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Seizing control of the remote

[This series of comments is well worth discussing as a corrective to the bright shiny objects of campaign coverage dangled in front of us daily by our betters in the Village. I think the interchange so interesting and provocative that I'm going to call it out as a post. -- lambert]

Commenting on Obama's unprecedented tour of the war zones, bringiton writes:

On both fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan, this trip has moved Obama from a “presumptive nominee” to the foremost advocate of a rational approach to America’s problems there, moved him ahead of not just John McCain but also George Bush in his standing as a world leader....

The political power, indeed the voice of government as expressed by the people, has already shifted in America; we are witness to a slow-motion coup d’etat, a transfer of power well in advance of the formal election and one that is being done peacefully. This is extraordinary, unprecedented as Lambert observes, and well worth reportage.

Further, bringiton writes:

The monster of an Imperial Presidency conceived by Nixon and embodied by the Unitary Executive of Cheney and Bush is about to turn on its creators; there will be revenge, and it will not be pretty.

It remains to be seen what all will be done with it under the hand of its new master Obama, who is a clever lad and quickly realized that he did not need to wait for an election to take hold of the remote control, but compared to McCain it simply cannot be as bad. This particular maneuver, outflanking and turning back the imperialist adventurism of Iraq and vowing to start cleaning up the absolute debacle that is Afghanistan, appears to me to be a useful employment of power and one about which I am going to remain optimistic until I am shown otherwise.

Discuss.

Alea iacta est?

I, for one, welcome our new overlords....

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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

differ noticeably from the old ones.

Am I bitter? Nah. I'm beyond that. I'm thinking that maybe I missed something really important -- maybe the entire process of elections has been rendered irrelevant, and what's important is who you know, in DC.

In that case, no matter who grabs the remote, we are all well and truly screwed.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by lambert on

I mean, a transfer of power before any actual election. What could go wrong?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by cg.eye on

now, at the Convention level, when there's still time to put some things right, but it's good when Obama gets the same widesweeping unitary executive powers to shape the DNC and the lives of the people (note that I didn't say the Federal Government -- that pesky Permanent Government thing means they already have their book of oppo blackmail in place for him) the way his handlers and funders want?

What was the difference between Obama's and Clinton's potential administrations, again?

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

I will continue to dream of an America where the transfer of power occurs in the sunshine with an impartial media reporting.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

no Democrat will be allowed to use the expanded power--ever. no Democrat is never allowed to change our foreign policy of invading or propping up dictators and strongmen--nor do they even want to.

and this is lies--just lies-- "This particular maneuver, outflanking and turning back the imperialist adventurism of Iraq and vowing to start cleaning up the absolute debacle that is Afghanistan,"

Obama is not outflanking nor turning back anything in Iraq at all. You show us where he's doing so--he's actually planning on expanding the military and keeping private mercenaries/contractors too, as well as keeping 60-80,000 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

Afghanistan, as a comment at TalkLeft says, is "where superpowers go to die"-- We never went there to build democracy or to eliminate the Taliban--we went there only to get Bin Ladin.

And speaking of our imperialism and actions abroad as the GOP does--as a "war on terror", as Obama always does-- is not change or seizing control of anything--it's simply status quo with a different face.

You attack and insult all of us, BIO, but you should be turning your fire on those with power--it's sad that you never ever do, and simply accept what they all do as ok.

Submitted by lambert on

Here:

The political power, indeed the voice of government as expressed by the people, has already shifted in America; we are witness to a slow-motion coup d’etat, a transfer of power well in advance of the formal election and one that is being done peacefully.

Is that diagnosis right, or wrong? That's the point at issue. Right or wrong? And, either way, what are the implications?

True as your other responses may be, they're off point. I know Obama is what the Victorians would have called "a sound Empire man; he's a centrist. I left all that shit in there to make sure I had the analysis in context; the key point, as I said, is above. That's what's new and different.

So, it is right or wrong?

NOTE Except for the "attack and insult all of us," which is either part of the "ladies" permathread -- which is, to anticipate, a separate thread -- or silly.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

badger's picture
Submitted by badger on

What matters is not whether Obama is the "foremost advocate" or a "clever lad" or "taking power now" or anything else set forth above.

Being excedingly generous to Obama, after a few hours on the ground in Afghanistan, Obama knows slightly more about the situation there and the larger subject of foreign policy. Which means he now knows slightly more than the "fuck-all" he learned by attending primary school in a foreign country - the sum total of his international experience until a day or two ago.

Because, like everything else that hinges on this election, the outcome depends on ability and skill and experience - things in short supply on the Obama side (or the McCain side for that matter). The proposition being put forward here is as meaningful as "hope" and "change", and equally substantial.

It may be a clever political or PR move, but I don't see it saving American or Iraqi or Afghani lives any more than landing on the deck of carrier and showing off your codpiece. It's still all codpiece.

Submitted by lambert on

Just let me try to get this straight.

Your argument, if I understand it correctly, is that a change in the Constitutional order, such that a candidate can act as if already elected, is less consequential than a candidate's foreign policy experience.

Yes? If so, I think your political stance is profoundly silly.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

it's only right if you surrender all possible actions to rectify it (and we still do have actions that can rectify it, which belie it further.)

It's fatalistic, passive, beyond cynical and well into apathy, and it presumes that it doesn't matter whether we support a liberal or a conservative, a Tom DeLay or a Bernie Sanders, a Jesse Helms or a Russ Feingold, etc...

Most importantly, it fatally ignores domestic needs, domestic problems, and domestic policy entirely--where there are differences bet most Democrats --including every single previous presidential candidate, btw-- and Republicans.

(i mean fatally entirely seriously too--people die when they don't have health insurance or homes)

Submitted by lambert on

Amberglow:

I should have written "correct" or "incorrect," not "right" or "wrong," since that brings the moral dimension in, opening the door to a lot of nonsense about cynicism and passivity. (If you think you might have cancer, it is neither cynical nor passive to get an accurate diagnosis, yes?)

Is the thesis correct?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

that's not BIO's entire message to us here tho--not by a longshot.

Plus, what's been happening under Reagan and Bush are not the usual bipartisan "we meddle and prop up dictator actions"--they're vastly different from our actions for most of the 20th century, and Obama is on record as both ratifying Bush's actions and expanding our military and bombing actions--- both of which have failed utterly in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Submitted by lambert on

.... that bringiton's central thesis -- helpfully, I've bolded it for you -- is true, since you seem incapable of engaging with it and responding to it.

As for the "entire message".... Well, that's not something that's really within my perview, absent installation of Drupal's telepathy module. May I suggest we stick to the words of the post? That's far easier to do, for some of us, and who knows? It may lead to some useful discussion!

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

you're ignoring the fact--very pertinent fact--that BIO says these things as part of his insulting of us for not shutting up and buying it.

So--Obama and the DNC insult us and tell us to shut up and drink it. and BIO insults us and tells us it's all a farce anyway--primaries are a farce, voting is a farce, it's all fixed and corrupt, etc. That's his only message--ever.

We point out that Obama's trip actually is theater and a crock of shit and that occasions yet more insults from BIO--that's the real problem here-- this isn't about his cynicism and apathy, which are well established.

You never notice, i guess, that BIO never ever suggests actual positive action or steps to remedy any of his diagnoses. I do.

Submitted by lambert on

A thesis is a thesis, and an argument is an argument, and in fact, the stupidest and most vile among us is capable of making a point that needs to be addressed. If you can't address and refute the argument.... Why then I shall have to believe it's true.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

neither you nor BIO have addressed its value or utility in any way at all tho. It's simply a diagnosis of already accomplished corruption with no remedy even possible since it's already a done deal and our input, votes, voices, actions, etc, don't matter.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Here's the thing.

I think that McCain will be infinitely better than Obama when it comes to overall foreign policy.

Everything we've seen in terms of Obama's behavioral patterns suggest that his approach to foreign policy will be ad bad, if not worse, than Bush's.... (The policies themselves won't be as toxic... I'm talking about how US power is used, and foreign affairs conducted).

...and I can easily see Obama alienating our allies just as much, if not more, with his own personal brand of petulance and arrogance.

I think McCain understands that the president is the steward of American power. Obama, like Bush, will act as if the powers of the Presidency are a personal perogative.

Obama actually scares me when it comes to issues like Iran, and I think he's much more likely to wind up attacking Iran than McCain would ever be.

Submitted by lambert on

See below.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

... that people are simply not willing to address it. Hence, I've bolded it, and I'll try again.

This is the thesis:

The political power, indeed the voice of government as expressed by the people, has already shifted in America; we are witness to a slow-motion coup d’etat, a transfer of power well in advance of the formal election and one that is being done peacefully. ... [H]e did not need to wait for an election to take hold of the remote control,

Is that thesis correct? Is it true? Is it a useful analytical tool? (My answers are yes, yes, and yes).

Maybe, if we decide the it is correct, we can debate whether the consequences will be as bringiton states (I would argue no).

How about we try facing the facts first, and then talk about what's right and wrong?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

the consequences don't matter at all if you believe BIO is correct and true--don't you see that?

There's no possible action or remedy if you accept it.

Submitted by lambert on

Further, because a fact can't be remedied doesn't mean it's not a fact.

My feeling is that we'd better make damn sure we have a good model of what the Village has in store for us, if we're to act rather than react (see under Shock Doctrine).

That's why I think the thesis is interesting and important.

And I don't give two shits about who said what to whom on some past thread, or about the fucking horse-race, either, if there's a new and powerful analytical tool to be had.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Nadai's picture
Submitted by Nadai on

it isn't true. Obama doesn't have the power to make it true. He can talk all he likes, but he can't actually do anything unless (or until) he's elected to the Presidency. And if he loses, as I expect, even his words will blow away on the wind.

Caesar had the Legio XIII Gemina when he crossed the Rubicon. Obama has nothing but his Obots.

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

...on what that definition of "peacefully" is. There's often a silent suffering of victims, who appear to quietly cooperate against their best interests out of fear and powerlessness.

I really wish Arthur Silber was up and about to debunk the hopey hypey goodness and help me read the tea leaves.

Also, Amber glow, I'm not sure the Bush-Cheney-Karzai path through Afghanistan was simply to pursue Osama bin Laden, unless GWB just wanted to shake his hand in "thanks, man, for the opportunity." Why let them eat cak....er, I mean access health care when you can have a pipeline?

I acknowledge I have arrived at this tea party late, not read all the comments, and believe I'm less an ideologue than I am a skeptic. I still want to vote the old fashioned way, not have some benign dictator deciding what's best for me and my weak mind.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Which is better than with, IMNSHO.

Pipelines and oil are at the heart of many decisions. You didn't think Bill Clinton acted out of a peculiar affection for Croatians, did you?

I too wish Arthur the best, and hope he feels better soon. His voice is much missed.

Until then we will have to struggle through the best we can with our own resources, so please do catch up on the reading and weigh in.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Shahs and Saddams to arming the Taliban because they were fighting the Soviets, etc....

We had an actual coup in 2000, when the Executive was handed to the GOP. This is not that.

And i'd also remind people of 88, when Daddy Bush ran a horrible campaign yet won, and extended the Reagan years. This year looks like that to me--not like some agreed-upon transfer of the Executive to us Dems for 4 or 8 years bec of Obama and his people's influence.

badger's picture
Submitted by badger on

Seizing control of the remote ... It doesn't make any difference who has the remote when there's 57 Channels and Nothing On.

A change in the Constitutional order? We've had 8 years of that, and it'll happen again in the future (read Neustadt on Presidential Power, for instance - an oldie but still a goodie).

Yeah, I think it's more important which of the little people here or abroad live or die and whether they quit dieing sooner or later than whether someone is jerking around the Constitution in novel ways again. Call me silly ...

Submitted by lambert on

And it's all about killing a whole bunch more little people.

Unless you think consolidating Bush's authoritarian gains under Democrats is a better way forward, of course.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by cg.eye on

Because this is the nuclear option that libertarians, the far-left and far-right have preached on for most of our lives.

When we truly and deeply lose our democracy -- when it is made clear that we have transitioned to a series of puppet dictatorships where the same five or ten or twenty families micromanage where this country goes and what it does -- then that is the time for armed insurrection.

Isn't that the reason for the kerfuffle about the Supremes affirming the right to bear arms? That it isn't merely about personal protection -- no automatic weapon would be needed, would it, against one or two robbers? This is the point where the rubber meets the road, all good men go off the grid to the aid of their country. And, it's not happening.

It won't happen.

That mark of the beast thing already happened too. It's called a credit rating, or a driver's license, or the wristband that has our travel information and gives us an electric shock.

The time of the jetpack has past.
So has the fantasy of changing our democracy by any other means short of force, if BIO is correct, since the government now truly is permanent.

I think this is called fascism.

badger's picture
Submitted by badger on

there's nothing on - not for the problems I want solved. (And I canceled my satellite TV months ago, so I have some experience with this).

The political power, indeed the voice of government as expressed by the people, has already shifted in America; we are witness to a slow-motion coup d’etat, a transfer of power well in advance of the formal election and one that is being done peacefully.

Is Obama CinC now? Will he order the troops home tomorrow? And if he does, will they come home? Will Bush use his statutory authority as Obama tells him to? If not, it sounds like he's as impotent as he was a couple of days ago.

And that assumes he'd choose to do something about it or be able to arrive at what to do. That hasn't changed much in the last few days, either.

tnjen's picture
Submitted by tnjen on

...is entirely correct. I think we're watching an 'attempted coup' but it is far from a full seizure of any real power. It's more of Obama pretending to be President -- just like the mighty possum seal. Among many other things, the idea is to evoke the feeling that he's already won so that voters will 'vote for the winner.' It also serves to depress turnout for McCain (a tactic the Obama campaign loved to deploy in the primaries) and helps establish the idea that 'yes, he's experienced enough.' IOW, if it's in people's minds that he's already in charge then they won't question his competence to do the job.

That said, the media's decision to go along with this pretending and pretension is disturbing in that it lends credibility to the idea that Obama is already in charge -- democracy be damned. And 'democracy be damned if it gets in the way of the village's decision to move forward right now' is exactly the message they're sending. IMO, it's one of the reasons why there is such fierce opposition to Obama originating from within the party whether people are consciously of it or not.

Submitted by lambert on

It's actually a lot like February, isn't it?

I wonder when the calls for McCain to drop out for the good of the country will start? Ha ha, only serious....

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

... when you've got one movement?

OTOH, who needs two parties when you've got one Village?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

tnjen's picture
Submitted by tnjen on

...and I think that fact is what makes Bringiton's suggestion so frightening. IMO, the level of media complicity is as such that a more unified party and electorate could instill real power without process (democracy) in a similar fashion to what he describes.

And yeah, it reminds me of Feb. too. If the patterns hold, McCain will be asked to drop out if and/or when he gains the consent of the majority of the people. lol.

EDIT: This is in response to 'we create our own reality...'

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Obama's numbers are decreasing so I find it hard to see how this is a coup. Despite media attempts, the people aren't really buying into Obama. Will Obama win? Its tied in a year when it should be a blowout for the Dem. It sill can be, but right now its not. Obama has been on the decline in support since Feb despite the current best efforts by the media. So the coup argument appears to be mostly projection of the desired outcome with a little WWTSBQ thrown in. But this time the "SB" are the Obama skeptics.

WWTSBQ has been continuous even if it changes its form. The current trip, IMO, is to get focus off Hillary, rather than anything profound. What do speeches accomplish compared to having publicized hearings (I'd like to see Obama actually take a little executive initiative) and writing legislation to force change? there is widespread agreement that Bush failed and we mostly agree on why.

Obama telling us what we already know just doesn't seem like any coup to me. More like a way to get the SBs to finally Q because he is the man with awesome awesomeness that will do whatever anyone wants to project. This "SB" isn't ready to "Q" at this point.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Obama actually is leading in all major polls by significant margins, has pulled ahead or even in many state polls where he previously trailed McCain, and in my calculation he has pulled even give or take New Hampshire in the Electoral College. No links, but then you didn't provide any either; consider this a preview of a bigger electoral update post to come.

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

Monday, July 21, 2008
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows Barack Obama attracting 42% of the vote while John McCain earns 41%. That’s the lowest level of support measured for Obama since he clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination on June 3.

I'm not out looking for polls, I just ran across this and remembered your claim. If I come across others, I'll be back.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Today's Gallup:

The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update on registered voters' general presidential election preferences finds Barack Obama with a 47% to 41% lead over John McCain.

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

John McCain has opened a modest lead over Barack Obama in the key swing state of Ohio. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the Buckeye State shows McCain attracting 46% of the vote while Obama earns 40%. Last month and the month before McCain held a insignificant one-point lead over Obama.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

who asked if I was in my right mind - dear god.

Let us remember - the medium is the message. Whether other candidates traveled or not is irrelevant. Other candidates had the substance of their accomplishments as evidence of their worthiness. Obama has no such accomplishments and so he is reduced to cloaking himself in the accomplishments and sacrifices of Europe's dead to render the appearance of gravitas. The intent of the appearance is to make you think that he has seized control. He has not.

Flight suit, Brandenburg gate - it's all the same to the media. it's the newest Ipod. The newest cool thing. The newest flavor of Smuckers. Obama in Germany - ooooh, cool!!! I hope his berries don't have seeds!

Remember G. Gordon Liddy getting all hot and bothered about Bush's package? Think of all the homo-erotic rhetoric around Obama. It's all one and the same. Lifestyle marketing. Welcome to Madison Avenue. Gentlemen, start your engines.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Several things.

(1) The last thread ended with challenging allegations that I have some disrespect for the Constitution, all of which were false and I can only think the result of not having actually read what I wrote. This is, however, not the right thread I think for that discussion; a perfectly good one is here, where I lay out briefly my thoughts and reasons for making a new and better constitution. The first one wasn't perfect, been amended 27 times now and still does not seem to serve our purposes – or have I missed something and everyone thinks things are all hunky-dory in the US of A?

The poor old rag resembles nothing so much as a worn out inner tube, all covered with patches and still leaking, just barely able to keep us afloat. The idea that 200+ years on we can’t do better for ourselves is to me, frankly, flabbergasting. Anyone who is interested, please go to the link and tell me where I’m wrong. Have no fear; I am only markings on a screen and have no one much on my side other than Thomas Jefferson.

(2) I must apologize a bit for having been less than clear in the earlier thread, although I do urge anyone interested to go to the links Lambert provides and read me in context. I’ve been watching GeeW and his international relations for some time with a mixture of bemusement and dread, and intended to write a piece about the shift in foreign policy authority from BushCo to Obama when this trip was over. Lambert in his way sniffed something out of the ordinary and temped me into sticking my oar in before I had thought things all the way through; still, some good fun is to be had trying to sort out events while they are evolving.

(3) There has been a vacuum in American foreign policy and international relations for some time now. Over the last year, Bush himself has become completely irrelevant and what negotiations have occurred have been handled by State. Even there, the real work has been done by career staff and Condi has done what she does best, stand back and stay out of the way, then take credit. North Korea, the big triumph, is only now where it was when Clinton left office except that in the interim, as a direct result of Bush’s policies, they did indeed develop atomic weapons capability and build some bombs. Good job there, and the Northies only started to come back to sensible when the other Six-Party nations stepped in to take over and GeeW was squeezed out of the process. Everything else on the planet that affects us is an unmitigated disaster, perhaps the plan and perhaps not, but the rest of the world is heartily sick of it and has stopped talking to George and Dick. At the last several international conferences, our President has been shunned publically; there are photo after photo showing him sitting alone staring off while all around him other leaders are engaged with each other in conversation.

That smart-ass simpering cocaine and alcohol addled inarticulate dime store cowboy embarrassment that we’ve all grown to loath is not an act; that is GeeW, right out front and real, and nobody wants to put up with him anymore. Even Maliki, the tenuous prime minister whose status in office, and indeed his very life, depends on the continued support and good will of 150,000 of the most dangerous military troops on Earth who are occupying his country, jumped at the chance to defy and rebuke both Bush and McCain at the first opportunity for a face-to-face sit down with Obama. It can only be that the Obama staff and Maliki had discussed ahead of time what would be presented and what each of them needed; these things are never done on the fly.

Since the outcome of the Democratic primary became clear, Maliki has stood up to Bush on the oil contracts, on the status of forces agreement, on insisting that a “time horizon” be negotiated, and has now embraced Obama’s proposal for a major forces troop exit at 16 months. Only after Bush, and one assumes Cheney and others were present with him, delivered an ultimatum by video-conference – presumably because they didn’t trust what they might hear, they needed to see him sweat – did Maliki back off and then without denying his earlier comments and not through official channels but rather through the US military structure. The negotiations for the future of Iraq are now being conducted between the Prime Minister and a US Senator, who is not even his party’s official nominee as a candidate for the presidency.

The same thing with Karzai in Kabul, a man left to dangle for years with insufficient support and bungled strategy while his country slowly slides into anarchy and narcoterrorism, able only to hide out for his very life within a small quadrant of the capital. For years Karzai has called for more troops, more reconstruction, more infrastructure advancement, and those calls have been echoed by every military commander in country and every UN and NGO relief organization on the ground. Bush has done nothing but make one mistake after another in Afghanistan, again perhaps deliberately and perhaps not, but the net result is another disaster. Karzai is also now talking directly to and openly negotiating with Obama, another head of state in another critical situation who has abandoned any pretense of wanting to deal any more with the actual President of The United States.

(4) There are many aspect of this thesis – and it is just that, but I believe with the facts thus far it bears up well – that are frankly horrifying. That horror is the reason I brought it up in the first place. Pointing out that some great ravening beast is loose upon the Earth is not the same as endorsing it, as some who are unhappy with me for other reasons would have it. Failure to address the issue is just that, and all the name-calling and false accusations in the world won’t change the lack. Fear, perhaps, of having to deal with a possible reality instead of sheer rumor.

In the longer term I have no good idea what this might mean, but I do feel it does not bode well for anyone. The nearest thing to it I am aware of is the secret negotiations with Iran by Reagan, but he was his party’s nominee at the time. Whatever Obama’s intentions, and I claim no more ability to mindread or predict the future than I am willing to credit anyone else, it is not a good thing on principle for anyone other than the Chief Executive or his delegate to be making these kinds of agreements – and agreements they are. Too much power, especially outside the limp but still present confines of actual elected Constitutional authority, is more than anyone should have or be expected to bear. We shall simply have to wait and see what happens down the road; this is not, IMHO, a subject that is amenable to outside influence although if anyone has any ideas about how to have an affect on these events I am all ears – or eyes.

In the short term it is beyond horrific that the sitting President has so completely alienated the entire world and all of its leaders. What were people thinking when they voted for him? I cannot imagine. How is it that in every international relationship the President of the United States of America is held in contempt? Even his erstwhile personal allies have been kicked out of office by their citizens or have turned their backs on him. His Secretary of State is an international joke, politely ignored by foreign ministers and heads of state and no longer even covered by major newspapers when she travels to attempt to broker something, anything that might be meaningful (last two paragraphs). Our President and Vice President and the Cabinet are loathed and ignored throughout the world, while we and our interests have been badly served for a long time and are now wholly unrepresented.

(5) Obama has stepped into the void left Bush and Cheney to seize the power representing America in both Afghanistan and Iraq. So far, and I say this with fingers crossed, he has succeeded in negotiating agreements with Maliki and Karzai that conform to what needs doing, get out of Iraq and clean up Afghanistan. Sounds good, but then one never knows what will actually happen once he is in office. Still, it seems to me that having an adult take charge is probably better than simply leaving a void. The Plutocrats handed the remote control for the Imperial Unitary President Monster to Bush, an untreated coke-head alcoholic, and Cheney, a victim of multiple strokes in the last stages of cardiac failure; the boys lost it, big surprise, and now Obama has picked it up.

(6) Just to be sure we have this in perspective; Obama is not the first non-President to assume such a role. Ronald Reagan was conducting secret, unauthorized foreign policy negotiations, in direct contrast to the best interests of America and American citizen hostages, while he was running for the office. Obama, at least, is being open about it and thus far appears to be moving things in the direction any sane person would want. Woodrow Wilson’s second wife, Edith, took on the role of gatekeeper for him after his stroke and kept him isolated from the Vice President and his Cabinet, selecting what issues were presented to him and relaying his decisions to others; or at least her interpretation of his wishes. Obama, at least, is an elected United States Senator.

This isn’t a good deal for anyone, but it isn’t entirely unprecedented either.

(7) Is this a secret handover from one arm of the Great Plutocratic Conspiracy to another, a working in of the new puppet-apparent now that the current figurehead has become useless? Is it, as I characterized, a slow-motion coup d’état with one ruling clique seizing an opportunity to begin a transfer of power irrespective of the electoral process and outside the constraints of the Constitution? Is it empty of any meaning, a shallow PR stunt that Teh Evil Bringiton is peddling here at the Mighty Corrente Building in his secret role as an agent for the Great Obama Conspiracy to undermine the last best hope for the resurrection of St. Hillary? Or is it just a damn good thing that somebody half-assed responsible is grabbing the unattended rudder of a floundering ship?

I don’t know for certain, truthfully, not claiming to know absolutely, [Note: I am not a Secret Agent Man] but it does appear to be happening and it does seem to me to be worth discussing whether the MSM is talking about it or not.

Submitted by lambert on

1. The Clinton impeachment saga was a slow-motion, media-fuelled coup that culminated in the theft of election 2000 in FL. So it's not like the Village doesn't have the tools for this. Anyhow, if the Constitutional machinery wasn't creaky when the Republicans started in with Whitewater, it was pretty damn creaky by the time of Bush v. Gore.

2. In retrospect, the fact that there's never been any payback for election 2000 from the Dems is an interesting datapoint. Eh? In fact, if you inventory the Constitutional outrages the Republicans have committed, and which the Dems have colluded in, you've also got an inventory of the executive powers the Democrats think they should have. Naturally, the Ds, being good, can be trusted with them, as the Rs, being bad, cannot, but still. (Irony alert....)

3. I hope bringiton is OK with my putting his thesis forward before it was fully formed and strongly evidenced, but if he's right, it's important to know it now, eh? After FISA, and the primary generally, I have a Kafka-esque sense that no rules, literally no rules apply in the Village any more, and that goes for both parties. As in everything else about this election, nobody knows anything. Anyhow, this thesis is an interesting yield for a simple question like Can anybody else remember a presumptive nominee taking a foreign tour? Ask a question, and you get an answer....

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"...Obama has stepped into the void left Bush and Cheney to seize the power representing America in both Afghanistan and Iraq. ..."

This is not so--

1. Al-Maliki and Karzai only have power on paper (and neither actually control their countries by any means at all--nor are either actually anything other than our puppets--which the populations of both countries are well aware of, btw) because of our military and other presences propping them up and telling them what to do and not do.
2. The resources of Iraq and the negotiations regarding Western Oil Co. Contracts and our continuing influence -- and our continuing presence there for years to come-- are not at all anything Obama has any influence over. It's the Administration that is jerking Maliki's leash, and writing their laws, as they have been for years now.
4. If you look at the big money and other influences behind Obama, you don't find those companies or orgs that actually are players in that region or would like to be. You find domestic energy powers like coal and nukes, and investment/banking primarily--and those are not players in that region--they're players elsewhere, as shown by the trade agreement stance he has, and the "i'm a free market guy" shit.

Further, even tho Obama has pledged to upgrade the tech and weapons and stuff in our military (think contractors), and grow the military, those companies have not been supporting him-- this is the only one i've found--and Crown has known Obama for years and is not a big player.

Plus, beefing up Afghanistan and reducing our presence in Iraq without having those Iraq oil contracts locked down is not at all the plan. No one in the WH or industry wants that, since they've already made their pipeline/etc deals in the Afghan region, and need to ensure that the oil in Iraq stays in our orbit and not China's or the EU. That's a longterm thing, and has been set up to be.

Obama being very very corporate/big industry friendly is not the same as him being some kind of heir apparent to GOP plans. Him being passive and status-quo is also not the same.

I'll also throw in that powerbrokers in the GOP and relevant industries too are behind McCain, and Rove and his progeny are as well.

Money/Contractwise, they know that McCain is a safe bet, foreign policy/military-contractwise. Obama isn't.

makana44's picture
Submitted by makana44 on

“Obama may not be the great leader of progressive resurgence that is needed, but he is certainly not as bad as the Republicans.”

Apples and oranges. Obama is not a party. But with a supermajority of grateful obeisant trough-slurping Democratic congressporcines providing not check nor balance he can wrought far worse than one’s darkest nightmare. Arrogance, hubris, disdain, and immaturity coupled with insuperable power and fawning parasitic enablers is a recipe for what? Greatness? Justice? A new golden heart-filled age? Maybe not disaster but…maybe.

“I believe that once this change has happened, once the Republican Criminal Cabal is replaced by the Democratic Dithering Machine, the force of public outrage will continue to mount and express itself in ways that will be irresistible.”

Outrage at whom? The outgoing defeated criminal cabal or the incoming one? Do you really think the Democratic leadership is a bunch of inept, bumbling, dithering fools? Every word they spoke every vote they made was calculated ….even if it meant a further loss of military lives, individual liberties, and national treasure. Let the Republicans hang themselves, or at least appear to. The Democrats could have stopped this war if they had wanted to. What does it mean that they didn’t? There is nothing more irresistible than the trough. Why did Ms Nancy not put the fork to K street after she ascended to leadership on that promise? Why did they bring FISA to a vote then pass it? The new toll-keepers are about to arrive along with sugar daddy himself whose cash (and promise of much more) bought more than could 18 million authentic votes and every large and swing state.

“The Democratic Party will be forced to reform, forced to embrace and advance progressive goals, or they will be fractured and destroyed.”

To quote the esteemed Dean of Corrente: “Haw!” They will be bound by lucre and the exhilarative ambrosia of power and they will hold on to it with white knuckled, ham fisted, unquenchable ferocity. One with a delicate aesthetic might come to view it as ugly. They will be unstoppable until such time as the force of corruptive decadence corrodes their innards as it did their colleagues across the aisle…which because the Democrats are somewhat new at this, could take generations. Russ Feingold may speak with a lonely passion and Paul Wellstone can turn over in his grave but the ascendance of Obama and his hordes, both young and old guard, will mark the permanent loss of an idealism once associated with what was the Democratic Party. The new party will not welcome the likes of those who cannot accept the demise of progressivism or who faint-heartedly complain about such trifles as the loss of constitutionally guaranteed privacy. Either you will come to praise Caesar or be damned.

Submitted by lambert on

"The Dean of Corrente" -- that stings.

As makana44 says:

The new party will not welcome the likes of those who cannot accept the demise of progressivism or who faint-heartedly complain about such trifles as the loss of constitutionally guaranteed privacy.

Or the loss of the rule of law, with telco immunity (except for the little people, of course).

What do you mean, "will" not?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Where we as citizens might have some effect is in how we manage and deal with it. The Republicans, and as I've said repeatedly somewhere around half the Democrats, are happy enough to see us slide into a quasi-totalitarian nightmare of extreme privilege for the few and bare survival for the rest of us.

You have a choice, of course - for the moment. Which regime would you rather try to deal with in the face of loomimg global destruction, the Republicans or the Democrats?

They will be unstoppable until such time as the force of corruptive decadence corrodes their innards as it did their colleagues across the aisle…which because the Democrats are somewhat new at this, could take generations.
Short memory. The Democrats are equally adept at corruption, it was corruption scandal that gave Republicans their last big opportunity in 1994. This cycle it shouldn't take much time to settle in.

the permanent loss of an idealism once associated with what was the Democratic Party
About damn time. That "idealism" hasn't gotten anyone anything for a very long time, and what progressive things the Democratic Party did were out of pragmatism and neccessity as much as idealism. Both of the parties are tools for getting and keeping power, neither of them care a whit about you and me except for what use we might be to them. Get the stars out of your eyes and accept that there's work to be done to force the direction of change instead of complaining that it isn't going to be done for you.

The new party will not welcome the likes of those who cannot accept the demise of progressivism or who faint-heartedly complain about such trifles as the loss of constitutionally guaranteed privacy.
Progressivism has been a useless and ineffective bad joke for 40 years in this country. Neither party as a whole gives a damn, but the Democrats have a few in their caucus that are nominally progressive and will work to move forward if given some support. The Republicans have none. Don't expect to be "welcomed" by either party; if we want progressive change we will have to fight for it and force our way in. I prefer to fight with the party where a small wedge can be driven into an existing crack as opposed to fighting with one that is a monolith.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

we aren't witnessing anything that isn't part of the normal electoral process -- Obama is not seizing power, and US policy is not changing at his direction.

Bush is a lame duck -- and because of his extreme unpopularity, he's the lamest of lame ducks. Power has not been transferred, its just been lost by Bush.

Submitted by lambert on

... well, surely if power is "lost," it goes somewhere? Somebody picks it up?

To descend to a sports metaphor, when one team fumbles the ball, the other team doesn't go home, they seize the ball and run with it.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

very often when power is lost, it simply disappears -- it isn't 'transferred' to anyone else, at least not in the form in which it existed -- it devolves from "power" to "potential".

Take the "power of persuasion"/"power of the pulput" -- it only exists when it is being used, and is 'power' because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

(I think its important to make the distinction between 'power" and "potential" -- think of a water wheel used to generate electricity. The potential to generate electricity is always there, but unless that potential is "harnessed", the power itself does not exist.)

Submitted by lambert on

... to lose track of it or allow it to disappear or not to exercise it, though I understand the power/potential metaphor. (And we want politicians to seek power, for the same reason we want salespeople to seek money: To get stuff done. Bringing the issue of checks to the fore...)

Anyhow, I find this paragraph persuasive, and it accounts at least for my sense of eerie disconnect in the coverage of this trip, that something important was happening and not being remarked upon:

Since the outcome of the Democratic primary became clear, Maliki has stood up to Bush on the oil contracts, on the status of forces agreement, on insisting that a “time horizon” be negotiated, and has now embraced Obama’s proposal for a major forces troop exit at 16 months. Only after Bush, and one assumes Cheney and others were present with him, delivered an ultimatum by video-conference – presumably because they didn’t trust what they might hear, they needed to see him sweat – did Maliki back off and then without denying his earlier comments and not through official channels but rather through the US military structure. The negotiations for the future of Iraq are now being conducted between the Prime Minister and a US Senator, who is not even his party’s official nominee as a candidate for the presidency.

Makes sense to me.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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