« Reuel Gerecht, man of many faces? | Main | "The Collective Memory of a People" Serbia This Time »

21 February 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


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

Pat, neither am I. In fact I'm reminded of a quote by Vice President Alexander Stephens: "Our liberties, once lost, may be lost forever." Of course he was VP of the Confederate States of America....


Obama may also be for Karl Rove and the GOP attack machine. Last Sunday, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich were interviewed in the Sunday Times of London, smacking their chops over the opportunity to set off the attack dogs on Obama, whom they labeled a "sleazy Chicago socialist." Newt and company already have the dossier on Obama's ties to Tony Rezko, and his past close ties to two Weather Underground figures, Bill Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, now both Chicago radical-chics, who contributed to Obama's state senate campaign, and served with him on a local Chicago foundation board for a few years.

Yes, as Dr. Justin Frank observed, there is a mania around Obama, which is far different than the real man. Obama is not some mythical political giant. He has the backing of a bunch of oldtime Democrats who hate the Clintons, and saw Obama as someone they could use as the best available instrument to destroy the Clinton campaign and the Clinton hold over the Democratic Party. These include such well known "change agents" as Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, Dennis Ross, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy. The last time I looked, these were all has-beens or political failures (Pelosi's mis-leadership has brought the Democratic Congress into tight competition with George Bush for public rejection in all recent polls), who have latched on to Obama, and have benefited from an equally hateful anti-Clinton media apparatus, led by MSNBC, Rupert Murdoch (whose New York Post endorsed Obama in the NY Democratic primary election), and Lally Weymouth, whose hatred for Hillary Clinton was the talk of the Hamptons last summer.

Cold War Zoomie

Everyone's made excellent points. I have nothing of substance to add.

So I'll add this...

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.
-HL Mencken


Frank Durkee, did he say such a thing, or was that your interpretation of his oracular policy utterances?

Clifford Kiracofe


Glad data was useful.

1. Here is an interesting report on Obama indicating contact with Weather Underground types (circa 1960s) turned Hyde Park supporters (circa 1995):

"In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement."

2. For those younger SST readers who are not familiar with the violent hard left Weatherman (white guys and gals) of the 1960s and 1970s see Wiki at (there is a lot of stuff here): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weatherman_%28organization%29

3. The Weatherman liked to make bombs. I happened to be in New York City in March 1970 staying with some friends down in the Village near Washington Square. I recall walking down West 11th where there had been an explosion at a fancy townhouse. The police had taped the area off a few days before. This was the townhouse where the famous Weather Underground bomb factory was and in which some of the wannabee terrorists blew themselves up by mistake while making a bomb intended for use against US soldiers in New Jersey.
"Shortly before noon on Friday March 6, 1970, members of the Weather Underground were building a nail bomb intended to be set off at a noncommissioned officers dance at the Fort Dix, New Jersey Army base that night."

4. Here is data on Bill Ayers from Wiki. His is from a wealthy family.
" There has recently been some controversy about the extent of the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and Ayers. At the very least, they served together for three years on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago; and, in 1995, Senator Obama attended a political event at the home of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Recently, Obama's press secretary has noted that Obama "strongly condems the violent actions of the Weathermen group."

5. I said in my earlier posting that Obama himself was not a long time machine member having blown into town from Hawaii via Boston and New York City. His wife, however, certainly is a veteran machine asset and is a native of the South Side and attorney with a City Hall background. You will note her father was a Democratic precinct captain:


Col. Lang:

Something that I think is important to remember: The constitution, with two exceptions; age and place of birth, places no restrictions on who can run for president. And now, through the amendment process it places almost no restrictions on who can vote.

Both of these provide us with the structure necessary for a participative democracy, i.e., one in which all points of view can be expressed even if they're wrong. Nowhere is it written that the decisions made by the people have to be correct.

As a result, the constitution, like the rules for any good participative decision making process tolerates the possibility of mistakes but inherently seems to understand, long before the management theorists made the ideas popular, that the more people involved in the decisions the better the outcome will be.

This, of course, doesn't make us as individual voters with a stake in the outcome comfortable. No one likes to lose. But it does ensure a much higher degree of acceptance when the final tally is in.

Fifty percent plus one never really appealed to me. What's happening currently shows promise of getting rid of that flawed decision making design by offering the country the hope that it can be a united again.


WRT Harper's post:

For a while I thought perhaps Clinton and McCain were using the same strategy, running as outsiders, with Obama acting as Dem trog bait. But our political epistemologists, the media, have not used the word maverick in connection with Hillary, so she can't be, no matter how many of the invertebrate Dems throw their support to her opponent.

Richard Cohen's recent column was carelessly captioned in one paper "Judge McCain by his enemies, and he wins."

Nothing commends McCain more than his enemies.

Poor Cohen, they will never quote him: the same is true of HRC.

W. Patrick Lang


I do not understand why it would be a good thing for Americans to be "united once again." pl


It's not my election but it suprise me that anyone would consider Barack Obama anti-establisment. Or anti-washington. On the contrary. He has the support of the democratic party establisment figures and judging by his foreign policiy advisors middle of the road republicans and democrats in the washington national security establisment. He is certainly not an outsider. But there seems to be a trend in american politics every 10-15 years when a new bunch of people arrive with a mandate of change. Or less polite to kick the bums out.

What worries me is if yet another american president will try to shape the world in moral vision of whats right. A idealistic foreign policy hawk would not be good. Tony Lake, Dennis Ross or Zbig does not inspire confidence in me.


Col. Lang:

re "united once again."

The leaders of this country have lost their way. I believe this and so does a majority of voters. The country which still likes to pride itself on the importance of teamwork and pulling together to get things done has been allowed to forget the significance of its founding motto "E Pluribus Unum."

We've lost our way because we have not had leaders who were willing to either acknowledge their constituents' concerns or to honestly reframe them in order to seek better solutions.

I take it as axiomatic that any government or any organization works better when its constituents are united in their belief that they can interact meaningfully with their government to reach solutions valuable to all whether about health care, national security, education, immigration, the economy, a foreign war, or replacing a deteriorating infrastructure.

I also take it as truth that in the past our country has been able to benefit from the efficiencies this kind of unity affords. I look forward to it happening again.

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my earlier comments.

James Pratt

Sen. Obama has great academic and communication skills but what really impresses me is that he used a very short time in the US Senate to gain better advice, better campaign strategists and better field organizers than Sen. Clinton or Edwards, who were on the national scene years before him. George W Bush and the jacobin cabal created a demand for something completely different,Barack Obama prepared well for the opportunity.


Dear Mr. Lang;
Change? The 2004 election was about 60's and the Vietnam war; swift boats and silver stars. McCain attacked Clinton as the hippie anti-war, chick, about the Woodstock memorial and, in the same speech, reminded us of his Vietnam war imprisonment. Then, he debated with Castro about Cuba's support for North Vietnam in the 60's. Cheeney and Rumsfield said we needed to invade Iraq because an easy win would get this country over Vietnam. On and on about Vietnam from one election to the next. Obama offers a small chance of change because with him maybe, just maybe, we can leave behind our "who lost Vietnam," not view a Iraq "victory" as necessary to erase the "defeat" in Vietnam, and quit believing that all the world can be just like the citizens of Arizona and Texas if we just kill enough of them as would have happened if we had "stayed the course" and not "cut and run" in Vietnam. That would be a change, eh?
Lew Scott, age 66, from the Vietnam generation


Mish Shedlock believes that Obama will good for the country economically. I believe he is a Libertarian. He certainly is a very respected economic writer frequently consulted by The Wall Street Journal:


JT Davis

Unfortunately I come late to this thread and Obama's rhetoric aside there is no question that his supporters are "enthusiastic". But I think you can rest easy, Colonel. He's really no different than any other mainstream Democrat today: Politically he's essentially a moderate conservative. He probably won't even go as far as Truman's proposals on healthcare, which is a shame. It's high time we caught up to the rest of the world's modern industrial democracies. The people are ready for it and even the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is finally talking about it. In fact, I'd say Obama is more "centrist" than Hillary on some domestic social policy, judging by the advisors he's got on healthcare, but there's not much difference there.

Mass transfer of wealth from one group to another maybe?

And yet, we've just seen one of the greatest greatest mass transfers of wealth from one group to another in our history. This is always a tricky subject and economics isn't my forte but I question the inevitablity of this kind of choice, even on the politically charged grounds of economic justice. Why can't you have liberty and social and economic justice?

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

Franklin knew you could not sacrifice liberty for security. But he might argue the contention that one can have liberty, or social justice, but not both. Even Jefferson might argue that point. The very first libertarians were as concerned with social and economic justice issues as with individualist concerns:

The first known use of a term that has been translated as "libertarian" in a political sense was by anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque[21], who used the French term libertaire in a letter to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1857.[22] The word stems from the French word libertaire (synonymous to "for liberty"), and was used in order to evade the French ban on liberty publications.[23]

That's Proudhon, who coined the phrase "Property is Theft!"

Some of the founders, aside from Thomas Paine, knew that property in land was somehow different.

God gave the world in common to all mankind. Whenever, in any country, the proprietor ceases to be the improver, political economy has nothing to say in defense of landed property. When the "sacredness" of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.

John Locke

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

Adam Smith

All property, indeed, except the savage’s temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it.

Benjamin Franklin

... legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property… Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.

Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to James Madison), 1785

While it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from Nature at all... it is considered by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no one has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land … Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society.

Thomas Jefferson

Private property … is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt.

Benjamin Franklin

I don't think anyone will be coming for your homestead any time soon, no matter who gets elected.

Perhaps we can revisit this on another thread. I'm sure the issue will come up again and the election is a long way off. However "enthusiastic" Obama's supporters are, they don't hold a candle to the Pauliacs. I was rooting for Hillary, and now that she's the underdog, even more so.

JT Davis

Sorry about the double post, Colonel.

I should just like to add that I'd pity the poor souls who did try to come for your homestead.

Clifford Kiracofe

Obama somehow "independent" and "outside the establishment"?

It would be nice to dispense with bed time stories for children.

Perhaps some "reality based" homework on Chicago politics and Mr. Obama are in order.

The man has emerged from the Chicago Democratic Party machine. Bill Daley is behind him. Obama's wife and father in law have been part and parcel of the machine politics of the South Side and she worked for City Hall.

For his foreign policy views, why not check the DATA available as a start?
Here is some DATA as presented by the Council on Foreign Relations, who ought to know:

His speech before the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC)? Just go to the AIPAC website for the official full text in PDF format:

Some analysis-comment re Middle East:

"But Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency." He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker -- now his national campaign finance chair -- scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisors."

""My view is that the United States' special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction," were Obama's words to Haaretz last week. Today, he sounded as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani. At least rhetorically, Obama passed any test anyone might have wanted him to pass. So, he is pro-Israel. Period."

"As Obama hires an operative to prepare the groundwork for a major Mideast policy speech, perhaps before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, his less-known Jewish connections are beginning to surface in the media: Gerald Kellman ("Marty Kaufman" in Obama's semi-autobiographical "Dreams From my Father"), a practitioner of Saul Alinsky-style community organizing, was Obama's first mentor in Chicago. Jay Tcath, director of Chicago's Jewish Community Relations Council; Robert Schrayer, a leading Chicago Jewish philanthropist; and Judge Abner J. Mikva are among Obama's fans. David Axelrod, his media maven, lost relatives in the Holocaust." http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6647.shtml

""He was on the line of Peace Now," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, of KAM Isaiah Israel, who lives across the street from Obama in the University of Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park, one of the country's most liberal electoral districts. "He was a moderate peacenik."
Rabbi Wolf, himself a longtime dove, said that today Obama is "very, very cautious -- with AIPAC, excessively cautious....But Obama, who has rocketed from an obscure state senator to a presidential candidate in little over two years, was until recently known to those involved in Middle East issues in his Hyde Park base on Chicago's South Side as a man of considerably bolder views....For at least some, the jury appeared to still be out. But Obama has already started to garner pro-Israel financial support. A review of donations to his campaigns for federal office since 2000 by the Center for Responsive Politics showed Obama had received more than $110,000 from pro-Israel sources through last June. Prominent among his backers are the Chicago-based Pritzker family, which owns the Hyatt chain of hotels. Lee Rosenberg, AIPAC's treasurer, is also a backer, and a member of Obama's finance committee."


"... better campaign strategists and better field organizers than Sen. Clinton or Edwards, who were on the national scene years before him." J. Pratt.

That was remarkable. But it only shows what enthusiasm and pulling together can do.

Democratic Party discipline is an oxymoron. Hot button social activism (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) enables the Republicans to preserve their networks and organization between elections. Apparently some of these have been captivated by the Obama Faith-Hope theological virtues message. (repeat link to republicans for obama)

Hell, even Richard Mellon Scaife seems to have a soft spot for the guy.

And John Podhoretz leaps to his defense, in an inspired slip of the keyboard, with the cry demagougery! (sic)

Such breadth of appeal suggests much, much too much meant-to-be-ness.

[links all from LJ's No Quarter.]

free association: Didn't Farrell quote something from the Odyssey about false hopes and "the ivory gate"?

Mark Gaughan

Don't worry, be happy. Barack Obama will be a fine president.

PS: Have any of you read "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein

David W

Here is Daniel Ellsburg weighing in on Obama and 'change':

I think Obama offers hope not only on the basis of his appearance, but because of the uncertainty of what he's saying. I do buy into his hopes. I don't know what he'll do, but maybe he'll do something right for a change. We know that McCain is not an agent of change and when Obama says Hillary Clinton doesn't sound like an agent for change, he's right. She sounds very hawkish to me. She says she's equipped to stand up immediately and be the commander in chief. What are her qualifications to say that? She was the wife of the commander in chief? If those are qualifications, then Laura Bush is more qualifed than Obama. Obama is on good ground with regard to Iraq. He showed much better judgment than Clinton. There's hope in that.



Sadly, elected officials (and everyone else) have to be selected from those who are available and, especially, those who wish, however ironically, "to serve".

Plato may have been right in suggesting that anyone who seeks only to govern is disqualified since they cannot properly understand or undertake what they seek to do -- "Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, -- nor the human race, as I believe -- and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day" Republic 473c tr. Jowett.

It is possible that a reasonable person might believe that Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton is by no means a healthy or desirable sequence for "the State", particularly one whose citizens have an appetite for depicting it as a republic and a democracy.

Another reasonable person (or, perhaps, the same one) might wonder how such an oligarchical succession could possibly be tolerated in a self-styled republic and democracy from 1988 to, possibly, January 20 2016.

Are we now to look forward to a Chelsea vs. Jenna/Barbara contest?

A plague -- or, at least, a few sharp shots of realism, humility and philosophy -- on both their houses.

Would Bush the Unready have had even the dimmest prospect of being elected to any office if he had had a different surname?


Sorry -- reference should have been "Republic V.473c".

As Jowett himself said, "always check your references ".



Lew Scott:

I don't know why McCain and Cheney (The Shootist) are still riding this Vietnam "Dolchstoßlegende" Nag to death. Are the the people who witnessed and approved this bad movie, lo these many past years, numerous enough to cause an electoral Colossus?

I think not. Besides, it is a well recorded fact that Poppy Bush used the Gulf War victory as the rhetorical last nail in the coffin of the Vietnam treachery. Which proves that Cheney (who worked for Poppy), and Georgie Porgie Dubya (who had Oedipal issues) did not approve of Poppy's pronouncement. Maybe they continually use the stab in the back shtick to compensate for their inadequate manhood.

Feminists of the sixties love that last rationalization, as do I.

son of liberty

Although race issues have not been openly discussed on this blog before that I know of, the "reality-based community" will probably split along, well, real lines in this regard. Comments here hint at this, and comments are not thoughts, but filtered thoughts.

I am happy that one of the wisest voices of this "community" does not fall for vacuous rhetoric, ESPECIALLY when they are coming from "the first BLACK president with a MUSLIM name", as one of the first commenters noted.

America has not come to grips with racial issues lurking beneath the surface. Slogans of "change" will not change human reality. Recent Serbian events (not to mention South Africa) show how human nature operates when individual rights are not guaranteed. The strong protections of and the deep appreciation and understanding of individual liberty in America has prevented it from descending into violence. Precisely "someone who has so clearly benefited" from the tinkerings with the American core constitutional thrust should be received very skeptically talking about even more "change".

I pray that America will revert back to its individualist core instead of expand and encourage racism through legal measures.

Cold War Zoomie

A major criticism is that Obama's all talk and no substance.

This NPR radio spot covers the importance of a candidate's actual voice:

Do Voices Give Candidates Presidential Timbre?

frank durkee

When you examine bush's domestic agenda it was clear that he sought to be a transformational president. Moving from a welfare safety net to "an ownership society" for individuals. in international policy his policies are departures from much of the last few decades of US policy as much disussed on this blog's posts. He sought a major break with the past both domesticaly and after 9/11 in international affairs. He sought to transform both policy and electoral politics, to un do The New Deal and inagurate a new era from his own and close advisors words.
The level of dislocation in the last 7 years in not incremental it is designed to be permanent wwhen that can be obtained.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad