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    • Inequality is Unnatural
      I’ve been reading UltraSociety, by Peter Turchin. Turchin’s a biologist turned to mathematical models of human society, and he’s done interesting work, not all of which I agree with (or agree is quite as radical as he claims.) But one of the points he makes in UltraSociety, which has been made by many archeologists and […]
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The Snark

I’ve been looking into conviction by repetition for another project, and landed on a long-time favorite of mine, The Hunting of the Snark. Re-reading it now gave me an uncanny sense of double vision. The bit that did it follows the First Fit of the poem, in which the other crew members are described.

The crew was complete: it included a Boots–
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods–
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes–
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-maker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share–
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

Then he gets to the Bellman. Continue reading

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Indulge me here: Hillary is to “corporatist” as Obama is to …

Obama at NH debate finds corporatist Hillary "likeable enough"

… what?

The reason we couldn’t have Hillary, according to the *it* bloggers, was that she was a corporatist, whatever that means. Now, I’m not stupid enough to assert that corporations are persons, as the USSC seems wont to do, but I do believe that we can coexist peacefully and that a savvy politician can help both corporations and real, live persons work together for a more prosperous America.

That’s not what we have here in the good old U. S. of A. anymore. The gulf oil spill has intensified our focus on the relationship between corporations and the Obama administration. What we have here is a failure to hold accountable. The lack of accountability has been a staple feature of the past 10 years. In fact, I think that’s what the whole deregulatory movement is all about: the ability to act with impunity. No one is accountable anymore for anything.

Now, we can blame this on the Republicans or the fact that the Big Dawg’s outgoing administration cut the deregulators some slack, perhaps assuming that Al Gore would win the presidency in 2000 and sew things back up. But how do we account for Obama’s failure to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds well into the second year of his first term? Wasn’t that what the voters hired him to do? I think when voters heard him say “Change!”, they thought he meant setting things right and making the government work for them, putting the brakes on “irrational exuberance”, making the rich pay their fair share.

That’s not what we got. So, what *did* we get? If Hillary was the ultimate DLC loving “corporatist”, what is Obama?

Paul Rosenberg has an interesting post this morning that touches on this subject tangentially. It seems to me that Paul is finally coming around to what we have always thought about Obama. Obama is first and foremost pro-Obama. That is the driving principle by which he operates. In this respect, he is no different than any other power seeking executive. His eye is always on the next position above him. Getting there is his mission in life. Now, he’s there.

What did he plan to do once he got to be president of the United States? I suppose that like many people who wanted that spot, he had dreams of making a difference. The problem is that he had very little in the way of experience upon which to draw once he got there. Maybe he bought into the management culture where perceptions and expectations can be shaped. Maybe he really did think it was possible to relate to Republicans. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. Any speculation at this point would be a continuation of the projection of goodness that got him into office in the first place.

But we can look at what he has done while he has been in office. And we can look at who he has used to forward whatever agenda he purports to have. (I don’t know what that agenda is because it isn’t very well articulated). From his deeds and his appointees, we can draw an early conclusion about Obama. And here it is:

He’s over his head.

It’s a complex nation. We are in an economic crisis. One of the major parties is determined to shred what little remains of the social safety net. Obama is either a willing participant or completely overwhelmed where this is concerned. I’m not sure the Republicans even know why they have to be so cruel as to remove all security from the working class. It’s like blood sport to them. There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s simply who they are and what they believe. If their mindless enthusiasm were to affect one of their own family members, perhaps they would reconsider. But the rich and well-connected may only now be coming face to face with what they have wrought on their poorer cousins. Like rapacious grasshoppers, they’ve eaten their way through their storehouses and are now are thoughtlessly eating their seed corn in a frenzy of short term thinking and Obama is enabling them.

I think he’s weak. I think he hired Rahm Emannuel because he didn’t have enough time in Congress to know what levers to push to get things done. And if he didn’t have Rahm, he’d have to hire someone like him.

I don’t resent Obama taking his wife out on the taxpayer’s dime. I don’t begrudge him any perk of his office. Being president is hard, even for the guy who is over his head. Even in these tough economic times, it’s a good thing to show that you are committed to your wife and that you aren’t going to forego a little joy. Life goes on. I don’t think race has anything to do with his failure. Character is not fixed by a genetic mutation for melanin production. I think the birther issue is ridiculous and is racist in its formation. But in Obama, we have a man who jumped ahead in the queue not because he was African American but because he was unprepared. Ruthless ambition by the first viable African American politician for president was no excuse for abrogating the responsibility to do what was right for the country.

Would waiting until 2016 to run have made a difference for Obama? We’ll never know. But what is clear is that we ditched a politician with 16 years of executive knowledge and a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of government and how to work them. We turned our backs on a politician who came to every debate over-prepared. We humiliated a politician who was associated with the last successful presidency of our lifetime when our country needed a calm, level-headed leader. And we did it when the country could least afford to have an amateur in the Oval Office.

So, I just have to ask, now that the office has forced him to solidify out of the vapor that he was during the campaign of 2008, what is Obama? If Hillary was a “corporatist”, what is Obama?