« Your Turnabout is fair play Friday open thread | Main | Random Soup »

September 02, 2012

Comments

What does an efficient, non-intrusive Department of Education do?

What it did prior to 1979, and, as some say, follow the Constitution? Or, alternatively, cut down the subsidy programs to a number less than 100? Let the states have the money in the 2012 budget of around $98B to decide how to spend it themselves? Not put way too much money into the post-secondary system creating education inflation? Just my short list of suggestions.

I don't follow, Russell, your pi comment. I don't think you need a department of ed to counter "creationism in the classroom" if that is your point and I don't remember that being a justification for the 1979 creation of DoEd.

Skocking?

I know I am skocked.

And how is a nation dependent on tax revenues from a modern economy to finance it's military forces supposed to engage in military actions against the places where the revenues are generated?

Easily. cf Abe Lincoln and "greenbacks".

I'm laying 25% chance of civil war in 2013.

So if I put up $30,000, you'll put up $10,000, and if not much happenes prior to 1/1/14, I get the pot? Tell me how I can get this bet down. I figure to get at least 100 to 1 if I bet the other way with somebody else. Of course you will have to tighten up your definition of civil war. A few malcontents executing FBI agents and pulling McGyvers does not cut it.

I promise to donate my winnings to the zionist entity of my choice.

11.9% for defense seems way too low, it's generally assumed to be at 20%+

And if you add in war veterans, foreign military aid, nuclear weapons, discretionary funds etc, you might arrive at a number twice as large.

I'm no expert, but that's what I've read on various sites.

"That doesn't mean I'd run out and get shot in support of whoever the analog to the Koreshians might be, though. Would you?"

No. However, I might "fight" in some other way, such as video recording government abuses, etc.

"....made the mistake of recruiting Smedley Butler to lead the charge"

Ha! Smedley rocks. He's one of my personal heros, albeit on a tier below MLK.

"There's no good outcome to what is inherently a total clusterfnck......"

I am not proposing anything. Nor am I advocating anything. I am simply querying to see what is out there. That said, I do think that at some point - a point we haven't reached yet and hopefully never do - armed action is required; say if a Hitler took over the country or even if someone more benign threw out the Consititution and appointed himself King. That sort of thing.

OTH, I am saying that people are not as reasonable as myself and that something much less than the conditions that would impell me to armed revolution can, and probably will, set them off.

You guys seem to think it won't happen because it's just too crazy. History disagrees with you.

"If only my cousin Eric still lived in Tel Aviv....."

My cousin lives in Beirut and he has a solution to your candy wrapper problem.

"11.9% for defense seems way too low, it's generally assumed to be at 20%+"

Yes, Novakant, you correct concerning the *federal* budget. I believe Dr Science's charts/data refers to % of *all* tax revenue expenditures including local government (e.g. your property tax, state income tax if you live in one of those states that collects it, etc)

Oh, hush, little man, before I call in a drone strike on your horse farm.

ok, got it

I don't follow, Russell, your pi comment.

In 1897, the Indiana legislature attempted to redefine the value of pi by legislative fiat. Apparently, a member of the Indiana House had devised a way to square the circle, which required pi to equal something other than it's normal value, and he wanted the imprimatur of the state to back up his claim.

Happily, it did not pass. But, it came close.

My point being that basic national standards for curriculum might well be A Good Thing.

And yes, countering "creationism in the classroom" was my point. I have nothing whatsoever against religion and/or faith, and I'm sure I myself believe a number of things that would make some folks scratch their heads, but they are not science. In science class, you should learn science.

And to be honest, the "it ain't Constitutional" argument against the Dept of Ed seems a thin reed. I do not hold with the "if the word doesn't appear in the Constitution, Congress can't fund it" point of view, and as a practical matter, virtually no-one, of any persuasion, does either. For reference, please see my comment upthread concerning standing armies.

A cabinet-level position focusing on education may be a good idea, or it may not be a good idea, but it's certainly well within the scope of "general welfare", so as far as I'm concerned, it's on the table, Constitutionally speaking.

YMMV. We all have our point of view.

Also, education in this country is EXTREMELY decentralized, especially as compared to virtually any other similar nation. Federal money makes up maybe 10 or 11% of what gets spent.

Long before there was an ED, there was the Morrill Act (1890) making land grants for colleges and universities. Was that constitutional?

There were a number of federal programs funding agricultural and industrial education in local schools. I'm talking about the early 20th C. Was that constitutional?

What about the GI Bill? Constitutional?

National Defense Act after the Sputnik launch? Constitutional?

Folks need to distinguish between "it's not Constitutional" and "I don't like it".

And in my opinion, folks need to recognize that, when they argue for local autonomy, that's going to be a big step backward for a non-trivial set of folks.

If your principles require it, so be it, but if you think that it is some kind of unalloyed good, and that all or even most federal involvement is net negative, you are incorrect.

even if someone more benign threw out the Consititution and appointed himself King.

What about if somebody invents their own, personal, fourth branch of government? Would that do it?

"And to be honest, the "it ain't Constitutional" argument against the Dept of Ed seems a thin reed. I do not hold with the "if the word doesn't appear in the Constitution, Congress can't fund it" point of view, and as a practical matter, virtually no-one, of any persuasion, does either. For reference, please see my comment upthread concerning standing armies."

While you exaggerate the unanimity in favor of unlimited government, you have indeed described why I'm expecting something like a revolution in the next twenty years. The rule of law is getting awfully threadbare, and a substantial fraction of the population have no use for it anymore. The less the government is constrained by the rule of law, the higher the stakes get. When it's abandoned entirely, the stakes become all the marbles.

Sorry Brett, I think if a police state/authoritarian government takes over, it will be right-wing nationalist, using the discourse of Anti-government. For all the screaming gun nuts do, they know who gets thrown in prison and who doesn't...and it ain't white right-wing nuts.

Yeah we all want to imagine it's only our enemies who are capable of evil. The sensible among us resist that temptation.

Yes. Twenty years from now the new national motto, "Get Off My Lawn" will be inscribed on all the gold coins, well at least those coins not hoarded in basements as the rage against the machine unfolds. A paradise indeed.

Wolverines!!!!!

Yes Brett, far better to act as if everyone is your enemy. That's why one makes atlatls for home defense.

and a substantial fraction of the population have no use for it anymore.

Please note the incredibly heavy load the word "substantial" is carrying in this missive.

Right wing Leninism? Whither the vanguard of the revolution?

Land, peace, and bread, bro!

"What about if somebody invents their own, personal, fourth branch of government? Would that do it?"

I have no idea what you are talking about. So I can't answer the question. I suppose, generally, it would depend on how that 4th branch is implemented (by Constitutional convention? Or illegally?) and what's it's function would be.

Some people say that the lobbists are a 4th branch. If that's what you mean, then yes, it might eventually do it. It's one of the issues that are pushing people to the brink today.

"Oh, hush, little man, before I call in a drone strike on your horse farm."

Anyone know what Phil is talking about? I find this outburst interesting. Is he always like that; i.e. apparently responding to internal stimuli? Because, if so, there are pharmaceuticals that help aleviate the voices and other hallucinations.

Actually, blackhawk, most of the regulars do understand what Phil is getting at. I don't really have an opinion, as I haven't thought about the person Phil is referring to since they stomped off the stage (Thinking about people who hold loud and edgy opinions for no particular reason is like letting people who you have no interest in or desire to know about live in your head rent free) but the snark about pharmaceuticals really illustrates how far you have to go before you attain regular status here. Not that you are interested in it or anything, but snark like that only serves to highlight the fact that you really don't know anyone on this board.

Folks need to distinguish between "it's not Constitutional" and "I don't like it".

why? there's no requirement in the Constitution that anyone must do so.

how liberal of you to just go and invent a new requirement like that.

... "4th branch" ...

That was Dick Cheney. How soon we forget.

Brett Bellmore: The rule of law is getting awfully threadbare, and a substantial fraction of the population have no use for it anymore.

Yeah, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, torture, ...

The rule of law is getting awfully threadbare, and a substantial fraction of the population have no use for it anymore.

in your dreams.

go take a poll. bring your shiniest gun downtown, wave it at some passers-by, and ask if they think they'd enjoy some police protection.

For those among us not remembering: Richard Bruce Cheney aka Dick aka Darth, 46th Vice President of the United States of America came up with the idea of the vice president being in essence a fourth branch of government not bound by the laws and regulations (L&R) devised for the first three.
To be precise: He claimed not to be bound by L&R for the executive branch because he was head of the senate but also not bound by L&R for the legislative branch because he was not a member of Congress. But of course all privileges of either branch fully applied to him.
There were two standard interpretations (classic and quantum):
1. Cheney is a 4th branch (above POTUS).
2. He makes use of a macroscopic wave-particle dualism. He is always in the branch not currently (legally) investigated/observed.

"why? there's no requirement in the Constitution that anyone must do so."

Depends on whether or not you're a federal officeholder, doesn't it? They most assuredly ARE required to swear they'll do that.

"4th branch" ...

That was Dick Cheney. How soon we forget."

If it was Cheney that Russell was refering to, then i would say that the situation does not immediately rise to the level of demanding revolution. Instead, it does demand a legal course of action like an investigation and, if sufficient evidence found, a trial.

Of course none of that happened because, contra cleek, the rule of law does not apply to the 1%. This will lead to - has led - to a further erosion of the People's trust in their own government. Another weight on the camel's back. Who knows what the last straw will be. But it is coming sooner or later.

I had hoped that Obama would do something to bring about justice concerning Cheney, GITMO, Iraq war, etc . I guess his vision of "hope" and "change" don't involve having government adhere to rule of law or being held accountable. I think the vision was limited to hoping for self agrandizement and changing his personal status.

"go take a poll. bring your shiniest gun downtown, wave it at some passers-by, and ask if they think they'd enjoy some police protection."

This is just silly. Everyone wants to be protected from gun waving maniacs. Even Stalinist USSR had a rule of law in this regard. Rule of law only means something in a democracy if it includes law makers and causes them to follow the highest laws of the land. That is what is not happening (see Cheney, Dick).

How can people trust the govenment to spend their hard earned money properly when they don't trust the government - and why should they trust the government? It has lied continuously about some very critical matters.

Who hands money to someone that is a known liar?

All the statistics regarding government spending don't amount to a hill of beans if the trust isn't there.

This is just silly. Everyone wants to be protected from gun waving maniacs.

go back and read what i was replying to.

Who hands money to someone that is a known liar?

You really are a straight man, aren't you?

"You really are a straight man, aren't you?"

I'd like to be as it is my nature, but no one ever picks it up for the punch line.

Therefore I have devolved into a deadpan snarker ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeadpanSnarker ).

Unless you're talking about sexual preferences - one never knows around this place - in which case the answer is simply, "Yes. Absolutely 100%".

If it was Cheney that Russell was refering to

We have a winner.

Instead, it does demand a legal course of action like an investigation and, if sufficient evidence found, a trial.

Yeah, me too.

I guess his vision of "hope" and "change" don't involve having government adhere to rule of law or being held accountable.

My reading is that he assumed, correctly IMO, that if he spent his 4 years running Bush & co to ground not a single other thing would get done. And in the end, it probably would not have resulted in any constructive outcome.

Hold your nose and let it go, or get on with the business of governance.

I don't know if I agree with the choices he made, but I think the reasons he made them are fairly clear.

YMMV.

Here is why there won't be a revolution:

Not that many people are highly interested in shooting other people, or in getting shot. They're more inclined to make the best of whatever crap situation they have been handed, and to try to improve it if they can without f***ing shooting anybody else.

That is why.

The population of people who are ready to actually go kill somebody else because their tax rate went up by some single-digit number of points, or because Congress passed some law that would make Thomas Jefferson crap a brick, is actually vanishingly small.

In other words, most people are sane and not inclined to violence if they can avoid it.

And for that, we should all be thankful.

So alla you revolutionaries can make some popcorn, spin up "Red Dawn", and have a ball. Just keep it to yourselves.

The rest of us will carry on dealing with reality.

correction re; straight man. actually a +1 goes out to hairshirt for this exchange:

What do you get from "the pot"?

Stoned to the bejesus, my man.

"...that if he spent his 4 years running Bush & co to ground not a single other thing would get done. And in the end, it probably would not have resulted in any constructive outcome."

And what, pray tell, has BHO accomplished beyond furthering what the people he won't investigate and prosecute started - other than some half baked rube goldberg contraption of a healthcare reform act?

Nothing that I can see.

"Not that many people are highly interested in shooting other people, or in getting shot. "

True. Only a very sick person would desire to participate in either.

"The population of people who are ready to actually go kill somebody else because their tax rate went up by some single-digit number of points, or because Congress passed some law that would make Thomas Jefferson crap a brick, is actually vanishingly small."

Agreed again, mostly. That is what the Cheney's of the world count on.

Yet, the history of the world is surfiet with bloody revolutions. The guilletine went way beyond its original intented use and became some kind of bloody entertainment.

We have kids gunning each other down every day right here in the good old US of A over a who's wearing what color bandana, over a perceived "dis", over a few dollars or a crack rock. We have flashmobs beating down innocent people for nothing.

Here's what I see, Russell and I don't mean any disrespect and I don't want to come off as patronizing. Really, I don't.

I think you mean well and mean what you say and are decent good guy, but you are coming from an educated middle class nice guy perspective. You are honestly voicing what you and the people you associate with think and feel.

However, I think you miscalculate how many people are just like you and your associates. I think you also miscalculate what you and your friends are actually capable of in the right circumstances.

"most people are sane and not inclined to violence if they can avoid it."

I disagree. Most people act sane as long as that is the lead to follow becuase most people are followers (see Millgram).

Most people - or if not most, a substantial % - are capable of extreme brutality and inhumanity if that is what the cues around them are pointing to. This is particularly true of young men and, these days (thanks feminism) increasingly young women as well. This is something the military knows and exploits quite succesfully.

Once the flashpoint is reached and the mobs react, people will join in and do things you thought never capable of. I cannot overemphasize that the restraints that have been historically there are no longer. The government has earned its loss of respect and admiration as a source of authority and this erosion of foundation will have severe backlash when the sh!t hits the fan.

"I cannot overemphasize that the restraints that have been historically there are no longer."

I'm not sure about that. I agree with what you said about the rule of law not applying to the 1 percent, and think that criticism applies to both parties. I still hope Obama wins for other reasons, but on the rule of law and war crimes issues he stinks. But it's been that way forever. One of Glenn Greenwald's final columns at Salon was about the history of terrorism--I mean the word, not the tactic. It actually made me feel better about the Democrats in Congress, or rather some of them back in the 80's, because apparently (according to someone GG interviewed) they fought to have Reagan's policies in Central America labeled as support for terrorism, which it was. The NYT never reported on this (except in the column of Anthony Lewis). Anyway, my point is the government quite deliberately supported death squad killers to win in El Salvador. There were no consequences. There were no serious consequences to Iran-Contra either. There's not been a rule of law for really high-ranking Americans for a long time. People don't rebel over this. I don't want to see gunfire or riots, but street protests and constant denouncing and that sort of thing seems called for, and even that doesn't happen. I don't do it either.

Here is the interview GG had with someone named Brulin that I just referred to --

link

"My reading is that he assumed, correctly IMO, that if he spent his 4 years running Bush & co to ground not a single other thing would get done. And in the end, it probably would not have resulted in any constructive outcome."

Nah, he's got employees, he can, metaphorically, walk and chew gum at the same time.

More to the point, he has every reason to believe that, if he broke this tacit agreement between the parties to not prosecute each other, HE would subsequently be run to the ground. The assumption that criminality in office and out is somehow limited to Republicans is absurd. By the standards Bush committed war crimes, Obama has committed war crimes. And you wouldn't have much trouble making the case that he's committed crime crimes, either, if you wanted to mount a politically motivated prosecution. Or just abandon a politically motivated non-prosecution, really.

Mark Twain famously said that Congress were America's native criminal class. That hasn't changed a bit, and only mindless partisans think it doesn't apply to both parties. That's the horror of our times: There isn't an honest alternative to vote for, the crooks have made sure of it.

In the meanwhile, best blog comment title of the week: http://americanglob.com/2012/09/04/democrats-celebrate-ted-kennedy-mary-jo-kopechne-unavailable-for-comment/>Democrats Celebrate Ted Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechne Unavailable For Comment Best, because it's true. Your party lauded a murderer.

I think all presidents of at least the last 100 years committed hanging offenses while in office and at least some did even before that*. I would bet also that most state governors in the same period committed acts that at least should have sent them to jail. To be cynical, having served as president or governor of state should be made a criminal offense with assumption of guilt until proven otherwise (good luck with that). That would be a net increase of justice.

Not that it would have any chance of becoming reality but the idea has been tried in the (distant) past**: Any holder of (at least high) office has to publicly account for his or her deeds before an entity with the legal power of prosecution (which itself cannot be party or benefit from any outcome).

Your party lauded a murderer.
That's mandatory but usually it's indirect mass murderers (what we over here call Schreibtischtäter) not people that unintentionally cause death through reckless personal behaviour.

*i.e. before getting elected (although referring to the 100 years would not be that far off either).
**Rome tried it but the results switched between 100% acquittal and 100% conviction depending on which class (senatorial or knight) provided the jurors. Unfortunately the US have a lot in common with the Rome of the late republic.

Yeah we all want to imagine it's only our enemies who are capable of evil.

If you are including yourself in this "we", Brett, I would like to applaud this thought.

In general, it's a useful realization. It's something I have given too little thought to in past times, and something I hang out with a great deal more these days. Which also has me commenting a good deal less where I would otherwise be inclined to.


New topic: I would like to say that I have much appreciated russell's involvement in this thread, as well as his implacable reasonability while disagreeing. russell is the heart and soul of disagreeing while remaining agreeable, I say. Which is not to say that he doesn't get pissed off from time to time, just that once that's done, it's done.

So: even though russell and I have some areas of disagreement, I respect the hell out of the guy. We might be voting for different people this election season, but russell is a standup dude, and we are fortunate to have his participation here.

