(OT) That hopey changey thing

One more reason Barack Obama should change his slogan from “Change you can believe in” to “Token gestures and nice words so you can shut up for a while.”

Sorry, but he is a monumental and tragic disappointment who has squandered a truly historic oportunity.


15 thoughts on “(OT) That hopey changey thing

  1. I am constantly surprised by anyone who thinks that Obama is anything other than a right-leaning centerist.

    All those accusations of socialism, and he’s more Republican than most of the RNC.

    Nothing will fix the political system in the USA short of major game-changing catastrophe of some kind. Perhaps AGW can be the catalyst? Shouldn’t complain, really, things are still pretty good overall.


  2. Obama has done a number of things which are antithetical to the man we thought were electing, many of which are just plain fascist/totalitarian/unconstitutional in nature. Most, if not all, of these, however, have to do with the ability of the government to execute the ‘war’ on terror.

    I find it harder to believe that every person who knew Obama personally before the election was taken in by an astute stealth fascist, than to believe that once he was briefed on terrorism the honest and ethical man we elected is doing what he feels he must do to protect us. Just like the dishonest and unethical man who occupied the Oval Office before him.

    I am thinking that there is something very scary indeed out there.


  3. In my field, we call this “The Dirty Harry Problem.”

    In the film *Dirty Harry*, Inspector Harry Calahan (Clint Eastwood) knew that a cornered suspect, the “Scorpio Killer”, had kidnapped, raped and buried a girl with a limited amount of air, and time was of the essence if there was any chance to rescue her. The guy demands his lawyer and other rights afforded under the constitution, but Harry defies all that and tortures a confession and the location of the girl out of him by pressing his foot on the guy’s wound. They find the girl but its too late.

    We have *no idea* what the administration knows about this prick–the level of threat he poses, etc. You might say Obama is wiping his ass with the constitution, but this is simply the Dirty Harry Problem in a different context. This is a tough world we live in . . . I’m not saying its right; I’m saying there might well be reasons that make, it at the very least, understandable.

    Doesn’t have much to do with AGW but I thought I’d throw in my two cents . . .


  4. I totally agree, as well as his civil liberties policies which seem way too Bush for me. But, OTOH, we could at this very moment have a VP who used the phrase “hopey changey.” At least Nero burned Rome for artistic inspiration, she’d burn down Washington because she didn’t know fire burned things. Also. Doncha know. You betcha.


  5. Campaigning, Obama promised to spend an excellent $15 billion a year on clean energy.

    Spent? TWICE that: $30 billion (and indirectly a total of $90 billion) – on renewables through the Recovery Act.

    That is just not good enough? Or did you not know? If you rely on the NYT to get your news – you’d never know this.

    As somebody who covers renewable energy news, this is the most frustrating thing, that nobody outside the renewable news sites – no regular media covers this.

    And he has $36 billion in the renewable energy budget for next years (non stimulus) budget too, TWICE what he promised in campaigning.

    The US will have installed an astounding 16 GIGAWATTS of renewable energy through the Recovery Act when it is all spent in a year or two.

    This is completely unprecedented level of investment in climate solutions – since the Carter administration jump-started solar development in the 70’s (that Reagan sent to Japan and Germany by defunding.)

    Here’s a lot more news stories (in linked story) that provide examples of each of these investments by the Nobel Prizewinner-led DOE.



  6. Re the “Dirty Harry” problem I have a number of issues with that. Firstly, I would like to propose another approach before examining its practical implications and applications. If such a “torture them or have innocents die” scenario actually happened, I think it would be far better to pardon said torturer after the fact than authorize an army of would-be Dirty Harrys. I mean seriously, let’s face the reality, soldiers and spies are not jobs that attract any higher of an average ethical standard population than police officers and do we really think police officers should have that kind of discretion, as generally fine people as they may be? Reality teaches us that power trips, corruption and misguided self righteousness already has too great an influence on individual actions. People need explicit rules. If an individual in a specific situation can provide that compelling justifcation – “look, here’s the bomb that would have gone off if I had not done what I did, against the law” – then they can recieve a presidental pardon along with their Medal of Freedom.

    But if we do want to consider actually pursuing a “Dirty Harry” policy there are a number of serious hurdles that must be overcome. Firstly, we need to be sure that the judgement of our Robocops is impeccable (sorry to mix the movie metaphors there!). Is it okay to be wrong even once in a hundred? Once in 10? If we look to Guantanamo we find that the supposed “worst of the worse” turned out to be at least 50% innocents.

    Second, we have to be sure that torture is in fact the most effective interrogation method. I think your average Hollywood movie producer or consumer has an implicit assumption that torture works. I am not convinced that the evidence for this case is solid, or even existent. Plenty of experienced interrogators dealing with truly despicable individuals have put themselves on the record saying torture is simply NOT an effective interrogation method. The basic problem is that people may in fact talk, but they will say anything they think you want to hear. This is in fact the primary use of torture throughout history, to force confessions and produce lists of other people to torture. Maybe these imaginary “moral” torturers want the confessions because they are already convinced the victim is guilty, or at least scum, but usually they don’t really know for themselves where this individual came from and what were the motives of his of her captors.

    Third, we have to have the discussion of whether or not the cost of this policy is too high. Is it worth abandoning very hard won international agreements, abandoning a committment to being a nation of laws? Is it worth the risk of creating more terrorists than you can ever hope to apprehend through personally traumatizing individuals and family members of individuals and through providing excellent material for terrorist recruitment? Nothing in life is free of costs and consequences and sweeping these issues under the rug is done at our own peril.


  7. Is it worth abandoning very hard won international agreements, abandoning a committment to being a nation of laws?

    In the abstract and in the long run of course not.

    But this is not as cut-and-dried as a criminal case where a really guilty-looking guy is hiding behind legal protection. This is an *explicitly* threatening guy–based on his own statements and actions. If I stand outside a police station with a sign saying, “The pigs must die”, and then run off with a gang of people *known* to harbor plans to kill police, how sympathetic would you be toward my civil rights when the tac team comes and blows me away–even though I had done nothing wrong (yet)?

    Outside the ethical considerations, don’t forget the political aspect of this: We have a beleaguered president fighting to maintain a congressional majority and the “soft on terror” card is one the Republicans are looking to play any chance they might against Barack *Hussein* Obama. Its a cold thing to say but there is no doubt in my mind that Obama’s calculus is essentially, “If this shithead is the biggest sacrifice I make by violating the principles of American jurisprudence and international law, I think I can face my Maker with a clean conscience.”

    I’m sure whatever Higher Authority there is will one day judge Washington, Lincoln, and F. Roosevelt for their numerous compromises with principle in favor of practicality. I suspect the only reason we have the luxury of even discussing this in the abstract is that it isn’t our call to make–and I’m glad of that.


  8. One addendum that somehow seemed appropriate . . .

    I’m reading *American Creation* by Joseph Ellis, in which he gives a time line of the apparently random and unforeseen events and personalities that made the creation of the republic–in all its glory and ugliness–possible.

    I’m near the end where the Louisiana deal has just been cut with Bonaparte and Jefferson is reflecting on how this bold executive move was contrary to the Republican (in the 18th century meaning of the term) principle of disdain for strong central federal authority and action. He knew he’d been a hypocrite, but later wrote:

    “To lose our country by scrupulous adherence to written laws would be to lose the law itself.”

    I know therein lies the dreaded slippery slope, but every president has faced and addressed this dilemma–usually by winking at sin. They all know the sad fact: they won’t be judged by the fact of violation itself, but by the end result. If you’re going to break the rules, you better have something to show for it.


  9. I am an Australian and I am constantly fascinated at your amazing country.

    It is great for the rest of the world, and particularly for small countries like mine to have a rational person in the White House.

    My major short term fear for the world is that progressives in the USA will not turn out at the Mid Term elections. Even if Obama in office is not as progressive as we would like he is vastly better than the alternative.

    The government of my country is centrist and cautious and is constantly attacked by right wing crazies, who use the Republican party as a model of action. Success for the Republicans at your mid terms would not only be a disaster for the US it would also embolden the crazies in other countries including mine.


  10. I understand that Obama is considering showing the Republicans that he is open to compromise…

    … by appointing Rush Limbaugh to replace John Paul Stevens.


  11. You called that one right, Coby.
    But it is not his fault. Once he is in office his minders take him to the woodshed and tell him in no uncertain terms he is now to do what he is told. No buts…
    But, hey, I see that someone thinks that this, and breaking most of his other campaign promises, (Gitmo, executive orders etc) is OK because he is prepared to shovel taxpayers money into the wind industry.
    The disappointment already extends further than your own shores.


  12. “Sorry, but he is a monumental and tragic disappointment who has squandered a truly historic oportunity.”

    Really? On what planet did this alleged opportunity exist? Was it the planet that didn’t have an obstructionist GOP, turncoat Democrats like Lieberman, a democracy with significant portion of its citizens expressing belief in the literal creation of the world by a magic sky fairy? In a country that wasn’t involved in two wars and beset by global financial melt-down?

    It never ceases to amaze me how many progressives seem to think that the President should compel the nation by force to do his bidding, regardless of whether his policies have any popular support.

    It is a democracy. The President can only accomplish as much as the people will allow him to. Progressives are a tiny, insignificant minority. We should be grateful that he pays any attention to us at all.

    Asserting that the President, through laziness, lack of character, or stupidity, missed an opportunity that you thought was there, is either a) playing Monday morning quarterback, or b) character assassination. In either case its only effect is to make you look childish.


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