What are the GOPers on Judiciary Committee Thinking?

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general boykin.jpgSupreme Court nominee Elena Kagan may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I have no issues with her and think that she is a disciplined, fair-minded, creative thinker who will add a lot to the highest court in the land.
That said, I just learned that the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling none other than the God-connected, crusade-obsessed saber rattler retired Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin as one of four military witnesses raising questions about Kagan’s policy of making it tough for the military to recruit at Harvard when there was a conflict over the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policies.
I think DADT is a relic that should be tossed out — but reasonable people can disagree and debate.
But Boykin? If this party is engaged in such self-destructive theatrics, why can’t the White House do a better job of dividing up the Republicans into smart and not-so-smart factions.
I know that I hang out with a good number of Republicans in the smarter faction — but no one is forcing a wedge between they and those with whom they’d rather not be hanging.
This has to be uncomfortable for many in the GOP.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

51 comments on “What are the GOPers on Judiciary Committee Thinking?

  1. David says:

    Very important points, hotforco2.

    Reply

  2. famously frugal says:

    Letterman quoted,
    “Everyone in the city has gay pride spirit. Even the Statue of Liberty is holding an appletini.”

    Reply

  3. nadine says:

    Pessimist, most of your “facts” are not right. Heck, they are not even wrong. They are just self-serving inventions with no predictive power whatsoever. They also require amnesia to believe.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    hotforco2, be the leadership style ever so low-key, a leader still has to show himself engaged and knowledgeable, and present a plan of what should be done and who should do it. That’s what the Oval Office speech was supposed to do, but it was pathetic. Excuses, recriminations, shakedowns and golf don’t cut the mustard — especially when everybody on the Gulf coast can see what a clusterf— the operation is and how oil that should have been skimmed or burned at sea is hitting the beaches all along the Gulf.
    Louisiana currently rates Obama’s handling of the spill worse than Bush’s handling of Katrina.

    Reply

  5. hotforco2 says:

    Questions, thanks for your comments in this thread. With the 24-hour news cycle and blog-fed echo chamber, it is hard to appreciate that the really important stuff still happens under the radar, at an incremental pace. The Senate rules changes (another post) will have huge implications far more so than any crisis or event in this administration or the next 10 years. I really do believe that Obama sees the forest for the trees. While it may be more a reflection of his personality and character more than any grand strategy, it is refreshing and we are lucky to have him at this time in our history.
    Perhaps I am naive, but if you really talk to feds at the working level, you hear that policy-making, not politicking (despite the attempts of the right and, to a lesser extent, the left, to churn the political cream) defines this administration. Politics has its role and it is our system, for better or worse. But I think it will take a few more years for casual observers to appreciate what is happening in Washington.
    People who complain about Obama’s lack of leadership really need to go and study the concept of leadership. Start by understanding that leadership differs from machismo. We are animated by popular caricatures of leadership, but the reality is that there is no leadership style that works all the time, only time defines great leaders, and in the near term, leaders are simply defined by who follows.
    The big, long term picture is that with an increasingly complicated reality brought about by accelerating technology comes the need for more sophisticated governance. Our skeptical American culture is not well-suited to the governance challenges of the 21st Century. Can we trust our nation of 300, 400, 500 million to self-regulate, or will we need even stronger government in the future? Small government advocates should not be advocating for less government, they should be advocating for a looser federation of American states.

    Reply

  6. The Pessimist says:

    Remember all those assurances about how we would be “greeted as liberators” by the Iraqi population nadine? Remember all those assurances that our economy was “fundamentally sound” nadine. Remember all those assurances that “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction” nadine? Remember all those assurances that Israel was a “partner for peace” in the Middle East nadine.
    Every single one of your neo-con talking points is complete, total and unequivocal propaganda nadine. And your recall of events seems to be selective as well.
    More and more stimulus is EXACTLY what we need nadine. How many truly objective economists were saying one year ago that the stimulus was too small nadine? Dozens were referred to on this blog alone.
    The 4 BILLION dollars our corrupt congressmen give to your beloved Likud every year sure would create a lot of job security here in the Homeland nadine. Just imagine if every penny of the now more than a TRILLION dollars that has been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan since Oct. 2001 had been spent on domestic needs instead of Wall Street

    Reply

  7. David says:

    Obama is taking the tack he now is regarding BP not because he has power he is unwilling to use but because BP is too big to punish. The best we can do is what he is doing. Extract money for the coastal folk whose livelihoods have been destroyed and pressure BP to step up its efforts at dealing with the gushing oil. He cannot do anything that would bring BP down.
    Bush did not have any personal power, except when he refused to sign off on the bombing of Iran. The things he did were acceptable to the popular mindset and to ve$ted intere$t$. His only mistake, at least from the popular perspective, was losing the Iraq War, and when the global economy was driven off a cliff by powerful financial players, he was the target of opportunity for public anger. It had very little to do with people actually figuring anything out.
    POA, I have been paying attention, very close attention. I would guess that we have both been paying very close attention for about the same span of time (for me, about 50 years). And I am very unhappy about the things Obama has been unable to do, as well as some of the things he has felt compelled to sign on to now that he sits in the Oval Office. I just see the reasons differently than you do, and so from time to time I see possibilities where you see none. I do not know which one of us is correct. We will both know before too very long.

    Reply

  8. Maw of America says:

    Bush started surgery on a patient that wasn’t sick, proceeded to infect him, then left the body with an open incision that Obama had to close and still deal with a patient(economy) that was severely ill.
    My analogy for the day…

    Reply

  9. Bart says:

    There are charts circulating again today showing that most of the debt was caused by the Bush wars and his tax cuts for the rich.
    That Obama has continued the former is a great source of anger to me.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    Obama isn’t correcting anything, Pessimist. He’s doing exactly the wrong thing and making the economy worse. Remember all those assurances how we would really see the stimulus work by now? And he has no answer but more and more stimulus, which is like curing a hangover by staying drunk.
    Obama is creating a double dip recession.

    Reply

  11. The Pessimist says:

    nadine, nadine, nadine,
    Is this the whole of your political reasoning: defend everything Bush, criticize everything Obama? No logic, no reason, just straight up rigid ideology?
    How was your personal situation better off under the neo-cons than it is in their temporary absence?
    Yours personally nadine, not how their policies affect your beloved Likud, but how you enjoyed personal advantages here in the Homeland.
    Obama’s team inherited a collapsing economic nightmare from the Bushies, they did not whip it up from nothing in their first year in office. Blame goes to the Bushies for creating the mess, blame goes to team Obama for not correcting it more effectively.
    Equal blame for both administrations but in your statement, misdirected, as usual.

    Reply

  12. keyne's ghost says:

    “Don’t dare complain about Bush’s spending and support Obama’s.”
    That was two years, one recession, and a universe away. Don’t dare to compare Bush’s flagrant corporate welfare without mentioning the horrendous fallout of his, and Reagan’s, and Clinton to some extent, policies. It’s a lie. Get off your political hobby horse.

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    Obama’s 2009 deficit is TEN TIME Bush’s 2007 deficit. 1.6 trillion to $160 billion. Don’t dare complain about Bush’s spending and support Obama’s.

    Reply

  14. ... says:

    “If you fear for the constitution, you must learn to love small government.”
    where have i heard that before? i think it was what bush 2 came in under.. needless to say he spent more then any other president before him in an amazing feat that would have done any reckless spender proud… he might have also gotten rid of more gov’t too, as who really needs all that regulation that gets in the way of corporations like BP? the comedy continues…

    Reply

  15. ... says:

    ot – article on Jeffrey Goldberg that is very good in tearing him to shreds and spitting him out, something the neocons could never do to one of their own…
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/27/goldberg/index.html

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/bubble_bath?sms_ss=email
    Structural problems. Incentives. Systemic readings of things.
    We’ll get much better analysis when we do this kind of thinking.
    Start with the Cassidy book on market failures.
    Think about why we need Blackwater.
    Structures.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Feds won’t charge Blackwater in Sudan sanctions case
    By Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and Joseph Neff | McClatchy Newspapers
    WASHINGTON

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Question: If Obama has been so weak and ineffectual, why are
    Republicans, conservatives and the right screaming so much?” (jjm)
    Well, obviously, with large Democratic majorities and all the committee chairs coming from far left safe seats, Obama still has plenty of chances to jam down party line legislation – though you could argue that this is more to Nancy Pelosi’s credit than Obama’s.
    What Obama could do if he were effective, is make the legislation popular. He hasn’t done that.

    Reply

  19. jjm says:

    Question: If Obama has been so weak and ineffectual, why are
    Republicans, conservatives and the right screaming so much?
    Just wondering, given the meme of the day–though apparently
    this admin. has passed more legislation than even LBJ
    January 29: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
    February 4: Children

    Reply

  20. nadine says:

    DonS, has Obama undone even one of the Bush administration war on terror powers? This crowd loves executive power, they are grabbing more as fast as they can. They don’t give it up voluntarily.
    If you fear for the constitution, you must learn to love small government.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    “Dividing your opponents into weaker competing factions would require first accepting that you have such a thing as opponents, and that it would be a good idea to weaken them. This runs counter to the official Obama doctrine and goal of an E Pluribus Unum coalition of everybody, founded on Purple America pragmatism.
    If Obama hears about Republicans who disagree with each other, his first instinct would be to invite them over for a chat so he could bring them together.” (Dan Kervick)
    That’s true, Dan. Obama invites the Republicans over for a chat, where he invites them to abandon their Republican ideas and adopt far left Democratic ideas instead. He seems quite surprised and annoyed when they decline to accept this invitation. The idea that Republican ideas actually exist, and that forging a compromise requires serious give and take, seems not to have occurred to Obama. Obama retains a partisan’s definition of bipartisanship. His only serious negotiations have been within the Democratic caucus.
    So in upshot, he’s pissing off both the left and the right. The question being seriously considered on the right is, is Obama wrecking the economy because he’s an economic illiterate, or is he deliberately trying to wreck the economy as part of a “manufactured crisis” Cloward-Piven strategy?

