Monthly Archives: November 2010

OK, That's Different.

This is much more interesting than what kind of porn Sarkozy looks at or whatever:

Wikileaks cables reveal China ‘ready to abandon North Korea’
Leaked dispatches show Beijing is frustrated with military actions of ‘spoiled child’ and increasingly favours reunified Korea

I’m not really that surprised. After all, China is getting rich off trade with the west. So, while this isn’t that shocking, it’s at least timely, which is more than I can say for the other supposedly interesting docs in the WikiLeaks dump so far.

UPDATE:

This post occasioned me to review the years of blogging I’ve done to this nanoscopic corner of the Internet over the last decade. With respect to India/Pakistan and North Korea, I have been writing shrill, hawkish posts the entire time. Why? Do I just prefer we bomb Asians than Iraqis?

No. It’s quite simple when you’re a child of the Cold War to calculate what America’s real security interests are. In the Cold War it was figuring out a strategy of preventing a nuclear conflict with the USSR, even if that meant fighting a number of proxy shooting wars; even if meant dedicating a huge portion of our economy to building a military.

Come on. It really would have been the end of the world. Maybe humanity would have gone on, but civilization as we know it would end. A 2006 update of the theoretical work on nuclear winter suggested that it would take even fewer detonations to basically starve everyone that previously thought.

So, aside from an alien invasion or an asteroid strike (things we have no control over) there is no bigger threat to the world than nukes. But it’s almost like we’ve completely forgotten they exist, unless it’s some scenario where al Qaeda gets one and blows up one city.

Yet as scary as the USSR was, they played the great game. I’m not so sure North Korea, Iran, or a future Pakistani regime will.

This is why it was folly, retarded, stupid, idiotic, self-destructive, almost treasonous to invade Iraq. They didn’t have nukes; no way. The goalposts were moved to mustard gas later, but the sell was they would give bin Laden a nuke to use on US soil. That was never going to happen, and even if it was the situation in North Korea was always worse. The situation in Kashmir has always been a bigger threat.

And you can complain about liberals or whatever, but any idiot had to know there would be political blowback from a hack job of a war. Even World War II generated a great deal of political fatigue. So, when you use the U.S. military for a large scale war, you have to know that it will limit the ability to use it again. That’s just reality. Wishing or arguing that it weren’t so doesn’t make it that way.

So, as vehemently as I disagree with the Pacifist Left about Iran (I haven’t heard many arguments against taking a hard line with North Korea, but I’m sure it’s out there), I understand where they are coming from. How can elite opinion on this issue be trusted after Iraq? It has instant cachet. Politically, though, dovishness on Iran would lead to another McGovern moment for Dems when Americans are actually called to live with the consequences of a nuclear Iran. We won’t be thinking about all the people that didn’t die in a war we didn’t fight, we’ll be thinking about the total chaos of our energy supply, the total disruption of foreign relations with the Arab world and the end of any kind of negotiated peace in Palestine. From a policy point of view, it probably means the end of the Pax Americana or at least the breakdown of nuclear non-proliferation of nation states.

Even if Iran won’t hand Sunni al Qaeda a nuclear weapon, it will cause other states to arm themselves. Pakistan’s nuclear policy is based on minimum credible deterrence. So is India’s. So is China’s. So, if Pakistan is now threatened by a nuclear Iran, it will have to increase its stockpiles. But, just because Pakistan is getting more because of Iran doesn’t matter to India. They will have to get more. Then so will China. This may result in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia nuclearizing.

The problem there is, the more people have buttons, the more mistakes can be made. The US and USSR came very close on several occasions to accidentally launching on each other.

Why risk this?

We have to do everything to prevent proliferation, even if it means wars. But Bush and the Neocons created an antiwar movement against these wars before they even became necessary, including a renewed isolationism on the Right.

Fucking stupid. It’s almost certainly the crime of the century and it was only in the third year of it.

A Peace Treaty

It’s time to start the peace process between Red and Blue America. It’s time for a “two-state” solution.

