Saturday, October 31, 2009

Night of the Undead Greedheads

Any Moderates interested in starting a Third Party? We can call the Swedes, see if we can get the franchise rights for the U.S. market from the Pirate Party...

Reason why I'm saying this is that today - Halloween, very appropriate day to do so - the official Republican candidate for the special election in New York 23rd District bowed to pressure to let the unofficial Far Right Wingnut candidate finish the race: (text bolded by me)

In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money—and as I’ve been outspent on both sides, I’ve been unable to effectively address many of the charges that have been made about my record. But as I’ve said from the start of this campaign, this election is not about me, it’s about the people of this District. And, as always, today I will do what I believe serves their interests best. It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so.

I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my Party will emerge stronger and our District and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations. On Election Day my name will appear on the ballot, but victory is unlikely. To those who support me – and to those who choose not to – I offer my sincerest thanks.

The official candidate - Scozzafava - had been chosen by the local party figures to fill a vacancy caused by the 23rd's Republican Congressman getting tabbed by Obama to become Secretary of the Army. For a while there the campaign was going her way. But the Far Right conservatives took one look at her - Scozzafava was as solid a Moderate Republican you can find in the Northeastern states, pro-choice and pro-gay marriage - and became revolting (yes, I pun). They pushed a more hard-line Republican, Hoffman, to run for the district on the Conservative ticket (New York politics is damn close to unique: small region parties have the power to nominate shared candidates, for one thing; for another, those regional parties have enough oomph coming from a wealthy media-rich state to campaign rather effectively for these kinds of elections).

End result: The Democrats sat pretty with their candidate Owens while the Republicans tore themselves to shreds over whom to back - Scozzafava or Hoffman.

The Far Right, pushed by the likes of Malkin and Palin and Teabagging coordinator Armey, supported Hoffman and openly derided Scozzafava as being further to the left than the Democratic candidate. The more rational leaders of the GOP - led by Gingrich, who for all his criminal hypocrisy isn't stupid and knows damn well the Republicans can't survive at 20 percent voting numbers - backed Scozzafava, arguing that “...Local people picked a local candidate (Scozzafava came in first in the balloting at the district selection)... You should call and ask them and say what’s the purity test for the governor of California? Does anyone pass the purity test? I just want to know what the test is... You are talking about a region where we currently have 3 out 39 seats in the House. Why is it that? When I (Gingrich) was Speaker we had a substantial number of seats in the region..."

But in the last few weeks, Hoffman surged, raising more funds because he ended up getting the one true support that any Republican or Conservative candidate needs in this day and age: Hoffman won the backing of the Club for Greed, and it has become increasingly clear that whomever Club for Greed wants to back and drive into ruin, then Club for Greed gets it.

What does Scozzafava's dropping out mean?

Obviously, it means that from now on, anyone not in the Democratic party wanting to run for office better start kissing the boots and asses of the Club for Greed's leadership. Past that, well... read these guys.

Andrew Sullivan (two threads):

...No one knows what might happen now. For the insurgents, it means a scalp they will surely use to purge the GOP of any further dissidence. But the insurgents were also backed by the establishment, including Tim Pawlenty, who's supposed to be the reasonable center.

What we're seeing, I suspect, is an almost classic example of a political party becoming more ideological after its defeat at the polls. in order for that ideology to win, they will also have to portray the Obama administration as so far to the left that voters have no choice but to back the Poujadists waiting in the wings. And that, of course, is what they're doing. There is a method to the Ailes-Drudge-Cheney-Rove denialism. They create reality, remember?

From the mindset of an ideologically purist base - where a moderate Republican in New York state is a "radical leftist" - this makes sense. But for all those outside the 20 percent self-identified Republican base, it looks like a mix of a purge and a clusterfuck. If Hoffman wins, and is then embraced by the GOP establishment, you have a recipe for a real nutroots take-over. This blood in the water will bring on more and more and deadlier and deadlier sharks.

...Within the GOP whatever nerve anyone had to resist the imprimatur of Erickson, Malkin, RS McCain et al is surely gone now. If a moderate cannot survive even in up-state New York, it's over.

