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24 August 2008


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obama couldn't be talking about 'change from his personally taking money from rezko/mob types' could he? naw, i just can't see such a 'change' occurring in obama.

what 'change' is obama addressing? scratch, scratch. ???


The issue has never been the useful provision of specific information by lobbyists or the framing of legislation. The issue is the transfer of money to candidates that, in any other profession in America, would be considered bribery and corruption. THAT is the system that needs to be changed.

Frankly it would seem to be a fairly easy task, if there is the will.

Nevertheless, if the only reason I had to vote for Obama was that he would not bring the Neocons back into the seat of power, that would be reason enough.


I agree with everything you said but would like to add that he needs to get dirty.

Americans want a President that will not only fight for change of power but for himself.

If a candidate can't fight for himself, how will he fight for us?

Catching a pig is not a pretty sight and neither is being elected President.

David W.

Having recently returned from a family reunion in the midwest (Minnesota), I gained some anecdotal perceptions: Republicans/right wingers are palpably glad that this is an election season, which means that such small issues as the Iraq war, torture and Constitution-shredding are all put on the back burner. McCain's supporters tend to have their own internal reasons for supporting the man, few of which happen to be policy-related. I equate it to a sports mentality, where Rs are encouraged/required to support the team, no matter how badly it has screwed up in the past, or how deficient it looks moving forward, and pressing them on the issues only increases their steadfast fixation.

There is a generational aspect to the media as well; in my experience, it is the older generations that now watch more tv, and are much more likely to put the 'news' (FOX or CNN) on in the background all day. This hasn't changed since the aftermath of 9/11 and the runup to the Iraq War--simple lies and distortions pervade over the truth and nuance.

On to the topic at hand, Rich also made some points that counterdict PL's point here--specifically, Rich says 'Nor will laundry lists of policy details work any better for Obama than they did for Al Gore or Hillary Clinton.' and, 'Obama's real problem is not a lack of detail, but his inability to sell policy with 'an effective story.''

The crux of the problem is that there is a large segment of US population that prefers a simple narrative that jibes with their wordview over a more complex reading of the situation that is more gray and uncomfortable (another example of this is the resurgency of Biblical Creationism). The phony persona phenomenon is legion on the Right, from the phony cowboy Reagan, to the Texas oilman Bush Jr, to the 'True Maverick' McCain.

In this Bizarro World, it's all about image and pandering, which explains the facility of the RNC in bringing their McCain product to market--their constituency doesn't want to hear the truth, they want a made for TV movie; McCain the tough-guy POW speaks to the desire of the right to be viewed as heroic martyrs, standing tall against all opposition, while allowing cognitive dissonance to whisk away the fact that McCain was a silver-spoon flunky, who graduated third from the bottom in his NA class, destroyed more US fighters than enemy planes, and had a major, murky role in the USS Forrestal fire, killing 134, injuring 161, destroying 21 aircraft and costing the Navy $72 million.

In a non-partisan environment, I think it would be an easy case to make that John Kerry was much more of a war hero than McCain ever was, yet this differentiation is moot inside the 'faith based' RW narrative, which studiously avoids any other aspect of McCain's military service than his time in the Hanoi Hilton. While the R partisans are immune themselves to being swiftboated, I think it would still be worthwhile to interview some of the Forrestal crew--i'm sure they have questions to ask of McCain as well, since he was the only non-injured personnel to be evacuated from the Forrestal that fateful day, some would say for his own protection, due to his culpability.

I think it's pretty obvious that the playing field was tilted many years ago, when candidates such as Dan Quayle and Bush Jr. were congratulated for making it through a debate without a major malapropism, while Gore's substantial grasp of policy was eschewed by the media in favor of attending to his 'charisma problem.' Clearly, the media has devolved into a spectacle-seeking and tall tale telling entity of style over substance, which clearly favors the 'know-nothing' crowd.

Regarding the last paragraph, I would dearly love to see 'business as usual' in Washington implode, yet, at this point, I am more than willing to settle for rolling back the lawless excesses and fiscal chicanery of the Bush administration. Politics is also defined as the 'art of the possible,' and the oligarchy of this country has made change of this nature impossible.


The choice of Biden signaled an end to the “Change” mantra, if there was any doubt that Obama wasn’t a creature of the establishment.

President Obama riding to the rescue and putting us on the ‘right’ course was always only a pipe dream anyway. Only an individual with significant experience and a strategically placed network of allies could transform the leviathan that is our government. “Change you can believe in” should have been Cheney’s slogan.

In any case, Obama is slightly better than the alternative, but that’s not saying much.


I was reading a comparison of China's and India's recent progress. Here is the conclusion:

So, growth in India has come with a more entrepreneurial private sector but accompanied by deteriorating state capacity. China has a vastly superior state capacity but an indigenous private sector that is still finding its feet. Which combination augurs better for the future?

There is a fundamental asymmetry between state and markets. It is easier to create markets than it is to create state capacity or to prevent its deterioration. Creating markets is a lot about letting go, establishing a reasonable policy framework, and allowing the natural hustling instinct to take over. In other words, hustling is the natural state. Building state capacity, on the other hand, is quite different. It involves overcoming collective action problems, mediating conflict, creating accountability mechanisms where outputs are multiple and fuzzy and links between inputs and outputs murky, and contending with the deep imprints of history. In Weber’s memorable words, building public institutions is like the “slow boring of hard boards”.

In that light, China’s task of improving its private sector seems easier to accomplish than India’s task of arresting institutional decline.

The last eight years has seen the "US state capacity" go into steep decline. I don't think I need to spell it all out. There is no exceptionalism that permits the US to have a poorly functioning government and yet thrive long-term. If an Obama administration arrests the decline and reverses it, that will be a great change.


This is this from Glenn Greenwald on salon.com:

Ever since it became clear that Obama would be the likely nominee, the political establishment has been demanding of him more and more proof that his "change" rhetoric is just that -- rhetoric, and not anything meant as a genuine threat to the prevailing order of things. Obama, arguably out of political necessity, has repeatedly obliged, eagerly trying to offer proof that he is no threat to them, and the Biden selection is but the latest step in that campaign of reassurance. In sum, Biden is a reliable supporter of virtually every prevailing bit of conventional wisdom within the American elite political consensus, which is why his selection has been widely praised by the establishment, whose principal concern is that their fiefdom not be disrupted and that their consensus not be challenged.

William R. Cumming

Let's attack the change priority list after indicating what definitely neither McCain or Obama can change. First on the latter list is Buckley v. Valero where a comatose SCOTUS said that corporations were entitled to free speech (meaning spending money) as individuals. This misread legal history where the corporate form was merely to stimulate exploration by limiting liability for the financing of the voyages to the New World. Second, demographics. Unless the border is fortified and we are willing to kill Mexicans by shooting as we are willing to drown Haitians the immigration issue will stay huge and unresolvable for either man as President. Note that immigration should be analyzed separately for Mexico and then the rest of the World. Third, a Russia feeling its oats. 4th, a Cafe-society known as the EU that won't pull its load whether from aid to the lesser-developed world or military response to direct threats against it. 5th, a collapse of the US economy as the the 1971 floating exchange rates continue to allow international financial speculators to move against the dollar and scare large dollar holders into withdrawing from US support. 6th, the generally jaundiced eye of foreign countries to the US and its policies.

What can be changed? First, the erosion of the social safety net in the US. Second, the beginning of the start to limit DOD to military operations and downsizing based on threats. This will take a long time since the economy is being driven by te military-industrial-academic complexes interest in hegemony for the US. Third, substantial accomodation to the growth of China and biting the bullet on Taiwan for now and forever. This is a flashpoint that should not be oversimplified but needs addressing to the relief of all concerned. 4th! Partioning of Iraq. 5th. Policing the non-profit sector (almost 10% of the economy of the US ) with limits on salaries and unrelated business income being tightened. 6th. Funding the higher education effort of those qualified and willing. And making sure that the profit making colleges and schools are not abusing their students with their finances. 7th. Creating a department for federal criminal law enforcement and getting the FBI out of the business of suffering as neither fish nor fowl. Investigation vis a vis intelligence. 8th Reducing the burden on DHS by getting non-terrorism programs, functions, and activities out of DHS. 9th. Enforcing the federal privacy and FOIA laws. 10th. Allowing federal employees in non-sensitive departments and agencies to speak to the press in their personal capacity when they disagree with their organizations policy.

All of this just a start of course.


Democrats always get too hung up with explaining all their policy proposals in great detail while the GOP is busy painting them as out-of-touch, elitist, "the Alien," or what have you. This year is no different (actually for a number of reasons on the GOP side, it'll be WORSE than usual). Personal attacks from Team McCain must be followed up in kind or the public will think Obama's a wimp.

At this point, I think Obama could do a few things to pull off a big win:

1) Turn McCain's resumé (including his POW experience) against him: Angry Vietnam vet with access to the "red button" who's got an itchy trigger finger and is so elitist and old he doesn't even know how many houses he has.

2) Tie McCain to Bush

3) Tie his own resumé and up-from-poverty-story and Biden's working class roots to a narrative about why we have to make our economy work for everyone and then how we can, through specific policies. McCain will want to continue to talk foreign policy, but if Team Obama/Biden focus on the economy like Clinton did in '92, they're in. (Recalling the Democratic economic successes of the Clinton years would help too, in addition to going far towards reuniting the Party.)

Richard Whitman

Interesting the way we brand McCain a "Maverick". The term originated with a Texas cattle owner, Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle. His grandson, Maury Maverick was a Democratic congressman whose only claim to fame was the invention of the word "gobbledegook". Is there some connection here??


Didn't Maliki agreeing with Obama already erase the "no timelines in Iraq" narrative?

Isn't that already change you can believe in?

Cold War Zoomie

Ambiguous "change" cannot win elections?


Sidney O. Smith III

Hope I am wrong, but I see trouble ahead for the Democrats. Tragic. Absolutely tragic for the US and the world.

Why so tragic? My guess is all that Norman Podhoretz has to do is whisper "Russia" or maybe even "Willam Ayers" into McCain's ear and McCain, metaphorically speaking, will go nuclear.

Obama is a very talented man. Just my opinion, but I sort of wished he had chosen Atlanta, aka the Black Mecca, instead of Chicago to get his start. Arthur Blank instead of Rezko. Sam Nunn and/or Jimmy Carter instead of whoever the hell is running his campaign.

Plus, if he had worked his way up beginning in Atlanta, we'd see none of this absolute obsession (and, in my opinion, extraordinarily hypocritical and insulated bent) on the issue of race coming from what Rich courageously calls the media elite. It includes Democratic strategists as well.

MLK Jr. stayed out of Chicago for a reason. I wish Obama had too.

So increasingly it looks like to me that Democratic strategists and the media pushed the Obama story too fast. Wasn't it Chris Matthews who said he got a tingle down his leg when thinking of Obama? Spare me. How embarrassing. Good grief.

But trying to keep hope alive, so to speak, perhaps Obama can push McCain's buttons during the debates.

Biden doesn't inspire me, although his temper may make things interesting. In Atlanta, Hillary was by far the preferred VP choice, according to Atl. Jrn. poll.

Ah Hillary. A Hillary-Nunn ticket. Or Hillary-Obama. What could have been. Victory. Or at least a greater chance of no nuclear war.

One other sad part about this campaign, at least to me, is that if Obama loses, his political career may be over. The final story may read like this: "How the Democratic Party and Media destroyed an extraordinarily talented Black man".

