Absolute Insanity

There’s not much that I feel needs to be added to this tail-end of this interview.

Last night’s address by President Obama was a huge disappointment, but one that should have been entirely expected. At the end of the day, while there may be a distinct improvement in style, there’s very little difference in terms of substance between this “commander in chief” and the former one. How depressing.

I’m with John Cole on this one: “I just don’t know what to think.”

Is it any wonder that most people are so cynical and disaffected when it comes to expecting any real change from politicians that are more often than not entirely fungible, held hostage to the corporate interests that get them installed in office and then generously provide for their welfare in perpetuity through respectable forms of bribery… It’s all such a fraudulent sham.

And with that, I need to take a shower, a long walk in the sunshine and another sanity-regenerating sabbatical away from all this nonsense for a while.

29 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan War, George W. Bush, Obama

29 responses to “Absolute Insanity

  1. benalbanach

    I’d like to hear the President comment on the military bases and Embassy that are being built . Doesn’t look much like an intent to withdraw.

  2. Yup, because being a good orator is just so important.

    “it’s only words and words are all I have to steal your heart away” (BeeGees)

  3. Good point. Whatever happened to that discussion vis-à-vis Iraq? Largest U.S. embassy in the world and a score of military bases all over the country… everything rife with corruption and waste, but look, over there, a shiny thing — Tiger Woods had a domestic dispute and hit a fire hydrant while being chased by his furious wife!

    Urgh. I can’t deal with it sometimes.

  4. Navvy

    Probably best you stay away from theglobeandmail.com then. For the past couple hours their lead story has been:

    Hampson on the Tiger Woods affair
    Globe Life columnist takes your questions on the golf great’s recent woes”

    Forget the stupidity of the story and its prime web space, how about people logging on and asking questions of somebody who has probably never met Tiger Woods, and certainly won’t have any meaningul insight into his personal life.

    As to Obama, I’ll be interested in reading this section of his memoirs. This certainly wasn’t a quick decision and, I’d suggest, probably goes against his better judgement, given the length of time he took to think on it.

  5. I couldn’t really care less about Tiger Woods or his personal life. He’s an amazing golfer and seems like a reasonably decent person, but there are a few irksome things about him when it comes to his corporate endorsements.

    As one example, lending his name (or “brand”) to >Accenture® which is the re-tooled version of Arthur Anderson, the disgraced accounting firm that rubber-stamped the phony bookkeeping of Enron and helped facilitate that little scam that resulted in a pointless new regime of regulation (Sarbanes-Oxley) in 2002 that did nothing but give firms like this a new accounting venue to exploit. Such a charade.

  6. Ti-Guy

    how about people logging on and asking questions of somebody who has probably never met Tiger Woods, and certainly won’t have any meaningul insight into his personal life.

    I know. That’s the even worse than covering the story to begin with.

    User-generated content and interactivity: the death-knell of the mainstream media.

  7. burpster

    If memory serves, didn’t the Taliban offer to hand over Bin Laden to the US? All they required was some evidence of his involement in 9-11.

  8. You recall correctly. They were willing to hand him over… not directly to the U.S., but via a third-party to the World Court in the Hague (which of course the Americans don’t acknowledge or subscribe to because they’re “exceptional”). So I guess you can take that gesture in a number of different ways and further deduce things from it, but the bottom line is that post 9-11 they were willing to offer up Bin Laden. Rumsfeld however wanted some initial target practice for the airforce before directing attention of the U.S. military to Iraq where his amazing “Shock and Awe” fireworks display would conclusively prove his theory that wars could be fought “on the cheap” with precise methodology.

    Sadly though, being a crappy hellhole and one of the poorest countries on planet Earth there weren’t really a whole lot of “good targets” in Afghanistan to shoot for and the whole military exercise was over quite quickly. The U.S. Forces did however discharge some excess MREs and stale-dated food packets on Afghan villages from the backside of bombers at the time to give the whole exercise that “humanitarian” gloss needed to secure the moral high ground.