Balloon Juice:

...Think that this one taste of blood will satisfy the birthers, supremacists and Christianist extremists who fuel the teabagging movement? Wingnut, my friends, has not yet begun to peak.

Before moving on to something else, take a moment to sympathize with coalition builders like Newt and David Frum, no doubt tearing their hair out at the runaway success of Sarah Starbursts’ insurgent crusade.

Moderate Voice (to be fair, the person posting this is NeoMugWump, so it may seem like I'm overlapping the postees which is not my intent):

I guess the message from all this is pretty simple: if one deviates one bit from the current Republican “script” they are a RINO and must be driven out. Only the “pure” can be accepted.

The sad thing is that Hoffman doesn’t even know or care about issues affecting the district he is supposed represent should he win. Scozzafava knew her district,but because of her so-called liberal stances on gay marriage and abortion she is being drummed out of the party (My EDIT: well, she's not out of the Republicans. It's just she's not going to represent like she hoped).

How Scozzafava was treated makes me wonder how long I will keep the moniker of Republican. I consider myself a pragmatic conservative and will remain one. But I am increasingly finding it hard to stay in a party that does not want me even though I agree with them on more issues than I disagree with them.

The party is headed towards destruction. I don’t know if I want to be there for the end...

The reason why I have the title of this blog "Night of the Undead Greedheads" is because I'm going to finish up with a rant against the Club for Greed, which about only 7 people will ever see. Anyway.

Here's where we are in 2009 for the Republican Party: they've just finished most of the Aught Decade (2000-2010) mostly in control of all three branches of the Federal government. They had the Gingrich/DeLay/Armey faction in charge of Congress from 1994 to 2006. They had Cheney/Bush in the White House between 2000-2008. They had a 5-4 advantage in the Supreme Court.

They spent - literally in most cases - most of their decade in power tossing money about like drunken teenagers with their parents' credit cards, racking up huge debt and deficits by adhering to a strict massive-tax-cut policy that crimped the government's ability to, you know, actually afford all Teh Crazy Sh-t they wanted to buy. Billions of dollars to the Big Pharma under the guise of Medicare reform! Billions upon billions for two wars and nation-building occupations that became quagmires far deeper and more unstable than Vietnam! Lax regulation of federal oversight of our financial institutions allowing for massive toxic funds to clog the economy! More and more Government revenue lost to such deep tax cuts that when the time came for the Feds to try and handle a massive economic collapse caused by said toxic funds there wasn't enough wriggle room to pull off anything to truly re-stabilize the nation's economy (oh, sure the banks are safe, but try telling the 27 million UNEMPLOYED that we're out of the Bush Recession).

And why was that? Why did the Republican Party, once in power, acted so irresponsible with fiscal and business policies during their rule?

Because of the likes of the Club for Growth Greed. They're not the only Far Right advocates of massive tax cuts, but they're the most noticeable. They're the ones who came up with the term RINO. They're the ones who highlight officials they call 'comrades' (ahh, that old SOCIALIST smear campaign crap) for attempting any policy or program that tries to provide public aid for people in need. They're the ones who back primary challenges against moderates or any Republican who yes raises taxes in attempts to balance the budgets and keep governments solvent, and they're the ones who prefer they LOSE the elections in order to ensure THEY remain in power among the GOP ranks, even as the Republican Party itself loses any actual voice, leadership, or effectiveness within the halls of Congress.

The Club for Greed is adamantly opposed to raising taxes, and tax hikes, ostensibly under the libertarian ideology that "government is the problem" and that people (read: Corporations) know better what to do with their hard-earned money than the government does. They're the ones who worship at the foot of the Laffer Curve: a simple Bell Curve claiming that the higher the tax rate, the less actual revenue it generates (without any actual numbers or stats to have backed it up) for the government. Of course, that Laffer Curve also demonstrated that the lower the tax rate, it also generates less revenue as well (in a perfect world according to the Laffer, the tax rate should be 50 percent!), but the Clubbers seem convinced that at the 30-35 percent tax rate we're basically at now, we're still on the HIGH end of that Curve (we're NOT).

The Club for Greed also opposed any government regulation of corporations, of the industries of high finance and banking at what not. Because, gosh, the United States always did so well when businesses were free of interference and oversight and allowed GREED to overrun our economies like in the 1920s and the 2000s. Yeah, I was in SARCASM mode that last sentence.

You would think, just getting out from under a massive economic collapse that even made Greenspan apologize, that the Club for Greed would have lost face, lost prestige, lost whatever access or connections to those in power granted them. We are right now living in a time where the Federal government is the one sure anchor we've got: 1/10 of the nation is unemployed, states are fighting to keep their budgets afloat, no one is hiring, people are on edge worried we're going to have another economic disaster around the corner because the banks and financial overlords responsible for last year's collapse are still around and getting more brazen with their tricks. This is, as any honest student of history will tell you, a time where Keynesiansim and not Randianism should be prevalent in economic/political thought. We simply can't afford to let the financial behemoths run ragged and smash everything again: We do need to raise revenue to be able to pay for the government programs that are needed to reset the engines of industry and business.

And yet, here's the tax-cutters claiming a RINO scalp that now gives the Democrats a respectable shot at securing yet another Congressional seat. The Greedhead Zombies rise from the dead.

In fact, the Club for Greed won't - CAN'T - die. For starters, they still have all the money: their deregulation/tax-cut advocacy still gets their coffers filled by those who profit literally from their defense of GREED. For another, there are enough foot soldiers within their ranks who are geniunely terrified of Socialism... despite the fact that such a threat is ludicrious (And also if they think FDR's New Deal was Socialist (they do) that shows how WRONG they are (The New Deal SAVED Capitalism: without it, the real Socialists or worse yet the Facsists would have taken over)). Such devoted, whacked-out devotees assures the Club for Greed won't fall until they themselves push their own destruction (it's called PRIDE, you GREEDHEADS, and it does come before a fall)...

So, this is what I learned a good long time ago. It's one of the reasons I gave up on the Republicans and left the Party that had already left me. It's why I still post comments on Sanders' NeoMugWump blog, wondering if he'll ever get the hint and find solace in independent voterhood.

It's also why I opened up this blog asking if anyone can help form a viable Third Party for true Moderates. Because I do geniunely think the Republicans are reflecting the path of self-destruction once mirrored by the Federalists and the Whigs. We're going to need another Party to fill the void when all the Club for Greed has left for their knee-capping efforts is 5 Senators and 29 Congressmen (no women) from Southern states... So let us now look to forming a Moderate Party, one dedicated to true political reform, sensible efforts to balance budgets including targeted tax hikes to afford needed government programs (like the military, natural disaster emergencies, public transit, effective interstate commerce, job safety, and funding of state-level programs such as education, law enforcement, and health care), and a respect for the Constitution (including recognizing the No Religious Test requirement as a means to ensure equal protection of ALL true faiths). All we really need is a Moderate with at least $300 million to spend... anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chicken Little Scenario

Not so much along the lines of "The sky is falling" but more along the lines of "OMG the country is falling apart!"

I mean, first off, in the beginning of the year as Obama took his oath of office, we had the Drudge Report and the Wall Street Journal pick up on some obscure Russian professor predicting for the last 10 years that the United States will break apart Balkans-style by 2010. Complete with color-coded map showing just how ridiculous the idea is (Texas will join other states in seceding? HA! South Carolina in the same economic dominion as New England where there are few economic reasons and absolutely NO social and political reasons to do so? Headthump).

Then we got that jackass from NewsMax yapping about the Obama Problem and how a nice clean non-violent military coup would solve everything.

This morning I get on to view The Moderate Voice blog and the top article for the hour was this piece of hysteria titled "Could the U.S. See a Military Coup?":

...Are the nation’s fiscal, economic, military, political and social challenges
setting us up for a Military Coup? Will the U.S. Military Industrial Complex,
acting through our Joint Chiefs of Staff or some other high-level corps of U.S.
Military officers, and supported by a variety of angry business leaders and
extreme conservatives be so resentful of any changes to our national priorities
that they would encourage a complete removal of our elected civilian federal
government, save the Department of Defense?
If the President and Congress decided to actually reduce or freeze Military spending over the next 4 years in real dollars, eliminate some programs to build or acquire various types of military hardware, close more domestic and foreign bases and remove troops from Europe and Asia, and veto any escalation of and start deep reductions in our military presences in Afghanistan and Iraq, will the conservatives in our Military be outraged enough to take action? This consideration might make
President Obama a bit skittish about not following his generals’ current
recommendations to escalate our national and NATO presence in Afghanistan. His
decision on this matter and other domestic issues might be viewed as the
precipitating events for actions that could significantly alter the U.S. and
global history.
If a direct physical removal of civilian government by military force is not in the cards, perhaps some generals and strong military supporters could defeat President Obama and the Democrats in 2010 and 2012. This peaceful mechanism is constitutionally-protected and these political campaigns could be well-financed by the many large international arms manufacturers and other parts of President Eisenhower’s vast military-industrial complex...


Nearly everything in those first three paragraphs drip with paranoid freak-out crazy juice. The writer skittishly terrified that if Obama dares jump one way or another on military budget issues (that btw has already happened, anyone notice the outrage over the F-22? *cricket chirp* Thought so...) that the Far Right Wingnuts and their DoD cronies will stage a Seven Days In May takeover, or perform some underhanded vote stealing during the upcoming midterms...

Okay. Everyone take a chill pill and SETTLE. Except, I suppose, from the wingnuts who'll worry said pill is poison. Sigh.

I suppose an effort needs to be made about why there's this anxiety among the Villagers.

The most likely explanation is that all this sound and fury over possible coup attempts is that the Village (no, not THAT one) made up of the DC Beltway elites is feeling, well, unhappy and out of sorts. The Villagers - the ones who keep making all these pronouncements about this scandal and that outrage, and almost always proven wrong or uninformed about how the rest of the nation is really acting - have been spending the last nine months trying to fit the new White House regime into their perfectly easy-to-label ideological plot points, only to keep having said attempts fail. Sometimes with hilarious results. The Villagers in the media circles are watching their newspaper revenues drop to dangerous, might-be-out-of-jobs levels, all the while FOX Not-News' rating go up because they gleefully sell their Obama-Hate to those who scarf it up like candy... even as FOX Not-News gets absolutely EVERYTHING wrong to the point where any day now someone, FINALLY, will sue them for libel/defamation in an airtight case.

That link to the Digby article about Beltway elites itself links to earlier articles written back in the day when Clinton was caught in an affair with Lewinsky. And where the most outrage about it came from that Beltway circle who felt absolutely "betrayed" by a man who turned out to be doing exactly what every other guy in DC was doing (hi, Newt!). It was truly that incident where the Beltway found itself isolated from the rest of the nation: where the Villagers saw criminal action that had to be punished by their own 'righteous' anger, the rest of the country was more willing to forgive, and was actually taking the Villagers themselves to task for overhyping matters to where BLOWJOBS were impeachable offenses (forget the whole 'lying to the public' and 'lying to the civil court' issue. People in the real world know people lie about affairs, and more Americans realized the whole Paula Jones case was an excuse for a 'fishing expedition' than the Villagers did). The Villagers, for what I see, still haven't forgotten or forgiven about the Lewinsky scandal, and still can't understand why A) Clinton survived the impeachment with decent public polling, B) the nation's voters threw out more Republicans during the 1998 midterms when the Villagers believed the GOP would have gained more seats due to the scandal, and C) why people outside of their circles started tuning them out.

So you get this disconnect between the Real World and the Villager World. And inside the Villager World there's apparently truckloads of paranoia about what's going on: what they see as a massive Hate-Obama Fest when in fact it's overhyped staged events led by FOX and mere handfuls of teabaggers; military leaders that live within said Village expressing their 'disgruntled' disagreements with the White House over how to handle Afghanistan, when in fact a majority of actual troops and officers are serious about their oaths of office, will follow orders regarding Afghan/Iraq deployments, and will never engage in a coup; fears that Obama's 'socialist' agenda will anger enough rednecks to have them rioting in the streets, when in fact said rednecks are really few, not fully organized, and under better surveillance by law enforcement than the Villagers expect.

Here's the truth: Obama's polling relatively as well as any other President under these circumstances. If Obama's failing at anything it's failing to make job-creation a higher priority. The majority of Americans WANT health care reform, and there's not going to be rioting in the streets because of it (even if it fails). Our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan currently are wobbly, at best, but everyone (even the Generals who AREN'T griping to their fellow Villagers) involved know it's not going to be solved by overreaction, flooding the war zone with more troops we barely have on hand, and prolonging quagmires that can only truly be solved by calmer, more diplomatic efforts.

We're not facing any coups. And if we were, they would be most likely carried out by fanatical misfits so completely out of tune with reality that the reaction against them would be swift, merciless, and painful for all involved.

As for the other thing, this whole 'OMG states are seceding' thing. For starters, that Russian Expert has the worst idea of how America's regions truly operate. Lemme see if I can get that map pasted here:

Like I mentioned earlier, anyone notice anything wrong with how that Russian professor thinks America will break apart?
  • For starters, he has Texas going along with other states under a 'Texas Republic' banner. Bull. Texas is large enough population-wise and economically to completely break away as its own nation-state, and in fact that's how Texas started. It didn't become a state until annexed by John Tyler (yes, that jerkoff), and that's one of the reasons why Texas has a noticeably large secession movement. And the other thing? None of those other states - I can guarantee you Florida for certain - would want to join those damn arrogant Texans in ANYTHING.
  • He's got an Atlantic-Coast merger that has South Carolina joining the New England states, mostly by his arguments for economic reasons. Um, no: there are very few economic reasons for SC to hang around with the Northeastern states (seaports/trading is the only thing I can think of). And there is no way, given South Carolina's history, that they would even consider being allied with those damn Yankees.
  • Even if we do consider that the United States could break apart due to massive economic collapse (which seems to be how he's dividing this map), the paradox is that the states right now are facing bankruptcy and near-financial collapse themselves and can't even think about removing themselves from a more solvent Federal government. Just look at California! Without that stimulus package from the Federal government earlier this year, half of the states would be completely failed right now. They'd be in no condition to attempt secessions in the first place.

The more likely scenario for secession right now is mostly social-political: if enough wingnut crazies took over any state/local governments to force the issue. If that does happen, the more likely scenarios are that:
  • The largest states - Texas obviously, California, New York and Florida next possibles - will break off to form their own nation-states. But given the current economic crisis in California, expect that state to balkanize even further into metro regions (San Francisco and the Northern Cali, Los Angeles, Orange County/San Diego, all other points in-between) due to that state's inability to resolve their tax code issues and the near-certain strife that will erupt between the DFHs and the Prop-13 worshipers.
  • The states that made up the sides of the Civil War to basically divide along the same lines, but with variations. Because New York will divide the NE corridor, the New England states will form their own coalition and forced to cater to Massachussetts' power structure. The MidAtlantic states from Pennsylvania to Virginia, or maybe even North Carolina (which may finally shake of the old political dominance of South Carolina due to their growing and more diversified population) would forge their own power structure.
  • South Carolina would probably WANT to form their own, but won't have the economic or political strength to pull it off, and will merge with George, Alabama, Mississippi and possibly Tennessee into their own group. It could well include Louisiana and Arkansas (making it, sans Florida, the SEC made political). North Carolina could join if it can't fit into the MidAtlantic structure.
  • Kentucky would most likely go with the Great Lakes states, throwing in with Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. West Virginia could go in if it feels more in common with Ohio than Pennsylvania/Maryland/Virginia, but unlikely.
  • The Midwest would comprise of Oklahoma up to the Dakotas, with Missouri added to the mix. Arkansas and Louisiana could go along with this powerset, mostly if to keep control of the Mississippi River as a trading route/source of income. This is why Arkansas and Louisiana are true wild cards in this: the Grain States and the SEC States will vie for those two unlike any other states in the potential breakup.
  • The mountain states will revolve mostly around Colorado as Denver is the most dominant metro in the region. They can pull to them Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Utah and Idaho, both dominated by Mormons socially and/or politically, could be part of this group but could also separate and form their own Mormon nation-state (very unlikely though). Arizona could become part of this faction, but it all depends on how Nevada reacts to California.
  • Nevada will be in a huge pickle. Their largest metro, Las Vegas, is tied to Cali as a major tourist attraction (remember all the wingnut complaints about high-speed rail between LA and Vegas?). Given the otherwise sparse nature of their state, they may be compeled to join in with California... depending on if Cali can solve their tax issues and don't fall into their own civil war. If Nevada falls in with California, so too would Arizona.
  • That leaves the Northwest. Washington and Oregon would have little choice anyway but to merge forces. Odds are very good, however, that they could pull Northern Cali to them especially if that state falls into chaos. They could also include Alaska, but don't be surprised if Alaska and Hawaii - physically separated from the continental states - go their own ways (probably the only thing that professor gets right, although Alaska would make serious efforts to come under Canada's sphere of influence to prevent the Russians from gaining influence).

Now. Take a long good look at everything I just wrote. See how I've divided things up? See how *wrong* I can be on absolutely nearly every point? And yet my reasonings/explanations/theories on secession could be just as valid as that Russian professor's... and given how Texas and South Carolina would act/react, I'm probably more accurate.

And here's the thing: I'm STILL WRONG. Secession in the United States won't happen, certainly not now: too much pride regarding the matter, for one. The historical resolution of the matter back in the 1860s, for another.

So will EVERYONE calm down? We are NOT dying as a nation. We are NOT at each others' throats no matter how much the wingnuts WANT us to be. EVERYONE CHILL!

...Yeah, I thought so...


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Tears It: Senators Blocking Benefits

This is something that will get me out of my damn chair. As an unemployed person - back at college studying for A+ Cert to see about computer jobs - this directly affects me. And it affects the 9.8 percent of the WHOLE FRAKKING NATION THAT'S UNEMPLOYED WITH ME:

Two Republican Senators have placed Holds - or otherwise delayed - a simple, much-needed emergency extension to the unemployment benefits for the 26 million-plus unemployed. You know, the people struggling with foreclosures, sick kids, cars falling apart, lack of gainful employment nationwide that happened because some political party went all out to deregulate the banks so they would self-destruct over toxic assets.

What the Republicans in the Senate want, annoyingly enough, is to add amendments for cringe-worthy crap that couldn't get passed on their own merits. You know, the kind of pork-barrel crap that benefit very few people or annoy a lot of people because of its' ideological BS. I may be expressing a little bit of anger and frustration right about now. Because like I noted, THIS SH-T IS AFFECTING ME! (Just remember, it's not a crisis until it's your own ass on the line)

And it's amazing the major media outlets aren't even noticing. Actually, it's not. The FRAKKING mainstream media don't want to rock the boat as it were. Unless it's a blowjob scandal for some Godforsaken reason. *Facepalm*

The Senator who started this crap is Jon Kyl (R-Arizona). The backup jerkass is Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The deal is, emailing don't help. Using their webpages to rant don't help. That stuff gets shifted over to a Delete file and no one notices. You need to call them. Call the offices. Not even the ones in D.C. Call the ones back in the home state, because you overwhelm them and you'll start making them worry that "Gee, maybe I'm losing my voter base. Oh gosh, maybe I'll be unemployed some time soon..."

Also, seriously suggest calling your own Senators, whichever state you're in. Make them uncomfortable that they're letting their two colleagues RUIN THE LIVES OF 26 MILLION AMERICANS GODDAMMIT GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND HELP US!!!


Phone numbers:
Jon Kyl's Arizona - 520-575-8633(Tuscon) and 602-840-1891 (Phoenix)
Orrin Hatch's Utah - 801-524-4380 (Salt Lake City) and 801-375-7881 (Provo)

Florida's Bill Nelson - 813-225-7040 (Tampa) and 407-872-7161 (Orlando) and 850-942-8415 (Tallahassee)
That new guy, George LeMieux - 813-977-6450(Tampa) and 407-254-2573 (Orlando)

I'm calling. You all, all seven of you reading this blog, you better call too. 'Cause in this weak-ass economy, it's gonna be YOUR ASS on the unemployment lines soon too...

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Prize for Not Being Dubya

I've got this thing about complaining how the Far Right has this "Obama Problem" via my Shoelace Hypothesis, because they'll complain about EVERY little thing he does up to and including how he'll tie his shoelaces. Follow the labels for shoelace hypothesis to follow the trend...

But I wake up this morning to pretty unusual headlines. This morning it seems we're getting the perfect example of how the Far LEFT obsesses over Obama with overt praise, sometimes excluding all reason and evidence that Obama hasn't really done as much as he ought to (JOBS, OBAMA WE NEED JOBS, ahem)...

The Norway-based Nobel Prize Committee has awarded this year's Peace Prize (sorta the "They Like Me! They REALLY LIKE ME!" Award for global leaders) to Barack Obama.

That noise you just heard was the entire Right Wingnut faction from Limbaugh to Malkin and the entire FOX News Zombie Force screaming "SOCIALIST!" But I digress. This isn't about them. This is about Obama.

Even though he's only been on the job nine months. Even though he's STILL overseeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and might even increase troops there!). Even though he's a bit... reluctant to pursue war crimes investigations into the torture-lovers from the previous administration (pretty much everyone from Cheney on down the roll call). Even though a lot of the things he's really done on the global stage - dropping the missile shield projects for Europe, talking to Iran to comply with international nuclear treaties and oversight, following through on pre-set troop stand-downs in Iraq - are pretty much proposed actions rather than actual accomplishments.

To wit: he hasn't really DONE anything. The only thing he's really really done is... show respect to other nations. That's officially it.

Unofficially, there's an even better explanation, and a good number of observers (even Greenwald) have picked up on it right away: Obama won the Peace Prize because HE'S NOT GEORGE W. BUSH.

Let me remind you seven readers: I'm not a huge fan of Dubya to begin with. And I'm not defending him either. I can understand PERFECTLY why the Nobel committee would want to snub and insult Bush the Lesser any and every way they can.

Bush is pretty much the ur-example of how NOT to work towards winning a Peace Prize:
  • A questionable invasion of Iraq and years-long occupation of that country;
  • Mismanagement of a global intervention and rebuilding effort in Afghanistan in response to 9/11 and Taliban human rights abuses to where Afghanistan is an even worse place to live than before;
  • Pushing an inane missile defense system that did little but put money into defense contractors' pockets and also cheese off the Russians;
  • Hampering international efforts across the board on things such as climate change issues;
  • A massive criminal enterprise of torture, illegal detentions, more torture, and deaths of innocents;
  • Basic personal cluelessness regarding personal protocol. You do NOT give any woman an unsolicited backrub.
Basically, Dubya's Reign of Error presided over America's slipping in international prestige from Number One to Number... well, somewhere below Brazil. This was, in some respects, why Obama won the election in 2008, why Obama's overseas trips get crowds the size of a U2 or Springsteen stadium performance: Obama is not Bush.

Obama is NOT Bush in terms of demeanor, and especially in terms of sincerity. When Obama talks of wanting peace, wanting other nations to join in efforts to end war and threats of terrorism, he says it like he means it. Unlike Bush the Lesser, who seemed to be going through the motions, making the gestures, acting solemn but not actually achieving the resolute stature you need to pull it off, and also pushing the issue with phrases like "You're with us or against us."

That's pretty much the only reason Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. To piss off the Far Right still worshipping the Worst President Ever.

I can vaguely recall when the Far Right wingnuts promoted certain individuals as "nominees" for the Peace Prize when the people doing the nominating weren't on the Nobel Committee, making the distinction worthless. It was during the build-up to the Iraq invasion, to have these war proponents argue for bloodshed under cover of "peaceful" intent. BS. I'm pretty sure after Al Gore got the Peace Prize in 2007 for also Not Being George W. Bush that the wingnuts stopped pushing the Nobels as a worthy resume add-on. This is going to go over well at the Weekly Standard.

And I'm pretty sure Obama would want to trade the award in to get the 2016 Olympics back. I mean, Japan or Cuba vs. USA in Wrigley Field??? AWESOME.

Update: Linkage to Sullivan's linkage to prominent reactions to Obama's win. And the Volokh Conspiracy is starting a Top-10 list of Reasons Why Obama Won. The best one so far: "The Norwegians wanted to honor one of their own, and the committee discovered that Obama was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a Volvo factory worker."

Update pt.2: It always helps after a few hours to try and gain perspective of what happened, and I found this bit by Steve Benen on Washington Monthly apt:

For all the recognition of George W. Bush's unpopularity, it's easy to overlook the ways in which the international community was truly mortified by the U.S. leadership during the Bush era. The irreplaceable leading nation could no longer be trusted to do the right thing -- on use of force, torture, rule of law, international cooperation, democratic norms, even climate change. We'd reached a point at which much of the world was poised to simply give up on America's role as a global leader.
And, love him or hate him, President Obama changed this. I doubt anyone on the Nobel committee would admit it, but the Peace Prize is, to a certain extent, an implicit "thank you" to the United States for reclaiming its rightful place on the global stage.
It's indicative of a degree of relief. Much of the world has wanted America to take the lead again, and they're rightly encouraged to see the U.S. president stepping up in the ways they hoped he would. It's hard to overstate the significance, for example, of seeing a U.S. president chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and making strides on a nuclear deal.
This is not to say Obama was honored simply because he's not Bush. The president really has committed himself to promoting counter-proliferation, reversing policies on torture, embracing a new approach to international engagement, and recommitting the U.S. to the Middle East peace process. But charting a new course for American leadership, breaking with the recent past, no doubt played a role.
As outraged as American conservatives are this morning, notice the international reactions. Praise was not universal, but Mohamed Elbaradei, for example, said, "I cannot think of anyone today more deserving of this honor. In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself." Mandela, Tutu, and Gorbachev, among others, also praised the announcement.
The most angry international responses came from Hamas and the Taliban.
Rush Limbaugh made an explicit comparison that he and the Far Right are on the same page as the Taliban. Um, you sure that's the right comparison to make there...?
Oooh, I just noticed I got a comment! Lemme go read it!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One Year After The Almost-Fall of Wall St.

For the seven of you reading this blog, you might recall about this time last year I issued a rant about the evils of unregulated capitalism and greed that nearly destroyed our nation's (and our planet's) economy.

It does not please me to note that one year later nothing much has changed.

Many of the players - the financial institutions, the ratings agencies, the captains of banking - are still where they are, unpunished and unrepentant. Any criminal investigations that might be ongoing are off-the-radar if they are happening at all.

Meanwhile, unemployment is at 10 percent, the highest since the 1981-82 recession, threatening to reach Depression-era levels. And that's the OFFICIAL number: the unofficial numbers really are at Depression-era levels and getting worse. So while the upper echelons of our economy had been stabilized by Obama's stimulus package earlier this year, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED TO HELP THOSE OF US (pretty much the 99.95 percent that AREN'T billionaires) WHO REALLY NEED THAT HELP.

With regards to what Obama is doing, to what he CAN do, to what Congress should do... That will be for another post as soon as I can get some thoughts straightened out about that.

Interesting to note that the unemployment numbers would be a huge weapon against the Democrats right about now, but the Republicans are in no position to use it (I've heard a few GOP politicians bring it up, but outside of that, almost nothing on the Intertubes or FOX Not-News of note). Also reason for that other post...