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    • Is The Afghan War Lost?
      Danny Sjursen makes the case at the American Conservative. The piece as a whole is worth reading, but the bottom line is that the Afghan government’s own military and police are hopeless: losing to the Taliban.  The US military, with current force levels, cannot hold most of the country. Unless the US is willing to […]
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Insulting the Wimmin Brains on Hillary vs Obama

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

I have the day off so I’m going to the Three Rivers Arts Festival and you can’t stop me.  Will take pictures.

Yesterday, I saw that Digby had a brief flash of insight into the mind of a post-PUMA Hillary supporter.  Referring to Noam Scheiber’s incredibly insulting proposal that Hillary Clinton was stupid enough to believe that the Democrats and the undemocratic Obama patrons of 2008 would let her run in 2016, Digby writes:

I’ve come to think of this in a slightly different way. I think this was decided back in Denver in 2008. The primary campaign was a near tie with Clinton continuing to win races all the way up to the end. (In any previous presidential campaign there would have definitely been a convention challenge to such a tight outcome.) It featured two important “firsts” with an African American and a woman competing for the same prize. It was very emotional. The political arguments among the two camps were fierce but they were both coming from the same center-left policywing of the party, which means there was an agreement, somewhat by default, that this agenda was the preferred agenda of the voters. Both sides fought tooth and nail for the same policies.

In essence, the result of that 2008 near tie vote was that Obama got to go first with the understanding that Clinton would automatically get the nomination 8 years later. What this means is that (barring unforeseen circumstances)there will have been no left wing challenge in presidential races for 16 years and I think that suits the Party and its rich donors just fine. They hate primaries. And since they will have had 16 uninterrupted years of preferred policy, even as the voters get to feel the inspiration of the two historic firsts, why would anyone rock the boat?

Progressives might have been able to leverage that fierce competition in 2008 but they got caught up in the emotion just like everyone else so there wasn’t any real ideological challenge. Unfortunately, it probably ended up being the last primary in which they could have had a voice for a very long time. Too bad.

Savor that for a moment.  Just an instant and no more.  What Digby is saying is what all of us Clintonistas have known for 6 years: the primary was a virtual dead heat and at any other convention, there would have been a floor fight.  But *someone(s)* didn’t want a real primary.  Those someones found it more expedient to ram Obama down our throats whether or not the country wanted it or not and they were willing to rig the nomination to get it.  I suspect those someones were the same people who looked a bit further into the future and didn’t want any cramdowns on securitized mortgages or policies that would force the medical/insurance business to negotiate on costs.

Ok, the moment has passed.  Digby will never admit to being one of us because she is a chickenshit. This is as close as we’ll ever get to the notion that Digby and the rest of them were perfectly aware of what was going on with the primary.  They’re no different than we are except they said nothing.  I think there is a Edmund Burke quote about that.  Come to think of it, how do we know that Digby isn’t just messing with our heads?  Maybe the slight acknowledgement that the Clintonistas were right is meant to soften us up to whatever happens in 2014-2016?  I don’t trust anyone who didn’t pipe up in 2008 or 2012.

But I do not think that anyone offered Hillary a deal.  Ok, maybe someone in the Obama campaign floated it at one time but Hillary is not stupid.  I’ll go to the grave believing that it was Hillary who asked for State before someone locked her into a political grave as VP.  (Biden who??)  If my hypothesis is correct, she was smart enough to know that she didn’t want to become permanently associated with Obama’s domestic policies on the financial crisis and health care.  That would mean she was shrewd and also not totally onboard with what she saw coming.

No, the reason why Hillary’s name has been floated for the last 6 years as Obama’s successor is because that’s what Obama’s backers want everyone to focus on. (You read it here first, folks.) The push to defer everyone’s gratification is not for Hillary’s sake.  It’s so that we will placidly go along with every banker and medical/insurer friendly policy they cook up.  We are lead to think that when Hillary is in office, it will all be ok.  It’s merely a formality.  We had to let the African American go before the woman, that’s all, as if we were all so shallow and simple-minded and easily lead to believe that being the first something is more important than being good at your job. (Insert picture of the Grinch lying to Cindi-Lou Who who is no more than two) Just wait until 2016 and there will be another historic victory for the Democrats, as if competence and good policies have no place in this strategy.  We will finally get the Democrat we wanted in the first place in 2008, instead of the guy who is in the White House now who ramped up the exploitation of everyone not making a living off their investments.