    And there was an added “benefit” to the whole affair — it was a means of disposing of massive amounts of otherwise useless equipment and hardware that would just otherwise have piled up as junk, dumped someplace or parked in a remote desert, thereby clearing the books for a whole new set of purchases.

    Speaking of which… it’s great that Ron Paul wants to audit the Fed (an initiative that I support, btw), but has anyone suggested auditing the Pentagon’s books or just even looking at their inventory in detail? How about the salaries of generals be examined and the retirement benefits of senior military leaders be looked into… Why are there 200 military golf courses around the world?

    And on and on…

  9. “didn’t the Taliban offer to hand over Bin Laden to the US?”

    ah, but accepting that offer would have put a damper on chimpco’s intention to invade iraq.

    KEvron

  10. Grammin

    Even I believe Afghanistan to be a lost cause.
    We could “win”, but in order to do so would require ruthless and evil tactics ie. slaughtering entire villages, carpet-bombing pretty much any Taliban sympathizing community and/or dropping their dead encased in pig carcasses into their villages.
    By resorting to the ways of our enemies, we would become monsters ourselves, so cutting and running is probably the most righteous path. (and yes i realize this paragraph to be a mess but I’m trying to watch the hockey game at the moment.)

    So, in short – fuck the arms-manufacturers and wasting more lives and resources on a nation that will never fully embrace our values.
    Pax.

  11. I so dislike Michael Moore and his “faux every guy” look. But, when he says, “We never really talk about the money..” he is exactly right.

    Back during the election, I suggested there was truly little difference between Obama and McCain, and suggested they received the same amount of money, for example, from AIG.

    I was wrong. The money wasn’t going to Obama, and the Democrats got somewhat more.

    From http://www.opensecrets.org:

    Over time, AIG hasn’t shown an especially partisan streak, splitting evenly the $9.3 million it has contributed since 1989. In the last election cycle, though, 68 percent of contributions associated with the company went to Democrats. Two senators who chair committees charged with overseeing AIG and the insurance industry, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), are among the top recipients of AIG contributions. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and has collected more money from AIG in his congressional career than from any other company–$91,000. And with more than $280,000, AIG has been the fourth largest contributor to Dodd, who chairs the Senate’s banking committee. President Obama and his rival in last year’s election, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), are also high on the list of top recipients.

    AIG has been a personal investment for lawmakers, too. Twenty-eight current members of Congress reported owning stock in AIG in 2007, worth between $2.5 million and $3.3 million. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the richest members of Congress, was by far the biggest investor in AIG, with stock valued around $2 million.

    There is an “us” and “them”, and it isn’t necessarily the “right” and the “left”. I think its the puppeteers and the rest of us.

  12. Hmm. After looking at “opensecrets” a little more.. it appears, suprise, suprise, the Defence Industry also gave more money to the Democrats than the Republicans in 2008. $12.2 million (Dems) to $11.5 million (Reps).

  13. Navvy

    AIG has been a personal investment for lawmakers, too. Twenty-eight current members of Congress reported owning stock in AIG in 2007, worth between $2.5 million and $3.3 million.

    That stat is shocking. Not surprising, but shocking nonetheless.

  14. ..and yet, we on the blogosphere, continue to shoot arrows at eachother, like WE are the bad guys..

    Makes you think. We still have some very different opinions, but, near as I can tell, neither TiGuy nor myself are paying enough money to government to “get our way”.

  15. TofKW

    Makes you think. We still have some very different opinions, but, near as I can tell, neither TiGuy nor myself are paying enough money to government to “get our way”.

    Congratulations Tom.
    Welcome to the Matrix.

    I’ve only been saying for years now this whole manufactured ‘left’ vs ‘right’ antagonism was a distraction designed to keep us from seeing the big picture.

    Whether you vote Conservative or Liberal / Republican or Democrat makes little difference …the AIG’s of the world contribute to BOTH parties.

  16. Navvy

    Rob, you can’t really compare financing in Canada and the United States. The gulf between the two systems is absolutely massive. Lobbying is certainly alive and well in Canada, but I’d suggest that it doesn’t usually consist of buying votes. In the US the bribery is completely open and transparent.

  17. TofKW

    Sorry Rob, I don’t know where I got ‘Tom’ from when I was writing that.

  18. TofKW

    In addition to Navvy’s comments, it is for the lobbying situation seen in our neighbours to the south that shows maintaining some form of public financing for political parties is not such a bad notion. Election spending limits is another good idea.

  19. Navvy

    I think that C-24 is a real legacy for the Chretien government. I believe something like 80-90% of federal election funding in Canada comes from the government.

    That being the case, it’s strange how much influence groups like the council of chief executives have… though I suppose MPs always need jobs after their time in office. I do wonder though, whether that influence is do to possible future opportunities or just shared ideology.

  20. Ti-Guy

    but, near as I can tell, neither TiGuy nor myself are paying enough money to government to “get our way”.

    I don’t know how you go from how American politics financed (which is, in all seriousness a form of legal graft) to our governance.

    Everyone should stop doing this; especially people with advanced educations 😉 . People are horribly confused. Our governance isn’t guided by those principles to nearly the same extent as it is in the States.

    How Canadians are governed has its own horrible weaknesses and that’s what we should focus on.

  21. ..I don’t disagree for a moment that there is a significant gulf between the transparent and open graft inherent in the U.S. system and the more subtle influence that we have in Canada.

    But, it is still there.

    And that among other things, that has been one of my difficulties with our current government since the whole “coalition” fiasco. Reducing public funding and forcing parties to rely upon private interests, is in my mind, the exact wrong thing to do.

    ..I don’t really want to get into it too much, but having some involvement in politics, one of the biggest irritants is the degree to which we are preoccupied with raising money. And there is a problem with that.. maybe not in the same degree as the U.S., but it’s still there.

    Every time you ask someone for a donation or to come to a dinner, or whatever, there is a subtle notion of “what’s in it for me”?

    Do we really think that the Judges in our courts, the Senators we have in Ottawa, the members of our government Boards aren’t selected, to a great measure, based upon what they “gave” the government?

    And there’s no stones being thrown in this glass house, because my biggest irritation with current government is, in this regard, they haven’t shown themselves to be any better than the Liberals.. even after the “great” speach of former PM Mulroney about John Turner “having a choice, sir”.

  22. Ti-Guy

    Off-topic, but I came across this yesterday via a podcast of CBC’s Ideas.

    I found it interesting because the thesis Wolfe is advancing proposes that there hasn’t been a break between “classical liberalism” (which the Right has co-opted) and modern liberalism; that there’s a continuity in liberalism that has adapted successfully to changing times and circumstances (particularly with respect to the institutions of authority…monarchy and religion) and that it remains, among the alternatives he describes (liberalism, conservatism, socialism, nationalism and romanticism) the world view best suited for these times.

    I also found it interesting because it’s the first time I’ve seen romanticism brought up in the context of political ideology. Wolfe in fact assigns romanticism to the neoconservatives; that the neoconservatives are the modern romantics. Given the grandiosity of their ideas and their rejection of realism (which underpins liberalism), it’s a compelling argument.

    Now, back to Rob’s comment…

  23. Ti-Guy

    Ok, finished.

    But, it is still there.

    Well, nothing’s perfect. Canadians agonise over the lack of transparency and regulatory complexity with respect to what influences make up the power relationships in our governments, but I’ve come to kind of appreciate that. The remedies, as we see in the States, don’t actually fix the problem but largely legitimise and entrench the corruption, to the point where the system itself cannot be reformed.

    The great thing about Canada is that when any of these politicians and courtiers gets caught hiding something they don’t want the rest of us to know, they’re done. Their careers are effectively over and their reputations are tainted beyond repair.

  24. I haven’t read the Wolfe book, but I’ve read some summaries.. and watched the podcast.

    Oddly enough, I suppose I might consider myself a small “l” liberal, in a sense, and have voted big “L” liberal in the past. However, to use Wolfe’s vernacular, I found the current crop of Canadian liberalism or at least “Liberalism”, to be lacking in “a preference for realism”.

    And.. I think, in a way, it’s a contrast with the notion of “romanticism”. I prefer to see things as they really are, not as how I would like to believe they are. And I don’t think the right or the left has a corner on that market.. though “right” and “left” are probably as damaging a label as anything else.

    But. There are those on the right who see a return to the “way things used to be” as something to strive for, ignoring the reality of things like no public health care, racism and other social ills that we are well off not revisiting. At the same time, I think, there are those on the left, who, while not having a sort of blind spot for nostalgia, have a romantic notion – perhaps even Wolfe does – for the “preference for governance” as he refers to it.

    That the more we strive to “order” society, the better it will be. I would suggest the gun registry is a good example.. or Universal (as opposed to focussed) Daycare.

    What I do like, however, about Wolfe’s analysis, is the need to be “considered” in the things we do. To avoid acting on ideological or romantic notions – and to require considered thought as we move forward, seeing men as neither inherently good or evil, but as having the capacity for both.

    It’s a very interesting discussion he brings – though I’m not so sure that it requires a branding as being a form of “Liberalism”, as opposed, to perhaps something growing from the middle-ground, the considered ground – maybe call it “Political Realism”.

  25. Guzzeuntite

    “I couldn’t really care less about Tiger Woods or his personal life.”

    Yeah, but he writes great soul songs.

  26. Ti-Guy

    Rob, you shouldn’t try to see the political philosophies Wolfe sets out as acceptable or tolerable (liberalism, conservatism, socialism, nationalism and romanticism) within a developed, democratic society as mutually-exclusive categories into which people are slotted, but simply strains and influences.

    I can find myself in every one of them; I’m personally conservative and always have been (I’m just not that judgmental about what other people do when that doesn’t affect me), I’ve supported social democratic initiatives, I can be quite nationalistic, even ethno-nationalistic when it comes to French Canada and I can be a romantic when it comes the value of the ineffable, the ideal and the transcendent as motivations for creativity and action. I can even see myself in the political philosophies he deems completely unacceptable (fascism and communism) because I recognise my own authoritarian tendencies and admit that a classless society ordered and guided by principles other than competition and inequality has a certain degree of appeal.

    I’m not suggesting that Wolfe has the last word on this either. But it is probably time for liberals to define liberalism themselves more forcefully, to claim an unbroken history beginning with the Enlightenment despite the Right’s ignorant and dishonest revisionism and, most importantly, to stop listening to people who are hostile to them, especially when they are getting too close to the levers of power which is the one thing he highlighted as being intolerable for liberals.

    I found the current crop of Canadian liberalism or at least “Liberalism”, to be lacking in “a preference for realism”.

    I’m sure your case for this is rather weak. I suspect Realpolitik (as, for example, how the Liberals have dealt with Quebec) and economic pragmatism don’t fit your definition of realism. And I’m not sure what “current crop” you’re talking about.

  27. Guzzeuntite

    “As one example, lending his name (or “brand”) to >Accenture® which is the re-tooled version of Arthur Anderson, the disgraced accounting firm that rubber-stamped the phony bookkeeping of Enron and helped facilitate that little scam that resulted in a pointless new regime of regulation (Sarbanes-Oxley) in 2002 that did nothing but give firms like this a new accounting venue to exploit.”

    Whew! That’s a sentence. Going out on a limb here, because I don’t what to google to verify, but Accenture is a management consulting firm, not an accounting firm, that spun off from AA, pre-Enron. They don’t do auditing and they had nothing to do with Eron.

    SOX is worse than pointless; it is wasteful and expensive.

  28. Guzzeuntite

    ENron, pace KEvron.

  29. Cameron

    Umm.. you know that he basically campaigned on “out of Iraq and back to the serious business of Afghanistan” right?

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