ChrisWeigant.com

Please support ChrisWeigant.com this holiday season!

My 2010 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 24th, 2010 – 19:34 PST ]

Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column!

In case you missed it, Part 1 of our "McLaughlin Awards" (named for the television show where we get these categories, of course) ran last week, so check it out.

Also for your convenience, here are all the previous years of these columns as well:

[2009, Part 1] [2009, Part 2]
[2008, Part 1] [2008, Part 2]
[2007, Part 1] [2007, Part 2]
[2006, Part 1] [2006, Part 2]

 

Trophy
   Destined For Political Stardom

If I was taking the category literally, here, I would award this to Kim Jong Un, the dictator-in-waiting in North Korea. In the first-ever-of-its-kind dynastic communist state (I don't think Marx or Lenin approved much of familial royalty-style dynasties, personally, but what do I know?), the third in the line of Kim Jong Il (father) and Kim Il Sung (grandfather) certainly is destined for a personality-cult stardom in North Korea, one way or another.

In our own dynastic political world, here in America, we have our runner-up for the "political stardom" award, none other than Rand Paul, son of the revered-by-libertarians Ron Paul. Paul (the younger) just won a Senate seat, besting Paul (the elder) who is only a lowly House member. On the Republican side of the aisle, though, Rand Paul seems destined for much more attention than most incoming freshmen senators -- due to his last name, but also due to some (shall we say) creative ideological positions he took during the campaign. One way or another, my bet is that Rand Paul's name is going to be in the news a lot in the coming year.

But the real winner of Destined For Political Stardom is Florida's new Republican senator, Marco Rubio. Senator-Elect Marco Rubio has a lot of things going for him -- he's telegenic, a good campaigner, and he won an impressive victory in a tough three-way race. But Rubio's got two other things going for him as well. First, he was one of the earliest career-politician Republicans to recognize the power of the Tea Party movement. Rubio's no newcomer to his state's political scene (the way a lot of Tea Party candidates were, last year), but he latched onto the Tea Party energy from the beginning, and beat a very popular ex-governor who many predicted to win the three-way race (because he had such high general approval ratings). But the main reason why Rubio is indeed destined for political stardom is that he's Hispanic. From what is possibly the only group of Hispanics in America where Republicans still can count on a lot of support -- Cuban-Americans.

Look for Marco Rubio to be on every Republican presidential candidate's short list for vice president, in about a year-and-a-half's time. Because, unless he flares out early in some way, Marco Rubio is destined (at the very least) to be a serious contender for the veep slot.

 

Trophy
   Destined For Political Oblivion

Rod Blagojevich seemed destined for oblivion at the beginning of 2010, but he just keeps popping up in the least-likely places, like reality television, and in (you just can't make this stuff up) a television commercial for nuts. Heh.

I could pick an outgoing Democratic senator, such as Russ Feingold, but Democrats have suffered enough this year, don't you think? It really would be kind of "salt in the wounds"....

So, instead, let's rub that salt in where we can all enjoy the experience!

Destined For Political Oblivion goes to this year's "Witchy Woman," the irrepressible Republican candidate for the Senate from Delaware -- Christine O'Donnell.

Looking for a last-minute gift for someone special? How about a Christine O'Donnell witch doll? Only $39.95 from Herobuilders.com -- get them before they're gone!

Heh.

 

Trophy
   Best Political Theater

There were a few good moments from the past year, and because the field was so crowded, we're going to hand out three Best Political Theater awards: one on the Right, one on the Left, and one for sheer entertainment value. The last award will be handed out in the next category (you'll see why, don't want to let the cat out of the proverbial bag...).

From the Left, we had some good theatrical moments in the Senate this year, from Majority Leader Harry Reid pulling the old "drag out the cots and threaten to vote all night" shtick, to Senator Bernie Sanders pulling the old Mr. Smith Goes To Washington "let's have a real filibuster" act, very recently. Sanders' nine-hour speech was impressive political theater, just because this sort of thing rarely actually happens anymore. But, as stunts go, it wasn't very effective political theater in the end.

The real Best Political Theater this year from the Left was President Barack Obama sitting down with the congressional leadership (including Republicans) in full view of the public (it was broadcast on C-SPAN), at one of the most crucial moments in the healthcare reform debate. This meeting was seen by the media (and most of the public) as a brilliant political victory for Obama, and it may have helped him drag healthcare reform across the finish line, in the end. Which made it not only good political theater, but also effective political theater -- the best kind.

On the Republican side, the Best Political Theater this year will (in my opinion) set a political trend for the future. In response to President Obama's "State Of The Union" speech, Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell was slated to give the official "response" speech. Someone bright in the governor's office had an absolutely brilliant idea -- instead of setting the "response" speaker in some boring office or some flag-draped quiet library, put him in the State Capitol -- in front of a live, cheering audience. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time anyone's done so in the history of these response speeches. My guess, though, is that this will not be the last time it is staged this way.

For good reason -- McDonnell was able to humanize the whole speech with the adoring crowd, and the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates is almost as impressive (if smaller) than the floor of the United States House of Representatives. By giving the response speech the same backdrop of an impressive speaking hall and an audience cued to applaud at certain points, McDonnell totally changed the course of State Of The Union responses forever. Which is why he wins our second Best Political Theater award, here. Setting his speech the way he did was sheer political genius.

 

Trophy
   Worst Political Theater

Boy, there were a lot of nominees for Worst Political Theater this year. Sigh.

In no particular order, there was Arizona's new "Your papers, please" immigration law. The Republican "Pledge To America" campaign manifesto, which was supposed to be some sort of "Contract With America II" (but fell far short of even that lowly goal). Charlie Rangel leaving his own ethics hearing in a huff (before they eventually voted against him, and made him endure another theatrical moment -- being censured in front of the full House). Fred Phelps' collection of hate-mongers picketing such funerals as Elizabeth Edwards', and getting their case heard before the Supreme Court. South Carolina's Alvin Greene, and his entire bizarre campaign for the Senate as the Democratic nominee -- which rivaled Christine O'Donnell's in sheer strangeness. And, of course, who could forget the head of BP stating that he'd "like his life back" in response to the volcano of oil in the Gulf of Mexico his company caused. Which reminds me, later in the year, of Obama using the phrase "heck of a job" to describe his outgoing economic guru -- a phrase that, really, any politician should banish from their phrasebook forever after George W. Bush made it so memorable during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

But, in terms of bad political theater, one event stooped lower than all the others. Some hate-monger in Florida (I refuse to cite his name) decided he'd make the news by holding a down-home traditional book burning. But he figured he'd be even more provocative by burning Islam's sacred text, the Koran. He did indeed get his face in the news (due to the news at the time hyperventilating over -- as they incorrectly named it -- the "Ground Zero mosque"), in a much bigger way than even he had probably dreamed of. Eventually, he backed down and decided not to publicly torch a Koran, much to the relief of everyone everywhere. But the entire exercise was, without doubt, the Worst Political Theater of the year.

As an addendum, the Best Political Theater (subcategory: Sheer Amusement, or perhaps Most Memorable Phrase Of The Year) happened soon after. A video went viral of a foiled Koran burning -- and the words of the righteous guy who stopped it: "Dude, you have no Koran." Check it out if you haven't seen it before. Dude.

 

Trophy
   Worst Political Scandal

The obvious selection for Worst Political Scandal is Wikileaks. But, although the leaks have so far been "scandalous" (due to the leak itself), no real political scandals have followed. Nobody's been fired, nobody has stepped down from a position of responsibility, and no truly scandalous material has really leaked out (unless you consider the fact that diplomats can, on occasion, be very undiplomatic).

But, more narrowly defining the award, Representative Charlie Rangel has to be this year's winner of Worst Political Scandal. There just weren't that many true scandals which came to light this year -- at least without the swift resignation of the person involved. Rangel's transgressions are actually old ones, as well -- none of it really happened this year. But the "paying the price" part of his scandal played out all year long, culminating in his House censure. So, almost by default, we've got to award Worst Political Scandal to Charlie Rangel.

 

Trophy
   Most Underreported Story

With our sorry excuse for a mainstream media, there were (as there almost always are) quite a number of underreported stories this year. Here's a quick list of stories you were likely to have missed from the news this year:

Barack Obama's poll ratings have stayed remarkably stable all year long.

Obama has lowered almost everyone's taxes, to the point that taxes are at their lowest point in the past 60 years.

The TARP money is being paid back, with interest. Taxpayers may make a profit out of the program, when all is said and done.

Democrats cut the deficit over $100 billion from last year.

China is manipulating the world market for rare earth elements, which has enormous consequences since they control over 90 percent of the supply, and since the elements are used in so many high-tech applications. The good news is that an American rare earth mine is about to re-open, which will change the entire worldwide dynamic.

Salon's true investigative journalism on the situation at Arlington National Cemetery -- which has resulted in Pentagon investigations and very high-level firings. The mainstream media actually did pick this story up briefly, but they universally forgot to mention that it was a Salon scoop. Jealous, perhaps?

A federal judge was impeached by the House of Representatives, then tried and unanimously convicted in the Senate -- only the eighth time this has happened in American history -- but the media largely yawned.

But, to my mind, the Most Underreported Story of 2010 was the Obama administration finally coming to a settlement with Native Americans and African-American farmers, for very recent (historically-speaking) discrimination. Congress approved the legal settlement of these outstanding stalled cases against the federal government, and actually appropriated the money to make good on the settlement. This story should have gotten a lot more attention than it did, especially since it was announced just before Thanksgiving. Sadly, it got almost no attention from the media whatsoever. Making it my personal choice for Most Underreported Story.

 

Trophy
   Most Overreported Story

As usual, there were far too many of these, as well.

The year started off with Washington, D.C. going through one of their periodic freakouts when more than an inch of snow appears on their pristine streets. Because of the age we live in, this was immediately given not just one but two media-friendly monikers: "Snowmaggedon" and "Snowpocalypse." Residents of areas of the country where deep snow falls more regularly were, as always, bemused by the inside-the-Beltway wimpiness when it comes to frozen water falling from the skies.

