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21 February 2008


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"I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice."

Uh..... Wha...? Who's asking you to?


The term “demagogue” (now a pejorative) once meant “champion of common people”. It is therefore accurate to call him a demagogue. When in the past 50 years have we had a president who tried to champion common people? Jimmy Carter? Reagan completed three good years of service but his last five years might just as well have been spent in a nursing home.

The “decider” promised to bring everyone into the same tent. Instead, he allowed his underlings to drag us into several sink holes, and in the process they convinced him that he actually was a king in disguise.

Bush and his sycophants in Congress passed laws that favored corporations at the expense of the general population. The unprecedented use of signing statements sidestepped the most meaningful aspects of the laws. He’s proven to be a poor CIC because he has violated the first tenet of military leadership: “take care of the troops”. Only an idiot would have made a “dead or alive” plea.

Ron Paul could lead an effort to put a stop to executive branch folly but he will not be elected because the sheep (75% of the voters) do not understand (nor do they care about) the complexities of the modern world and how our nation relates to it.

Hillary Clinton has the intellect and elbows to lead the country, but the prospect of Bill Clinton sitting in a White House back room throwing turds into the punchbowl is asking too much.

If Obama cancels or reverses the existing signing statements he will effectuate a significant change in our country’s direction. As he shows no predilection to undermine the role of Congress, it could be that his leadership style will be consistent with the role of the Executive Branch outlined in the Constitution. He does not seem to have “trifling” inclinations as far as the military goes; indeed, the services might even fulfill their promise and destiny under his leadership.

Stanley Henning

If Obama is for children, who has Bush been for ? As others have already noted, a lot, almost everything, will depend on the combination of Obama himself, the kind of people he is surrounded with, and how they all interact, as in any administration, and, hopefully, primarily for the good of OUR country, realizing we have to live with others on this earth. What more can we ask for? I do hope the individual who wins will operate with minimal ideological bent, will carefully balance advice, and will not try to end run our system of checks and balances. And, of course, I hope both parties will try to cooperate as much as possible for the good of our country -- we need to do a lot of repair work, but many of the repairs will count on a decent economy .


Jefferson believed that government must be reinvented in every generation.

But I thought we needed to de-reinvent the work of Dick Cheney and his familiars.

W. Patrick Lang


Politicians do not tell you what they intend to do to you until they attain power. A deep suspicion should be maintained toward them all. Bush in his first campaign and in his first year in office was a vastly different creature than the post 9/11 aspirant to dictatorial power that he has manifested since.

Anyone who implies that he "is the answer" does not have an image of himself that fits into the limited role that we have hoped for in American presidents.

Liberties vs. social justice? Review the history of the continuing tension between these values in Western civilization since the French Revolution. Along the way, re-read "Animal Farm." pl


1. Not a Neo-Con
2. Not a Clinton
3. 180 degree change from what we have now.

That's enough to defeat the mighty Clinton machine and the remains of the Republican majority.

Perhaps this "Child" is exactly what America needs as opposed to "triangulation" and the "fear is my ally".


One indication of how these two democratic candidates would run the country is how they run their campaigns. Clinton's has been a disaster. Oboma has run a masterful campaign. Give me the inexperienced guy any time! I also like his
foreign policy advisers. A few (at least) new faces, and by the way, don't you think Hillary is too cosy with AIPAC?

Cold War Zoomie

Foot, meet ant-hill.

Ant-hill, meet foot.

Clifford Kiracofe

Perhaps it would be useful to know more about Mr. Obama? What serious biographic data is out there?

Just how does a guy from Hawaii blow into Chicago and skyrocket? Just who did make him? What is his real background in Chicago politics? Who are his patrons?

Being from Chicago myself, things I hear from my sources in the Hyde
Park black community go something like this:

1. He came into Chicago as a social worker involved in various projects in the South Side. The original groups he worked with were Christian based and his primary work was with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God crowd. He later distanced himself from that milieu. He became a member of Trinity United Church of Christ.

2. He got noticed in his early social work days by some well connected white philanthropists some of whom have links to the University of Chicago. They supported him and moved him along in their circles.

3. One of his key patrons is the Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker (a billionaire or so -- Hyatt Hotels and all that) is the national finance chair of his presidential campaign.
"With over 350,000 donors and more than a half a million donations, Americans hungry for change know that Barack Obama is the candidate with the right experience to make that change happen," said Penny Pritzker, Obama for America National Finance Chair. "

4. Through powerful patronage he got around the usual Chicago machine path of entry via a family connection (father, uncle etc.),paying your dues for many years, doing the favors you need to do, keeping your mouth shut. Hence, "he's relatively clean" as someone from Hyde Park told me.

For those not familiar with Chicago, I might suggest the Pritzker family as subjects of interest. They do have a colorful (one might say) Chicago background and you can read all about it in
a book by Gus Russo called Supermob (2006):

"This book is an explosive story of the criminal underworld and its covert takeover of American politics, business, and entertainment. It's the tale of a cadre of powerful men who, over the course of decades, secretly influenced nearly every aspect of American society, including such famous (and infamous) folks as Jules Stein, Ronald Reagan, Abe Pritzker, Lew Wasserman, and John Jacob Factor -- as well as numerous other meticulously low-profile members. At the heart of it all is was the Chicago Outfit and its fair-haired boy, Sidney Korshak, aka "The Fixer," who from the 1940's until his death in the 1990s, was not only the most powerful lawyer in the world, according to the FBI, but the enigmatic, almost vaporous player behind some of the shadiest deals of the 20th century..."

The Rezko thing...well, isn't the real subject of interest actually Rezko's patron Nadhmi Auchi, the Iraqi billionaire, former oil minister, Saddam guy etc? Rezko-Auchi-Obama links all over the London papers but somehow doesn't seem to get picked up over here...


Col. Lang,

I would agree that there is a certain element of risk in electing Obama in that he's not an establishment candidate. However, as others have noted, I think the US populace on both sides of the political spectrum are sick and tired of the establishment. Who would have thought McCain would win the nomination defying the GoP base? He's hated by liberals for those times he's supported Bush and most of the GoP base hates him for not towing the parry line, yet he won. Obama, I think, has been successful for similar reasons, though his stellar campaign certainly helped. Were Hillary's last name something other than "Clinton" things might be different.

I think this is one of those election cycles where there will be a lot of aisle crossing. I suspect in a year we might be talking about "Obama Republicans" or "McCain Democrats". It's an election cycle where I think the silent majority in America that largely ignore politics most of the time will make their voices heard and ultimately decide the next President. Those voters are, I believe, likely to support the "change" candidate.

Finally, consider that the Democrats are still in primary mode. Provided Obama wins the nomination, he will have to change tack in the general election. Undoubtedly he'll continue with the change mantra, but he'll have to spend more time on policy and substance.


IMO, we can never be certain of how a candidate will perform once they are in office.

All we can observe is what have they done, how they have made decisions in real time and their judgment.

As far as the current campaign is concerned - Obama's team planned and are executing a 50 state strategy. They did not assume they would win every contest and decided to compete for every vote and delegate in all our states. Hillary on the other hand had all the institutional advantages and the Clinton name recognition but her strategy was to focus on inevitability and a knock-out on Super Tuesday. When that did not materialize she had no Plan B.

So just taking the campaign as an example of decision making and judgment - Obama scored better than Hillary. And to achieve the objective of winning the nomination of the Democratic party if he had to appeal to our childish nature, that, IMO, reflects astuteness.

Ultimately I believe if we are to maintain our constitutional democracy with the degree of skepticism of government that our founders had, we the citizens have to exercise our sovereignty. Its easy to blame others but we also need to accept our responsibility as citizens.

David W

By definition, those who are resistant to change benefit from the status quo, and that includes the DNC wing, Bill and Hillary.

What swayed me was that Obama voted against telecom immunity in the Senate earlier this month, while Hillary, true to form, abstained from the vote. This is a Constitutional issue, yet Hillary was afraid to touch it, because her 'triangulation team' probably told her there wasn't enough upside, and they didn't want to offend the people who weren't paying attention.

I'm a lifelong independent, not a dewey eyed ingenue, and although Obama has plenty of question marks, his record has way more integrity than Hill's situational pragmatism. I don't expect a return of the Great Society, but I think that change can be achieved by something as simple as enforcing laws and bringing back the govt. watchdog.


Maybe Obama is for a huge swath of the Democratic Party that wishes to express its unwillingness to accept a presidential nominee in the corporatist, top-down, manner much more indicative of the modern Republican Party. Of the many possible - and accurate - ways to interpret this primary campaign is that we are witnessing the begining of re-invigorated party apparatus asserting itself after 20 years of DLC-style, 'third way' hollowing out.

Political parties are most certainly one of our political system's "essential institutions". Rhetoric is a means to an end.


I don't buy it either, Col. Lang. Sure, he may win it - I wonder why someone like Robert Kagan go ga ga over him?
McDonald's may be the tops in sales, just don't tell me it's cuisine.


Moon stations a trip to Mars and 600 billion in military spending are hardly essential institutions.


Clifford Kiracofe,


for asking my question and providing some of the answers.


No matter who wins, how do we get them to get you as foreign policy adviser for the Middle East?


Col Lang, on your prayer:

I think that is a brilliant observation that this election is about a choice between how we want government to be 'reinvented.' And the choices are pretty clear, and both are partially scary.

Obama's power derives from the people, i.e. from his ability to sway, influence, and manipulate the general public. Hillary's power derives mostly from entrenched interests, i.e. her ability to sway, influence, and cajole those already in power.

Obama thus offers a reinvention of government that could be much more in line with the Founders vision in that it be definition would lead to decentralization of power away from the federal government and towards the individual. He would only become a demagouge if he was willing and able to reflect his power (derived directly from the public) back onto himself. This is how a personality cult populist like Huey Long governed, and you're right, it does lead to sacrificing liberty for effectiveness (i.e. change both good and bad).

On the other side Hillary and McCain simply represent a more benign continuation of the type government 'reinvented' by Bush and co, namely one that involves us trading liberty for things like loyalty, security, comfort, and unity/conformity.

I for one, would rather take my chances with Obama's reinvention. At best, we reinvent government in a way that makes us freer. At worst, we get a failed populist (I doubt Obama is savvy or evil enough to become a real despot). With Hillary or McCain, we further entrench a system of government that leaves us with neither liberty nor justice.


More report of Clinton campaign inner working


Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest campaign finance report, published Wednesday night, appeared even to her most stalwart supporters and donors to be a road map of her political and management failings.

Larry M


Respectfully, I think you missed the tone of the majority of the responses to your post. The majority of your readers seem to be as skeptical, or almost as skeptical, as you are about Obama's change rhetoric. They believe, though, (correctly in my book), that, underneath that rhetoric, Obama is candidate of some promise - or, at a bare minimum, of more promise than the two awful alternatives.


Change? What change? Good question. Change - as in cosmetic change - a black (ish) man with a Muslim middle name as President. Supposedly, this might inspire those coloured and Muslim peoples of the world whose declared vocation in life is to hate "imperialist-colonialist" America to suddenly fall in love with America just because he is black. Mmmmmm. Maybe -for five minutes. Then it will be back to usual, one suspects. Change - as in tinker with the educational system, the social security system, taxation, funding for the military, etc. Those would be changes, but not change. Will these tinkerings really represent any deep and substantial change in the way Americans think about themselves and their society and their place in the world? They are really merely adjustments to the machine, not a complete redesign. Change, real change, surely is the sort of change that was effected in England 1642 to 1660, America 1777 to 1783, Italy 1848 on, Japan after Perry, France 1789 to 1815, Russia 1917 and 1990, South Africa 1990s. Revolutionary change - good or bad. The wholesale re-organisation of the collective cosciousness of society, reflected in a massive shifting and re-structuring of its policies and attitudes to the outside world, its belief systems, how its citizens relate to each other, its internal politics and so forth.

Is Mr Obama offering in reality merely the cosmetic change - "I am black (which is obviously a change)" cf Kennedy the first Catholic president - or does he promise to tinker with parts of the system so as to give his electors a good feeling that change is happening - a "no child left behind" change - or is he offering a revolutionary transformation of American society and America's place in the world. "I am a Gandhi, a Mandela, a Jefferson (or a Chavez or a Castro!)". If the latter - surely he should be indicating the lineaments of that transformation, which so far, he seems not to be.

The colonel is quite right: from Mr Obama's lips, the word change emerges meaningless, undefined, vague, empty. A tale told by a clever man, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


Oops, sorry about that last (non)post. Col. Lang, I mostly just lurk here and enjoy your thoughts and those of the others as well. I think it's not just "change" that Obama is offering, but also hope. After the last 16 years of extreme partisan nastiness his message is inspirng. We've all been so jaded by the past. Will there be change if he's elected? I'm inclined to believe what has been said by those positive commenters above. Oh, here's the definition of Hope: The feeling that what is desired is possible, or that events may turn out for the best. I hope that "Hope" is not just for children.

frank durkee

I have come to this post late. I think that a critical point has been missed. Namely, the Bush administration came in with a radical change agenda. Most of the things that exercise the Col. or many of the rest of us are the result of that radical/revolutionary agenda, including the war in iraq. Obama is thus the cconservative candidate of return to the principles of our earlier style of governance. At this moment that is 'Change' and something new. Further, if yoou read the Post on Serbia etc in this light then what Abama has caught is another aspect of our national mythos, which the Bush attempted revolutionary had put aside.


I note today that security was lifted at an Obama rally in Texas - they stopped screening some of the 17,000 that attended for guns. This was apparently on the orders of homeland security or the secret service.

It has crossed my mind more than once that there is a considerable body of folk that could not contemplate the idea of a man of color sitting in the Oval Office. I am therefore very concerned for his safety.


Col. Lang, Our foreign policy is broken, the Pentagon is broken, our health care system is almost broken, as is our supply of energy and our currency.

No one would have any hope of winning a nomination if he or she spoke candidly about our broken policies.

McCain and Clinton offer incremental change. A few more fingers in the dike.

I do not know what Obama would do. I do know that he has been endorsed by people with a lot of experience and a record of making tough decisions.

Paul Volcker's endorsement is meaningful to me. He clamped down hard on the economy and broke inflation. He restored the dollar. I hope that Obama is talking to him.

If Obama wins the nomination I hope he'll take some time to meet you.

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