    Reply

  22. jonst says:

    Questions,
    Inevitably, given the deceptive way the term is widely employed, there will ALWAYS be ‘another terror’ attack. And just as inevitably many (most?)will find the blame for such ‘attacks’ on ‘being soft’ on somebody or something.
    And Obama can kiss the ass of the American Establishment from now until the end of time….he can put out even more flags on Stage than Michael Deavers or Karl Rove ever did. It will do him no good. I wish I could say he should do what he thinks is right, anyway, if he (or any Dem in the White House) gonna get the blame. But I fear he IS doing what he thinks is right. zvseh5

    Reply

  23. DonS says:

    “If Obama undoes the Bush terror policies all at once AND then there’s another attack, we are set up for another generation or two of worsening civil liberties.”
    That’s like being a concern troll with the constitution isn’t it?
    Seriously, what magic “we” is going to rise up and “undo” Bush terror policies — given the toxic nature of “national security” issues with politicians — except the unique, and exactly corresponding, entity who got us in the current mess. The president.
    I turn Questions hypothesis on it’s head; the supposed ‘dcure’ (do nothing) is worse, and anathema to the disease.

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ya gotta have your foglights on if you wanna drive through questions’ nieghborhood.
    Here’s a couple of pieces to bounce off of questions’ wall of obsfucation…
    Right-Wing Israel Lobby Riding High in Election Run-Up
    Analysis by Jim Lobe*
    WASHINGTON, Jun 23, 2010 (IPS) – Despite the growing international condemnation and isolation incurred by the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the right-wing leadership of the so-called “Israel Lobby” here is riding high in the U.S. Congress.
    So far this week, it has chalked up a key victory on Capitol Hill in its longstanding effort to impose “crippling sanctions” against Iran.
    It also succeeded in getting a large majority of U.S. lawmakers to fire a shot across the bow of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has led the international chorus of criticism against the Jewish state since the deadly Israeli seizure in international waters of a Turkish vessel carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
    While privately critical – often scathingly so – of Israel’s recent behaviour, especially the May 31 commando raid, top officials of the administration of President Barack Obama are increasingly reluctant to air their complaints in public lest they harm Democratic prospects for retaining control of both houses of Congress after the mid-term elections in November.
    Indeed, Obama will himself host Netanyahu at the White House in what is being billed as a “kiss-and-make-up” session Jul. 6 designed to reassure Jewish voters, in particular, that the two leaders’ contretemps over Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem earlier this spring has been put behind them.
    Obama, according to some reports circulating here, hopes to receive a return invitation from his guest to visit Israel in October, a month before the November elections here.
    Despite their relatively small number – about two percent of the total U.S. population and about three percent of voters in most elections, Jewish Americans are major donors to political campaigns, accounting for as much as 25 percent of all financial contributions to national campaigns and as much as 40 percent of all contributions to Democratic candidates, in particular.
    They are also widely – if often mistakenly – seen by political candidates as virtually unconditional supporters of Israel prepared to reward or punish candidates based on their positions on the Jewish state.
    “Every Democrat assumes that the biggest discernible group that contributes to their campaign is Jews,” according to M.J. Rosenberg, a Middle East analyst who worked for the most powerful Lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in the 1980s.
    “…(I)f a donor has a Jewish name, or is known to be Jewish, the assumption is that he or she is pro-Israel and will be offended by any deviation from the [Lobby’s] line,” he said.
    At the same time, harsh criticism of Israel by the administration risks mobilising the Christian Right, a major constituency of the Republican Party, whose support for Israel’s ruling Likud Party and Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories is based primarily on its theological views.
    Thus, with the mid-term elections less than five months away and a succession of polls predicting major gains for Republicans in both houses, Obama and senior Democrats appear eager to avoid clashing with Israel, an impression that AIPAC and its allies are using to maximum advantage on Capitol Hill.
    continues…….
    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51933
    And another….
    Post Flotilla–Congress Still In Thrall To Lobby
    By M.J. Rosenberg – June 25, 2010, 3:14PM
    It is becoming clearer every day that liberals in Congress, with a few exceptions, do not care a whole lot about Israel. (It’s not news that they don’t care a whit about the Palestinians.)
    Think about it.
    On other foreign policy issues they ask questions, try to discern whether a policy makes sense, and usually choose diplomacy over war. That has been true since the latter days of the Vietnam War (the Iraq war was the notable and tragic exception).
    The last thing anyone expects congressional liberals to say is, “I trust the President’s policy, no matter what it is. War works for me.”
    But, when it comes to the Middle East, the same liberals invariably salute, support, and rush to the House and Senate floors to express enthusiastic solidarity with the Israeli prime minister. (Check out these AIPAC letters, signed by 86 senators and, so far, 311 House members, endorsing without reservation Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the attack on the flotilla.)
    In our Congress, the Israeli prime minister is always right. That is, until he is defeated by the next prime minister — who, in turn, inherits the mantle of infallibility.
    Some people look at this phenomenon and say that these senators and representatives are more loyal to Israel than to the United States.
    That analysis is wrong.
    I worked on Capitol Hill for more than 15 years (House and Senate), and I can say with certainty that these seeming “Israel firsters” do not, with few exceptions, care all that much about Israel.
    They do care about this country. And that is why they don’t knowingly support destructive policies for America — while insouciantly supporting them when it comes to Israel.
    Take Sen. Chuck Schumer, for example. Watch him discuss domestic issues. Note how much he seems to have studied them (although he sometimes reaches the wrong conclusions). Notice how happily engaged he is when talking about them.
    Then watch him talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only is he ignorant of the facts, the history, and the changes in the contours of the issue, he seems not to care at all. He is going through the motions.
    Schumer does not care enough about Israel to expend any political (or real) capital on it. He’ll just say what he thinks he has to say and quickly move on to issues he does care about, issues that he thinks relate directly to the lives of Americans.
    He is far from alone.
    Most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House operate the same way for the same reason. They support bad Israeli policies, and sign those “Israel, right or wrong” letters only because that is the path of least resistance. I doubt there are 30 Democrats in both houses together who really think attacking the flotilla was right, but hundreds signed the letters anyway.
    So why do they do it?
    They do it because they don’t care about the issue enough to risk the lobby’s wrath. As with Republicans and the NRA, the lobby’s wish is their command. (See this excellent analysis by Jim Lobe about how the process works on the Hill.)
    In one sense, there is nothing wrong with this path of least resistance politics. Supporting the AIPAC/Netanyahu line is risk free. And it sure does bring in lots of campaign money, money that helps liberals win elections. That helps preserve the careers of some outspoken progressive voices (on other issues, anyway).
    Of course that is an expedient, even cynical, way of thinking about this issue. (But, hey, we are talking about Congress.)
    It also ignores two important factors.
    The first is that US policy on Israel/Palestine directly affects US interests worldwide. That was obvious long before General David Petraeus said it.
    The Israeli-Palestinian issue is the only issue on which Arabs and Muslims worldwide are united in opposition to US policies. Sunni or Shiite, Egyptian or Indonesian, public opinion in the Muslim world favors ending the occupation. And that means, as Petraeus suggested, that our position on this issue endangers Americans in the Middle East and, no doubt, elsewhere.
    Moreover, the banner of “Palestine” is a recruiting poster for anti-American terrorism. We have been lucky so far, but everyone knows that the Palestinian issue can blow back here in America (which is why synagogues and other Jewish facilities here are guarded by the police on Jewish holidays and, in some localities, all the time).
    Resolving this conflict fairly — i.e., ending the occupation with an agreement that guarantees the sovereignty and security of Israel and Palestine — is one of the most effective things the Obama administration can do for US security.
    But the security of Israel should matter too.
    I am not saying that American legislators must care about Israel (that is not in their job descriptions), but those who profess to care should not be supporting policies that, left unchecked, will bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
    But that is where the Israeli government’s current policies are leading, with the help of its congressional enablers.
    continues……..
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/06/25/post_flotilla–congress_still_in_thrall_to_lobby/
    Once more, we see people “in the know”, on the frontlines of political analysis, expressing opinions completely polar to questions’ ridiculous attempts to downplay the power of the Jewish/Israeli lobby groups. Of all the snake oil various posters try to sell here, questions’ “Just Like Any Other Lobby” brand is the most rancid.
    On another note, this constant finger pointing along party lines is totally fuckin’ up this country. As if the right is more self serving, damaging, or corrupt than the left. Tell me, how Clinbton’s rhetoric and “diplomacy” towards Iran differ from what an SOS under GOP control would handle the issue? And in regards to Israel, is the right’s band of subservient mewling Congress shitheads and more mewling aqnd subservient than the left’s? And can we really blame the corruption in the MMS on one party above the other??? (Why hasn’t Salazar been fired, BTW??)
    Corruption, failed leadership, incompetence, a total lack of concern for us “little people” out here in the real world paying for these fucker’s crimes, abuses, and sell-outs. These are NOT failings specific to either party.
    Until we get past this and recognize that it leaves us fractured and powerless as a people, this nation is going to continue to go down the crapper. And judging from Obama’s performance thus far, and the past Administration’s tenure. the flush handle has already been engaged. It may well be too late to reverse it.

    Reply

  25. questions says:

    If Obama undoes the Bush terror policies all at once AND then there’s another attack, we are set up for another generation or two of worsening civil liberties.
    What would you do if that were your choice?
    I used to think I knew. Then I started paying more attention to issues pertaining to governance, partisanship, the effects of political culture, generational shifts in mood.
    Somehow, I think these latter thoughts need to be confronted. They aren’t happy thoughts. They aren’t Kantian thoughts (though Kant leaves some room for the sadness of the political realm.)
    Seriously, what do we do if doing the right thing causes us to do many many many more horrific things?
    Our whole political system is premised on competitive elections with no overarching limits on campaign rhetoric. The very freedom of speech that is foundational to competitive elections leaves lots of room for campaign rhetoric that leads to bad policy. The dems need to project “toughness” and for now, “toughness” is equivalent to the denial of civil rights to some number of people. It’s not beautiful. It’s not true. It’s not good. It’s politics and prisoner’s dilemmas and competition.
    If we get rid of the competitive elections, we would certainly have less crazy rhetoric and we might have more space for tolerance of the occasional terror attack. Funny thing, that. Pape even notes that suicide attacks tend to be carried out against democracies because that’s where they are effective.
    So an attack here would be effective — it would bring about a new generation of Republican rule. We haven’t even begun to clean up from the last round.
    So, honestly, tell me what you’d do given these concerns. Or would you just absent the concerns and be happy to bring about Bushes 3, 4, 5 and so on….
    From where I sit, it seems that a slow generational move away from the worst of Republican governance is about all we can hope for.

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    “Honestly, what’s a pres to do?”
    Well, for starters, undermining the rule of law is not one. Throwing out decades of wiretap legislation and practice, and virtually setting up administrative fiat, is an example. That undermining and replacement of process, I seem to remember, was part of the Bush totalitarian putsch, with the uber christian totalitarian Federalist Society Liberty Law School clones at DOJ leading the charge. How quickly do we assimilate the dark totalitarian underbelly of the Cheney-Bush administration (e.g., documented by Jane Mayer) and move on? No looking back, no readjustment? No attempt to undo the constitutional damage, despite the fine words? Actually embracing most of the worst of that darkness.
    So if Bush could carve out the executive power to push his agenda, Obama should defer to Congress to undo the damage? Of course that would even assume Obama is interested, which he is not.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Jeezus questions, are you EVER not full of shit?
    Never mind that the Justice Department has become little more than a vassal of the Executive Branch.
    You claim “weakness” on the part of the Executive, then list an entire roster of issues that our President has no business presiding over, yet does so with impunity. Seems to me thats pretty damned powerful. In fact, in the strictest sense, that is abuse of power.
    And where the hell is “this desire to restore Congress to its proper law-making, hearing-holding, investigating status accorded it by the Constitution” you attribute to him? Seems to me the posturing piece of shit is doing the exact opposite.
    Do thoughts just bounce around randomly in your person, and whatever manages to find an exit point gets posted on TWN? Perhaps you oughta put a cork in one of them, as it seems to be grossly overused.

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    Ummm, I think the presidency is supposed to be a fairly weak institution and umm, Congress should be taking the lead.
    As regards the security issues, wire tap issues, rendition, torture and the rest, the underlying problem is that we as a people don’t really have all that much faith in our legal system, tolerance for the occasional mass death episode stemming from the lack of a police state, or understanding of how the outward directed police state easily transforms to an inward directed one.
    In short, we are fearful without realizing quite what the real enemies are.
    Should there be an attack in the absence of the Bush policies, we know exactly what would happen domestically.
    Obama is presiding over one of the crazier times in American history, with factions running rampant, with the politicization of much that should not be politicized, and he is trying to shift the terrain that has been set since Reagan. That’s a tall order for anyone.
    The carping about how “my” issue hasn’t been dealt with to “my” satisfaction is just more of the same politicization that has made it so difficult for the country to function.
    If he turns terror issues over to the DOJ, he’s in trouble. If he doesn’t, he’s in trouble. If he waives the Jones Act, he’s in trouble. If he doesn’t, he’s in trouble. If he makes the stimulus bigger, he’s in trouble. If he doesn’t, he’s in trouble. Oil drilling? Mining? DADT? This or that war? It’s all the same partisan responses with very little stopping, breathing, and doing the actual policy calculations.
    And on top of it all, there’s possibly some desire to restore Congress to its proper law-making, hearing-holding, investigating status accorded it by the Constitution.
    Honestly, what’s a pres to do?