There was an all-consuming battle of the late-night talk show hosts (and their agents, and their network), but the less said about that whole donnybrook the better.

For some reason, the idea that the oil spill needed a daily counter on the news ("We're in Day Forty-Nine of the spill...") really annoyed me. Seems like the last thing the people on the Gulf needed was to be reminded of how long it had been going on, but maybe it's just me, I don't know....

But the Most Overreported Story of the year was, without any doubt, Sarah Palin. After seeing her antics all year -- and seeing the breathlessness with which the media followed said antics -- nobody should be shocked when she announces her bid for the Republican nomination for president late next year. The Right couldn't get enough of their "Mama Grizzly," the Left just could not ignore her every move, and the mainstream media went along for the ride -- to the extent of posting "Sarah Palin's picks" in the last election. Not to mention her (and her family... oh, but we're not supposed to mention her family, right?) appearing on every television gimmick they could manage, from reality television to... um... reality television, to Fox News.

Love her or hate her, there was just no avoiding Sarah Palin last year, even though the woman holds no political office. Which is why she was without question the Most Overreported Story of the year.

 

Trophy
   Biggest Government Waste

Funding a second -- and totally unnecessary -- engine for the military's new fighter plane springs instantly to mind, here.

As do the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, of course.

But, to me, the Biggest Government Waste was the Presidential Deficit Commission. Originally a Republican idea, the blue-ribbon commission was supposed to issue a report that would be guaranteed an "up or down vote" -- without amendments -- in both houses of Congress. Then Obama was for the idea, which meant the Republicans had to be against their own idea. The GOP then blocked it in the Senate, so Obama set up his own commission. Except that there was no guarantee about any congressional vote, and no guarantee (even if it did get a vote) that whatever plan they came up with wouldn't be eviscerated by Congress.

Obama gave the commission almost a full year, with a deadline. They missed the deadline by a few days, and could not get the requisite votes to pass their plan. The plan was "dead on arrival" in Congress -- who then turned around and voted to increase the deficit and debt by a cool trillion dollars' worth of tax cuts within days of the commission's end. The whole thing was nothing more than a pointless and gigantic waste of everyone's time -- and whatever money was spent on it. The Biggest Government Waste this year was the "B/S Commission" (for Bowles/Simpson, the two co-chairs) -- apt initials if ever there were....

 

Trophy
   Best Government Dollar Spent

My initial snarky response to this was "volcano monitoring," since I remember Bobby Jindal's speech from a few years ago. Without such government spending, a whole bunch of airplanes may have fallen from Europe's skies this year, as an Icelandic volcano blew its top. [Editorial Note: If we had an award for funniest Huffington Post column of the year, Katla McGlynn's "True Life: I'm Named After An Icelandic Volcano" would easily win.]

Sadly, "extending unemployment insurance" should (once again) be included in this category. Enough said.

But the real winner of Best Government Dollar Spent were some new government dollars spent -- on setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (and putting Elizabeth Warren in charge of the setup). This is exactly what most Americans want from their government -- spending government dollars looking out for their best interests, instead of Wall Street's best interests or corporate America's best interests.

 

Trophy
   Boldest Political Tactic

This category's nominees were kind of all over the map. The Tea Party continued their bold political tactics, but not in any brand new direction from last year or anything. The Republicans in Congress, likewise, continued their "Party Of No" stance, which worked out pretty well for them in the midterm elections. But again, it was a mere continuation of a tactic really begun last year.

President Obama firing General Stanley McChrystal was pretty bold, but wasn't exactly a political tactic, at least to us. The truly bold political tactic from last year from the Democrats was "finishing healthcare reform" -- but it's hard to ascertain exactly who fought for this the hardest (Nancy Pelosi? Barack Obama? Certainly not Rahm Emanuel, that's for sure...). Republicans might even award "reconciliation" as the boldest political tactic, from the aftermath of this fight in Congress.

A case could be made, as well, for the "Two-And-A-Half Blocks From Ground Zero Muslim Community Center" -- but I think it really turned out a lot bolder than the backers had originally thought (especially after, about this time last year, Fox News was saying nice things about the effort).

But, really, the Boldest Political Tactic this year was to run as a third-party candidate. The Tea Party insurgency over the establishment Republican Party was slightly erratic in the selection of electable candidates during the primary/caucus season. Two very prominent Republicans decided to test the Tea Party's strength directly, by making a third-party bid for the Senate (as well as other Republicans in statewide races). Charlie Crist lost his bold third-party bid. But Lisa Murkowski did not -- and emerged victorious not only on a third-party bid, but on a write-in campaign. Just take a look at her last name, which measures exactly how bold launching a write-in campaign was (I still stumble, occasionally, typing "Murkowski"...).

Win or lose, the idea of a Republican mounting a third-party bid to take on a Tea Party candidate was indeed the Boldest Political Tactic of the year.

 

Trophy
   Best Idea

There were actually quite a few good ideas from last year. President Obama giving the Pentagon a year to get on board with repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the first place. Obama naming Elizabeth Warren to set up the agency she initially proposed, thus avoiding a stupid Senate confirmation battle. The agency itself -- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Using reconciliation to pass healthcare reform. The Environmental Protection Agency trying to bring a halt to mountaintop-removal mining (another story that was underreported, now that I think about it).

But the Best Idea last year was to get almost 100,000 American troops out of Iraq. We've still got 50,000 fighting men and women there, but Barack Obama set the pace on the initial drawdown (as opposed to the date we'll be talking about this time next year, when all U.S. forces are scheduled to be out, which was negotiated by George W. Bush right before he left office).

For setting this timetable -- and for keeping to it -- Obama wins Best Idea this year.

 

Trophy
   Worst Idea

There were plenty of bad ideas to go around last year, as well. Afghanistan, for one, but that's an ongoing bad idea, really.

The Worst Idea, just for the idea itself, was the lone idiot who crashed a plane into an I.R.S. office in Texas early this year.

The healthcare reform "individual mandate" was a pretty bad idea.

Democrats pushing so much important stuff out to the lame duck Congress was a really bad idea, even if some of turned out not so bad.

Rand Paul's "underground electric border fence (with helicopters!)" was a monumentally stupid idea, even if he never did define exactly what the heck he was talking about.

Beau Biden's too-clever-by-half decision to sit out the Delaware Senate race (because everyone knew that Mike Castle would defeat Christine O'Donnell for the Republican nomination) was a pretty bad idea, in retrospect -- one the son of Vice President Joe Biden is likely still kicking himself over.

But the absolute worst idea was the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Seriously, guys, what were you thinking? So much for the Right's supposed opposition to "activist judges," as the conservative wing of the court threw out 100 years' worth of corporate elections law, in the Worst Idea of 2010.

 

Trophy
   Sorry To See You Go

There are a number of ways to read this category. In the "sorry to see you have to leave the spotlight" meaning of the phrase, I would include Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson, both of whom failed to win re-election to Congress (as well as a lot of other worthy Democrats).

In a similar, non-organic way, I was sorry to see Kodachrome film exit the shelves. As I was to see the world record in wind speed leave America -- a record which had been held since 1934 by the weather observatory on the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington; where they clocked an astounding 231 miles-per-hour breeze over 75 years ago. This year, however, the World Meteorological Organization announced they had confirmed a reading which had happened 14 years earlier during Typhoon Olivia, on an unmanned weather station on Barrow Island, Australia -- "blowing away" the old record with a screaming 253 m.p.h.

In the more traditional "people who have died this year" meaning of the Sorry To See You Go category, we had a number of folks exit the stage forever.

Dennis Hopper, for instance. Senator Robert C. Byrd. Richard Holbrooke. Al Haig, who doubtlessly arrived in the afterlife proclaiming he was in charge.

But, on a personal level, two deaths in the past year were memorable for us here. The first was the sad passing of Fred Morrison, who invented the "Pluto Platter" flying disc toy, later to be known as the "Frisbee." A twenty-one "150-gram Wham-O! Master Tournament Model" Frisbee salute is entirely in order, we feel.

And the second winner of our personal Sorry To See You Go was the demise of renowned artist Frank Frazetta. The column I wrote in his memory has lots of his artworks displayed, but the one that everyone immediately recognizes is also entirely appropriate, in a black-humor sort of way:

Frazetta

[Click on the image, to see a larger-sized version from an external site, for copyright reasons.]

 

Trophy
   15 Minutes Of Fame

Just to be very clear, here, I am awarding the 15 Minutes Of Fame award to an event, not a person.

Jon Stewart's much-hyped rally in Washington this year was supposed to be some sort of awakening of a new political movement to counter the Tea Party folks. At least, that's what a lot of people thought, convinced of this by the media coverage. But when it happened, the rally turned out to be nothing much more than an few hours' entertainment. Billed jointly with Stephen Colbert as the "Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear" it certainly was a fun day for all concerned.

But, when the dust on the Mall had settled, no political "movement" remained. Glenn Beck's initial rally, and the Stewart/Colbert spoof, will perhaps usher in an era of media personalities testing the resolve of their own audiences to show up in Washington, D.C.; but not much more can be said about them. Meaning they're nothing more than the best example of Andy Warhol's original idea -- 15 Minutes Of Fame.

 

Trophy
   Best Spin

"America has the best healthcare system in the world."

What a colossal joke. Meaning, Best Spin.

 

Trophy
   Most Honest Person

Lieutenant Dan Choi.

Lt. Choi was honest on The Rachel Maddow Show, and he was kicked out of the military as a result, because what he was so honest about was the fact that he's gay. Choi didn't just accept this turn of events, though. He demonstrated anywhere and any way he thought would shine a light on the injustice of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of kicking fine Americans like himself out of our armed services. He chained himself to the White House fence. He got himself arrested for civil disobedience. He was going to demonstrate at the Netroots Nation Lefty blogger conference, but then was invited inside by Harry Reid. Choi then gave Harry his personal West Point ring to hold onto -- until Harry had passed a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Reid was just recently able to return Choi's ring, and Lt. Choi went from chaining himself to the White House's fence to being invited to President Obama's signing ceremony for the repeal law this year -- a pretty extraordinary journey, when you think about it.

All due to his honesty, and due to refusing to give up drawing people's attention to the matter. Well done, Lt. Choi, well done. Most Honest Person, indeed.

 

Trophy
   Most Overrated

I could say "Sarah Palin," but I've already dinged her here, I guess.

There are some other obvious choices, as well:

The Tea Party Republicans.

Obama's communication skills.

The concept of deficit-cutting (lots of lip service, but not a lot of follow-through).

The previously-mentioned B/S Commission.

Earmarks (as being some sort of huge deal).

But, in our eyes there is one standout in the Most Overrated category:

Rahm Emanuel.

 

Trophy
   Most Underrated

Joe Lieberman.

Even Lefty pundits had completely written off Lieberman's attempt to successfully repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year. But Joe showed them all how the game in the Senate is supposed to be played -- as he did exactly one year ago today (much to the Left's dismay), when he killed the "public option" for good.

Don't underrate Joe Lieberman, that's the lesson here. Especially in December.

 

Trophy
   Predictions

My predictions from last year, as always, so we can see how bad my guesswork truly is:

Obama will end the year with better approval ratings than he began.

Midterms will be bad for Democrats, but not as bad as some predict. Democrats lose 15 seats in the House and only two in the Senate.

Harry Reid loses re-election.

Chuck Schumer will be next Democratic leader in Senate.

Afghanistan will continue to be a mess.

The Guantanamo prison will close.

There will be a major "wardrobe malfunction" on television, at some point during the year.

The Tea Party will become a true third party, then self-destruct before 2012.

And finally, an easy prediction -- the mainstream media will continue to miss the real story, over and over and over again, in the rush to splash sensationalistic crap all over America's consciousness.

OK, let's score those. Obama's approval ratings are worse now than a year ago. Midterms were worse for Democrats than people were predicting last year. Harry Reid got re-elected (meaning the Schumer pick wasn't even an issue). Afghanistan is still a mess, but this was kind of a non-prediction, so we're not even going to count it. Guantanamo is still open. No "wardrobe malfunction" to be seen, and America's youth spent the year safe from the horrible, horrible trauma of seeing anyone's inadvertent nipple. The Tea Party became the Tea Party Republicans, instead of forming a third party.

Well, OK, I guessed right on the last one, but that's not saying much.

I think that's my worst year ever for predictions, as I went pretty much zero-for-seven.

Oh, well, it's not going to keep me from staring into the old crystal ball once again. Here are my predictions for 2011:

The Tea Party faction and the establishment Republicans are going to have several large battles about what Congress should do next year. This intra-party fracas will make the Blue Dogs' fight with Democrats over the last two years look tame, by comparison.

But -- surprising almost everyone -- the 212th Congress will be a lot more productive than anyone now expects. President Obama will work with Senate Republicans to pass significant legislation that carries narrowly in the House. The House will wind up being the biggest battleground to getting things done, rather than the traditional obstructionism in the Senate.

President Obama's approval rating will finally rebound, and early in 2011 his job approval numbers will be better than his job disapproval numbers once again -- reversing months of "being underwater."

On the election front, Haley Barbour declines to run for the Republican nomination. So does Newt Gingrich (once again -- he's played this coy game before, remember). Sarah Palin announces her candidacy quite late in the year -- since she is the one candidate who doesn't have to worry about nationwide "name recognition," and since it'll allow her to snipe from the sidelines for as long as possible before becoming a real candidate.

And a final prediction: President Obama will not get any serious primary challenge. Oh, sure, people like Dennis Kucinich may run -- but no Democratic heavyweight will do so, clearing the field for Obama.

 

Trophy
   New Year's Resolution

I only made half of last year's resolution come true, which was never to do these columns on a holiday again. Oh, well, happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Next year, I resolve to write more columns, and possibly even write another book.

And now, true to the McLaughlin protocol, I bid you:

"Bye-bye!"

 

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

44 Comments on “My 2010 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]”

  1. [1] 
    Kevin wrote:

    You posted this a little late here on the West Coast, but Merry Christmas Chris and Mrs. CW, and to all Weigantians.
    Re. Palin, she's basically ruined the Huffington Post for me; every time I check them out there's her picture on three or four posts. Aargh!! To quote Dan Hicks, "How can I miss you if you won't go away". At least I've managed to maintain my "don't read ANYTHING" when she's mentioned or pictured. Your country would be so much better off if they followed my lead on that one.
    Anyhow, Happy New Year also to everyone who enjoys this site.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm pretty sure that Julian Assange is quite delusional. What earthly purpose did the release of 250,000 diplomatic cables serve?

    As for the most underreported story ... funnily enough, it was due to the hapless media that I became aware of the story of historical discrimination at the Department of Agriculture. I guess I have none other than Andrew Brietbart - or whatever his name is - for his sad and lame and inexusable attempt to portray Shirley Sherrod as a racist for my awareness of the history of discrimination at the Ag department.

    Through this story, I also became aware of what a stand up guy the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Visack, is ... so, I guess I can thank Brietbart for that, too. Wonders never cease.

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    Is that Dan Hicks as in "Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks" by any chance? I always wondered where that quote came from...

    Liz -

    Dang! I knew I forgot to mention something, and the whole Shirley Sherrod flap was one of the things I just plain forgot. Good call...

    I'm hearing sleigh bells on the roof, gotta get to sleep...

    :-)

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    I'm new to your blog, but I remembered reading last year's McLaughlin Awards, so I looked in again this year. I'm impressed with the scope of your political awareness, and I appreciate your sense of humor.

    One area in which we seem to have different perspectives is our take on Obama. You seem ready and willing to acknowledge his accomplishments. I am as well - I'm still leading up to our difference (lol).

    My take on part of his make-up is based partly on his background in Hawaii. He certainly had to deal with the absence of a father; I am familiar with that since my dad was killed in an accident when I was 4. He attended Punaho School. Hawaii has some of the most stark differences between public and private education in the U.S. - though there are many, many more states contending for that dubious honor, sad to say. Punaho is a "Harvard Prep" school. With Obama's intellect that part was easy to fulfill.

    Now one of the great "selling points" of his candidacy was how, after leaving Harvard, he went into community work. He "rolled up his sleeves" and was very successful in his work (and met Michelle that way as well!).

    Here's where we diverge, I believe. I think that Obama's acknowledged skills as a politician are very real. How, then, can he have caved in so consistently to the Republican agenda during his term - his accomplishments notwithstanding. The answer lies in his "fast-track" training for Harvard and beyond.

    I'm enough of a cynic (fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be) to feel that his community work job was in essence "resume building." Not that his accomplishments weren't real, mind you - but I think the focus was on "what can this get me in the future?" This is of course a necessary form of thinking for those who want to advance in politics.

    Many of us expected (should I say "hoped?") that he would use his political savvy to bring real change to our country. In my view he has used it rather to "handle" the opposition on the left. The left wasn't even supposed to BE the opposition - that was the designated role for the Republicans after the 2008 elections. But indeed, Obama has moved the spectrum so far to the right that some of his accomplishments, e.g. the DADT repeal seem like huge “wins,” when in fact their accomplishment should have been a foregone conclusion in a period supposedly dominated by Democratic control of congress and the executive branch.

    Furthermore, I am also cynical enough to suspect that this has been part of his fabled “chess game” all along. He wasn’t playing chess with the Republicans, but with the Progressives in the Democratic Party. Thus, soon after signing a tax bill that is an abomination and opens the door to the now inevitable raid on Social Security lusted after by right-wingers, he presides over the reversal of DADT. Good planning on his part, I’d say.

    I don’t know why I’m even couching this in political parties terms. Obama is an out and out corporatist. He is our Trojan Horse. A good and decent man one might say. While he is intelligent and affable, I define good and decent a little more deeply than that. The fact that Obama continues and even furthers Bush’s stances on War, Torture, Attacks on privacy and Palsy-Walsy attitude with the financial community flies in the face of “good and decent” in my book.

    Last summer I told those I spoke with that I thought there was nothing wrong with our country that couldn’t be fixed by about 37 consecutive miracles. That number has risen, just as has the income for the wealthy. We now need hundreds, if not thousands of miracles by now. This would be funny, but so many crises are of huge consequence!

    War - Obama is clearly a hawk – just a little more on the “intellectual side,” but a hawk nonetheless. (Nobel PEACE Prize? What a laugh!)

    Climate – He has been a miserable failure here. Really, our planet can’t survive more of these games, if it has not already endured too many.

    America Class – We are now a 3rd world nation economically (aside from the billionaires of course), and the luge run is very, very steep and slippery.

    These are just three areas.

    What do you think? You’re an accomplished writer and you’re a perceptive man. Do you think it’s worthwhile to revisit your position on Obama? While I’ve given up hope in him totally, perhaps people like yourself can find a new direction to bring what seems to be an inherent “goodness” within the man – though IMO he doesn’t show it in his policy actions – into contact with a growing number of disillusioned people. That would be miracle number 1 on my list.

    Thanks for listening,

    donilo

  5. [5] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Chris,

    Yes, one and the same. I love the song, but I'm not 100% sure that he wrote it :D Must Google that now.

  6. [6] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Here's a YouTube link for the song-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW9-FOLG-iA

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    I have to say that your description of Obama's first couple of years sounds like some pretty generic spin.

    And, I'm wondering if you think it might be worth your while to revisit your position on Obama ...

  8. [8] 
    tinsldr2 wrote:

    Merry Christmas,

    Ok this is a LONG article and I am not done reading it. Like always from you, it is Very Good. I think I will have more Comments later but since this topic is so dear to me I will address it first.