International negotiators should be brought in. Maybe Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela can be special envoys. Blair will have credibility issues in Red America because he was part of the Labour Party. He will have credibility issues in Blue America because he was George Bush’s bitch. But we can all agree to at least try to trust someone we know the other guy hates a lot. I’m not sure how to solve Nelson Mandela’s credibility issue in Red America. He’s just too much like Obama. And, the Red States will assure us, it has nothing to do with their both being black! It’s just a fact that they’re both Africans who have been in jail.

Maybe we’ll have to go with Stephen Harper of Canada. Red America knows he’s a hoserfacsist (and he’s not black muslim like Mandela); Blue America will think he must be at least mostly liberal because he’s Canadian.

Anyway, we’ll have to agree on the arbitrators first. We’ll make sure that 60 out of the 100 people who deicide such things agree on them. And then we’ll pick the place. We’ll probably have to pick some place we’re scared will join the other team, but will resent them for being such an attention whore, like Florida, Ohio, or Iowa. Fuck you, anyway. Blue America can probably win this argument and show how tough they will negotiate. In other words, they will completely give in to Red America on the location so that they can complain when they don’t get their way on anything later that they’ve been so agreeable. Dallas it is. That’s totally neutral territory, just tell the Secret Service to take that corner a bit faster, President Obama.

So, there can be a handshake cover-of-Time moment and Obama and Boehner can share a Nobel Peace Prize® (and Obama will have done something to earn it this time).

Every one will know in advance what the terms should be. Blue states withdraw to the pre-2008 borders, with some adjustment for present-day “facts on the ground” (Nevada and Colorado are ours, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana are really yours). We’ll figure out some joint authority for the holy sites in Washington, D.C. and a token few former Blue state residents will be allowed to come back. The issue of the security fence will have to be worked out later.

Even though everyone will know those terms, and the deal will get almost closed, Boehner will have to walk out, because the extremist and religious groups within his faction will not do a deal; they have to be seen as hard line.

Maybe on the tenth or eleventh session of direct talks, an agreement will be reached.

As it was said in the decade of the 2000s, we’re “just no that into each other.” I, for one, am tired of an unending series of high-stakes elections trying to save Red America from its own follies, only to, at best, tread water and give up concession after concession after concession to their utterly batshit insanity. And they drain our states’ coffers for their “freedom” by redistributing federal expenditures to Red America.

It’s just not worth it anymore. I would say I want to be friends, but I don’t. Let’s just not get physical. We can yell, but let’s leave it at that.

Red America would rapidly become a plantation state with sharply unequal income,  an established evangelical church and minimal labor and environmental protections. Public education would be abolished in favor of parochial and charter schools minimally funded by the government, but also for profit.

Blue America would end up not that different than Canada. Far from socialist, Blue America would have a stronger central government, and more distributions based on population density rather than acreage. Blue America would, like Canada, end up rapidly becoming bilingual and struggling with that. There would be other problems, to be sure. But the sort of basic things that every other industrialized nation on the planet takes for granted would be provided in Blue America, too. Education, health insurance, paid maternity leave, retirement, and basic nutrition would be insured to a certain minimum.

Wikileaks

Snore.

Update:

Seems like a huge political Rohrschach test. For the Pacifists, it shows that corrupt Arab dictators are trying to foment a war against Iran. For the Hawks, it shows that everyone hates Iran so we should go to war. I’m assuming that at least someone in the government realizes that these rulers have their own agenda and we won’t just launch the attack because they say so. It appears the countries in the region want to contain their age old Persian rivals, and other world powers are trying to exploit the tension to their own advantage. Shocking.

But I have yet to read or hear of anything that should truly shock anyone. You mean American diplomats form opinions about foreign leaders? You mean they say things that demonstrate their human weirdness? Come on.

All that is going to happen from this is that security will get tighter on these low-level type cables and the real stuff, the top secret stuff, will get even harder. And that is the stuff we might have had some real revelation from.

