A Change Will Do You Good

I doubt that I’m alone when I say that Obama’s stunning, convincing victory November 4 was a big and rather joyous event.  Signaling the end of the Bush era and a resounding rejection of its values and those that McCain espoused, Obama’s election also marked the first time in our nation’s history that a person of color was elected president.  Long overdue, this remarkable achievement was additionally a reminder that, in an era in which a thoroughly unqualified silver-spoon scion such as W could be elected only through controversy and theft, everyday people really can achieve stupendous heights.  Obama and Biden emerged through modest upbringings and, while ensconced in power systems for varied lengths of time, have shown, in addition to what achievements occurred for people of color and liberal-progressives this election is, working-class people who have access to education and opportunity can and do accomplish great things.  For these and other reasons, Tuesday was an historic day, one I’ll never forget.

From the time I got home from getting the kids from school, I was working on dinner–barbecued pork chops with cheesy rise and broccoli on the side, delicious if I may say so–but also divided between the presidential coverage on MSNBC and discussing the magnitude of the day and event with the kids.  Soon after getting my wife from work, things moved quickly.  It was a good early sign for Obama that Indiana was too close to call. While McCain piled up a good, early lead in the Hoosier state, many of the urban, predominately African American areas in Indiana had yet to report.  Also a good sign, Vigo County in southwest Indiana, where Terra Haute is located.  A mostly white county, 90.6% according to 2006 census figures, Vigo County also has the distinction of having voted for the eventual president all but two times since 1892.  Obama won Vigo with 57% of the vote, another positive sign for Obama and an indicator that Obama’s support extended far beyond African Americans.  As other state results came rolling in, it became clear to me that my optimism for an Obama victory would be realized.  Although I harbored a small but unmistakable fear that many poll numbers would be wrong, that there might be some so-called “Bradley effect” take place in McCain’s favor, for the most part I was convinced that Obama would win; it would just be a matter of how big it would be–close or convincing.  It was the latter.  That many pre-election polls showing Obama ahead in so many places could not have been wrong.  They weren’t.

When Pennsylvania was called for Obama and early, that was pretty much it.  The rest of it, exciting though it was, was somewhat anti-climactic, playing out the fascinating, historic string.  As Obama continued to hang tough in Virginia and North Carolina as he did in Indiana, a solid victory seemed likely to turn into a rout, which it eventually became.  I thankfully was able to track the county by county results via the incredible, essential vote tracker that the brilliant Talking Points Memo had assembled.  In pdf format, the vote tracker allowed readers to move the cursor over not only each state but, by clicking onto a state, each individual county’s vote tally in each state.  Thus, I was able to see even before networks reported this that, with many urban counties not reporting until later for obvious reasons (sheer volume), Obama was due to storm back.  That he did, first in Virginia and Indiana, then in North Carolina, with urban results allowing him to come back after McCain overcame Obama’s early-vote advantage.

When Ohio was called, that was it.  There was literally no way for McCain to win and, with Obama at 207 electoral votes by 11 ET, I knew like many of us did ahead of time that, with Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii in the bag for Obama, the 77 total electoral votes that the four states would yield would officially mean the presidency for Obama.  I was pretty psyched when that occurred, and it was amazing to see the sheer outpouring of emotions–joy, tears, fist pumps, hugs, laughter–in not only Chicago’s jam-packed Grant Park but also Manhattan, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and in so many college towns where America’s youth, there and elsewhere, turned out in droves for Obama.  My wife was immediately moved to tears by the event’s magnitude and, as I watched and it really sunk in, so was I.

McCain gave a very good, gracious concession speech, the highlight of his campaign to me.  It was genuine, articulate (making me wonder where such good speech writing was during his campaign since his highlights were conceding the presidential race and at the Al Smith dinner, when he was very funny), and signaled just the right tone of thanks and humility.  It also produced boos at the mention of Obama not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times, after every time McCain waved the smatterings of boos down, rightly.  Such things occur after elections, especially the heated ones.  This one was nothing if not heated, and the boos were a byproduct of McCain and Palin playing to such anti-Obama animus among many in the GOP ranks.  Think not? It’s actually worse than it appears.  Newsweek reports that

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

It’s unfortunate but true, and in no small part, such animosity and the dearth of coherent concrete solutions among McCain’s campaign signaled his defeat just as much as Obama’s disciplined campaign and focused messages.  The two campaigns and candidates really were studies on contrasts, much more so as the campaigns wound into the Fall.  I’ll reiterate, such campaign nastiness hardly originated in the 2008 election cycle, but its inherently racial overtones, its ‘othering,’ will not have resurfaced for the last time.  You can count on it.

Rather than focus on the failures of the McCain campaign, a crucial one to me was the disastrous selection of a vacuous and woefully unqualified vice-presidential candidate in Sarah Palin, I’d rather focus on other more positive aspects and questions of where Obama’s presidency and therefore the nation will move.  I’d contend that McCain or any GOP candidate would have had a long row to hoe because of the malfeasant Bush administration. But I’d also contend that, despite right-wing claims to the contrary, America is not a conservative but rather a progressive country on significant issues that directly translated into Obama’s victory.  In a campaign that, at least for Obama, was really about issues, Obama dominated and as a result won primarily because everyday people support what Obama touted.  Whether or not the US eventually moves toward a single-payer health care system–which happens to be more cost-efficient, beneficial across class lines, and much better at preventive care that would disproportionately benefit the poor–polling data indicates that people want the government involved to some degree in providing health care to its citizens, and have for years. On education, while results vary about issues such as school vouchers, people generally support better funding for schools and pre-school programs, want more time devoted to teaching basics, want more and better teachers, and consider the Bush administrations No Child Left Behind (NCLB) programs a failure.  On the war on Iraq, for the most part people want a timetable for the removal of US ground forces.  Roughly 6 in 10 Americans polled favor unions.  Sixty-three percent of people polled think upper-income Americans, and seventy-three percent of those polled think corporations, pay too little in taxes.  On corporate taxes, Americans are correct.  Despite the claims and lamentations of many on the right from McCain to the disgraceful Rush Limbaugh, American corporations not only pay too little in taxes but, as Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice has shown, too often big, profitable corporations pay no taxes at all or received money back.  That is, despite the always specious claims that big corporations needed tax cuts in order to compete with overseas business and in order to stimulate economic growth in trickle-down fashion, 82 big, profitable corporations for either one, two, or all three years between 2001 and 2003 paid no corporate taxes to the federal treasury or even received tax rebates.  The idea that American corporations are too heavily taxed is, as the great H.L. Mencken said, buncombe.

People want changes made in these areas, and have spoken clearly and resoundingly in these elections.  The question becomes, will they occur?  More specifically, will they occur under the Obama administration (isn’t that still amazing to actually say and read?), and will they occur in these difficult economic times, when unemployment for October 2008 just hit a 14-year high?  Those are good questions.  To take the second one first and as the economy is concerned, it seems as though, at least under the lame-duck Bush administration (another terrific phrase to say and read), the Democrats will focus on a stimulus package that will plug money into people’s pockets as the one earlier this year did to stimulate spending), and might extend unemployment benefits and spur public-works spending.  What the Democrats want–over $100 billion–may not occur under Bush, who wants something closer to $60 billion.

I am more interested in and concerned about the former, about whether or not Obama and Congressional Democrats will play it safe or push hard for a New Deal-type program meant to benefit everyone from unions to the poor to public works to businesses.  I’m strongly in favor of the Democrats’ enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow unionization through card checks (signing up) rather than simply elections in which employers exercise considerable pressure and intimidation on workers not to join unions.  It would also facilitate workers and unions’ ability to negotiate first contracts, which is where the battleground for them is just as much as in actual unionization itself, and is the expressly stated purpose of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  It’s time to level the playing field between workers, unions, and employers once again, as the NLRA did in 1935.  Workers and unions have been getting jack-hammered by businesses and pro-business legal interpretations for far too long.  Will that occur under Obama, whose early appointments include pro-business figures such as Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, John Podesta, and others?  That’s the big question.  Essentially, the question is whether such appointments signal that issues such as EFCA will be put on the back burner, or that such legislation will be a priority to Obama and the Democrats with Emanuel, Axelrod, and others there to enact what he wants.  To what degree will they shape or facilitate Obama’s policies?  We’ll see, but it’s a big reason why I’ve been skeptical about Obama and the Democrats.  It’s not as though they don’t cozy up to big business, and the notion that Obama and the Democrats are socialists, as Limbaugh as his frothing listeners contend, is so laughable as to scarcely merit refutation.  One can only hope that those who elected Obama and the Democrats won’t have their hopes for substantive change dashed by a tepid presidency and Congress on so many issues.

That said, there is much to relish and rejoice about after this election.  A people have spoken and await a response from the new government when it comes to power on January 20, 2009.  I’ll be friend and critic of the Obama administration, as I promised I would.  He won’t get a free pass from me despite my being pleased that he and not McCain was elected, that someone of intelligence who will be engaged will replace the bumbling Bush.  November 4, 2008 was a good and historic day for Obama and America, come what may.  It was one of those days that will provide a bounce in my step for some time to come, just as Yankees World Series victories have.  My outlook on life has improved drastically the last few days, and I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of guy already.

Now comes the hard part–governing.

This in all likelihood will be my last political post here at The Heartland.  It is not as though I will be uninterested in such issues.  Nor is it that I feel that political and sports discussions can’t mix and be interspersed.  Rather, I will be looking to blog about politics at one of various policy-oriented sites about several core issues such as labor and work generally, as well as about right-wing media and organizations.  There are various reasons for this, mostly professional and personal, but is nothing personal to the good readers here with whom I’ve genuinely enjoyed discussing such matters.  I am not banning political discussion or commentary here by any means.  Feel free to discuss such matters and contribute your comments as you see fit, as before.  It’s just that I’m looking to engage these issues in a certain way, and the opportunity to do so elsewhere will allow me to do this.  For those of you who have been interested in what I’ve written about politics, I’ll be happy to e-mail you my new page once I settle on a location and have it up and running, which will be soon.  It will probably be an established site with such forums.  This space will return to its sports-oriented focus.

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Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 10:38 am  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nicely done. I’ll be looking forward to your political blog. In the meantime, how were those pork chops? Can’t believe you find time to work, raise kids, cook AND blog!

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  2. The lone conservative is here to defend himself. First, congratulations to Senators Obama and Biden. Now the spirited defense.

    We shall see how hard Barack Obama pushes his change you can zerox. Remember the revolution of 1994. The Democratic Congress approval ratings is below 20% when I last looked. This is a center right country and we’ll be quick to throw the Democrats out of office if they push too hard on social issues in particular.

    I am deeply disturbed at the foreign policy the Obama Administration plans to conduct. The United Nations is not the answer. Bowing at the altar of the EU is not the answer. Human Rights is emphatically not the answer. The foreign policy that is needed is a Nixonian one. A foreign policy that places an emphasis on bi-lateral relations and a heavy emphasis on geo-politics and interests. Diplomacy is a part of grand strategy and state craft. It is not an end in of itself. War, contrary to arch liberal orthodoxy is not evil, but an extension of policy by other means. If we are to truly win the war on terror we cannot be sell cannot be selling our military out to “international law and norms”. “War is Hell” as General Sherman said and we should be doing everything possible to find Bin Laden and eradicate Al Qaeda. Collateral damage is part of war whether liberals want to admit it or not. If they have Bin Laden and his high command in their sights, then destroy the town and kill everyone in it until they get him and his deputies.

    I don’t care how interdependet the world might seem. States pursue their own interests. The United States needs to emphatically define its national interests and pursue them.

    Domestically. Balance the freaking budget. Stop borrowing money from the Chinese. I don’t care what else you do, but get a balanced budge. This is not just a conservative or liberal thing. Work together and balance the budget. No expanded spending of any kind until we reduce the deficit.

