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    • How Important Is The Drone Attack On The Saudi Oil Field?
      As you’d expect from the title, both more and less than it seems. The impact on oil prices is not that big a deal, despite the screaming. If they were to, say, wind up at $75/barrel for a few months, well the last time we had prices that high was… less than a year ago. […]
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Racism and Deadlines

So, the Obama whips are trying to get us back into line, supporting Obama for re-election next year.  Why else would we be treated to timely reminders of what racists we are?  It’s a strange phenomenon but I never think about Obama’s race until he or one of his lackeys brings it up and shoves it in my face again.  He is, according to them, as spotless and competent or incompetant as any other Democrat.  Like Clinton.  {{eyes rolling}}  (Joseph Cannon has a nice post on this as well).

Can I just dispel some myths and legends about Clinton because I witnessed it, having been old enough (and born) to vote for him in 1992?

When I voted for him, I thought he was a moderate liberal.  One thing was for damn sure, he was nowhere near as conservative as his Republican opponent.  Nosiree.  Plus, I really liked his wife.  She was smart and didn’t mind sticking up for working women even when the traditional women got on her case.

Anyway, what I remember about Clinton’s terms in office, more than any other thing that happened during those eight years, was the relentlessly negative coverage he got from the media and the endless investigations instigated by Republican troublemakers.  It started before he took office and it didn’t end even after his moving van was chased away from the White House by screeching hordes hellbent on denying the Clintons even one piece of personal china from their friends and supporters.  They were even accused of swiping the “W’s” off the keyboards.

Even the Supreme Court didn’t see the harm in letting him and his wife be subject to crazy, speculative lawsuits.  He’d just have to deal with them.  He did.  But that doesn’t mean his performance in office didn’t suffer.  I think it did.  He had to shelve a lot of things he wanted to do.  DADT was a compromise solution.  So was DOMA.  Without that middle ground, there was a good possibility that some very negative homophobic amendments would have been passed.  Lani Guinier didn’t have a chance.  His attorney general picks were harassed for having nanny problems (but Tim Geithner suffered no punishment for not paying his taxes.  *He* was confirmed anyway for an infraction that would have gotten him fired if he had been an IRS agent).  Even his military strategies were called into question.  Remember the accusations of “Wag the Dog” when he bombed bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998?  His Republican detractors were convinced that he did it because he wanted to take everyone’s mind off Monica Lewinsky, not because bin Laden was a dangerous terrorist who had bombed two American embassies in Africa and a US Naval vessel.

Then there’s the stuff that progressives say they hate him for, like NAFTA.  If there was a free trade agreement that ever had a reason for being, it might be NAFTA.  We do a lot of business with Canada and Mexico.  NAFTA had the promise of eliminating a lot of bureaucracy, saving everyone a lot of time and money.  You know, smaller government is not such a bad thing when it’s done well.  The problem is that Republicans would not enforce labor standards.  Maybe Clinton should have abandoned it at that point.  But NAFTA is not the most significant thing plaguing the employment market right now.  I am not competing for a job against some dude in Guadalajara.  My competition is in Western Europe and Asia.  Europe because they actually protected their scientific infrastructure and Asia because there is a lot of cheap labor there.  Unions are key to both situations.  I will leave it to the political braintrusts to figure that out.

As for Welfare Reform?  I was all for it.  I think reducing generational poverty is a laudable endeavor and am genuinely surprised that other liberals aren’t in favor of it too.  It is much better to have a job than to have a measly government check that keeps you poor.  I supported programs that trained people, especially young mothers, to get decent jobs and education.  The more we educate women and get them to support themselves, the fewer children they will have and the better the quality of life for the children they do have.  (Well, that was the theory until Obama came along and bought into deficit reduction, but I digress) As I remember it, Clinton’s team wanted to support parents with child care subsidies and housing vouchers and additional Head Start while they were transitioning to a work environment.  And Republicans, as is their wont, were agin it.  I fail to see how asking people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but denying them boots was actually going to work but our media punditry seem to remove the obligation to make sense from Republican proposals.  The Republicans passed a draconian welfare reform act which Clinton mitigated later.

