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02 January 2008


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My problem with Obama is his aeire-faerie contention that bi-partisanship is our new way forward. The crowd in Washington now on the GOP side are the direct descendants of Dick "bi-partisanship is another name for date rape" Armey. They just ain't ready, or willin' -- Obama appears to have a major case of what "ought to be true is not the same as true."

Both Edwards and Clinton get it. Progressive Democratic domestic issues and Bush-related foreign policy horrorshows will take huge efforts on the parts of Democrats to change/fix. There will have to be bloody political battles fought and won before the other side[s] will be forced to the table. Obama is delusional if he thinks they will come voluntarily.

T.S. Wittig

Short Answer: Hilary is a product of nepotism and the Clintons started the destructive politics that Bush has accelerated.

Long Answer: The Clintons (because it was both of them) practiced a politics in which opponents are enemies and friends are expected to be loyal to the point of sacrificing principle, and the institutions of American democracy exist to serve the leaders rather than vice versa. This is the same politics that many in the Gingrich Congress practiced and the same politics that the Bush administration has perfected. No need to revise history just because the current crew is so horrendous. The Bhutto analogy, which admittedly can't be stretched that far, is that while she would be an improvement from the current regime and may have some good ideas and perhaps even suffered politically and personally because of them, she is nevertheless a beneficiary of nepotism and corruption who in my view would without hesitation sacrifice democratic principle on the altar of her own ambition.

I believe McCain deserves much of the hype around him, but for reasons I don't quite get he triangulated himself into an ethical and political hole.

On Huck: America is probably Big Jim in this analogy - unnecessarily down the river on a raft while actually being free from bondage the whole time.


That should have read: "It will take a huge effort by Democrats to initiate domestic policy reforms and fix Bush-related foreign policy horrorshows."


Yes, there are some Obama supporters here. We have learned painfully the lesson that the ancient Greeks taught: character is fate. Of course, Obama will disappoint us. He's a politician. But what he brings now is a mind that questions and thinks, not polls and triangulates.

We will be facing many challenges in the next decade. Experience--especially of the HC type (Patriot Act, Iraq War, Kyl-Lieberman, etc)--is the most overrated commodity in the world. Some politicians only get it right when they have gotten everything else wrong first.

As we say in the legal game, some people have 25 years experience as a first-year lawyer.


Martin K. asks "What are Obamas backers? Who owns him?"

Here's one place to turn:


Bingo. Says Obama is mainly supported by FIRE: Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industries, with additional large blocks of funding from the legal profession. Of course, that seems to pretty much describe them all....

I can't vouch for any of the work above, but it may help fill in one more piece of the puzzle for some. YMMV

Nancy Kimberlin

I'm still not sure who I'm voting for but I like the idea of the USA electing Barak Obama for many reasons. I also like Edwards and I think a female president would also be amazing.
Part of me fears that Barak isn't electable because he is an African-American, Hilary isn't electable because she is a woman and a Clinton and Edwards is just too good looking. What a predicement the Democrats are in.
The Republicans have it easier. The religious right will vote for Huckabee. White men are not threatened by him and he does play a mean bass, and he is not black, a women, or handsome.


David Habakkuk:

I agree completely with your qualifications about the nature and effect of our fears and desires, and thank you for your kind words as well.

And I admit that my own desires colored my posted thoughts here on modernism, namely my insatiable desire never to confront the term "post-modernism" again!

Thanks for your thoughts here, and elsewhere on the Colonel's site.


Oh Nancy:

Your opinion of potential voting white men, writ large, is quite negative. We should be grateful, I suppose to become merely castratii in the forthcoming Reich (Repub or Dem). Some will think that the occurence of Obama reaching the presidency will be a sure bet to trigger an assassination. I can just picture Chris rock doing a riff on same. I don't think however, that if this occurs that the Agency, nor some associated vagrants caught near a grassy knoll will be suspected. They have learned their lesson with the current crowd.

Stephen Calhoun

My mother's 81. She had an intriguing suggestion that combines experience with populist hope: Jim Webb/Jon Tester.

It takes only a small amount of research, a little bit of objective historical knowledge, and the ability to structure a feasible interpretation of a given policy picture, to understand that a presidential campaign is all marketing and all surface. On the rarest of occasions this prophylactic system breaks down and one gets a glimpse.

I'll be pithy: it seems to me that the problems of manikind are so immense and furious that we'd just as soon kill any messenger with a shred of sense to offer than spend time listening to their message.