And if my “Promote Deferred Gratification- Pull the Rug Out From Under Everyone Who Waited for 2016 Strategy” (Let’s call it the Cindi Lou Who Strategy for short) is correct, then maybe Obama and Clinton were not as close in policy as everyone was initially lead to believe, right?  Because if they were as identical as the Obama contingent says they were, it wouldn’t have mattered which one was nominated in 2008.  But we know intuitively that this isn’t true because rigging the nomination in Obama’s favor in 2008 was maniacally important to someone(s).  We saw it happen.  And those people knew what was coming in 2008 (read Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short) which suggests that it wasn’t a matter of electability.  Anyone who lived through September 2008 was going to prefer the Democrat to the Republican and, Clinton, had she been nominated, would have won in a landslide.  She would have been the most visible reminder of the last prosperous economic times  and good government that we had.  Given the series of events in 2008, one might almost be tempted to believe that the nomination of Obama was to ensure that a real Democrat would *not* become president.  So, who’s zooming who?

I have no illusions as to whether these Obama backers want Hillary to run in 2016.  If they feel that their new policies are concretized and their ability to harvest money from us has no chance of being deterred, they probably won’t care who gets into the White House.  It won’t matter if it’s a Democrat, Republican or The Rent Is Too Damn High candidate.

This is Hillary Clinton’s reality and the reality by which the left should judge her fitness to run in 2016.  If she is just going to be a placeholder, why vote for her?  On the other hand, if she is going to represent real change, isn’t it likely that the Obama backers are going to try to bring her down again?  If she’s silenced her critical voice for 6 years in the hopes that she’ll get the nod to run again, she hasn’t done us any favors.  A politician who cares about the fate of the middle class and the loss of policies that made us a great nation shouldn’t have gone along with the campaign to defer our gratification for her run 8 long suffering and destructive years down the line.  Or maybe she’s going to be a stealth candidate, in which case, no one should or would trust her.  The powers that be can’t take that risk and how would the rest of us know  for sure what she was up to?

So, there you go, folks.  I have no idea what’s in her head and no one else does either, except Bill, I suspect.  But the one thing I don’t want in 2016 is to have to vote for a person who said and did nothing to rock the boat for 8 years because she was promised another shot at the nomination.

I am not a stupid woman.

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

One final thing: Obama didn’t run against McCain in 2008.  His campaign had him running against Sarah Palin, a pretty low bar, when you think about it, considering that his campaign had already softened up the media and American public to accept playing to overt sexism a part of Obama’s rite of passage.

Just something to chew on.  Carry on.

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Point – Counterpoint on Getting Away With It

Paul Krugman and Robin Wells have written a review of three recently released books (four if you count Mann and Ornstein’s book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, which I have read and highly recommend).  The title of the piece, Getting Away With It, focuses primarily on Noam Scheiber’s book The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery on the Obama administration’s capture by the financial elite in the immediate aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008.

I haven’t read the books they reviewed yet but my Audible credits are coming around tomorrow.  However, I do have some differences of opinion on some of their interpretations.  Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Krugman and Wells live in Princeton and don’t visit the central PA too often so they’re not exposed to how the Tea Party contingent really lives.  Even I don’t know that mysterious tribe all that well but I’ve had to sit at holiday dinners with them so I have a bit more of a clue.

First, there is criticism of Cory Booker and Bill Clinton’s defense of Mitt Romney’s role in Bain capital.  Krugman and Wells think this has something to do with Clinton and Booker’s sympathy with the finance industry.  I’m not so sure.  Instead, I’m reminded of something James Carville said recently:

In focus groups of Pennsylvania and Ohio voters, the Democracy Corps found an American public that is struggling to pay for everyday items and racking up student debt. Regardless of their education or economic status, these folks haven’t seen signs of an economy recovery – and don’t expect to see one anytime soon.

“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction.  They are living in a new economy – and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country.”

Even so, write the authors, these voters don’t know all that much about Mitt Romney. And, what they do know about him isn’t all that positive.

“Respondents immediately volunteer that Romney is rich, out of touch, and in the pocket for Wall Street and big finance. ”

The voters in these focus groups sound a lot like the Wal-Mart mom’s we listened to last week: they know that three years may not be enough for Obama to have fixed the economy, but they don’t know what he’ll do to make it better.

That means, say Carville/Greenberg, Obama shouldn’t try and beat Romney on the “are you better off than you were four years ago” argument. Instead, they should try to beat him at the “how are you going to make things better over the next four years.”

“It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance – and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction.  They are wrong, and that will fail.  The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy; they know who is mainly responsible for what went wrong and they are hungry to hear the president talk about the future. ”

It is true that voters and campaigns are more complex than they are often portrayed in the media. That said, elections are also pretty simple. Voters are either happy with the status quo or they aren’t. When they aren’t happy with what’s happening to them now, they look to their other options.

So, if voters already know what Romney is and who is responsible for the mess we’re in, then clubbing them over the head with Romney’s history with Bain Capital, or his adolescent insensitivities or his absent minded treatment of the family dog or Anne Romney’s horses and houses, is a wasted effort.  What voters want to know is what Obama is going to do about the lousy economy and the more the Democrats keep harping on Romney’s business and family, the more angry they’re going to get that Obama is evading the question.  So, Ok, Romney was a businessman and he was very good at his job.  Let’s move along now because the election is getting closer and the Democrats have yet to seal the deal.  How is Obama going to fix things?  What is his vision of America?  Where are we going?  If he can’t give a convincing answer by November, he’s out of there.  (But why wait?  Why not replace him now?  But I digress)

The middle section where Krugman and Wells detail how Geithner ran the show for the banksters and Obama tried to negotiate with a party that doesn’t believe in negotiations has been done before in Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men.  I don’t think there’s anything new here except that Krugman and Wells confirm what all of us have been thinking.  Obama as a politician sucks.  He squandered his Democratic majorities and his famed “judgement” lead him to appoint political asskissers like Larry Summers and finance industry mole Tim Geithner.  Their opening critique of Thomas Frank’s book Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right sums up why this was a very bad combination:

Frank focuses on what is, as he says, “something unique in the history of American social movements: a mass conversion to free-market theory as a response to hard times.” It is indeed remarkable. After all, for three decades before the financial crisis American politics and policy had been increasingly dominated by laissez-faire ideology, by the belief that markets—and financial markets in particular—should be allowed to run free. Then came the inevitable crash. But far from demanding a return to stronger regulation, much of the American electorate turned to the view that the crisis was caused by too much government intervention, and rallied around politicians aiming to dive even deeper into the policies that led to crisis in the first place.

How did this happen? Frank’s answer is that it was the bailouts that did it. By doing things Geithner’s way—by bailing out the bankers without strings or blame—the Obama administration left an understandably angry American public with the correct sense that someone was getting away with something. And the right proved adept at exploiting that sense. The famous February 2009 rant by CNBC’s Rick Santelli that started the Tea Party movement was a denunciation of TARP, the big bank bailout passed in the waning days of the Bush administration (although a plurality of voters believe that it was passed under Obama). True, Santelli focused all his ire on a tiny piece of TARP, the planned aid for troubled homeowners (aid that mostly never materialized), not the much bigger aid for banks. But at least he was blaming someone, which the Obama administration was refusing to do.

And by the time Obama began, tentatively, to suggest that some bankers might have misbehaved a bit, it was too late. The entire Republican Party and much of the electorate had settled into a narrative in which the financial crisis of 2008—a crisis that followed fourteen years of hard-right Republican congressional dominance and eight years in which hard-line conservatives controlled all three branches of government—was caused by…too much government intervention to help the poor and, especially, the nonwhite. As Frank writes:

“Back to the usual, all-purpose culprit: government…. The feds forced banks to hand out special loans to minority borrowers…and…the entire financial crisis was a consequence of government interference.”

Moving along to Thomas Edsall’s book, The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics, they get only part of the mental picture of the Republican party voter.  There is a dominant narrative of scarcity, which is ridiculous because there’s plenty to go around if the wealthy would just get off their massive piles of ill gotten booty.  Edsall says the Republican party voter is also scared of losing dominance:

So where does the embittered politics come from? Edsall himself supplies much of the answer. Namely, what he portrays is a Republican Party that has been radicalized not by a struggle over resources—tax rates on the wealthy are lower than they have been in generations—but by fear of losing its political grip as the nation changes. The most striking part of The Age of Austerity, at least as we read it, was the chapter misleadingly titled “The Economics of Immigration.” The chapter doesn’t actually say much about the economics of immigration; what it does, instead, is document the extent to which immigrants and their children are, literally, changing the face of the American electorate.

As Edsall concedes, this changing face of the electorate has had the effect of radicalizing the GOP. “For whites with a conservative bent,” he writes—and isn’t that the very definition of the Republican base?—

the shift to a majority-minority nation [i.e., a nation in which minorities will make up the majority] will strengthen the already widely held view that programs benefiting the poor are transferring their taxpayer dollars to minority recipients, from first whites to blacks and now to “browns.”And that’s the message of Rick Santelli’s rant, right there.

Now, the GOP could in principle have responded to these changes by trying to redefine itself away from being the party of white people. Instead, Edsall writes, the response has been to “gamble that the GOP can continue to win as a white party despite the growing strength of the minority vote.” And that means a strategy of radical, no-holds-barred confrontation over everything from immigration policy to taxes and, of course, economic stimulus, some part of which would be paid to minorities.

Ok, this is where I think it would help for Krugman and Wells to visit Central PA.  I don’t doubt that the Republican voters in the South (and Arizona) are very concerned with brown people.  It is an irrational fear with some historical roots in segregation in that part of the country.  But the irrational Republican leaning voters that *I* have to put up with aren’t bothered by immigration or african Americans.  Noooo, they’ve got their knickers in a twist over the degradation of the culture from loose women and gay people.  They’re concerned that the Christians are losing their edge and immigrants are probably a lot more religious than the young’uns who believe in evolution that they pick up in those satanic public schools.

I appreciate Robin Wells’ perspective on the south and racial tensions that linger and I’m not denying that this is what is motivating nuts in Alabama to turn school kids into the INS.  But it’s not the South everywhere and the operatives in the Republican party are very good at picking at the fears of an older generation that sees itself besieged.  It watches way too much Fox News than is good for it and is scared to death of death. They’re consumed with stories of pedophiles, violence, rape, murder, burgled houses.  They’ve lost the ability to connect cause with effect.  The world is mysterious and chaotic.  The Republican party is worried about losing its numbers because these older, easy to manipulate voters are dying off and the new American voters that are rising to replace them are Internet babies who aren’t particularly religious, are open to gays getting married, like their contraceptives, thank you very much, and are pretty comfortable with diversity.  If it were only white people, they’d still have time, but it’s all this modernity that’s creeping in with the information superhighway that is dooming the Republican party.

It’s not that the Republican party is becoming a refuge of white voters. The problem is that the Republican party becoming the party of the id.  Every phobia, prejudice or dark archetype that lurks in the human soul is being given permission to run free without any inhibitions.

The guy I wrote about the other day, Bryan Fischer, even admits that this is part of the plan.  He is going to make it safe to discriminate against gay people.

Democrats are missing the point here.  It’s not just race, and by the way, it is perfectly reasonable to disapprove of Obama’s performance without being a racist or harboring racist tendencies.  Krugman knows that the Republican party is insane but he doesn’t realize that the way they’re doing it is by giving their voters permission to act like barbarians and making it feel like civilization.  There is no one responsible in the Republican party who is calling a halt to the bad behavior.  So long as that continues, the party will continue to devolve into a mob of human animals all seeking their own power.  They’ve only got a small window of opportunity to kill the New Deal so the operatives have to amp up the crazy now.

If there were a God, now would be a good time to ask for his or her intervention.