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Friday, February 12, 2010

the wheel's still in spin

Not much to share this evening, but I just wanted to point yall to this DKos post, which incorporates some recent commentary on what Obama is up to with this Health Care Summit... well worth reading.

UPDATE: Here's an article about Obama's outreach to Republicans Iran:

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama declared himself open to dialogue even with intransigent states like Iran. But there is little diplomatic nicety to be seen these days, as the administration presses tough new sanctions aimed at the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Monday of a drift toward a military dictatorship.

Ray Takeyh, a former Iran adviser to the Obama administration, said administration officials were learning from experience.

“There was a thesis a year ago that the differences between the United States and Iran was subject to diplomatic mediation, that they could find areas of common experience, that we were ready to have a dialogue with each other,” Mr. Takeyh said, but “those anticipations discounted the extent how the Iranian theocracy views engagement with the United States as a threat to its ideological identity.”

And if Mrs. Clinton is correct that the Revolutionary Guards, not the politicians or the clerics, are becoming the central power in Iran, the prospects for rapprochement can only look worse.

Not that Iran’s political and religious leaders, so far, have demonstrated much interest in Mr. Obama’s outreach.

Instead, administration officials say, the biggest benefit of Mr. Obama’s engagement policy now is not dialogue or understanding with adversaries, but simply a defusing of a worldwide view that the United States is part of the problem, a demonstration that the problem is Tehran’s intransigence, not Washington’s pique.

“What the president has achieved is that he has outed Iran,” a senior administration official said Friday. He said Iran, by refusing to respond positively, had exposed itself as uninterested in a better relationship with the United States.

That is now the central point of the new White House outlook on engagement, and it extends, administration officials say, to Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba as well. Mr. Obama, for instance, was criticized for shaking hands with Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez,at a summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year, but White House officials say that gesture has helped with Latin American views of Mr. Chávez’s anti-American rhetoric.

In the months ahead, administration officials hope they will benefit from a global perception that Mr. Obama has reached out to North Korea, Cuba and even Syria.

And here's Dylan performing at the White House last week:

this stanza certainly resonates:
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Sounds like a case against requiring cloture to suspend unlimited debate!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My friend Jim wrote a post on Immanuel Kant that actually inspired me to try my hand at writing a poem... which let's just say doesn't happen often haha. Here it is:

fundamental nature, sensuous cognition
the things we intuit are not our intuition

they are not as they appear
take away our senses
and space and time disappear

they cannot exist in themselves,
but only in us

our own mode of intuition,
our sensibility,

but not one step nearer
to knowing the things

you see
given space and time
it’s not that we don’t know
it’s that we kant

And now I have this song in my head:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

getting to know Republicans...

the voters:

their elected representatives:

This stuff doesn't make for a great blog post because there's nothing really new or interesting to say... But while there's nothing novel about hating on Republicans, it's nevertheless important! Not for the sake of getting worked up over it, but just to fully appreciate the basic political reality that any progress Dems make will be in spite of full Republican opposition. That's just the way it is.

Monday, February 8, 2010

when the dominos don't fall

This article argues that Obama has a too insular inner-circle which shuts out even members of his own cabinet from policy decisions (with special ire directed at Rahm):
Administration insiders say the famously irascible Mr Emanuel treats cabinet principals like minions. "I am not sure the president realises how much he is humiliating some of the big figures he spent so much trouble recruiting into his cabinet," says the head of a presidential advisory board who visits the Oval Office frequently. "If you want people to trust you, you must first place trust in them."

Not being there it's hard to gauge how valid these complaints are, but even from an outsiders vantage point, this certainly rings true:

Then there are the president's big strategic decisions. Of these, devoting the first year to healthcare is well known and remains a source of heated contention. Less understood is the collateral damage it caused to unrelated initiatives. "The whole Rahm Emanuel approach is that victory begets victory - the success of healthcare would create the momentum for cap-and-trade [on carbon emissions] and then financial sector reform," says one close ally of Mr Obama. "But what happens if the first in the sequence is defeat?"

Insiders attribute Mr Obama's waning enthusiasm for the Arab-Israeli peace initiative to a desire to avoid antagonising sceptical lawmakers whose support was needed on healthcare. The steam went out of his Arab-Israeli push in mid-summer, just when the healthcare bill was running into serious difficulties.

The same applies to reforming the legal apparatus in the "war on terror" - not least his pledge to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre within a year of taking office. That promise has been abandoned.

"Rahm said: 'We've got these two Boeing 747s circling that we are trying to bring down to the tarmac [healthcare and the decision on the Afghanistan troop surge] and we can't risk a flock of f***ing Canadian geese causing them to crash,' " says an official who attended an Oval Office strategy meeting. The geese stood for the closure of Guantánamo.

An outside adviser adds: "I don't understand how the president could launch healthcare reform and an Arab-Israeli peace process - two goals that have eluded US presidents for generations - without having done better scenario planning. Either would be historic. But to launch them at the same time?"

Again, close allies of the president attribute the problem to the campaign-like nucleus around Mr Obama in which all things are possible. "There is this sense after you have won such an amazing victory, when you have proved conventional wisdom wrong again and again, that you can simply do the same thing in government," says one. "Of course, they are different skills. To be successful, presidents need to separate the stream of advice they get on policy from the stream of advice they get on politics. That still isn't happening."

I actually loved that Obama moved on all fronts to address all these pressing issues, but certainly in hindsight it's looking like a risky strategy.

And, completely unrelated, here's a nice image in honor of J.D.: