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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hagel is no saint or unerring savant, in our saintless and savantless Federal City, but Hagel should decline to serve Obama, a president who asserts the right to kill even American citizens without judicial oversight and to send manned and unmanned planes anywhere he chooses.


Why Chuck Hagel Should Tell Obama to Go to Hell

The prospective defense secretary will be more influential by speaking out against war and empire.

Terry Michael | December 28, 2012 REASON

Leadership is reflected in the will to disappoint at least a few friends with clear decisions in pursuit of principle. It's not about safely laying back and gathering acolytes by splitting every difference.
Barack Obama is a congenitally split personality. His interest in naming Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to his cabinet demonstrates once again that he has no appetite for leadership on the life-and-death decisions presidents make since Congress ceded its war-making powers to the Executive branch after World War II.
As he did in a smarmy, stage-crafted 2009 speech to teenage cadets at West Point, Obama is once again punting on foreign policy. Instead of saying and doing what he believes, our president wants to assemble another sort-of team of rivals. Abusing that popular Doris Kearns Goodwin construct about Lincoln's cabinet, Obama indulges himself in the luxury of leading from behind. It enables him to avoid a decision to withdraw immediately from Afghanistan the young men and women who are sacrificing life and limb for American empire-building that serves no clear moral or national-security purpose.
Our always-conflicted leader has chosen to nominate John Kerry, the ultimate Washington foreign policy consensus expert, to be Secretary of State. That's the same John Kerry who was both for and against the war in Vietnam, and for and against the war in Iraq. The very same presidential candidate who told us in August of 2004 he would have voted for the resolution authorizing Bush-Cheney's elective war in Iraq - even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction. The same John Kerry who told Congress in 1971, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" And who said in March, 2004, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion [supplemental appropriation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan] before I voted against it." The same John Kerry...well, you can look up additional dithering by the senator from Massachusetts.
President Obama wants to nominate another wounded and decorated Vietnam vet, Chuck Hagel, for Secretary of Defense. Unlike Kerry - and to his credit - Hagel used his Senate seat to speak against his own party's elective wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hagel has conflicts of his own and Washington's conservatives have made it clear that they don't want Hagel anywhere near the Pentagon. He voted for the Iraq War resolution, but on reflection spoke out against that neo-con nightmare. Like many, he supported taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan, but then questioned why we were still there a decade later under Obama's presidency. Hagel is no saint or unerring savant, in our saintless and savantless Federal City.

But there are important differences between Hagel's revisions of his thoughts and those of President Obama and John Kerry. The Nebraskan risked offending his own militaristic Republican base. As a senator - not just a young, ambitious, camera-friendly, anti-Nixon, anti-Vietnam war veteran - Hagel wasn't content to let a last man die for mistakes of a weekend warrior, a dilettante Constitutional law professor, or a born-to-the-manor foreign policy expert.
Recall that Barack Obama was nominated and elected in 2008 as the candidate who was opposed to "dumb wars." But he was an anti-war poseur. Within 10 months of inauguration, Obama reversed course to please the bipartisan industry that demands a permanent state of military conflict and rising defense outlays as a jobs program for AFL-CIO congressional Democrats and as corporate welfare for K Street Capitol Hill Republicans.
And John Kerry? Could there be a purer human distillation of the Washington Rules described by our most eloquent anti-war voice, Andrew Bacevich, in his book of that title? Since he arrived in the Senate in 1985, Kerry has been a primary player leading us down "America's Path to Permanent War," as Bacevich's subtitle puts it. 
Assuming his nomination isn't proactively yanked by the president, here's the question that Hagel first needs to answer: Should he allow himself to be used as a pawn in Barack Obama’s continuing deflection of presidential responsibility?
Tempting as it may be to get inside the tent, Hagel should decline. Given Obama's uninspiring track record, he won't have a major impact on policy. Far more likely, he'll serve as a prop for a president who asserts the right to kill even American citizens without judicial oversight and to send manned and unmanned planes anywhere he chooses.
By refusing to become part of Obama's war machine, Hagel can trumpet an important statement: Bring the troops home now. Not in 2014. Not in 2013. By noon tomorrow. Hagel can demand that not one more young man or woman be the last to die for a horrific mistake:






Hagel declaring he is a US Senator and not an Israeli Senator. (How very un-American of him)

86 comments:

  1. The Neocons and the right wing radio bigwigs, American flag-lapelled, draft dodgers one and all, despise Hagel.

    I always found Hagel less of a bullshit artist than most of the rest.

    Go to the second video 7:00 minute mark, where Hagel questions Petraeus: Hagel poses a question and an observation that none of the Neocons who rally on for endless war can handle.

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  2. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "I'd have to study his record…I'm not going to comment until the president makes a nomination."

    Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT): “I think this will be a very tough confirmation process, I don’t how it would end, but there are reasonable questions to ask and Chuck Hagel would have to answer.”

    Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): "It seems there is some kind of an endemic hostility towards Israel and that's troublesome to me and troublesome to a lot of people," Engel said. "In the sensitive post of secretary of defense, those are warning bells. Those are red lights."

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  3. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “I know there are some questions about his past comments and I’ll want to talk to him and see what his explanation is,” said Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal. “Yes, it would give rise to question, but there are so many very significant issues and factors to be considered, and he has many profoundly significant qualifications for the job.”

    Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA): “Any comment that undermines our relationship [with Israel] concerns me,” said Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Asked if the reference to the “Jewish lobby” is such a statement, Casey said, “Sure, yes.”

    Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): Michigan’s Carl Levin said he does not agree with Hagel’s view. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate statement,” Levin said.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): And Barbara Boxer of California said she disagreed with the idea that there exists an intimidating "Jewish lobby" in Washington. “People can say whatever they want,” Boxer said. “I don’t agree with it.”

    Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV): “From his lack of support for policies to isolate Iran going back to 2001 to his calls for the U.S. to directly negotiate with Hamas terrorists, I’m troubled by former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel’s tarnished record on Middle East policies. This includes his votes against tougher sanctions on Libya and Iran, a nation that continues to seek nuclear weapons and to call for Israel’s destruction. “I would also hope that Former Senator Hagel’s past support for protecting the interests of terrorist groups over the interests of Israel — America’s most reliable ally — would raise red flags. The bottom line is that Chuck Hagel’s dismal record on issues affecting the Middle East stands in sharp contrast to the stated policies of our nation and he would be the wrong choice for America’s next Secretary of Defense.”

    Obama for America Director of Jewish Outreach Ira Forman: “If [Hagel] was taking a policy role, we’d have real concerns.”

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  4. Alan Dershowitz: “Were Chuck Hagel to be nominated as secretary of defense, the Iranian mullahs would interpret President Obama’s decision as a signal that the military option was now, effectively, off the table. It would encourage them to proceed with their development of nuclear weapons without fear of an attack from the United States. It would tell them that if they can endure the pain of sanctions and continue the charade of negotiations, they will ultimately be allowed to win the prize of a deliverable nuclear bomb.”

    Former DNC Comms Director Karen Finney: MSNBC contributor Karen Finney criticized the potential nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to secretary of defense, calling the lack of diversity in nominating Hagel and Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) to key cabinet positions “not a smart strategic decision.”

    Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch: “I believe it would be a terrible appointment,” he said, “and so do apparently most of the Jewish leaders who have expressed themselves.”

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  5. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): John McCain of Arizona said he “strongly disagree[s]" with Hagel's comments on the "Jewish lobby." “I know of no ‘Jewish lobby,’” McCain said. “I know that there’s strong support for Israel here. I know of no ‘Jewish lobby.’ I hope he would identify who that is.”

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  6. WSJ Columnist Bret Stephens: Prejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—has an olfactory element. When ChuckHagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska who is now a front-runner to be the next secretary of Defense, carries on about how "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," the odor is especially ripe.

    Bill Kristol: “An awful lot of Democrats I am told are quietly telling the White House, what are you doing to us?”

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  7. Hagel was born in North Platte, Nebraska, the son of Betty (née Dunn) and Charles Dean Hagel.

    He graduated from St. Bonaventure Catholic High School in Columbus, Nebraska, the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in 1966 and the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1971.

    Hagel is a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the United States Army infantry, attaining the rank of Sergeant (E-5) from 1967 – 1968. He served as an infantry squad leader in the 9th Infantry Division. While serving during the Vietnam War, Hagel received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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    1. It's disgusting and disgraceful. Chuck Hagel is a man of courage, character and wisdom; he's also a vietnam war hero, unlike the scum that slanders him.

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  8. .

    I've never had any specific opinion on Hagel one way or another; however, now that all the usual suspects (Kristol, Schumer, McCain, Dershowicz, et al) have come out opposed to him, his stock has gone up significantly in my eyes.

    The question I would have, if Hagel wanted the job and was confirmed, is would he be a Gates or a Panetta. Gates was a straight shooter under two presidents and didn't mind telling it like it was. Panetta, on the other hand, has proven he has now center, no core believes. He has proven he will sacrifice any principle to be seen as a team player.

    .

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  9. That is a :) Ohmy, if clarifications are necessary.

    "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

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  10. All the usual suspects are “troubled.”

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  11. BUCHANAN: WHY THE WAR PARTY FEARS HAGEL
    By: Patrick J. Buchanan
    12/28/2012 12:19 AM

    In the fortnight since Chuck Hagel’s name was floated for secretary of defense, we have witnessed Washington at its worst.

    Who is Chuck Hagel?

    Born in North Platte, Neb., he was a squad leader in Vietnam, twice wounded, who came home to work in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign, was twice elected U.S. senator, and is chairman of the Atlantic Council and co-chair of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

    To The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, however, Hagel is a man “out on the fringes,” who has a decade-long record of “hostility to Israel” and is “pro-appeasement-of-Iran.”