Right now I’m watching Amy Goodman pimp a story about Daniel Ellsberg. Supposedly, these Wikileaks are supposed to be the same thing as the Pentagon Papers. Sigh. Again, the Rohrschach test. I wish Boomers would realize that our current adventures are on an entirely different level of insanity than Vietnam.

Kurup

International fisheries negotiators agreed Saturday to maintain the 2011 catch of endangered Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna at essentially the same level as in 2010, eliciting a stinging rebuke from conservationists, who had been calling for a fishing moratorium

Why does anyone think it’s a good idea that some industry-captured agency that has zero accountability decide any kind of environmental policy? Are people really bird-brained enough to believe that, say, the fishing industry wants to preserve fisheries, like, long-term?

Maybe fishermen do, but the shareholders of the corporations that own them want value now, or, at the very least, within their lifetimes. We’re bad enough at preserving things beyond our lifetime without having a strong economic interest in not doing so?

Sigh.

Brilliant

By DeLong.

Think of that when you consider this: The U.S. unemployment rate is stubbornly high, yet aid from a federal government that can borrow at unbelievably good terms could allow states to maintain their levels of public employment, and those public workers would then spend their incomes and so boost the number of private-sector jobs as well. But the voters are against that. No, they say. We have lost our jobs. It is only fair that those who work for the government lose their jobs as well — never mind that each public-sector job lost triggers the destruction of yet another private-sector job. It’s the underlying logic that has led to a wave of austerity across Europe that is now headed for America’s shores. And it’s the same logic that says, “It is only fair that homeowners lose their money” — never mind that everyone’s home prices will suffer. What does not kill me makes me stronger.

Because some are unemployed, unemployment is good — we need more of it. Because some have lost their wealth, wealth destruction is good — we need more of it. That is a psychology that Friedrich Nietzsche would have understood all too well. For, as he put it, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.”

The Bushies versus Palin

Barbara Bush’s first quotable since indicating the jackpot Superdome residents had hit was a very grandmotherly swipe at Sarah Palin. And now another Bush comes out with a liberal-bashing fusillade that cherry picks statistics and more or less says that an Obama defeat is inevitable unless Palin is the nominee, so, don’t run Sarah.

And of course we know that Karl Rove worked to try and foil Palin-annointed Christine O’Donnell.

Perhaps it is quaint and antiquated to be shocked by the retainers of the dumbest person ever to be President trying to critique the credentials of the one person who has a good chance at taking away that record. Almost all of the criticism that is being laid at Palin’s feet could apply to Bush.

Bush did not finish his second term as Governor of Texas, either. Is he a quitter? Bush had to have Dick Cheney ride shotgun to make people feel ok about his not being able to find the country of Europe on a map. Remember?

The Republicans appear to believe that Obama is doomed. Perhaps he is, but they have no legitimate basis for forming that belief. Many Presidents appear to be in deep shit at about this point in their first terms. I know Republicans ignore history as a badge of honor, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

So, a GOP defeat in 2012 would hardly be Palin’s fault alone. None of their candidates is all that exciting. I would say some event causing an even further drop in Obama’s support is just as likely as something that rallies it and the American public’s memory is extremely short. Even the idea that his reelection is contingent on unemployment is a sort of amnesia. Does anyone believe that if a shooting war started in North Korea tomorrow that it wouldn’t improve Obama’s numbers?

Plus, Palin is the most representative of her party’s primary voters. If Republicans were honest, they would nominate her. Even the aforementioned article is so busy unburdening itself with resentments over Obama’s election (it was affirmative action, etc.) that it is pro-Palinism even if it is anti-Palin. Palin is more concerned with retaliating at her critics than in enacting any real agenda. We all know it. And so is the GOP. Their outrage du jour is just that: some kind of mechanism for venting their rage at God knows what onto politics that are mostly irrelevant to what’s bugging them. (Remember when there was a bullet shortage after Obama was elected? I mean, these people really believed that Obama was going to take away their guns. Sigh.)

If you can’t tell by now that smarty pants attacks only empower and embolden Palin, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think that some shiny suit like Mitt Romney (who I’m sure Palin does not want anyone to vote against because he’s MORMON MORMON MORMON) will beat her, you’re high. If you think that media coverage of her verbal gaffes matter, then I ask you when we went back to pre-Bush rules in the first place.

Some kind of racist slip up will not bring her down. Some kind of tabloid media scandal will not bring her down. The 1,098,534th gaffe will not bring her down.

The only thing that stands in her way to the GOP nomination is the same thing that kills all celebrity: time. People don’t care about the stars of 5 years ago at all. She is clever at staying relevant. But at some point, it could end.

She could also get on the wrong side of a big issue that suddenly becomes important to her voters. She might be compelled to go further with her wag-the-dog rhetoric about Obama starting a war with Iran to get reelected, but if there is a major military conflict, I don’t see her voters suddenly becoming doves. Sure, there will be the odd Republican voice here and there like there was in Clinton’s presidency accusing him of bombing Osama bin Laden to change the subject from Monica Lewinsky, but those are just political hatchet men that are there for certain people. They don’t let those people out in the daylight much.

A lot of older cynical liberals remind us that Ronald Reagan was scoffed at much like Palin. Younger ones might point out, like I did, that Bush isn’t really all that different.

Well, like I said: if the GOP is honest, they will nominate her. If America truly deserves her, we will elect her.

Obama and Israel

American-educated Binyamin Netanyahu is a skilled politician. He returned to the post of Israeli PM after losing the job once and only becoming the leader of his party, Likud, again after it split in two. Then, he managed to form a coalition in 2009 despite his party not having gained the most seats in the election. The fact that that government has remained intact for almost two years testifies to that skill. But he is also outdueling President Obama in the United States, but doing so at the political peril of American Jews.

President Obama, from what I can gather, is sincere in his concern about solving the Israel/Palestine conflict. Indeed, Obama seems vastly more interested in re-litigating the Clinton years than in repairing the damage of the Bush years—or even of thoughtfully examining them. Not surprisingly, the Republicans are more than happy to oblige since even though they could never sink Clinton personally, they won the ideological wars of the 90s and pushed government policy (if not the electorate) to the right. Don’t be surprised if the GOP starts acting like their old selves even more in the upcoming term. Continuing to convert parliamentary procedure into headlines, they will no doubt scandalize the Obama administration at every turn.

The mainstream media likes to note that the voters punished the GOP’s temper tantrum in the 1998 election. Perhaps. Perhaps that reminder has more to do with the media’s humiliation at having predicted GOP gains than any measured look at the long-term effects of the Clinton impeachment, the government shutdown, and the Haircutgate/Travelgate/Whitewater/etc/etc investigations. Sure, Clinton cruised to victory in 1996. The Dems gained in 1998. But what was the long-term effect? George W. Bush, the small-time governor of Texas, defeated the incumbent party’s vice president in a time where middle class real wages were actually growing. Am I going too far to suggest that Al Gore let himself be conned into running away from Clinton by Beltway opinion even as Clinton’s personal approval was high? Perhaps. But somehow, during the 90s, the attacks on Clinton seemed to bounce of Clinton to be absorbed by the Democratic Party as a whole. 2000 should have been a vote of confidence. Instead, it was a popularity contest. Sure, the Supreme Court had something to do with it. But even if they had not, the House would have installed Bush. And it never should have been that close to begin with.

The GOP does not see the excesses of its Clinton-era leadership as a political net minus, and they are correct. They paved the way for that party’s dominance in the early and mid-2000s. In 2002 and 2004, they even seemed to be able to make 9/11 the Democrats’ fault.

So, here we are. 2010. Obama won on health care (who cares if it cost political capital?). Obama appears to be leaving air in the Don’t-Ask-Don-t-Tell issue in the military, also a Clinton-era issue (though it is much better political turf for Dems than gay marriage). Combine that with a bunch of technocratic minima no one knows anything about, and its hard not to get this “I’ve-seen-this-movie-before” feeling. What’s missing?

Israel/Palestine.

Obama approaches this issue from the point of view of someone who in good faith wants to solve the conflict and believe it has a solution. It does not appear to me that Netanyahu approaches it as anything other than a political calculus, or, perhaps at the best, an Israeli national security issue. Netanyahu can’t do what Obama wants him to do without disbanding his coalition, giving a lot of power to Tzipi Livni, whom he surely hates, and still having to face his voters, probably right away after any major deal. World opinion doesn’t matter much in Israel. Why should it? What, the Europeans? This is a continent of finger-waiving moralizers where most of continental Europe was complicit with the genocide of the Jewish people. Or, more universally, you could consider the world-wide traumas of colonialism, imperialism, communism, and free trade. The Arabs are on the other side of this conflict. Of course they will have a negative opinion. The Chinese and Indians don’t care. That’s pretty much that.

America, on the other hand, is in its strongest manifestation of anti-Arab and anti-Islamism, and it’s been ongoing for almost 10 years. America blames Islam for 9/11. Support for Israel has become a more publicly acceptable way of signaling one’s hatred of Arabs. Too much public pressure on Israel would be seen as a Fifth Columnist pro-Arab move, which the GOP has already repeatedly painted its target on Obama for by the birther issue, the school-yard references to Obama’s middle name, calling him a muslim as if that is a ipso facto slander.

So, if you’re Netanyahu and you’re good at chess, here’s the board. The only player with any leverage that matters to the Israeli public is America; no one matters to the partners in your coalition. But within America, you have substantial power to enforce what your coalition partners want: which is no deal with the Arabs. The ability to do that springs from your connection with and concerted action with the Republican party. But that too comes at a cost.

I believe, for the most part, that the Republican base is not really pro-Israel so much as it is anti-Arab. (Indeed, I believe the best hope for forward progress in the environmental movement is a “Patriotic” campaign against “Arab puppet” oil companies, but Democrats are more concerned with the polo club rules than winning.) I certainly don’t think they are pro-Jew. Evangelical Judaeophilia is really more a part of contemporary popular evangelical eschatology (e.g. Left Behind, etc.) than it is really a warm feeling towards the family down the street with the annoying New York accent who don’t put up Christmas lights, or, you know, actual Jewish people. Democrats? Now, there are plenty of really “pro-Israel” Democrats.

But what the events of the last week in Korea should remind us is that the Israel/Palestine conflict is just a few shots away from being even more of yesterday’s issue than it already is. Very few people I ask can give me an even slightly compelling answer as to why the goings on in Israel or a resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict have as much geopolitical significance as the coverage of those issues merits. If the answer is that 2% of Americans are Jewish, then why isn’t there more interest in Irish, or, gasp, Mexican affairs? All of the attention on the Middle East used to benefit Israel and the Jews. Israel was seen as a heart-warming redemption story after the Holocaust (and, let’s be honest, a guilt release valve for much of the world). But that certainly isn’t the case anymore. Anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise in Europe and the catalytic events almost always relate to news from Israel.

The same is likely to be true in the U.S. When, not if, but when a large conflict breaks out in the Subcontinent, anywhere involving Russia, with Iran, or with North Korea, Israel will be off the front pages for a while. And there’s a reason it sort of has that sepia-tinge feeling. It’s really not that geopolitically significant anymore. Even within the Middle East, surely the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with, you know, repressive regimes we prop up there, and, you know, terrorism probably take a bit of mindshare from the people. If the philanthropy towards the Palestinians were really so overridingly powerful, it’s hard to feature why the Arab countries are so shitty to them.

A resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict will only slightly lower the density of conflict in the region, or improve the per capita income in the region (the economies of both Israel and Palestine are among the fastest growing in the world at the moment as it is), or shore up the stability of other governments world wide, or end or prevent a major shooting war. You can also be sure that no matter what happens with a peace deal that Israel and its neighbors will not be shiny happy people laughing together after it’s signed.

With so much of his ability to affect domestic policy compromised, Obama is seeking another Clinton-couldn’t-do-it big win and will follow his nose into this tar pit and start doing things that are calculated to actually solve the issue. The problem is, he will be playing a game against players that don’t want a resolution and know that he will be willing to give them huge concessions just to play along for a while and with no consequences if they, once again, walk away.

But this alliance with the American GOP is not to the long-term advantage of Jewry as a whole. As I noted, the GOP base is not reflexively philosemitic. If anti-Arabism stops being the primary publicly tolerated hate in the US, and, say it becomes the North Koreans or the Chinese, philosemitism will lose its appeal as a Miss Manners approved proxy for for anti-Arabism. Good old Israel-irrelevant antisemitism will become more mind-forward for this group, as they try to destroy the wall of separation between church and state in the US. Why can’t people of other religions just understand this is a Christian country and let us celebrate Christmas officially?

And the fact is, the vast majority of Jews are liberals. Most of the GOP base’s values are utterly repugnant to Judaism as most American Jews understand it. If you take Israel out of the equation, there is basically zero correspondence between Judaism and the Tea Party. The political support of the GOP is therefore not contingent upon Jews! It’s contingent upon Christian anti-Arabism. When that fades in relevance, and with Democrats increasingly powerless, there will be a lot less “pro-Israel” on the agenda. As such, it’s not a good thing for either the American diaspora or Israel if evangelical-bidden Republicans control the agenda.

Maybe Netanyahu knows this and knows it means that soon Israel won’t care at all about American opinion either, and he is just calculating his own survival. Maybe he’s just angling for a better deal.

The First Tea Party Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a serious American holiday for Americans! A real American will not let his family prepare the entire Thanksgiving feast for their relatives. That’s socialism! Allowing each relative to bring a dish to form a complete Thanksgiving dinner together is just the first step down the slippery slope into Communism. After all, it was decades of Pot Luck suppers that led directly to the rise of the Nazis in Germany!

The only common sense way to have an American Thanksgiving in America is to have each member of your family, from the oldest grandparent to the youngest infant, prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner themselves. Your individual relatives can then sell individual portions of their own individual Thanksgiving dinner to one another while they sit at their individual tables. We The People say, Free Enterprise is the secret to a lumpless gravy! Let the Market decide who’s Turkey is biggest! That’s how the Pilgrims, Founding Fathers, Pocahontas, and Jesus did it at the first Thanksgiving in 1492!

!

Korea

Total war between North Korea and South Korea and it’s U.S. ally would ultimately lead to the total destruction of the North Korean state. It would also cost potentially millions of lives.

Yet, it appears more and more each day that the status quo will not hold. I wonder: are there U.S. drones flying around North Korea? One shot at that poofy headed fucker might save everyone a lot of problems.

Anyway, I’m thankful this thanksgiving that my country spent its military and political will fighting a pointless war in not-even-chemically-armed Iraq so that there would be none left to deal with nuclear clowns like Iran and North Korea. Heckuva job, Georgie.

P.S. Perhaps the most cynical thing I will ever write: A conflict in Korea would strengthen an Obama presidency.

The Long Winter of Our Discontent

I like President Obama more than any other political figure in my lifetime. I like the President for the same reason the Conservatrons hate him: he seems like one of “us”. He’s the only major political figure  to hail from the “us” that I recognize myself to be a part of.

Objectively, Obama’s first two years have been a sterling success. The economy was saved from Depression, two Supreme Court justices were confirmed, the auto bailout saved thousands of jobs and three huge companies, fundamental health insurance reform and financial reform were passed, and the ball was generally moved forward on issues from womens’ equity, to green energy, to nuclear disarmament. Unnoticed by most, Obama has also done a tremendous amount of healing beneath the skin by inserting earnest and sophisticated citizens into Cabinet and under-Cabinet positions that were once the province of Bush junta “Brownies”. The Education Department is utilizing venture capital style experimentation through the Race to the Top contest. Steven Chu is the best Secretary of Energy in the Department’s history having oriented it towards resolving cutting edge technological problems while personally participating in small ventures like orchestrating the ultimate capping of BP’s gushing oil well in the star crossed Gulf of Mexico.

Obama’s first two years are also a self-evident failure. If you could time travel back to Inauguration Day 2009 and tell an Obama supporter the result of the 2010 midterms, the supporter at first would not believe you and then conclude that the two intervening years were a disaster.

There are two obvious horseshoe-and-hand-grenades failures from Obama’s first two years. The first was the Stimulus that was too small, but advertised as being just as right as the Third Bear’s bowl of porridge was for Goldilocks. Paul Krugman, who has only been correct about almost everything since the daisy brained days of W’s 2000 presidential campaign, has written extensively about this on his blog. The second would be the bonus imbroglio with AIG and other bailed out Bankster Rats’ Nests. Yes these bonuses are just a goofy form of delayed compensation, and maybe there is little legally that the government could have done about them. But gut feelings are not always wrong. The sense that the same corrupt Master of the Universe nimrods that caused the Great Economic Collapse only to be bailed out by the serfs were then somehow deemed to important to risk losing, and were thus rewarded for their destructive errors was logically infuriating. My participation in this blog flatlined after Obama was ineffectual in contending with the bonuses either substantively or through oration. Of course I argued, donated a few dollars and voted early in 2010, but my enthusiasm was deflated.

It’s not clear how Obama could have given voice to this populist fury or exactly how Obama should have played the Stimulus. Maybe he chose one of the best possible courses in each case – perhaps alternative actions would have turned out worse. Regardless, the 2010 elections are proof positive that what he did do failed. It’s even possible that he wasn’t the right man for the job. Obama’s Hope message resonated in the early rounds of the Democratic Primary because it was the antidote to the low morals and manipulations of the Bush regime and the agony of the Fear Years. Clinton seemed to “connect” better on the economy after the Ohio primary (whatever that means), but her foolish vote in favor of Generalissimo Bush’s Iraq War II cost her the Democratic nomination and, with it, the Presidency. Would HRC have succeeded in these two make-or-break areas where Obama didn’t? Who knows, but the “spiritual thirst” of America was far more meat’n’potatoes in the fall of 2008 then it was in the summer of 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina finally obliterating Generalissimo Bush’s string of fooling all of the people (or at least a preponderance of them) all of the time and the agony of deceit began to permeate workaday life.

Maybes, wouldas, couldas, and who the hell knows? Oh well. Whatever. The tragedy is that we are where we are and it is hard to see how Obama’s failures leave America any real way to get out of the Great Economic Collapse. There was a fluffy tech bubble in the 1990s, but computers, the Internet and cellphones were also tangible improvements that created wealth and new businesses. The Web 2.0 Facebooks and YouTubes of the 00’s also added real economic development to the empty calories of the housing bubble. Today, corporations are sitting on heaps of dollars like hens atop an egg, but what is it that they should spend it on? Who is going to buy the products that corporations create with their ample capital in sufficient quantities to generate self-sustaining wealth and jobs?

Obama’s able Cabinet and their underlings can still heal beneath the skin, the Fed can give the Market more quantitative easing hand jobs, and Obama can surely make his mortgage program more effective. Still, the huge Stimulus spending that must be done on infrastructure, the smart grid, and a bevy of other initiatives; the Stimulus spending that objectively would end the Great Economic Collapse will not get done. America is settling in for a long long winter of meager growth, diminished expectations, and near-feudal wealth concentration, meanwhile the Conservatrons and the junior varsity fascists in the Tea Party will use the resulting disorder to pit dispossessed groups against each other while distracting them with fake issues (Ground Zero Masque!) and phony scandals (Obama’s a Muslim!). Obama and Progressives will be playing defense, stopping the barbarians at the gate and keeping them from smothering the infant recovery in its oxygen tent.

I Hope We Can….