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Of Obama and of Hamlet

Mark Mardell | 12:00 UK time, Saturday, 5 June 2010

duo_getty_226.jpgThe flashing smile has disappeared, the inspirational invocations of hope are absent.

In their place are words like "catastrophe", "disaster", "risk" and "danger". But watching President Obama's performance over the last few weeks I can't help feeling his heart isn't really in it.

Americans living along the Gulf of Mexico feel pummelled, upset and furious and the media here are insistent their commander-in-chief holds up a mirror to their emotions. As I watch this theatre unfold a scene from a play keeps popping into my head.

The presidential sternness seems forced - he appears relieved when he can take refuge in wonkish detail of blowout preventers, marine risers and other underwater arcana.

That scene I keep thinking about ? Hamlet... beside Ophelia's grave when he asks:

Woo't weep? woo't fight? woo't fast? woo't tear thyself? Woo't drink up eisel? eat a crocodile? I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine? To outface me with leaping in her grave?

Laertes has just jumped into his sister's grave and Hamlet is insisting that he's willing to match this histrionic performance. His lack of extravagant display so far is no measure of his grief.

The president might sympathise. He is under constant pressure to weep, fight and tear himself in flamboyant demonstration of his anger at this undoubtedly awful disaster.

His spokesman Robert Gibbs is daily pressed by reporters to share evidence of presidential fury, forcing him to reply earnestly: "I've seen rage from him, Chip. I have."

That was not enough. Questions went on. Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?

Gibbs suggested the president clenched his jaw in meetings. This clearly isn't good enough. I've seen pictures of the situation room. Could the water glass not be filled brimful with eisel - that's vinegar by the way.

And while eating crocodiles might not be on, alligator burgers are a speciality of the Gulf region. Such symbolism might be lost on the White House press corps.

But perhaps the president shares a problem with Hamlet that goes to the heart of what it means to be a leader, and what leading means to Barack Obama. They are both earnest.

Because he rose to power on a tide of dazzling rhetoric one can forget Obama had to force himself to perform, that in the early days his team despaired that he was too earnestly professorial, too dismissive of cheap political tricks.

For a while he rejected what became his most famous sound bite - "yes we can" - as stomach-churningly trite.

And he still doesn't like the nasty stuff - as president he is wary of too much anger. The airwaves in the US are full of ham actors sawing the air, ripping their shirts.

For them there can never be an honest disagreement about policy - the president has to be in league with terrorists, un-American, a reincarnation of Chairman Mao. Obama has trouble finding his own way of being angry without resorting to pantomime.

But what this president shares with Hamlet is being an unfamiliar character in a familiar setting.

Hamlet is of course a tragedy of many depths, but it is in part a reaction to what went before - Shakespeare's reflection on the tradition of the revenge tragedy, those blood-soaked Jacobean dramas of such horrific violence that they would make even Tarantino blush.

Shakespeare is reflecting on what happens if you plonk a new man, the new emerging man of the renaissance, learned and intellectual, reflective, with a rich inner life, in the middle of a fairly hackneyed plot. What happens to a new sort of man in an old sort of drama.

You might remember it didn't turn out too well.

The president is not the prince, even his critics don't argue he's holding back from one rapier thrust, one obvious decisive action that could save the day.

But it does seem sometimes that reflection is prized above action in the Obama administration.

The man once nicknamed "No drama Obama" sees leadership as the careful consideration of conflicting views, pulling together of the best strands to build a solid consensus.

It would be neat to see this as a reaction to the decision making style of President Bush, who was so obviously an actor in a revenge tragedy - making instant judgement calls based on gut instincts without much reflection or debate about the consequences.

But Obama's been like this for years - in his late twenties at Harvard law school he was known as a moderator, solving problems by asking questions.

A new biography reveals that friends gently ribbed him about it. When they went to the cinema they would ask in mockery of his style: "Do you want salt on your popcorn? Do you even want popcorn?"

One can imagine Obama engaging in agonised soliloquy - he does seem consumed by the Gulf conundrum rather than relishing the opportunity to display leadership and seize this crisis by the scruff of its neck.

It is too easy to forget he's barely been in office for 18 months. We're barely out of act one and there's still time for him to learn on the job. Unlike Hamlet, he gets another chance. This is not yet a tragedy for the president .

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:26pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    To those who believe that British Petroleum will eventually go bankrupt...



    Despite paying high premiums to its shareholders and spending multi-millions (fruitlessly, judging by American viewers' reactions) on TV ads in the U.S. -BP is still in a much better financial shape, than another Jewel in the Crown - British Airways.


    [Although I don't know whether BAE would still have been around if the investigation into its corruptible shenanigans had not been stopped by the British government on "national interest" grounds.]

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  • 2. At 12:36pm on 05 Jun 2010, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    The world, and American history, is filled with men of action who say 'Something must be done! This is something. Therefore it must be done.'

    Aren't we reflecters allowed even one world leader? Doesn't the world deserve a single chance at getting things done right instead of getting them done quickly?

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  • 3. At 12:50pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MM wrote:

    Shakespeare is reflecting on what happens if you plonk a new man, the new emerging man of the renaissance, learned and intellectual, reflective, with a rich inner life, in the middle of a fairly hackneyed plot. What happens to a new sort of man in an old sort of drama.

    You might remember it didn't turn out too well."





    "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well."

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  • 4. At 12:51pm on 05 Jun 2010, Kittle wrote:

    I wish you'd stop referring to BP as British Petroleum. It hasn't been a purely British concern since long before it's merger with the American oil company Amoco in '98. Just admit that this whole issue is the result of international capitalist corporate greed and we can move on to the important stuff, like suing the arse off ALL the companies involved in this situation.

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  • 5. At 12:52pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MM: "The president is not the prince, even his critics don't argue he's holding back from one rapier thrust, one obvious decisive action that could save the day."



    Do you think that [Dennis] Blair, Napolitano and Salazar deserved that?

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  • 6. At 1:01pm on 05 Jun 2010, HabitualHero wrote:

    There's nothing Obama can do about this problem, it's entirely out of his hands. The purpose of Canute's holding back the tide gig was to demonstrate the limits of his power to his misguided people. This is Obama's Canute moment.

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  • 7. At 1:02pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MM: "But Obama's been like this for years - in his late twenties at Harvard law school he was known as a moderator, solving problems by asking questions."




    We do to, e.g.: why have we elected such a man in the first place?


    Ah, because he didn't "act on gut instint without much reflection or debate" like GWB, and unlike Clinton or Obama who would creat special comissions and 'blue ribbon panels' withouth ever making any difficult decision.


    [No, "W" did not need a special commission to tell him what's rudimentally right or wrong. Just like RR didn't.]
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The camel is the horse created by a committee.

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  • 8. At 1:12pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Unlike Hamlet, he gets another chance."

    Does he?

    To be....or not to be.....that is the question....that will be answered early come November....and in two Novembers hence.

    Alas poor Barack, I knew him well. Yuck!

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  • 9. At 1:18pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    M M: "It is too easy to forget he's barely been in office for 18 months."



    Premier Hatoyama was in office only 8 months and yet he was capable of doing the only honorable thing and resign when he could not deliver what he'd promised. [to save his party]


    Does only an Indian-American Spelling Bee contest winner know how to spell 'seppuku'?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "IS THIS A DAGGER WHICH I SEE BEFORE ME?" (no, MM, it's not "Hamlet")

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  • 10. At 1:30pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #8 "Alas poor Barack, I knew him well. Yuck!"





    Barack, we hardly knew Ye!

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  • 11. At 1:32pm on 05 Jun 2010, d_m wrote:

    Perhaps what we realy need is less tabloid press. The kind of reporting that would have elicited the following exchange or asked the following questons is without merit.

    "His spokesman Robert Gibbs is daily pressed by reporters to share evidence of presidential fury, forcing him to reply earnestly: "I've seen rage from him, Chip. I have."

    That was not enough. Questions went on. Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?"

    Reporters who ask questions like these should be escorted from the press room never to return.


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  • 12. At 1:43pm on 05 Jun 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Wow, Mark, excellent comparison. Thanks for that.
    Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
    "Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
    That I, the son of a dear father murther'd,
    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
    Must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words
    And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
    A scullion!"
    -Hamlet II.ii

    Hamlet and Barak struggling with the same mind-FULL, action-LESS debate.
    Barack used rhetoric to become king, weaving false hopes, dreams, fairy tales” “Yes we can!”
    Obama is so into his head, carrying on mind-FULL debates with himself that the only external reaction that Gibbs can put on record is that he sometimes clenches his teeth.
    When Obama speaks, he no longer even sounds good. I usually turn the channel because I cannot bear to hear one more: “To be or not to be.”
    It seems a theme of Hamlet was that that poison is so easily poured into a man’s ears. Words can manipulate, corrupt, spin. They can obscure what a man really thinks. Is there a man I ask that knows what Obama really thinks about Israel and understands why the United States of America supports, supports, SUPPORTS Israel unconditionally?
    "The spirit that I have seen
    May be a devil; and the devil hath power
    T' assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
    Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
    As he is very potent with such spirits,
    Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
    More relative than this. The play's the thing
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."
    Exit.
    -Hamlet II.ii

    Would that Obama would “catch the conscience” of a true and earnest King and bring salvation to the American people, but I suspect he is not the man.

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  • 13. At 1:45pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.
    Hamlet, scene ii

    But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
    Hamlet, scene ii

    I'll speak to it though Hell itself should gape
    And bid me hold my peace.
    Hamlet, scene ii

    My hour is almost come
    When I to sulphrous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
    Ghost, scene v

    O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!
    Ghost, scene v


    The time is out of joint; O cursed spite,
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    Hamlet, scene v

    Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
    Hamlet: Words, words, words.
    scene ii



    Polonius: [Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't. - Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
    Hamlet: Into my grave.
    scene ii

    O! from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
    Hamlet, scene iv

    Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
    Fortinbras, scene ii

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  • 14. At 1:56pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #13

    "Sh.t happens!" - a famous American bard: Forrest Gump.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "HORROR! HORROR!" (Col. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now")

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  • 15. At 2:25pm on 05 Jun 2010, mabelwhite wrote:

    Oh I would say much more like brave Othello, surrounded by crazies trying to destract him from the path of enlightenment

    "O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!..Every puny whipster...
    Take note, take note, O world,
    To be direct and honest is not safe.
    ..I understand a fury in your words,
    But not the words...
    How poor are they that have not patience!"
    -Othello

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  • 16. At 2:43pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Of course you know, this means war!"

    Bugs Bunny

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  • 17. At 2:46pm on 05 Jun 2010, csgators wrote:

    If there was something Obama could do he would. This is the same man that just had to pass heath care reform, ANY reform. Because we have to do SOMETHING after all. To say he isn't doing anything because he is too thoughtful is disingenuous at best.

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  • 18. At 3:06pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Aside from assembling a team of experts and putting pressure on BP, Transocean and Halliburton there is not much President Obama can do to fix this problem. We are not talking about building better dams, re-building houses or repairing roads, we are dealing with a problem that requires unique expertise that resides only within the oil industry, and time to fix it right.

    I don't expect President Obama or his Cabinet to wave a magic wand, and I definitely don't want to see him aboard a Coast Guard cutter declaring mission accomplished. He is making sure those affected are compensated and he is keeping the pressure where it ought to be. Let the experts do their job.

    Yes, his smile is gone, and I am glad it is because there is nothing funny about what is happening. To be or not to be is a wonderful question, but what we need at the moment is answers not rhetoric.

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  • 19. At 3:24pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Not Hamlet. Not Caesar. Nero.

    Obama fiddled while America burned.

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  • 20. At 3:27pm on 05 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    Since you are refrencing shakespere this might be more apprpriate when talking the promise and hope of Obama:

    It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signfying nothing.

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  • 21. At 4:09pm on 05 Jun 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    So now the press wants Emo President? Oh, for the days when Edmund Muskie was pilloried for crying in public!

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  • 22. At 4:31pm on 05 Jun 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 3, powermeerkat:

    "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well."

    That's not the quote.

    Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite
    jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
    thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!


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  • 23. At 4:32pm on 05 Jun 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 20, MagicKirin:

    "It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signfying nothing."

    A more apt description of your posts, I've never heard.





    [Sorry, I couldn't resist. ; ) ]

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  • 24. At 4:55pm on 05 Jun 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    It is a tragedy for the people of the Southern states and a tragedy for the USA as a whole, so I would say that this oil spill is a tragedy for President Obama, too, even in the political sense, because it makes the Democrats look worse than they even were before.

    I am just another ordinary American, but seeing those pictures of oiled birds sick and dying and water polluted makes me feel ill, sad, angry, hurt, confused, outraged, ect. President Obama has not shown much emotion and the second time he went, it was simply a big photo op.

    Although Bush was crazy and insane, he did have spontaneity. When that shoe was thrown at him, he asked, "What size?" or something like that.
    Obama seems to have lost his spontaneity. He appears lackluster.

    Obama was supposed to be this great "environmental" President. It would be nice to him helping clean up the birds, the beaches, something, a show of concern, but he does not seem to know what to do and does not seem to want to get his hands dirty.

    If BP was smart about public relations, they would have shown Tony Hayword cleaning up the birds with oil, or the beaches, and getting his hands dirty, as well, on that commerical. Also, giving more info of what BP is doing to stop the leaks. USA wants to see confidence, that they will not stop until it is plugged. Rather than just him talking a good talk, showing he walks the walk.

    The oil leak is horrific, but all that oil is not just going to sit there. Besides the wetlands and shores, the ocean current likely will also carry it up the Eastern coast of USA and then up to Great Britain. If affects us the most obviously, but it affects the British, too, not just moneytarywise. This is a real environmental disaster of monstrous proportions.

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  • 25. At 5:25pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Asked if the proceedure was working, he [Adm. Allen] said:
    "Yes, with caveats".


    6000 barrels out of 20 000 leaking every day?

    Some caveat.

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  • 26. At 5:30pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #22 "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Fella...errr, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
    thousand times."



    Even on his back? Sad.

    As a matter of fact: quite pathetic. :(

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  • 27. At 5:34pm on 05 Jun 2010, wise-guy wrote:

    Obama should learn from Bush's mistakes with Katrina. What hurt Bush wasn't that he callously let over a thousand mostly black, mostly poor Americans die in New Orleans. Rather what hurt Bush the most was his poor attempts at pr - the picture of him looking out the window of Air Force One or "heck of a job brownie."

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  • 28. At 5:34pm on 05 Jun 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Ref 21 Gavrielle_Laposte-

    "So now the press wants Emo President? Oh, for the days when Edmund Muskie was pilloried for crying in public!"

    I do agree they are a rather fickle and feckless group.

    If Obama did weep and rend his clothes, then the same reporters and posters taking such joy in maligning him for being too well composed, with a positive attitude would be maligning him for being weak and naked. These are a simple people who take joy mocking people who are not unfulfilled, negative, and bitter as they are themselves.

    Given a choice of whom to join in a burning building; I would join those who have the courage to fight through the flames and are actively searching for a solution to the dangerous problem, not those sitting with wringing hands and streaming tears, weeping for salvation. Neither would I join the naysayers smugly watching the intensifying flames and thinking they are clever in their criticisms of those seeking solutions.

    There are thousands of pastors in this country to tend the weeping flocks.

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  • 29. At 5:57pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh most holy one;

    "we are dealing with a problem that requires unique expertise that resides only within the oil industry, and time to fix it right."

    What world do you live in? Where do you think this is Europe? In three years America figured out how to build an atom bomb. In less than ten years it went from launching glorified basketballs into near earth orbit to putting men on the moon. In fifty years it converted what had been a building full of elecronics and air conditioning it took a team of scientists and mathematicians to run into something a million times as powerful you could put on your lap, take anywhere in the world and any ten year old could use. In fifty years it figured out what every last atom in human DNA is. And you are telling me that in months its top scientists can't figure out how to plug a ten inch diameter hole one mile down beneath the ocean? How can you doubt the abilities of the people who invented the modern world?

    "I don't expect President Obama or his Cabinet to wave a magic wand"

    Why not? If he couldn't and get the desired results, it would be the first time America tried in ernest to do something important and failed.

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  • 30. At 5:59pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #24

    BP Chairman: "I want to get my life back".

    What about lives of thousands of fishermen, hoteliers etc.,?


    Would you like to have a melamine-soaked shrimp cocktail from PRC?

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  • 31. At 6:02pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "Oh, for the days when Edmund Muskie was pilloried for crying in public!"