    Lest we miss Kristol’s point, Standard blogger Daniel Halper helpfully adds that a “top Republican Senate aide” said, “Send us Hagel, and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.”

    The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens continued in this vein.

    “Prejudice … has an olfactory element,” he writes, and with Hagel, “the odor is especially ripe.” Stephens is saying that Chuck Hagel reeks of anti-Semitism.

    Hagel’s enemies contend that his own words disqualify him.

    First, he told author Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up there” on the Hill. Second, he urged us to talk to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. Third, Hagel said several years ago, “A military strike against Iran … is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”

    Hagel has conceded he misspoke in using the phrase “Jewish lobby.” But as for a pro-Israel lobby, its existence is the subject of books and countless articles. When AIPAC sends up to the Hill one of its scripted pro-Israel resolutions, it is whistled through. Hagel’s problem: He did not treat these sacred texts with sufficient reverence.

    “I am a United States senator, not an Israeli senator,” he told Miller. “I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath … to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not to a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

    Hagel puts U.S. national interests first. And sometimes those interests clash with the policies of the Israeli government.

    In 1957, President Eisenhower told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai. Would that disqualify Ike from being secretary of defense because, to quote Kristol, this would show Ike was not “serious about having Israel’s back”?

    If a senator or defense secretary believes an Israeli action — like bisecting the West Bank with new settlements that will kill any chance for a Palestinian state and guarantee another intifada — what should he do?

    Defend the U.S. position, or make sure there is “no daylight” between him and the Israeli prime minister?


    {…}

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  12. {…}

    As for talking to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, what are we afraid of?

    Harry Truman talked to Josef Stalin and read Vyacheslav Molotov the riot act in the Oval Office. Ike invited Nikita Khrushchev to tour the United States three years after he sent tanks into Budapest.

    Richard Nixon went to China and toasted Mao Zedong, 20 years after the Chinese were killing U.S. solders in Korea and brainwashing our POWs, and at the same time they were conducting their maniacal cultural revolution and shipping weapons to Hanoi.

    Israel negotiated with Hezbollah to retrieve the remains of airman Ron Arad and traded 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in a deal with Hamas for the return of Pvt. Gilad Shalit. And we can’t talk to them?

    If Hagel’s view that a war with Iran is not a “responsible option” is a disqualification for defense secretary, what are we to make of this statement from Robert Gates, defense secretary for Bush II and Obama:

    “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as Gen. (Douglas) MacArthur so delicately put it.”

    If Hagel were an anti-Semite, would he have the support of so many Jewish columnists and writers? If he were really “out on the fringes,” would national security advisers for presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Obama be in his camp?

    Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama’s inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.

    For Bibi Netanyahu is going to be re-elected this January. And the government he forms looks to be more bellicose than the last. And Bibi’s highest priority, shared by his neocon allies, is a U.S. war on Iran in 2013.

    If Obama does not want that war, he is going to have to defeat the war party. Throwing an old warrior like Chuck Hagel over the side to appease these wolves is not the way to begin this fight.

    Nominate him, Mr. President. Let’s get it on.

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  13. Some of you people are really strange. Hagel? What's he know about being S. of Defense? Nothing, really, that's what. But he's got that I don't like Israel attitude, like a lot of older demented Catholics, and probably still thinks the Jews are Christ killers as he was wrongly taught, and that's all Barky is looking for now. When he gets to the point of signing off on Israel, like he did the Ambassador and the others, he can pull Hagel out and claim he was given all this good advice by Chuck to do so.

    What in hell are we doing giving 20 brand new F-16's to the new Sharia Government in Egypt? That is the women oppressor, if you don't know. And Christian oppressor. etc etc The kill the gay folks. The convert the entire world by force folks. And the government that wants to push Israel into the sea, unlike Mubarak, who just wanted to relax in style. Hagel will fit right in with Barky's MB love fest.

    Anyone who would serve as Obama's S of Defense has sold his soul.

    Besides, Obama is a war criminal, as Deuce often points out, and should be in the dock. Much worse than Bush. Not even in the same league.

    How could anyone sign on to be S of Defense to a war criminal? Even to consider such an offer is enough to disqualify anyone.

    Even Ralph Nader says Obama is a worse criminal than Bush.

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    1. I do realize Deuce is saying Hagel should give Obama the finger.

      But here's Q -

      (Hagel's)......stock has gone up significantly in my eyes.

      Right after he says he don't know shit about the guy.

      This is what I call strange.

      I've never had any specific opinion on Hagel one way or another quoth Q.

      But by God he's good to go now. On the basis that Dershowitz don't like him.

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    2. .

      Of course, you find it strange, Bobbo.

      Being a butt-boy for Israel, how could you see it any other way. I have no problem with you having those views on a personal basis; however, you'll excuse me if I side with a guy who puts US interests first.

      and

      The enemy of my enemy is my friend (at least, in this case).

      Dershowitz is a dick, as is Kristol and the others I named.

      .

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    3. Thank you Quirk for allowing me to have my own views.

      Being a butt-boy for Israel is worthy of.....Rufus!

      You are like Deuce with your head in the sand.

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    4. Notice I said sand.

      Such a guy!

      And not a fuck you to be seen!

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    5. .

      Lordy, Bobo, you are a corker.

      :)

      Just a few days before Rufus went on his F-word rampage you were using the same language with him.

      I love these people who post the vilest shit imaginable and then get applauded for it because they said it with a smile and sans four letter words as if that really makes a difference.

      You're a sanctimonious twit and a hypocrite but at least you have a lot of company around here.

      Sand!

      Hilarious.

      .

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  14. News from Pharoah Land -

    Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood government seeking "total control of the media"
    Dec 28, 2012 06:31 pm | Robert

    I expect that some of our hopelessly compromised pro-jihad pseudo-journalists such as Christiane Amanpour, Manya Brachear, Bob Smietana, Kari Huus, Dave Weigel, Michael Kruse and their ilk are hurrying over to Cairo now, eager to aid the Muslim Brotherhood in its conversion of the nation's media into its own propaganda...


    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/12/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-government-seeking-total-control-of-the-media.html

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  15. I'm with Quirk; I've never paid him much nevermind. But, he's certainly cultivated the "right" set of enemies.

    Sounds like he might be better than some.

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  16. Game theory is back in the news: Mohamed A El-Erian:I argued in a prior post that the fiscal cliff is the result of a monumental Congressional political miscalculation back in the summer of 2011 -- one that a "game theorist" could have predicted based on an analytical assessment of the conditions under which politicians cooperate.

    Yesterday, Jon Horne, a PIMCO colleague, pointed me to a column by Nate Silver which takes the analysis an important step further. And Mr. Silver's findings are quite depressing.

    An anchor for Mr. Silver's analysis is the view that "one of the firmest conclusions of academic research into the behavior of Congress is that what motivates members first and foremost is winning elections." By combining this with realities on the ground, his analysis makes a strong case for continued political polarization going forward.

    Mr. Silver's conclusion is stark: "As partisanship continues to increase, a divided government may increasingly mean a dysfunctional one."

    Which isn't good for foreign policy either. The process of federal politics has been reduced to two options: mix it up or gridlock. As noted, maybe gridlock is a feature not a bug, which might work for fiscal policy.

    If gridlock begins to dominate foreign policy, decisions will be "stove-piped," ala Dick Cheney and ala Obama's preference for specialty "czars" and executive orders. Human nature.

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    1. It was once fashionable to argue that a divided government was good for the economy. The view then was that politicians would be too busy with political brinkmanship to get in the way of a dynamic private sector. As a result, unfettered by government interference, the private sector was more likely to invest, hire and prosper.

      It is hard -- very hard -- to make this argument today; and for at least three reasons.

      First, even diehard conservatives would admit that, since the 2008 global financial crisis, the country still has to overcome certain market failures. And for that, enlightened government policies are needed, including in clarifying property rights in segments still suffering from post financial bubble disorder.

      Second, it is hard to deny the extent to which America has experienced a worsening in the distribution of income, wealth and opportunities in recent years. If we are not careful, this will tear at the social fabric that underpins a dynamic and prospering private sector.

      Then there is the international evidence and related comparisons.

      America has fallen behind several other countries when it comes to enhancing our human and physical capital. In many cases this is not something that the private sector can (and will) -- remedy fully. In particular, some of the slippages in education and infrastructure need (and should be solved via) public-private partnerships; others involve (indeed, urgently require) more active government reform efforts.

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    2. If left to fester, the related inability of Congress to step up to economic responsibilities would risk being associated with more than just sluggish growth, persistently high unemployment, and a growing sense of financial discomfort.

      It would also undermine the country's longer-term growth potential and, with that, the ability of many citizens to realize the American dream.

      El-Erian stops short of visualizing the impact of economic deterioration on foreign policy: the decline of the American hegemon.

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    3. "Efficient" doesn't imply policy abandonment, which has been the (negative) impact of this Randian Libertarian anti-government streak that seems to infuse The Tea Party. One can see it at BC - policy is overtly scorned as "central planning" which is, of course, by definition, fascist. This country can't go there. Policy used to correlate (loosely) to principle. The country needs to swing back in that direction with the realization that Principle does not spontaneously self-organize from the chaos of capitalist markets driven by self-interest alone. Some are beginning to realize that but the direction of the arrow is disturbing to the "leave me alone" crowd.

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    4. Point being, al-Qaeda proceeded where El-Erian, and American policy makers stop short, principles reverting to quasi-commodities in an economically distressed environment.

      Delete
  17. God protect us from "Efficient" Government.

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    1. Lurching from Crisis to Crisis is an insane way to run a government. It, also, seems to be, quite possibly, the best way.