Damnit, now I'm getting all teary. Anyway, russell inspired me so much that I went out and deleted a few hundred trackbacks to porn sites (And the like. You have no idea, nor do you want to.) just so I could feel like I did something good.

you are coming from an educated middle class nice guy perspective.

Correct.

That said, my opinion regarding the likelihood of violent uprisings is not based on, or at least not solely on, my own personal point of view and preferences.

Nah, he's got employees, he can, metaphorically, walk and chew gum at the same time.

I guess my point was less about how full Obama's personal date book was, and more about the political ramifications of pursuing criminal charges against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.

IMO Obama's been an improvement over Bush in the specific area of torture. You will get no argument from me that, in other areas, hoped-for changes have been less than forthcoming.

Some of that appears to be due to Obama's preference, some to what appears to me to be his lack of interest in spending his time in office walking into any number of political sh*tstorms.

Remember closing Gitmo? Or holding and trying people in the US?

At some point, on a lot of this stuff I think Obama woke up one day and just said f**k it, it's not worth it, I have other things I need to get done.

Don't know if I agree with those decisions, but they weren't mine to make.

As noted above, my reading, nothing more.

Your party lauded a murderer.

More likely, felony vehicular homicide.

Yes, it's true, Kennedy is a liberal hero, and he was responsible for the death of Mary Joe Kopechne.

And when it happened, he handled it with more than the usual portion of cowardice and rich-kid lawyering up.

Make of it what you will.

But seriously folks....

......who hands their hard earned money to a known pathological liar?

Who trusts a pathological liar to "do the right thing" with their hard earned money?

This, IMO, is the fundemental question dividing the right and left on the issue of taxes and gov't spending. The right not trusting the gov't "beast" and the left, if not trusting completely, at least being involved in codependent relationship with the beast.

The right not trusting the gov't "beast" and the left, if not trusting completely, at least being involved in codependent relationship with the beast.

Then, there are those of us who don't view government as a "beast". Any more than any other human institution is a "beast".

Such silly children we are, I know, but there it is.

Also - captcha with foreign alphabets is a step too far.

Just saying.

In science class, you should learn science.

No argument from me. Amen! Er, I agree.

And to be honest, the "it ain't Constitutional" argument against the Dept of Ed seems a thin reed.

Yeah, and I thought my "some people say" would buy me some cover. Quit seeing right through my plausible deniability Russell!!!
I didn't want to really get into THIS debate. Yes, Congress has a long history of skipping right past the specifically enumerated powers and reservation to the states and salivating over the words "general welfare." IMHO, federal intervention in education made more sense during reconstruction (before the land grants) or to protect civil rights or as a benefit adjunct to military service than DoED does today.

Wolverines!!!!!

Lol. Beat me to it.

However, I think you miscalculate how many people are just like you and your associates. I think you also miscalculate what you and your friends are actually capable of in the right circumstances.

physician, there's a log in your kettle.

"Then, there are those of us who don't view government as a "beast". Any more than any other human institution is a "beast"."

Oh, Come now. Surely there is some level of awfulness at which you would be willing to see a government as a functional entity deserving to be called a "beast". Let's test where you draw that line by starting at an extreme; The Nazi Party circa 1942 as it drafts its "final solution". Would you be willing to label that govt as a beast?

there's a log in your kettle

Everyone knows that logs belong in tables. A log in a kettle is just unnatural.

"physician, there's a log in your kettle."

Cleek, all you have to do is turn on the tv and take a look at what is happening all over the world to realize that people are very capable of killing their neighbors, in very large numbers, in the course of civil wars, revolutions, general uprisings, etc

In Africa people were capable of slaughtering their neighbors, to the count of around a million, with machetes for christsake.

Yet you guys think that Americans can't do that? What??!!! do I detect the R word operating here? Is it possible that good libs would take leave of their "we're all the same" philosophy and might indulge in thinking that its only a bunch of subhuman wogs that can slaughter their fellow countrymen?

Because that's what you're saying. You know that, right? That or you're just going all ostrich.

Slarti, is that log base 10 or base e? I think it makes a difference.

Because that's what you're saying.

no, it isn't. i'm saying your continual insistence that violent revolution is imminent - or, at least eminently possible - appears to be based on a rather narrowly-focused bit of mass psychology.

of course Americans are capable of mindless violence. someone demonstrates that, usually with a gun, every couple of weeks. and of course we're cool with killing people by the thousands (ask Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, the US south). and yes, mobs exist.

but you haven't shown that the conditions for Nazi-style or African-style mob violence, or exist here, today. you just keep insinuating that it's right around the corner, and you seem to be saying that it's because people share your particular set of political concerns. and i disagree.

The Nazi Party circa 1942 as it drafts its "final solution".

Ai yi yi.

This is getting a little too late-night-undergrad-lounge-with-bong for me.

Peace out.

"....but you haven't shown that the conditions for Nazi-style or African-style mob violence, or exist here, today."

I am aware that I haven't. I was merely responding to russell's assertion that it *can't* happen here because there aren't enough people capable of it here.

What I *am* proposing is that it *could* happen here if conditions (e.g. trust in govt continues to fail, govt continues to be perceived as non-responsive to the needs and desires of 99% of the population, the population continues to perceive itself as hopelessly divided on a number of key issues, the population perceives that it is handing its hard earned money to a bunch of crooks,etc); that we are sliding towards that situation and the possibility grows greater each year.

I don't want it to happen.

I work in a building that is more than tall enough for someone to jump off it to his or her death. I think the probability that someone will do that today is very, very low. That does not require me to believe that people are incapable of committing suicide by jumping off of tall buildings.

(Is that so hard?)

cross-posted, blackhawk. never mind.

Then again, I don't think russell has asserted that what you're proposing can't happen here under the extreme sort of conditions you describe, so don't never mind.

I think the issue is that you think we are moving inexorably toward such extreme conditions and that we will reach them fairly soon, as though things can't slow down or turn around as far as the poor conduct of our political elites is concerned.

Our government is a lot like Nazis, and we will be hacking each other to death with machetes soon.

Apparently.

I had best get to sharpening up some polearms.

hairshirthedonist, I listen to signals/chatter and analyze what it says about attitudes and activities. I have never seen the country so divided, so disillusioned with government and so willing to contemplate revolution.

The only period close in this regard - in my life time - was the 1960s. However, in the '60s the revolutionaries were the young people (some of whom did riot and burn), with the older people, say those over 30, still maintaining a fair level of trust and respect in and for the government. Today that base of loyalists seems to me to be a lot weaker with many older folks being very cynical and lacking trust. There is a sense of hopelessness and nihilism in the air.

In the 60s we still had a solid middle class and the American dream was very much alive. There was an flourishing idea that if you bought in and worked hard you could have a good life. Belief in that notion has eroded. People are feeling more and more like they have nothing to lose because there is nothing to gain and no way to effect positive change.

Income disparity levels have grown since the 60s. People don't need to look at data to understand this. They live it every day.

Our elected leaders seem deaf to these issues. They throw empty slogans at us and then go off and wheel and deal for their own benefit.

I don't see things turning around. BHO promised a turn around, but it didn't happen. Romney is blatantly promising to screw us.A lot of folks are feeling very let down. A lot of folks say they aren't even going to bother voting this year.

Washington interests are more entrenched than ever. Our money goes to the military. We give more money to countries like Pakistan and Israel and Afghanistan and Iraq than we do to our own counties hardest hit by the recession and the export of our jobs.

I don't see "change" coming. The 1% is too busy feeding its insatiable greed. In its fervor to consume more it has become blnd, deaf and dumb to the people. These are conditions that have historically *always* resulted in social upheavals and revolutions. History does repeat itself, you know. Te only reason some think it won't here is the ingrained notion of American exceptionalism - and we should know better than that by now.

But I'm all ears. You tell me how things improve in a positive fashion, please.

I was merely responding to russell's assertion that it *can't* happen here because there aren't enough people capable of it here.

Apparently I need to make my points more clearly.

I have no problem believing that Americans are capable of mass political violence.

What I find unlikely is that the election results of this particular November will result in conditions that will move the bar from "capable" to "actually going to go shoot somebody".

I find that very unlikely.

We don't live in a hypothetical world, we live in a real one. Or, at least (if the string theorists are to be believed), one real one at any given time.

blackhawk, it would probably be useful to respond to Slart's last comment and tell us how your predictions diverge from what he wrote, if at all.

I wrote earlier that I could see Waco-like events occurring. Perhaps there might be some major protests or even riots in the next decade or so, a la the Sixties. It seems you're proposing that something worse is likely in that timeframe.

What I think is that political pressures can be released in smaller increments than it seems you do, and that things can change sufficiently to restore peace as a result. I don't think that violence, generally speaking, is highly unlikely. I just don't see mass revolt happening, as in a total upheaval or civil war.

It seems you think the situation is more like a boiler with no release valve, that will simply explode once the pressure gets high enough. I don't think we're politically oppressed enough in this country for that analogy to be apt. I think there still is a working release valve, which is why I don't think your assertion of historical precedent necessarily applies.

"What I find unlikely is that the election results of this particular November will result in conditions that will move the bar from "capable" to "actually going to go shoot somebody"."

I agree at a meta level. However, it could set off one or two people that then decide to shoot a re-elected BHO. That would start my scenario. Or Romney wins and he decides to go to war with Israel against Iran. That situation quickly gets out of control (as war games show it would) and a draft is instituted and the war then goes global. That would start my scenario.

Otherwise, as tensions build over time, the kind of incident(s) that starts the shooting become more difficult to predict. Anything will suffice as a fuse at a certain point.

"We don't live in a hypothetical world, we live in a real one."

You keep saying that and I have no idea what you mean. You seem to be saying that it is wrong to analyze and predict the future so as to be prepared. All businesses and governments engage in predictions. Responsible individuals try to make reasonable assessments of what the futre is likely to hold and adjust their financial and other planning accordingly. Prediction is a constant endeavor of the human creature.

BTW, the federal govt is predicting and preparing for mass riots and civil unrest. The beast seems to think it's coming ;-)

"It seems you think the situation is more like a boiler with no release valve......."

Yes. All of that. Thanks for saying better than I did.

Not yet, agreed, but getting there quickly.

You keep saying that and I have no idea what you mean.

Actually, I think I've said it once.

But I'll spell it out.

In a hypothetical world, the US government might be just like the Nazis in 1942. Or, a Hitler might "take over". Or, some more benign person might appoint themselves King.

In the real world, those things haven't happened, and show no signs of being about to happen. Were someone to try to make them happen, they would encounter a number of barriers preventing them from succeeding, all of which fall far short of widespread armed insurrection.

I'm sure that if Obama wins re-election there will be a number of pissed-off people running around. Some of them might shoot somebody or blow some stuff up.

I'm sure that if Romney wins re-election, there will be a number of pissed-off people running around. Off the top of my head I'd say they would somewhat less likely to shoot somebody or blow something up, but if Medicaid actually converts to a voucher system there might be some old dudes with nothing left to lose who would be willing to go out with a bang, just to make a point.

Let's hope none of those things actually happen, because they would suck.

But none of them amount to widespread armed resistance to the government.

Also, slarti, many thanks for the kind words, I will try to deserve them.

And bc, thanks for your reasonable and thoughtful reply.

relief valve, not release valve (as an engineer, I can't let that go uncorrected)

Google treats relief valve and release valve as interchangeable. However, "relief valve" has about 3.4 times as many references.

I'm sure that if Romney wins re-election...

Back to the future, now? Freudian slippolah?

So much for the real world, too 'stringy' for you, Russell?

;)

So much for the real world, too 'stringy' for you, Russell?

LOL.

Stringy, or bongy, or something.

Our government is a lot like Nazis, and we will be hacking each other to death with machetes soon.

Rhetorically, the political class most definitely is (and on the right I regularly spot direct quotes). Nazi aesthetics are also extremly popular (Speer and Riefenstahl were studied and openly adapted long ago). And then there is that deplorable taste for overblown neoclassicism. The latter developed independently though. The US just kept it when most Western countries abandoned it.