Example: it seems that you need a big time intelligence, investigation and law enforcement effort, and, lots of cooperating international bridgework to mitigate the odds of being victimized by a jihadi terrorist cell/network. In fact this is the unsexy effort that helps protect us but it would be suicidal for any candidate to promote unsexy complexities and responses to be either the principal solution or as being evidence of being a sound leader.

Which brings us to the difference between what we dump into someone willing to eat up our projections about leadership, versus, someone who can lead people to accomplish hard tasks.

So we're subject to these obscene branding efforts. In fact, one could say, having read George Kennan (for example,) that for a man or woman to be able to promote their actual capabilities and to offer details about their ability to descend with analytic gravitas into the grey grain of challenges facing all of us is: in this climate, political hari kari.

Of course social psychology suggests that our projections fill the blank canvas of the candidate and then the candidate confirms our cherished biases in a satisfying magical participation. (See Levi-Strauss)

If I get Colonel Lang's point, this can work out very badly.

One who has obtained a qualified 'cognitive complexity' and ability to dig a bit into the data should tend to rip the packaging off and see, if possible, what one is really dealing with. The tentative conclusion of intelligence gathering requires, also, knowledge of the countervailing contingencies and possibilities. For example...

I don't know who will be on Obama's team. I don't know who will give him information that will unsettle him and move him to close consideration and inspire real critical intelligence. A lot rides on his 'human resource' philosophy.

I don't really care to be warmed and inspired. I'd rather be scared (at the very idea!) that someone is brave enough to offer me disturbing evidence that they are deeply thoughtful and that they don't already know all that they need to know.

Branding alone of course fills our cabinets with stuff that seemed worth buying but then came to seem ridiculous.

I'm undecided. I do believe that Obama at least is smart and maybe he has read Kennan and Locke and Mill and Madison and Jefferson.


T.S. Wittig,

I believe McCain deserves much of the hype around him, but for reasons I don't quite get he triangulated himself into an ethical and political hole"

Shorter T.S.,

McCain sold out to advance presidential ambitions.


Michael Murry

At least in Iowa among Democrats and Independents, "hope" comfortably came in first; anti-corporate "populism" came in second; and "experienced corporate mendacity" came in third. Good. More than two-thirds of Iowa Democrats and Independents voted for someone other than "Buffaloed Girl" Senator You-Know-Her (currently) from New York. As-yet-un-bombed foreigners no doubt breathe somewhat easier tonight.

Republicans, for their part, indulged in an orgy of fratricidal, holy-rolling animism. They don't matter.

Soon, perhaps, You-Know-Her will take her mindless militarism back to her comfortable back-bench fiefdom in the Senate where she can return to "working with Republicans" to amend the U.S. Constitution so as to ban that awful plague of flag-burning in America, et cetera. Usually, the consensus Democratic Party nominees for President wait until after the Democratic Party primaries to sell out the despised "left" that got them their nominations. Senator You-Know-Her made the fatal mistake of trying to sell out the "left" (meaning a majority of the American electorate now) during the Democratic Party primaries. Only one word properly describes this strategy of campaigning for Republican votes in a Democratic Party primary: "Stupid." Really stupid. Bob Shrum must surely have had something to do with this.

Yes, I know that duplicitous denizens of the Bush/Clinton dynasty will point to the expensive, private universities where they once matriculated. They will claim that just because they think stupid things and say stupid things and do stupid things, that these empirical traits do not, in fact, make them stupid. But, uh: yes, they do.

It looks like the "young people" have finally gotten off their collective asses and realized what a bleak future they will inherit (like they haven't already) if the present gang of "experienced" corrupt Republicrat cronies has anything more than one additional desultory year in office. As an old song from my own youth once put it: "The kids are alright." Carpe Diem, kids. The day belongs to you if you seize it. Richard Cohen may choke on that, but let him.


the mendacity or r. cohen. peggy noonan put it in context

"Hillary Clinton, the inevitable, the avatar of the machine, lost.

It's huge. Even though people have been talking about this possibility for six weeks now, it's still huge. She had the money, she had the organization, the party's stars, she had Elvis behind her, and the Clinton name in a base that loved Bill. And she lost. There are always a lot of reasons for a loss, but the Ur reason in this case, the thing it all comes down to? There's something about her that makes you look, watch, think, look again, weigh and say: No.

She started out way ahead, met everyone, and lost.

As for Sen. Obama, his victory is similarly huge. He won the five biggest counties in Iowa, from the center of the state to the South Dakota border. He carried the young in a tidal wave. He outpolled Mrs. Clinton among women.