    You wrote (of Iraq):
    "We've still got 50,000 fighting men and women there, but Barack Obama set the pace on the initial drawdown (as opposed to the date we'll be talking about this time next year, when all U.S. forces are scheduled to be out, which was negotiated by George W. Bush right before he left office).

    For setting this timetable -- and for keeping to it -- Obama wins Best Idea this year."

    He only really kept to it by a bit of "jedi hand waving"

    The goal was to have no "combat brigades" in Iraq by this summer and the media made great fanfare when "The LAST U.S. COMBAT BRIGADE Left Iraq"

    Except for one problem, we still had complete Combat Brigades in Iraq and some had just gotten there when the announcement was made.

    So what do they do? In pure Washington fashion they just call the Combat Brigades "advise and assist brigades" But they still have the same everything they did when they were Combat Brigades!!

    Here is the Units homepage : http://www.stewart.army.mil/units/4BCT/home.asp

    If you go there you can see they are the 4th Brigade Combat Team

    If nothing else it should get a Doublespeak award !!

    Good call by you mentioning that Pres Bush negotiated the time-line for withdrawal and deadline. It speaks well of your integrity.

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    A 21" 150g Wham-O! Master Tournament Model" Frisbee salute is entirely in order, we feel.

    Heresy! Personally I'd favor a disc-golf disc as more true to the original spirit of the flying platter, but if you're going to use a "lid" then the only appropriate model for such memorial purposes is the black Discraft 175g Ultrastar.

    http://www.wrightlife.com/images/extrapics/ultrastarblack.jpg

    Dear Fred, let it R.I.P.

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    donilo -

    Welcome to the site! Your first post was held for moderation, but from now on your comments should post immediately, just FYI. Unless you post more than one link per comment, then it gets held automatically by my comment spam filter.

    Your comment deserves more time than I've got tonight to answer it, so allow me to get back to you a bit later. It's a good comment, and it deserves a serious answer, but I want to do it justice.

    tinsldr2 -

    Actually, I believe it was more the media made a big deal out of the "combat brigade" designation. I think the Obama milestone was more about getting to 50,000 (or less) troops. I could be wrong about that, I'm doing it from memory, but I was always focused on the troop level rather than which troops stayed and which left. But you're right, the media did focus on it at the time, I remember that much. And there was a certain amount of spin emanating from the White House, as I also recall...

    I always give Bush credit for the SOFA, and did so at the time (commenter Michale here will testify to that, as he always gives me props for mentioning it). The SOFA had two milestones: Summer '09, all US troops out of Iraqi cities; and End-of-year 2011, all US troops out of Iraq, period. Obama set the 50K level deadline about a month after he took office, and I was glad to see him keep it at the end of August.

    I have a question for you which I've been pondering -- how many troops do you think we'll really have in Iraq on New Year's Day 2012?

    A - Zero
    B - 0-10K
    C - 10-20K
    D - more than 20K

    Right now I'd probably guess B myself, but could see C happening. I doubt it'll be A, they'll need at least a few to guard the embassy, at the very least. But I'm interested to hear what others think.

    nypoet22 -

    I just got a copy of the movie "Hair" from Santa, and the last scene in the movie is of a bunch of extras running across a lawn in DC. When the movie came out, our favorite game (they freeze-frame this shot for the credits) was to name all the things in the shot that didn't exist in the 1960s. The 150g Master Tournament is fully visible in this scene.

    Heh. I'm old school, when it comes to Frisbees. The 150 was the best Frisbee ever made. Frisbee Golf came later... freestyle's where it's at, man.

    Heh.

    -CW

  11. [11] 
    donilo wrote:

    Elizabeth (reply 7

    "I have to say that your description of Obama's first couple of years sounds like some pretty generic spin."

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I'm not sure what you mean by generic. The dictionary def. of generic sticks mostly to items such as drugs, etc. To apply the word to a person or ideas I had to go to the Urban Dictionary, where I found:

    "A versatile term that can be used to describe almost anything that possesses any of a number of negative properties.

    1. That party was so f-ing generic.
    2. That car is generic.
    3. Quit acting generic."

    So what I gather is that you think my ideas are either sort of gray or drab (like the party or car), or in a more negative sense, ideas that aren't really worthy of personal interaction, as in "quit acting generic."

    If you mean something else let me know.

    Interesting that you attach "spin" to generic. Spin usually implies an intent to twist facts or events to fit a certain interpretation - usually for the betterment of the one who is "spinning."

    So overall, I'm taking it that you think my ideas are rather gray and drab (I'll choose not to use the more negative one) which I'm using to try to make my position look good. Now that would be a bad move for me, wouldn’t it – I’ve got gray, drab ideas to which I feel I have to alter facts or events in order to fit the gray, drab ideas.

    I'll offer a different view. My ideas are subjective. Most, if not all ideas, are. My ideas spring from my past experience and thinking. I have experienced Obama as president for two years, and I've thought a lot about it. My intent here was to present some of my ideas in general (not “in generic”). Are they all factually verifiable? I certainly can't say; they are, after all, only my ideas and opinions.

    Have I attempted to twist actual facts or events to make them fit my ideas? As far as I know, Obama did attend Punaho and Harvard. He also worked as a community worker in Illinois. I don't think I've changed those facts. I have an opinion about some ways I feel he was influenced by this background, and offered one way of looking at his community work which was not a "favorable" one. I don't think anyone offering "favorable" interpretations of that work could be more sure of Obama's intent than I. We both have opinions, but Obama himself is the only one who can truly say what he intended and not. For me, I’m sure he had both “favorable” and “less favorable” intentions.

    In sum, I feel that you've been basically dismissive of my post. That's your prerogative. I think my ideas have value - I wouldn't have brought them here if I didn't.

    If you'll check at the end of my post you'll see where I asked Chris if he's interested in finding a bridge between his views of Obama and the views of many of us who are much more negative about him. So I certainly am open to changing my view. In fact my view of him has shifted constantly over this two-year period.
    Chris may or may not reply. He's very busy I'm sure.

    I hope I understood your first statement correctly, and I hope I answered your question.

    All the best,
    donilo

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    Aren't you glad there are no word limits around here?!

    By generic, I simply meant that your description of Obama's first couple of years was very common or standard fare at the Huffington Post. By spin, I meant to suggest that said description with regard to war, climate and class was not entirely based upon the facts.

    You can count on the fact that Chris will respond. Get ready for it! :)

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    What "facts" are lacking here??

    Although I am nearly certain that Donilo.....

    "Welcome to the party, Pal!!!"
    -John McClane, DIE HARD

    .....and I are diametrically opposed on Obama's war actions, CT actions and Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) actions, we DO agree that Obama hasn't fulfilled his promises in those regards.

    I say that Donilo and I are on opposite sides because I think Obama's actions in these issues are a GOOD thing and, apparently, Donilo does not..

    But regardless of this disparity, the FACTS do support Donilo's contention..

    There IS criticism of Obama from both the Right AND Left that IS legitimate criticism...

    These areas are some of those legitimate criticisms..

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    For anyone who wants to get me a belated XMAS present, here is a good choice.. :D

    http://images1.cpcache.com/product/373227361v1_480x480_Front_Color-AshGrey.jpg

    Just kidding as a present, but I thought it was too hilarious not to share...

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey Michale!

    What was your final comment tally?

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    211 was the counted total, but I think I had another 20 or so before I actually started to post the count..

    Call it 220..... :D

    Michale.....

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    220, eh? Not bad, not bad at all! I was going to round it up to the nearest 10 anyways. :)

  18. [18] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Liz,

    I've pasted your comment here, and will insert my responses as it goes along.

    donilo,

    Aren't you glad there are no word limits around here?!

    - I do get wordy. Sorry if it bothers you. (how's that for brevity?) :)

    By generic, I simply meant that your description of Obama's first couple of years was very common or standard fare at the Huffington Post.

    - You seem to want to "define" me by association. I don't visit the HP site often, but I'm sure I've read things that are posted there, e.g. on the DU site. I'm not one who evaluates what I read based on where it's posted. I evaluate it from my own experience and background. If that seems like HP to you, so be it. Is that association positive or negative for you? My impression is that it's negative, since you couple "generic" with what you read there as well.

    By spin, I meant to suggest that said description with regard to war, climate and class was not entirely based upon the facts.

    - I'm not sure which "facts" you're referring to; (one could use the term "generic" to describe this statement). :)

    You can count on the fact that Chris will respond. Get ready for it! :)

    - What would you suggest I do to "get ready" for Chris's response? :) He seems to feel that my post has some value, as he stated in his brief reply. He may agree or disagree with what it contains - that remains to be seen. So yes, I am eager to see how he will respond.

    All the best,
    donilo

  19. [19] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Before I get to answering donilo here, I just have to ask -- please post a link of more than just the image of the shirt (like, how to buy a few). I busted out laughing when I saw it, and know quite a few people who need one of these.

    donilo, you're next, just wanted to separate the silliness from the serious (hint: Michale's the silliness).

    :-)

    -CW

  20. [20] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    donilo -

    First off, again, welcome to the site. I have to say I'm impressed that my McLaughlin Awards made such an impression on you that you searched them out again after a year's time. I take that as a compliment, because often I can't remember what I was doing on the internet last Tuesday, myself. I'm not deluding myself that I've risen to some sort of Time magazine Man-Of-The-Year status, but still (ego-wise) it's good to hear, so thanks for that!

    :-)

    Part of putting these yearly columns together is a review of my past year's work (which is time-consuming). I have to say, in general (after reading last year's columns I wrote), Obama's a complex person and I have equally complex and sometimes conflicted views and opinions of him.

    I guess what I'm saying, by way of a preface, is don't judge me universally by what gets put into a year-end column (when a season of goodwill towards everyone sometimes descends upon me).

    Obama has always struck me as someone who has retained -- throughout the campaign and through two years of presidency -- a rather "blank-canvas" aspect with a wide swath of the public. Onto the tabula rosa known as "Barack Obama," everyone seems to paint the image they hope he is, and then proceed to ignore any facts to the contrary. But I've always seen him as a politician, unlike a lot of people. A good politician, to be sure, but a politician at heart.

    In the campaign, especially, a lot of Lefties saw him as some sort of Super-Progressive ("Look! Up in the sky!..."). I wasn't fooled, I watched his Senate votes instead. I predicted the day after either his election or his inauguration (I forget -- I can look it up, if you're interested), that he was going to piss off the Left in a big way, very soon.

    Righties, of course, see him as some sort of reincarnation of Marx (or maybe Lenin), which is also a bit removed from the reality of Barack Obama the person (and the politician). To put it mildly.

    For me, neither the Knee-Jerk Anti-Obama Lefties nor the Knee-Jerk Anti-Obama Righties have a lot to say to me. From either side, it gets a bit repetitive and boring after a while, and I tend to tune it out.

    And I've known his corporatist leanings ever since he picked his economic team. So him giving the store away to Big Business (in all its forms -- Big Banks, Big Oil, etc.) has also come as not much of a surprise.

    But I do believe that, at his core, Obama really does believe in bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake, bizarre as that sounds. Deep down, he really, really belives in the concept. I really think that's at the heart of his continually reaching out to the GOP even when they continue to slap down such overtures. Which is why the lame duck was so fascinating to me, personally, because it was a different dynamic than the past two years.

    The problem with the hand Obama was dealt in Congress is that it was set up for Democrat-on-Democrat cage wrestling. The Blue Dogs v. Progressives was really the only battle in town, because the Republicans were so marginalized. The "herding cats" nature of the Democratic Party was fully on display, for all to see. And, as usual, it turned out not to be pretty.

    It will be interesting to see how the next Congress plays out, because it is more set up for (1) Tea Party-on-Republican cage matches, and (2) "triangulation" in the Senate. Obama may actually be able to work with this dynamic better than with the Blue Dog/Progressive one, but that remains to be seen.

    I also fully believe a lot of the bad feelings on the Left can be laid at Rahm Emanuel's feet. Since he's the biggest name to leave the WH team, we'll see whether this improves next year -- but I already think it has, to some extent.

    And I never use the words "foregone conclusion" when it comes to betting that Congress is going to do ANYTHING, just because I know Congress.

    I did think Nobel Prize was more than a wee bit premature, and said so at the time. But I was pleased to see Obama draw the Iraq troops down from 140K to 50K. Does anyone think McCain would have done so that fast? And Obama campaigned on "Afghanistan is the 'good war'" so it's not too surprising to see his tripling the troop count there, personally.

    Climate -- yeah, Obama's been weak, he prioritized healthcare reform above this, for better or worse.

    America -- Obama's been talking about a "Sputnik moment" (search my site for my column on this from a few weeks ago), and I expect this to be a theme of the State Of The Union speech next month.

    In any case, to sum up, again: Barack Obama is a complicated guy. As are my feelings towards him and my sober analysis of his record. I write a weekly column here called "Friday Talking Points" (easier to remember than my name: http://www.fridaytalkingpoints.com), wherein I award the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week and the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week weekly awards. I checked the past year, and Obama wound up the year with nine MIDOTW and four MDDOTW awards. So he's running (this year) about 2-to-1 impressive over disappointing. That seems about right to me, looking back at it.

    Let me know what you think of all this. My columns are anything but brief, so when I set this website up, I couldn't very well limit the expression of my commenters, so feel free to share your thoughts.

    And, other than Obama, which McLaughlin Awards did you agree and disagree with? I'm curious.

    -CW

  21. [21] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [13] -

    Give donilo a chance to speak for himself!

    Don't just assume what his positions on issues will be, please... give him a chance to state them on his own...

    -CW

  22. [22] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    I appreciate your response and its thoroughness.

    To answer your last request, I'll go back and look over your McLaughlin Awards again and get back to you on them.

    I hope I never judge you, or anyone for that matter. I'll make judgments for myself as to what to believe or not, but I try not to do it about people.. Thanks for the link to your Talking Points Friday BTW; I'll also look that up.

    Like you, I did not ever think Obama was a progressive. During the primaries, as Kucinich seemed less and less likely to be able to muster the necessary votes, I settled on Edwards - mostly because of his promise to do battle with the corporations and his support for the poor. As an aside, we STILL don't hear much about the poor, do we? Of course they're rapidly driving the remainders of the middle class down to the "poor level" on the survival scale. The corporations certainly took notice of Edwards, making concerted efforts to bring him down (well done, media - a bit of sarcasm). After finding out how disingenuously he handled his personal life I'd say it was a good thing they succeeded, sad to say.

    At any rate, the primaries became a "pick the least offensive one" affair for me. But as much as I didn't want Clinton in the White House, she did get one thing "right," so to speak, when she said - all he's done is made a speech.

    The election was of course a no-brainer, though at times I engaged the fantasy of what might happen to the Republicans if their party was left to deal with Bush's mess. But the thought of McCain, and even worse, Sarah Palin holding the executive reins was too horrible for me to give in to that fantasy.

    I hope I'm not being grouped with the Knee-Jerk lefties - I don't think you meant to say that. But I am indeed pretty far to the left - and I've grown moreso as I've gotten older. I know, it's supposed to go the other way around. As for the Tea Partyers et al, I mostly see them as sad products of the TV, commercial pursuits, bigger is better mindset that has taken over so many brains in America. And I didn't even mention Fox "News" there. Ironically they like to spout off at the same time about pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, when for most of their lives they've been hanging around in T-shirts and slippers, glued to the tube, and swilling down fast food. I know, that's an extreme depiction, but I think you see what I'm getting at.

    They too come from very different backgrounds, and unfortunately there are a number of hate groups that hide behind the masses. I won't even begin to go into a depiction of how I see hate group members. Sadly, they're all just people, but in my view extremely misguided people.

    As for bipartisanship, it's certainly been no secret that it is a central focus of his presidency. The part I have a hard time with is that given our situation, as a country, as a world and as a planet, it seems hardly the time to "experiment" with a "noble idea" for turning things around. For two years now it has sunk even below a rating of "failure." I can't think of a term that can express it strongly enough. Most people have been calling, crying, begging and demanding that Obama "step up" and get it done. As I said in my original post (I think) he has gotten some things done - it's just that many of them don't seem to make any sense as far as priorities go.

    There's no question that matters such as health care and DADT are significant issues. The health care one disgusts me to this day. Obama had sold out to the Insurance Lobby before he was even elected. That makes the few positive things that are connected to the bill whither when compared to what a sweetheart deal it was for those companies. An accomplishment? An extremely tainted one, if you insist on the label.

    The DADT, as I said, should have been much more "in the bag." This is why my cynicism comes to the fore when I see it passed nearly in tandem with the god-awful tax break for the rich. Accomplishment? Yes, but why so long in coming, and why at this particular time? Another thought about this is that Obama might have timed this in part as a "favor" to Lieberman, who has certainly been in the dog house of just about all Democrats. Lieberman is a self-proclaimed trojan horse, though there's no disguise left at all :).

    I found it interesting to see Obama's moves to the left last summer. I suspected then that this was simply a move to try to corral some of the votes he was losing on the left. I've seen nothing to refute that suspicion since. It was a calculated move, imo, which also leads me to thinking of the timing of DADT as another calculated move.

    As for Rahm Emanuel - yes, yuch indeed! But Obama PICKED him, and chose to LISTEN TO HIM. Using Rahm as a scapegoat doesn't cut it for me, and I even find it disrespectful in a way to Obama - implying that he was "led around" by this evil Iago. Perhaps that was the case - i don't think we'll ever know for sure.

    I have an objection to your posing climate and health care as a zero sum choice. Both issues need to be addressed. I certainly didn't vote for an administration or a person who could only work on one thing at a time. As it turned out, however, it seemed as though health care was the only issue going on. I know it wasn't, but it sure got blown up to appear that way. That sense was supported by ALL the politicians (save the brave few), and the media (I'll save any media rants for another time and place).

    I have heard mention of the Sputnik moment. I don't know much about it, so I'll look forward to your column to help inform me.

    As I check out your other site I'll get familiarized with your MIDOTW and MDDOTW ratings :)

    My rating for Obama, based on what I consider the weight of his accomplishments to be, is:

    - quite a number of small accomplishments - sort of the opposite of death by a thousand cuts

    - a few significant accomplishments - of the DADT variety - of which I'm suspicious :)

    - some whopper-sized major "accomplishments" which have turned out to be anything but - I'm talking health care and tax reform here, to name two of the biggest.

    IMO these major dis-accomplishments stand as bazooka holes blown into our country and our people. The hundreds of band-aids he's applied to other wounds aren't doing much to stop the bleeding from the larger wounds.

    I appreciate your time and effort answering my post. I won't make it a habit of making these long posts. I understand how it can annoy people. Perhaps I'll be able to find a different venue within which to contact you with these longer ones.

    All the best,
    donilo

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    You may learn that I am not a particular fan of brevity. Though, brevity does have its place. And, the number of words one is using should be directly proportional to the care one takes in choosing them.

    I have no intention nor desire to define you. However, you did make reference to ‘third world nation’ which just happens to be a pet phrase of Arianna Huffington and I presumed, incorrectly it seems, that you might be reading too many of her diatribes on the subject. Oh, I kid Arianna and her rants. In any case, I can see now that I should have just described your take on Obama as being very common and left it at that. Sometimes, less is more.

    As you are undoubtedly aware by now, one should always “get ready” for Chris’s response by carefully preparing their case and supporting arguments.

  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:
  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    (hint: Michale's the silliness).

    Hay now! I resemble that remark!! :D

    Give donilo a chance to speak for himself!

    Don't just assume what his positions on issues will be, please... give him a chance to state them on his own...

    His earlier postings seemed to indicate that he was a Progressive type Democrat in the mold of David and you. As such, it's a logical assumption that, while we are both disappointed in Obama, it's for different reasons. What Donilo thinks Obama "failed" on (Climate Change, Gitmo, CT) I think Obama has actually done the GOOD thing, even if it was likely inadvertent. :D..

    I took Donilo's general comments and came to a conclusion regarding his position.

    "Reasoning from the general to the specific -- is that not the very definition of deduction?"
    -Commander Data, STAR TREK:THE NEXT GENERATION, Elementary, Dear Data

    Further, Donilo seems to confirm my assumptions in his subsequent post where he said, "But I am indeed pretty far to the left - and I've grown moreso as I've gotten older."

    But hay, you know me. If I am wrong, I will gladly admit same with a humble heart and a song on my libs. :D

    I understand your caution as that action of mine is probably one of my many annoying traits. :D

    I will endeavor to reign that in, in the future...

    Donilo,

    But the thought of McCain, and even worse, Sarah Palin holding the executive reins was too horrible for me to give in to that fantasy.

    I am constantly fascinated by these intense feelings that the Left has towards Palin...

    Do you honestly believe she would have been a worse VP than Obama has been a POTUS?

    When you compare Obama and Palin from an experience perspective, Obama ain't fit to walk on the same ground as Palin (as an aside, it took me a while to come up with a comparison that couldn't be looked on as racist :D)

    I think Palin would be an excellent POTUS for her ability to actually connect with REAL Americans and not the snooty (snotty??) intellectual types who love talking about doing things in theory, but when it actually comes time to put the rubber on the road, they are lost.

    We have seen that alot the last 2 years with Obama.

    There's no question that matters such as health care and DADT are significant issues. The health care one disgusts me to this day. Obama had sold out to the Insurance Lobby before he was even elected. That makes the few positive things that are connected to the bill whither when compared to what a sweetheart deal it was for those companies. An accomplishment? An extremely tainted one, if you insist on the label.

    Ahhhhhhh.... Common ground. A truly wonderful thing. :D

    Tell me, do you think the country is worse off with "CrapCare"?

    My take on Obama is simply that he doesn't know how to be a leader. He is learning on the job..

    He has made some good calls. His actions towards the hostage rescue against the Somali pirates was grade AAA leadership. His actions with McChrystal was a surprise to me. Surprise insofar as he handled it perfectly. He's made good calls in keeping Gitmo open, keeping and adding to most (if not all) of the Bush Counter-Terrorism policies.

    But I can't honestly say whether those are his calls or he is simply deferring to the advisers that make the best argument...

    Like CW said, Obama is a blank slate.. It's hard, nay, it's impossible to know whether we are seeing the real Obama or are just reading what someone wrote on his slate...

    I am on record as saying that Obama is definitely a one-termer. I can't see him being able to juggle so well that he would please us Independents and NPAs who he lost massively in the mid-terms and also be able to keep his base happy enough to fend off a primary challenge...

    I don't think the "hopey changey" strategy is going to work a second time...

    It's going to be an interesting 2 years in the run-up to 2012...

    Michale......

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    But hay, you know me. If I am wrong, I will gladly admit same with a humble heart and a song on my libs. :D

    Freudian slip??? :D

    That should read, "and a song on my LIPS"....

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Here's my take on the McLaughlin Awards. You've got a ton of them, and I'll disqualify myself in many of the areas - lol. I'll just mention the ones that caught my eye and interest most.

    Best Political Theater:

    Barack Obama - "This meeting was seen by the media (and most of the public) as a brilliant political victory for Obama, and it may have helped him drag healthcare reform across the finish line, in the end. Which made it not only good political theater, but also effective political theater -- the best kind."

    I don't disagree with the award. I just feel it was a hollow "victory." I'm sure you saw that one coming :)

    I was unaware of Governor McDonnell's move - it was indeed brilliant theater.

    I also agree about the Koran burning as the worst political theater. That's the kind of guy the KKK would be proud of.

    Most Underreported Story

    Just a general (not generic :) comment - I feel that a huge amount of the blame for where we find ourselves at this point in time lies at the feet of the 4th estate. Media has been an enormous failure - to the point of treasonous in some cases, imo. We have points of shining light on the internet, as long as the internet is able to withhold the vicious attacks being made to compromise it as well. I fear the worst for the outcome of that battle - but I still hope for better that "worst."

    Biggest Government Waste

    I'm in agreement with you on these. Waste is America's #1 product. We waste money, resources, the time of our children by providing them with awful public schools, the time and minds of our people with TV programming that is probably 90% useless to damaging, and the waste of our future. I mean, we're still burning COAL!

    The education comment doesn't imply I'm for the growth of these Charter Schools. They may have a place, but it should be totally second place to our public schools. We've basically abandoned public education, and we're seeking an "easy way out" by trying to put the charter schools in their place.

    Best Government Dollar Spent

    It should come as no surprise to you that I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Warren. By far I consider this as one of the genuinely EXCELLENT moves made by Obama. As usual my cynicism creeps in - hoping against hope that he didn't just put her in for a while to "use" her popularity to help himself out. Sometimes I hate being this cynical, but I've been driven to it by the constant disappointments handed out over the last two years. I hope I'm very wrong about this. She is still there, so that's a good sign.

    Boldest Political Move

    Yes, Murkowski in a landslide!!

    Worst Idea

    Yes, the Supreme Court decision in another landslide!

    15 Minutes of Fame

    Sadly, I have to agree with your choice of Jon Stewart. The way he handled that event was vastly disappointing to me. What bothered me most was his buying into the false equivalency of the "far left" being as bad as the "far right." Oh there are some zany folks in the far left, don't get me wrong. But I fail to see how the left (I'm speaking now of the Progressive Left - and a bit to the left of them as well) can begin to be compared with folks like the reverand who brings his group of gay-bashers to funerals - especially of people who died protecting his right to do so. Is what he does illegal? No. But morally reprehensible? You bet.

    Jon is a bright man and a successful comedian. I think he should probably stick to that which he does best, and save the more purely political side for his own private endeavors. His show is often brilliant. Give us more of that.

    Your Predictions

    I agree with your prediction about the 212th Congress. But it's to my horror that I believe it may come true. They certainly may get a lot done; and if it's in the same mold as the tax bill they just passed I'm afraid we're really in for some awful times.

    As for 2012 candidates, I think it will come down to who the corporate entities may find interesting and agreeable to them - on both the Democratic and Republican sides. I think we're in for still another "hold you nose and vote" election. And the world continues to get warmer.

    Speaking of elections, I predict that there will still be no significant improvement in most election processes. There may be some small improvements on a local or even state level. But I see electronic voting as set in place for a good while to come. I still have hope for the more distant future however.

    Well Chris,
    Bye-Bye! :)

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    Donilo,

    What bothered me most was his buying into the false equivalency of the "far left" being as bad as the "far right."

    Why exactly is it a "false equivalency"?

    For every right-wing loon, I can show you an equal left-wing loon...

    "Your good and your evil use the same methods to acheive the same goals."
    -Yarnek, STAR TREK, The Savage Curtain

    The simple fact is there are good and solid people on both the Left and the Right. Just as there are scumbags and loons on both the Left and the Right. I don't see any evidence that indicates one has any lock on any above and over the other.

    This is speaking as a person who is beholden (enslaved???) to neither political Party.. IE an NPA...

    folks like the reverand who brings his group of gay-bashers to funerals - especially of people who died protecting his right to do so. Is what he does illegal? No. But morally reprehensible? You bet.

    Why do you equate such pond-scum as the Reverend LooneyTunes and his ilk with the Right?? Loud, boisterous and obnoxious protesting at soldiers' funerals would seem to be more of a Left wing activity than a Right Wing one.

    Given the history of protesting and all....

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    donilo wrote:

    Michale,

    I believe you have a point. It was a mistake on my part to respond to Stewart's posing left and right in the way he did - and my mistake for furthering that posture.

    What I should say instead is that Stewart's keeping of the battle in "left-right" terms plays exactly into the corporatist's hands. They sit back and watch people like me take up the same battle, and waste everyone's time on it.

    Our main battle, as I see it, is with the corporatocracy itself. We must do something about this in significant ways and soon. I wish I had some quick solutions at hand. I'm somewhat late to the "political thinking" crowd, so it takes me a bit longer to process things at times. I'm learning though.

    I'm curious, since you see yourself detached from either party's policies, how you view Obama. You say that you like what he's doing for the most part (in one of your earlier posts). Do you see him aligned in any ways with either or both parties? Or possibly as chiefly a corporatist who goes whichever way politically the wind blows in favor of corporations? Or some other way?

    All the best,
    donilo

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    Donilo,

    What I should say instead is that Stewart's keeping of the battle in "left-right" terms plays exactly into the corporatist's hands. They sit back and watch people like me take up the same battle, and waste everyone's time on it.

    Now THAT, I can completely agree with it. I apologize if I came across as a little combative. It had appeared to me that you were trying to say that, while the Left may be bad, the Right is much worse. And that's an attitude that really rubs me the wrong way..

    It's like two religions fighting, "Catholics are better!!!" "No!! Protestants are better!!"

    An assumption of superiority where none exists..

    So, once again, my apologies for mis-reading that...

    But I completely agree with you that in some cases, the Left vs Right schism is a nefarious smokescreen set up by corporations to misdirect the American public.

    David (another commenter here) says much the same thing... I disagree with him (often :D) on WHEN it occurs, but I do agree with him (and you) that it does happen..

    Our main battle, as I see it, is with the corporatocracy itself. We must do something about this in significant ways and soon. I wish I had some quick solutions at hand. I'm somewhat late to the "political thinking" crowd, so it takes me a bit longer to process things at times. I'm learning though.