    Anyway I have to get back to work. I look foward to reading your new blog Jason.

  3. first of all tim, its Xerox™, not zerox. i’m not sure which “social issues” you are referring to when you threaten to “throw us out”–i’m not even sure who you mean when you say we. let me say that as far issues that effect the lives of our citizens i’d like to preserve the citizenry’s right to privacy by eliminating illegal wire-tapping. i want a judicial system that is not in the pocket of large corporations. i’d also like a justice department that is not filled with political hacks and takes the word justice seriously. i’d like everyone in this country to have the same basic civil rights and freedoms.

    clearly you have no grasp of obama’s foreign policy ideas when you make statements like “bowing down to the EU”-that only makes you look ridiculous. lets try to keep to the facts here and not engage in histrionic rhetoric. in fact obama’s world view in many ways reflects that of nixon–he is all in favor of using diplomacy as his “weapon of choice”.

    your rant is full of contradictions and empty phrases like “selling out the military”. and BTW your precious war is why we are indebted to the chinese to the tune of billions and billions.

  4. I really need to stop spending Thursday Night in a night club. Anyway now that I have a taken a nap and am rested allow me to revise and be coherent.

    Social issues. How about we try abortion, gay marriage, and gun rights. Even very liberal California voted to ban gay marriage. The American populace is largely culturally conservative. Does anybody remember the storm over gays in the military that erupted in 1993? The Republican Party has been very good about painting Democrats as cultural elitists since 1968. I was giving nothing more than a warning to the Congressional Democrats have a very low approval rating.

    My words were bowing at the altar of the EU, please quote me accurately next time. Barack Obama’s is a neo-institutionalist in his foreign policy. The liberal wing of his party are also big on human rights. Speaker Pelosi back in October of 2007 drew up a resolution condeming Turkey for the Armenian Genocide in 1916. Our relations with Turkey were strained enough and that was a back breaker.

    The Europeans were invariably going to drift away from us once the Cold War ended. Threats drive unity. What does it matter if the Europeans complain about how we do not respect human rights? Let them have their Pavlov Dog like response, in the end it does not really matter. A productive relationship with the United States is more important to them then what goes on in the 3rd World. If it was not they would not ask us to pressure the Russians, whenever Putin turns off the gas flow to Europe.

    The future of US Foreign Policy is in the Far East. How are we supposed to have a productive relationship with the Chinese when Barack Obama is pressing Beijing on Human Rights in Tibet? Why is what goes on in Tibet any of our business?

    I have said from the beginning that the Middle East is a fool’s errand. I never supported the Iraq War, get your facts straight. I want to destroy Al Qaeda thoroughly and pick up and go home. However we cannot annihiliate Al-Qaeda by forcing our military to jump through hoops to
    adhere to supposed international standards about how a war should be fought. Let the military do its job to find and kill these people.

    There are policies that need to be changed. Getting off oil is important, not giving Israel a blank check is another, and not supporting oppressive regimes like Mubarak is probably the biggest. However, the War on Terror is not an international police operation. It is emphatically a war and should be fought as such.

    The judiciary is in the pocket of large corporations, really now? I was aware the federal judiciary was established by Congress to uphold the law and the Constitution. I guess I
    must be a little too young. I want a Supreme Court that strictly interprets the Constitution.
    The Constitution does provide for the ability to constrict some civil liberties. The breadth of that should be left to the judiciary to determine. Though cases on the 4th Amendment should provide some help in that regard. I am not a Constitutional law expert.

    Trust me I live in Manhattan. The ultimate bastion of liberalism in this country except maybe San Francisco. I have heard all the arguments for Obama many times over. There is no argument you can make in his favor that I have not already heard. The Democrats have their turn to rule now. We shall see how well they do. You will not have George W. Bush to kick around anymore after January 20 and Obama will be graded on what he accomplishes. Was 2008 a realigning elections? Only time can answer that question.

    Have a nice day.

  5. since i can’t make any arguments in favor of obama that you haven’t heard, how about a good old fashioned personal attack? your anti human right, gun totin’, fascist, homophobic views sicken me. i suspect that you are a racist as well with your constant talk this summer of “being the only white guy” at that wedding in india.

  6. Wow….You’re a funny man Mike. I am suprised you want to go down this road. First, I actually was the only white guy at the wedding in India and I was being self depricating. It was pretty funny, just like that movie Outsourced where the American guy works in India. The groom’s family is like my second family. Don’t pick this fight.

    Realist School of Foreign Policy? Check. Gun owner? Nope. It is a constitutional right but I don’t own a gun. Fascist? Now come on that isn’t nice. Do you really have to play the fascist card? The older generation is supposed to have standards. Homophobic? I live in New York, homosexuality doesn’t bother me. Racist? Not at all. You must mistake me for some southerner. Take a deep breath, drink a beer, and relax.

  7. Jason, I was wondering if your political blogs might turn some baseball fans off, is that another reason why you are switching? Trust me, I didn’t care. But I was just wondering if some people would stop coming by because of it. Make sure to let us know where you will be expressing your opinion on politics.

    http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/

  8. Jane, if I may say so, the pork chops were just right–moist and tender on the inside, amply slathered with barbecue sauce with a slight char on the outside. I’m not a barbecue wizard, but I can hold my own, especially with pork and chicken. It was a good night to barbecue Tuesday night here–unseasonably warm at 74 during the day and about 68 when I was on the grill. I’ll keep you posted on the political stuff.

  9. Tim, while I appreciate the posts, I’m not sure why you framed your initial post as defending yourself. You weren’t under attack, though Mike and you have ended up in a hearty scrap afterward. I’ll try to address the various issues you raised in the two posts together here.

    While there was a backlash against Democrats in the ’94 midterms, much more was at work than Clinton’s “don’t ask don’t tell” stance activating homophobia on the right. In fact, I’d argue, as Jeff Faux did in “The Global Class War,” that the GOP came to Congressional power through a dramatic under-turnout in those midterms, with barely over 1/3 of the eligible electorate voting in a nearly 20% drop from the 1992 elections. More importantly, Faux makes a compelling case–one to which I can attest anecdotally–that the union voter turnout, which was 18% in 1992, was only 14% of all voters in 1994, enabling the radical right to assume control of Congress. In good part, union voters were miffed at Clinton for passing NAFTA, which was a Republican plan hatched under Bush, and the failure to enact a law prohibiting the permanent replacement of strikers–all this in addition to their being stymied on their fairly pro-corporate health care plan which, while derided by radicals such as Limbaugh as socialized medicine, was hardly thus. This is not to minimize the fact that the GOP gained 54 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate to gain control of both houses on Congress for the first time in nearly half a century. Rather, it is to say that various factors, and not necessarily a dominance of cultural conservatism, which I’d contend isn’t quite so, contributed to why the GOP took back power. Not to be overlooked was abuse of power among key Democrats such as Dan Rostenkowski. On the flip side, the corruption scandals of people such as Tom DeLay, truly a loathsome figure, factored in to why Democrats made their gains starting in the 2006 midterms.

    I also think the “cultural elitist” trope has run its course. If nothing else, the 2008 elections revealed the long-standing hypocrisy of the right wing in painting liberals as cultural elitists, with the woefully unqualified, dangerous radical Sarah Palin showing up to a rally and ranting about reading something off her Starbucks cup. How fascinating, considering that the right concocted such fabricated notions of liberal elitism as “latte-sippers” especially during Kerry’s failed run in 2004 (likely stolen in Ohio, as Mark Crispin Miller adroitly showed). Palin was at once running up the tab for over $150,o00 in clothes for herself and her husband, and has bilked Alaskan taxpayers for trips to NYC on their dole. Yet the right not only ran with fabricated lies about Michelle Obama eating Iranian caviar, lobster, and drinking champagne at the Waldorf when she wasn’t even staying there, McCain campaign staffers slurred McCain’s own running mate Palin after the election loss as a “Wasilla hillbilly.” This from the party that complained widely that Obama unfairly portrayed people in Pennsylvania as the following: “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Yet here are people within the right’s very top echelon of a presidential campaign ridiculing Palin as a “hillbilly.” Talk about hypocritical. It’s off topic, I admit, but while I’m loathe to defend Palin, such ideas of cultural conservatism are problematic when one considers who allegedly holds them, and what they even mean. Staffers for McCain who leaked such criticisms of Palin at once touted Palin’s character as appealing to everyday Americans at the same time that they snobbishly threw her under the cultural bus. The right has some cultural questions to answer, not counting how wealthy, detached candidates such as McCain can’t remember how many houses or cars he owns. Everyday people don’t associate with that, and don’t think that the 2008 elections didn’t lay such hypocrisy bare. As much as the right complained about Obama’s alleged socialistic policies (which they’re most assuredly not), people voted for him and, for many I’m sure, his policies.

    On foreign policy, there are some contradictions to what you say, I believe. Nixon was bilateral during a period when any president, for recognizing the Soviet Union, could be considered in retrospect bilateral. This was a president who consciously cultivated the “madman theory of diplomacy,” with no paradox intended presumably. Nixon was hardly a scion of bilateralism, and you’re tacitly admitting that the US needs to pursue a saner foreign policy than the dangerous unilateralism that the Bush administration exhibited

    The fact is that human rights matter a great deal, including to the people whose countries the US smashes in the name of freedom and human rights. They’re often not saddled with the media-imposed short-term memory preoccupation that afflicts too many Americans. On China, in an era of globalized politics, finance, work, and cultures, it matters a great deal what happens in Tibet but also in Chinese factories, as well as US, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Costa Rican factories. Human rights matter a great deal, and when workers and consumers learn about such abuses, they get angry and resist policies supporting these travesties. What the US cannot afford to do is point out the toothpick in a country’s eye while ignoring the plank in its own, as it so often does. The way that you characterize foreign policy with China is to ignore grotesque human rights abuses, often workers’ rights abuses there (which in fairness occur in the US especially among vulnerable migrant workers). Yet at the same time, you urge the US to stop borrowing money from China. The US doesn’t press the Chinese much on human rights abuses by any means in no small part because it wants to borrow its cash, but also because US corporations have so much heavily invested in China.

    On Obama and foreign policy, he seems intent on pursuing bin Laden, unlike Bush who said, on March 13, 2002, that he was “truly not that concerned about him.” Your foreign policy interests and Obama’s seem aligned on hunting him down, especially given Obama’s focus on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yet ignoring the foreign policy disasters that shrugging at “collateral damage,” which is nothing more than families destroyed and anti-American animus permanently etched into the minds of a generation of Middle Eastern people, invites is nothing short of dangerous. The US can’t simply “destroy al-Qaeda thoroughly and pick up and go home,” Tim. You know this. You know foreign policy and I respect that. People in the Middle East, in no small part unified by not only Islam (despite differences of Sunni, Shia, and Wahabbism) but also a pan-Muslim/regional identity concerning Westerners, have reacted angrily and worse over such actions. The US is not just acting against the backdrop of its own historical context of hegemony, but also that of European imperialism. Such hawkishness is part of the problem. Such actions, such strikes simply don’t allow any nation to act with impunity and just pick up and leave without ramifications, and the US better wake up and fast to the notion that it’s not impervious to strikes from nations, people, sects, and terrorist organizations angry over such foreign policy. 9/11 was the ultimate wake-up call, or should have been. If the reverse were the case, the US would blow its collective stack, not unjustifiably.

    I also have to say that I find the desire for a Democratic president to balance the budget quite ironic considering that the GOP ran up record deficits, in no small part through massive, highly unnecessary tax cuts and raiding the Social Security fund. Where was the push for responsible finances then? I get and genuinely appreciate your anti-war stance Tim, if for no other reason that it was folly in the Middle East, and that’s a fair and accurate answer to me, honestly. But a whole lot–and not an abandonment of conservatism as charlatans such as Limbaugh and Hannity would lead people to believe–has bankrupted the US. In no small part, it is the wars, but also literally depriving the US treasury of hundreds of billions of dollars through nothing less than the upward redistribution of money toward the rich. If the US still ran a deficit but cut it down by ending wars and ceasing the rampant tax giveaways that have characterized the Bush years but, in fairness, the Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan presidencies as well, I’d take that. Politicians on the right are all too willing to complain about deficits under Democratic administrations and congressional control, but do nothing, in fact to aid and abet financial irresponsibility, during its own reigns. This country needs a second New Deal to build from the bottom up. Trickle down economic theories don’t work for a hill of beans.

  10. It’s a good question Joe. I’m not concerned about my political posts turning people off. If they have, people have the right to disagree with me publicly, or to simply ignore what I’ve written and move on to the baseball stuff. I certainly express my political opinions in strong tones, but I’m open to people doing so in kind to me. While I disagree with Tim the Wizard on various things, I defend and respect his right to express himself on whatever issues he’d like. He and others can feel free to pick my ideas apart, honestly. It wouldn’t feel great, but I would not only honor others’ right to do so, but I’d like to believe that I’m humble enough to accept and recognize others’ accurate points and criticisms of my views. I really don’t mind the back-and-forth about politics. In fact, I like it.

    My objective is mainly to post in an area where more consistent debate might occur. There has been some here at The Heartland, to be fair, and I love that smart people such as Mike F. and The Wiz can slug it out over issues, and that you, Jane, and others as smart people can comment and discuss whatever you like. I didn’t divulge much in my post, but I’m looking to possibly post in places where policy matters might be discussed more often, but also where there might be the opportunity to publish more often–in publications and not only online. Here at The Heartland, readers have now and then discussed things I’ve written. But for the most part, many either ignore what I’ve written, ignore the crux of my posts, or never click on the political links I’ve included on the site. It’s not that I’m offended; not at all. Rather, I’m hoping to focus on certain issues such as labor broadly speaking (groups as well as policy), and right wing media, and it may be easier and be more engaged if I do so elsewhere. Plus, on the political links, what I’ve included and will likely leave up has spurred remarkably little interest among people. Again, I’m not offended. Rather, it’s not exactly galvanized people either.

    So long story short, Joe my friend, people’s reactions to politics discussed here have little to do with my desire to move such discussions. Mainly, other than a few dutiful and intelligent readers such as yourself and others, I haven’t gotten the impression that many people read my political posts at all despite blog readership remaining fairly constant. I’m not offended. I’m just trying out my chops, I guess.

  11. Jason,

    I will address your comments later when I get home from work. Though it will probably be quite late but that is ok. Mike and I got into a heated exchange and I am sure he said things he did not mean. Those things happen. However, the accusation about me being a racist was utterly inexcusable. If he has any guts and sense of self respect he will apologize for it.

  12. This is coming this morning because I did not get back from New London, Connecticut until 12:30 am.

    Foreign Policy/Relations/Affairs

    Human Rights do not matter. Human Rights do not serve a strategic purpose or end. The Chinese correctly point out that we have no grounds to criticize them on Human Rights in Tibet when we still have the LAPD beating up the blacks in South Central. All we have done by bringing up Tibet is aggrivate the country that loans us millions of dollars. Human Rights is not a national interest for the United States or foreign nations. Foreign countries will pursue their own interests vigorously and blatantly disregard Human Rights. There is nothing the “international community” can do about it. The Russians still deal with Chechnya the same way as the Chinese do in Tibet and Xinjiang.

    I want to stop borrowing money from China so we can pay down the national debt. I am big on balanced budgets. I don’t like being in debt at all. It is just how I was raised.

    The Middle East is a fool’s errand. I understand the backdrop of imperialism you are talking about. However there are things the United States can do policy wise and militarily to win the war on terror. Regarding policies, we need to do a few things. First, stop buying their oil. The Mid East economy is founded on oil, so we should stop buying it. Second, withdraw all US forces from the Mid East. Muslims perceive US domination over them in part because we have bases in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, etc. We should leave tomorrow. Third, we must stop supporting corrupt apostate Muslim regimes. These people hate their own corrupt governments more than they hate us. Let’s stop supporting the likes of Mubarak and let him be deposed. Fourth, we need to stop giving Israel a blank check. Our un-qualified support for Israel is another reason we are hated so vehemently. Israel can take care of itself, it does not need our un-ending and un-qualifed support.

    Militarily there are some things that must be done. First, we must recognize Afghanistan cannot be ruled. The British and the Soviets failed and so will we. The better option are expeditions into Afghanistan and then leaving. The British figured this out eventually and pulled it off. So yes we can launch strikes and then go home. Second, kill more of your enemy then they kill of you. If the military thinks Bin Laden and his high command are somewhere then the military should annihilate the town. Destroy everything and kill everyone in it until you get Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. This is not an international policing operation, this is a war and must be fought as one. “War is Hell” (General Sherman) and collateral damage goes with the territory. Third, all options are on the table. If it means we have to start burning down towns and bombing the border areas continuously then so be it. Those bastards killed 3,000 Americans. I want them dead or captured. NGOs and the international community be damned. The President’s duty is to protect American Citizens, not to protect foreigners.

    Nixon and Kissinger conducted a foreign policy based on national interests. Bush conducted a foreign policy based on Neo-Wilsonian ideas about spreading freedom and democracy.

    The elitist argument has been around since the days of Andrew Jackson. I highly doubt they are going away. Maybe they’ll go dormant for the next election but we will see.

    I have very little grounding in the economy so I won’t touch that issue.

  13. I wouldn’t say that human rights don’t matter, Tim. They certainly do, often not to states and regimes but usually to the people in them and other places. Human rights had much to do with an effective antiwar movement during the Vietnam War (though not pervasive, since much of the liberal antiwar movement came to oppose the war for pragmatic reasons based on effectiveness, not the unnecessary human rights tragedy that it was) and even more so in halting funding for US-supported troops in Nicaragua. I wouldn’t say that there is nothing that the international community can do, either. There is much that can be done, by organizing nations to enact various levels of sanctions against countries/regimes, be they economic or political.

    I think you make a good point about the effects of centralizing Israel in Middle East foreign policy. Quite simply, Israel wouldn’t exist economically or militarily without the US. I’m not for ending their existence, but rather for an introduction of sane multilateralism in the region. Israel, however, has been a willing and eager lieutenant in American foreign policy interests, and I just don’t see that relationship ending or changing anytime soon, especially with the strength of the Israel lobby.

    I really don’t think that defining Afghans as “those bastards” who “killed 3,000 Americans” is in any way helpful. Al-Qaeda terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia, which by the way we’re neither attacking nor effectively pressuring regarding the formation of such terrorists. The implications of conducting such destructive raids with wanton disregard for the people living where some terrorists might be are things you must consider before conducting such raids, like it or not, since as we have seen, foreign policy forays, especially highly destructive ones, have helped get the US in such a worldwide mess. Thinking that NGOs and the international community don’t matter in such situations is exactly the kind of hawkish war-mongering that got us into this mess.

  14. Before I forget, and this may be implicit in your characterizing Bush as “neo-Wilsonian,” that the difference between Bush and Wilson is that, while Wilson saw was as something to prevent through peace and democracy, Bush sees war as avenues to democracy. Bush, to me, essentially inverts Wilsonian democracy and the idea that democracies are best equipped to prevent wars by using wars first. I’d add that I think the Bush administration considers this war in America’s national interests first and foremost, not necessarily prioritizing Iraqi democracy despite his rhetorical overtures. This appears with oil rights agreements that privilege Western, especially US, corporate rights in Iraq. I think to Bush, corporate and business priorities are national priorities, which he’s pursued pretty consistently.


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