The Second Year of the Obama Administration: Facts, Opinions and Discussions

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jedi Merkurian, Jan 20, 2010.

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  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Lest anyone accuse me of abandoning the discussion, I did want to stop in and offer a final thought here. What it "would have taken" and what it actually took, is the same thing I called for repeatedly. A disagreement arose in this thread. About a series of issues that, if not purely factual, were certainly moored to factually provable elements: How reliable was the reported deficit reduction? How reliable is AFP? Etc.

    My response, like others, challenged you on that basis. A number of posters thought your questions about the reliability of the reports were unfounded. You could have responded immediately as you eventually did, with discussion defending your characterization of AFP. Alternatively, you could have done as I suggested, and used the GAO report you requested to build a case that the report was or was not substantial. Instead, you veered off into an odd territory of speculation about the inner lives of other posters. Things became exemplary of our "pack mentality," actions were attributed to my need to "automatically defend" people, and references were made to what "keeps us up at night." All of which was, besides being unknowable, stupid, unnecessary, grossly irrelevant to the topic at hand. Why you persisted in this manner is beyond me. In the future, though, please be advised that continuing to discuss the topic is more productive than attempting amateurish psychoanalysis.
  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I'll address this point by point:

    *Only the market can determine a "solid bottom."
    *The logical and obvious thing is for the people to sell their homes, and when they buy a new home it will be a lot cheaper because of the housing price crash. I could see the government helping those people write off anything they may still owe after selling their houses, for this specific crisis only, as a one-time deal.
    *That's up to the banks to get through, it seems, just a matter of time.
    *Where is it a problem to sell and buy a house, but unsure you're possessing the legal title for it? Plenty of my relatives have sold and bought homes in the last couple years, and no problems for them. Not saying there aren't any, just need more info on this, if this is a big problem in other states.
    *Do you just mean that abandoned, forclosed houses are inhabited again? That's something only the market can determine.
    *It doesn't seem to be that much of a big problem anymore, and that's more of a consequence of a problem than an actual problem.
    *I'm not sure that's a good thing. They should regear to renovation, or downsize, if that's how the market is going.
    *Again, from personal experiences of family and friends and neighbors, I haven't seen this as a problem, is this a problem in other states. Rhode Island has been hit hard, we have the 4th highest unemployment, but this doesn't seem to be a problem I've heard of here, or heard much about in national news.
  3. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    So, President Obama is visiting India with a group of American businessmen. He gave a defiant speech at the Taj Mahal hotel, answering his choice to be there is "absolutely" to send a message: the terrorists have Failed. Obama then announced a new trade deal, $10 billion worth of new contracts for American Exports that will create tens of thousands of American Jobs.

    If this is any indicator of the next two years, then he has heard the message that voters sent him on Tuesday, and he will cruise to re-election. How the lame-duck session of Congress goes, and the next State of the Union Address, will probably set the tone. I think Nancy Pelosi is staying on as Minority Leader to be the "fighter" that will energize the liberal base, while President Obama will work to be the compromiser to win back independents and moderates, so the Democratic Party will be in a strong position to retake the House and retain the Senate and Presidency in 2012.



    (In other news, Bush thought Obama was a more skilled politician than McCain. Bush also thinks Palin is partly to blame for McCain's loss, thinks she's unqualified to be President, and that she may be responsible for the Republicans losing big again in 2012).
  4. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    (In other news, Bush thought Obama was a more skilled politician than McCain. Bush also thinks Palin is partly to blame for McCain's loss, thinks she's unqualified to be President, and that she may be responsible for the Republicans losing big again in 2012).

    Well if there was ever a reason for me to dislike Obama, there it is. Whether Obama is or isn't more skilled than McCain, Bush Jr. is hardly a man of acumen to judge. With the exception of Palin herself and a number of others (Rick Santorum, etc), just about any other GOP name would give a higher authority opinion than him.

    Sorry, I just dislike Bush far more than I like either Obama or McCain (although I do like both of them).

    Anyway, looks like Obama made some public moves in backing India having a permanent seat on the SC.

    I highly doubt anything will come of that soon -- China will probably dither on the subject, and Russia won't be too keen if they think India will just generally fall into the US's orbit: time was that, if anything, India enjoyed support from the USSR.

    But it is significant overall. India will likely have thier permanent seat on the council within 5-20 years, depending. Stronger ties with India makes a lot of sense for the US and if anything has come a good 15 years later than it should have. The only issues here is that India still could still use having its domestic act cleaned up a little... but then, so could Russia and China, so there you go.

    This probably reflects the current situation with Pakistan more than anything else. It seems to be the Obama administration is getting along rather less well with Pakistan than the Bush administration did. This is them probably carrying through on a few threats that have been made behind closed doors: Pakistan has relied on the old Cold-War ties to help support it in its feud with India. The Russo-Indian ties died out long ago, and it looks like GWOT has pretty much tanked those between Pakistan and the US at long last. Pakistan will have to find a new backer: China, most likely. Thier only problem will be that neither China nor Russia will be very keen on thier latent support of Muslim extremists... especially China, who shares a border.

    Pakistan is seriously screwing itself in its foreign relations.
  5. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    The relations between the United States and India will determine the 21st Century, as I've argued before. There's a lot of long-term strategy going on here.

    There's a reason why the Prime Minister of India was the recipient of the first White House dinner.
    There's a reason why Bush pushed for a nuclear energy deal with India, even though it seemed to go against his own rhetoric.
    There's a reason why President Obama himself travelled to India to close negotiations on the $10 billion export deal.
    There's a reason why, at the same time, Secretary Gates is in Australia to open new U.S. military bases there.
    There's a reason why Obama is now going to Indonesia, Japan, South Korea.
    There's a reason why Bush was pushing to end our "addiction to oil," even though he was an oil businessman in Texas.
    There's a reason why Obama is pushing for a "clean energy economy," tying it to his proposals on jobs, education, the budget, manufacturing, infrastructure, and an exports-focused trade strategy.
    There's a reason why Mayor Bloomberg is saying he's worried about the Tea Party and trade wars in today's newspaper.
  6. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I think you lost track of the clear connection to India to each of those points in around the 4th line or so...
  7. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    No, the strategy contains India, but isn't only about India. Allying with India is only a part of the grand strategy.




    More on Bush's thoughts on McCain, Obama, Palin, and the 2008 election:

    Link

  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Is the grand strategy that when the Chinese and Indian economies overwhelm us, the U.S. wants to be latched on to one of those two great powers as a protector to run interference for us the way Britain was latched onto the U.S. through the cold war and post cold war period?
  9. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    The grand strategy is to have to the 21st Century ruled by the world's most powerful, diverse, and democratic nation-states. China will only be able to rise to dominance if America and India are estranged. Combined, China will not rise to #1.

    China will try to move closer to Russia and Pakistan, but they are dying powers and not as likely to help. The United States has improved relations with Russia by withdrawing the missile bases from eastern Europe and negotiating the New START Treaty. The United States also holds considerable sway over Pakistan, because of Afghanistan and our anti-terrorist operations. It is also telling that Obama is visiting Indonesia, Japan, South Korea... making sure they do not fall into Chinese orbit either. And Gates is now in Australia, to create a United States military presence with new bases there... another obvious sign to counter China.

    The strategy does not mean the United States will be a parasite on India. That's where the "clean energy economy" and the export deals come in. The emerging economies in Asia have a high demand for energy, and clean energy is preferred (when possible) over fossil fuels. If the United States can supply that demand (specializing our economy to manufacture and export machiney and parts for wind turbines, solar-power cells, electric cars, etc.) then our economy will start growing along with theirs. Maybe not at 8%, but greater than 2%, which will create jobs and lower the trade deficit. Our economy used to be specialized in steel, oil, gas-powered automobiles, and financing. We lost steel in the 50's, lost oil in the 70's, and our autombile and financial industries were flattened in 2008. That's why we must choose a new economy, and whoever wins the "Clean Energy Race" and develops closer ties to India will win the 21st century. India will also be stronger than China in the long-run too, because of demographics the Indians will keep growing and the average population will stay young while China will soon transform into old Europe. We also have a moral duty to help India flourish, protect it from China and Pakistan, because of the similar values we share.
  10. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I think you mean the strategy contains China :p, based on the defense meetings in Australia, the courting of India and the visits to South Korea and Japan.
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    By young you mean India will add the equivalent of the current population of the U.S. by 2030. India is drowning in people, adding 50% to that by 2050 will quickly undermine all their progress in building a middle class. I don't think we can count on India as a viable partner for the century. 50% more people will rip their society apart. Not that we won't be having more population pressure too as we pass the 400 million mark.
  12. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    By contrast, China will get old, very fast. The Chinese will demand social security, healthcare, welfare... which will put serious strains on the Chinese economy, especially since their One-Child Policy means their old and retired will outnumber their young and working. It will be like what Europe has been going through for 60 years, but condensed into 20 years.