The area where I think Clinton failed was in the regulation of derivatives and allowing the dismantling of the Glass-Steagal Act by Gramm-Bliley.  Brookesly Born was the legendary regulator who opposed Larry Summers about the regulation of derivatives.  She was right, they were wrong.  Some of the guys who were Clinton appointees who joined with Summers to gang up on Born, now regret that they didn’t take her advice because she was absolutely right.  But note which candidate appointed Summers to his economics team.  That’s right, Barack Obama.  Gramm-Bliley was another matter.  We can’t leave Clinton totally off the hook but I think that he counted on Gore to win in 2000 and keep an eye on how that was going.  So, yeah, Clinton had a hand in this, probably by appointing Robert Rubin and letting the finance industry have a little too much freedom.  That was regrettable.  But the bulk of the responsibility for what happened in 2008 is George Bush’s.  There were plenty of warning signs in 2006 that the markets were going seriously off the rails and his regulators were either complicit or incompetent.  And then Paulson and Geithner failed to prevent the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  That was the disaster that triggered all the rest.  And who does Obama appoint as his Treasury Secretary? Tim Geithner.

The biggest differences that I can see between the Clinton years and the Obama years is that when the Republicans amped up the crazy starting in 1992, no one had ever seen anything like it before.  It wasn’t like Watergate when Nixon really did something criminal and both parties took him out.  No, this was a political media Dresden that seemed determined to wipe Clinton off the map.  He and Hillary didn’t always navigate the firestorm very well.  They were the first that had to go through it.  No other president in my lifetime has had every crevice of their personal and political lives examined in such humiliating detail.  And what did the millions of dollars of investigations turn up?  A blow job.  That was it.  It wasn’t even “paradise by the dashboard light” homerun intercourse.  Other than that, they were clean.  I doubt that any other political family in Washington could have come out of that looking like the dedicated public servants they turned out to be.

But they learned while they were in office what the limits were to what they could accomplish of their agenda.  And, by golly, they got a lot done.  The Republicans were constantly thwarted in what they wanted to do.  Progressives call it “triangulation”; I call it “pol-i-tics”. Gingrich shut down government and got in big trouble for it.  Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy against the Republicans wishes.  They tried to impeach Clinton and the public supported him anyway.  They wanted to pass an amendment to the constitution defining marriage only between a man and a woman and all they got was DOMA.  With another, less experienced, less apt student in the Oval Office, the Republicans would have gotten away with murder.

When Hillary ran in 2008, she was an even quicker learner than Bill.  She took the media on and beat it.  It wasn’t Fox News that took Hillary down.  It was her own party.

And now we are asked to support the guy who “beat” her in the primary.  A guy who runs a sexist White House.  A guy who CEO’s on Wall Street say is even more right of center than they thought.  A guy who was a deficit hawk during a recession.  A guy who didn’t think there was anything he could or wanted to do about unemployment.  A guy who is disgracefully allowing the dismantling of the US R&D industry without lifting a finger to help.  A guy who gave Bankers a pass.  A guy who crafted one of the most inept forms of healthcare insurance reform imaginable that will do absolutely nothing to lower costs but passes almost all of them onto the backs of already stretched consumers.  A guy who hurt struggling homeowners with HAMP.  A guy who gave away the store to Republicans when they took the US and global economies hostage by vowing not to raise the debt ceiling until they got what they wanted.  A guy who wants to make a Grand Bargain with Social Security and Medicare, virtually all that anyone my age will have left after we’ve lost everything else due to prolonged bouts of unnecessary unemployment.  And it’s not like Barack Obama is facing an economic situation that the entire world’s economists and history had no prior knowledge of.  There’s plenty of examples out there that demonstrate exactly what needs to be done from The Great Depression to the bad example of the Japanese lost decade to the Swedish crisis.  He’s supposed to be brilliant.  All he needs to do to put the economy back on track is to support policies that are known to have helped in the past.  But he won’t do them.  Why???

In short, the Obama loyalists say we have nothing to complain about.  The only reason we don’t want Obama is because we are racists.  It’s all in the color of his skin.  If not for that, we would be content with our dwindling middle class lives and diminished expectations.  We would gladly endure the beatings if we could just get over the fact that he is a few shades too dark because the Democratic party says that it has no one else who is more representative of its values or more competent in execution than Barack Obama.

And what would be the point of making your base feel like they have some reason to feel guilty and that the Clintons were not all they were cracked up to be?

