Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Grand Strategy


The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California.

Top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching "fiscal meltdown" caused by a budget shortfall. Concern has grown inside the White House in recent weeks as California's fiscal condition has worsened, leading to high-level administration meetings. But federal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states.

With an economy larger than Canada's or Brazil's, the state is too big to fail, California officials urge.

"This matters for the U.S., not just for California," said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the state's Democratic congressional delegation. "I can't speak for the president, but when you've got the 8th biggest economy in the world sitting as one of your 50 states, it's hard to see how the country recovers if that state does not."

I think Californians are lucky that Obama hasn’t put California on the list of terrorist states yet.

Too big to fail? Where have I heard that before? This is reminiscent of the time California asked Bush for help during the energy crisis where Bush replied that “California created the problem, California can fix it.” Yet I suppose that when you are fighting terrorists all over the globe and you are busy passing legislation to fund those wars there may be little time or money to be had for domestic affairs.

And who gets hurt the worst? Why the poor of course because naturally among the first items to be cut from the budget will likely be a welfare system that more than one million people rely on and many other worthwhile programs that give aid to people whose very lives may depend upon like Medicaid. Whether the Obama administration is correct about California or not Congress (or at least in the House, it still has to pass in the Senate) has little problem when it comes to funding Obama’s Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


The House passed yesterday a $106 billion bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, as Democrats backed President Obama despite their misgivings about his strategy in Afghanistan.

The 226 to 202 vote came after Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner implored some reluctant Democrats during the day to back the bill, and after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had strongly pressed her colleagues in a closed-door meeting to vote for the bill. In the end, 221 Democrats voted yes, and 32 voted no.

One of those voting yes was Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had earlier said that he opposed the war funding. "We are in the process of wrapping up the wars. The president needed our support. But the substance still sucks," Weiner said.

And notice how this news story is framed. It’s always “Despite their misgivings” isn’t it? Yes, it is always and forever “though worried about the president’s strategy” or “despite this and that” they always manage to keep the marauding and hulking U.S. war machine chewing up the bodies and spitting them out. My favorite is the “president needs our support” and doggone it, it really, really sucks. Is this an adult speaking? Sucks? Yeah, it really sucks that we are blasting the lives of so many people around the world. It really sucks when you find the decapitated head of a child in the rubble left by U.S. air raids. It’s unavoidable suckiness though, you know -- collateral damage. Yeah, it all really sucks.

The long and the short of it is Congress will always fund the wars no matter how much bad acting and childish gibberish they enthrall us with. And not the least of the problems with Weiner’s statement is that it is completely insulting that we are supposed to be stupid enough to accept it at face value.

Returning to part of Weiner’s statement -- “The president needed our support” -- I would just like to ask what happened to that balance of power that exists in misty legends? If the president is clearly wrong on an issue as Weiner seems to be implying then isn’t it his job as a member of Congress to oppose it? That was a rhetorical question.

To sum it up there is no money to help keep valuable assistance and safety net programs in place for the poor, the aged, and the sick, but there’s nothing so urgent as funding wars under the nonsensical rubric of fighting terrorism.


At June 18, 2009 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it stunning that there are still people --largely Democrats, in my experience-- who persist in believing that the current Congress and current POTUS are actually benevolent, and are doing what's "best for America."

Can it be any clearer that the Congress and POTUS are merely rewarding the very richest Americans and American businesses, at the expense of the rest of us?

- the bailouts do not help anyone but the bailed out businesses' owners, directors, and executives

- the war and affiliated military spending do not help anyone but defense and associated contractors

- the "public option" health care plan that receives the most attention from POTUS and Congress is window dressing on status quo, which helps nobody but the people who are in the health care business... not the people who cannot get access to health care because of its prohibitive costs, which are beyond many folks' reach, including MY OWN.

This Spring I have taken two significant tumbles on my MTB. Both of them resulted in what I am certain are orthopaedic injuries -- I've hurt myself often enough in sports to know when I've done damage, I'm a regular user of orthopaedic services... or at least, I used to be before I lost my job and the associated med pay insurance benefits. Now I just "tough it out" and hope I don't cause permanent crippling results.

Yeah, Obama and the Congress really are trying to help us regular people. Really, they are. We just can't see it.

As I read somewhere else in blogtopia --

Obama is playing 112-dimensional chess, and

the rest of us are still trying to sort out the game of checkers,

so we should just sit tight, not complain, and wait for The Mighty Obamessiah to save us all. It's coming... really it is. He's just playing an advanced, complex strategy.


At June 18, 2009 9:58 AM, Anonymous Brian M said...

WIBDI. What if Bush Did It?

The endless mental gymnastics requried to still support Obama are entertaining at the least.

At June 18, 2009 4:19 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


That’s the main difference between the Iranians and Americans, Americans just sit and take it while the Iranians actually get out and so something about it. All we have is a two party system with only negligible differences, quite a democracy. It seems to me the Iranians could teach us a few things about democracy.


WIBDI is right, a perfect example. The gymnastics of the faithful is a reminder of how elastic their morals and sense of reality is.

At June 18, 2009 8:44 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

For my part I'm not entertained by the "endless gymnastics" needed to support Obama.

Temporarily denying California a bailout might makes sense if he stipulates that the Cal legislature vote in a state tax increase on upper-income residents, or better yet the voters rescind prop 13.

But, somewhat parenthetically, I don't get how the president can authorize a bailout, or deny one, either of which involves appropriations, the congress's area, but when congress does act-- say, to prevent funding the closure of Gitmo-- the same president who apparently has the power to force GM's president to step down or give AIG billions suddenly finds he can do nothing.

Mighty interesting.

At June 18, 2009 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lads, I've stacked up another house of jokers, had to throw away nearly all of 26 decks to make it:

At June 19, 2009 10:26 AM, Blogger rob payne said...


For my part I'm not entertained by the "endless gymnastics" needed to support Obama.

Sometimes all you can do is laugh at the insanity, to keep your own.

I agree proposition 13 was a mistake and surely is a huge part of the economic problem for California. And perhaps raising taxes on the wealthy would help. The energy crisis no doubt has contributed to the problem as well not to mention that much of California’s manufacturing base found in places like Silicon Valley has left the state and a fairly large chunk of revenue for the state with it.

I like your point about suddenly finding he can do nothing.


I have noticed the self-congratulatory leanings of bloggers. I have serious doubts as to how much blogging has influenced the political process. And if what passes for being liberal these days is merely a matter of having a democrat elected then it would be a very low bar to jump. I say that because Obama basically rode into power on Bush’s unpopularity as well as that of the Republican Party. So the Digby’s can congratulate themselves all they want but I’m not sure it is a very realistic view that they have influenced the imbalance of the power structure.

At June 19, 2009 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's a good point, Rob. the "anybody but Bush" notion reveals the weak-kneed nature of "opposition" among most of the Uber-Donkle. while they were busy cheering Obama because he simply was a separate entity from Mr Bush, they ignored what Obama was about, where he came from, who supported him ideologically, who gave him money, and most importantly, what sorts of interests Obama had furthered in his post-law school work history. the writing was on the wall in elementary-school English for all to see, yet many of the Uber-Donkle decided that the writing was irrelevant as long as the man himself was not the very same person as Mr Bush.

meanwhile, this was the truth, the reality, about Mr Obama:

and it remains so.


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