Smashing the Status Quo

I've been watching the debate over the stimulus package unfold with a mix of anger and confusion.

As Paul Krugman noted yesterday, in the wake of Hank Paulson's disastrous TARP Part I last fall a consensus emerged among economists like Krugman, Dean Baker, Nouriel Roubini, that the stimulus had to be huge, somewhere in the $1-$2 trillion range. [More...]

Yet the actual stimulus turned out to be much smaller, in the 700 billion range. Putting aside all the sausage making on Capitol Hill that made the stimulus much smaller, it's clear, as Krugman notes, that the advice of he, Baker, Roubini etc were all ignored by Obama's economic team.

The Obama team also seems, as the Financial Times' Martin Wolf put it "too politically frightened" to admit that the U.S. banking system is essentially insolvent.

Conventional thinking has great pull elsewhere. Stephen Walt wrote a stellar post over at Foreign Policy arguing that the Obama administration must press hard--now--for a two-state solution because the prospects for such a deal are sinking quickly. But Walt is not optimistic that the Obama administration is politically bold enough to do so:

"If the two-state solution dies, as seems increasingly likely, the United States is going to face a very awkward set of choices. Thatís one reason why Obama and his team -- as well as Israel's friends in the United States -- should move beyond paying lip-service to the idea of creating a Palestinian state and actually do something about it. But it's hard to be optimistic that they will."

I am writing all this not because I want to tar Obama administration as a "failure" just a few weeks into his presidency. Instead, I'm deeply, worried that our democracy is simply not up to the task of real change in a number of areas, from economics to foreign policy to drug policy. And we're simply not in a place where we can afford to make the same mistakes--or ignore the experts who know how to correct those mistakes--anymore.

So: how do we smash the status quo?

< How HOLC-y Is HASP? | D.C. Appeals Court Rules Against Releasing Guantanamo Detainees to U.S. >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Marc Ambinder (and others) see brilliant (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by esmense on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:15:33 PM EST
    political strategy in the fact that the stimulus package includes "one of the largest tax cuts in American history" ($282 billion in tax cuts over two years).

    To quote: "It's hard to imagine we won't hear about this four years from now. And if that's not boxing a future Republican candidate in ahead of time, I don't know what is. Think about how many potential Republican arguments are going to be pre-empted by that nice little fact?"

    I hate to think that real solutions to our very real economic economic crisis are being ignored in favor of nothing more than straightforward and self serving political tactics. But I wouldn't be surprised. The problem isn't simply "the Obama administration." The problem is the mindset of our nation's meritocratic, political, financial and corporate elites -- elites who, while others in the economy have suffered, have themselves been enriched on a level never experienced before in the history of mankind by the the flawed economic assumptions and policies we've indulged in over the last 30 years. It may be too much to expect that they can or will completely or quickly discard those assumptions and abandon their shared economic "common wisdom" in favor of radically different ideas that frankly will, if they are effective, in at least the short term, offer more benefit to others than to themselves -- until, that is, there is more direct economic threat to themselves and/or more radical social unrest in the nation at large. (As my son said to someone who declared the stimulus was "socialism." "No. Socialism is what we'll have if the stiumulus fails.")  

    Ambinder can't get his head around the fact that without EFFECTIVE policy we could be in a serious depression by the next election. And "boxing in" the Republicans with useless if not harmful tax policy won't offer much political advantage if we are.

    I don't think he is unique in failing to really comprehend how genuinely serious our situation is, how frightened and vulnerable millions of Americans outside his circle are, and how much more than "clever" political maneuvering the nation now needs.

    Those must be the latest Axelrod talking points. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:24:45 PM EST
    Kos said the same thing.  How sad.  I think most of us would gladly give up our $8 bucks a week, which we are getting on loan, care of China, for a coherent strategy to restore our economy over the long term.

    Kos is a Reaganite. Of course he (none / 0) (#13)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:48:17 PM EST
    approves of tax cuts.

    $7.70 a week! And remember how Obama said a gas (none / 0) (#44)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:38:38 PM EST
    tax holiday, when gas was around $4/gal, was simply silly and not worth it to anyone? Well, for those on the cutting edge, trading a gallon of gas for a gallon of milk, it would have helped.

    So, for those in very dire circumstances, yes, $7.70 ($15.40 for a family) will help a bit. Not much, but a bit.

    Perhaps not as much as a good job. And, for retirees, iirc, they are not getting that much--recall something about $250/year? But I may be wrong on that; early times in finding out what's in the 1000 plus pages.

    That $400/year for someone making far more? A big weekend? More into the IRA? Who knows.

    For the multiplier effect, the bang for the buck, seems tax cuts get far less into the real economy. But Obama got his bipartisanship on.

    And we are so "bipartisaned."

    (From William Greider, in an earlier comment of mine:

    The advocates are urging both parties to hold hands and take the leap together, authorizing big benefits cuts in a circuitous way that allows them to dodge the public's blame. In my new book, Come Home, America, I make the point: "When official America talks of 'bipartisan compromise,' it usually means the people are about to get screwed."

    Pretty good line.

    To put it another way  
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 08:53:31 PM EDT

    "The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." -George Carlin


    Carlin was a smart man... (none / 0) (#48)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 02:07:52 PM EST
    I can't help but feel duped into maintaining the status quo whenever I hear bi-partisan...

    earrings money for MO (none / 0) (#57)
    by jedimom on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 07:01:13 PM EST
    Michele should speak up about only getting a pair of earrings out of this....

    How do we smash the status quo? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:53:11 PM EST
    I see one way, and it may be the only way...tax revolt.  Let the f*cker collapse, suffer greatly for awhile, and build something that makes sense out of the rubble.  I mean..as long as we keep sending money the government has no incentive to change.  It's not like they have shame to reign them in...look at the national debt and the prison population and our occupations raging...no shame...none.

    Not a pleasant option, to be sure, but it may be inevitable anyway...lets not pawn it off on future generations.  We could be heroes or another generation of sheep...it is up to us, don't look to Washington.

    So (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:17:11 PM EST
    you've never had children to feed, cloth, shelter and educate.

    In any demolition scheme the people who do the real suffering and are left with the least are the innocents, the people who gain immeasurably are the crooks, the very rich with the wherewithal to gobble up everything.

    It's the policy of destruction that got us into this mess.


    Ummm... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:30:46 PM EST
    I know, I am among the least.  I know a tax revolt and government collapse means suffering, great suffering, for me and my loved ones and neighbors.

    But do we want change or don't we?  I see one option...I'd love somebody to find a better one.  Throwing 2 trillion dollars we don't have at a broken system seems kinda dumb to me, but I'm admittedly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.


    And you don't seem (none / 0) (#53)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:26:21 PM EST
    to realize that when everything is destroyed it's the little guy who suffers and it's the big guys, the people who put us in this position in the first place, who will prosper, become even more powerful and make the little guy's existence a living hell.

    In chaos the rich get ridiculously richer and the poor get ridiculously poorer.


    I'm not sure... (none / 0) (#58)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 07:22:05 PM EST
    if the protection racket of the rich and powerful, aka the government, were to collapse that might be the best shot the huddled masses have had in 200 years.

    They don't look any stronger, nor any smarter...and I think we're tougher.

    I don't want it either dude...I might not own d*ck but I can buy a pack of smokes at 4am...that's pretty damn cool.  I just in all honesty see no other way to make this existing government cease to be a protection racket for the rich and powerful except starting a new one.  It is rotten to the core.


    Organize. Fight. (none / 0) (#64)
    by Chatham on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 03:00:00 AM EST
    Work slowly.  Don't give up.  We are stronger, and better off now, than before.  Think about all the things we have.  A (mostly) functioning legal system is a huge one. True, you can destroy the system, and maybe because "we" are tougher than "them" we'll be at the top next time.  But the "we" that will be at the top, by that time, will be the same as the "them".  I think Camus wrote about this in "The Rebel".

    There are ways to get things done. They might take a lot of time, there might be setbacks, and it will be hard, but it is definitely possible.  I have grappled with many of the same thoughts as you have, especially in times like these.  I do think there's a way though, and I see some possibilities (like the accountability PAC).


    You're both right I fear, (none / 0) (#55)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 06:38:03 PM EST
    the system seems destined for collapse as it cannot seem to produce a government that anymore acts in the public interest.  And the innocents will surely suffer as a result of a collapse.  

    It is Obama's task to avoid this outcome and the odds do not seem to me to be in his favor.  


    This is really just ... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:59:32 PM EST
    a variation on the "starve the beast" notion of conservatives.

    Your action would likely result in an extreme rightward shift in the country.


    It's moot bro... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:11:08 PM EST
    nobody is gonna tax revolt...I don't even know how you do it as a wage earner when taxes are taken, not paid.

    It is the only way to get the government to change how they do business, that's all.  I have a hard time telling the difference between D in power and R in power aside from a few wedge issues.  Voting doesn't seem to work....candidates talking real change like Kuchinich on the left and Paul on the right are laughed at.  


    Taxes aren't the problem (none / 0) (#31)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:22:05 PM EST
    Go on a bank revolt, or a spending revolt or a capital sit-in, or something like that instead.

    Some guy in Liverpool (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:24:26 PM EST
    put out a twitter or some other newfangled thing for people to show up and dance at a train station. Just dance. Thousands of people showed up.

    Now that's leadership!


    I've been on a bank boycott... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:27:40 PM EST
    my whole life.  Most of my discretionary spending is black market.  A sit-in without a million or so fellow sitters is only a jail sentence.

    The state only understands money...hit 'em were it hurts.  Nothing else works.


    You rebel (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:31:18 PM EST
    Not really.... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:49:25 PM EST
    I like my freedom too much to be a rebel...selfish that way.  Rebels get locked up or martyred...not me babe:)

    Huh??? (none / 0) (#52)
    by pluege on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:21:31 PM EST
    ...and build something that makes sense out of the rubble

    What on Earth has happened that would ever lead one to believe that what would be rebuilt after collapse would "make sense". What would cause all the cretins that caused the problems to suddenly be out of power so the 'make sense' crowd could take over...and who is this 'make sense' crowd and why didn't they prevent the collapse in the first place if they're around and capable of taking over?

    or is the concept the same as we have now with leaving the cretins in place, unpunished that caused the problem so they can use our tax dollars to magically fix their own mess?


    Oligarchs unfortunately rule today (none / 0) (#56)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 06:40:58 PM EST
    and would surely be instrumental in fashioning whatever is to come after a collapse.

    This does not give me much confidence that what would follow a collapse would be better than the sorry state of affairs we have today.


    I really can't argue with that... (none / 0) (#59)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 07:29:24 PM EST
    one could only hope the next one would be a little better, like the founding of our nation was a little better than colonial rule.

    This certainly isn't the Age of Elightenment...worse might be the odds on favorite.  How sad is that.


    A memory of past times (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:30:12 PM EST
    Krugman notes, that the advice of he, Baker, Roubini etc were all ignored by Obama's economic team

    Outside economists like Stiglitz, Baker, Krugman were never brought into the loop.

    In the past Presidents have called in outsiders for a different look.

    Even Richard Nixon called in John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman, polar opposites, for consultation.

    Not Obama.  He seems bent on keeping discussions within the Village, the Village that elected him President.

    Stiglitz was in the Clinton administration -- more (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:41:44 PM EST
    rivals on that team than on Obama's. Ranged from Rubin to Stiglitz. Reich for Labor (who resigned over differences).

    Just sayin'.


    Hate to disagree with Krugman, but (none / 0) (#50)
    by pluege on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:12:28 PM EST
    his advice was only half ignored by the Obama administration. It was also half adhered to. Whether or the Obamdmin's half-a**ed response is a disaster or not remains to be seen.

    That's (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:18:19 PM EST
    the problem.

    Half measures.


    In 1993 even Clinton (none / 0) (#60)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 07:43:59 PM EST
    told Bob Kerrey his Democratic only supported budget was a piece of crap.  What followed, as is repeatedly noted on TL, was years of unprecedented prosperity and income gains for all.  

    It's not much, but we can hope Obama's will lead to the same.


    I think you can afford to be harder (4.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 11:17:10 AM EST
    on the Obama administration because our democracy IS simply up to the task of real change.  That's the pony that Obama rode into his mandate on.  It is the Obama administration that is simply not up to the task of REAL change in my opinion.

    Glenn Greenwald (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by lilburro on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 11:41:40 AM EST
    captured a very insightful quote today from WH Counsel Greg Craig:

    The administration has also put off taking a stand in several cases that present opportunities to embrace or renounce Bush-era policies, including the imprisonment without trial of an "enemy combatant" on domestic soil, Freedom of Information Act lawsuits seeking legal opinions about interrogation and surveillance, and an executive-privilege dispute over Congressional subpoenas of former White House aides to Mr. Bush over the firing of United States attorneys.

    Addressing the executive-privilege dispute, Mr. Craig said: "The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened. But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency. So for that reason, he is urging both sides of this to settle."  [emphasis supplied]

    The Obama Admin has ZERO interest in doing anything politically risky, especially if its left of center right.  Over the past month, they have set the agenda just by virtue of their pacing - we will do whatever we want, when we want to do it.  Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen?  Nah, we don't want to diminish the state secrets privilege yet.  Meanwhile, life happens and real people are affected by Obama's pacing.  We have to be harder on them - I don't want Obama's sympathy, I want real action.


    headdesk! (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Fabian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:00:04 PM EST
    If Obama keeps this up, by the time he realizes that BOLD! action is needed, it will be next year.

    I keep hearing Sally Fields "You like me!" whenever I run into President "Don't rock the boat." Obama.  If he wanted to be liked, he should have gone into acting or entertainment.  Leaders of the free world only need to be respected to be effective and successful.  


    arely do people give up power willingly -- and BO (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:07:28 PM EST
    seems to be confirming this.

    It was something I feared about him, based on things he said during the primaries and general.

    This is just so depressing.

    Without a history of what a person does when holding positions of power, it is difficult to predict what he or she will do when it is achieved. That was one of the reasons I hesitated to support Obama for the nom. I just wanted him to have more time in office, to demonstrate by his actions as well as his beautiful words what he would do, how he would act. What I did learn lead me to feel I did not know enough and what I did know did not make me comfortable about what he really intended to do.

    Experience? Ask Capt. Sully's passengers about the necessity of experience. Especially in light of what seems to be emerging about the capt. of the Buffalo flight, where he did not have all that many hours in that type of plane. There is no conclusive evidence yet that inexperience played a role, so I may be premature in even bringing this up.

    But there is the example of how experience helped Capt. Sully with his ditching on the Hudson River.


    Yes - the democracy is up to the task (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:07:34 PM EST
    but the leaders are not. No one, including Obama, is wiling to take the case for bold change to the people. Obama's only attempt to do that is to try to go around the media filter via his facebook friends. Instead he has to take hold of the media and use it to his advantage. The MSM happens to control the 'soapbox'.  As I have said before, he and/or his spokespeople should be calling them out on their B.S. when they misreport the facts or attribute their own timid, elitist attitudes to the people in general. The people were hungry for bold leadership and change, and many thought they got it in November. Time to prove them right.

    Agreed, Obama isn't willing to make the case (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:09:13 PM EST
    for an aggressive, progressive public agenda, because Obama simply isn't as progressive as the public that elected him.

    The "11 dimensional chess" is only happening in the feverish minds of Obama apologists. It is an hallucination that squares progressive expectations with the circle of Obama's intentions.

    I'm having none of it.


    amen, atheist (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:17:52 PM EST
    My post definitely presupposes the ideological Obama I want, not the Obama I have.

    Now, that's not something one hears a lot, (5.00 / 5) (#43)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:37:50 PM EST
    "amen, atheist" - I thank you for that.

    Not so sure (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 06:32:54 PM EST
    I think it remains an open question if present day USA "Democracy" is up to the task.  For thirty years now we have had a political system and government of , for and by 10% (the wealthiest) of the people.  That is almost two generations.  There are forty somethings out there who have no idea there is anything wrong or even questionable about the policies that began under St. Ronnie and reached levels of the grotesque under Boy George.  

    Read David Cay Johnston's "Perfectly Legal" and tell me again that our Democracy can handle our current problems in a timely fashion.  I do think the Internet has expanded the political donor class to include working folks, and in time that could alter the political dynamic.  Unfortunately, the seriousness and catastrophic nature of the current economic perils do not allow for that much time.

    As I said, to me it remains an open question and I wish I could share your confidence.  If I had to bet I would say we as a nation are headed for an economic and political system crash of unprecedented proportions.  And, given our oligarchical system,  I would not bet that what replaces today's status quo will, in the short term, be any improvement.  

    Scary days and if Obama can avoid that sort of apocalypse he will have been succesful.  We are in, in my view, that dangerous a period of time.  


    In any instance of socio-economic collapse, (none / 0) (#61)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 08:03:59 PM EST
    when the rule of law breaks down, when anarchy reigns and it's every 'man' for himself - it is women and children, the poor, the infirm, and the elderly who are most grotesquely victimized.

    In all probability, a person who wishes for such a scenario is not in a vulnerable demographic and is thoroughly lacking in empathy for those who are.

    There's something emotionally arrested and not right in the head about that Mad-Max apocalyptic fantasy.


    I wonder... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 08:21:26 PM EST
    It feels like every man for himself right now sometimes, with the rich and powerful men having the "rule of law" aka the state as one of the most powerful weapons at their disposal.

    Yes, I know... (none / 0) (#63)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 09:02:47 PM EST
    Most people probably feels like they're at risk now.

    Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the population is more at risk even in the good times and they're the ones who get hit hardest when the going gets rough.

    Just think of Katrina on a much larger scale :-(


    Are we really ready? (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:44:27 PM EST
    Are we really ready for real change? Are we ready to consume less of the worlds resources?  Are we ready to accept a decreased quality of life? Are we ready to be worse off than our parents?  Are we ready to storm the gates of the Bastille if our leadership continues to scheme and mislead instead of lead?

    I really don't think so, we're so f*ckin' far from ready it ain't funny...and all the band aids in the world won't change the hard facts of what really needs to be done to ensure a long peaceful free existence for this nation.  Like my man Dadler is always sayin'...we lack the imagination.


    Ready or not (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:09:15 PM EST
    Some of those things are going to happen anyway.

    I think more people than you realize are ready to do what it takes for a more sustainable life and society, and if a leader emerged who could show us how to make it happen in a way that is fair for everyone, more would join. People just don't know how, or want to, do it alone.


    Most people fear being alone (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:19:52 PM EST
    almost as much as public speaking.  Our current lifestyles lead to a lot of "aloneness".  We can do this together though.  I'm ready.  Joshua has been studying some stuff in school right now and he went on and on yesterday after school about how stupid we all are that we haven't figured out something sustainable yet.  He asked me about our existing coal reserves last week.  I told him that in America they were extensive....thousands of years worth and we talked about the drawbacks.  Yesterday he got upset because HELLO, a thousand years is finite too :)  Sometimes don't you just wish you could only be some peon and nobody's parent, bosses so much easier to please :)

    Ha - Joshua sounds so cool (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:30:21 PM EST
    I think being a parent sounds like the way to go!

    I know what you mean though - I can't even keep my dogs happy, much less my boss! Kid too? I'd be a neurotic mess!

    You seem to have a high community involvement ethic - I'm trying to get better. Some of these things can only be fixed in a large group.


    I hope you're right... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:23:04 PM EST
    I just don't know...people play like they are all down for change until their pet project or perk is threatened.

    The type of leader required is so rare...hope he/she shows up soon!  And if he/she did, would we treat them like a joke or call them insane?  Remember what happened to Jesus:)


    Oh, there'll be some grieving (none / 0) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:28:25 PM EST

    We'll get through it though.  We all have to grieve our losses though even if they are only perceived losses.


    Do you want me to answer for myself (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:00:26 PM EST
    or my neighbors?  You know me in a bloggy sort of way.  Quality of life has never been about the crap I get to throw in the landfill.  I think some other people are going to be a tad traumatized though because it's coming, it's coming quickly, and I don't think they've ever imagined what is coming.  I'm living at my peak when using my imagination isn't simply a form of recreation, but I've always been a little odd.  Probably not the norm.

    MilTracy, there was someone on WNYC call in about (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:11:10 PM EST
    being overseas and saying that the economic downturn is much more evident there than here. Unfortunately, the host did not ask for real examples of what the caller meant.

    I have had a feeling that the econ downturn, except for those actualy losing jobs, Bernie Madoff's victims losing all, those directly in the economic maelstrom, are not get fully realizing how bad this is going to be.

    I could be wrong about that -- but it seems that way to me.


    I wonder how things are going (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:20:55 PM EST
    for South Korea right now?  We have a friend there right now with his family, but when you are military you live in a sort of financial bubble.

    Remember, I'm opening the jook joint (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:02:17 PM EST
    I'm doing community service work in the midst of all this.

    I plan on visiting... (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:18:22 PM EST
    the vibe I get from you Tracy is that you could hack it...no doubt:)

    Obama failed big time in his first (3.50 / 2) (#6)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:00:33 PM EST
    task, the stimulus.  We know, per the CBO, we are headed for a 2.6 trillion dollar economic gap, so that's where he should have started.  He should have said we are going to fill that gap with 2.6 trillion dollars in stimulus.  From there, he probably would have been negotiated down to at worst 1.7 billion.  This stimulus is woefully inadequate, and there is no cohesive policy behind it.  You can not blame the country for that.  The buck certainly stops with Obama.

    As for Israel/Palestine, I think it's far more complicated than many on the Left are willing to admit.  And, ultimately, we can't solve that issue for the Israeli's, the Palestinians, or both.

    Masslib, isn't it inneristin' how (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:50:07 PM EST
    the projected size of an effective stimulus is in the same 2+ trillion dollar range as the Iraq War debt; which is the same size as the surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund.

    Enough with the rotting fish, I'm smelling nothing but rat.


    The I-P issue is only complicated (none / 0) (#10)
    by ai002h on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:36:11 PM EST
    because we make it complicated. If Obama wanted to be bold, he could ask Israel to stop the building of settlements, he could exert equal pressure on both sides. Everyone knows the day the US actually becomes a fair broker will be the day we finally get peace in that region. Yes, its complicated, but we shouldn't act like the US is some innocent by-standard, we've added a whole lot to the complication. We have been anything but a true friend to Israel.

    No, everybody does not know that. (none / 0) (#11)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:39:18 PM EST
    These are tribal disputes and near impossible for an outside group to settle.  Further, the American government has urged the end of settlements.  Indeed, many Israeli's oppose the settlements.  Hammas is not a good faith actor.  It's going to be very hard for the Israeli's to leave those settlements and give Hammas access to it's airfield.  It complicated.  The parliamentary system in Israel makes it even more complicated.  

    I gave up following Israeli politics (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:56:10 PM EST
    years ago. String theory is less complicated.

    ignore the experts (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 11:27:01 AM EST
    or ignore the experts who know how to correct those mistakes
    Lotsa experts making guesses, it is frustrating when the decision makers don't think your expert's guesses are as good as their expert's guesses.

    Two state stimulus (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 11:40:54 AM EST
    The Brits are consumed by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but with all do respect it has nothing to do with the stimulus. While the stimulus is on the books, nothing was done about the conflict in the Middle East so far. The mixture of the two is ridiculous.

    Furthermore, the screaming about "last chance" in the Middle East has been around for 20 years. It may be well placed this time or it may not.

    can someone explain (none / 0) (#15)
    by Howard Zinn on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 12:55:26 PM EST
    how Obama could have snared the 3 repub votes in the senate w/a 2 billion $ package?

    He couldn't have (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:13:30 PM EST
    But he could have made them filibuster it for a month while the country went further to hell, and public pressure made them finally capitulate to allow an "upperdown" vote which would have needed 51 votes. If he could not have kept 50 Dems on board (+ Biden), then yes, all would have been lost. Then you negotiate the 2 trillion down to 1.2 trillion, which is a lot better than what we ended up with.

    Sure. He could have run ads against those two (5.00 / 4) (#34)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:27:04 PM EST
    Senators in Maine.  Do you have any idea what the Maine economy looks like now?

    Status Quo Has Already Been Smashed... (none / 0) (#41)
    by santarita on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:32:57 PM EST
    it's just the the national politicians don't want to accept that.  The status quo was smashed last August and September with the takeover of AIG and the abandonment of Lehman.  We are in a new world.  The national politicians will soon start realizing this new world when their trusty Wall Street contributors stop contributing because they don't have any money.  Their influence will start waning when they are taken over.  (Or at least I hope that their influence stops at that point.  If not, then we have a real problem with our so-called democracy.)

    Roubini, the 'Collapse Gap' (none / 0) (#42)
    by Ethan Brown on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:34:41 PM EST
    Neglected to mention a couple of things

    1--Roubini has a good piece in the WSJ today; he's looking at the positives of Geithner's plan, says we're not gonna overpay for all those 'toxic' assets and that Geithner's plan is going to "confirm the insolvency of the financial system." Worth noting, however, that Roubini isn't sure if that was Geithner's intention...


    2--Been thinking about Dmitry Orlov's presentation "Closing the Collapse Gap" which was written about in the New Yorker recently. This quote rings very very true. Like pre-collapse USSR, the US has a

    "balky, unresponsive, corrupt political system incapable of reform."


    A feature or a bug? (none / 0) (#49)
    by pluege on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:09:58 PM EST
    I'm deeply, worried that our democracy is simply not up to the task of real change in a number of areas, from economics to foreign policy to drug policy.

    You have good reason to worry. Democracy moves slowly and only renders compromised solutions which are thus, always less then they otherwise need to address challenges. The deeper the crisis the worse the impacts of democracy's sluggishness.

    The molasses pace of decision making and suboptimal solutions are the unavoidable way democracy works. The systems that make right or wrong decisions quickly are all authoritarian.