Friday, April 10, 2009

AND YET MORE OF THAT "CHANGE" WE CAN ALL BELIEVE IN

From today's AP:
President Barack Obama wants Congress to act quickly on his $83.4 billion request for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

* * *
Obama also requested $350 million in new Pentagon funding for counternarcotics and other security activities along the U.S.-Mexico border, with another $400 million in counterinsurgency aid to Pakistan.

* * *
It also would finance Obama's initiative to boost U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to more than 60,000 from the current 38,000. And it would provide $2.2 billion to accelerate the Pentagon's plans to increase the overall size of the U.S. military, including a 547,400-person active-duty Army.

* * *
Obama was a harsh critic of the Iraq war as a presidential candidate, a stance that attracted support from the Democratic Party's liberal base and helped him secure his party's nomination. He opposed an infusion of war funding in 2007 after Bush used a veto to force Congress to remove a withdrawal timeline from the $99 billion measure. But he supported a war funding bill last year that also included about $25 billion for domestic programs. Obama also voted for war funding in 2006, before he announced his candidacy for president. The request includes $75.8 billion for the military and more than $7 billion in foreign aid. Obama also warned lawmakers not to succumb to the temptation to use the must-pass war funding bill as a vehicle for other spending. And he said they should act quickly on the request.
That's it. I'm done. It's taken him all of 100 days to prove that he's completely full of shit. I defy anyone to explain to me how he's any different than Bush. Go for it; I wanna hear the explanations.

Meanwhile, from my perspective, congratulations Mr. Obama. Step up and join Bush II, Bush I, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, and the rest. You suck.

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31 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Would you prefer we immidiately pull out without any transition? If not, that costs money.

I don't think this is any different from what he said he would do.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Would you prefer we immediately pull out without any transition?

Absolutely.

I don't think this is any different from what he said he would do.

He said he would increase troop levels? Fight a border war against Mexican drug dealers?

8:43 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE5383VV20090409?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

How is Obama's incredibly irresponsible urging of people to take second (or third) mortgages on their homes any different than Bush's excoriation that we all do more shopping? Both are telling people to go further into debt in order to "stimulate" the economy and "restore confidence."

Obama's a confidence man, that's for damn sure.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"Absolutely."

I don't agree with that approach, but that is fine. I also don't think Obama ever said he would have an immediately pull out. That is what some of his liberal supporters heard, but they were wrong and only heard what they wanted to hear.

"He said he would increase troop levels?"

Yes, he said he would increase troops in Afghanistan.

"Fight a border war against Mexican drug dealers?"

I don't recall this coming up in the campaign, but maybe it did. What I would say, not being an expert on the situtation, is this: the problems in Mexico are growing, the government there may collapse, and if these probelems are spilling across into our country, then a strong response may be needed.

(FYI - By "strong response", I don't mean some Lou Dobbs inspired attack on poor people crossing the boarder. I sure wouldn't want to be lumped into that crowd.)

8:53 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"How is Obama's incredibly irresponsible urging of people to take second (or third) mortgages on their homes any different than Bush's excoriation that we all do more shopping?"

He is urging refininancing, not taking an additional mortgage. Refinancing could get people out of stupid ARMs and into fixed rates.

Man suddenly I am Obama's main defender. I usually don't sound like such a kool-aid drinker. This sucks. Oh well.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I also don't think Obama ever said he would have an immediately pull out.

He didn't. But when did he say he would increase troop levels across the entire armed forces, spend more doing so, and expand the scope of military action into four different theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mexico)?

the problems in Mexico are growing, the government there may collapse, and if these probelems are spilling across into our country, then a strong response may be needed.

That's the sort of shifting facts/shifting logic that got us into the various messes that haunt us, in Iraq, in the economy, with foolish anti-drug policy, etc. Look at what you've said:

the problems in Mexico are growing

Yeah? So? That's their problem, not ours? And anyway, what's the root of the "problem"? Our idiotic drug war, which Obama is carrying on . . . just the same as every President that came before him. NO CHANGE.

the government there may collapse

"May" collapse. Or . . . may not. Just like Saddam "may" have had WMDs, and the Iraqi government "may" have collapsed, and we "may" have accomplished our mission in two months . . .

if these problems are spilling across into our country

"If" is a very powerful word. And there's spilling over into our country and there's spilling over into our country. Are we talking about a dozen banditos raiding the town of some idiot Minutemen type who dream of guarding our border? Or is a force of 1,000 men invading El Paso and raping & pillaging viking style?

Look what happened in 1916, the last time we tried to militarily handle a Mexican bandit who crossed the border. An embarrassing loss . . . and preparations for the bigger war we got embroiled in the next year.

No thanks.

then a strong response may be needed

So "may" no response. Again, no thanks.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Refinancing could get people out of stupid ARMs and into fixed rates.

But they CONTRACTED to pay at those adjustable rates. What about the banks who own those mortgages? What do they get out of this, other than the bag?

Oh . . . that's right, I forget. Obama doesn't give a shit about regional banks. he only cares for the megabanks on Wall St. No bailout for the smaller banks, and no help either.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I think we are debating two different things. You are questioning the policy, which we can debate. All I am saying is that of the things mentioned in this post, I don't think he is doing anything different than what he promised. In the case of Iraq and Afganistan, I DO believe it is different than the Bush adminisration.

If you are trying to make the case that Obama voters are dumbasses and they should have voted third party, then fine. All I can say is that based on the things in this post, I am not surprised by the actions. They seem in line with what he campaigned on.

But they CONTRACTED to pay at those adjustable rates...

But that wasn't your arguement. You said he was encouragaing second and third mortgages, which he is not. The article you linked to did not make that case either.

BTW- despite this fine debate, I have really been enjoying your posts on the banking crisis. They have been well-written and very informative.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Thanks for the kind words, seriously. But you can feel free to tee off on me and call me a jackass too! ;-)

If I've spoken too absolutely, then my bad. I suppose if we want to parse every action we can prove that at the micro level there are differences between Obama and Bush and that Obama has kept some of his campaign promises.

My point, however, is that at the broad level -- executive branch policy, economic policy, foreign policy -- there's not a shred of difference between them. Nor any difference from Clinton or Reagan either.

They all work for the same bosses.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"But you can feel free to tee off on me and call me a jackass too!"

Likewise. I need it from time to time.

I would agree that there is too many similarities between the economic polcies of the last five Presidents, Democrats and Republicans included. You may have seen me spout off about trade.

The one they I may not agree with you on is that Obama's basis for his economic policies are the same because he is bought. Unfortunately, I think way too many people have fallen for the Wall Street economic theories and actually see them as truth. We need to challenge them at every turn to get people to start questioning what so called economists spew.

Has more bank regulation taken hold yet, no. Do I think we will see more regulation than what was under the last four Presidents? Yes.

Do I think there will be a great deal of difference between the foreign policies of Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Obama? No. Do I think Obama will differ from Bush II? Yes, becuase Bush II was the one who completely changed the way America handled foreign policy.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

But when did he say he would increase troop levels across the entire armed forces, spend more doing so, and expand the scope of military action into four different theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mexico)?

He didn't say he wouldn't! In fact, he did say he would expand Afghanistan. So, I don't feel lied to there. He did say that Pakistan is as much of a problem to be dealt with as Afghanistan, so I don't feel lied to there, and in fact I think he's absolutely right to expand operations there. Iraq will take time to step down from, and he said he'd do that, so again, I don't feel lied to there. And the Mexico thing...I'm not terribly heartbroken to jump in and help fix that situation between the government and the cartels. He didn't say he wouldn't do something like that. I don't feel lied to there either.

As far as I'm concerned, on foreign policy, he's 4 for 4. It's the domestic policy wiretapping issue and the banking stuff where I feel he's full of shit.

Our idiotic drug war, which Obama is carrying on . . . just the same as every President that came before him. NO CHANGE.

I think the Mexico kerfluffle goes way beyond the bullshit war on drugs. I think it is a result of it for sure, but the solution isn't "no more war on drugs."

What's happening in Mexico is spilling over in the U.S. I am typing on the fly, but if I get to it over the weekend, the rise in Mexican gang-related violence and membership in the U.S. based solely on the flow of drugs and cartels into the U.S. is a huge problem not only all the way up the West Coast into Washington State, but also in little towns in Michigan like Saginaw and Holland. I just worked on a 4-bill package dealing with gangs and gang-related violence that just got signed by the Guv. Point is: the problem is coming over here. But Obama never said "I am ending the war on drugs during my Presidency." No, no change, but working with Mexico to deal with the effects of that "war" is something I expect him to do...and I see him doing it. SO I feel no betrayal there either.

Furthermore, we can't have a destabilized government right next to us. We need an ally.

All I am saying is that of the things mentioned in this post, I don't think he is doing anything different than what he promised.

I agree with Bob.

Again, in terms of those aspects of foreign policy, I think Obama is doing what he said he'd do.

Where I am hopping mad is, as I said above, domestic wiretapping (I thought he said he'd end it...and now he agrees with it????), and the economic crisis.

So in terms of "serving the same bosses" I would agree with respect to the economy. The last 5 Prezs served Wall Street. But in terms of Foreign policy? I see the change I asked for by voting for him. Domestic policy: jury is still out, but he has a big Strike 1 given his relative support of domestic wiretapping.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

It's been said by Smitty and Bob, but Obama said during his entire campaign that if elected, he would allocate troops to where they were needed to actually fight the war on terror--Afgahnistan. He's delivering on a campaign promise, no?

Also, contrary to what you're suggesting, expanding the size of the military isn't a continuation of Bush policies. Lest we forget, it was the Rumsfeld cabal's desire to run a war on the cheap that cost the most American lives during the early years of the U.S. occupation in Iraq.

1:40 PM  
Blogger steves said...

Mexico is seriously messed up, but I agree with Mike, how is that our problem? While I am not completely oblivious to the plight of the people of Mexico, we have seen what supposed good intentions and nation building can get us. We need to tread very cautiously in this area. We don't exactly have a great history of benevolent aid to our neighbors to the south.

Until we do something to lower the demand, there will always be drugs and the associated crime and issues that go along with that. This is only exacerbated by the high level of corruption and thuggery in the Mexican gov't and military. We have been funding a variety of anti-drug programs in Mexico, Central America and South America for the last 30+ years that have not been all that successful. Please tell me how this one will be different.

I agree that Mexican gangs are a problem here, but don't you think that 350 million would be better spent in fighting the problem here. How is spending that money in Mexco going to stop gang problems in the US?

2:26 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Let's suppose that we're successful in helping Mexico get a handle on the drug cartels, does that mean we go back to business as usual for the past 30 years? Is anyone under the illusion that once these guys are taken care of the problem will be solved? Have we learned nothing from Prohibition, or the last 30 years for that matter?

The War on Drugs is a failure. Not only do we have the most people in prison in the world (even beating out China) but we also have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And yet the illegal drug trade is as popular as ever. There's a whole prison industry out there now that helps states outsource their prison populations. How can we call ourselves the "leader of the free world"?

It's time to end the War on Drugs. The first step is to decriminalize marijuana and terminate mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenders. I know there are some that want overnight legalization, but with the hysteria that often occurs on this issue, small steps are needed.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

The first step is to decriminalize marijuana and terminate mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.

That's one of my clients: Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Workin' on it...

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

The other day I was "strolling" though the Libertarian Forum's archives. The Libertarian Forum was Murray Rothbard's vehicle for discussing libertarian ideas, the state of the movement, current events, etc.

Anyway, it started off in 1969 as a bi-weekly letter with lots of hope. By the end, in 1984, it was down to a handful of issues a year and the general theme to the letters seems to have been "the Libertarian movement has imploded"

What helped the Libertarian movement flourish in the first place? Rothbard explains:

"inflationary recession, Vietnam, and Watergate. - happening coincidentally at the same time,
exerted a synergistic effect in spreading massive disillusionment in the American State. Surely it can be no accident that this was precisely the beginning of enormous
growth in the modern libertarian movement. Americans got increasingly repelled at high taxes, saw that marijuana laws
were counter-productive, and became far more concerned with civil liberties after seeing the peccadilloes committed by the FBI and CIA during Watergate. A healthy distrust of politicians spread throughout the land. Increasing interest in
libertarianism came as the public grew intrigued with a movement dedicated to getting Big government "off our backs."

But then the movement nearly died off. Why?

Besides personal and leadership issues (e.g., a change in the Zeitgeist; political in-fighting) Rothbard identifies one thing above all others: the "Reagan phenomenon."

Of Reagan, Rothbard said (in his last letter, just after Reagan's '84 election romp):

"The consequence is that Reagan has managed to bring with him an Endless Summer orgy flag-waving and
jingoism, has given even greater life to the theocrats of the Moral Majority, and has managed to convince the quasi-libertarians
among the masses that he has actually rolled back Big Government, all failures being successfully loaded onto the hapless Democrat Party."

Rothbard went on to describe the impact on the libertarian movement:
"AS we Wrote in our early analysis, ''Movement Depression"
(Lib. Fomm, April 1983), Republican Administrations always
bring a financial setback to the Movement, since many
movement-inclined businessmen immediately conclude:
"Why educate? We've already won." This phenomenon, which set back the movement in the Eisenhower
Administration and in the early Nixon years, has been particularly virulent under Reagan, since Reagan's right-wing rhetoric has intensified the misconception that Victory has already arrived...But there is more to the debacle. For there has been a deep ideological shift among many of our business and wealthy individual and foundation patrons. Many of ,the quasi-individualist Old Right supporters have died off, and have been replaced by trendy young neo-conservatives, and hence the flow of funds has changed accordingly."

Anyway, what's this got to do with anything? It seems to me that Obama constitutes a threat AND an opportunity to Progressive Movement (and an unqualified opportunity to the Libertarian Movement).

I can't say I know the state of the Progressive Movement. It could be that Clinton's popularity did as much damage to it as Reagan's did to the Libertairan movement. Also, Nader's 2000 run seems to have alienated a lot of otherwise-sympathetic Democrats.

But I wonder about Obama: will he stick the 15-year knife in the Progressive Movement? (as his policies, however different from Bush's, are about as Progressive as Reagan's were Libertarian. IMHO, "not much.")

Or, will his policies fail to such an extent that it re-ignites the Progressive movement, much as Bush's re-ignited the Libertarian?

Failure -- and by "failure" I mean simply rectifyable, "wrong" policies noticeably producing their inevitable results -- might not be such a bad thing, by the way; maybe it will result in the long-pined-for Progressive-Allied-with-Libertarians movement ("PALs"). Maybe for a day, at least. lol.

Sorry about the long comment.

Applesaucer

7:55 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

the Mexico kerfluffle goes way beyond the bullshit war on drugs. I think it is a result of it for sure, but the solution isn't "no more war on drugs."

Why?

Obama said during his entire campaign that if elected, he would allocate troops to where they were needed to actually fight the war on terror--Afgahnistan. He's delivering on a campaign promise, no?

First, where were Mexico and a general troop increase in his promises?

Second, this isn't only about failed promises. It's about policy. Much of this is bad policy. Period.

I can't say I know the state of the Progressive Movement. It could be that Clinton's popularity did as much damage to it as Reagan's did to the Libertarian movement.

Absolutely. And so far, Obama reminds me of Clinton, a President who I hated.

maybe it will result in the long-pined-for Progressive-Allied-with-Libertarians movement ("PALs")

I hope so. And nicely-put with "PALs."

8:41 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I think it is a result of it for sure, but the solution isn't "no more war on drugs."

Why?


I left out the word "solely" so it should read "...but the solution isn't solely "no more war on drugs."

There's dealing with drugs, then there's dealing with drugs the way we deal with them. And the way we deal with them is a cause behind why Mexico is blowing up. I just think it's OK for us to be involved pretty heavily in un-blowing-it-up.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

And the way we deal with them is a cause behind why Mexico is blowing up. I just think it's OK for us to be involved pretty heavily in un-blowing-it-up.

But if drugs were legal, there'd be no market for illegal Mexican drugs. And no need for Mexican drug gangs.

Our idiotic laws are causing this problem. And any meddling by our government will only make matters worse.

Not to mention that we don't have the $350 million to spend, and it's not worth the life of one American soldier who's gonna die fighting this pseudo-war.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Mike, I'm practically willing to concede you larger point of Obama being a disappointment and business-as-usual, but your whole post falls apart with your examples and conclusions....

Smitty and Bob already took you apart on the foreign policy stuff, and I've go nothing to add there except that you must not have been paying attention during the campaign.

And Mexico? As if that is a major plank in the platform...And I'm hardly gonna excoriate the guy for paying attention to a country we share a border with.

War on Drugs? Obama's DoJ has completely backed off the prior Admin's policy of raiding medical marijuana farmers...He demoting the Drug Czar...There have been other departures as well. Given political realities and the other shit on his plate, I consider what Obama's done on the War on Drugs to be a highlight of his tenure.

You've been hitting 'em out of the park on Geithner and financial stuff, but you whiffed badly here.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

but your whole post falls apart with your examples and conclusions . . .

. . . but you whiffed badly here.


You know it's funny, when I fired up the computer this morning I wondered if there were gonna be more comments, and I thought of adding a coda.

And what you've said here goes right in that direction.

If you look back at the original post, you'll see that it doesn't really go off about broken promises. Instead it just complains that we're seeing more wasteful spending and foolish adventurism.

Then Bob -- who deserves nearly all of the credit for my three-up-three-down (with 3 Ks) inning here in the comments -- really nailed me by pulling me off into a different argument about Obama's broken promises.

Well done, Bob. Again, no sarcasm. I appreciate good debating technique, and leading me down the garden path into another issue was a winning move.

That said, I firmly stand by the original point in my post -- that Obama's policies suck: he's wasting money we don't have, setting us up for more losses, following misguided principals.

Furious -- and others -- you can try to explain to me all you want about Obama's drug policies. But when he spends $350 billion dollars to send the army to the Mexican border to engage drug gangs, well that tells me all I need to know about his policy.

And that policy sucks.

I stand by what I said. After 100 days Obama has joined Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II in the category of Presidenst that I hate.

I broke a 16 year policy of never voting Dem or GOP last November. I make a promise to myself and to all of you -- that'll never happen again. No fucking way.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"You've been hitting 'em out of the park on Geithner and financial stuff..."

Reasonable minds could be outraged by the way that is going. I am still not sure anyone had a choice in the matter in the beginning, but some tough decisons need to be made on how long and far we will prop these guys up.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

$350 Billion at the Mexican border? I think you meant MILLION. Not that that's not an astronomical figure...but obviously there's an order of magnitude there.

I will say have paid ZERO attention to any issue regarding the border now or a couple years ago when everyone was apoplectic one way or the other on immigration—it's not on my fucking radar, and this is unlikely to change that. Even the War on Drugs (always just a side-issue to me) has bumped way down the list of shit I'm worried about one way or the other.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Obama IS failing mightily on the one and only issue I am concerned about—the economy.

While I feel much more comfortable with him in charge than I would were Bush (or McCain) PResident, it's pretty small consolation right now: I just think Obama and his team will go out of their way to make sure more crumbs fall to the rest of us while they hand over vast sums of unaccountable cash to Wall Street. With the Republicans it would be an accident.

I'm looking at the Obama/Geithner Plan as 10% Robin Hood, 90% highway robbery. And that 10 percent is not coming close to covering my expectations of him.

In conclusion, Mike, rest assured that while I will still show up and defend Obama where I think he deserves it, there is no way you will match my disappointment—since your expectations started that much lower.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Actually Obama is failing mightily on matters related to Executive Branch power and protection as well. While that's not hitting me over and over again in the stomach as badly as the economy, it is actuall more disappointing to me—THAT is an area where I expected some clarity and change.

After the FISA vote I was skeptical. Now I am getting pissed

(BTW, I;m loving these new phonetic word verifications...)

12:26 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

there is no way you will match my disappointment—since your expectations started that much lower.

Yes and no. My expectations for his treatment of the economy were lower. I expected much of what we've gotten.

But I had HIGH hopes on the executive power front, along with civil liberties. Much of what he's done is a shocking disappointment.

2:40 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Applesaucer: Yeah, that's how it looked to me regarding Reagan duping people into thinking he was ridding us of the big fed gov't.

I'm not optimistic about a PAL movement. I've seen snide comments from both sides attacking the other. Too much focus about differences rather than common goals.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I'm not optimistic about a PAL movement. I've seen snide comments from both sides attacking the other. Too much focus about differences rather than common goals.

I'm not optimistic either. Afterall, I've been called a "Glibertarian" and an "Ayn Randian" by more morons than I can count lately. But I'll keep doing my (admittedly small) part to bring a common ground to the fore.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Agi said...

I never expected anything different from Obama, so this does not come as a disappointment. I've got to laugh at all the believers on the left who thought the Big O was going to be their savior. The ones who haven't lost faith have simply compromised their values and become cheerleaders for the War Party.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Agi, thanks for the link. That was excellent. And you and the writer of that post sum up a lot of what I tried to say on Friday but didn't express clearly.

It's not just his economic policies that suck. Nor is it just that he's been disappointing on executive power and civil liberties. Nor is it just that his foreign policy actions seem to have gone beyond what he campaigned on.

It's all of it.

And . . . it's this weird, and inexplicable defense of his policies from the same folks who attacked Bush for doing the same things.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

I really don't think you folks beat Mike on the core on this debate.

His core point was that Obama and Bush's policies are essentially the same. You can argue that there are differences. And of course there are. If Bush had served three terms, he would've changed his focus too.

And as I argued on a previous comment, if two different cooks, cook two different pot roasts, they are likely to use different recipes. But they will still be pot roasts.

As to Obama slacking off on marijuana farmers, while helping Afghanistan increase heroin production to make cheese for America school kids, this seems like an exercise in looking for corn in poop.

It's still poop. I don't care if there's corn in it.

There is no right war. Iraq is an illegal war and so is Afghanistan.

We went invaded Afghanistan for two reasons, the Taliban wanted too much money from Ken Lay for the pipeline deal and they were destroying the heroin trade by executing heroin drug lords.

That Northern Alliance we teamed up with, remember? Those were the drugs lords who's products are sold in US High Schools as 'cheese'. The heroin trade in Afghanistan was getting wiped out by the Taliban. Now Afghanistan is the world's number one exporter.

If you're behind the war in Afghanistan, then you out to support it at home. Teach your kids to shoot heroin. This war isn't going to finance itself.

The Drug War isn't going away. It supports a huge part of the international banking system. Dubai isn't being built completely on oil money you know. There's a reason that their system can't be reviewed by any law enforcement agencies.

And I agree Mike. The arguments for Obama, sound exactly like the arguments for Bush. The doublespeak and compromised principles. Bush supporters were constantly telling me that they didn't keep up with politics, but they had a feeling in their toe, that I was wrong. Now it's Obama supporters telling me the same thing.

The facts speak for themselves. Obama is following Bush's script on all of the big important issues. And as Mike argues, this is not because it was even bush's plan. The plan comes from someone else, Obama is just following the script. You can put glitter on poop, but it's still poop.

11:23 AM  

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