’t want a war and didn’t start one, we are not responsible for what happens when one happens despite our protests.  And that’s just not true.  Whether we like it or not, we will be forever associated with the other fellow bone headed, stupid, mean spirited Americans who were lead over a cliff by a bunch of greedy, selfish, destructive global “citizens”.  What you might consider “war hawkishness” might be responsibility to me.  And it sucks to be the more conscientious elder sibling.  It’s so much easier to take the easy way out and enjoy the credit, while it lasts, for making everyone happy temporarily by disassociating from the war as quickly, and as it turns out, as recklessly as possible.  But getting out quickly didn’t make things better, did it?  That high was timed to last a campaign season and very little thought was given to the morning after the party.

If anything, the Arab Spring, the collapse of Iraq and the civil war in Syria has confirmed my initial assessment of the two candidates in 2008.  Clinton was rehab and Obama was an enabler.

The latter won.

Addendum:  Some dirty hippies completely discredited themselves in the last couple of election cycles and need to take an old cold tater and wait.

 

Katiebird asks “how did we get here?”

Update from GregT from the comments:

The Democratic Party has been the victim of a corporate takeover. It happened gradually at first, then completely in 2008. Instead of taking the direction wanted and needed by the public, the top-down infiltration of the party reached its climax in the spring of 2008 and steered clear of a corrective course. Barack Obama was a candidate not ready for prime time. No experience, no real knowledge of policy issues and no real interest in governing. But he was the quintessential yes man and Wall Street knew he would go easy on them. So the Street identified him as their preferred candidate . They used their money and their expertise in marketing to sell him to the voters. They probably got crossover help from the GOP that cycle. The Street knew Obama had potential as a ” pitch guy ” and so they played that up. Hillary Clinton was in the way, so she was vanquished to make room for the Great Savior. And even then,despite all that was done for him, he needed help to win the D primary and he needed the fall of Lehman to secure the presidency.

Those who voted for him in 08 have been used. Rather than admit it, too many have continued to support him long past the expiration date. The debate just proved it. He brought a knife to a gunfight because a knife is all he has. He wouldn’t be in his current job if he knew how to wield a gun.

That’s what happened.

And here is Quixote’s take from a different thread:

Dump your best candidate: get someone second rate. Deal with downstream consequences forever.

It reminds me of Krugman’s point that the reason the USA keeps veering away from single payer health care, starting in the late 1940s, is that there are too many white people who can’t stand the thought of black people getting some benefit from the program. Racism is the reason the country has this health care boat anchor around its economy, dragging the whole country down.

Well, in 2008 we had one more instance of too many people who couldn’t stand the thought of listening to a woman. The fact that she was the best person for the job didn’t enter into it. Sexism has always been a supertanker boat anchor dragging the country down, but 2008 was a critical time to go and necklace ourselves with it.

*************************************

No, she is not referencing Talking Heads.

She’s asking how it could be that in 2008 we were desperate to elect a Democrat to roll back the conservative excesses of the Bush years and what we ended up with is a plan endorsed by BOTH candidates to screw anyone under the age of 60 out of their PRE-PAID Social Security and Medicare funds.  I think we can see from Wednesday night’s debate why it is that Obama has been so ineffective as president.  Maybe what we saw is the way he always is in negotiations with his opposition.  Scary thought, eh?  Now, he is a national joke after Wednesday’s performance.  Oh, he’ll look better next time but we can’t unsee what we’ve seen.  If he’s like this with the insurance industry, and Wall Street and the Tea Party conservatives, we are all well and truly fucked.

Basically, in 2008 we had a choice between rehab and co-dependency when it came to the financiers, who knew the crash was coming.  And the financiers chose the enabler and funded him.  It wouldn’t have worked except there is a peculiar tendency of Americans that the financiers and Obama’s campaign milked for all it was worth.  It worked.

How did they do it?  Here is the video that shows a big reason why we’re here.  Don’t misread this video.  It’s not a celebration or glorification of anyone.  It is a condemnation of the way Americans, and specifically a certain segment of Democrats, took leave of their senses and brought us to this point.  This kind of treatment went beyond anything Al Gore or John Kerry ever faced and should never happen to any candidate ever again.:

The choice was between the person who kept on going after the media and opposition told her to ditch all of her help and quit vs the guy who had a LOT of assistance from the media, the party and Wall Street and who was lifted and carried across the finish line.

We underestimated one candidate and overestimated the other.  And That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are here.

Throwing up a little

Krugman writes today about the homeowner mortgage crisis.  You remember the homeowners, don’t you?  They are those people who got into the market too late and are now underwater on their mortgages and paying much higher interest rates than they could get right now.

So, anyway, there’s an idea floating around that maybe if the guy who heads the Federal Housing Finance Agency would cooperate with the Obama White House, some of those mortgages could be restructured to take advantage of those low interest rates, thus sparing some of those homeowners some financial pain.  But the director of that agency, Edward DeMarco, a Bush holdover, refuses to do what’s necessary to get the ball rolling.

Now, this is strange.  Presumably, this is an executive branch office so Obama should be able to bear down on this guy and make him do what he’s told.  That worked with Sheila Bair, the former head of the FDIC.  She wanted to restructure the biggest banks and make the shareholders take a haircut.  But Geithner would have none of it. Haircuts are for taxpayers who have been PREPAYING their social security benefits, not bankers and their shareholder buds.  So, Geithner stuffed a sock in Bair’s mouth and forced her to bailout the shareholders against her objections.  Easy Peasy.  Tim showed her how to strong arm.  Besides, who’s going to stick up for a girl, right?

So, you’d *think* that the same tactic could be used to force DeMarco to get off his duff but so far, none has been forthcoming from the Obama administration.  I noticed that Krugman is getting that pizza and orange juice taste in the back of his mouth when writing about this topic.  It must be hard to understand the inertia and then have to defend the stationary object behind it.  Let’s see if I can break it down.

Politically, DeMarco serves as a target for scorn, derision and hatred.  He’s a Republican holdover.  You have to ask yourself *why* Obama didn’t replace him back in 2009 when he became acting director after the former Bush appointee left.  If could be that Republicans would bend over backwards to block the new Obama nominee.  But that doesn’t make any sense because at the time DeMarco became the acting director, the Democrats had control of the Senate and with the right kind of political strong arming, Obama should have been able to get his nominee through.  Same for the Treasury appointees that were meeting with opposition.  There’s really no excuse for this.  When you have a filibuster proof majority, not using it to your party’s advantage is politically incompetent.

Second option- just fire the guy.  How hard is this?  Sure the Republicans would scream bloody murder.  So?  Bush did this all the time.  He just ignored the ranting and raving from the other side and he usually got his way.  Hey, remember when Dick Cheney shot that guy in the face and we thought it was curtains for Dick?  And then his victim took the blame and said he shouldn’t have gotten in the way of the shotgun pellets?  Was that genius or what?  Obama could have used his reputed political giftiness to get whatever he wanted in 2009.  I guess he was keeping his powder dry for something special.  And then 2010 came and that was the end of that.  Nevertheless, DeMarco is in his territory, so, presumably, Obama could keep firing acting directors until he got to the person who would do his bidding, if it were important to him.

Ahhh, now we’re getting to the nitty gritty.  How important is it to fire the guy so that his bidding is executed?  I’m guessing it’s about as important as making the shareholders take a haircut in the bank bailout.  In other words, it isn’t.  The people who hold those mortgages are much more important to him than the people who actually pay them.  Obama still needs those campaign donations.  One wonders why he can’t just point to all of the good things he’s done.  Why does he need to raise more money than Romney to show what a terrific and irreplaceable president he is?  The answer to this question is behind why I am so disinterested in this election and probably why Krugman throws up a little every time he has to climb the water tower with a bucket of paint to defend this guy.

So, to recap, DeMarco is convenient to the Democrats because they can point to him and blame the Republicans for being so mean and heartless while at the same time, they can party with their donors who haven’t paid a price for their moral hazard.

Nauseating, isn’t it?

*******************************

Rehab the Banks or I’m Going Green

Remember Amy Winehouse?  She was bright and talented and a total basket case. For years, her family and friends tried to get her to clean up her act.  I remember an interview with one of the Dap Kings who backed her as well as singer Sharon Jones.  He hinted that it was much, much less fun to tour with Winehouse.  Well, I guess so.  You’re trying to be professional and you never know what you’re going to get with an out of control alcoholic.  It makes you not want to play for her anymore.  She’s unreliable.

Her parents pleaded with the public to stop going to her concerts until she got sober. She looked like a train wreck waiting to happen.  When she died, was anyone really surprised?  I know I wasn’t.  She joined the 27 Club, predictably.  All very avoidable.  What a crying shame.

Same thing with the banks.  They’re out of control, unreliable and unstable.  At any moment now, they could just die on us.  But where Amy just ruined herself and not the rest of the world because she resisted rehab, having the banks act like addicts for extended periods of time has much more serious consequences to the rest of us.

Both candidates are enablers.  Obama has had many opportunities in the last 4 years to force the banks to clean up their act but he’s passed on nearly all of them.  He seems to not like regulation much, approaching each bank bailout as a new problem that needs a customized solution.  He slaps them on the wrist and tells them not to do it again.  Romney is a Republican.  Enough said.  Never trust them.  No, no, you former PUMAs, they are not nice people.  I even wonder if they’re a party and not simply a mob of crazed whip kissers lead by con men.  Actually, that’s *exactly* what the Republican party is today.  If you buy into that, you’re really buying into a culture of selfishness and greed disguised by a thin but garish veneer of piety.  And that’s about it.  They have no other goal than to dismantle government and take everything that isn’t nailed down.  Deep down inside, you know this but you can’t get over your anger and hatred of the DNC for what they did in 2008.  I’m not over it either but I’m not so blinded by it that I can’t see what the Republicans are up to.  The enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend in this case.

What I want is rehab.  Yep, if Obama can’t come up with a plan to rehab the financial services industry for our and their good, even at the risk of pissing some of them off, he needs to step aside.  If he can’t do the rehab thing, then he’s no use to us.  Everyday he continues to enable them and puts off getting them clean and sober, he puts us at risk for a catastrophic failure.  And this will happen because as long as they never suffer the consequences of their reckless behavior, they will get even more reckless.  Sooner or later, probably sooner, we will have another financial catastrophe on our hands.

If I were a Democrat, I’d be particularly concerned with the period after the convention and before the election.  Because once the candidate is selected, unexpected failures will fall on the head of the person in office.  Republican are masters of engineering when it comes to making voters scared to death.  If you don’t have a strong, steady, competent candidate to calm the waters, you’re screwed.

Don’t think the Republicans don’t want to win.  They want it very badly.  The last four years were entirely predictable.  The idea was to force an economic crisis on the American people and then make it as difficult as possible for the Democratic president to do anything about it.  The Republicans got an unexpected assist from the Democrats who nominated the weakest possible candidate they could find.  That leaves Obama holding the bag after four years of unrelenting pressure on the American people.  If you didn’t expect this, you weren’t paying attention.  And if you thought Obama was somehow going to overcome all of it when what was really needed was a president with some insight into the mechanisms of government and how to optimize efforts in a very bad situation, like firing Edward DeMarco and putting your guy in his place, then you were probably better off than most average American working people.  Those average Joes are now your responsibility.  You dragged them into this.

It’s all avoidable.  Rehab the party, rehab the banks.  Save the world.

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