    Judging from the quality of your posts, you seem to be a very quick learner... :D

    I'm curious, since you see yourself detached from either party's policies, how you view Obama. You say that you like what he's doing for the most part (in one of your earlier posts). Do you see him aligned in any ways with either or both parties? Or possibly as chiefly a corporatist who goes whichever way politically the wind blows in favor of corporations? Or some other way?

    That's a real tough call... Not so much for the quick answer. I don't like Obama.. But my dislike comes more from him having made a fool of me than anything else.

    I was one of those ones who voted for Obama and was really excited about his presidency. I believe the phrase I used (and used often) was, "It's going to be a heady time to be an American if Obama is elected"....

    My support turned to dismay and my dismay turned to disgust.. I thought I had voted for a Jack Ryan, but it turned out I voted for a Richard Nixon.

    As far as where Obama is coming from, I really don't view him as a socialist or a communist or a copratist...

    I view him as an Obamaist...

    Basically Obama does what is good for Obama, whatever that may be at the moment. If Obama thinks that making a tax deal with Republicans will put him ahead in some grand 3-D Chess game, then that's what Obama is.. If Obama thinks he can put himself ahead by being a corpratist, then that's what Obama becomes....

    As CW stated, Obama is the consummate politician...

    In my dictionary, you can find 'politician' right before 'weasel' and right after 'loser'...

    Having said all the afore, I DO agree with some of the decisions that Obama has made.. Mostly in the areas of National Security, CT and military matters.

    As you might guess, my background is decidedly military and LEO oriented. So any decision that Obama makes that has the effect of separating a hostage taker's head from the rest of his body is viewed upon favorably by yours truly... :D

    Same goes for furthering any sort of CT activity that saves lives.. As for torture, don't EVEN get me started unless yer prepared for a marathon of comments that will likely number in the hundreds. :D

    So, in THOSE instances, I applaud the President's actions. But I just don't see that it's really Obama who is making those calls.. I see him as the one who looks 5, 10 or 50 steps ahead and determines whether or not the decision will benefit him...

    Clinton was known for his triangulation...

    I see Obama moving far beyond that with 'quintigulation'..... It's an old word I just made up... :D

    'I don't believe in the Beatles. I just believe in myself.' Good point there, after all he was the walrus. I could be the Walrus, I would still have to bum rides from friends."
    -Ferris Beuhler

    I honestly believe that Obama doesn't believe in anyone but himself.

    Michale.....

  31. [31] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Michale,

    OK, I looked up CT on google, and this is what page 1 gave me:

    computed tomography
    Connecticut
    CAT Scan (CT)
    C T Events consists of a team of experienced professionals...
    CT - leader in contest logging software
    Lexus CT 200h
    CT Solutions - your CTI developer partner

    I don't think that any of these match your use of CT, so fill me in please :)

    Oh yeah, and LEO?

    Thanks.

    So if I'm getting you right, it sounds like you were focusing on things like Obama's willingness to further our move into Afghanistan, which I believe was known during primary season, when you supported his candidacy. And that matches with your military background.

    So if that's accurate, why didn't you support McCain, who would have pushed for even more of a militaristic solution in the Middle East? Or were there other factors besides this point that moved you to support Obama?

    Your depiction of him as a self-serving politician does fit with my cynical side, which is now suspicious of practically every move he makes. It's interesting how two people from almost diametrically opposed positions sense the same quality in the man.

    Where my take on him goes is that this "political animal" side, coupled with his educational background (one might say privileged - I know Punaho is a very expensive school, though he may have received financial assistance there (likewise Harvard) - to yield a man who sees himself as superior. I haven't read any of the biographies or autobiographies, which are numerous. I guess that puts me at a disadvantage, because I lack certain basic knowledge about his background. I don't think I want to read these books necessarily – instead, I'll look up some background articles.

    When I say superior, I mean that he views his high intelligence (undoubtedly there) as something that makes his ideas more valuable than those of others. This then seems to fit with his constant desire to want to hash things out committee-style - a la Senate committees. There he feels sure that his ideas will in fact win the day, given his superior abilities.

    When this works for the good it can be very effective, as seen with the accomplishments he does have. But when his ideas fail to work for the good, or for at least improving the situation some, I think he is very reluctant to see his ideas as one of the causes of that. Mind you, this is all intuitive on my part; I'm sure it would bother the heck out of anybody looking for factual back-up. :)

    I think his main problem then, is dealing with the power of the presidency. When he was in his other jobs, and also a Senator, no matter which way events would turn his role was as ONE of the contributors to a collective negotiation. As president that situation changes dramatically. All of a sudden his ONE opinion or idea suddenly takes on an unequal importance. That introduces the often talked about "giddiness of power" which can overtake people in positions of power. In another place and another time in history I can see Obama as being very comfortable being "King." He would see himself as a benevolent king, and in many ways that could be the case. In our system I see this "king" role being applied behind the scenes in tandem with the powerful military role in our government. Obama has increasingly taken the role of Commander in Chief very much to heart. But of course behind the military power in our country, as well as political power, lie the corporations.

    So arguments of Republican/Democrat, socialist/neo-con, religious/atheist, etc. deflect from the point. The point being - where is the power? The answer (imo) – in the corporations. Not a "conspiracy of corporatists" plotting together in hidden rooms (though some of that may certainly go on at a smaller level), but a systemic affirmation for corporations to be in charge - made by all of us. The military and government are our institutions which carry it out.

    I believe we are caught up in a national “abusive cycle.” We are trapped in a closed system where corporations hold the power, the control of the agencies that carry out their wishes (government and military), and the ability to shut off contact outside of the system (via their control of media). It is this last area that contains our strongest hope for breaking the system open. How does one break abusive cycles? The simple and most direct start of that process is to SHOUT OUT about the abuse. Bring it into the open; don't shove it under the rug.
    So I guess that’s why I’ve entered the “political talk crowd” – to add to the shouts about our abuse.

    I got wordy again. ?

    All the best,
    donilo

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    Your take on President Obama and what has influenced him is fascinating.

    I wonder if your thinking on all of this was influenced by the near collapse of the global financial system and the most destructive economic crisis since the Great Depression ... and by how the Bush and Obama administrations reacted to it.

    Also, given your view of what makes Obama tick, I'd be very interested in knowing if you have an opinion as to why he might have chosen Senator Biden to be at his side during what promised to be a presidency steeped in critical and difficult challenges, domestically and internationally.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    Are you familiar with President Obama's Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy and how it is ... how shall I say ... progressing?

    Oh, and try googling CT in that context ...

  34. [34] 
    donilo wrote:

    Elizabeth,

    I can see that in some way you want to make a contribution to my knowledge about things politic, things about Obama - his choices and policies, and the Bush/Cbeney administration's fiasco (for us, not them). I also get the sense that you have a great deal of experience and knowledge in these matters.

    The problem I have with your responses is that they all seem to be heavily dipped in sarcasm and a patronizing attitude. I know I'm newer at this then some. Yet Chris and Michale have both entered into discussion with me to some extent, and I haven't gotten this feeling from either of them. Michale, who has agreed with me that we have many differences of opinion, has taken me for who I am, and seems accepting of that.

    You, on the other hand, seem most interested in what I'm not; I'm not knowledgeable enough, I don't present all or mostly fact-checked ideas, I'm not aware enough of the conditions of our country or world to make intelligent enough statements, and I'm not familiar enough with acronyms that are used.

    I'm always ready and eager to learn, but I'm not ready or eager to be patronized or treated sarcastically. If this is the only way you can communicate with me, then I ask if you will please stop.

    Thank you.

    All the best,
    donilo

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    Donilo,

    Apologies.. I lapse into slang a lot.

    CT is Counter Terrorism.

    LEO is Law Enforcement Officer.

    And, just in case, I use it down the road, FSO is Federal Security Officer. :D

    So if that's accurate, why didn't you support McCain, who would have pushed for even more of a militaristic solution in the Middle East? Or were there other factors besides this point that moved you to support Obama?

    Definitely other factors. While I was closer to McCain on most of my Hot Button issues, he seemed to promise "same ol, same ol".. As I put it during the 2008 Elections,

    "It's a win-win for me. If Obama wins, this country will be heading in an entirely new direction and it's going to be a heady time to be an American. If McCain wins, while it might be same ol same ol domestically, there will be some countries whose asses will be kicked that seriously need kicking."

    Even though I knew Obama had absolutely zero leadership experience I felt, at the time, that that might actually be a plus, considering the kind of man that I thought Obama was. As I mentioned before, I took Obama for a "Jack Ryan" type person. Ryan is the protagonist in many Tom Clancy novels who, in the series of books, rose from a lowly CIA analyst to become President Of The United States.

    It was this kind of potential I saw (or maybe, more accurately, hoped for) in Obama...

    It's interesting how two people from almost diametrically opposed positions sense the same quality in the man.

    Exactly the point I made earlier.. :D

    As to the rest of your analysis, it's so damn accurate, it's scary... I think you have nailed quite precisely the exact factors that are at work in Obama...

    I have oft commented that Obama seems to be incapable of admitting his ideas are bad. Oh sure, he has said, "we were wrong" or "we were mistaken", we this and we that...

    I don't think I have ever heard him say, "*I* was wrong." or "*MY* idea was a bad one"... Even after the shellacking the Dems took in the mid-terms, he simply could not admit that his ideas are bad ones. It was all about how he had failed to present the ideas properly..

    As you point out, a Senator with such an attitude can do very little damage because he is simply one of many..

    Even as President, it's possible to have such an attitude and STILL be effective. The key there would be to surround yourself with people you respect, but often disagree with..

    I was a platoon CO during Desert Storm and I always made it a point to have as my 2nd, a person who was competent but that often disagreed with me. Why?? Because I knew that he would counter-balance the worst of my tendencies and compliment the best of my tendencies.

    If Obama had done that, if he had surrounded himself with people who had the cajones to say, "Look boss, yer wrong and here's why", then this country would be well on it's way to recovery.