    If India has access to renewable energy, then they will no longer be "drowning in people," even with their population growth. We live in a globalized economy, the Indians will be able to spread out from their homeland, to live and invest all over the world.
  13. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Is the grand strategy that when the Chinese and Indian economies overwhelm us, the U.S. wants to be latched on to one of those two great powers as a protector to run interference for us the way Britain was latched onto the U.S. through the cold war and post cold war period?

    I highly doubt the US will suffer the same fate as Britain in this respect. The US is simply too big not to be of continued relevance. It's power may be diluted, but it is not "going away" in the same respect. It will not be completely swamped in the final analysis, and a US-India relationship would be a formidable power bloc.


    Also, no offense intended, but please stop quoting Bush. The man is, in presidential terms, an idiot. McCain's campaign was not the best run, yet it still won only 4% less of the vote than Obama. Had he won nobody would be saying this stuff.

    If I want to hear Bush's opinion on proper application of drywall, ok. I'm not going to listen to him on politics, becuase he was softballed his entire presidency.

    It's not like Bush's campaign was a tight ship. Both of them were GOP contenters and so both of them were, on account of that, guarenteed a firewall percentage of vote as long as they did not appear to be too left-wing.
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The simple solution to an aging population is that people work until they become too physically or mentally incapacitated to continue. For societies with good approaches to health, that can be well into the 80s for many people. That's how humans are supposed to retire. If you rest, you rust as my grandmother used to say. For countries like France where people believe that God has ordained they should begin enjoying a life of leisure at the age of 60, this is a problem. Elsewhere, not necessarily.
  15. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I am doubtful that the same dynamic between the US and UK can be duplicated between the US and India.

    America and Britain share the same Western culture and the same language, and in many ways the USA is an extension of that civilization, which is essential to their relationship. The US and India do not share this same bond. Even though over the past two hundred years or so, India has been heavily exposed and adapted to Western political thought, and many of its educated people can speak English, at its core it is not a Western nation. It developed from a south Asian, Hindu civilization which has values that are completely different from Western ones. For one example, consider the Western belief in the universality of its own values (one we are inadvertently projecting right now), versus the Hindu value which Fareed Zakaria summed up as "live and let live". India is unlikely to want to join the USA in forming some wide-reaching alliance of global democracies to run the affairs of the world. I welcome Obama's efforts to better relations with India, but those dreaming of a grand alliance are likely to be disappointed. India will work with the USA if it feels its in its interests, but will also work contrary to them to help itself (ie. Afghanistan).
  16. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    America and Britain share the same Western culture and the same language, and in many ways the USA is an extension of that civilization, which is essential to their relationship. The US and India do not share this same bond. Even though over the past two hundred years or so, India has been heavily exposed and adapted to Western political thought, and many of its educated people can speak English, at its core it is not a Western nation. It developed from a south Asian, Hindu civilization which has values that are completely different from Western ones. For one example, consider the Western belief in the universality of its own values (one we are inadvertently projecting right now), versus the Hindu value which Fareed Zakaria summed up as "live and let live".

    I have to disagree with this.

    The values of America, generally, are "live and let live". In fact America rarely stuck its nose into the human rights questions of other nations until around WWI. And even then only infrequently until the end of WWII.

    America, for instance, had a Revolution but did not actively seek to "export" it. Thomas Jefferson might have thought this was a great notion but it was not done: one needs only to compare America and Revolutionary France to see the difference in terms of a nation interested in exporting Revolution.

    The British, for all their exposure to other nations, actually were not known for imposing all that much culture on native populations. Yes, they instituted British government -- but the French arguably did much more in terms of native education and religious development (and by implication, native conformity).

    I don't see how this aspect of the cultures are all that different. America might have a universality in concept to its values, but it has rarely sought to put them in place elsewhere, unlike the French or Russian Revolutions. It has merely sought to sell things abroad.
  17. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I agree with you on America-India.