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don’t think Obama conned anyone, POA”
    Then you aren’t paying attention, or can’t admit to mistakes in judging character, or are starstruck. There is virtually NO campaign platform that the sack of shit hasn’t betrayed.
    You mention private enterprise and lobbying groups as being “too powerful”. What about the Justice Department, the State Department??? Interior Department??? Are these entities also “too powerful” for this fucking posturing fraud to have delivered some of the “change” he conned the left into buying???
    No, sorry, but he is a glib smooth talking politician with about as much real substance as a barely audible fart.

    Reply

  30. DonS says:

    “This is one of the tragedies of the Obama administration. Because Obama is a weak leader, he is convincing folks that the presidency is an inherently weak institution.”
    And yet in terms of the presidency-as-executive-branch Obama is endorsing and extending all the most grievous expansions of the Bush era in the area of invasion of privacy, abrogation of 4th amendments protections — the sorts of things that if libertarian wannabes were honest would come under the category of “liberty”. As a revolutionary or evolutionary ‘weak’ president he is flexing muscle for very short range and misguided thinking about “national security”. More likely he is acquiescing to the momentum of the Bush DOJ holdovers and true believers. An extremely poor performance and perhaps one of the areas in which his is tragically ignoring sound academic trends. (see recent Arar case with Supreme Court affirming that travesty doesn’t merit review; reactionary thinking bolstered by administrative excess based on totalitarian-leaning statutes)

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    “What I am learning is not that Obama is a sell out but rather that an American President has very little real power over pharma, Wall Street, the investment houses, AIPAC, the military establishment, or big oil/coal.”
    This is one of the tragedies of the Obama administration. Because Obama is a weak leader, he is convincing folks that the presidency is an inherently weak institution. But it is not. All of the businesses and industries David mentions are powerful. But any one of their leaders would exchange his powers in a heartbeat for the powers of the presidency.

    Reply

  32. questions says:

    I think there might actually be a bit more strategery than Obama’s harshest critics give him.
    Wu wei.
    If Obama doesn’t go head long the opposite direction, but rather stills the waves to the extent that he can, perhaps some of the crazier swings in the “national mood” will ease up. Maybe, just maybe, the hysterical right and the hysterical left will start breathing.
    (On the left, the crazy line on BP is that they want the Gulf to be dead water so they can drill w/o safety precautions. On the right, the crazy line is that the enviromentalists wanted the spill so that they could stop all drilling for forever and a day. So the spill was designed either to make drilling happen all the time or happen never again….. What’s a pres to do?)
    I’m temperamentally more suited to this admin than I have been to others. So I’m happier about it. I’d love to see the political culture lose some of its automatic hysteria, some of its craving for COMMAND AND CONTROL.

    Reply

  33. David says:

    I don’t think Obama conned anyone, POA. Dan’s point, which I find valid, is that Obama believes he can bring people together in pursuit of the common good. He just can’t seem to understand his opponents the way LBJ could. And he imagines himself an evolutionary president, not a revolutionary president. Thus health care reform, but not radical health care reform. And an attempt to move us incrementally toward a greener future, but with compromises which, from my perspective, prevent sufficient change.
    What I am learning is not that Obama is a sell out but rather that an American President has very little real power over pharma, Wall Street, the investment houses, AIPAC, the military establishment, or big oil/coal. They all consider themselves the real backbone, and by rights the ultimate arbiters, of the American enterprise. Their political lackeys are gearing up to run “pro-business” candidates.
    The last American President able to exercise real, transformative power was FDR, and on one issue – civil rights – LBJ. And the unrelenting assault on the New Deal has successfully undone much of what FDR accomplished, especially anything and everything $pecial intere$t$ did not like. That relentless assault was put on steroids when Obama took office.
    It is especially interesting to watch someone like Lindsey Graham try to be a contemporary Republican. Lincoln Chaffee figured out that it was intellectually and morally dishonest, not to mention impossible if one were a rational progressive Republican. Same lesson Jeffers learned.
    I am far more disappointed with the actual nature of the American electorate, the only group which can stand down anyone should they so choose, than with any particular political figure. And the success of folks like Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and any number of elected Republican governors and senators is much more an indictment of the common body politic than it is of any of them. They get away with what they do because of us, not because they are all that clever.
    Tom Engelhardt has an excellent piece on the problem of American disengagement from the actualities of the wars we are waging. I would add that the American geo-political military mindset is utterly two-dimensional, and I think John McCain is its poster boy.

    Reply

  34. Dan Kervick says:

    “I guess you might say that Obama is Dan’s Edsel. I doubt he’ll buy another one.”
    Oh, I don’t know. Where politicians go, are only permitted to buy two models in this country – Edsels and Pintos – so I assume I’ll have to vote for another lemon before long.

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  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It has been absolutely awe inspiring seeing Dan Kervick become so completely and utterly disillusioned with Obama. Obama should be proud to have so completely conned someone as astute as Kervick, and should take pause in the fact that the con job wore off so fast.
    I guess you might say that Obama is Dan’s Edsel. I doubt he’ll buy another one.
    I’ve bought a few in my day too. Perhaps that’s why I knew the Obama brand was a lemon from the get-go.

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  36. Dan Kervick says:

    “… why can’t the White House do a better job of dividing up the Republicans into smart and not-so-smart factions.”
    This White House couldn’t divide fifty cents into two quarters.
    Dividing your opponents into weaker competing factions would require first accepting that you have such a thing as opponents, and that it would be a good idea to weaken them. This runs counter to the official Obama doctrine and goal of an E Pluribus Unum coalition of everybody, founded on Purple America pragmatism.
    If Obama hears about Republicans who disagree with each other, his first instinct would be to invite them over for a chat so he could bring them together.

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  37. nadine says:

    “All modern administrations shed personnel who get in the way of the presidential vision. We’ll see how long Obama goes before his first major shakeup. No shakeup of course strengthens POA’s longstanding contention there is no substantive Obama vision.” (JamesL)
    Rumors are already swirling about Rahm going back to Chicago after the elections. The way this administration’s support is declining, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hillary bow out too. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when Hillary and Bill discuss Obama in private?

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  38. nadine says:

    Out myself? I speak in my own voice and for my own amusement. I want to see if there is a good argument to be had with the left. Not so much; in a battle of wits, most come unarmed. They insult and think it’s an argument. They are ignorant of the most basic facts of economics or foreign or domestic policy and think their ignorance is an argument.
    For example, I didn’t just opine about the state of liberal and conservative support this year; I quoted Gallup. Whom did you quote? Nobody. You don’t like the tone of my opinions? They are reason itself compared to most here.
    Why don’t you out yourself, if that’s the game you want to play.

    Reply

  39. Cornelia Hall says:

    Thanks,Pessimist, for your thoughts.Whenever I get scared to death that the tea partiers are really going to diminish all of America’s brain power I come across something like your response to Nadine that gives me hope.

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  40. The Pessimist says:

    No nadine, your infallible interpretations are ludicrous. Your proclivity for absolute certainty is ludicrous. Your anti-Palestinian bias is ludicrous. That you believe your contributions here have any value is ludicrous.
    Who are you? What is your objective in commenting here? What is the verifiable source for your most recent claims? Do you even comprehend the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity when writing opinion pieces? Have you ever asked a question or do you only make unsubstantiated claims? Have you ever been to any of the places in the world that you express such a concern for?
    Out yourself woman.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    “1–Palin is ‘popular’ only in — and entirely by virtue of — her
    being puffed up by the media.”
    That’s ludicrous, jjm. Palin was savaged by the media in an unprecedented manner, attacked, insulted, mocked, any shred of dirt magnified into a scandal. Now that they failed to destroy her, you claim they puffed her up?

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  42. nadine says:

    Any wedges that will be driven this year won’t between Steve’s “saner” (read: RINO) Republican friends and the rest of the GOP. It will between Democratic Blue Dogs desperately hoping for reelection and the far left ruling wing of the Democratic party.
    The Republicans are smart to use Boykin. Obama is driving moderates into the conservative camp. 42% of Americans self-identify as “conservative” according to Gallup, the highest number ever. Only 20% self-identify as liberals. This year, there is no such thing as a “too conservative” appeal.

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  43. jjm says:

    1–Palin is ‘popular’ only in — and entirely by virtue of — her
    being puffed up by the media. Both ‘right’ & ‘left’ treat her like a
    celebrity, and thus collude in this. But her popularity wth the
    actual, voting public–abysmal.
    2–Did anyone think Republicans and their corporate masters
    would concede power simply because they’ve lost elections?
    Their screeching over losing their hold is almost unbearable. The
    have been proclaiming that “real’ Americans are with them alone
    ever Nixon’s silent majority–entirely designed to make people
    think their own distaste for them and their tactics is not shared
    by most–when it actually is.
    Their popularity numbers? Also abysmal.
    But you would never know it by the outlandish media attention
    lavished on them…

    Reply

  44. The Pessimist says:

    I’m sort of split on an explanation for the actions and statements from the extremist Republicans in power today. Sometimes I explain it all as simply pandering for votes from Idiot America, whose vote casting decisions are driven predominantly by emotional responses.
    Let

    Reply

  45. David says:

    Very good question. That wedge should actually be very easy to drive, given the profound disconnect between rational, non-extremist ideologue Republicans and the currently fashionable Republicans who give the Party of Lincoln a horrible name. And it is a wedge that must be driven, both for the sake of the country and a Republican Party worthy of the concept of the loyal opposition.
    The lemming-like behavior of Republicans in Washington has me genuinely perplexed.

