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February 11, 2009 04:33 PM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • 71 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

“You’ve got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up.”

–Donald Regan

Comments

71 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. (Source: Rocky Mountain News)

    Front Page: In a season of staggering numbers, Tuesday’s tally was still a stunner. The White House, the Senate and the Fed each took a turn on the front lines against an economic crisis that continues to grow deeper and more dire. The bottom line: up to $3 trillion more to revive a withering economy. The Senate passed an $838 billion stimulus plan that must be reconciled with an earlier House version.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled a strategy to protect banks and clear a lending logjam that will use $350 billion of last fall’s bailout and could pour as much as $2 trillion more of government and private dollars into the U.S. credit pipeline.

    Business Section: Wall Street had its doubts; financial stocks led a retreat that pushed the Dow down 382 points.

    At some point the new DC crowd is going to scream ‘fuck it, its time to call in the Chinese for a collective consultation’  … now that’s when it will get really interesting.

    Come on what’s $3 trillion … just $10,000 per US citizen, plus interest.

    1. Are we seeing a rapid, stark change from being a top economic power to being something very different?  Regardless of your political leanings, you have to seriously wonder whether our federal government – particularly Congress – has what it takes to change our country’s course.

      1. .

        how realistic is it to wonder whether the Congress has what it takes to change our country’s course ?

        Except for those who were rich before first getting elected,

        individual members of congress have done quite well under the current system, thank you very much,

        and are not about to get off the gravy train.  Or derail it.  

        Will they pretend to care about and pass legislation that pretends to address the economic slowdown ?

        You betcha.  

        Will they acknowledge what got us in this mess in the first place ?

        Well, considering that their top priority is getting reelected,

        that would be pretty dumb, wouldn’t it ?

        .

    2. …their faux communist economic system is based on shipping cheap goods as fast as their manufacturing system can squeeze them out. The last report I read had that   dropping by 17% last month, and unemployment is starting to reach record numbers. Imports are down more than 40%.

      China’s gov’t managed economy requires a GDP growth rate of 8% to function – if they can’t keep their export-dependent economy going, then it’ll implode dramatically.

      The problem is that they can threaten to go Financial Nuclear on the US, but they can’t actually do it. They managed to help build this flammable house of debt with the US, and they’ve just discovered that they’re locked in with us.

      1. The complex interaction between American orders and the Chinese holding American debt instruments is one of the undercurrents rarely spoken of right now.  It is like nobody wants to even consider the possiblity of a Chinese economic collapse while they hold huge amounts of American debt.  IIRC something from last year on CNBC Europe as the debt market was plummeting about possible scenerios.  None were pretty for the U.S., China and the world.

    3. which are repaid at a 2.5% annual interest rate, extremely low by any standard. The Chinese have bought, and continue to buy, many of those notes, in an economic arrangement far less ominous than some people, in the throes of ideological rapture, conveniently imagine it to be.

      Certainly, we are entering new and uncertain terrain, fraught with risk. No reasonable, honest, well-informed person would deny that. Of course, such a person also recognizes that any choice we make at this juncture, any action or non-action, is similarly fraught with risk, that there is no clear and unequivocably “right answer,” and that we have to go forward using the best analyses we are able to derive, from the best information we are able to accumulate, informing the best policies we are able to design.

      Whatever policy is advanced, there will be disagreement. But if we allow political disagreement to cripple us, our national response to our current economic challenge will be decided for us by default rather than decided by us employing reason and evidence.

      As usual, you, Libertad, are effortlessly all-knowing, and generous in the proselytization of your incomparable, if completely arbitrary, wisdom. But, for my money, I’d rather let you go out into a field somewhere and await the mother-ship of your preference, while more responsible and harder-working social analysts drive our collective process of public decision-making.

            1. If they’re unrelated to your talking point, that would seem to make your talking point invalid.

              The anthrax attacks happened.  They were targeted at Americans.  Americans died.

              So much for your talking point.