    As for Bush, I just thought it was relevant to this thread, if even he would admit to seeing problems with McCain's campaign and Sarah Palin herself. This is a man who wouldn't admit to a single mistake when he was President, it was always "stay the course" with him, so it's a little refreshing to hear him opening up about everything.


    Ummm, that's defintely not a solution, there's many problems with that. One, it would only delay the problem, they would still age and die. Two, you say they need to have a national healthcare system in place, they don't have that yet except in the big eastern and southeastern cities. Third, they are already demanding the entitlements of the West, this is the generation that grew up during the famines and the Cultural Revolution.

    Face it, China has a huge demographic problem, that will seriously cripple their economy before they can overtake America. Especially if India is allied with America.

  18. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I have to disagree. I would argue that it took longer for the USA to project its power and preach its values on the world stage because of the state of the country itself, and the pragmatic leadership at its helm. At the outset America was a very insecure nation, still threatened by the strength of the European powers and vulnerable to the consequences of shifts in European power. In other words, it was in no position to be off on foreign adventures trying to preach its values. Washington and others understood this, and though they hoped that one day the USA would have the "strength of a giant", they chose to focus on securing what they had earned. Once America was on firmer ground though, the nation became pre-occupied on the question of slavery and north-south divide. It wasn't until around the turn of the century that America was strong enough to preach its values abroad, and as soon as it was it began to do so.

    I don't understand your statement about selling things abroad. What about offering rewards to African governments who practice democratic governance, for example?
  19. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I have to disagree. I would argue that it took longer for the USA to project its power and preach its values on the world stage because of the state of the country itself, and the pragmatic leadership at its helm. At the outset America was a very insecure nation, still threatened by the strength of the European powers and vulnerable to the consequences of shifts in European power.

    I don't see how America felt particularly threatened. The European powers never declared war on America -- rather, in 1812, America declared war on one of THEM. And did so namely because they were fully aware said power was fully engaged against Napoleon.

    In other words, it was in no position to be off on foreign adventures trying to preach its values. Washington and others understood this, and though they hoped that one day the USA would have the "strength of a giant", they chose to focus on securing what they had earned. Once America was on firmer ground though, the nation became pre-occupied on the question of slavery and north-south divide. It wasn't until around the turn of the century that America was strong enough to preach its values abroad, and as soon as it was it began to do so.

    America was just in as much position as any other power -- it just wasn't particularly interested in doing so and holding a colonial Empire (live and let live, so to speak)... and as it turned out for later global dominance, it wasn't necessary for America to do so: rather the colonial Empires became necessary to keep the European powers relevant since they were so small and lacked for resources. Other than in the Phillipenes, America just didn't do that.

    But a case of collective insecurity doesn't explain why they didn't do it. We're talking over 100 years worth of development from circa 1776 - 1914, here. Even the pre-occupation with slavery only covers the full attention of the United States for a couple of decades. Other things were going on in that time.

    The notion that America "just wasn't strong enough" to preach it's values abroad is a misnomer. It was plenty strong enough, had it chosen to apply itself. How quickly America was able to build armed forces the past proves it. But it preferred isolationism and had no use for overseas territories in the same manner the Europeans were gathering them.


    I don't understand your statement about selling things abroad. What about offering rewards to African governments who practice democratic governance, for example?

    For some time the American route to dominance has been through commerce. As early as WWI and prior, the American strength was in the quality of the goods that it created. It was able to create a market abroad and keep it. Why conquer and colonize a people when you can just sell them a McDonald's franchise? You're getting all the money you need with none of the responsibility. What are the peoples of the world doing while you're selling them this stuff? Well, that's their business, isn't it? Live and let live.

    Offering rewards to African governments is just as much evened out by past American acts that were NOT so generous. They have also rewarded dictatorships and non-democratic governments.

    This issue is this: all who have power are afraid to lose it. There is no greater axiom (not even "power corrupts", which isn't wholly true). Once upon a time America did not project itself because it had no power -- it had nothing to do with insecurity or the question of a single (if protracted) crisis like slavery. At the close of WWII it did have power; and this is why you witness what appears to be, but really is not, a great core "change in values". Had the French or British the same power they once had, it would be the same for them.
  20. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Erm, I don't quite see what you're on about, Gonk. The US had quite a storied imperialist legacy. It's foreign policy is and has been highly interventionist in ways that systematically favor the country. This influence is particularly bald in Central and South America, where it has had a hand in more than a few regime changes when things were inconvenient for American interests. But it's also true of the broader engagement on the world stage. While it's true that the form of American hegemony has been somewhat different than that asserted by the European colonial powers, I think that more reflects a change in the era than anything fundamental about the American spirit. It's about as valuable as pointing out that Roman imperialism was starkly different from British.

  21. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Erm, I don't quite see what you're on about, Gonk. The US had quite a storied imperialist legacy. It's foreign policy is and has been highly interventionist in ways that systematically favor the country. This influence is particularly bald in Central and South America, where it has had a hand in more than a few regime changes when things were inconvenient for American interests.


    You're going to have to refresh my memory: at what point were American armed forces used in colonial fashion outside the Philippenes? And other than the Spanish American and Mexican-American wars, when were American forces used to decide matters within foreign nations?

    I think there's an incredible difference in the sort of imperialism we're talking about and it's because of this: Roman Imperialsm and British Imperialism were essentially the same. Change the names, faces, culture, a little technology, but it was still about people heading out of the nation and setting up shop somewhere else by force. They did it the same way. Romans were perhaps a little more brutal about it, but it was a similar concept.

    The American experience -- by and large -- had been and has been different. The people running the system were generally no better or worse, but just as the medium is the message, the means dictated what was possible. So while it might mean the Americans were often just as wretched as the Europeans, it did mean that it was rarer, for a long time, for American soldiers to be out overseas trampling over the peoples of the world.

    That is, unless you're talking about the locals. The Native peoples of the continent didn't fare quite so well.
  22. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    We toppled the Guatemalan government after the democratically elected President nationalized orchards belonging to United Fruit, a company who had several senior shareholders in the immediate family of the CIA's upper echelons. Nicaragua was occupied outright for several years, and decades later Reagan funded the Contras in their attempt to oust the nationalist party that first ousted us. The Shah of Iran was brought to power by a joint British-US operation after their democratically elected leader nationalized their oil fields. The US would later help to train the notoriously repressive secret police forces. Do I need to go on?

    Defining imperialism as "putting boots on the ground" is excessively narrow to the point of being unhelpful. It's not done anymore because as the present ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate, it's terribly expensive (I don't mean to imply that those were ventures of the sort we're discussing here--just pointing out the economic impracticalities.). But that doesn't mean that it robs people of self-determination any less substantively.
  23. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    Panama, 1903 - 1999. ;)
  24. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Going back to the earlier part of the 20th century, I could summarize, but Wikipedia already has a nice article on the Banana Wars, with a lot of examples of actual boots on the ground, usually marines.

    Of course, there is debate over how much of this was a sinister plot to grow fruit and sugar, and how much was dominated by security concerns, namely the Panama Canal.

    Creating the Panama canal allowed the US Navy to easily go from the Pacific to the Atlantic or vice versa, thus making it easier to counter any outside aggression. But of course, we then had to defend the canal, which meant having troops there, but also intervening in Central America to keep things from getting to unstable. The US also built a shell of outposts in the Caribbean islands, controlling all the main access routes to the canal. We controlled Southern Florida, Guantanamo, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

    Fear of invasion was a major priority for US planners, as evidenced by our extensive coastal defenses.
  25. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    We toppled the Guatemalan government after the democratically elected President nationalized orchards belonging to United Fruit, a company who had several senior shareholders in the immediate family of the C-IA's upper echelons. Nicaragua was occupied outright for several years, and decades later Reagan funded the Contras in their attempt to oust the nationalist party that first ousted us. The Shah of Iran was brought to power by a joint British-US operation after their democratically elected leader nationalized their oil fields. The US would later help to train the notoriously repressive secret police forces. Do I need to go on?

    Yes. Except for the occupation of Nicaragua -- which you state yourself lasted only several years (1912 - 1916), none of this was used with armed forces.


    Defining imperialism as "putting boots on the ground" is excessively narrow to the point of being unhelpful.


    That's a statement of opinion. For me it means that America stumbled onto an improvement of the general model, since it meant that Americans themselves were not out in foreign lands using brute force to apply its interests.

    This does not mean that America was not guilty of a great many things or was any less greedy than the Colonial powers of Britain. What it does mean is that because of its general level of experience... until that later years at least... America avoided many situations like, say, Belgian involvement in the Congo.
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