    Unfortunately for the country, Obama surrounded himself with people who simply fed the worst of his ego. In other words, Obama chose a "King's Court" and not advisers....

    Obama kinda reminds me of the Greg Stilson character in the movie version of THE DEAD ZONE, without the religious megalomania, of course. :D He (Stilson/Obama) is right and that is all there is too it...

    Basically, as I see Obama has 2 rules.

    1. Obama is always right.

    2. If Obama is ever wrong, rule #1 comes into play.

    That's our President in a nutshell..

    And, sadly enough, I think the only way that Obama will change is if there is a catastrophic failure of leadership that is so devastating to this country and so blatantly clear that it's Obama's fault. It would be like a slap in the face to Obama.

    In other words, another 9/11 that is undeniably due to a mistake on Obama's part.

    I think THAT is the only way that Obama could ever take a good long look in the mirror and finally admit to himself, "Maybe it IS me."....

    As far as corporations go while I be the first to admit that one would be hard pressed to find a corporation that is a paragon of virtue, I tend to be a cup-is-half-full kinda guy. Many of the things that has made this country the only remaining superpower have been brought to us by corporations..

    In other words, I look at the good that corporations have done and see that as a counter-balance to the bad..

    And I also don't see them as the totally in control entities that you and David appear to see them as. But, I readily admit, that could simply be my ignorance of economic and high-end business matters...

    But if there is a cabal of corporations bent on controlling this country, then the solution is simple..

    Political leaders who have the moral cajones to take the country back..

    I thought Obama was that political leader...

    I was wrong...

    I got wordy again. ?

    Naaaw.... :D These kinds of discussions are one of the reasons I stick around here... That and the fact that CW allows my Trek geekdom to flourish.. :D

    Michale.....

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    Political discussions are not for the timid or for the overly sensitive and unduly defensive - especially during the paticular political and media culture within which we live. Well, at any time, really. :)

    Wish I could say that it's been a pleasure ...

  37. [37] 
    donilo wrote:

    Ms. Miller

    Choosing to deal with emotional bullies has nothing to do with being timid. No matter how much you may know about politics, it means nothing to me if you constantly need to put me down, or "in my place."

    Bullies usually see their targets as weak, too sensitive, and too afraid to stand up to the bullying.

    I have merely asked you to be civil with me. From the outset you have tried to set the "ground rules" for how I should post. You have added to that attempt here, in your usual sarcastic manner. I have no need of sarcastic people in my life. I have no shortage of people with whom I have lively discussions that include differences of opinion. These conversations go on without any of us trying to "lay down the rules" or "put the other person down."

    As for your lack of pleasure, I'm only too glad to have not rewarded your tactics in dealing with me.

    Good luck to you,
    donilo

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    Yes, well ... I'm the resident emotional bully around here, constantly laying down the ground rules on how we should post and never missing an opportunity to put my fellow posters down and in their proper place.

    There's at least one in every crowd, you know ...

    Incidentally, who were you quoting in comment 37? Just curious ...

  39. [39] 
    donilo wrote:

    Hi Michale,

    Thanks for the acronym update :)

    Now to get to some of what underlies our differences. You have a military background, and you value the accomplishments and service of those you fought with in the service. That, of course, is to be fully appreciated and understood. I didn't have any war experience when I was in the army, but I was in contact with enough people to get the sense of the type of camaraderie that is vital - especially in life and death situations.

    But I ask if you'll step back for a minute from the intense practicalities war imposes. Let’s view why the leadership of our country engages in wars in the first place. The reasons are usually varied, depending on the situation. But one theme seems to pervade all of them: territory and power. No matter who starts a war or who is brought into one, the resultant "treaty" displays either the real goals of the initiating country, or as the case may be if the challenged country "wins the war," the disquiet that fills the initiator's populace and ruling entities afterwards.

    Take the first Iraq war and the Viet Nam war as examples. After Hussein invaded Kuwait we engaged in a brief and extremely effective war with Iraq, fairly well wiping out all resistance in a very short period of time. The resultant state of affairs (an ersatz treaty of sorts) was illustrated best by the long period of sanctions held over Iraq. The result was virtual complete subjugation of Iraq. That’s pretty powerful.

    The Viet Nam war ended far differently, with troops being hauled out, sometimes from rooftops, by helicopters to escape the occupying forces. The ensuing years of “depression” in America – we couldn’t even bring ourselves to take care of the soldiers who had been forced to fight in the war – displays the extreme disquiet in the American populace. This led, imo, to the eventual election of Reagan, more immediate causes notwithstanding.

    Territory and control aren’t unique to human beings. The very cycle of life depends upon one form of life “ingesting,” if you will, another form in order to stay alive. We call that eating. War is seen by many as simply an extension of that basic fact of biology.

    In my book, however, war is the most extreme visitation that exists of power and death of one country upon another. The “spoils” of war go way, way beyond survival in a biological sense. For any instance of killing to survive you can find many, many more instances where life is enhanced through cooperation and mutual support. That is ideally the condition we strive for in our communities and on a larger scale in our country.

    So to me, war is the representation of stark failure on the part of people to investigate beyond the most destructive form to find a way for people to both survive and coexist. And it is upon wars that empires are created.

    We clearly live in a country that has really been an empire for a long time. That’s one of the reasons our presidents increasingly act like kings. Both Bush and Obama have reserved the right to have ANYONE, including an American citizen, killed upon their directive. If that isn’t “kingship” in its worst form I don’t know what is. And it is a total abandonment of the grounding of our republic within the right of habeas corpus. That right has turned into a laughing stock for recent administrations.

    And what keeps the American Empire going? Bottom line – money. And most of the money is lodged in the coffers of corporations, who then use it to “pick” the candidates, who in turn pay the corporations back with governmental actions that they like. Corporations like, no, they love war. Just view the profits made during the last ten years alone.

    Does that mean all corporations are evil? Of course not, and as you say corporations are responsible for multitudes of “good” things that are part of our society.

    It’s when the focus of a given corporation moves beyond whatever contributions it may make to society that the trouble begins. As a company gains more and more power due to its resources, it can, and often does, begin a cycle of wanting to “watch the interest on its resources expand exponentially” – like in a bank account.

    There’s a reason Teddy Roosevelt engaged in “trust busting.” He realized the power of all the money the tycoons of his day had under their control. IMO he fit the bill for the type of president you’re looking for – someone with cajones to stand up and fight.

    But the corporations have had a lot of practice, and they learn from their “mistakes.” Corporate control is now evidenced by the enormous percentage of politicians under their thumb and the enormous percentage of media that they control. And it’s displayed more and more blatantly to the public. Just recall Henry Paulson standing at the microphone virtually dictating the terms of the bankers’ hostage demands to Congress and to the American people. What an ugly, ugly scene that was.

    Perhaps now you can see why we differ in our views on war (though you already may have seen :)). You see it as a “necessary evil,” I think, while I see it as a very unnecessary evil. It won’t surprise you to know that I believe that 9/11 was a false flag operation. I don’t engage in discussions about who and why and how, because frankly the possibilities are far too numerous and complex. My hope for some clarification is that the folks at ae911truth.org will succeed in making it evident to the world that the three buildings at the WTC were brought down via demolition. Then let whatever arguments about who, why, and how ensue. So I see our entry into these wars we have today as totally trumped up. The Iraq situation is well documented already. But even the first attacks on Afghanistan, almost universally supported (reluctantly, even by me) as a way of getting Osama bin Laden into custody, were trumped up. I can easily imagine bin Laden as being a part of whatever plan was in play. But I can’t buy the official story of 9/11 for a minute.

    I’d better stop here. I’m out of breath. :)

    All the best,
    donilo

  40. [40] 
    donilo wrote:

    Your sarcasm knows no end, doesn't it?

    And no, I made no quotes. I used quotation marks - an overused bad habit of writing I have.

    Good-bye.
    donilo

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Actually, donilo, you ain't seen nothing yet! :)

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    donilo,

    I’d better stop here. I’m out of breath. :)

    I'm afraid that's not the only thing you're out of.

  43. [43] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    donilo, Elizabeth -

    OK, guys, I go away for one morning to take the car into the dealer, and look what happens.

    Sigh.

    I think we all need to take a deep breath, get in the spirit of the season, and calm down a little bit. Attack ideas -- and not each other, folks.

    Just because of this, I'm going to post a special column today I came across in riffling through the archives...

    For now: play nice!

    -CW

  44. [44] 
    Michale wrote:

    Donilo,

    Sorry it took so long to respond.. An off the cuff response simply would not have been appropriate here.

    If I may condense your entire post to one summation, it appears to me you are trying to say that co-operation and mutual support works better than conflict and subjugation each and every time..

    Assuming that is your position, I have to say that I completely agree with you...

    With one caveat...

    Such co-operation and mutual support is ONLY possible if everyone feels and thinks the same way...

    Let me give you an example as drawn from, what else, Star Trek...

    A Star Trek novel called PERRY'S PLANET deals with this theme.. In the novel, Captain Perry, who was the leader of a colony on an earth like planet, introduced a virus into the colony that shut down bodily functions any time a person became angry or violent. Over the centuries, such emotions were simply phased out of the colonists..

    So, they had a colony that was completely free of anger, violence and other destructive emotions...

    EXCEPT.....

    Except there was a small percentage of the colonist population that was immune to the virus effects.. This small group of violent thugs were allowed to prey on the general population at will because the colonists simply could not fight back...

    So, the moral??

    For such a utopia of mutual support and co-operation to work, EVERYONE must feel the same way about things...

    As long as you have people or countries or regimes that feel they have the right to take by force, others MUST have the ability to resist.. By force, if necessary..

    Like many many things in this world, force and violence are not evil actions in and of themselves..

    It's how they are applied that determines whether they instruments of good or evil.

    Michale.....

Comments for this article are closed.
[Powered by WordPress]