        1. And the Iraq War are mutually exclusive. The fact that we haven’t been attacked is due to the hard work of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, not because Saddam is dead. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, terrorism has exploded. So while we have been relatively lucky regarding being the victims of murderous thugs, the rest of the world has only seen things get worse in the last eight and a half years.

          And those free elections in Afghanistan are meaningless with the rampant corruption there. Elected officials as well as appointed ones live in relative luxury while the rest of the country lives in total poverty. Bribery is common.  Al Qaeda has reconstituted itself, along with the Taliban, and the rest of the world has felt their wrath even though we’ve been unscathed since 9/11.

          Not only that, but the Iraq War is directly responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. If we had spent the same amount of time, treasure, and effort there that we have spent in Iraq, then we wouldn’t see our efforts there slowly slipping into futility.

          If you are fine paying that with having a comparatively stable Iraq, which may or may not turn into an ally for Iran or some other enemy later, then so be it. As for me, and most of the country, we know the truth.

            1. I can match you soldier buddy for soldier buddy and mine all vehemently disagree with you and yours. Lets leave them out of this and discuss the issues.  

              1. Glad you chimed in, though.  Because it goes to your comment about me being “dense” for disagreeing with you.

                RSB, you’re usually pretty level headed – are you that convinced that there’s only one way to look at the Iraq war?

                Steve, do you honestly think that you’re so right that there’s no room for a respectful full philosophical disagreement with you without the other person not having to be “dense”?

                1. I’ve had this conversation with my friend who’s stationed in Anbar. He agrees with you, that Iraq was part of the greater GWOT. I respectfully disagree, and I don’t think by doing that I tarnish his service–or the service of any of your friends serving there.

                  I question the judgment of the civilian leadership to invade Iraq, painting it as an immediate threat to our national security, when that was just false.

                  I gave you evidence about Afghanistan being much worse off now than when we first invaded, and you changed the subject. That is my basis for my argument–that by invading Iraq, it drew away resources we could have been using to fight Al Qaeda where they were based.

              2. Can produce list of Iraq soldiers and vets who believe the whole thing was a huge mistake from the beginning. Now they believe we are making real progress but only in patching up a mess we never had to make in the first place and one which had NOTHING to do with fighting the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11. There was NO El Qaeda presence in Iraq until we brought it there with our invasion and subsequent wrong headed policies.  

                They believe we’ve created many more terrorists than we ever would have had to contend with in the first place.  I know perfectly well that someone else can find soldiers and vets who think differently. So lets follow Balboni’s good advice. And, by the way, the Kurds aren’t giving up their autonomy or ambition to take Kirkuk. They will never submit to any central Baghdad government.  

            2. Been over this one with Yokel.  (And I do hope he is alive and well.)

              The men and women in Iraq cannot make an objective case for the war.  First of all, to admit that the war is immoral or a failure is a personal failure.  Hence, they must, at the least, pretend it is good and well. They are inherently biased to save their mental asses.

              Second, I doubt if most soldiers have the age and education to make reasonably intelligent observations.  No offense, but a 21 year old w/o higher education is far less likely to see the bigger, especially historical, picture than a 62 year old cynic like myself.  There is a reason the military likes young people beyond their physical abilities.  

        2. Sorry to not reply sooner. I had a meeting.

          From CNN:

          War costs could total $1.6 trillion by 2009, panel estimates

          The total economic impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated at $1.6 trillion by 2009, a congressional committee said in a report released Tuesday.



          The total war costs could grow to $3.5 trillion by 2017, the committee estimated.



          The committee calculated the average cost of both wars for a family of four would be $20,900 from 2002 to 2008. The cost for a family of four would go up to $46,400 from 2002 to 2017, the committee said.

        3. So, in 2000, Bill Clinton could have pointed to the World Trade Center and said: “No attacks since 1993*,” and thus demonstrated the superiority of his foreign and military policy.

          *Excluding Oklahoma City in 1995 – but we’re really only talking foreign terrorists here, not domestic, right?

        4. I’ve never had an elephant in my backyard since I started yawning every morning.  Sure keeps those elephants away.

          Lack of an attack proves nothing.  Maybe our “Dead or Alive” Osama dude has gotten enough thrill out of 9/11 to last him a life time, to say nothing of his great recruiting gift, the war in Iraq.  

      1. 1) a monumental loss in international prestige;

        2) an official American policy condoning the use of torture (only by Americans, of course);

        3) the practice of kidnapping innocent people off of foreign streets and holding them prisoner even when those who did so believed that the people thus held were innocent of any crime;

        4) the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis on our hands;

        5) a breeding ground for terrorists and an endless list of propaganda material for the recruiters of terrorists.

        Now that’s 3 trillion dollars well spent!

        Good thing conservatives don’t like too much public welfare spending in their stimulus packages: Public welfare spending puts food into people’s mouths rather than bullets in their bellies. We wouldn’t want to do anything so odious as actually help people live better lives, when we can simply deprive them of their lives altogether.

    1. 2 Dem events. Too bad CD6 is such a long (actually non) shot at this point in time because he’s the kind of candidate who goes over big here.  

      Being a Marine and pilot is huge.  HD38 Rep. Joe Rice was able to become the first Dem elected here in a mainly CD6 HD in 35 years (first ever re-elected in HD38) because of his status as an Army Reserve Lt. Col., then Col., with service in Iraq.  This helped him win moderate and Republican support as well as support from Vets groups.

      Hard to label guys like Joe Rice and John Flerlage wimpy and soft as the GOP loves to do.  HD38 also was targeted in 2006 because Dem Jared Ingwalson came so close in largely overlapping SD26 in 2004, losing by less than a full percentage point. So we had a great candidate AND targeting. Now we have Dem in SD26 seat, too, Linda Newell.

      Think Flerlage would be a much better candidate than Canter for the district if only because of the cache of his military and fly boy credentials alone but the best that can be hoped for in 2010 is that he will do better than Eng, Winter(a backer of Canter whose own campaign was a mess), or Conti.  There will naturally be no targeting as no recent Dem has come anywhere close.

      Great positions on issues, too.  Very depressing situation for CD6 Dems. This is a fine candidate in an impossible position.

      1. It’s an uphill battle, but not at all unwinnable. Look how respectably Hank Eng performed, even without much name recognition working for him. What we need is to put someone impressive on the political map first, and then run them.

        As a CD6 resident, I am not throwing in the towel just because the conventional wisdom exaggerates the democratic deficit in our district.

          1. There’s a democratizing wave from the north creeping down the Jeffco corridor…. I can feel its warmth blowing in, heralding a future not so far away.

            The real test of success will be when currently crimson HD28, in which I am now fully involved, becomes, as I have suggested to my Democratic neighbors, “a thoughtful shade of blue.”

          2. but

            a) it can’t happen before 2012

            b) Unless CD6 can shed Douglas County (into an expanded CD5?) it isn’t likely to matter.

            c) As much as Colorado voters claim to like term limits, competitive districts are a better way of accomplishing the goal and I have seen almost zero desire.

            oh- I get it- you were being funny.

            Admittedly comedy is hard.

            1. DougCo used to be part of the 5th, but El Paso and surrounding communities are now large enough to support their own CD.

              With the party registration basically tied between Dems, Repubs and Indies, it’s hard to see how even the craftiest Democrats could gerrymander SIX safe Dem seats across the state. If anything, more Republicans will get concentrated into the 5th and 6th, which makes them both even safer for Coffman and Lamborn.

              1. But we do need a more competitive one. The only hope for that is some happy combination of redistricting, changing demographics, and continued melt down of shrinking GOP. Lots can happen between now and 2012. Between now an 2010, not enough to elect a Dem.

            2. …I appreciate your admission and all, but I think you missed the mark.  And, in case you’ve not checked your calendar lately, 2012 is not too far off.

          3. Continuing to hold steady at “respectably” isn’t enough and that’s all we’ve been able to do here.  We need to secure a better mix in redistricting and combine that with the right kind of candidate to get us targeted. Until then, we can have all the respectable moral victories in the world without electing a Dem.  

  2. .

    Sometimes I read here that this is not a far left blog,

    so I’m going to test that assertion by posting what are sometimes called “true facts” by other bloggers.  

    I will then time how long it stays up before being edited.  

    …..

    Test Protocol 37:

    Remember Bush blaming his mistaken invasion of Iraq on Intel failures ?  

    They’re baaaaaack.

    In his first press conference, Prez O was asked by Helen Thomas if Israel had nuclear weapons.  

    The Oly One answered that was a matter of conjecture, that he didn’t know.  

    If that ain’t an Intel Failure, then what is ?

    ……

    Test Protocol 38:

    Remember when defenders of the Constitution thought that the Bush rendition program was not a good thing ?  It doesn’t seem that long ago, but then I’m pretty old.

    Well, He Who Walks on Water has invoked the law on State Secrets to deny any investigation into or preferring of charges in connection with the Rendition program.

    …………

    Test Protocol #39.

    Remember the talk about getting out of Iraq in 16 months ?

    Well, the same Chain of Command that brought us the “Surge” is still intact, mostly,

    except that some of them have moved up a link in the chain

    (replacing that guy Fallon who spoke out in support of US national interests.)

    A Raytheon lobbyist (retired General Keane) is still setting US Foreign Policy on the Middle East.

    The same crew at the State Department’s Political Bureau that pushed for colonization is intact.  

    (Admittedly Burns has moved to some Think Tank, but he selected his own replacement.)

    And what is the Bush Team that has not been fired now telling the new Prez ?

    That 16 months is undoable.  

    Big “O” said he would consult with the field commanders before making any changes.  

    Well, by leaving Bush flunkies in place, he ensures that he gets one particular brand of bad advice.  And it won’t be advice that has the best interests of the US at heart.

    .

    1. First of all, she asked which middle eastern countries had nukes. Not specifically Israel.

      Second, everyone knows that they have nukes. Obama was trying not to get involved in something he has virtually no control over.

      Finally, even if he knew exactly which countries in the mid-east had nukes, how many they had, and where they were, why would he make that information public during a press conference on the economy?

      1. I stopped reading after the first “point”. No American president has or ever will answer that question from Helen Thomas. It has nothing to do with Intel, it has everything to do with International Politics.  

        1. .

          Steve, usually you come across as better-informed.

          PRESIDENT OBAMA said he didn’t know because US law prohibits sending foreign aid to any country that proliferated outside the confines of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  

          Answering truthfully and fully would have implications for military aid, and thus the supply of cluster bombs used to manage their problems with illegal Palestinian immigrants.  

          Oops.  Maybe they aren’t immigrants.

          Point of Order.  One American President HAS answered that question, though it was after he left office: James Earl Carter.  

          Finally, thanks for not reading my other two “points.”

          I would just be devastated if you failed to refute all three.  It’s bad enough that you failed to refute the first one.  

          ……….

          Obama still could have answered truthfully by just refusing to provide the information requested.  “Helen, I won’t answer that.”  

          …..

          RSB, my little brother,

          First of all, asking which middle eastern countries had nukes is functionally equivalent to asking if Israel has them.  

          Unless you’re thinking of the Trucal Bomb.  

          Second, if everyone know that they have nukes, that would mean that Obama also knows.  Wouldn’t that oblige him under the Symington Amendment to stop all aid to Israel ?

          Words fail me as I wonder how to respond to

          “Obama was trying not to get involved in something he has virtually no control over.”

          How can a US President NOT be deeply involved in that issue ?  How could a US President NOT have any control over or influence over it ?  

          I mostly agree with your third point.  “Helen, I won’t answer that.”  

          But I dispute that it was a press conference on the economy.  

          In my opinion, in countries with a free press, the Prez doesn’t get to tell the press what they can or cannot ask.

          In the USA, there’s no such thing as a Press Conference limited to what somebody feels like or is prepped to talk about.  

          Which is why the Big “O’s” predecessor didn’t have many.  He felt that, while a little accountability could be a good thing, within the proper boundaries, it was best sampled in moderation.  Remember, his “accountability moment” was the reelection in 2004.  He interpreted that landslide, that mandate, as the voice of the people telling him go ahead, George, we support you in whatever you do, even if you hide it and lie about it.  

          .

      2. that the diplomatic world is supposed to pretend not to know for a fact that Israel has nukes when everyone knew that even back when I was over there as a young tourist back in the early 70s. But do recognize why Obama felt obliged to take a pass on creating what would be billed as a sensation by not taking the bait. Still, it would be nice if we could all drop the ridiculous pretence.

    2. Hmmmmmm….

      Reporting from Washington — Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, President Obama’s choice to represent his administration before the Supreme Court, told a key Republican senator Tuesday that she believed the government could hold suspected terrorists without trial as war prisoners.

      She echoed comments by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. during his confirmation hearing last month. Both agreed that the United States was at war with Al Qaeda and suggested the law of war allows the government to capture and hold alleged terrorists without charges.

      Now, to me she’s making total sense, but it sure sounds a lot like the same position of the Bush admin.

      Hehehehehehe.

      1. If you want to start a Military Justice/Geneva Convention/”unlawful combatant” pissing match, save it for when we can do it over beers.

        There’s not inconsistent with holding these thugs – but now we’re going to follow both the Geneva Convention (ver1-4) and follow the Ex parte Quirin case in that they will be giving hearings to the prisoners, and treating them according to the rules of war and law.

        That means the o’ waterboard is gone, and due process is going to be making a comeback…

    3. I will then time how long it stays up before being edited.

      Was that the whole point?

      what are sometimes called “true facts” by other bloggers.

      Please show me a reference for those “facts.” You don’t expect me to believe a blogger, do you?

      Test Protocol 37: Intel failures? Not hardly. That or you’re putting Obama in the same class as St Reagan.

      Test Protocol 38: rendition.

      Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, was detained at J.F.K. Airport in September 2002 while he was changing planes on his way home to Canada. The Bush administration labeled him a member of Al Qaeda and sent him to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture, rather than home to Canada. While imprisoned in Syria, Mr. Arar was interrogated under torture and held in a tiny underground grave-like cell for more than 10 months.

      Glad to hear that you support this. That’ll be a game-changer next time you consider running for office.

      Test Protocol #39. Out of Iraq in 16 months?

      Ummm. Obama’s only been president for 3 weeks.

       

      1. .

        You outed my gimmick to get folks to look.  

        Some people read every single post at this site, but most are more  discriminating.  

        Ha!  Made you look!

        We prob’ly agree on what qualifies as a “fact,” and that may not include anything in my post.

        But a “true fact,” as evidenced here and elsewhere, is an opinion trussed up to look like a fact.  

        Your responses to 37 & 38 were too subtle for me to understand.  Sorry.  

        But in light of my less than 3% showing last time out, don’t you think I’d welcome a game changer ?  

        Yes, Obama has only been in office a couple of days, but he was following this Iraq War thing before the Inauguration, and he knows the players fairly well.  

        As long as Petraeus and Odierno are running the Iraq War, they will do what they can to back him into a corner, sabotaging any attempt to withdraw or to empower Iraqis.  

        There will be no progress toward withdrawal with them in command.  Now, that’s a true fact.

        .

        1. Maybe another diary needs to be on the Four Geneva conventions, the 1942 Supreme Court Case ex parte Quirin, and the laws of war.

          Unlawful combatants (the actual term) can held – but they cannot be denied humane treatment or “due process.” They can be tried by various courts – the process used in the 1942 case being the one most firmly established in legal precedence.

          The detention camps in Gitmo are going away. Everyone will get some sort of hearing to determine their status, and many will go back, others will be sent to confinement in military detention centers awaiting trial (probably Military Courts Martial) but none will exist in a legal twilight zone.

    4. In about 1983 I was in Israel, being driven by my old Zionist host by the Dead Sea.  We were passing a mile or so of barbed wire and guard towers with dire warning signs in a number of languages.

      Yakov said, “That’s our nuclear facility that we don’t have.”

      If I’m not mistaken, Israel has fessed up to such things since then.

      1. It really is one of the more ridiculous aspects of international diplomacy, as if we’re all supposed to refrain from admitting the emperor is naked.

        But everything involved with Israel tends to be like that.  Like the way a blind eye is turned to all illegal settlements except once in a blue moon for photo ops. Or the Bush administration’s public calls urging Israel to stop settlement expansion while actually supporting and encouraging the relentless drive to create irreversible facts on the ground the size of Highlands Ranch.  

        It’s your basic Alice in Wonderland school of diplomacy. Acknowledging reality makes you either an anti-Semite or a traitor Jew.  Sigh..

  3. With our lovely Pine Beetle work up in the hills, we have a fire coming at some point.  Australia had theirs this week.

    During question time at a packed community meeting in Arthurs Creek on Melbourne’s northern fringe, Warwick Spooner – whose mother Marilyn and brother Damien perished along with their home in the Strathewen blaze – criticised the Nillumbik council for the limitations it placed on residents wanting the council’s help or permission to clean up around their properties in preparation for the bushfire season. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” he said.

    1. that was in Grand County’s socialist, “chainsaw-ready,” make-work, stimulus bill request?

      I’m of 2 minds about this though:

      1. Hopefully, with Salazar at Interior, something can be done to reduce fire danger in the urban-wildland interface. The loss of life is always tragic (loss of property, not so much).

      2. Why should I subsidize people who want to build houses in fire prone areas, particularly exurbs? Why is that any different from building in a floodplain?  

      1. Ed Quillen calls such places “Stupid Zones.”  

        Ever since federal flood insurance ca. 1973 building on the coasts has, pardon the pun, surged.  Reduce the risk, people build.  

    2. “… we’ve lost people because you won’t take real action to reduce CO2 pollution.”

      Proximal or ultimate causation? Humans have a tendency to dwell on proximate causes.

      Just saying. You know, in case you want to really think about something.

    3. CTFM leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah said he would spearhead an effort to provide every assistance to devastated communities, although he was not surprised by the bush fires due to a dream he had last October relating to consequences of the abortion laws passed in Victoria.

      He said these bushfires have come as a result of the incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb. Besides providing material assistance, CTFM will commence a seven day prayer and fasting campaign for the nation of Australia tomorrow Wednesday the 11th February.

      CTFM has called upon all Australian Bible-believing God-fearing Christians to repent and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and protection over Australia once again.

      Here.

      So, while you’re thinking about things in Colorado, just remember that everyone has a simple answer for complex problems.  

  4. Anyone who refers to the “chattering class” will be immediately considered to be either (or all of the following):

    A. Lying their ass off.

    B. Hiding something ridiculous

    C. Being horribly condescending to the people they work for (us).

  5. http://www.coloradodaily.com/n

    The Boulder High student behind a proposal to change his school’s name to Barack Obama High School said the move aims to honor the election of Obama more than his presidency.

    “It’s not so much about him, but honoring the steps we’ve made and how much more progressive our country has become now that he’s president,” said Ben Raderstorf, 16, a Boulder High junior. “He is everything we would like to reflect. In honoring him, we can inspire and bring together our community.”

    “This is perfectly in line with district policy,” he said. “And this isn’t something that there is no precedent for nationally.”

    A New York elementary school recently changed its name, from Ludlum Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary.

    Damn good idea, if you ask me.

      1. …to Rocky Mountain High.

        “We’re all sitting around the campfire, everybody’s high……..”

        Great alternative state song.  

        Pass the roach.  

    1. And I love the idea. Barack Obama High School. Sounds good. Will they still be the Panthers if they change their name though?

      The Obama Panthers? I don’t know. Reminds me of the New Yorker cover.

      1. Something like “The Barack Obama Buy Your Own Damn Fries.” Still working on that part, though.

        Glad you like the quotes. My wife told me only the first one would be funny, and then they’d get old quick. But hey, a joke that works once is worth repeating sixteen times, you know?

        1. They’re only getting funnier. Eventually they’ll get old, but right now, I’m enjoying the ride.

          And those out of context “Dreams from my Father” audiobook quotes are hilarious.

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