    And Dukakis for riding in a tank.


    [CBS Dan Rather: "Who put you in that tank?"]

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  • 32. At 6:40pm on 05 Jun 2010, sean56z wrote:

    On Elizabethan stages, transsexuals acted as Ophelia. Obama should consider this point in its original presentation. The violence level during his administration increased significantly. Ophelia protested.

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  • 33. At 6:41pm on 05 Jun 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    When Obama was running for office, he was very passionate. I am not asking Obama to be overemotional, just to show some emotion.

    He seems kind of, well, robotic.

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  • 34. At 6:43pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re "Of Obama and of Hamlet"




    Shouldn't it rather be "Of Mouse and Men"?

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  • 35. At 6:47pm on 05 Jun 2010, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    It's not unrelated to note that the relentless Obama-bashers were also clogging up the 'chat' for live feeds of the successful Space-X Falcon 9 launch yesterday.

    This isn't a Hamlet or Canute moment, but it should become a TR moment. Even though 'Teddy' Roosevelt was among the 'progressives' now being tarred with Glenn Beck's broad and random brush. Outrage at corporate excess led to basic food and workplace safety protections as part of the 'square deal' under TR.

    President Obama can make this a TR moment by requiring higher standards for energy extraction. He's already holding big energy's feet to the fire, and clearing out MMS deadwood, as he should after 40+ deaths between WV coal and LA oil, and the unfolding environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Stronger safety requirements are not big government imposition as some will argue. They're part of assigning the true cost to oil drilling for example. The true cost might include a relief well drilled at the same time as a primary well (there might be some criterion to relax this for land-based wells - if that's reasonable from a safety standpoint), and a royalty or equipment contribution requirement to a nationwide spill response system that can be mobilized when needed, with National Guard airlift and Coast Guard assistance.

    We Americans are not used to paying the true cost of all things and have skewed expectations and skewed markets because of that. Hence the rise of cheap imported goods at stores like Walmart, goods whose true cost includes domestic job loss or the effects of unsafe ingredients; or the disincentive for fuel efficiency since the true cost of gasoline doesn't reflect environmental costs, and our artificially low gasoline tax allows our roads to crumble; or farm products whose true cost would reflect taxpayer subsidy, and so on.

    We also see safety regulations as government imposition when in fact safer companies are more profitbale and most subcontractors who encounter a strong safety culture may at first question it but usually become ardent converts to stronger safety behaviors and culture. If it takes laws to bring this about, then thank goodness for OSHA, MSHA and the EPA. After all, we all want to return home to our families intact, and avoid harming others (and others' livelihoods and environment) by accidents or mistakes at work.

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  • 36. At 7:13pm on 05 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Well, I wouldn't mind if he stabbed Polonious through an arras.
    Let's see, which prating knave would I cast in the part?
    Hmm. Someone from Fox News perhaps? Or someone from talk radio? So many choices, so many prating knaves.

    ------------

    If you want 24 hours of fake emotion, watch Opera.

    Or Coronation Street.

    Or, better still, watch the World cup and see Soccer players fall down and flop over, clutch themselves in pretend agony, moaning, wailing, lying on the field (in both meanings of the word) ...

    ------------

    It's the culture of impatience and immediacy. If it doesn't react in real time like a video game people get all bent out of shape.

    This is an engineering problem, and it is a difficult one.
    Engineering solutions take time, that's all there is to it. Somebody has to design the thing, somebody has to draw it; somebody has to make it; somebody has to test it; and somebody has to install it under difficult conditions, and then try it under real conditions.

    These things take time, and neither Barack Obama nor anybody else has a magic wand to make it go away.

    Face up to reality, and deal with it.

    -------------

    As a point of reference for the kind of things that can go wrong, and that are then really hard to fix, as I understand it there is a coal fire that has been burning in Appalachia underground for decades - the reference is to a fire at Centralia Pennsylvania that has been burning since 1962.

    See this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_seam_fire

    Apparently there are thousands of these fires that can't be extinguished in various countries around the world.

    Would the failure to extinguish that coal fire have been blamed on President Kennedy, or President Johnson, or any subsequent President who failed to put the thing out?

    ------------

    The part that gets me here is the hypocrisy of the critics, and the cruel ironies of fate.

    Of all the Presidents in my lifetime, Barack Obama has got to be the least friendly to the Oil Industry and one of the most concerned about the environment. By contrast, his predecessor, Junior Bush, must have been the most friendly to the oil industry and the most utterly cavalier about the environment. Deep water drilling off America's coasts is precisely what the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd were demanding. They were salivating. Drooling, even.

    And Barack Obama is being criticized for his handling of a crisis that: he did not in any way create;
    for which he is not in any way responsible;
    was cause by oil drilling practices that he campaigned against; and
    whose solution requires technical expertise that was not in any way required as a prerequisite for winning the Iowa primary, any other primary, or the general election, of this or any other candidate, for this or any other Presidential term.

    To paraphrase Benes, I would have thought that when discussing the current problems in the Gulf of Mexico, the Republicans would whisper.

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  • 37. At 7:51pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 23 Andy Post wrote:

    "Ref. 20, MagicKirin:

    "It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signfying nothing."

    A more apt description of your posts, I've never heard."



    "A hit, a very palpable hit."

    Hamlet, Act 5, scene 2.

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  • 38. At 8:00pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 20 MagicKirin wrote:

    "Since you are refrencing (sic) shakespere (sic) this might be more apprpriate (sic) when talking (sic) the promise and hope of Obama:

    It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signfying (sic) nothing."

    Andy Post at #23 has already pointed out what, or rather whom, the quotation most aptly describes.

    It also appears to me to be a pretty good summation of eg

    - Palin's "autobiography"
    - Palin in general
    - The output of Fox News
    - The drivel spewed out by Limbaugh, Beck and numerous others

    And as ever I marvel at the irony of the intelligence of a Law Professor who wrote acclaimed books being smeared by one who cannot write a sentence...

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  • 39. At 8:19pm on 05 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    This continued reference to the emoting ability of Obama is becoming a distraction to what, IMO, is the real problem Obama is having. That is, where is the "big" push to contain and clean up this goo? Obama should have brought together a coordinated and massive response to this effort weeks ago, with or without the help from BP.

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  • 40. At 8:23pm on 05 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 41. At 8:26pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 24. At 4:55pm on 05 Jun 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    "President Obama has not shown much emotion and the second time he went, it was simply a big photo op."

    "Obama was supposed to be this great "environmental" President. It would be nice to him helping clean up the birds, the beaches, something, a show of concern, but he does not seem to know what to do and does not seem to want to get his hands dirty."

    Perhaps you could explain how his helping clean up birds would be anything but "simply a big photo op"?

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  • 42. At 8:58pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 40, Magic

    "A shake down artist and undistinguished law professor. A man who has been a total failure because no one has ever made him suceed on merit"

    1. Failures don't become Presidents, but Presidents can fail.
    2. Would you care to elaborate on the shake down artist bit?
    3. Nobody had to "make him succeed" he did it on his own, which is a lot more than some of his predecessors can say about their ascendancy to power.

    "As far as Palin she actually worked and earned most of what shhe got unlike Barack and Michelle who have been a given a free ride in their adult lives."

    Aside from the obvious intellectual differences that separate President Obama from former short-term Governor Palin, I think it is important to note that one dedicated part of his life to giving to the community where he lived, while the other has exploited her brief stint in government and the notoriety she gained during the last presidential campaign to accumulate wealth.

    It seems to me that the applicability of the term shake down artist is misplaced...



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  • 43. At 9:01pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 36, Interestedforeigner

    "Let's see, which prating knave would I cast in the part?
    Hmm. Someone from Fox News perhaps? Or someone from talk radio? So many choices, so many prating knaves."

    How about the right wing star who amused himself ridiculing an 11 year-old girl?

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  • 44. At 9:15pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 29, MAII

    "Why not? If he couldn't and get the desired results, it would be the first time America tried in ernest to do something important and failed."

    Yes, we have succeeded where many generations did not even attempt to go, but we did it methodically, deliberately and often with great pains. Waving a magic wand is not the answer. The President has done the only thing he can under the circumstances, he assembled an excellent team of experts to cooperate with the oil companies, and he is putting pressure on the oil companies to fix the problem.

    We have succeeded in many endeavors, and we will succeed on this one too, but it is not going to happen overnight.

    On the issue of emotion and photo-ops, the same people that criticize President Obama for not choking with emotion and spending time cleaning up pelicans are the same ones that would ridicule him if he did. Hopefully he will continue to ignore the background noise and keep the pressure on the folks with the expertise to cap this well and cleanup the mess.

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  • 45. At 9:47pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh self annointed one;

    Interesting program on C-Span with the former CEO of Shell Royal Dutch Petroleum as a guest on a call in program criticizing British Petroleum, the Obama Administration and Regulators all for not doing their jobs. Immediately after the disaster a large number of barges and supertankers should have gathered around the spill to perform "suck and salvage" operations which is somewhat akin to skimming but on a far larger scale. He hypothesizes that the incident might have been the result of rubber gasket particles getting into the drilling mud. When that was discovered according to him, drilling should have ceased immediately and the cause fixed.

    I'd never heard either of either of these ideas before. If the Suck and Salvage operation was as relatively efficient as he said it was, it should have been instituted immediately. BP both minimized the size and severity of the accident for the longest time and denied the underwater plumes existed but we now know at least two of very large ones are present. The oil is now coming up as tar balls along the beaches of western Florida. Some computer models have them going all the way up the east coast and eventually all the way to Britain.

    I do not accept that the Obama Administration did all it could nor that BP acted responsibly. This guest is no ordinary commenter, he knows as much about the oil industry and its capabilities as anyone. He pointed out that there are 2200 deep drilling rigs and 35,000 shallow drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, they've been drilling for 40 years without incident. It is yet to be determined whether this was the result of human error, equipment failure, or both but I am reminded that BP has a remarkable record for accidents, injuries, and violations at least among the major oil companies in North America. I can't help but conclude that this kind of accident is the result of a corporate culture that stems right from the top. Tony Hayward seems to personify the hubris and arrogance of his company that might have led to this disaster for himself, his company, the oil industry, and for America. What took the DOJ so long to begin its investigation?

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  • 46. At 9:48pm on 05 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #42

    Pre Presidency Obama was inthe U.S Senate for two years with no accomplishment

    Palin was a govenor who rooted out corruption and the State was doing well when she left.

    Sorry despite his so called academic brillance, Palin has been more of a sucess in term of results than Obama.

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  • 47. At 9:49pm on 05 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #44 SD,
    "Hopefully he will continue to ignore the background noise and keep the pressure on the folks with the expertise to cap this well and cleanup the mess."

    In other words, continue pointing fingers while waiting on BP to get it right. How about a little less talk and a lot more action. That would be nice, don't you think?

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  • 48. At 9:52pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 40 MagicKirin wrote:

    "A shake down artist and undistinguished law professor. A man who has been a total failure because no one has ever made him suceed on merit."

    As we said, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Not to mention full of bile, bigotry, spite, defamation and misinformation.

    He came from an extremely poor background. His academic career - "Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004."

    Please provide evidence he did not acquire his degrees and posts on merit or stand displayed for the umpteenth time as a mendacious defamer.

    ""A shake down artist" - shakedown is defined at answers.com as "Extortion of money, as by blackmail."

    Please provide evidence, to this blog and the relevant police authorities, that Obama is guilty of "Extortion of money, as by blackmail." or stand displayed for the umpteenth time as a mendacious defamer.

    He was elected to the US Senate, one of the minuscule number of African-Americans who have been. He came from nowhere and defeated several more experienced candidates, and the Clinton electoral machine, to get his party’s nomination. He defeated the Republican Lie Machine [and a highly experienced war hero.] His % of the popular vote was the second highest for a Dem in 64 years - in fact among the Dems only LBJ in his '64 landslide and FDR got higher in the 20th century. He passed health reform that Presidents for almost a century, from T Roosevelt on, had failed to do. He has restored the image of the US throughout the world, as indicated by polls throughout the world. Some failure.

    "How many times do I have to post I don't listen to Limbaugh?"

    Try reading my posting. I never said you did. I am sure the similarities in your mendacious defamation are entirely coincidental.

    "As far as Palin she actually worked and earned most of what shhe (sic) got unlike Barack and Michelle who have been a given a free ride in their adult lives.

    Palin would be doing a far better job than Barack the Clueless"

    You can repeat this drivel till you are blue in the face. Clearly, you will. Can you really believe for a second you convince anyone but yourself?

    And what is this strange attraction to Palin. A simpleminded, mendacious, simplistic halfwit, a proven liar, who has never achieved anything, mired in simplistic prejudice, who apparently had a US and Israeli flag in her office in her brief term as Governor.

    Yup - it certainly is a mystery why such a person should appeal to MK....

    "No (sic) cares about your spelling attacks but you."

    How do you know? Did they tell you? Did you ask?

    At least 2 other posters, and I am pretty sure it is more, have pointed out that they cannot take your postings seriously due to your lack of literacy. Personally I find your lack of evidence, logic and humanity far more compelling reasons.

    And they are not 'attacks' - they are corrections. Just wanted to make that clear before the Israeli commandos start crashing through my windows...

    "On another subject- Thank you for your Israel (sic cubed) for your heroism against the gaza terrorists who tried to break your blockade."

    Again the hypocrisy is almost amusing - from the person who whines that others are always dragging Israel into the debate.

    Naturally the 9 dead were terrorists - in MagicWorld [and indeed Israel] anyone killed by Israel is by definition a terrorist.

    The killings might have been more "heroic" and less one sided if those killed had also been armed with automatic weapons.

    Plainly, if Israel nuked the White House, MK would be straight on here telling us " Itt wazz awl Barrack Obbamma's fawlt becaws hee nevver showwed enouf respecked two Ammericca's gratest allie..."

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  • 49. At 10:37pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Doubled over in Dublin;

    "He came from an extremely poor background."

    A regular Abe Lincoln. Rags to Riches. The American success story. Horatio Alger.

    "His academic career - "Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School,"

    And....in European eyes, that gives him the credentials to be an elite in an elitist society with elitist mentalities...which is not what America is or is about. The degrees prove...he took enough courses and passed enough exams to get diplomas.

    "where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review."

    He was gramatically corrrect.

    "He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree."

    He was an amateur rabble rouser first.

    "He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004."

    Then he became a professional rabble rouser getting more money for rabble rousing and for parroting back what he had remembered from law school.

    And then he made the right political connections in politically corrput Chicago and the rest is history.

    There is a time for a show of American indignation. The violence in Iran after the so called election last year was one of them. The severe damage done to our country and millions of our fellow citizens by a profit obsessed money grubber is another. But from President Obama we got nada. From the look of it, he doesn't feel our pain.

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  • 50. At 10:39pm on 05 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Doubled over in Dublin;

    "Plainly, if Israel nuked the White House, MK would be straight on here telling us " Itt wazz awl Barrack Obbamma's fawlt becaws hee nevver showwed enouf respecked two Ammericca's gratest allie..."

    I think you've had at least one too many. How about making that last one a cup of strong dark coffee. I'll call you a cab.

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  • 51. At 10:43pm on 05 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    37 J-i-D

    "A hit, a very palpable hit!"

    Reminded me of this, which could have been posted on the baseball string:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzl6LEfouEE

    If the link does not appear, the video can be found on U-Tube under Shakesearean baseball Wayne and Shuster

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  • 52. At 10:52pm on 05 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    43. At 9:01pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    "How about the right wing star who amused himself ridiculing an 11 year-old girl?"

    ____________

    I missed this. What is the reference?

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  • 53. At 11:05pm on 05 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    46. At 9:48pm on 05 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    "Palin was a govenor who rooted out corruption and the State was doing well when she left."

    Apparently you have missed the irony of your own posting.

    Here's a hint: your statement may also be taken as meaning the the state was not doing well before she left, but it did well when she left.

    The sentence can also be interpreted as meaning that the rooting-out of corruption included her departure.

    ____________

    "Sorry despite his so called academic brillance, Palin has been more of a sucess in term of results than Obama."

    Hold on. Being governor of Alaska is the equivalent of being mayor of a mid-sized city. The place has a smaller total population than Winnipeg. It has surplus state revenues from resource extraction.

    And she quit in the middle of her term. What was the problem? Too much work in an obscure corner of the country, when she could spend time in the national limelight instead? The opportunity to do that would have been irresistible to a narcissistic airhead.

    And who most symbolizes the inanity of the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd?

    The former couldn't-be-bothered-to-complete-her-term governor of Alaska.

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  • 54. At 11:08pm on 05 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    The Kirin said:

    Palin was a govenor who rooted out corruption and the State was doing well when she left.

    Palin had as much to do with sending numerous members of the Alaska legislature to jail for taking bribes off of Bill Allen, the VECO owner as you, I, John_From_Dublin, StDom etc did....zilch, zero. The federal gov't prosecuted them, not the state.

    The state of Alaska had tons of bucks when Palin was Gov because the price of oil hit $150/barrel while she was in office. Once again, she had as much to do with this as you,I, John_From_Dublin, StDom did.

    Why do you post such outlandish statements? Do you hate yourself and enjoy the embarrassment they bring?

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  • 55. At 11:28pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 54 wolfvorkian [to MK]

    "Why do you post such outlandish statements? Do you hate yourself and enjoy the embarrassment they bring?"

    Shame and embarrassment are not words that feature in the MK Lexicon. See also 'facts', 'truth', evidence', 'proof', 'objectivity', 'spelling'....]

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  • 56. At 11:46pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 52, Interestedforeigner

    "I missed this. What is the reference?"

    Glenn Beck ridiculed one of President Obama's daughters on FOX a few days ago, making fun of her naivete and alleged lack of education.

    He apologized afterwards but his sick impersonation revealed not only the intensity of his hatred, but unprecedented callousness and cowardice. Obviously, the medium that broadcasted that sickening display of unprofessionalism is just as guilty as Beck.

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  • 57. At 11:50pm on 05 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 50 MachoAutisticusII wrote:

    "Doubled over in Dublin;

    "Plainly, if Israel nuked the White House, MK would be straight on here telling us " Itt wazz awl Barrack Obbamma's fawlt becaws hee nevver showwed enouf respecked two Ammericca's gratest allie..."


    I was parodying the fact that MK cannot [or is too idle to] spell correctly. [Nor indeed can you - ""politically corrput (sic) Chicago" being just the latest of endless examples.] I imagine anyone with half a brain picked that up.

    As for the - oooh, roughly 97 millionth Irish drinking sneer. Very clever. Tremendously witty. Wherever do you get these sparkling 'zingers'? A crack team of professional writers, no doubt.

    I am of course being ironic. Not clever, not witty, just tired, tedious, bigoted and racist. And entirely typical. Of a type with your endless ‘ve are ze master race, you Europeans are ze Untermensch’ diatribes.]

    [Not, I hasten to add, typical of Americans, whom I have mostly found to be polite and open-minded, but rather of MAII, whom I have always found to be neither.]

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  • 58. At 11:51pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 47, Rodidog

    "How about a little less talk and a lot more action. That would be nice, don't you think?"

    Other than wearing scuba gear, operating robotic equipment, or washing petroleum off pelicans there is not much more he can do than what he is already doing.

    A more pertinent question would be: where is the drill baby drill crowd and how come they have not come up with a solution to this problem? Couold it be that the only thing they care about is money in their pockets?

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  • 59. At 11:55pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 46, Magic

    "Sorry despite his so called academic brillance, Palin has been more of a sucess in term of results than Obama."

    Your definition of success and demonstrable achievements is peculiar to say the least.

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  • 60. At 11:57pm on 05 Jun 2010, crash wrote:

    I would say Obama is in a bind after accepting hundreds of thousands in contributions from BP when running for office,it's no wonder his hearts not in it !

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  • 61. At 00:22am on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    In the C-Span program with John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell and author of the book "Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider", he said when he met Sarah Palin, she said to him "Do you know who runs the oil industry in this state?" and he said "You do Governor" and she said "We'll get along just fine." Probably at around that time Barack Obama was making new friends in Chicago.

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  • 62. At 01:49am on 06 Jun 2010, Orville Eastland wrote:

    After a bit of an absence, I'm back.
    A few comments:
    -Hamlet was very melancholy, a trait not looked on well in presidents. (I would like Presidents to have some of it, but then again, perhaps I'm too melancholy.)
    -The Minerals Management Service (which oversaw the offshore drilling) was investigated by the Department of the Interior a few years back. The investigation found that individuals in the MMS took drugs and sex with various oil company representatives. Later investigations showed MMS employees continuing to accept gifts, though fortunately, nothing as outrageous. This is a systemic problem, which can't be blamed on Obama or Bush. It should also be noted that a number of MMS employees have gone to work for the energy companies after their retirement...
    -A simple way for Obama to recover the costs from the oil spill would be to cut federal oil subsidies. Obama won't. Democrats won't (with a few principled exceptions). Republicans won't (with a lot fewer principled exceptions).
    -Obama's hands may be tied, but Obama could use this to get Americans to use less petroleum products and less energy. He isn't. He is urging Americans to use gasoline to vacation on the Gulf Coast...And, lest we forget, a few months ago, caving in to Republican pressure, he advocated more drilling for oil offshore.

    For whoever compared Obama to Japan's ex-PM, right on! I did not vote for Obama, since I knew from the time he picked his VP that his promises of "change" were not serious or what we needed. In the words of the other most well-known role of a recent actor who played Hamlet, "Don't you think he looks tired?" (BTW, why couldn't the BBC have put a pic of David up there?)

    In other news, I'll be working as a pollworker for the upcoming SC primary, and I'll still be available to discuss the results. (I can't tell you who I voted for, but I can tell you that it's likely we will have a runoff or two or more.) I think the BBC has my phone number, but if you need it again, e-mail me.

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  • 63. At 01:57am on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 64. At 02:02am on 06 Jun 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Ref 60 crash-

    "I would say Obama is in a bind after accepting hundreds of thousands in contributions from BP when running for office,it's no wonder his hearts not in it !"

    I don't find any campaign contributions to Obama's campaign coming from BP, or under British Petroleum. There is not a big oil company in the top 20 contributors. You need to come up with a source for your allegations. Otherwise you are a just another self-deluded slanderer.

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  • 65. At 02:23am on 06 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Here's a link to an article on BP campaign contributions:

    http://www.capitolnewsconnection.org/?q=node/14779

    Note that the list includes employees as well as their political action committee. Nearly a thousand candidates of both major parties have received money from BP or its employees. Like any large company, you might expect that there are employees who support candidates from each party.

    This is a non-issue. People who try to make issues of things like this never post links, because the facts don't support their conclusions.

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  • 66. At 03:52am on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    56. At 11:46pm on 05 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    "Glenn Beck ridiculed one of President Obama's daughters on FOX a few days ago, making fun of her naivete and alleged lack of education."

    "He apologized afterwards but his sick impersonation revealed not only the intensity of his hatred, but unprecedented callousness and cowardice. Obviously, the medium that broadcasted that sickening display of unprofessionalism is just as guilty as Beck."

    ____________

    That really is pathetic.

    Did Fox give an explanation why he wasn't simply fired for cause right then and there?

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  • 67. At 04:09am on 06 Jun 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 68. At 04:46am on 06 Jun 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    What mystifies me about the Mexican Gulf oil spill furore is that the media - responding to their constituents -- have turned this altogether predictable industrial accident into something rather like Chernobyl, and possibly even worse.

    Ear-splitting assaults on BP about the destruction of ecosystems from people who up until now tended to dismiss advocates of sane environmental policy as some kind of dangerous element, prophets of doom if not outright subversives "in cahoots with the enemies of America."

    Despair about adverse impact on livelihoods and incomes -- as if we are not all still reeling from the aftershocks of a global financial meltdown, in which trillions of your favourite currency were zapped into non-existence via obscene machinations unlikely ever to be unwound again, at least within the foreseeable lifetimes of those of us who were hurt (and that is pretty much everyone, in the mathematically meaningful sense of 99.9% or the world's population that depended on wages or sales to survive, back in 2006 or 2007).

    Considering what else is going on in the world -- beginning with destruction of the environment on a far more devastating scale in Asia, Africa and the Americas, ongoing with hardly even an Economist or FT headline any more -- even in its worst-case scenario, the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is almost a non-event.

    I mean, people: there's Haiti right there, across the water. Short-term memory loss?

    So why all the extra noise, then? Well, of course, as a prelude to extracting just as much in the form of compensation as possible. But probably for bigger reasons than that: the 2010 US vote is almost upon us, and that means the 2012 Presidential election is just about ready to launch. Plus, there is the added factor of the beach-front properties being affected, just as the summer drinking season (oops! of course I meant "summer parties") is gearing up. Texas! Louisiana! Florida! That's a lot of disgruntled Americans with connections, sitting pretty with their social agendas drenched in petrogoop.

    How hard it must be for them to wake up to the life most other human beings -- including most Americans -- are stuck with, year-round. No trips to the beach; no holiday parties; no waterfront properties; no hazy sunset at the shore and no balmy breeze... Unless you already happen to live in Hawai'i, life in America "post-crisis" is decidedly dreary these days.

    Convenient to scapegoat someone -- anyone -- for the damage to the lifestyle that ought to have been made considerably less petrol-dependent a couple of decades ago... All those people holding up the "evil Obama/evil BP" signs will never ever take an honest look at their own hypocrisy when it comes to the environment.

    Will the Americans who populate the Southern states, the Texans and the Floridians in particular, retain their newfound environmental fervour months from now, remembering to remain upset at the thought of all the pollution & clear-cutting & waste that characterise industrial processes in all the world's great powers today? Or will they simply pour themselves another drink? And shrug off (as they have for decades) any suggestion that we need rigorous global environmental standards, embraced by consensus across borders, without hesitation?

    As for the lovely "Obama as Hamlet" conceit, Mr Mardell: well, any chance to quote from The Greatest One always affords a balm to the world-weary soul. And so my reverences to all those who have joined in with elegant citations...

    All I will add is this observation: the death of Ophelia which indeed triggers all the mayhem as the bereft Prince of Denmark loses any further will to cling to life poses a fascinating riddle in the plot line. Shakespeare loved riddles, as we know -- so much so that he buried his own identity & with it his biography in a whole progression of riddles that continue to defy entire armies of literary historians four centuries later.

    His fanciful plays, and even more suggestively coded sonnets, constantly raise -- and occasionally answer -- painful practical questions about how, quite simply, one is to get on with life when your parents disapprove of whom you love, or the love of your life has betrayed you, or your wife wants you to murder your boss, or you are the only intelligent person in a troupe of amateurs, or your uncle has stolen your assets and married your mother and denounced you to your friends as some kind of dangerous lunatic while sending assassins out to kill you -- assassins you yourself may not kill in self-defence, of course, without looking like the very lunatic you are being accused of being.

    At the heart of every fanciful Shakespearean plot are very real dilemmas that resonate with all of us.

    So when the Prince of Denmark, knowing he is spied upon continuously, speaks those fateful words to his true love: "To a nunnery, go!" trusting to his telepathic powers (as men in love so often do) to fill up with meaning what his few, carefully picked over words convey, he never imagines that hiding Ophelia away in a cloister would lead to her death.

    The great tragic irony of the love story at the heart of the play -- the love story without which no Shakespearean play could ever be complete -- is that Ophelia, who has obviously been intimate with Hamlet around the time of the famous night of the re-enactment of his father's murder that confirms his suspicions, as his public declarations to her with full court present explicitly imply -- imagines his curt command that she make haste to hide herself from court behind the strong walls of a convent are an indication that she is being cast off, rejected -- not hidden away to save her life.

    Convents at the time were also the place young ladies went to hide when they found themselves with child outside of wedlock -- something Shakespeare's audience would recognise instantly. In those times of yore when the arrival of a human being into a civilised society could only be deemed acceptable if the new life could prove itself to be the offspring of a lawful union, duly blessed by (male) judges & (male) priests, it was communities of women -- women who understood a good deal more than men about the stresses & distresses of conception, gestation, birth & lactation (not to mention about the perils of being the wife & chattel of an alpha male) -- that judged least, helped most & closed ranks to help the afflicted, shielding her, as much as possible, from the harsh realities of a society run by posturing (Laertes), self-serving (Polonius) and driven men (Hamlet & of course the Author himself) for whom the life, love & possible progeny of even the most cherished feminine being around tended (certainly even in the Age of the First Elizabeth, if not so much, thankfully!, our own) to rank a distant second to all their personal business.

    Each time I see & read this play, Ophelia's death -- "gone mad & drowned herself" -- plays out as the powerful dramatisation, by a brave & brilliant poet possessed of one of Literature's most empathic souls ever, of what happens even to princesses and ladies when powerful & obsessive men dally & move on to their more pressing business... Ophelia's recitation of botanicals includes those known & used to end "shameful" pregnancies... For the author to make a more explicit allusion to this drama (and it was common enough, everywhere & always) would most certainly have invited harsh punishment. So he merely hints.

    In the end, everything in the play hinges on what has happened to the love of Hamlet & Ophelia.

    Now, to return to your allusion, if President Obama -- stretching -- is the Hamlet in this murky tale of spilled oil, then surely it is all of America that is Ophelia.

    He needs to pick his words, and elaborate ad nauseam to a puzzled audience. And she needs to avoid overthinking, and taking any rash steps that are irreversible.

    Words, words, words, words, words: surely one of the two finest lines in all of Literature -- the other being, "In the Beginning was the Word," but that had a higher source, as I see it.

    Let us keep our words, therefore -- words being infinitely more precious, in the final analysis, then mere petroleum.

    Strange to say

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  • 69. At 04:53am on 06 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #58 SD,

    "Other than wearing scuba gear, operating robotic equipment, or washing petroleum off pelicans there is not much more he can do than what he is already doing."

    I noticed you had nothing to say about the lack of organizing and coordinating containment and clean-up of the spill, which was my point. Good for you though, you just came up with more ideas than Obama has.
    ---------------

    "A more pertinent question would be: where is the drill baby drill crowd and how come they have not come up with a solution to this problem? Could it be that the only thing they care about is money in their pockets?"


    Sure, and if you click your heels together three times while saying it, it might come true.



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  • 70. At 05:25am on 06 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #65 GH1618,

    "This is a non-issue. People who try to make issues of things like this never post links, because the facts don't support their conclusions"

    While I don't disagree with your point. I do find it interesting that BP and it's employees gave almost 60% more to Obama than they did McCain or Bush.

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  • 71. At 05:52am on 06 Jun 2010, TeaPot562 wrote:

    If I had been running BP, when it became evident that the spill was going to affect the US (Louisiana, etc.) coast, I would have asked some large casualty insurance companies (State Farm, Allstate, etc.) to give a bid for leasing their CLAIM facilities & claim agents in the gulf states to BP for some number of months. BP (& oil companies generally) are in the business of finding & pumping oil. They don't necessarily know how to settle claims, even justified claims for damages including loss of income, etc. That way, someone efficient would be accepting claims and beginning to process payments.
    The US govt could well be in an oversight or auditing mode, reviewing what the Claim personnel did; but the US govt is not particularly good at instituting new procedures for disbursing funds, as has been proved by both administrations in the last half dozen years.
    Has BP stated whether they are contracting out on handling damage claims? Or trying to handle the claims within their own administrative personnel?
    TeaPot562

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  • 72. At 06:03am on 06 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    MAII said:

    Obama fiddled while America burned.

    This was exactly my thoughts when Bush continued to read "my pet goat" after Card informed him of the 2nd attack in NYC.

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  • 73. At 09:18am on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    GWB's response after 9/11 was commandable.

    BHO's response to the Gulf oil spill - well, was basically no response.

    Except for tough talk and photo ops after his ratings plumetted.

    Sorry, but I'd take Hatoyama over Obama any time.

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  • 74. At 09:25am on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #71

    "Has BP stated whether they are contracting out on handling damage claims? Or trying to handle the claims within their own administrative personnel? -TeaPot562"





    Too busy now disbursing dividends, I guess.

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  • 75. At 09:57am on 06 Jun 2010, commonsense_expressway wrote:

    #71

    "Has BP stated whether they are contracting out on handling damage claims? Or trying to handle the claims within their own administrative personnel"

    On UK tv i've seen BP claim centres handling the claims themselves, at St Bernard Parish, Venice, New Orleans,Plaquemines Parish. I dont know if there are others. They also have a 24/7 claims line and claims can be filed online. I think they either have ,or intend ,to appoint an independent mediator to overview the fairness of the payouts. Their own website has all the info.

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  • 76. At 10:25am on 06 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #59
    SaintDominick wrote:
    Ref 46, Magic

    "Sorry despite his so called academic brillance, Palin has been more of a sucess in term of results than Obama."

