Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dred Scott Brown Decision, Bush Leg Imperialism

Ezra Klein
John Avalon
David Leonhardt
"What they personally believe is not a very good guide to how they generally vote." - Ezra Klein
"Our politics have been hijacked by hard-core partisans who like play-to-the-base politics. They profit from it personally and professionally. And they were going to perpetuate the previous “us against them” era by any means necessary." - John Avalon
"Today’s Congressional Republicans have made the strategically reasonable decision to describe President Obama’s health care plan, like almost every other part of his agenda, as radical and left wing. And the message seems to be at least partly working, based on polls and the Massachusetts surprise. But a smart political strategy isn’t the same thing as accurate policy analysis." - David Leonhardt

All of the punditry today is focussed on the outcome of the Massachusetts special  election, which Republican Scott Brown won.  Mr Brown has promised to be as loud and obstructionist to the health care bills and anything else Obama can come up with during his term. He will produce fun street theater, but will only be a one term wonder after the pendulum has swung past him and folks get tired of his schtick...

After Barack Obama won I was hoping for a change in the way we do politics. It seemed that people were tired of the personal attack ads historically used during the campaigns, and if nothing else, the future would be more polite and end in civil discourse. Unfortunately, it takes more than one person to make such a change, and his opposition has dug in its heels and this past year has been the nastiest, dirtiest, meanest, most foul that I have ever witnessed. What's worse, folks aren't raising much of a cry against this crap, but are erecting web sites and having rallies to perpetuate it, proclaiming themselves to be uber-patriots, wrapping themselves in the Bill of Rights, the infamous refuge of any scoundrel...

People have been angry at the government for a long time, both from the left and the right. Anger is also an emotion that is easiest to inflame and pass on, it takes a lot of self control to master it and calm down, or it has to explode in a cathartic event to burn itself off like a ball of fire. Anger is also the flip side of fear, so to stoke someone's anger all you have to do is feed on their fears. And there are beings out there who love to manipulate events and feast on your fear and anger, laughing at how easily people can be led along.

People were angry at the big banks and Wall Street for getting us into a financial sinkhole and losing so many jobs. Instead of throwing the book at the crooks responsible, not much change happened to the system, and so folks see Obama as ineffective. Instead, he tries to enact health care reform, but that should have been father down the list, after the economy got better. And the process of creating such legislature has led to further displeasure at our elected representatives in Congress, vote the bastards out.

If Obama had created a satisfying cathartic event, like tarring and feathering the heads of AIG and Goldman and Sachs on national television, a lot of anger would have dissipated and his approval rating would be much higher. If Obama had gone over the Federal budget line by line and made a lot of vetos, even if they were token amounts, and totally banned lobbyists and earmarks, then people would think that he's watching out for their pocketbooks and not spending like a drunken George Bush. Then the Republican effort to brand everything he does as left wing and a durn communist would fail, people would laugh at the silly antics, and no tea parties would have been born.

The words right and left don't really mean anything anymore, in politics they are used as epithets to hurl at your opponents. To me, right wing is really the extreme right of center. As a moderate, I like to read all positions and then make my own opinion, which is often a synthesis of opposing views. And I believe that is what we need more and more in our world. If we take a step outside of the US, this synthesis of right and left is happening more and more, for example, in this analysis of recent elections in South America, and particularly in Chile: "The election of a billionaire from a right-wing party as Chile’s president on Sunday appears to be less a signal of a regional move to the right than that of a pragmatic convergence of left and right agendas.

In the campaign, Mr. Piñera, a Harvard-trained economist and former senator, promised to carry on many of the social programs put in place by President Michelle Bachelet, who was leaving with approval ratings hovering around 75 percent. Mr. Piñera’s victory brought to an end the 20-year hold on power of the center-left Concertación coalition, which steered Chile out of its long and bloody dictatorship."

We have a region that often swings both to the left and to the right, yet more and more the countries end up with a government that is a synthesis of both ideals, taking a more pragmatic course during the day to day business of running that country. They use ideas that work and make their people happy, whether they come from a socialist program or a conservative one, mixing together until you really can't label the government one way or the other. Unless you are a journalist...
“In the institutionalized electoral democracies in Latin America over the last decade there has been a lessening of the ideological polarization between left and right and a convergence on macroeconomic stability and a framework of social justice, - Cynthia J. Arnson,

I believe that we are still undergoing the mood swings between left and right in our country, while Barack Obama is attempting to synthesize the two and form a stabile framework. Unfortunately, he is young and inexperienced, and has chosen the wrong first battles. Maybe we still need to let the wingnuts spread their wings and try their agenda, let them crash and burn naturally before we can move forward, just like the free marketeers have shown that they don't know diddly about economics in the real world. And I don't see much significance in the Massachusetts election beyond it being an expression of displaced anger, a reaction to over 20 years of the Kennedy dynasty.

bush legs...

According to the Russians, what is the greatest symbol of American Imperialism and a sign of their humiliation? Yes, that's right, the drumstick! Fowl Imperialism started by George the Elder Bush: "Of all the disputes great and petty that have marred relations between Russia and the United States over the years, chicken has provoked more than its share of angst and animosity. The United States under the first Bush administration flooded Russia with American chicken as food aid in the early 1990s, products that Russians came to call “Bush legs.”

These stocks — mostly thighs and other parts, not many drumsticks — helped feed hungry Russians reeling from an economic collapse. They also came to symbolize the humiliation of a once-great nation reduced to dependence on food handouts."

Evidently there are chicken wars brewing, and Russia seeks to become less dependent on American cheap chicken, which sold over 600,000 tons last year. There is a new ban on American chicken that is bathed in chlorine after it is cut up. The US says this is a safe thing, like irradiating vegetables or feeding hormones to animals, while the Russians are hoping to build up their own chicken stock... Or do they have a leg to stand on?
"In the next four to five years, Russia will be able to support itself.”
“They showed us on television where those Bush legs come from, they are all American military surplus.”

So, should Russia stop squawking and choking their chickens, those ungrateful bastards, or keep on adding American chickens to their stew of democracy? Or, are we going to have a great barbecue welcoming home the troops? "The issue is one of principle... a problem has arisen with one country: the United States, which is again continuing to insist that we show them that it is harmful,” Mr. Onishchenko said. “We tell them, ‘Excuse me, we pay the money, so we set the conditions for what kind of meat we want and what kind we don’t.’ ” I like mine extra-crispy...

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