      Delete
    2. The Genius of Democracy is that we're guaranteed to, in the end, be governed by crooks, and idiots (against whom, we have at least a modicum of a chance.)

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    3. What's that supposed to mean - at least they're in a place where we can keep an eye on them?

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    4. A modicum of larceny is the price of freedom, as per the old-style Joe Biden politician. My view is that the bigger picture global variant, as per Dick Cheney and GWB (and the Wall St/Fed guys), is too much. It's Clean-up time.

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  18. If boobie dislikes Hagel, could be a greay choice.

    As for selling the Wahabbi weapons, boobie is si far behind the curve...

    GW Bush was doing a victory dance with their leaders, post 11SEP01llObama is no greater traitor than. GW Bush. Proven b GW's Two Step Boogie

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    1. I've done my share of stupid stuff but at least I don't have a memory like that to haunt me for the rest of my life. Oi.

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    2. Three (or four?) attempts at sentences by the crapper with five (or six) mistakes. There was no composition class at that fencing school he attended.

      Si, is si!.

      Delete


    3. And yes I do know where Saudi Arabia is located.

      Delete
  19. Replies
    1. America has faced a lot tougher problems than this one. We'll get it solved. - Warren Buffett

      Over the still twitching and kicking carcass of the Republican Party.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/warren-buffett-fiscal-cliff-2012-12

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    2. The problem in a nutshell is this:

      In the never-ending tug-of-war between "labor" and "capital," there has rarely—if ever—been a time when "capital" was so clearly winning.

      And that's not just unfair.

      It's un-American.

      More charts.

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    3. Follow the links and Henry Blodget brings in Richard Koo:

      Four years ago, when the debt-fueled boom ended and the economy plunged into recession, most economists and politicians misdiagnosed the problem.

      They thought we were having just another post-War recession—a serious recession, yes, but a cyclical one, a recession that easy money, government stimulus, and a return of "confidence" could fix.

      A handful of economists, meanwhile, argued that the recession was actually fundamentally different—a "balance sheet" recession resulting from a quarter-century-long debt-binge, one that would take a decade or more to fix.

      In the past four years, it has become increasingly clear that the latter diagnosis was correct:

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    4. Infrastructure Spending:

      One form of government spending that unequivocally benefits all Americans is infrastructure spending (when the projects are finished, America has the infrastructure)

      Infrastructure spending would help America address another reality that has emerged in the past three decades—the reality that the infrastructure of many countries in Europe, Asia, and other regions has vaulted past that in the US and made the US look like a second-world country

      Infrastructure spending would boost employment in one sector of the economy hammered by the recession—construction

      Infrastructure spending would involve fewer of the conflicts and misaligned incentives that infuriate many Americans about "entitlement programs," extended unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, and other government expenditures that seem to encourage sloth and laziness and "socialism"

      The 10-year government budget designed to get us out of our current predicament, therefore, should probably include a massive, multi-year infrastructure spending program.

      There, I said it. I have now revealed that I find merit in an approach advocated by one side in the religious war (Keynesians).

      Democrats had the right idea. Republicans defecting, one by one. About time for another outrageous rape comment.

      Delete
  20. OTOH The Decline of the West:

    The shift of wealth and power from West to East is going to be one of the biggest stories of our lifetimes, just as the decline of Rome was the biggest story of the day over a thousand years ago. Future historians will look back on our time and say “duh, the warning signs were there…” just as we do today when we study Rome, the Ottoman Empire, the Bourbon monarchy, etc.***

    OTOH: People Are Finally Waking Up To China's Massive Over-investment Problem:

    The article is well worth reading because it makes a very strong case, perhaps a little late, for what many of us have been arguing for the past seven or eight years. China’s investment rate is so high, we have argued, that even ignoring the tremendous evidence of misallocated investment, unless we can confidently propose that Beijing has uncovered a secret formula that allows it (and the tens of thousands of minor government officials and SOE heads who can unleash investment without much oversight) to identify high quality investment in a way that no other country in history has been able, there is likely to be a systematic tendency to wasted investment.


    *** The "Sovereign Man" also writes:

    According to Toshl’s data, users in Western Europe earn an average of $2,062 per month, but spend $2,396. This is an average monthly deficit of $334 per person, or roughly 16% of income.

    Toshl users in the United States are in even worse shape, earning on average $1,871 per month. But they spend $2,290 per month, an average monthly deficit of $419, or 22% of income.

    Western Europe requires a different analysis, but here in USA, that $419 monthly deficit is easily explained by health care costs alone. Easily. A singular problem that the "free markets" were not handling. Whether or not "central planners" can do better remains to be seen. It is telling and disappointing that the governors are turning their backs on the exchanges. They offer the most promise for combining the best of market competition under state regulatory control. Health care is going to be a gutter fight to the bitter end.

    Pick your poison: get sick or go broke.

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    1. shouldn't it be get sick and go broke? Even with insurance the copays and deductibles can ruin you

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    2. Better than get sick and die, which is what is coming. A government run program gave D. 2 or 3 months to a year to live, and that was 5 months ago, and he still doesn't have the results of the brain scan yet. But not to worry, they gave him a full body bone scan yesterday, results to be announced in the obits page.

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    3. Come to think of it, it will fall to me to write the obit, the paper not doing that task any longer. If and when this occurs, I will give D a rousing send off, that genre being wide open and free swinging these days, and written by friends or relatives of the departed. Will remind everyone how at least D. wasn't suckered by Barky's hook, line, and sinker, and in a language they will relate to as well. Dale was never netted by Barky!

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    4. Funeral homes will write obituaries.

      But, condolences.

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    5. .

      Sorry, to hear about Dale, Bob.

      However, having just gone through the same thing with a close relative, I would suggest you drop the idea of an obit laced with your political views.

      I can almost guarantee it won't be appreciated.

      .

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  21. Tough days for the liberal imagination

    But being elected and governing are two separate challenges. Even the most dedicated supporters of the Obama administration would admit that his first term has been a difficult slog. The problem with revolutionary rhetoric is that your supporters become disillusioned by your results; the problem with conventional platforms is that our convention is corruption and failure. In the wilderness of political exile, the two conflicting impulses of revolution and incrementalism could coalesce without problem, but with the Democratic party in power, their fundamental tension threatens to drive the coalition apart. Nothing is likely to satisfy the revolutionaries; nothing is likely to calm the anxieties of the incrementalists.

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    1. The fundamental questions, then, are not matters of policy but of process. Who will lead? And from what will their legitimacy stem? Extremists on both sides speak bitterly of a conspiracy at the top, a concert of elites designed to rob and marginalize the common man. Such talk invites critique of the firmament of our system—how we choose our ruling class. If those who posit American plutocracy (as I do and must) are to produce an alternative, we must identify the root causes; our system of reward and empowerment must undergo an autopsy. Who killed our egalitarian dream?

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    2. It’s this question that one of America’s most prominent and principled liberals has recently pondered. Christopher Hayes, a longtime writer for the Nation and, more recently, a weekend morning host on MSNBC, has in his book Twilight of the Elites indicted our system of personal, financial, professional, and political advancement. Hayes writes of a culture suffering from its fanatical embrace of a terribly misconceived system of personal advancement and power relations. Meritocracy, a kludgy term for a kludgy purpose — defending aristocratic privilege under the cloak of human fairness — is coming undone. It is defined, in the idiom of cheery fantasy that composes much of our national conversation, as rule by the best. It is marked these days by its tendency to produce the worst. Our betters are failing us, and loudly. Hayes wants to find out why.

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    3. We must dismantle not just the existing spheres of influence and also their reason for being. The effort is impossible but simple: dismantle all the relationships that causes us to hand out and to seek favor, erase the notion of what is owed, render farcical the very idea of acknowledgments. An idealistic notion, yes, but I am just cynical enough to point out that this book of elite-bashing contains a pages-long acknowledgments section where Hayes pays due deference to a murderer’s row of wealthy, connected elitists. With each person he thanks, I can see the invisible lattice of patronage and nepotism, so archly dissected in the main text, spiral out and off the page.

      I have no idea what this last paragraph means but it sounds like anarchy. It seems to me, from a distance that likely requires no defining acknowledgement, that modern intellectuals are still struggling to "resolve" human nature into some less grotesque image. (Of course his name suggests a French lineage so...)

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    4. Doris! Please! Get out of the house. Go to church. Do Mass. Confess, Confession. Become an axe-murderer. Do something! But, please, please, please, NEVER post anything like that ever again!!!!


      EVER!

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    5. :)

      I thought he was doing all right with the first three paragraphs: contrasting revolutionaries with incrementalists is fundamental to politics, regardless of party (although at present, the Republican schisms seem more urgent); the "egalitarian dream" may not be dead but the preceding charts suggest it is on life support; and the policy vs process subject has been discussed before. So far so good. A little "wordy" but manageable.

      But that last paragraph reads like a punctured helium balloon. Lost his mojo I think, or maybe his keys, or his hair.




      Delete
  22. Phila. police tie construction-site arson to union sabotage - http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/185118521.html

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    1. Rufus is too lazy to do arson and sabotage, so I must demur in his case.

      Delete
  23. The Boys in the Brand

    Nevertheless, there is a specific Politico ethos, a worldview, and a style of writing and reporting that sets the Harris-VandeHei collaboration apart from the institutions the paper grew out of. It’s a product of the worst of Washington in a particularly awful era for Washington. In this abject little tip sheet, a moment of profound elite self-regard and complete disconnect from the rest of the nation has found its outlet.

    ...

    Just consider that infamous management memo. A particularly psychotic exemplar of the genre, it weighed in at 2,500 words—more than a thousand words longer than a previous memo had insisted that all Politico stories be. (The ideal Politico reader, you see, doesn’t “read” so much as skim Playbook’s paragraph-long blurbs on his BlackBerry.) “This is a Darwinian business,” the memo barked, in drill-sergeant cadences. “People are not looking for MORE to read. They need to NEED and WANT each individual story in POLITICO. If they don’t, we will not capture the eyeballs and mindshare that we must have to thrive in this brutal environment.”

    ..

    This, in a nutshell, is what you get when Politico, if not Matt Drudge, rules your world. The future of Internet-enabled political journalism now seems to be little more than a Hobson’s choice between wide-eyed elation at Newt Gingrich’s excellent submarine ride or a sober appraisal of the essential honesty of Mitt Romney’s campaign manager. And so there is one undeniable truth to be gleaned from the many meaningless legacies that Politico shall undoubtedly bequeath to the generation of political scribes it is now schooling: the major forces of Washington’s political establishment have little to fear from the mighty democratic specter of an Internet-empowered citizenry. Their many ornate depravities are in less danger than ever of getting revealed to the public at large—unless, that is, they let slip a remark that can be tortured into a seventh-grade- level double entendre.

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    1. In July, Smith and BuzzFeed Politics reporter Rebecca Elliott posted “A Political User’s Guide to the Trolls of Twitter” that revealed an interesting definition of “troll.” The term, which dates back to the earliest days of the Internet, has a specific and useful definition: one who makes provocative claims one doesn’t necessarily believe and attempts to goad sincere people into endless, aggravating argument. The trolls on BuzzFeed’s list, though, were almost entirely people with sincere and passionate political beliefs who were rude to self-declared nonpartisan reporters. They were divided into “Obots,” “Romneybots,” “Paulites,” “Breitbartians,” and, most tellingly, “Media Matters.” These people aren’t trolls. They’re media critics and regular people with strong political beliefs. They tend to believe the nonpartisan press is trolling them.

      I think these are the same people who came up with moby:

      An insidious and specialized type of left-wing troll who visits blogs and impersonates a conservative for the purpose of either spreading false rumors intended to sow dissension among conservative voters, or who purposely posts inflammatory and offensive comments for the purpose of discrediting the blog in question.

      Delete


    2. Actually, Politico’s ethos first began to emerge a year before the publication’s official launch, with the release of The Way to Win, a much-feted and then quickly forgotten 2006 book that Harris cowrote with Mark Halperin, then ABC’s chief political correspondent. (Halperin has, shockingly, not yet gone to work for Politico, though he was for a time in talks to host Politico’s Sunday morning show, a synergistic dream that has not yet come to fruition.) The book presented the ultimate Beltway media insider’s interpretation of the events of the last four presidential elections and used these putative insights to create “lessons” for 2008’s would-be candidates.

      The thesis was that campaigns and the personalities of those who run them matter above all else (it would take another few years before the notion that, say, “the economy” might also affect electoral results could gain any serious traction in the campaign press corps). Harris and Halperin contended that, in this fatuous system of impression management, post-Clinton Democrats had been regularly outclassed by brilliant Republican operatives like Karl Rove—the man who, curiously enough, was then ideally suited to keep both Harris and Halperin richly fed with meaningless campaign-cycle scoops.

      The book marveled at conservatives’ deft manipulations in persuading the press to chase after bullshit stories and publicize misleading right-wing propaganda. In addition to showcasing their embarrassingly naked adulation for Rove, Halperin and Harris also hymned the unrivaled genius of the hack online propagandist Matt Drudge—again, largely on the basis of Drudge’s ability to manipulate people like Harris and Halperin into doing his bidding. “How Matt Drudge Rules Our World” was one chapter heading, and here was the justification the authors offered for their devotion: “No one has facilitated more political hijackings than he has. No one has a better grasp of the economic, ideological, and psychological incentives that power the Freak Show. Few journalists would count Drudge as a colleague. But in the past decade, he has contributed to the change in how American politics has been covered, and his impact will be a major factor in the 2008 presidential race.”

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  24. Replies
    1. We are all transparent to the government now, is what he meant.

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  25. Doris, do you by any chance know Bob Smith?

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  26. Nine scary bird attacks that really happened
    posted at 5:31 pm on December 29, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/12/29/nine-scary-bird-attacks-that-really-happened/


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  27. Bad news in 'Rufus World'.

    French court throws out 75% tax rate on wealthy.

    Violates equality of public burdens, court says.

    I like the sounds of that - equality of public burdens. Has a nice sound to it, like liberté, égalité, fraternité.

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    1. Wasn't completely a rate argument - critics objected to the individual basis rather than household basis. One individual making over $1M was subject to the rate of xx% while two members of a household, each making $900,000 would not be subject to the same rate. Bad legislative design. There's more to come.

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  28. The Economist weighs in:

    The media narrative is shaping up to pin the full blame for sending the country over the fiscal cliff on the Republicans. News coverage of Mr Boehner is characterised by a mixture of disdain and pity. The tea-party congressmen who have sabotaged his position are portrayed as delusional zealots unable to connect their professed goals to their actions in a rational fashion.

    ..

    The thing is, for a party like the current GOP, it's not clear that any of this matters. Hardline conservative and nationalist parties in many countries often maintain or intensify their commitment to catastrophic policies, even as those policies lose majority support. For the constituents of such parties, criticism from opponents tends to be irrelevant: they believe their cosmopolitan, effeminate, ethnically/sexually/religiously/ideologically deviant adversaries have always been united in a conspiracy against them. Fresh attacks from the out-group tend to merely confirm their pre-existing insular biases, and the fact that the out-group appears to be growing often inspires them to visions of Spenglerian decline rather than prompting them to ask whether there might be a good reason why they're turning people off.

    I was talking this over yesterday with a friend who was in town from Jerusalem.

    So surreal. Like slow motion destruction.

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    1. Whole load of bullshit is what it is.

      Buck

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    2. Ah've been thinkin' that Doris lady is really Maxine. Bout 80% certain. Nice lady to be sure, just runs on at the mouth a little, like Maxine. You can get used to it, and find it adorble, after a while

      Buck

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  29. It's all the fault of them degenerate urban metro lesbian atheist drug taking settlers and their friends.

    Buck

    By the way, there is plenty jobs in Alberta at 150k a year for Americans if it ain't too cold for the pussies. Which it is.

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I always like when you do that. You must have put down poor old Buck, who rides and doesn't sit around barber shops listening to gossip, and who is wonderfully free in speaking his own true opinion, unlike most of us, except Rufus. I call it liberated.

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    2. I call Rufus Moronic.

      Lessons of History and Economics mean nothing to the Socialist True Believer.

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    3. ...just my own true opinion.

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  31. .

    The time is long overdue to take the morphine drip out of the debt markets’ arm and let interest rates be based on genuine supply and demand, not propped up because of a creative Fed policy. Otherwise, this is not going to end well.

    Bernanke? Greenspan? What's the difference?

    .

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    1. They're all dicks.

      ha ha ha

      Buck

      (truth is most city folks is dicks)

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    2. Always watchin' TV, or runnin' round, never workin', or if they happen to be workin', always workin' for money, always more money, never for the joy of it, workin' like elves, makin' gadgets, can't even remember what the stars is like.

      Buck

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  32. http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/12/sweden-iranian-christian-ordered-deported-to-iran-despite-facing-execution-for-apostasy-there.html

    Sweden is becoming an embarrassment.

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  33. Watching Fox News, I've formed this insight - have you ever noticed how they invariably, in these roundtable discussions, always have the beautiful leggy ladies on the outside, not behind the table, to give those so silky smooth legs a proper showing? If not, you're probably hardly alive, so if reading this check your pulse, and make a doc appointment.

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  34. Trace Adkins

    Tough People Do

    Here is a link to the performance at the RNC of Trace doing this song: Tough People Do

    TOUGH PEOPLE DO
    Written By Chris DuBois, Jason Matthews and Joel Shewmake

    Back in 39 she was 26

    The wife of a soldier tryin’ to raise four kids

    On rationed out beans and watered down milk

    Tryin’ to keep ‘em all warm with a patchwork quilt

    That great depression ended about 1945

    But grandma lived to be 92

    See, tough times don’t last

    Tough people do

    Tough people pull themselves up by the bootstraps

    When they hit hard luck
    And they stay strong and they keep on fightin’

    Like they don’t know how to lose

    Tough times don’t last

    Tough people do

    Those talkin’ heads on cnn

    Say we’ll never get out of this hole we’re in

    Price of gas is up and the market’s down

    And there’s a bunch of empty houses in every town

    Well, i’d interrupt that program with a little headline of my own

    This just in from the old red, white and blue

    Tough times don’t last

    Tough people do

    Tough people pull themselves up by the bootstraps

    When they hit hard luck

    And they stay strong and they keep on fightin’

    Like they don’t know how to lose

    Tough times don’t last

    Tough people do

    I’ve been out of work since mid july

    My bank account’s about bone dry

    Been lookin’ for a job no luck so far

    But I bought a little time when I sold my car

    Well, I’ll go dig a ditch if that’s what it takes

    Baby, somehow or another we’ll get through

    Tough times don’t last

    Tough times don’t last

    Tough people do

    Tough people do


    Marines: "Call me Maybe"

    (I'm the guy in the back seat on the left.)

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  35. Intel is reportedly on the cusp of delivering something that consumers around the world have been wanting for a long, long time.

    Kelly Clay at Forbes reports Intel is going to blow up the cable industry with its own set-top box and an unbundled cable service.

    ...

    Before anyone gets too excited, Janko Roettgers at GigaOm is skeptical it happens. Roettgers knows the TV business very well.

    The reason its unlikely to happen is that content companies don't really want to see cable blown up. It's been very good to them.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-cable-2013-1

    It'll happen eventually. This cable crap can't go on forever. Viva La Capitalism.

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