He did it with a classy campaign, an unruffled manner, and an appeal on the stump that said every day, through the lines: Look at who I am and see me, the change that you desire is right here, move on with me and we will bring it forward together. "

W. Patrick Lang


With Obama's star rising, it is appropriate to ask what change it is that people think he will bring? pl


I suspect the younger voter has bought into the meme that Obama's election would, in way, end the battle/s of the 60s, that, as meme goes, have been going on, in different iterations, for the past 3+ decades. I think this is a simplistic hope, and a poor read of history. But there it is. And so the meme goes, when those sharp battles of partisanship are done, and the smoke has clear, 'we'll all get together again and get America moving into the 21st Century.

Shorter jonst.....the 60's are finally over. The Who, Clapton, et al can cancel their 'farewell' tours. Or else book them solely in Las Vegas and Branston.


With Obama's star rising, it is appropriate to ask what change it is that people think he will bring?

Of course, Col. Lang. Just don't get specific or look for consistencies. I truly don't get Obama and despite initially trying to get behind him, I found him severely lacking. If the bar for POTUS has now been set to GWB, Obama may be your guy. My opinion.

Off topic, Larry Johnson warmly stated he was fortunate to have visited some Civil War battlefields with you and that it was nothing short of amazing.
I envy him.


Col, Obama and Huckabee both represent the change that America wants; not a Clinton, not a Bush.

The Neocons are hurting because Rudy is not going to win Florida and McCain is not acceptable to the Religious right.

Sic semper tyrannus (THUS ALWAYS TO TYRANTS)


"Look at who I am and see me, the change that you desire is right here, move on with me and we will bring it forward together. "

Reads like a bodice ripper. The Mendacity of hope wankery of wishful thinking is not the fast track but the chute to "sadder but wiser."

Wittig, short and long answers read like American Spectator humbug.

Clifford Kiracofe

Perhaps not much major change in US foreign policy except for style, cosmetics, and atmospherics.

Tony Lake is said to be one of his foreign policy advisors, so it would follow that the main lines of an Obama Administration foreign policy would reflect the "Princeton Project" recommendations. This group, which I have noted on several threads, was chaired by George Shultz and Tony Lake as a way to an Establishment ("bi-partisan") policy consensus for 2008 and beyond. http://www.wws.princeton.edu/ppns/

With Susan Rice as a reported advisor one would expect increased attention to Africa and necessarily then to the new Africa Command. Issues such as energy and counterterrorism, etc. Other advisors are experts on international human rights issues, etc.

Zbig Brzezinski endorsed him so more of same old-same old geopolitics from that front.

Imperialism lite...


"With Obama's star rising, it is appropriate to ask what change it is that people think he will bring?" pl

Obama's popularity stems from the fact that Americans are tired of hating each other. Americans are tired of fear. Americans are tired of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore.

Obama is like a fresh green salad after two decades of red meat. Americans are ready to detox. Obama is selling Unity and Hope. America is ready to buy.

How will he govern? Who knows. All we know is he's a 180 from what we've had for 8 years. It might carry him all the way to the White House.


T.S. Wittig

the Clintons started the destructive politics that Bush has accelerated.

That is a pretty unusual reading of the Clinton Presidency. And that's coming from someone who's not a Clinton fan. I would recommend that you read "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-year Campaign to Destroy Hillary and Bill Clinton " by investigative reporters Gene Lyons and Joe Conason for a better understanding of the Clinton's "bunker mentality" during a sustained and well-funded right-wing effort to bring that presidency down.

Also well documented is the "liberal" NY Times' collusion in that effort...

W. Patrick Lang

"Frank Anderson says that finds my statement about ISI support for the Taliban questionable and a year off. He says that the Taliban didn't appear until 1994 (like a rabbit popping out of a hat. But he may well be right (his sources are certainly better than mine, given his career in the area), and my date is probably off by a year. I was told Bhutto began support of the Taliban at the beginning of her second term as Prime Minister (1993-1996).

In any case, what I was told was that in her second term, Bhutto tried to avoid conflict with the ISI by not opposing the appointments of Gen. Abdul Waheed Kakkar and Gen. Jehangir Karamat, the chiefs of the army staff, to head ISI. But somewhere in the early part of her tenure, she did act to transfer the responsibility for Afghan operations from ISI to the Interior Ministry headed by Maj. Gen. (rtd) Nasirullah Babar, who formerly headed Afghan operations during her father's tenure as PM. It was at that time Bhutto ordered Gen. Musharraf, who was then Director-General of Military Operations, to work closely with Babar. I apologize for getting the date wrong. Clearly, the Intelligence Bureau, basically a police outfit, was also used by Bhutto in coordination Pakistan's support for the ISI, as Anderson asserts

The second point about Bhutto's tenure as perhaps providing a basis for a new counteroffensive against Pakistan's spreading jidhadis Anderson labels "laughable." I was simply reporting what I was told. In my own judgment, I thought it preposterous, but I was told this by one US official who acted as if the advent of Bhutto for a third term as PM would prove to be some sort of miracle. I asked how, if Pakistani forces could not exert their control over Swat or other places in the Pashtun belt, who or what was going to be the agent to mount the offensive? Given the poor state of Pakistan's security and counter-terrorism forces, the inference was that US forces, to be given free rein by Bhutto if she was elected, would be the instrument, but the one person I discussed this with, retreated into platitudes about the struggle against terrorism in Pakistan being a "long-drawn out process." But personally I thought it was fatuous. There has been an upsurge of violence in the tribal areas that in my opinion, gave every sign of continuing or worsening over the short and medium term.

In any case, I appreciate Anderson's correction on the date. What I bridled at was his tone of superior, contemptuous disdain. I apparently made an error of fact, that I have here tried to correct. But there are errors of tone as well.

With greetings to all,

Richard Sale"


One often hears that Irak is the wrong war and that Afghanistan is the right one w/ respect to "terror." I disagree as to Afghanistan and to "terror." The "terror" term is out of context but that is a different thread. Afghanistan is also the wrong country. Pakistan is the correct target.

And a kinetic response is not the solution. Soft Power is more appropriate- discussed below. Sheikh Mohammed, the 9.11 chief was a Baloochi from Pakistan. Afghanistan is a rural country that doesn't have the international links and infrastructure of Pakistan.

Ronald RayGun is given the credit for bringing down the Soviets through prolifigate defesnse spending the soviets couldn't match so they cried Uncle. But the real credit goes to two Polacks. Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter's sec'y of state, and his holiness the Polish Pope who answered Stalin's famous rhetorical question "how many divisions does the Pope have?" The Pope works thru Soft Power not kinetic divisions.

At one time when communism existed, there was bond b/n Muslims and America in opposing the Godless ideology but with collapse of Communism the long festering Arab and Muslim hatred spread by the Ziocons in the U.S. took center stage. It was no accident that Sheik Mohammed's hatred was formed while attending schools in the U.S. at Chowan and A&T. Similarly the Qutb whose writings inspired Al-Zawhari caught fire while studying in the U.S.

The use of US soft power to stand in the face of the ZionCons and impose a peace settlement on the Israelis and make them obey UN resolutions would go a long way to defuse anti US sentiment against us among Muslims especially in Pakistan.

That Zbigniew supports Obama Husein is a powerful signal for me.

The second powerful signal of change is the way his campaign is financed- numerous small donors contributing through the internet.

the third powerful signal of change is his refusal to vote for the kyle-lieberman iran piece of garbage.

the clincher would be his choosing of Webb as VP


john in the boro

“With Obama's star rising, it is appropriate to ask what change it is that people think he will bring? Pl”

Speaking for myself, Obama is not Bush or Clinton. I recall another time about thirty years ago when I was younger and weary/wary of Washington insiders. I voted for smiling Jimmy Carter. Just could not vote for the guy who gave Nixon a pass. I have no idea what kind of president Obama might become if elected. Although I did not vote for Bush either time, I did not expect him to be this bad. Sort of figured the entrenched federal bureaucracy would restrain/contain him (the argument of institutions v. personalities). After all, his first six months of on-the-job vacation back at the ranch did not present the image of a dynamic leader. However, I misunderestimated his bunkmates who apparently were and are running the family business. The big question for me is not so much change as an expression of progress, whatever that means, but remedial action as in the misfire of a weapon. Bush and friends misfired the executive branch. But there is a part of me that recognizes the grave possibility of a defective weapon: scary thought that



Care to tell us all how today's LIBOR rates compares to that of a year ago, or even 3 months ago?


Jonst: Your take on McCain makes my point much more concisely, thank you.

RJJ & JohnS: I take you mistaking my critical take on the Clintons for crazed Clinton hating as evidence that the political mess we are in has its roots in the Clinton years. Like I said originally, the Manichean approach to politics and politicization of civic institutions was perpetrated by both sides, but only a revisionist would deny that the Clintons were not just as guilty as those who were indeed out to destroy them.

At best, the Clintons learned from their opponents and ended up like them. At worst, they are cut from the same cloth. Just as paranoids can have enemies, scoundrels can also be unfairly treated. Maybe my view is unsophisticated and overly cynical, but I see clear parallels between how the Bush and Clinton administrations exercised power and dealt with opposition, not to mention their common senses of entitlement and penchant for secrecy.

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