I have no idea but somewhere yesterday I read that the deadline for filing for the upcoming primaries is fast approaching.  It’s the end of October.  If I didn’t know better, I think we saw the Democrats blink.  After all, they have been telling us for months now that it is a fantasy and crazy for us to believe that there will be a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.  Even Hillary has sought to dispel the notion that she will take him on.  So, if that’s the case, why the over the top denialism of the Clinton years and the persistent accusations of racism?  I mean, if she has already said she’s not taking him on and there’s no one else to challenge him, what’s the problem?  It sounds like Obama lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Unless the base is getting restless and the deadline isn’t coming soon enough…

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Tuesday: Finnish Baby Boxes

Finnish propaganda baby in state uniform

I was over at Apartmenttherapy yesterday and saw this link at their sister site Ohdeedoh.  What the heck is a Finnish Baby Box??  Is that like a BF Skinner box crossed with a cell phone?  So, I clicked on it.  It turns out that it has nothing to do with behavior modification (or *does* it?) but it is the kind of thing that would turn an ordinary Republican debate goer absolutely rabid.

A Finnish baby box is a devious device to turn parents into socialists.

Let’s say you’re about to become a first time parent.  Right about the third trimester, the post office tells you that you have to fetch a package.  You find that it’s for your precious unborn.  Up to now, the Republicans are on board.  We’re talking about innocent life here, not the bedirtied mother who might be a FORNICATOR.  So, you lug the box home.  It’s from Helsinki.  The government has sent you a box.  This should immediately arouse your suspicions because as Ronald Reagan once intimated, you should be on your guard any time the government says it’s here to help.  Without even opening the box, you should suspect a new, superlong tax form where you must account for every marrka.  Just let your imagination run wild.  You open the box…

…and find that the government has sent you a maternity package.

The contents of the Finnish Baby Box

It’s chock full of onesies and footed rompers and a snowsuit, baby sleeping bag, blankies, mattress, mattress cover, simple colorful chewing toys and a first book. (See complete contents broken down by item here)  The clothes colors and prints vary from year to year and are infinitely mixable.  Some of the items are made of recycled material.  One Finnish state welfare dad rationalizes his acceptance of the maternity package by noting that because the government buys in bulk, it saves a lot more money than if individual parents had had to buy all of those items themselves so he doesn’t even mind paying the extra taxes.  The box it all came in has handle cut outs on the side, it’s sturdy and just like those fiendishly clever Ikea design solutions from the next country over, the box converts to a basinet.  (hmmm, you could probably use the lid as a changing station.)

What kind of evil commie plot is this??  With everything the little bast, er, tot could ever need for a year in the box, what incentive will it have to start pulling its weight?  Not only does the government indoctrinate “cradle to grave socialism” before the preborn has gasped his or her first precious breath, it even provides the cradle.  Does it get more evil than that?  Yes, it does.  The box even includes 6 condoms (and a tube of lube.  How thoughtful.).  So, not only does it encourage its children to become deadbeats and parasites on the government dole, the government of Finland tells the parents that it is ok to indulge in sex for pleasure and helps them prevent God from blessing them with an additional preborn innocent life that they may selfishly consider inconvenient or untimely.  By God, you can be sure that some white male religious dude from Utah will have something to say about that!

And what do the put upon people of Finland get from the government handing over their hard earned tax dollars to these slacker parents who are both sitting it out on maternity leave?  Well, I’ll bet you won’t be surprised to find that the Finns overindulge their kids with public education too.  They consistently score at the top of the list on international tests.  Their educational system puts an emphasis on cooperation and sharing and disfavors competition while encouraging children to understand and develop their own abilities and interests.  They probably don’t even have a copy of Atlas Shrugged in the elementary school library.  And 98% of their teachers are unionized.

It’s enough to make a Perry Republican want to lethally inject some prisoner whining about his innocence.

I’m telling you, no good can come of it.  The next thing you know, those spoiled Finnish kids will grow up to do weird things with rusty old Volkswagons:

If those were American 20 somethings, they would be responsibly toiling away at some tedious job, provided they could find one, working to pay off a lifetime of student debt, not indulging in tongue-in-cheek works of creative musical humor in grassy meadows and saunas.  Clearly, Finland will be brought down by such decadence and ungodly disregard.  It goes against the laws of “dog eat dog” nature.

Pray, Conflucians.  Pray for a Finnish Baby Box.