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  46. JamesL says:

    Despite Obama’s partial success of having entrained Hillary followers via her SOS prize, Hillary has been a liability, and the weight of her negatives is increasing.
    All modern administrations shed personnel who get in the way of the presidential vision. We’ll see how long Obama goes before his first major shakeup. No shakeup of course strengthens POA’s longstanding contention there is no substantive Obama vision.

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It amazes me that, while recognizing the complete and utter insanity of the far right, Steve seems unable to grasp that Obama’s “performance” thus far virtually guarantees their return to power.
    And I still don’t get Steve’s total blackout on all things Hillary. Repeatedly here, I have asked someone, anyone, to provide us with a comment or assessment about Clinton that lists any bacon she’s brought home. In truth, the woman has worked AGAINST the hardline that Obama feably attempted to pursue with Israel, and her “engagement” with Iran and Syria has been an effin’ joke. She’s a war mongering drooler on a par with Joseph Lieberman. The difference? Lieberman doesn’t try to hide it, like this
    shrew Hillary does.
    Bottom line, there is really very little separation between the insanity of the far right and the actual actions, tactics, and policy advocations of this sword swinging witch Hillary Clinton. If Dick Cheney himself was SOS at this time, the antagonistic rhetoric and sword rattling towards Iran would be virtually indiscernable from Hillary’s manner of dealing with the issue. God help us if this women ascends politically to the Oval Office. And she might not even need to, because she seems to be doing a bang-up job marching us to war with Iran even without having executive power.
    Regardless, whether you agree with me or not, ya gotta admit that Steve’s long term and ongoing silence about Hillary’s performance is extremely inexplicable. How do you run a blog that supposedly focuses on “Foreign Policy Issues”, while ignoring the efforts, policy advocations, and performance of the Secretary Of State? And more importantly, WHY would anyone running such a blog consistently ignore Hillary’s role and effect?
    Does fear drive such an omission? How heavy a hand does this woman wield in the world of Washington insiders?

    Reply

  48. DonS says:

    If Wig wag is posing a dichotomy in the Republican party between the “old fogies”, who have some sanity left, and the fans of General Boykin whose sanity consists in cult worship, then the Republican party is both insane and over the hill. Somehow that’s too simplistic, and I imagine Steve has a few others in mind who fit neither category. Actually, Wigwag, your construct just eviscerates the you-know-whos in these comments whose mouths water for Republicans to take over Congress based on some conception, one thinks, of dynamism and efficacy, not too mention conservatism-cum-reactionary. Another puzzling dichotomy given your reductionism. (and you should certainly know that I hold no brief for Republicans, many or most Democrats, or politicians in general.)
    So which one is it Wigwag? Are you making Steve Clemons out for a knave or a fool?

    Reply

  49. Ben Rosengart says:

    Buy low, sell high, WigWag. Right now, the stock of the sane
    wing of the Republican Party is, as you observe, quite low. But
    that doesn’t make Steve dumb for associating with them — just
    the opposite.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    “I know that I hang out with a good number of Republicans in the smarter faction — but no one is forcing a wedge between they and those with whom they’d rather not be hanging. This has to be uncomfortable for many in the GOP.” (Steve Clemons)
    I don’t doubt that the Republicans Steve hangs out with may be a good deal smarter about some things than their Republican colleagues who actually hold positions of power today. Still, there is something vaguely pathetic about watching the Republicans of yore pining for the good old days when people actually cared what they thought about public policy. The fact that so many of today’s Republican politicians are homophobic bigots doesn’t alter the fact that the plea from old-time Republicans to give them a little attention just makes them look sad.
    Many of the “smarter” Republicans that Steve likes are the signers of the letter supporting the START Treaty mentioned in a previous post on this blog.
    Can’t you just see these former Republican gurus, now reduced to emeritus status, sitting in rocking chairs at the old age home trading war stories about what it was like during the glory days of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush (the first)?
    Isn’t Steve still a little young to cast his lot with these washed-up, old fogies?
    All this reminded me of this poem that I dedicate to Steve and all the really “smart” Republicans out there,
    HOW DO I KNOW MY YOUTH IS ALL SPENT?
    How do I know my youth has been spent,
    My get-up-and-go, got up and went.
    But in spite of all that, I’m able to grin,
    When I think where my get-up-and-go has been.
    Old age is golden, so I’ve heard said,
    But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed.
    My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
    My eyes on a table until I wake up.
    When I was young my slippers were red,
    I could kick up my heels right over my head.
    When I grew older my slippers were blue,
    But still I could dance the whole night thru.
    Now that I am old my slippers are black,
    I huff to the corner and puff my way back.
    The reason I know my youth is all spent,
    My get-up-and-go has got up and went.
    I get up each morning dust off my wits,
    Pick up the paper and read the orbits.
    If I

    Reply

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