But maybe I am wrong. Hope so.


It was Romney, Thompson, Rudy and McCain that sent tingles through Matthews' loins', and let's not forget Bush landing on the carrier, which produced the most effusive showing of man love ever on American TV from Chris.

All hail Atrios for pointing out Hardball often resembles that great BBC show, Archeology Today.


John Howley

For me, systemic trends will dominate personalities in the coming years.

Still, the election matters if only for the following. If McCain wins, then the current insiders will continue in place, covering up for the crimes of the past eight years.

If Obama wins, there will be change at the DOJ. He may not make prosecution a priority, but at least his appointees will have priorities other than covering up for Bush crowd.

As most readers of this blog will agree, serious crimes have been committed. If our nation cannot summon the will to at least make of show of prosecuting some of these folks, then we have taken a big step away from the rule of law under the Constitution.

The whole world is watching.

Maureen Lang

Personally, I would have wished that the DNC choose the ruined NOLA for its convention this week. New Orleans area could use the PR & the $$$. But that's just me.

Go Team Go.
The Repub alternative is too wretched to contemplate.


Based on the recent entry titled "McCain Speaks in Slogans", about the Saddleback Forum I wonder whether 'pitchman mimetics' might be exactly what is required to win an election these days, even if you and many others abhor such vacuousness. It certainly worked well enough for Obama in the primaries.

John Hammer

"As Gen. David Petraeus returns home"- A VP slot for the General? In that event the die will have most certainly been cast.

In other words, Obama loses.


"He has suggested that he wants to change the "system?" Really? What system?"

What Bill Cumming above said up to the fourth point second paragraph.

I have no problem with lobbyists but the system politicians whoring for highest bidder should be fought at every angle. I know it is difficult issue but Speech should not be defined as commercial media control.


Colonel, All,

why are the dnc and rnc both wasting time, money, and manpower with their 'convention' boondoggles, especially since the both of them have already decided who their candidates will be irrespective of what their party voters want.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"Let us hear what Brother Barack actually proposes..">

Absolutely. Now is the time. The Obama-Biden campaign needs to offer a clear constructive vision and practical common-sense policy responses to the situation in which we find ourselves. The economy should be front and center as our defense policy and foreign policy rest on it.

On the foreign policy side, the glib Biden should easily be able to make the case for an American foreign policy appropriate to the emerging multipolar world. Owing to his status as a well entrenched member of the foreign policy elite and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he has a certain credibility around the world for the moment. This is to America's advantage.

He needs to signal that the Obama-Biden team will indeed "change" our foreign policy, for example, in the direction of multilateralism rather than unilateralism. He needs to assure friends and potential adversaries that we are willing to talk, to dialogue, to engage. Obama has already done this so build on it. Bring in Republicans like Senator Chuck Hagel to attract bi-partisan support for a foreign policy in America's interest. Reach out to Republicans disgusted with the Neocon takeover of their party.

For me, the only way I know to register my opposition to the sordid and catastrophic 8 years of "Republican," meaning Neocon, misrule under W is to vote Obama-Biden which I intend to do.

On the matter of Hope, as Jefferson wrote to John Adams:

" . . . I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern."


Hope, Faith, and Charity seem to me to be traditional core American values and Obama's mother's parents seem to have acted on them taking the young Obama under their charge. He has done well and he has the capability to do even better.



They are wasting America's time and distracting themselves from America's problems. So what else is new? But to many of the participants...it is far from being a waste of THEIR time. Think about it J...a lot of deals are getting cut here.


How would the Obamacrats respond when their favorite son goes up in smoke on election night?

What is the lesson that the Democratic party elites and base draw from an election result where they win strongly in Congress but lose the presidency?



that's what worries me -- the 'deals' cut without the advice nor consent of the citizenry whose labors and toils that in the end pays for the 'deals cut'.


Even Paul Krugman gets on the "memetics" bandwagon.

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