“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

George W. Obama

George W. Obama?

By Jackson Diehl Washington Post
Sunday, March 8, 2009; A15

Washington has spent the past couple of weeks debating whether Barack Obama's ambitious agenda and political strategy are more comparable to those of Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan. Oddly, hardly anyone is talking about the ways in which Obama is beginning to resemble the man who just vacated the White House.

Most Americans are eager to forget about George W. Bush. But just over seven years ago, Bush found himself in much the same position as the new president today -- leading the country through what was universally considered a national emergency. In the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Bush's approval rating soared above 80 percent at home. London, Berlin and even Moscow rallied behind him. A front-page analysis in The Post in late November said that "President Bush [has] a dominance over American government . . . rivaling even Franklin D. Roosevelt's command."

Then, according to today's established wisdom, Bush squandered his chance to lead. Three cardinal errors are commonly cited: The president failed to ask a willing nation for sacrifice, instead inviting consumers to shop and heaping on more tax cuts. Rather than forge a bipartisan response to the crisis, he used it to ram through big, polarizing pieces of the Republican Party's ideological agenda -- from asserting presidential powers to breach treaties to eliminating protections for federal workers. Worst, he chose to launch a war of choice in Iraq, thereby shredding what remained of post-Sept. 11 national unity and diverting attention and resources from the fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

That brings us to the first weeks of the Obama administration, set against the background of a scary and steadily deepening global economic crisis. Last month, in his first address to Congress, Obama warned the country that fixing the huge problems in the financial markets and housing and auto industries would require a historic effort. "None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy," he said. "But this is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward."

Minutes later, Obama spelled out what he proposes this to mean for 98 percent of Americans: "You will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut . . . and these checks are on the way."

So much for summoning the country to sacrifice. Obama has been no more willing to ask average Americans to pitch in, even once the recession is over, than Bush.

What about bipartisanship? Like Bush, Obama offered a few early gestures. And like Bush, he has been unapologetic about using emergency measures like the stimulus bill to press polarizing Democratic priorities, such as the expansion of Medicaid benefits to the unemployed and union-friendly contracting provisions.

The Bush administration pushed through the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 by suggesting that opponents didn't want to stop another al-Qaeda attack. In his first news conference, Obama suggested that congressional opponents of the stimulus package "believe that we should do nothing" about the economic emergency. Last week his political team launched a concerted and ugly campaign to portray Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party and "I want the president to fail" as its slogan. Republicans who have taken the crisis seriously, offered their own solutions and even supported the president on occasion -- Sen. John McCain comes to mind -- have been ignored.

So Obama hasn't strayed far from Karl Rove's playbook for routing the opposition. But surely, you say, he's planning nothing as divisive or as risky as the Iraq war? Well, that's where the health-care plan comes in: a $634 billion (to begin) "historic commitment," as Obama calls it, that (like the removal of Saddam Hussein) has lurked in the background of the national agenda for years. We know from the Clinton administration that any attempt to create a national health-care system will touch off an enormous domestic battle, inside and outside Congress. If anything, Obama has raised the stakes by proposing no funding source other than higher taxes on wealthy Americans, allowing Republicans to raise the cries of "socialism" and "class warfare."

Just as Bush promoted tax cuts as a remedy for surplus and then later as essential in a time of deficits, so Obama has come up with strained arguments as to why health-care reform, which he supported before the economic collapse, turns out to be essential to recovery. Yet as he convened his "health care summit" at the White House on Thursday, the stock market was hitting another 12-year-low; General Motors was again teetering on the brink of insolvency and the country was still waiting to hear the details of the Treasury's proposal to bail out banks. George W. Bush might well be asking: Is the president taking his eye off the ball?

The writer is deputy editor of The Post's editorial page.


  1. Crisis

    wēijī 危機

    The use of the term probably gained momentum when John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in Indianapolis on April 12, 1959:[3]

    When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.
    One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity

    But the linguists say Kennedy had it wrong.

    Chinese for 'Crisis'

    Benjamin Zimmer has traced the history of weiji in English as far back as anonymous editorial in a journal[2] for missionaries in China.

    Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University and his Total Money Makeover perhaps they should have a position in the government.

    "We're debt freeeeeee!"

    They may do more to help the average guy than the folks in the driver's seat now.

  2. Forgot to add--

    Obama Says 'Crisis' Is Time of Great 'Opportunity'

    The market gained a hair yesterday. In the wheat markets Friday always used to be a slight uptick day, on average.

    I'm betting the trend is still down next week, am going to throw some darts tonight to see if they confirm this.

  3. At least he hasn't blamed the American people and their 'malaise'.

    Though maybe he will.

    Carter's 'Malaise' Speech

    "Ah feel your pain, ah share your dreams"

    Text of 'Malaise' Speech

  4. ah remember that malaonaise speech like it was yesterday, but can't find my matching sock today.

  5. $6 bucks, that's a bargain.--

    Member E-News An IANDS Member Service

    To celebrate the imminent arrival of spring (finally!) after a hard winter, IANDS is holding a 25% off Spring Inventory Clearance Sale for back issues of the Journal of Near-Death Studies during the month of March.

    As the only publication devoted exclusively to the field of near-death studies, the Journal offers a range of ideas from many of the leading researchers and thinkers in the field. There are many treasures here, and this is your opportunity to obtain some of the best research and perspectives on NDEs at a steep discount.

    Sale ends Sunday, March 31st. No orders will be accepted after that date. Minimum order of $18.

    Journal of Near-Death Studies –
    Current issues (less than 3 years old): regular $16, now only $12
    Older issues (more than 3 years old): regular $8, now only $6

    How to order:
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    Go to to see the issues available (scroll down) and their tables of contents. Click one of the links to go to the shopping cart with your selection. Once you add it to your cart, you can browse and select other back issues.
    As you add back issues, your shopping cart will list the regular, pre-discount price. It must show at least $24 which, after the 25% discount, equals the minimum order of $18 (for example, that’s three issues of the older Journal of Near-Death Studies at $6 each).
    In Step 2 of the Checkout process, enter the coupon code springsale in the Redemption Code field (just above where you enter your credit card information). That will trigger the 25% discount, which will be displayed on the next web page.
    A shipping and handling fee will be applied as usual at checkout.
    Sale ends Sunday, March 31, 2009. No sale orders will be accepted after that date.
    Please forward this e-mail to anyone you think would be interested.
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  6. 4 'Sovereign Movement' Members Arrested

    Never heard of this Sovereign Movement before, but from their backgrounds they might make good cabinet members. Or even members of Congress. A lawyer, a former FBI agent, a rabbi, what have you, a mix.

  7. The DOW's cardiogram '37 vs '08:

  8. That is a heck of a coincidence,
    that chart, ain't it.

  9. Meltdown
    h/t BLarsen

    There is no government. Just a ruling a criminal military/corporate mafia looting the nation.

  10. That is a heck of a coincidence,
    that chart, ain't it.

    Actually, there a very well know mathematical construct, developed by Ralph Nelson Elliott, that describes this.

  11. dRat might not believe in the conspiracy, but I do. It is quite obvious to me that these wars are never intended to be won, just intended to be sustained. Sucking lives and treasury, to make bankers and arms dealers rich.

  12. Chart

    Started to fall heavily after 9/11 then rose till Obumble comes along.

  13. Max Keiser calls it Corporatacracy and Corporate Feudalism, and he's spot on. It's absolutely amazing that these pigs are left breathing.

  14. Max Keiser on The Alex Jones Show

  15. Glenn Beck - Economic Apocalypse

  16. Charlie Parker - "Groovin' High"

  17. #449 - Global Ponzi Scheme
    Series: Unwelcome Guests
    Subtitle: Systemic Fraud and the Corporate Occupation

  18. Meditations Of An Old Woman

    'What Can I Tell My Bones?'


    Perptual beginner.
    The soul knows not what to believe,
    In its small folds, stirring sluggishly,
    In the least place of its life.
    A pulse beyond nothingness,
    A fearful ignorance.

    Before the moon draws back,
    Dare I blaze like a tree?

    In a world always late afternoon,
    In the circular smellls of a slow wind,
    I listen to the weeds' vesperal whine,
    Longing for absolutes that never come.
    And shapes make me afraid:
    The dance of natural objects in the mind,
    The immediate sheen, the reality of straw,
    The shadows crawling down a sunny wall.

    A bird sings out in solitariness
    A thin harsh song. The day dies in the child.
    How close we are to the sad animals!
    I need a pool; I need a puddle's calm.

    O my bones,
    Beware those perpetual beginnings,
    Thinning the soul's substance;
    The swan's dread of the darkening shore,
    Or these insects pulsing near my skin,
    The songs from a spiral tree.

    Fury of wind, and no apparent wind,
    A gust blowing the leaves suddenly upward,
    A vine lashing in dry fury,
    A man chasing a cat,
    With a broken umbrella,
    Crying softly.


    It is difficlut to say all things are wll,
    When the worst is about to arrive;
    It is fatal to woe yourself,
    However grateful the posture.

    Loved heart, what can I say?
    When I was a lark, I sang;
    When I was a worm, I devoured.

    The self says, I am;
    The heart says, I am less;
    The spirit says, you are nothing.

    Mist alters the rocks. What can I tell my bones?
    My desire's a wind trapped in a cave.
    The spirit declares itself to these rocks.
    I'm a small stone, loose in the shale.
    Love is my wound.

    The wide streams go their way,
    The pond lapses back into a glassy silence.
    The cause of God in me--has it gone?
    Do these bones live? Can I live with these bones?
    Mother, mother of us all, tell me where I am!
    O to be delivered from the rational into the realm of pure song,
    My face on fire, close to the points of a star,
    A learned nimble girl
    Not drearily bewitched,
    But sweety daft.

    To try to become like God
    Is far from becoming God.
    O, but I seek and care!

    I rock in my own dark,
    Thinking, God has need of me.
    The dead love the unborn.


    Weeds turn toward the wind weed-skeletons,
    How slowly all things alter.
    Existence dares perpetuate a soul,
    A wedge of heaven's light, autumnal song.
    I hear a beat of birds, the plangent wings
    That disappear into a waning moon;
    The barest speech of light among the stones.

    To what more vast permission have I come?
    When I walk past a vat, water joggles,
    I no longer cry for green in the midst of cinders,
    Or dream of the dead, and their holes.
    Mercy has many arms.

    Instead of a devil with horns, I prefer a serpent with scales;
    In temptation, I rarely seek counsel;
    A prisoner of smells, I would rather eat than pray.
    I'm released from the dreary dance of opposites.
    The wind rocks with my wish; the rain shields me;
    I live in light's extreme; I stretch in all directions;
    Sometimes I think I'm several.

    The sun! The sun! And all we can become!
    And the time ripe for running to the moon!
    In the long fields, I leave my father's eye;
    And shake the secrets from my deepest bones;
    My spirit rises with the rising wind;
    I'm thick with leaves and tender as a dove,
    I take the liberties a short life permits--
    I seek my own meekness;
    I recover my tenderness by long looking.
    By midnight I love everything alive.
    Who took the darkness from the air?
    I'm wet with another life.
    Yea, I have gone and stayed.

    What came to me vaguely is now clear,
    As if released by a spirit.
    Or agency outside me.
    Unprayed for,
    And final.


  19. With the passing of this bill, government, not doctors, will decide who receives care and who doesn't, in essence, who lives and who dies.

    Nationalizing Life and Death

    It's time to start calling these bastards the totalitarians they really are heart.