it’s their story…

Posted on Friday 27 February 2009

John Bolton: The Mustache Lives
By Matthew Cooper
Talking Points Memo
February 26, 2009

If you imagine Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 1965 you have some idea of the reception that the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, gave John Bolton this morning. The former United Nations Ambassador packed the largest ballroom at Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel and delivered a rousing speech filled with attacks on the Obama administration but also plenty of broadsides aimed at George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice. He ripped the administration for ruling out the use of force to stop the Iranian nuclear program and he denounced the multilateral, six-party talks that the Bush administration initiated to thwart North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. According to Bolton, the talks succeeded only in giving the Pyonyang regime another five years to perfect its nuclear program and strengthen its missile capacity.

He saved his strongest attacks for the Obama administration, saying that it had appeased Russia during the campaign when then Senator Obama called on both sides of the Russian-Georgian conflict over South Ossetia to show restraint. He condemned Hillary Clinton for not making more of human rights issues on her recent trip to Asia and said that the administration’s diplomatic approaches to Iran and North Korea were only allowing both nations to fuel their nuclear ambitions.

When it comes to Israel, Bolton was especially hard on the administration saying that "for those who thought an Obama administration would be friendly to Israel, it’s time to wake up." Bolton did show moderation on some fronts. When asked by an audience member whether the policies of the Obama administration would lead to an armed revolution in the United States, Bolton said that he only wanted "a revolution at the ballot box." After his address, Bolton went to the exhibit hall where a long line of fans stood in line for him to sign copies of his latest book.
I don’t find this particularly funny – "When asked by an audience member whether the policies of the Obama administration would lead to an armed revolution in the United States, Bolton said that he only wanted ‘a revolution at the ballot box’." Armed Revolution is the logical extrapolation of what we’ve been hearing from the Republicans and their Media. These people don’t seem to believe in Democracy or the will of the people. If their governance over the last eight plus years didn’t make that clear, their behavior in the last 37 days can lead to no other conclusion – and John Bolton is a major Lunatic-in-Chief.

President Obama’s first budget recognizes what most of Washington has been too scared or ideologically blind to admit: to recover from George W. Bush’s reckless economic policies, taxes must go up. Mr. Obama’s blueprint, released on Thursday, commits to cutting by more than two-thirds, by 2013, the $1.75 trillion budget deficit that Mr. Bush dumped on the nation.

A credible pledge to reduce the deficit is imperative. Without it, foreign lenders — who financed the Bush-era deficits and are now paying for the stimulus and bailouts — could lose faith in the nation’s ability or willingness to repay in anything other than rapidly depreciating dollars. That would send interest rates up and the economy down, the worst-case scenario. Controlling the deficit is also necessary to sustain a recovery — when it comes.

The collapse of the Bush-era economy is ample and awful evidence of the folly of unconstrained debt-fueled growth. The Obama administration has acknowledged the need for deficit spending to stimulate the economy but has vowed that unpaid-for government will not become the norm. Judging from the blueprint, Mr. Obama is not just talking the talk…
Climate of Change
By Paul Krugman
February 27, 2009

Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.

The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished…

And even if fundamental health care reform brings costs under control, I at least find it hard to see how the federal government can meet its long-term obligations without some tax increases on the middle class. Whatever politicians may say now, there’s probably a value-added tax in our future.But I don’t blame Mr. Obama for leaving some big questions unanswered in this budget. There’s only so much long-run thinking the political system can handle in the midst of a severe crisis; he has probably taken on all he can, for now. And this budget looks very, very good.
While the Right contemplates sedition, the Left is evaluating Obama based on his adherence to a Progressive Agenda. We knew he was going to be sitting in a hot seat, but it’s a lot easier to predict the conflicts than to live with them. Truth is, there seems to be no compromise position. It simply doesn’t appear to exist.

I don’t find the current public debate very helpful. There’s no clear separation between the government’s response to the catastrophic economic crisis, and the two different visions of America being put forward. The Republicans are arguing against "pork," claiming that Obama’s Stimulus Plan, the Mortgage Plan, and the Budget Proposals are filled with Liberal "pork." The Democrats are saying all of these proposals are ultimately aimed at the economic problems. For example, the Health Care portions  of these programs are "socialism" and "big government" to the Right, and "getting control of health care costs" and "delivering health care to everyone" to the Left.

It’s hard at this point to imagine this dichotomy resolving any time soon. The divide is too fundamental. It’s not just a conflict over specific policies. It’s a class war, a philosophical dysjunction, a basic disagreement over how people relate to each other. Given the unresolvability of things, it seems like our team should stop playing so nice. I don’t mean start some news service, an anti-Fox news, but let the hearings begin. The best arguments at this point are the results of the last eight years. Why not? It’s their story…
    February 27, 2009 | 10:23 AM

    I say Bravo, Obama, for submitting an honest budget and for ending the Bush practice of pretending that funds for his “war on terror” were somewhere off the books. Also for beginning to undo the Republican’s war on the poor and middle class via tax policy.

    Charles Krauthammer writes about the budget in almost admiring tones — except, of course, that he thinks he’s pointing up its fatal flaw, ie it moves us into the realm of European style Social Democracy (wink, wink = socialism).

    I say, So what? I’d choose the better of their forms of social services, especially universal health care, over ours. They have not started any wars recently, and they measure better than we do on most quality of life measures.

    February 27, 2009 | 5:33 PM

    The differences in approach and capabilities-on-the-face-of-it between what we had and what we’ve got now are so apparent as to be at times blinding. But what do you do with the morons who’ve decided to keep their blindfolds on for all time? That anyone with an axon or two situated above the nasal sinuses would turn out to listen what a horse’s ass like Bolton has to say about anything is disappointing though at least he is out of way so far as perpetrating (as opposed to fomenting) harm to children and other living things.

    Pascal may have been on to something: “Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.”

    February 27, 2009 | 6:32 PM

    Carl, you and Blaise might’ve answered my question, “Why would anyone listen to John Bolton?” Even if I were the most conservative guy in the bleachers, I’d know that Bolton’s at the least crazy, more likely a dangerous criminal – the kind of guy that would’ve made SS material in another era.

    And Ralph, as for European style Social Democracy – after Bush, one is tempted to say, “Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!” However, I think the American style Social Democracy will evolve differently, based more on our national character and our heterogeneity.

    February 28, 2009 | 11:22 PM

    The biggest obstacle for us will be getting used to paying the high taxes that Europeans do to have their kind of social democracy. No matter that it would eliminate medical insurance payments, school tuition, longer vacations, etc.

    Repubs have done such a good job of splitting “taxes” off from “services” and making it just a hated word that makes people feel victimized. And those of us who do see the value have been so used to having tax money frittered away on trumped up wars and inefficiency and pet projects that we don’t expect to get much that people really need.

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