What is relatively new in the US is not the use of Nazi style rhetorics but an increasing use of its formal ideological opposite, i.e. Soviet speak, on the right. And while there have always been some fascist tendencies at the base of the political right, the higher echelons of the GOP have begun to resemble more a CPSU type party (or 'new type party' as it was known post WW2) than a 'traditional' fascist one. I think the reason behind that is the failure of the 'charismatic leader' model and the decision by the influence leaders to go with a cadre model instead where the party leaders dictate the party line to the members (esp. in congress), making the president a mere receiver of orders (with just enough working digits to hold the signing pen, to quote the Norquist). The in-fighting among the actual and prospective leadership does not change the basic model. The politbureau was as much of a shark tank as fascist parties were and are.
The Democrats on the other hand have (at the moment) fully embraced the charismatic leader model as an election strategy while almost completely lacking discipline after actually winning. I have no idea what the Dems will do post-Obama since I do not see a natural successor

Hartmut, You should get to see him tonight at the convention, his name is Clinton.

No, I do not think a Clinton will even run for the next Dem ticket, while I see quite a number of realistic aspirants on the GOP side (i.e.not the inevitable nutjobs).
[and I get news with at least 24 hours delay due to both time zone and limited access)

I didn't see Obama as particularly charismatic, Hartmut. Maybe it's because I didn't really think the Hope&Change mantra was going to magically turn into good outcomes.

Inspirational speaking is useful. There are people who do it for a living. But it's a rare inspirational speaker who can manage outcomes through words alone. Outcomes other than "vote for me", I mean.

Clinton, at least, was quite skilled at the game of politics. Obama, not so much. It's not through lack of trying, I think. I'm not quite sure what he's lacking but a glib appraisal would be that he's not a good enough liar.

I didn't find Obama particularly charismatic, either, what with that weird cadence while speaking, and the lack of affect. But I always assumed that was because I wasn't the target of the charisma, it was tuned for the benefit of Democrats.

That is one reason why I limited the 'charismatic'* part to the getting elected. Obama did not sell much of concrete proposals during his campaign and he himself admitted that he, to a large degree, functioned as a mirror. People projected their hopes into him based not on tangible things but his perceived character. Iirc he even himself saw parallels to Reagan. People voted more for the party of the candidates because they were the candidates and less for the candidates because of their party. Romney is the polar opposite of that. Few will vote GOP because he is the candidate but most will vote Romney only because he is GOP. Obama's aura has faded a good deal (and rightly so) but it is still he and the positive personal perception of him that will be the deciding factor. Without Obama the Dems would be toast.**

*I see it as value free. A person is charismatic if people follow him/her because of the perceived aura. It's highly dependent on the environment. Wilhelm II. and Hitler had gift and skill to 'mesmerize' huge audiences and drew their power from that to a very large degree. But neither would have a chance today. At least over here. Willy could, I think, easily adapt to the US (which again is based on my belief that the US mentality of today is quite similar to that of Germany in the decade before WW1). Over here there are few political candidates that run as anything else but technocrats (the mayor of Berlin being a rare exception but even he has to present more than water walking stunts).
**which is not likely to increase my opinion of the American voter. The Dems are weaklings and prone to corruption, the current GOPsters are simply evil. Tertium non datur.

I have to disagree with you guys. Obama is total charisma; his reaction among the Democratic die-hards reminds me of Clinton. Now Clinton and Obama have totally different types of charisma, but they are/were the walking essence of the charismata. It took Clinton awhile to lose his professorial approach (remember his boring convention speech, back in the 80s?), but he was able to bring out his inner Southern sugar.

Hartmut: People voted more for the party of the candidates because they were the candidates and less for the candidates because of their party.

This is incorrect. Your observations about Germany are really interesting, and maybe correct, but you aren't good at judging the American electorate. Obama, a Republican, was an impossibility. Sure, some people voted for Obama because he was the first serious African-American presidential candidate; some voted for him despite that. But most people voted for him because he represented a return to tolerance, reason, science, environmental stewardship, justice. Those are all Democratic values at this moment in history.

"Obama's aura has faded a good deal (and rightly so)" Not rightly so, and his aura has barely faded, despite the horrendous economy. He is an excellent President, and a wonderful leader - I'm thankful for him every day. But there are other leaders that could have galvanized Democrats: both Clintons, and many other speakers at the Democratic convention. Charisma always helps - that's true.

The Democrats on the other hand have (at the moment) fully embraced the charismatic leader model as an election strategy while almost completely lacking discipline after actually winning.

This shows a complete misunderstanding of American politics. I don't care to go over the numbers in the Senate again, but the Senate had enough Republicans to filibuster everything Obama did except for approximately 5 months. During that time, the Democrats' supposedly filibuster-proof majority included Lieberman (not a Democrat), and Ben Nelson (not a Democrat who voted for anything Democratic). And despite all of this, the Democrats accomplished in their first two years more legislative success than anyone since Roosevelt. Your analysis of American politics gets a D grade.

The theoretical existence of enough votes to filibuster everything is not the same as everything actually having been filibustered... You don't have to filibuster nominees never nominated, budgets never submitted, bills never written.

Well, I think if there had not been an Obama, then far more people would have stayed home. The choice was (and is) for a vast majority not party X or party Y but 'my' party or no vote. Obama drew tons of non-voters. And, cruel irony, this time he will do the same for the opposition too. A lot of base conservatives will not go to vote for Romney but against Obama. The question now is: can he draw more people for him than against him to the ballot box.

If the Dems were like the GOPsters then the GOP could not have filibustered because the Dems would have gotten rid of it on the first day by simple majority (and Reid says that it was a huge mistake not to do it).

'Aura' is immaterial and subjective. Obama's value as a president is independent of that perception. I think there is no reasonable doubt that Obama is seen today much more through his record than 4 years ago. He has a lot to stand on and that can replace at least partially the semi-messianic 'aura'. What remains unchanged is his perception as likable and natural. In general I think both he and the public are a good deal more grounded today with more realist* views. I still think there is a net loss that is only compensated by the anti-aura of the current GOP and it candidates.

If the GOP wins this time, all legislative achievements of the Obama era will get wiped out. They might not have dared that even just 4 years ago but I believe this time it will/would be a pure 'damn the consequences'.

I think Obama was and is what sober analysts have said before he became president, a pragmatist who would, in another era and with a different skin colour, could as well have run on a GOP ticket. If the GOP had not turned mad, he would have been the great uniter. As it is all the change primarily functions as preventing the status quo from further deteriorating. That takes skill but I fear history will not treat him kindly, less because of his faults but because of the exterior conditions.**

*both in the sense of 'as it is' and realpoltik
**Boris Godunow was among the most competent rulers Russia ever had but bad luck and character assassination ruined his reputation permanently.

I have to agree with Harmut. I think the US political system places a much higher value on charismatic leaders, and less so for bland technocrats, while it seems to be the opposite in most European nations. I don’t think it’s so radical as to say it is either/or, but charm goes a long way.
I think George W. Bush was an interesting case. His charisma seemed to inspire white Evangelicals; however becoming a war president changed how most folks in the US reacted to him. Even moderates and non-political types went for his charismatic presence in a strong way. But as the promises of the war began to wane, so did his charisma.

In America one needs one candidate perfect to run for office and another to run the office ;-)

Tat should have read:

I think George W. Bush was an interesting case. His charisma seemed to inspire white Evangelicals mostly; however becoming a war president changed how most folks in the US reacted to him.

You don't have to filibuster nominees never nominated, budgets never submitted, bills never written.

and once you figure out that everything is going to be filibustered or killed in committee, you might as well not put a candidate through the humiliation of being dragged around in the press just so the GOP asshats can do their Lucy routine.

a pragmatist who would, in another era and with a different skin colour, could as well have run on a GOP ticket.

i can't think of when that era would be.

he's not an evangelical, anti-tax zealot, anti-government hypocrite so that takes us back to the pre-Reagan era.

he's not a race-baiting culture warrior, so he's not in the Nixon era.

he doesn't seem like the kind of person who would be hell-bent of driving back communism by building up a nuclear arsenal and going to war in SE Asia, so that rules out the Eisenhower era.

so now we're all the way back to Hoover, in the early 1930s. technocrat faced with a huge economic problem? well, maybe. some have made that comparison. but the differences between the 1930s and today are staggering.

nope, he's a Democrat. a modern, mainstream Democrat.

"and once you figure out that everything is going to be filibustered or killed in committee, you might as well not put a candidate through the humiliation of being dragged around in the press just so the GOP asshats can do their Lucy routine."

Whine all you like about how you didn't run in the marathon because they would have kneecapped you. The truth remains that you weren't at the finish line because you didn't bother entering the race. You don't have standing to complain about abuses you never suffered because you didn't show up.

It's just an excuse for a President who didn't want to bother with the tedium of governing.

Well, I think if there had not been an Obama, then far more people would have stayed home.

It's true that Obama galvanized the African American and youth votes in 2008. But that wasn't just charisma (remember the complaint that he wasn't "black enough"?). It was that he was an effective community organizer, and his machine worked to get the vote out.

Hartmut - many people, especially African Americans, have been historically disenfranchised. The despair of that reality is immeasurable. Look this year - the Republicans are playing on it for all they're worth. Obama convinced African-American voters to come out and vote. That their vote counted. Democrats are still working hard to make sure it happens this year in the face of Republican opposition. (No one should ever forget that Republicans, since Rehnquist at least, have stood against voting rights.)

This isn't a charisma issue. It's an issue of organizing and motivating disenfranchised voters and bringing them into the American mainstream. Obama was effective, not charismatic. He may have moved the millions in Europe, but in the U.S., he fought. And he's fighting this time.

Whine all you like about how you didn't run in the marathon

Hilarious to mention a marathon, considering this week's news!

Whine all you like about how you didn't run in the marathon because they would have kneecapped you.

me? nobody kneecapped me.

and sorry, but walking away from a rigged game isn't the humiliation you want it to be.

This isn't a charisma issue. It's an issue of organizing and motivating disenfranchised voters and bringing them into the American mainstream. Obama was effective, not charismatic. He may have moved the millions in Europe, but in the U.S., he fought. And he's fighting this time.

Why can't it be both? There are plenty of moderate, middle-of-the-road Black organizers, but their charisma could not transfer over culturally. And some just don't have that charisma, at all. Either way, their ability to organize and move folks is limited. Without Obama the whole activist structure doesn't mean much. Being charismatic doesn’t mean you lack the ability to organize; on the contrary it helps your ability to organize.

I think it was Weber, who separated the different types of charisma. The structure of the organization grants the leader its charisma (Roman Catholic Church) and then there are structures that are dependent on the charismatic leader to even have a purpose (Many cults, some social movements). Sometimes the charismatic leader leaves a structure behind that survives him/her.

No, complaining that the game was rigged because you didn't want to bother trying in the first place convinces nobody who's not already full of koolaid up to their eyebrows.

Brett doesn't like the cadence of Obama's speechs and feels he can't bother with the tedium of governing. In an earlier era, some might have said that he didn't speak English correctly and he was lazy.


Speaking of cadences, I've noticed some folks sayin' that Obama drops his "g's" and takes on a more "Black" cadence when in front of Black audiences. But Obama sounds like his white mid-western grand-parents, especially when he drops his “g’s”. I swear, Obama sound more like a dude from Kansas I knew than Black folks in Chicago.

If only Obama could knuckle down like Dubya could. Now there was some serious guvnin'. (I know, I know - that's not really relevant. I just couldn't help it, what with all the contrast burning my eyes.)

Oh, I don't think Obama is in any sense "lazy"; He's clearly investing a lot of effort into improving his golf game. He's got a busy social schedule, and he's now campaigning almost non-stop, often at taxpayer expense. He's clearly not the "Kick back and relax." type. If the White House has a hammock, he sure hasn't been using it.

I think he just doesn't put a high priority on the actual job he was hired to do. Given the amount of damage he's managed to do in the areas where he is genuinely engaged, like energy policy, this may even be a good thing.

But it does explain some things, such as why the administration has left so many vacancies unfilled, not even bothering to nominate people to fill them. Or why there's been so little legislation actually proposed. Why no serious budgets submitted. (By serious, I mean budgets at least Democrats could stomach voting for.)

The guy apparently doesn't like the parts of the job that are a slog. He's just doing the fun parts.

As for the cadence issue, he doesn't speak badly, just oddly. Perhaps it's an effect of his over-reliance on the teleprompter? It went away during his unscripted "You didn't build that!" rant. Or maybe he just thinks inserting random pauses makes him serious. Whatever. I can understand what he's saying, it's just that my GPS is more animated and natural in the way it speaks...

... Knows how many states there are, too. ;)

He's clearly investing a lot of effort into improving his golf game.

teleprompter

man, for someone who says he's not a Republican, you sure pay attention to their talking points!

For a person who likes to think they're not delusional, you sure manage to miss the fact that talking points are, occasionally, true. IOW, Obama HAS played an extraordinary amount of golf for a President. This is a fact. Add up the preparation, travel, cooling down, he's spent a couple months of his Presidency golfing.

Just like it's a fact that Obama had a lot of vacancies, not because nominees got filibustered, but because they didn't get nominated in the first place. The people who did get nominated got confirmed on a pretty typical schedule, actually. It's just there weren't enough of them.

As I note, perhaps the country is better off that Obama hasn't done to the judiciary what he did to energy policy. But the guy is clearly not a workaholic.

I think George W. Bush was an interesting case. His charisma seemed to inspire white Evangelicals

I'd like to see some evidence that a) George Bush had, really, any charisma at all, and b) that what charisma he did have somehow appealed to white Evangelicals.

Otherwise: bare assertion. Which is fine, but not quite as scholarly-sounding. Lots of assertion going on, here. Still, it would be nice to hear some underlying thinking, even if this is 100% assertion, regarding why you think the quoted statement is true.

My own take on it is this: George W. Bush really didn't have much more charisma than does e.g. a strip of vinyl siding. Which put him pretty much on par with his opponent in 2000. To the extent that white evangelicals went for Bush over Gore is, I say, more due to exasperation over the antics of Gore's previous running mate and their joint antics vis a vis fundraising and playing fast & loose with space technology around the Chinese than to any particular appeal Bush had as a white guy, or as an evangelical. Also, Gore had/has a particularly annoying streak of unearned arrogance that rubbed me the wrong way, possibly in that like-irritates-like manner.

That's my own personal rationale, anyway. It was a hold-your-nose-and-vote kind of year; one of far too many.

IOW, Obama HAS played an extraordinary amount of golf for a President. This is a fact.

oh well, if it's a fact, i'm sure it must be very important !

I'd like to see some evidence that a) George Bush had, really, any charisma at all,

what kind of evidence do you want?

a little Googling shows that plenty of people thought of him as charismatic - especially after 9/11. ex.

Obama HAS played an extraordinary amount of golf for a President. This is a fact.

How much golf Obama has played is damned close to the bottom of the list of things I actually give a crap about either way.

That said, I've sort of started making a hobby of doing simple, basic, Google-level fact checking on some of the horsesh*t that is flying around this year.

As it turns out, as Presidents go, the number of golf games Obama has played while in office is nothing special.

Wilson played 1200 rounds in two terms. Wilson played in the freaking snow. That, my friends, is a serious golf jones.

Eisenhower, 800 in two terms.

Hoover, Truman, and Carter where the only non-golfers. Roosevelt didn't golf while in office because he had polio, but he did build a number of golf courses with public money.

Kennedy was the best golfer, even with his bad back. Ford went and played a round immediately after pardoning Nixon.

As of Father's Day this year, Obama played 100 rounds in not quite four years. Probably more than average, but far from the top of the pack. "Extraordinary" it is not.

It's not a fact. It's horsesh*t.

Golfs too much? Teleprompter? Civil war if Obama wins reelection?

It's just like a Jeffy Goldstein/FreeRepublic marathon.

BTW, white evangelicals are always going to support the GOP candidate. They'll even hold their noses and turn out for Romney the cultist. The reason is the GOP platform (anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-women, anti-minorities, etc) dovetails neatly with white evangelical beliefs.

Brett's just mad because if it hadn't been for golf, Clinton wouldn't have given that speech last night.

a little Googling shows that plenty of people thought of him as charismatic - especially after 9/11

That's got to be a valid reason why people voted for him in 2000, doesn't it?

I know that's not specifically what we were talking about, so probably foul on my part. But he had to have appealed to someone in 2000; it's probably instructive to look at that rather than reflexively pull the white-Evangelical chain. Which, by the way, Al Gore is, or was.

Second time around I voted for him because I thought he was less of an outright blowhard than John Kerry, not because I thought he was particularly devout or anything that "white Evangelicals" might cherish.

Obama played 100 rounds in not quite four years.

once every two weekends?! that's outrageous.

here's another awesome fact: W spent almost 1000 days either at Camp David or on vacation. such a hard worker.

plenty of people thought of him as charismatic - especially after 9/11

That's got to be a valid reason why people voted for him in 2000, doesn't it?

ahem. "especially" does not mean "but not before".

here, find a problem with this: Bush: Charisma kid.

"Resistance to the idea of big, inefficient intrusive government"

Everybody bitches about the government. It's the flip side of the expectation that the government will be there doing its job, providing services tht the people doping the bitching want the government to do.

Take the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion. It was an astroturf action gined up by some millionarie ranchers who wanted to have subsidized acces to public land without having to abide by even the meager public interest regulations that existed, largelyunenforce. Piss, moan. whine. Some smaller and less properous ranchers bought inot it becuse blaming regluations was a way of dodging the fact that their subsidized businesses weren't vary profitable.

Well during the Reagan Administration the real agenda of the astroturfers came out: there was an attempt to sell public land to the businesses taht wnated to exploiut the land without the pesky regluations

The smaller ranchers though that was a great idea until they realized that they would not be able to buy the land and that the corportaions that could buy the land would not give them any access to it at all.

Ooops.

It alwasy comes down to that: people bitching about services they actually want.

(Sometimes the complaints are vaild of course, but often its just selfishness, an unwillingness to deal with realtiy)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad