Saturday, July 16, 2011
I have an extremely eclectic group of Facebook friends -- many of whom are actual friends -- from more or less the entire American political landscape. For shits and giggles, the last 20 links on my feed with, er, instacommentary but no judgment.
The United Nations Security Council decides that being nice to the Taliban will make them like us more. Because that worked so well the last time.
A almost transcendent puff piece about John Kerry from the NYT that contains this absolutely spectacular bit:
Suddenly he was one of the leaders of the Senate. And then he was Massachusetts’ senior senator as well: Ted Kennedy’s death in 2009 removed both a cherished adviser and a giant shadow. Just about everyone who knows Kerry notes how much happier he is now than he was before.
I'm also happier now than I was before Ted Kennedy died, but I think it is a coincidence.
Chicago's Magnificent Mile just got that much more, er, magnificent.
Tit for tat. Literally.
Mark Steyn on bargaining with Barack "Obluffer."
The United States House of Representatives stands up for traditional... light bulbs.
Gay-baiting in Boston.
The News Corp phone-hacking scandal spreads.
The Obama downgrade? Reminder: In brinksmanship, the most credibly irrational side wins. Is Barack Obama credibly irrational?
Obama's budget stimulates his "boyhood home."
Flash mob patriotism at a New England Stop and Shop. Must see!
The final theatrical trailer for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
I am not sure what this is about, but there it was, on my feed!
VDH on the demagogic style.
Ingratitude, they name is South Korea.
Michelle Bachmann raises $4.2 million, including from the Kochs.
Without pork belly futures, could there ever have been "Trading Places"?
A Japanese capitalist will sell you the crane to hang your enemies by. Or not.
I think South Korea has changed a bit recently, and is moderating its dislike of America. While South Korea does have it's occasional bouts of anti-U.S. fervor I think they are on the whole strongly pro-American. As you know the country has a long history of occupation, and the US is sometimes seen as an occupier. But culturally, the Koreans are very pro American. Our movies and music is popular. Shin Soo Choo is a hero precisely because he is a US major leaguer. Large South Korean businesses, which have had an almost feudal history have gained a more modern popularity based upon their successes in America. Every year large numbers of SK high schoolers are sent to the US for schooling, and upon graduation all of those South Koreans have but one goal, which is to stay in America for university. Of course there is resentment, but generally speaking not the dislike you often saw a decade or so ago.
"In brinksmanship, the most credibly irrational side wins. Is Barack Obama credibly irrational?"
This game has more than two players, and it isn't classic Mutually Assured Destruction. We're getting near its end game.
Obama is passive-aggressive. He often won't move until he has to, by design, while talking as if he's taking action. That's very true here. Obama has yet to make a detailed budget proposal of his public, despite creating the impression that he has with a blizzard of show meetings and press conferences, following months and even years of commission studies.
As a result of the 2010 landslide mid-terms, a large part of Boehner's House caucus are "fire eaters" on spending and the deficit. Obama acts as if the 2010 landslide never happened. For Obama, elections only have consequences when people vote the way that he thinks they should.
In response, Boehner only has two moves at this point: 1) wait on Obama's lead, and then take the blame come August 2, or 2) pass something and then kick it over to Obama.
So expect #2 -- Boehner will have the House pass something this week, together with the Balanced Budget Amendment. It'll be something like a $2.5 trillion debt ceiling increase with equivalent cuts and no "revenue enhancements". Boehner doesn't have the votes to include even a token amount of revenue enhancements. Many House Republicans still resist any increase in the debt ceiling at all, so this won't be easy for Boehner to get passed. So it might be a smaller package of cuts and ceiling increase, so that the debt ceiling issue would come up again during the 2012 election campaign. Some Republican Presidential hopefuls want that.
In his Weekly Address today, Obama calls once again for shared sacrifice and compromise. He made comparisons to how in similar circumstances Ronald Reagan got a big deal done with Tip O'Neill, and Bill Clinton with Newt Gingrich. But Obama is no Ronald Reagan nor no Bill Clinton, as we'll soon see.
So if the House acts, expect McConnell to say that he has 40 or so Senate Republicans ready to go along. Obama will then have three possible moves:
1) Go along, and make excuses. Claim credit as much as he can.
2) Keep the crisis going. Mail letters to seniors. Let August 2 come -- blame Republicans for checks not getting mailed. Or not pay the Chinese.
3) Invoke the 14th Amendment "silver bullet" to blow through the debt ceiling. This is less likely now -- Geithner has made it clear that he'd quit.
Most Presidents would pick #1 -- Reagan and Clinton included. But Obama is no ordinary President.
I expect #2. Obama would rather be a consequential one-term President than go down as the Democratic President who started to dismantle the Welfare State. Can you imagine Obama doing a Bill Clinton and "ending welfare as we know it". NFW!
Given that the economy is stalled -- and Obama finally realizes how stalled it is -- "chaos" actually increases his chances at re-election, or so I expect Obama thinks. Creating and then managing chaos is what community organizers do.
In "Sleeper" Woody Allen plays a Rip Van Winkle-like character who wakes up in a dystopic future, with hilarious consequences. The explanation for how World War III got started is that Al Shanker -- the 1960s head of the American Federation of Teachers -- "got the bomb". Can you spell M-A-D.