    Your definition of success and demonstrable achievements is peculiar to say the least.

    ______________

    I could say the same for you, Obama had zero accomplishments when he ran.

    An absent Senator and a voting present one in IL State Senate.

    Why can't Obamaphiles admidt he was totally unqualfied?

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  • 77. At 10:47am on 06 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    36. Interestedforeigner:

    "And Barack Obama is being criticized for his handling of a crisis that: he did not in any way create;
    for which he is not in any way responsible;"

    ******************

    He is responsible for the response. And, in this case, the response has to be tangible, measurable not rhetoric.

    Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing in his background, his experience, that has demonstrated he can deliver results. Health care reform was accomplished by hard-fighting, seasoned legislators who believed their political futures would be ensured by its passage.

    He doesn't have an army of fighters to get him out of this one.

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  • 78. At 10:57am on 06 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    76. MagicKirin:

    "Why can't Obamaphiles admidt he was totally unqualfied?"

    ****************
    Because they believe (mistakenly, in my view) that his superior intelligence is what is really needed and, with it, he'll figure it out, thoughtfully and rationally.

    It's all based on belief that "Yes, he will." There's no "Yes, he has" because he hasn't.

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  • 79. At 11:44am on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    sheep in wolf's clothing;

    "MAII said:

    Obama fiddled while America burned.

    This was exactly my thoughts when Bush continued to read "my pet goat" after Card informed him of the 2nd attack in NYC."

    Did I ever say otherwise? Don't look at me, I didn't vote for him. In 2000 America had a choice...between a stick of wood and the village idiot who was a recovering alcoholic. I voted for the wood but he couldn't even defend himself when the election was stolen from him. How could he have possibly defended the country? The choices in 2004 and 2008 were hardly any better. People get the government they deserve. With leaders like these, it's a wonder the country survives at all.

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  • 80. At 11:56am on 06 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 76, Magic

    "Why can't Obamaphiles admidt he was totally unqualfied?"

    Because his record, as an individual and as President, suggests otherwise.

    Modern-day presidential failures include Jimmy Carter who was neither inspiring nor effective in dealing with the hostage crisis; Reagan who after presiding over a massacre in Lebanon declared that was not our war and cut and run, blamed a Lt. Col. for the Iran-Contra scandal, championed the demonization of government that eroded its effectiveness, and embraced deficit spending to an extent that it destroyed the long term solvency of our economy; Bush II whose response after after 9/11 was to declare the only nation that could have been blamed for that tragedy a "Most Favored Nation" for trade purposes and invaded two countries that had nothing to do with it, and whose fiscal and economic policies destroyed not only the fiscal and economic integrity of the USA but the global economy as well.

    While neither Carter, nor Reagan or Bush caused the hostage crisis, the Marine slaughter in Beirut, or 9/11 they could have all dealth with those directly responsible for those nefarious acts not because they couldn't but because they decided not to.

    President Obama is neither responsible for the oil well accident that is destroying our eco-system in the Gulf of Mexico nor the failure to cleanup the mess. The exact cause of the accident remains unknown, technological limitations have precluded rapid and effective repairs, and the spill has been so massive that the resources available to disperse it and contain it have been ineffective.

    Yes, President Obama has not declared "mission accomplished" and has not given the folks in charge and "atta boy Brownie", but he has been doing the only thing he can under the circumstances: he has kept the pressure on BP to cap the well and compensate those affected by the accident, has assembled a team of experts to deal with the problem, and has shown concern by visiting the areas affected.



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  • 81. At 12:58pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #77
    "Health care reform was accomplished by hard-fighting, seasoned legislators who believed their political futures would be ensured by its passage."




    What health care reform, Andrea?


    Have you noticed any tangible improvement?

    Have your premium gone down? [Mine hasn't]

    Has anybody's?


    P.S. I know that shrimp, crab and other seafood is good for you health (Omega-3 and all that) but do you know what one from PRC contains?

    Let me tell ya, even those BP-oiled Louisiana crustaceans would be safer.

    [not that I would touch it with a ROV]

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  • 82. At 1:02pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #79 "stick of wood"

    Even the obedient wife of the dead-wood had enough.


    Took her good 40 years, but, hey, better late than never.

    [The Inconvenient Truth]

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  • 83. At 1:13pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Charisma-shmarisma...

    There was not a single Islamist terrorist attack (although there were some attempts thwarted in time) during "recovering alcoholic's" reign.

    But there were some, and some serious breaches of national security during Obama's reign.

    Why do you think the ONE had to replace Dennis Blair with gen. Clapper?



    P.S. That a B-movie actor - Ronald Reagan - managed to precipitate Soviet Empire's collapse by good 20-25 years is of course immaterial. ;)

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  • 84. At 1:39pm on 06 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    81. powermeerkat:

    "What health care reform, Andrea?"

    ******************
    Make that health care "legislation."

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  • 85. At 2:00pm on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    powermeerkat;

    "Re #79 "stick of wood"

    Even the obedient wife of the dead-wood had enough."

    Maybe she traded him in for something "automated." :-)

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  • 86. At 2:51pm on 06 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 77, Andrea

    "Health care reform was accomplished by hard-fighting, seasoned legislators who believed their political futures would be ensured by its passage."

    Healthcare reform was one of candidate Obama's most important policy proposals during the last presidential campaign, and became one of the most important goals of his administration after Inauguration.

    Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Reid wrote legislation and pushed it through both Houses of Congress not because they thought it was going to help them in November, but in spite of knowing that doing so was going to put their political careers in jeopardy. Their decision to champion healthcare reform was influenced by principle and the knowledge that it was in the best interest of our country.

    I realize that such behavior is very difficult to understand, let alone accept, by the party of NO and those whose decisions drift and shift dependent on what the latest poll tells them. If in doubt, ask John McCain the nemesis of the agents of intolerance and the champion of the guest worker program who suddenly could not find a preacher he did not like or a wall he could not build.

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  • 87. At 3:05pm on 06 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 83, powermeerkat

    "There was not a single Islamist terrorist attack (although there were some attempts thwarted in time) during "recovering alcoholic's" reign."

    I believe you forgot the only successful terrorist attack carried out by Islamic zealots on US soil.

    Soporific influences notwithstanding, W was warned about the high probability of an imminent attack by his predecessor, warnings were reiterated by the CIA, NSA and the National Security Advisor after he was inaugurated and not only did he remain ambivalent about the whole thing but, as MAII pointed out, he did not even react when he was informed of what had taken place when a plane crashed into the first tower.

    Thank God he was whisked away to an undisclosed location, along with the champion of college deferments until the situation was under control.

    I don't blame W for 9/11 because I understand that there was no specificity in the warnings he got, but if it is fair to blame President Obama for problems he did not create within weeks of being inaugurated president, then it is fair to blame W for the worst foreign attack against our country..which took place while George W. Bush, a Republican, was President.

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  • 88. At 3:22pm on 06 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #86
    , SaintDominick wrote:
    Ref 77, Andrea

    "Health care reform was accomplished by hard-fighting, seasoned legislators who believed their political futures would be ensured by its passage."


    _______________-

    Not to mention stealing the MN seante seat and allowing Paul Kirk who had no busienss being allowed to vote on something this important. The minute Scott Brown or if Martha Coakley won he should have left the building

    I was disenfranchised on this vote as a Mass citizen.

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  • 89. At 3:23pm on 06 Jun 2010, radiorat wrote:

    Oh poor Obama he has only been in office a short 18 months. He has only passed health care and yet the American people still refuse to unite under his weak and broken leadership. If only the people could understand the pressure of the office and the needed to take just one more vacation...C'mon how much more crap is the press going to pile on the OBAMA dung hill before it falls. We all know the powers of the office of the Preisdent.He has failed,the hope and change is a nightmare and same-same

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  • 90. At 3:34pm on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    77. At 10:47am on 06 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    "He is responsible for the response. And, in this case, the response has to be tangible, measurable not rhetoric."

    "Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing in his background, his experience, that has demonstrated he can deliver results. "

    ____________

    Ok.

    Suppose that everything you say in these two sentences is true.

    What tangible thing would you have expected any of the alternative candidates for the Presidency to have done, or to have done better?

    Which of the alternative candidates for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency had anything in their backgrounds that would have demonstrated that they would be any more likely to be able to deliver results in the face of the current problem?

    What, really, do you expect him to do?
    Marcus has come up with some suggestions. Others have pointed to possible alternatives. But I didn't see or hear those things a month ago. There's some great armchair quarterbacking going on.

    ------------

    Here's another analogy: John Pope made a reasonably good plan, but lost, and lost badly, at Chancellorsville nonetheless, because some of his officers, simply didn't want to do what they were ordered to do, or didn't do it in a timely fashion. Braxton Bragg had much the same problem at Chickamauga.

    What control did Lincoln, or Jefferson Davis, respectively, have over those problems while they were occurring? Lincoln, for one, had approved a plan that, if properly executed, ought to have resulted in the destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia. But some of the "technical experts" failed to perform. And when the problems came to light, did each man take appropriate corrective action? And what was the timeframe in which they took action?

    ------------

    It seems to me that engineering problems sometimes take quite a while to solve. Jumping up and down and stamping your feet like Yosemite Sam usually doesn't help. The guy doesn't have a magic wand, and neither does, or did, John McCain, Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, John Dean, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, ... or Edmund Muskee, Estes Kefauver, Jack Kennedy, or Richard Nixon. Or Stephen Douglas.

    ----------





    Somehow in North America we have this cultural expectation that the hero can mix a tube of toothpaste with a cleaning solvent, cleverly insert it in a shark-repellent cartridge; steal an underwater chariot hidden in the evil master villain's sea-bed hideout and grotto; and (while simultaneously recovering a stolen nuclear warhead, rescuing the slinky babe, and engaging in a hand-to-hand knife fight with three bad-guy underlings) mount it on an oxygen cylinder; re-jig the scuba breathing regulator with a hair pin, an elastic and a used Coke bottle with the bottom cut off to operate as a thrust producing nozzle; and aim and fire the oxygen cylinder straight downward into the pipe like a torpedo. The oxygen cylinder lodges in an 8 inch diameter hole in 5000 ft of water, at which point the oxygen cylinder explodes and the mixed chemicals expand, instantly solidify, and block the flow like Prestone.

    The hero then pops up in the surf on the beachfront of a luxury resort, the beachfront being (a) conveniently close; and (b) mysteriously free of tar balls (due to special ocean currents). He removes his goggles, breathing apparatus and wet suit, emerging with his hair dry and rakishly combed, and with his tuxedo uncreased. He sweeps off with with the luscious babe in the wet skin-tight dress. He avoids the Press conference on the beach, mentioning in passing that he is busy at the moment as "something just came up."

    With a nod to George MacDonald Fraser, and others, while that might make an entertaining movie plot, life isn't a movie plot no matter how badly the public may be clamoring for it.


    ------------

    Think about cutting the original tunnel through the Berkshires, or the Snoqualamie tunnel, or the Moffat tunnel. Or the Channel tunnel

    Think about the problems trying to excavate the footings of the Brooklyn Bridge. Or the problems of trying to repair the gash in the side of The Great Eastern. Or the collapse of the first Quebec bridge. Or trying to figure out why the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsed. Or why the Comet Jetliner crashed. Or trying to make the big cut in the Panama Canal.


    Engineering problems are not always amenable to solutions within the format of a single, one hour TV program.

    In North America, we just don't do patience very well.


    ------------



    And I find the hypocrisy of the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd on this one to be even greater than usual.

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  • 91. At 3:37pm on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh self annointed one;

    The US receives thousands of threats every day. Some credible, some absurd, some specific, some vague. You can pick out the one that turned out to be true and point to failure to act if that makes sense to you. This of course is no excuse for President Bush's failure to react, he froze like a deer with his eyes glazed over in the headlights. But he was hardly alone in his lack of exercising his responsibility. Countless experts testified before Congress over and over again and nothing happened. The FBI and CIA were more interested in their turf wars against each other or so it seemed than in protecting the country and if that wasn't bad enough, Congress put a wall between them "to protect the American people." And they didn't even have anything remotely like modern computer systems or complete data bases. They didn't share the information they did have. They couldn't have had they wanted to, it was illegal. There is much blame to go around and for both parties and both elected and appointed officials. The bombings of the Cole and of the embassies in Africa were a clear warning that al Qaeda was out to get us. We knew who they were, where they were. President Clinton bombed a training camp in Afghanistan with a missile...when he knew nobody would be there so that he wouldn't kill anyone, he just wanted to send a message. The message was we won't do anything to stop you. War had been declared on us but we weren't fighting back. We are still fighting with one hand tied behind us and many of our own citizens seem relaxed and blaise about the whole thing. How quickly they forgot.

    They are all just lucky I wasn't running the show on 9-11 because if I had been, by 9-12 all of Afghanistan's problems would have been over and not long afterwards, in all likelihood so would all of Pakistan's and Saudi Arabia's.

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  • 92. At 3:43pm on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    83. At 1:13pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    There was not a single Islamist terrorist attack (although there were some attempts thwarted in time) during "recovering alcoholic's" reign.

    [[ Huh? So what was it that happened on September 11, 2001 ? ]]

    "P.S. That a B-movie actor - Ronald Reagan - managed to precipitate Soviet Empire's collapse by good 20-25 years is of course immaterial."

    [[ "Precipitate"? All Ronald Reagan did was to have had the good sense to continue with American policy laid down in the time of Harry Truman and George Marshall. To credit him as either the architect or instrument of victory in the Cold War is just way, way over-blown. He played his part, and played it reasonably well. ]]

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  • 93. At 3:46pm on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    91. At 3:37pm on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "They are all just lucky I wasn't running the show on 9-11 because if I had been, by 9-12 all of Afghanistan's problems would have been over and not long afterwards, in all likelihood so would all of Pakistan's and Saudi Arabia's."
    ____________

    LOL.

    And there I was, just remembering Ronald Reagan: "I have just outlawed the Soviet Union. The bombs will begin to fall in five minutes".

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  • 94. At 3:51pm on 06 Jun 2010, mabelwhite wrote:

    "Trifles light as air. Are to the jealous confirmations strong..."

    Our people are weak thinking and unaware - chorusing ridiculous Obama bashings from beck/limbaugh/palin published by Fox (owned by murdoch and a Saudi Prince for the most part) because to face reality would be too painful. George Washington said it in his farewell address - beware of the crazy extreme factions and the special interests like oil:

    "Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself;...All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

    However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

    Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts.

    Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

    This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."

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  • 95. At 4:11pm on 06 Jun 2010, Curt Carpenter wrote:

    Like way too many of my fellow citizens, Mr. Mardell seems to prefer theater over authenticity and an exciting dramatic presentation over measured leadership. That being the case, I suspect he misses "Mission Accomplished" Bush.

    But for me, I've been pleased overall (some rough spots early on) with the Obama administration's calm, realistic approach -- and I hope the President and his team will continue to avoid phony gestures made for no reason other than dramatic effect and emotional appeal. It's a nice change from the usual approach.

    Pandering to a public longing for emotional stimulation Oprah-style won't to a thing to keep or get the tar balls off the beach.

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  • 96. At 4:24pm on 06 Jun 2010, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 90 Interestedforeigner wrote:

    "Somehow in North America we have this cultural expectation that the hero can mix a tube of toothpaste with a cleaning solvent, cleverly insert it in a shark-repellent cartridge; steal an underwater chariot hidden in the evil master villain's sea-bed hideout and grotto" etc

    IF, that was genuinely witty - a concept the macho amd autistic on this blog may have difficulty grasping...

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  • 97. At 4:51pm on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    IF;

    " "Precipitate"? All Ronald Reagan did was to have had the good sense to continue with American policy laid down in the time of Harry Truman and George Marshall. To credit him as either the architect or instrument of victory in the Cold War is just way, way over-blown. He played his part, and played it reasonably well."

    You are mistaken. By enormously and steeply ramping up the nuclear arms race over the howling protests of many Europeans (remember Pershing II missiles in Germany?) with modernization programs such as the MX Peacekeeper missile, Trident Submarine, B2 Stealth bomber (the Soviets were very angry the US didn't build the B-1 becuase they had a defense against it ready), SDI (known affectionately by its detractors as Star Wars), a 600 ship navy, he provoked the Soviet military to insist that its government match the insane cost of keeping up with the Americans. They fell right into the trap. The arms race bankrupted both governments. The US went from a 1 trillion to a 4 trillion dollar national debt. But in the US, the government is only 20% of the economy, in the USSR it was 100% of the economy. It finished them off. The USSR died for only one reason, it was financially bankrupt. (Just like the EUSSR is today :o) Yes President Reagan brought the cold war to an end decades sooner than it would have ended and in so doing, he may have saved humanity from a nuclear war that would have ended human life on earth. Even in remote Canada. We all owe him our undying gratitude. That's one The Gipper won for us.

    "LOL.

    And there I was, just remembering Ronald Reagan: "I have just outlawed the Soviet Union. The bombs will begin to fall in five minutes"."

    The difference is....he was only joking.

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  • 98. At 5:37pm on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    97. At 4:51pm on 06 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "You are mistaken. By enormously and steeply ramping up the nuclear arms race over the howling protests of many Europeans ... he provoked the Soviet military to insist that its government match the insane cost of keeping up with the Americans. They fell right into the trap. The arms race bankrupted both governments. ..."

    ____________

    I agree that this was what finally broke that camel's back (some "last straw"!)

    But is it any more significant than the adoption, and steady pursuit of, the policy of containment in the first place?

    Any more significant than supplying Berlin by air for over a year? That wasn't flabby Leonid Brezhnev, or some other apparatchik stand-in, it was nose-to-nose with Joe Stalin himself.

    Any more significant than saying (and meaning, and backing up with dollars) to America's friends and enemies alike that America would bear any burden and pay any price?

    Any more significant than staring down Khruschev over Cuba?

    Any more significant than detente with China?
    (I know, you probably don't like that either - could have bombed them instead, right?)

    The Cold War required sustained effort over many years, by many people. I give Ronald Reagan appropriate credit for the part he played in that long story. He pursued those policies in the face of huge public opposition. But he would not have been in a position to play that role if it had not been for the steady determination of many predecessors.

    I'm not at sure it brought the Cold War to a close all that much sooner than it might otherwise have done. The Soviet Union was atrophying from within. It was falling behind in almost every area, not merely defense.

    ------------

    "The difference is ... he was only joking."

    There it is again - that Wagnerian music, swelling to a crescendo ...

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  • 99. At 6:31pm on 06 Jun 2010, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    re: 94 Thank you for posting that, mabelwhite!

    Washington more than any other of his planter class peers also strove for self-sufficiency rather than debt from imported goods. I grow more impressed with each Washington biography read, seeing a cultivated wisdom and moderation much deeper than the Parson Weems tales from grade school. Washington was dismayed by the rapid growth of the party system and the resulting schisms that pitted his most trusted friends against each other.

    Jefferson bears mention here too. In his later years he qualified his youthful (and these days, over-quoted) warning against the expansion of government power with equally strong warnings against the possible tyrannies of monied interests and corporations.

    Jefferson also said something to the effect that there is no greater service a leader can provide his country than to introduce a new crop. I think of that quote, and Washington's drive for self-sufficiency, in modern terms as another call for energy independence and innovation.

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  • 100. At 6:48pm on 06 Jun 2010, M Bergman wrote:

    I believe the real tragedy here is being overlooked, and it is one that could bring down Obama's (or anyone else's) administration. This is the way of it: Americans no longer know how to think for themselves. It's been bred out of them by "experts," who tell them only what they need to know (not the facts, but the experts' opinions). At the same time, Americans are passionate, curious people, living in a society that loves to watch and scorn shows of emotion. People here like to get emotionally involved, so long as it demands nothing from them. In other words, American "culture" sees the world as a reality TV show, in which a good episode is defined by shows of emotion from inferior people, whose dilemmas cannot possibly have any real effect on us. And of course, we want all the loose ends neatly tied up at the show's conclusion. If the show gets boring, we want it to go off the air.

    Right now, you're not seeing enough anger because only a minority of Americans are realising that the issue is real and is affecting them, because only a minority lives in the Gulf. The rest of us aren't smart enough to realise we're looking at our future rainfall or groundwater. This is the culture we're exporting around the world, BTW, so if you're feeling smug and superior reading this, you should know that it's only a matter of time before you will be just like us. When it happens to you, don't fight it. You will only be considered unpatriotic. If you can just stop thinking, you won't have to be responsible or do anything about it. It will all become just another kind of entertainment.

    Welcome to our world.

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  • 101. At 7:24pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    #92

    IF, if read my previous posts you'd know I was talking about GWB's response to 9/11 and security polices introduced and implemented since.

    An re RR, the man Liberal Left impotent peaceniks simply love to hate...



    No, he most certainly did not CONTINUE his predecessors' policy vis-a vis - Soviet Union, which was based on George Kennan's doctrine.

    Reagan replaced that meek, half-hearted concept of containment with a policy of roll-back. For example, among many other things, actively and tangibly supporting anti-communist movements in the Soviet Empire (such as Polish Solidarity) his brave predecessors wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, because they all (including Truman AND Eisenhower AND Nixon) resigned themselves to a defeatist idea that USSR was here to stay. For ever. And it was better not to upset the Russian Bear.

    Reagan, on the other hand, believed that Communism and Soviets are trash and simply put this trash out.


    Which we did.

    I say "we" because I participated in that endavour and can assure you that it involved much more than simply outspending Soviets or investing in technologies (SDI) KGB knew Soviet labs and Soviet industrial base could not even duplicate.


    BTW. Had it not been for Truman's cowardiss and lack of vision

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  • 102. At 7:28pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    cont. re pathetic containment doctrine.

    Had it not been for Truman's cowardice and lack of vision we would not have had to deal today with North Korea and nuclear-armed China.

    For there would be neither.

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  • 103. At 8:56pm on 06 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 101, powermeerkat

    To say that your opinion is an over simplification of reality would be an understatement.

    The Soviet Union collapsed because of two reasons: (1) we forced them to engage in an arms race they could not afford and (2) because communism is an unsustainable ideology.

    Don't forget that those you call "peaceniks" got the US involved in some of the bloodiest foreign wars in our history. Talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk. In contrast, Reagan cut and ran in Lebanon, dealt illegally with our nemesis, attacked tiny Grenada and supplied arms to rebels in Central America in what turned out to be a horrible fratricidal war.

    Reagan did have some wonderful attributes that most be recognized and acknowleged including compassion, a natural ability to inspire, and charisma.

    His decision to protect what he called the safety net was appropiate and, most importantly, he was an inspirational leader at a time when the nation was in desperate need of leadership. Conversely, his foreign and economic policies were a disaster.





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  • 104. At 9:00pm on 06 Jun 2010, timohio wrote:

    re. 88. MagicKirin:

    I was disenfranchised on this vote as a Mass citizen.

    Wrong. You are a US citizen and a Massachusetts resident. It's taking states' rights a bit too far to give sovereignty to Massachusetts.

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  • 105. At 9:04pm on 06 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    101. At 7:24pm on 06 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    #92

    "... you'd know I was talking about GWB's response to 9/11 and security polices introduced and implemented since."

    Huh? Junior Bush gets a Mulligan on 9/11?
    Well, that's the kind of logic you just can't argue with.

    ____________


    "No, he most certainly did not CONTINUE his predecessors' policy vis-a vis - Soviet Union, which was based on George Kennan's doctrine."

    I have heard many surprising things, but the suggestion that the US was not pursuing containment during the Reagan Presidency is ridiculous.

    The policy of containment was both wise and successful.

    -----------

    Notwithstanding the strength of the Moscow backed Communist parties of e.g., Italy and France, in 1946 the USSR did not pose a credible challenge other than as a military threat to the west.

    That being the case, all America had to do to be victorious was wait it out. And waiting it out half a century rather than having another bloodletting like WWII seems a bargain, and very wise policy, to me. So containment rested on America holding the ring on defense - which it did aggressively and largely effectively around the world - while putting western Europe and Japan back on their feet - which, again, it did quite effectively.

    Military strength is ultimately based on economic strength. America built a ring fence around the USSR militarily, and then left it in the dust when it came to economics. The cold war ended because the Soviet Union could not come close to matching the resources available to the powerful economies of the west, and exhausted itself morally and economically in trying.

    One of America's greatest achievements, possibly its greatest achievement in world affairs, was to win the Cold War without another bloodbath in NW Europe. That has to count among the greatest military achievements not merely of our time, but of any time in the history of man.

    It was a victory without vanquished, and in the fullness of time may eventually yield a modern Russian state that is not a menace to its neighbours, and that isn't nursing a grudge.

    In suggesting that there would neither be a North Korea nor a China, you might also think that there would not now be a China to buy up America's debt.

    Nor would there have been any reason for the Soviet Union to have abstained from the use of nuclear weapons in places like, say, Finland, or Afghanistan, or anywhere else. Once you lower that threshold, you lower it for everyone.

    Had the west committed itself to a policy of mass murder of Chinese, we would have been no better than Chairman Mao.

    Instead, starting with Richard Nixon, America has placed a very long term bet that modern China will be a force for good in the world. Bill Clinton made the same assessment. To quote Chou-en-lai, it is "too soon to tell" whether America will win that bet. China may not do things exactly the way we would like, and China sometimes bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Prussia 150 years ago.

    The Chinese have a very patient culture, and they see things in much longer terms. The Chinese have recently sent Pyongyang a message that will not have gone down well. I'm betting that the recent sinking is a turning point in the end game for the North Korean family dynasty. They have embarrassed their Chinese sponsors once too often. Or perhaps more than once too often. Don't expect things to change over night. Don't expect China to conduct diplomacy in the Press. That isn't the way they like to do things. We will see what happens in both China and North Korea.

    ------------

    To accuse Truman of cowardice is laughable. Marcus thinks that nuclear weapons should have been used in Korea, and thinks MacArthur was right in urging their use. I think that was the counsel of impatience then, and I think it is the counsel of impatience now. Truman's decisions required very considerable courage. In most quarters he is regarded as one of America's better Presidents, and his reputation has been rising steadily in recent decades.

    And as for Junior Bush, well, when the only question people have about your Presidency is whether Buchanan was worse ...

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  • 106. At 9:12pm on 06 Jun 2010, Nathan wrote:

    She should have died hereafter,
    there would have been a time for such a word,
    Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
    creep in this petty pace from day to day,
    and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusky death.
    Out! Out! brief candle,
    life is but a walking shadow,
    a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage ,
    and then is heard no more,
    it is a tale told by an idiot,
    full of sound and fury,
    signifying nothing. -Macbeth

    ...now that sir, is how you RAGE.


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  • 107. At 9:17pm on 06 Jun 2010, Nathan wrote:

    If you really want to draw parallels between Obama and a Shakespeare character... I would take a moment to reflect on Richard III's famous observation:

    "Now is the winter of our discontent,
    Made glorious summer by this son of York."

    Lol.

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  • 108. At 9:26pm on 06 Jun 2010, Bill Baur wrote:

    You may call him Hamlet, but he is definitely no Robin Hood. The poor and the long-term unemployed have been all but ignored by Obama as of late. This is because there is an election coming up, as you know, and he has to make it look like his screwball policies are actually working.

    To use another analogy of what is going on here - we in America have Spock in charge (Obama). We had Dr. McCoy in charge in Bush (emotional, somewhat rash). We really need our Captain Kirk here now - a blend of the two. November will at least limit what Obama can, or can't do, for the next two years.

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  • 109. At 10:42pm on 06 Jun 2010, JMM_for_now wrote:

    80. At 11:56am on 06 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote Ref 76, Magic:

    “…Bush II whose response after 9/11 was to declare the only nation that could have been blamed for that tragedy a "Most Favored Nation" for trade purposes and invaded two countries that had nothing to do with it,…”

    I agree with almost everything you say, but I have to disagree that Afghanistan “had nothing to do with it.” They not only hosted bin Laden and AlQaida, they refused to hand them over. Iraq was definitely a bad decision badly executed, however.

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  • 110. At 11:14pm on 06 Jun 2010, PopolVuh wrote:

    Obama feels he can't be seen as an "angry (black) man," a la Jesse Jackson. As Dorothy Parker might have said, "Obama runs the gamut of emotions from A to B."

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  • 111. At 00:15am on 07 Jun 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    28. At 5:34pm on 05 Jun 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    If Obama did weep and rend his clothes, then the same reporters and posters taking such joy in maligning him for being too well composed, with a positive attitude would be maligning him for being weak and naked.

    Next they'll be wanting him to flagellate himself through the streets of Washington, followed by demands he wear a hair shirt as a sign of his mortification and penance. Between 9/11, Katrina, government sanctioned torture and two wars, how many people has Bush killed? No one's ever asked him to apologized, let alone shed a tear for the lives of the people his incompetence cost.

    31. At 6:02pm on 05 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    And Dukakis for riding in a tank.

    Or Bush in a codpiece.

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  • 112. At 01:34am on 07 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #111 GL,

    Or Bush in a codpiece.

    That's funny. Too bad it's just his flight suit or you might have something.

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  • 113. At 01:37am on 07 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #108 BB,

    "The poor and the long-term unemployed have been all but ignored by Obama as of late"

    Depending on your perspective, that could be true. However, Obama should get credit for extending unemployment benefits. The long-term unemployed wold be in much worse shape without it.

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  • 114. At 01:56am on 07 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    #105 IF,

    "I have heard many surprising things, but the suggestion that the US was not pursuing containment during the Reagan Presidency is ridiculous."

    Your part right. Reagan did pursue containment, he also ended the idea of detente and rejected the concept of MAD while pursuing a reversal of Soviet expansionism. To say, "Reagan continued the policies of his predecessors", suggests you're not completely familiar with what Regan's policies were.

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  • 115. At 02:01am on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    re: 90

    Erratum:

    It was not John Pope at Chancellorsville, but rather Joe Hooker.
    It was Pope at the second battle of Bull Run.

    Ironically, the comment made in posting 90 about Chancellorsville could have equally well been made about the conduct of the campaign that led to Pope's crushing defeat as well.

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  • 116. At 03:12am on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    IF;

    "I agree that this was what finally broke that camel's back (some "last straw"!)

    But is it any more significant than the adoption, and steady pursuit of, the policy of containment in the first place?"

    Very different. It brought about the rapid end to a conflict that nearly ended all human life on earth more than once. While both sides still have thousands of nuclear warheads, many on missiles targeted at each other in the peculiar logic of nuclear weapons, neither side has any political cause to expect or fear a deliberate attack from the other. The doomsday clock that was one minute before midnight has been moved backwards. The threat the USSR posed to the world no longer exists. It didn't end because it "atrophied" from within or became irrelevant anymore than any brutal military dictatorship did or does, North Korea and Cuba for example. It died because it was bankrupt and because its leaders were rational enough to know the game was over for them. They could not possibly win. The world would end by America's hand if nothing else before it would become Communist. That ending to the cold war was entirely President Reagan's and his administration's doing. The containment policies of Ford, Nixon, Carter, the policy of arms reduction was a sure path to continuing the conflict into the indefinite future. The USSR would be holding out to this day if they could. That is the nature of tyrannical power, it's one most non negotiable position is relinquishing its grip on power.

    "Any more significant than saying (and meaning, and backing up with dollars) to America's friends and enemies alike that America would bear any burden and pay any price?

    Any more significant than staring down Khruschev over Cuba?

    Any more significant than detente with China?
    (I know, you probably don't like that either - could have bombed them instead, right?)"

    Yes, much more so. It didn't perpetuate the conflict, it resolved it satisfactorily from civilization's point of view. And you are wrong about China and I've posted that many times. Nixon and Kissinger who engineered modern China did the most rational thing possible by giving an impovrished, starving, isolated nation of one billion people who were building hydrogen bombs and led by fanatics a reason to have a stake in the future survival of mankind. As bad as human rights violations of the Chinese government are today, they were far worse under the true Communist government 35 years ago. For example, at least 30 million people died as a direct result of the Cultural revolution. Mao couldn't have cared less. He told Khrushchev to launch a nuclear first strike against the US saying that if China lost five or six hundred million people, it wouldn't matter because Communism would survive. That was before China had nuclear weapons and began to understand what war might mean.

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  • 117. At 03:52am on 07 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    90. Interestedforeigner:

    I have no engineering suggestions. I have heard many engineering experts discuss this spill on the radio. As bad as their information, I recognize it for what it is -- an honest assessment. I prefer to know exactly how bad things are and how long they may stay that way.

    Obama's response has seemed weak because it has been too political, in my opinion. All that tough talk and grandstanding hasn't really helped. The Administration can steer BP to act more responsibly, but those discussions are technical in nature and are different from the Administration's public comments about BP.

    No one expects Obama to dive down and plug the hole, but it is reasonable to expect him to make sure the clean up effort goes well. Let him talk about that and leave the lawsuits to the attorneys.

    I'd prefer the Administration deal with the facts and avoid the rhetoric. Vague tough talk just makes it appear as if it doesn't really know what to do.

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  • 118. At 04:13am on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    116. At 03:12am on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:


    "Very different. It brought about the rapid end to a conflict that nearly ended all human life on earth more than once.

    ... neither side has any political cause to expect or fear a deliberate attack from the other. The doomsday clock that was one minute before midnight has been moved backwards. The threat the USSR posed to the world no longer exists. "

    [[ Russia poses new, and different threats to its neighbours, but more along the lines of age-old tsarist threats than the bi-polar existential threat of the cold war. ]]

    "It died because it was bankrupt and because its leaders were rational enough to know the game was over for them. They could not possibly win."

    [[ Agree with this, but it was never going to happen in Stalin's time. This is the kind of national realization that requires time, and requires a change of leadership. In China it was Chou En Lai. In Russia it was Gorbachev. ]]

    That ending to the cold war was entirely President Reagan's and his administration's doing. The containment policies of Ford, Nixon, Carter, the policy of arms reduction was a sure path to continuing the conflict into the indefinite future. The USSR would be holding out to this day if they could.

    [[ This is where we disagree. I see Reagan's term as the last act in a long drama, an opportunity that became available only because of the relentless, draining economic pressure of the previous thirty years.

    During Eisenhower's time, the USSR would never have decided to call it a day and move on. 1956? No, used tanks. 1968? No, still used tanks. 1980? Just enough ruthless willpower to hold on. 1989 - not sufficient political will to pay the price of putting down obstreperous Germans without visas, uncooperative Hungarians, etc. Yes, they would still be holding on if they could, but America had so far outdistanced them, it was pointless. The USSR had reached economic exhaustion. ]]

    "That is the nature of tyrannical power, it's one most non negotiable position is relinquishing its grip on power."

    [[ This is the guiding principle of North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, and lots of other nasty quasi-feudal regimes around the world.

    The USSR that gave up on the Cold War was a far cry from the USSR of Joseph Stalin. It was the difference between the flabby, slow-burning corruption of Brussels, and the incandescent horror of the rule of Mr. Kurtz. Yes, the USSR was bankrupt, but it eventually chose to change rather than seek Valhalla through some Hitlerian binge of destruction.

    The same thing applies to China's leadership. They can be brutal in suppressing dissent, and they never met an international thug with natural resources who they didn't like, but above all they are ruthlessly rational.

    The big concern with some of the current challenges is that you wonder about the ability of the regimes to be rational - I would put North Korea at the top of that list. This is why I believe N Korea has exhausted China's patience.

    Wouldn't include Cuba. Cuba's leadership is basically rational. Everyone is simply waiting for the funeral. In some ways it reminds me of the wait everybody was similarly waiting for a funeral in Spain 35 years ago. ]]


    "Nixon and Kissinger who engineered modern China did the most rational thing possible by giving an impovrished, starving, isolated nation of one billion people who were building hydrogen bombs and led by fanatics a reason to have a stake in the future survival of mankind. As bad as human rights violations of the Chinese government are today, they were far worse under the true Communist government 35 years ago."

    [[ Agree with this. America has placed a big long term bet that China will be a force for good and a force for stability in the world. China now has a huge stake in keeping the applecart from tipping over. And China is led by rational people. ]]

    "For example, at least 30 million people died as a direct result of the Cultural revolution. Mao couldn't have cared less. He told Khrushchev to launch a nuclear first strike against the US saying that if China lost five or six hundred million people, it wouldn't matter because Communism would survive."

    [[ Yes, this is in Khruschev's memoirs, too. ]]

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  • 119. At 05:01am on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    IF;

    "Agree with this, but it was never going to happen in Stalin's time"

    Joseph Stalin was not a rational man. He was a psychotic, a paranoid schizophrenic and a psychopathic mass murderer. Whether the number of people he murdered within the USSR was 40 million or 80 million (We'll never know the true numbers because the Soviets didn't keep meticulous records of those they killed in the Gulags the way the Germans did) there was no possible negotiating with him. His entire life was devoted to the acquisition of power and the suppression of every and any possible contender for any of it. That is why he periodically had his closest assocites assassinated. He must have understood Hitler very well. As you recall, in the night of the long knives, Hitler had the Brown Shirt thugs who got him into office assassinated. He knew they were the only ones in Germany who represented any threat to his power. If you read Saddam Hussein's biography, you will see his life's hero was Joseph Stalin. They had much in common.

    Fidel Castro also wanted Khrushchev to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States from Cuba and he bragged about it himself. This even though he knew his entire island would have been incinerated within one hour. That is not rational. But even Khrushchev was not that crazy. He knew it would spell the end of the USSR if he did and that was all he cared about. The years under Breshnev were marked by a slow plodding downhill under the heavy handed control of the KGB. But there was no apparent loosening of the grip of power and dissent was not tolerated. The KGB resorted to the use of psychiatric hospitals to imprison political dissidents and used thorazine to torture them. They invented a disease called "creeping schizophrenia" to justify it. There was a long article about it in the Sunday New York Times Magazine during the 1980s. This is why Soviet psychiatrists were unwelcome at international professional meetings and conventions.

    Today the Chinese government does much the same with dissidents, throwing them in prison on trumped up charges, beating and torturing them, even selling their body parts to Westerners who need organ transplants. They are among the most politically repressive regimes in the world. You dare not criticize them if you are in China and even outside China they can be intimidating. I wonder to what degree even the US government is intimidated by them (very bad mistake to allow it.)

    The US gamble in China is not that it will be a force for good but that as a Chinese middle class arises, it will demand increasingly more freedoms until the government can no longer resist. It is hoped and expected that this change will come about peacefully over time. At that point, China will no longer be a threat to anyone. So far the results are not encouraging but this strategy will take generations to play out. The relationship between China and the US therefore is extremely complex, a balance of competing interests and forces that seems self contradictory. At least they don't have any desire for a direct military confrontation with the US anymore.

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  • 120. At 09:24am on 07 Jun 2010, Chennai_Indian wrote:

    This call for action and animation from the President beggars belief. The game has been lost due to regulation falling behind technology. The regulator MMS was also the Royalty collector and has no tools to solve this problem. But it is interesting to note that BP has attempted the same failed tactics of 25 years ago on this new problem.

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  • 121. At 09:41am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re:Ronald Reagan's foreign policies were disastrous.

    SaintDominick


    Are you referring to RR polices vis-a-vis Soviet Union and Soviet Empire?


    [grant you: they WERE diastrous indeed from the Soviets and Western Commies' and 'fellow travellers' point of view]



    P.S.Bay of Pigs fiasco [JFK's cowardly denial of air support to the storming troops in the very last moment.]

    And a secret deal with Nikita, promising Soviets that we would never attempt to remove Castro's regime.

    Some successes, indeed!

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  • 122. At 09:48am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    SD wrote: Don't forget that those you call "peaceniks" got the US involved in some of the bloodiest foreign wars in our history.


    Wilson (D) - in WWI

    FDR (D) - in WWII

    JFK and LBJ (D) - Vietnam

    Clinton (D) - Balkan War.

    Yes, you're absolutely correct.

    [what have we got to show for it is a horse of another colour]

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  • 123. At 10:25am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF: "It was a victory without vanquished, and in the fullness of time may eventually yield a modern Russian state that is not a menace to its neighbours, and that isn't nursing a grudge."



    FDR selling half of Europe into slavery (at Yalta) for half a century aside, there were no vanquished?

    And Russia holds no grudges against its former colonies (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Poland, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, etc.)?

    And is not trying to subjugate them again by hook and by crook?

    And is not blackmailing finlandized EU by turning-off gas spigots whenever Kremlin finds in convenient (usually come January)?

    And Russia is on its way of becoming a 'modern state'?

    PHHLEEEEASE! Stop or I'll get a hernia from laughter.


    Have you ever been to fast re-arming and more@more authoritarian Russia?

    Where opposition members, human rights activists and independent reporters are shot like ducks by never identified "unknown assailants"?

    And corruption in ruling circles is at its level best?

    No, I bet you haven't.

    I suggest you go there. And by no means limit yourself to window-shopping in Moscow and Lenin...errr... St. Petersburg.

    Go to Blagoveshchensk, and Khabarovsk, and Magadan, and Norilsk, and Perm, and Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok, and Vorkuta.

    Make sure not to skip Sakhalin and Kamchatka.


    Then, and only then we can talk again on the subject of "new, improved, democratic Russia". On an equal footing.

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  • 124. At 10:44am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MAII reminds us: " The KGB resorted to the use of psychiatric hospitals to imprison political dissidents and used thorazine to torture them. They invented a disease called "creeping schizophrenia" to justify it."





    Kremlin created an applied a new, reliable test for mental insanity:

    'ONLY A LUNATIC WOULD REBEL AGAINST PEOPLE'S RULE' - it stated.

    So if somebody rebelled... :(

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  • 125. At 10:51am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #107 "Now is the winter of our discontent,
    Made glorious summer by this son of York."


    Let's try and make this quote more up to date:


    "Now, past the spring of our discontent
    Let's make glorious autumn for the Number One"

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  • 126. At 12:26pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Barackeo, Barackeo, wherefore art thou Barackeo?

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  • 127. At 1:21pm on 07 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Mark, the children are restless. Please come up with a mature topic soon or you may never be able to save your blog regardless of how witty or provocative your analogies may be.

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  • 128. At 1:25pm on 07 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #104
    timohio wrote:
    re. 88. MagicKirin:

    I was disenfranchised on this vote as a Mass citizen.

    Wrong. You are a US citizen and a Massachusetts resident. It's taking states' rights a bit too far to give sovereignty to Massachusetts
    ____________

    Here is why I disenfranchised because Paul Kirk appoitment violate the spirit of the Mass sucession law.

    The law before Ted died was there would be a special election.

    that was changed in 2004 by the Dems led by Kennedy who was afraid Mitt Romney whould put a Repbublican in Kerry's seat when he won the Presidency.

    The law was than changed back to give Deval Patrick the right to appoint a Senator.

    This underhanded maneuver was opposed by most Mass voters and both Boston News papers.

    So yes I feel Paul Kirk who had no business in the Senate disenfranchised all Mass voters.

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  • 129. At 2:00pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    123. At 10:25am on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "...And Russia is on its way of becoming a 'modern state'?"

    ____________

    Show me a long period in Russian history, and time in the last thousand years, when it was run as an open, pluralistic, democratic society.

    Is the place corrupt and authoritarian? Yes.
    Does it jail, intimidate, and assassinate its opponents? Yes.
    Is it a menace to its neighbours? Yes.
    Is it using energy supplies to bully Europe? Yes.

    But it was just as bad, and in some ways worse, under the Tsars.
    And it was even scarier during the Cold War.

    It is a measure of how bad things were that the present situation is probably no worse overall than under Brezhnev.

    Authoritarianism and corruption are hardly new to Russian history.

    ------------

    I agree with Marcus' assessment of Joe Stalin, except that Marcus omitted to mention how shrewd Stalin was.

    As for FDR enslaving half of Europe, you seem to forget that the Red Army was already standing on top of most of it. The Soviet Union suffered something over 20m war dead. The idea that anybody else was going to have much say in post-war eastern Europe strikes me as wishful thinking, at best.

    However badly FDR was "duped" at Yalta, the real foreign policy errors that led to the "enslavement" of half of Europe for half a century were not made by FDR, and they were not made at Yalta. Those fateful decisions were made a lot earlier, and they were made in London and Paris. That is where the western democracies made a series of policy decisions that eventually left them in a position in which to defeat one police state tyranny they needed the aid of the other.

    It seems a bit rich to me to lay the multitude of failings of Anglo-French diplomacy in the interwar period at FDR's door.

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  • 130. At 2:13pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    Thank you Mark! This is fun!
    You know, I hadn't thought of Obama in terms of Shakespearian Tragedy, but Hamlet could work... even if it was comic in it's Tragedy.
    You know, I always though Hamlet was written 'tongue-in-cheek' dark humor. Srsly. That Bloodbath at the end was ridiculous. I can only figure that the Globe's producer must have told old Willy that death scenes sold lots of tickets.

    Oddly - all the folks in Hamlet were mad foolish selfish 'flat-characters' except the Prince Himself, who eventually (after some wicked bad luck) chose to join them in their futile games.

    I can see the parallel with Washington, DC -- but I really hope Obama doesn't decide to throw in the towel and pick up his sword so easily.

    Anywho, just for fun!
    Here's Obama as Hamlet:

    O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
    [into the ocean deep like dark poured oil!]
    Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
    His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
    How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    [The oil doth flow like dark despair immortal --]
    Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess [whilst neglect mars marsh, fish, foul.]
    That it should come to this! [A Tragedy]
    But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two…


    From Act I, Scene II
    Where Hamlet ponders his discovery about the traitorous actions of his mother and uncle, interpreted here as Obama contemplating the traitorous actions of his oil industry and government regulatory agencies.
    (It didn't take much editing. Funny, eh?)

    Glory. Suddenly I have a hankering for Iambic Pentameter...

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  • 131. At 2:36pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    BTW - quick psych profile of Obama:

    My impression of him, based upon his background, education, and manner of speech is that he's actually a serious minded, thoughtful, decisive individual who thinks very carefully about his actions in order to ensure that all options are given due consideration.

    I also think he has a quirky sense of humor that could probably be easily mis-construed. Therefore, he must be careful about what he says to whom and when in order to avoid the pes in os syndrome that can follow quick unscripted commentary.


    Frankly, whenever folks bust on Obama for being a Glamorous-Self-Centered-Showman who speaks empty words... I find it amusing. They are confusing his serious thoughtfulness with sumthin' it ain't.

    Ironically, then when ya'll say he's bein' too reserved... I wonder. Who cares if he's reserved? Pundits who want to exploit idiotic sound-bytes? Shakespeare's Producer?

    Do I care if he's 'reserved'?
    No. IMHO, so long has he's doing what he can 'for the sake of the kingdom,' a clenched jaw is as good as a fist on the table.


    ... of course if he starts having emotional conversations with skulls, conferring with ghosts/witches, or seeing daggers hovering before him, THEN we should get worried.

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  • 132. At 2:41pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    If we're to put Bush in a cod-piece, could we call Obama a kinder, gentler Patrician?
    Oh dear. Suddenly the Nobel seems all the more ironic.

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  • 133. At 2:59pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    126. MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    "Barackeo, Barackeo, wherefore art thou Barackeo?"

    127. SaintDominick wrote:
    "Mark, the children are restless. Please come up with a mature topic soon or you may never be able to save your blog regardless of how witty or provocative your analogies may be.


    Aw StDom Honey, ain't you got no artistic appreciation?
    All policy and no play makes a blog a droll toy!
    Besides, seeing MAII harken songs of longing for Barack is highly amusing.

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  • 134. At 4:20pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MAII : "Barackeo, Barackeo, wherefore art thou Barackeo?"


    I think Stalin's favorite song was Suliko.



    BTW. In Shakespeare's England "nunnery" was a euphemism for 'brothel'.

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  • 135. At 4:27pm on 07 Jun 2010, Scott0962 wrote:

    Too bad young Barak didn't have a Polonius to teach him "neither a borrower nor a lender be".

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  • 136. At 4:36pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF "As for FDR enslaving half of Europe, you seem to forget that the Red Army was already standing on top of most of it."


    Not at time of Yalta; let alone - Tehran.


    "The Soviet Union suffered something over 20m war dead."


    Many of them as a result of Stalin's ineptness as a generalissimus.

    Not to mention him killing in Gulag dozens of thousands of Red Army soldiers who had a misfortune to have been captured by Germans.

    ["Praverka" it was called. Do you know what that means? And entails?]

    And that's why this Georgian psychopath has been selected in a recent poll as "one of the greatest RUSSIAN [sic] leaders in history".

    Competing for the first place basicaly only with a Prussian [sic] nymphomaniac from Stettin, revered in Russia as Catherine the Great.

    [Ivan the Terrible was the third, if memory serves]

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  • 137. At 4:42pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    philly;

    There is no doubt President Obama is an exceptionally intelligent man, perhaps the most intelligent we've seen in the Presidency in a very long time. Even more intelligent than President Clinton (who was also intelligent but none too smart.) But President Obama remains very inexperienced especially in the critical area of handling power. He doesn't seem to understand how much power he has at his command or how to use it effectively. For example, he looked very weak in the health care legislation issue. It's not what he did but how he went about doing it that was weak. He seemed to stand aside while his minions in Congress were dealing under the table and as it was, it only squeaked by in both houses by the slimmest of margins even though his party had a clear majority in both houses.

    I'd bet if Vlad Putin had anything like the power available to him President Obama has, he'd know exactly how to use it. As it is, Putin is playing a weak hand very skillfully (he's still the power behind the throne in Russia) while President Obama and President Bush before him are playing a strong hand poorly. Too bad they don't teach these people how to play chess in law school. In achieving a goal, the ability to think strategically and use clever stategies to beat your opponents chess is a metaphor for life. For all our sakes I hope he starts getting much better at this soon. America's enemies are not sitting around waiting for him to learn.

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  • 138. At 4:45pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    MAII

    "Barackeo, Barackeo, wherefore art thou Barackeo?"

    Philly;

    "Besides, seeing MAII harken songs of longing for Barack is highly amusing."

    I was just hoping he'd show up for work one of these days.




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  • 139. At 4:54pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Dear Mark:

    Please pass on to your colleague Will Smale a few comments.

    First, nobody plays "ice hockey" in Canada.
    The game played on ice with sticks and a puck is called "Hockey".
    The BBC needs to sharpen up on that recurring mistake.

    Second, it is good to see someone taking notice of the fiscal correction in Canada following the financial disaster that was the Mulroney era. The minister of finance throughout that period, a man who did sterling service by his country, was Paul Martin. To speak of that period without mentioning him by name is a bit shabby.

    Third, the Chretien government had a thumping majority, and a very clear mandate from the voters explicitly to deal with the Tory deficits. The issue of the ballooning deficits was at the center of the preceding election, in which the Tories went from 155 seats to 2 (Elsie Wayne and Jean Charest).

    Fourth, Mr. Smale's article speaks of cuts to health care and to spending on education. Both are areas of Provincial responsibility under the Constitution Act. It was originally intended by MacDonald that the Dominion government would have predominant power, and that the Provinces would have the powers of municipalities. Subsequent decisions by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in particular those of Viscount Haldane upended the original intent of Confederation.

    However, while the Provinces thereby ended up with jurisdiction in areas that now require vast amounts of public spending, such as health and education, the power of general taxation remained that of the federal government. Consequently, since the 1950's Canada has had "equalization" whereby federal funds are allocated to the provinces to even out the quality of public services across the country.

    Those cuts in health care and education?

    Well, the feds stopped paying the Provinces so much money, in a process referred to as "downloading" the deficit to the Provinces. So the benefit of lower spending made the federal government look good by balancing its books, while the political heat of reducing spending was felt by the various Provincial governments who had to make the actual cuts in public services.

    The new coalition government in the UK may not be quite so fortunate.

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  • 140. At 4:58pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF Re: tsars, massive corruption, backwardness, Asiatic savagery, etc....



    Russian muzhiks (peasants) couldn't care less what an official title of their authoritartian ruler was at any given time.

    Even in the '50s they were still referring in their derevnas (villages) to Stalin as "our tsar" [sic]

    And despite Mr. Medvedev being Russia's president, most Russians (and Russian media) still refer to KGB gen. Putin as "our leader".

    [What they call Putin in Caucasus, I can't possibly quote here]


    BTW, ,IF, how do you refer to The ONE?

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  • 141. At 5:04pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    And now [for something different) 'bout a Hate...err.. Love Boat viciously attacked by- you guessed it- Rosenkranz and Guildenstern...

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  • 142. At 5:08pm on 07 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 133, Philly-Mom

    "Aw StDom Honey, ain't you got no artistic appreciation?"

    Just plain bored...and a bit afraid Dr. Seuss may be the next topic.

    So long as we don't have to hear about the attributes of former and present chairmen of the GOP, the libido of South Carolinians, or Gov Jindal's principled stand on drilling I reckon a little droll is just fine.

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  • 143. At 5:09pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Barrack is something German, French and Italian soldiers wisely stay in when there's a unfriendly fire in a vicinity. [e.g. in Afghanistan].

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  • 144. At 5:14pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#118),

    "It died because it was bankrupt and because its leaders were rational enough to know the game was over for them. They could not possibly win." (from MarcusAureliusII at #116)

    "[[ Agree with this, but it was never going to happen in Stalin's time. This is the kind of national realization that requires time, and requires a change of leadership. In China it was Chou En Lai. In Russia it was Gorbachev. ]]"

    An essential point which MAII ignores. The leadership changed. The Soviet Union disintegrated because the hard-liners died off. By the time of Gorbachev, there were too few left to sustain it, as evidenced by the failed putsch in August, 1991.

    Admirers of President Reagan like to claim credit for his presidency for bringing down the Soviet Union, but it would have happened in about the same time frame under any president, in my opinion.

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  • 145. At 5:24pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #135 "Too bad young Barak didn't have a Polonius to teach him "neither a borrower nor a lender be".




    "Or grant leases to BP"

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  • 146. At 5:32pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "BTW. In Shakespeare's England "nunnery" was a euphemism for 'brothel'." (from powermeercat at #134)

    Yes, but quite beside the point, because in Hamlet the ordinary meaning was intended, at least primarily:

    http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/get-thee-nunn-ry

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  • 147. At 5:40pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    MAII

    "Barackeo, Barackeo, wherefore art thou Barackeo?"

    Philly;

    "Besides, seeing MAII harken songs of longing for Barack is highly amusing."

    MAII: I was just hoping he'd show up for work one of these days.


    And at least vote "present"? [unlike Joe Biden]

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  • 148. At 5:53pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    135. Scott0962 wrote:
    Too bad young Barak didn't have a Polonius to teach him "neither a borrower nor a lender be".
    ______
    Unfortunately, borrowing and lending is part of a Fed Gov's Job Description.
    You know, I kinda figure that Obama's financial reforms have been effective for the private sector and for some urban infrastructure, but have not been as useful for macro-finance & the public/corporate sector. I don't think this is all bad, I just think it's slow and potentially unhelpful for a quick recovery of the GDP and will burden national debt.
    -- oops! Sry. Wrong topic.

    Skulls. Witches. Stalin...

    In yonder window light doth break while shards
    of gold fall slowly down. The oil flows
    and mars the face of land that once breathed pure.
    Behold the huddled masses cry! Stifled,
    dying, fainting, writhing - all our efforts
    seem in vain. The muddled mess continues.
    We strive to serve and to protect, and yet
    the mire slows our work. We bang our heads
    upon our desks! We blow more smoke and fight
    the urge to reach out for another cigarette.

    Or sumthin like that. Dig?
    (I love it when the muses speak.)

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  • 149. At 6:00pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    140. At 4:58pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:


    "BTW, ,IF, how do you refer to The ONE?"

    ____________

    Well, in these parts Wayne is usually referred to as "The Great One".

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  • 150. At 6:12pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #144 "The Soviet Union disintegrated because the hard-liners died off. By the time of Gorbachev, there were too few left to sustain it, as evidenced by the failed putsch in August, 1991."
    "


    Please, spare us bad jokes.


    Putsch would have succeeded (Gorby was already under house arrest) had it not been for a indomitable Russian 'unreformed alcoholic' (to use Saint Dominick's parlance)- Boris Yeltsin.


    The same one who let Soviet republics [actually previously enslaved countries] go, while Gorby [the glasnost promoter who lied through his teeth about Chernobyl disaster until SR-71 took pertinent photos] was desperately trying to save Soviet Union.



    BTW. there are still quite a few 'comrades' in top Russia's departments [siloviki] who dream of nothing else but restoring USSR.

    No that the Liberal Left in the West (including Hollywood and Harvard crowd] would care to notice.

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  • 151. At 6:14pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Why would anyone think the President decides who shall be granted an oil lease? (See post #145)

    In any case, the lease for the well which blew out was granted in March, 2008, during the Bush presidency:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/05/04/us.gulf.oil.spill.main/index.html

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  • 152. At 6:14pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    @ 137: MAII --
    *SighsHeavily* The POTUS gambled and lost that he could surf the DC Honeymoon wave through congress to quickly pass Public Health Care, then his back-up plans took too much time to roll through. But, Congress was shown (for better or worse) to be the insolent, ignorant sell-outs they are AND a reform option (though heavily flawed) was passed. I agree that the culture of Capitol Hill functions with extensive mores that both inhibit effective functioning and frustrate the efforts of outsiders/rookies. But, if you want to call that lack of leadership, you are free to do so... as I am free to disagree.


    @ 142. SaintDominick: No worries. I can do Seuss. Heck, since he was a globally conscious ecologist feminist and pacifist American, I'd welcome the challenge! ;-)


    @ 139. Interestedforeigner: I am refraining from bragging too much about our Frequent Flyers lest I jinx them. I await with baited breath...

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  • 153. At 6:30pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    Oh, and Marcus Honey - Trust us.
    Hamlet was flippin' poor Ophelia the proverbial bird because he didn't want her dad to realize he was planning to avenge his father's death. (It was complicated.) Therefore, the futility of her subsequent suicide is especially tragic, and serves to push our beloved guilt-ridden (gilt-ridden?) Hambone further towards the edge of the ill-fated Cliffs of Insanity...
    -- "Claudius - you keeelt my father, prepare to die!"

    Nonetheless... Good try. Thank you for playing.

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  • 154. At 6:32pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    BTW. More than one Hamlet in Louisiana couldn't care less about tales of an idiot, signifying nothing.


    Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt, and toe of frog; Barack got us in a bog; sitting pretty in a blimp, watching all them dying shrimp.


    [doing what's the most essential, that is looking presidential]

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  • 155. At 6:34pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Ding dong the witch is dead
    Which old witch?
    The wicked witch.
    Ding dong the wicked witch is dead.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10259646.stm

    Well not quite dead yet but out of the picture for good. There's no fool like an old fool. Horrible woman. Always was.

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  • 156. At 6:48pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    136. At 4:36pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "IF "As for FDR enslaving half of Europe, you seem to forget that the Red Army was already standing on top of most of it."


    "Not at time of Yalta; let alone - Tehran."

    ____________

    At the time of Yalta (Feb 1945) the Red Army was three times the size of the combined armies of the Western Allies in NW Europe. It was within 65 km of Berlin.

    At the time the Red Army occupied:
    Virtually 100 % of pre-war Poland
    100 % of the Baltic states
    100 % of East Prussia
    100 % of the Ukraine
    100 % of Romania
    100% of Bulgaria
    90 % of Slovakia
    70 % of Hungary

    Whether you think FDR was naive or not, there was no practical way to remove the Red Army from that territory other than military force. In the Spring of 1945 that was not going to happen.


    ------------


    The western allies have none to blame but themselves for that predicament. There were many, many blunders made in the interwar. The guarantee to Poland was politically necessary, but militarily hopelessly stupid. It was far beyond the ability of Britain and France make good.

    Then the military performance of the western allies was poor in France in 1940, and in North Africa after Beda Fomm, and in Italy.

    The delay of D-day until June 1944 turned out to be a bad decision. Somebody forgot to tell the German Army it was supposed to collapse in the West so that the war could end by Christmas with Paton on the Oder. Any chance of liberating any part of Poland was lost in the bocage, if not long before. The Red Army was on the Vistula opposite Warsaw before Paton spat in the Seine.

    The problem was not that the western allies agreed to bad terms at Yalta. It was that by years of poor policy and poor military performance they had put themselves in a position where Stalin had no need to agree to anything else.

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  • 157. At 6:52pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: Why would anyone think the President decides who shall be granted an oil lease? (See post #145)





    That was just in jest and for rhyming purposes.


    Everybody knows that this President does not decide on anything.

    [Although quite a few 'usual suspects' claim here that GWB did grant leases. :)]

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  • 158. At 6:55pm on 07 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Hard to believe Helen Thomas is retiring, not because of how old she is, but because of the circumstances that led to her decision.

    On certain issues, our beloved First Ammendment is nothing more than a speed bump.

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  • 159. At 6:56pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#149) "Well, in these parts Wayne is usually referred to as "The Great One"."

    In the US, "The Great One" is Jackie Gleason.

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  • 160. At 7:00pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Philly-Mom (#152) "I am refraining from bragging too much about our Frequent Flyers lest I jinx them. I await with baited breath..."

    What kind of frequent flyers are you waiting for? Flying fish?

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  • 161. At 7:04pm on 07 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 150, powermeerkat

    ...to use Saint Dominick's parlance...

    Thank you for crediting my form of speech. I wish I had thought of this one though, it sounds good...and the libation part is accurate, but judging by the affinities of some of his predecessors - who can forget Nikita - not unprecedented. Well, at least Boris didn't use a shoe to make a point!

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  • 162. At 7:06pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Philly;

    Lyndon Johnson knew how to wield political power. He'd have had no problem getting that bill passed the way he wanted it. He could twist a political arm clean off right up to the shoulder if he wanted to. Unfortunately he didn't know much about military power and neither did the fools he surrounded himself with from Robert MacNamara to William Westmoreland. That was his downfall.

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  • 163. At 7:23pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #155 "The wicked witch is dead."




    "Her [Helen Thomas'] comments sparked criticism from the Obama administration and led to her being dropped as graduation speaker for a local high school."


    And her apologies didn't help. [too little too late]


    The wicked witch is dead.



    On the other hand Tipper Gore got a second chance, with Wizzard of Ozark
    being effectively dead-wood.

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  • 164. At 7:27pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#156) "The delay of D-day until June 1944 turned out to be a bad decision."

    I don't know how it could have been done any sooner. Establishing a beachhead is far more difficult than advancing across land and required a lot of preparation. Much of the necessary equipment was built for the purpose.

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  • 165. At 7:37pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: New, improved Russia"




    About £2,000 was withdrawn on the cards stolen by Russian policemen
    from passengers killed in a crash of the Polish governmental plane near Katyn.



    "Polish officials say several Russian policemen or soldiers have been arrested.

    But Russia has denied that both the theft and the arrests took place.

    On Monday Monika Lewandowska, a spokeswoman for Warsaw prosecutors, said that the first withdrawal on the two stolen cards was made about two hours after the crash, in the city of Smolensk, where the Polish government plane crashed on 10 April.

    She said other withdrawals took place over the next three days.

    The cards belonged to Andrzej Przewoznik, a historian who oversaw wartime memorials in Poland.

    He was one of a high-level delegation of Poles on their way to commemorate the 1940 Katyn massacre of more than 20,000 Poles by Soviet forces." [BBC]

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  • 166. At 7:43pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    SaintDominick (#158) "On certain issues, our beloved First Amendment is nothing more than a speed bump."

    This has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

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  • 167. At 7:45pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    159. At 6:56pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#149) "Well, in these parts Wayne is usually referred to as "The Great One"."

    In the US, "The Great One" is Jackie Gleason.
    ___________

    Doesn't that take you back, eh?
    That was a long time ago.
    "To the moon Alice. To the Moon. One of these days, Alice."

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  • 168. At 8:04pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII (#162) "Unfortunately he didn't know much about military power and neither did the fools he surrounded himself with from Robert MacNamara to William Westmoreland."

    Remember that McNamara was inherited from the Kennedy administration, along with Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

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  • 169. At 8:05pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF.

    I hate to tell you that, but Patton's avant-garde was already in a Polish part of Sudeten.

    Patton was told to back off and retreat by Eisenhower, after Stalin complained that "that's not what we agreed upon".

    For a few days days Patton pretended he didn't get the message.

    Therefore Eisenhower ("the best quartermaster in U.S. Army" as aptly described by McArthur) denied Patton's armour division fuel.


    That's the same Eisenhower who stopped U.S. Army's march on Nazi Germany's capital after Stalin demanded that Berlin be taken by the Red Army.

    Ike, a man without any foresight couldn't care less and promptly agreed.

    "The rest is silence"

    And Berlin Wall.

    And Checkpoint Charlie.

    And untold number of escapees shot dead by DDR guards.

    Before Reagan told Gorby to "tear down this Wall".

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  • 170. At 8:33pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    164. At 7:27pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#156) "The delay of D-day until June 1944 turned out to be a bad decision."

    I don't know how it could have been done any sooner. Establishing a beachhead is far more difficult than advancing across land and required a lot of preparation. Much of the necessary equipment was built for the purpose.

    ____________

    True enough. This is all true. And there is weather to contend with, too.

    Still, Dunkirk occurred before the end of May 1940.
    Could they really not have been ready two months earlier? Would the end of April have been impossible?

    I have the impression that the general idea was to let the Germans and Russians battle each other to exhaustion, and then the Western Allies would land and be welcomed as liberators. The German resistance would collapse, and the liberators would drive to Berlin. So they set an optimistic timetable.


    When they got to Normandy they learned just how inexperienced most of the American and Canadian troops were, and just how inferior allied armour was. Things did not go as planned. It took them 10 weeks trying to capture Caen and then get down the road to Falaise.

    The Czechs, and perhaps others, paid for that ten week delay for 44 years.

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  • 171. At 8:35pm on 07 Jun 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    @ 160. GH1618: "What kind of frequent flyers are you waiting for? Flying fish?"
    Careful Honey - don't go talkin' smack about my Flyers! Besides, Philly is as accustomed to having underdog teams as we are of having volatile fans. Lucky for you, I'm a pacifist. Therefore, I will sing angry folk songs in your general direction. HA! Take THAT!


    @ 162. MarcusAureliusII:
    Well honey - if ours were a similar socio-political situation to that of 1953-55... but it isn't. Our economy, our social infrastructure and even Washington DC is very, very different.

    Now, if Johnson came back from the dead to run for office... Well... you'd have more luck trying to Crown Hamlet's dad King again. Good luck with that.

    Would you like me to put you in contact with some helpful pagan women? No. Wait. That's the cursed play. Let's not go there. Forget I mentioned it.

    __________

    You know, I always thought Ophelia was a wimp. What kind of a spineless girl goes and drowns herself over a fight with her boyfriend? See, I told you all those characters were flat formless fools.

    Helen Thomas, on the other hand - now THAT's an old girl with spunk.
    Sorry for the fuss Helen, peace to you and yours, and I wish you the best on your upcoming birthday!

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  • 172. At 8:47pm on 07 Jun 2010, sean56z wrote:

    Ten NATO soldiers were killed today in retaliation for armed drone attacks. Obama must reconsider his strategy if casualties mount. The Israeli navy will not control the Middle East with repression and nukes. Iran, Syria, and Lebanon might become active participants in the war.

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  • 173. At 8:50pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh self anointed one, why don't you tell the whole truth. Helen Thomas said that the Israeli Jews should go back to where they belong, to Poland, Germany, America, wherever. If she had said that black Americans should go back to Africa you'd be the first one manning the ramparts demanding her head. Oh hypocritical self annointed one.

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  • 174. At 8:56pm on 07 Jun 2010, terrrob2 wrote:

    RE # 46 Palin participated in some corruption herself in Alaska which has left her ultimately corrupt. Thank god I hear no more "drill baby drill" quips from her camp. She is representative of what a bought education from Idaho results in, intellectually (BS [only!!] from University of Idaho in Political Science).
    I live in an area surrounded by idiotic Palin enthusiasts. The cost of living is low, therefore I remain, as a single parent, where I can afford to help my children. Would I rather live in California where my profession (Registered Nurse) has a union that can bring Schwarzenegger to his knees? Yes. Would I rather live in an area where I could influence D.C. lobbyists to push for more decisive action on the spill? Yes.
    Unfortunately our current political system, as well as our economic system, is corrupted by money, greed, influence, and power, something which I do not have.

    M.M. Do not speak to me of Kings and Princes, for I am neither, although definitely smarter, at the very least, than Palin.

    I too am a little disappointed in Obama. His lengthy and valuable education can be an asset, however what I have noticed is that when you are in University, you can not at all be controversial and ask very difficult questions or you are forced out. Free expression in Idaho, America, many places, is not based on constitutional law, but on political correctness. Obama towed the line and did what he was told to do. What you see is the result of that compromise. Oh, but for intellect, strength, decisiveness, and collaboration with other experts all together in one person as a leader. The non existent entity.

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  • 175. At 9:02pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    How appropriate the blog entry is Mr. Mardell. A photograph of an actor playing Hamlet juxtaposed with a photo of an actor playing President. Or is it the other way around, a photo of a President playing an actor. "The play's the thing."

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  • 176. At 9:18pm on 07 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Philly=Mon (#171), I wasn't referring to your hocky team, hon, I was remarking on your spelling of "bated."

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  • 177. At 9:32pm on 07 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 173, Marcus

    "Oh hypocritical self annointed one"

    The issue for me is not what Helen Thomas said, but the fact that she felt compelled to retire (resign) for saying what she believes in.

    As far as I am concerned journalists can say whatever they please, as long as it doesn't involve libel, obscenity, incitement of violence, or an attack on children or people who can not defend themselves. It is up to us, the reader or viewer to pass judgment on what they say.

    I admit, however, that I don't give politicians the same latitude I give the talking heads, simply because their convictions can lead to policies and actions that I may not endorse.

    It is good to see that you agree with President Obama's reaction...

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  • 178. At 10:20pm on 07 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 179. At 10:33pm on 07 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    169. At 8:05pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "I hate to tell you that, but Patton's avant-garde was already in a Polish part of Sudeten."

    [[Not in February 1945 he wasn't.]]


    "Patton was told to back off and retreat by Eisenhower, after Stalin complained that "that's not what we agreed upon".

    [[And Stalin was right - that wasn't what they had agreed upon.]]

    "Ike, a man without any foresight couldn't care less and promptly agreed."

    [[No, Ike a man who understood civilian authority over the military in a democracy followed his instructions according to the agreement made by his civilian masters. Do you really want our military to start deciding when it should and shouldn't follow the instructions of the civilian government? When generals behave that way it is frequently called a coup d'etat.]]

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  • 180. At 11:11pm on 07 Jun 2010, rodidog wrote:

    164 GH,

    "I don't know how it could have been done any sooner. Establishing a beachhead is far more difficult than advancing across land and required a lot of preparation. Much of the necessary equipment was built for the purpose"

    There is also the fact that the "Battle of the Atlantic" was not decided until late 1943. No invasion of western Europe was going to happen before then.

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  • 181. At 11:18pm on 07 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #158
    SaintDominick wrote:
    Hard to believe Helen Thomas is retiring, not because of how old she is, but because of the circumstances that led to her decision.

    On certain issues, our beloved First Ammendment is nothing more than a speed bump.

    ______________

    did you feel the same about Don Imus or other inflamatory comments. Helen Thomas has been a disgrace and should have been fired years ago for injecting her political beliefs into reporting.

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  • 182. At 11:32pm on 07 Jun 2010, mabelwhite wrote:

    Not entirely sure why there is such glee over Helen Thomas' comments really. I guess it is because the press is calling her a 'liberal icon'. Sigh. Journalists as icons...that is what we have come to.

    Also, just as objecting to Mr. Obama's policies is not 'racist', objecting to Israeli occupation of Palestine territory, or zionism in general, is not 'anti-semitic'. There are many Israeli groups that advocate withdrawal from Palestine. And at the time if I recollect properly, there was great division about founding Israel in the first place.

    Further, 'semitism' generally refers to a race that includes israeli and arab, while 'judaism' refers to a religion - and I am a firm advocate of the separation of church and state and equality of race. Neither 'anti- or pro- semitism' or 'anti- or pro- judaism' should be issues with regard to the borders of Palestine and the treatment of Palestinian civilians.

    Lastly, since native americans are still on 'reservations' getting ripped off by Indian Affairs, making so much of a fuss about the whole shebang just sounds a mite hypocritical. I think Native American tribes should have the option of pointing to any vacant 100-500 acre tract anywhere in the US and saying "we'll occupy that bit there, thank you" and they should get it - the gov't can pay eminent domain for it with the oil and railroad money they have taken from the rez land over the past couple of hundred years.

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  • 183. At 11:49pm on 07 Jun 2010, JMM_for_now wrote:

    150. At 6:12pm on 07 Jun 2010, powermeerkat
    and previous by PM, MK and MAII

    "Free from gross passion or of mirth or anger
    constant in spirit, not swerving with the blood,
    garnish'd and deck'd in modest compliment,
    not working with the eye without the ear,
    and but in purged judgement trusting neither?
    Such and so finely bolted didst [Obama] seem."
    William Shakespeare


    Something is afoot, for I have seldom agreed with those gentlemen, forsooth, yet of late have I if only in part, and excepting jests and japes on several occasions found some merit in their posts.

    Yes, President Barack Obama was too slow to take over [though I think it was likely do to his lawyerly respect for the constitution and restitution of the proper balance of power among the branches that caused this.] Unfortunately, he could not restore honor, probity and other virtues to the members of the legislature before trying to restore the powers surrendered by them to the imperial presidents.

    Yes, the hypocracy of the Massachusetts government in trying to prevent GOP appointments was an attack on governmental legitimacy. It was, however, done within the letter of the law. I doubt that British parliamentarians can understand our objection since the Parliament [i.e. Commons] is supreme and can even oust a king or lords from Lords.

    However as to having one's vote diminished, How would GOP representation in the US congress adequately represent a state that is overwhelmingly Democrat? Get thee to the State House and look at the house voting roster, less than 1/3 Republicans. I grant you that it looks bad, and that a nearly one-party government is a disgrace in the "Cradle of Liberty."

    As to the planning of WWII, "hindsight is 20/20!"

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  • 184. At 11:51pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh self annointed one;

    Helen Thomas has a right to express her views just like everyone else in the United States under her Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech as specified in the first amendment. However, her employer Hearst Corporation does not want his organization to be associated with her obviously biggoted antisemitic remarks and attitudes. If she hadn't quit instantly, she'd have been fired a second later. That's their right under our system too.

    I'm sure some extreme right wing hate magazine will be just too happy to publish her prattle which of course will appeal only to a tiny insignificant fraction of the American public and of her former employer's audience. Even without this episode though, I really could never understand why they kept her on. And I don't understand why this or former Presidents invited her to ask a question at a press conference. There certainly is no reason to have to call on those who are openly hostile as she often was...as Nick Robinson found out after being given his one and only chance.

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  • 185. At 00:02am on 08 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    173. At 8:50pm on 07 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oh self anointed one, why don't you tell the whole truth. Helen Thomas said that the Israeli Jews should go back to where they belong, to Poland, Germany, America, wherever. If she had said that black Americans should go back to Africa you'd be the first one manning the ramparts demanding her head. Oh hypocritical self annointed one.

    Horrible analogy Marcus, apples and oranges. The Jews went to Palestine as the oppressor, the blacks came to America in chains.

    I admire Helen Thomas for speaking the politically unspeakable in this country.She doesn't have any gonads but she still has more than the entire collection of AIPAC goons and their sycophants.

    How is the defense or even the existence of the state of Israel in our self-interest? I've never heard a decent answer to this question - the usual response is snark claiming I'm a jew hater for even asking it.



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  • 186. At 01:02am on 08 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    77. At 10:47am on 06 Jun 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    He is responsible for the response. And, in this case, the response has to be tangible, measurable not rhetoric.

    How can you be responsible for something you have no control over? What could he do? You've already stated you didn't expect him to plug the hole, so what is left is the cleanup, right?

    Do you understand what is involved in cleaning up a crude spill? To put it bluntly, theater..showbiz is the main tool involved. They pretend by spending money and hiring workers but since it is next to impossible if not impossible to capture it, PR is the only meaningful approach they can use.

    I worked most of 1989 on the Exxon Valdez spill. Here is a typical day and shows the technology involved. We were sent ashore to where crude was visible on boulders, the beach, whatever. We by hand using large pads approx.3'x3' wiped up what we could and stuffed these large diaper like clothes into 55 gallon size plastic bags. The bags were later barged to Valdez and other places that had incinerators and burned.At times the coves were given a steam cleaning too but that seemed to me to just scatter the residue more although it did look better for photo ops.

    How much of the spillage was captured by the entire cleanup effort? I don't know but it was very little compared to how much dumped in the sea. Once it is there, only mother nature will eventually get rid of it.

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  • 187. At 01:19am on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    so wolf in sheeps clothing you agree with Helen Thomas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Osama Bin Laden, and probably Adolf Hitler too if he were still alive. Birds of a feather, what else is there to say?

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  • 188. At 01:23am on 08 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "Helen Thomas has been a disgrace and should have been fired years ago for injecting her political beliefs into reporting."

    Helen Thomas quit reporting for UPI in 2000. For the past decade she has been an opinion writer (a columnist).

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  • 189. At 01:40am on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    wolf in sheep's clothing;

    So you disagree with the former CEO of Shell Oil company who appeared on C-Span where he outlined a whole host of things Obama could have insisted on and BP done from early on after the accident such as the suck and salvage method which is far more effective than skimming with small boats at some distance. I don't suppose you watch C-Span much do you? What's your particular preference, The Cartoon Network?

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  • 190. At 02:00am on 08 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    187. At 01:19am on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    so wolf in sheeps clothing you agree with Helen Thomas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Osama Bin Laden, and probably Adolf Hitler too if he were still alive. Birds of a feather, what else is there to say?

    Once again, I ask what is actually an unanswerable question...."how is the defense or existence of Israel in our self-interest" and I get what is a laughable reply. You can't answer it, can you? All you can do is make a silly retort that I might expect from a Sarah Palin autograph seeker.

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  • 191. At 02:07am on 08 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 192. At 02:29am on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    From Hurst's point of view Helen Thomas went from being an acute embarassment they'd sooner not think about to being an unacceptable liability they could not ignore when she opened her big stupid mouth one time too many.

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  • 193. At 04:16am on 08 Jun 2010, Orville Eastland wrote:

    Mike Huckabee has called for the Palestinians to all get out of the Palestinian territories. Has anyone called for HIS firing?
    (Or if you want someone who's not from Fox News, go read Marty Peretz of the New Republic and some of his hateful words- most of which he does not get called out on.)
    Further, Helen Thomas has been willing to take on Clinton and Obama, as well as their Democratic predecessors. Incidentally, she's of Christian Lebanese descent, a group that has suffered recently under Israeli attacks in the Lebanon War.

    As for Reagan, he allowed military exercises to be conducted adjacent to Soviet waters, with live ammunition, firing cruise missiles at targets that were rather close to Soviet territory. This could have easily lead to WWIII... And, let's not forget the "freedom fighters" of Afghanistan...

    Finally, Truman set in motion the rise of the military-industrial complex and NATO that threatens to entangle the USA today. The US would be a whole lot better off had we followed the advice of his opponents on the left (The much maligned Henry A. Wallace) or the right (The forgotten Robert A. Taft). Had they been listened to, we'd be a lot more respected in the world, and a lot less in debt.

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  • 194. At 04:21am on 08 Jun 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    189. At 01:40am on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    wolf in sheep's clothing;

    So you disagree with the former CEO of Shell Oil company who appeared on C-Span where he outlined a whole host of things Obama could have insisted on and BP done from early on after the accident such as the suck and salvage method which is far more effective than skimming with small boats at some distance. I don't suppose you watch C-Span much do you? What's your particular preference, The Cartoon Network?


    LOL...you saw something on TV, which caters to the lowest common denominator.You bought it hook,line and sinker. Figures.You really should learn to do your own thinking instead of claiming some suit is an authority figure. How do you know he wasn't lying or running his mouth about something he knows next to nothing about? You don't.

    Incidentally, how about an answer to how the defense or even the existence of Israel is in our national interest?

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  • 195. At 11:27am on 08 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 181, Magic

    "did you feel the same about Don Imus or other inflamatory comments. Helen Thomas has been a disgrace and should have been fired years ago for injecting her political beliefs into reporting."

    Helen Thomas did not "report" anything, she voiced her personal opinion on an issue that is important to her, considering her ethnicity, the way every America is - theoretically - entitled to do.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to certain issues, freedom of speech is limited to supporting the opinion of the majority. Again, the issue is not her opinion, but the right of Americans to say what they believe without fear of retribution.

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  • 196. At 1:18pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF: " And Stalin was right - that wasn't what they had agreed upon"



    That's why I am not blaming Stalin for making this phone call.

    [demanding that Patton's troops withdraw]

    I'm blaming FDR and Churchill. For Tehran and Yalta.



    Isn't it how this whole thread began, after all?

    [me referring to 'useful idiots' with no vision?]


    BTW. FDR Administrations literally saturated with Soviet spies.

    How would you explain (or explain AWAY) that?

    Inquiring minds want to know.



    P.S. Out of courtesy for our British cousins and hosts I will not rehash a Cossacks' betrayal issue.

    [James Bonds' "Golden Eye" did that already]


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  • 197. At 1:32pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re "Helen Thomas, on the other hand - now THAT's an old girl with spunk."





    Mummy, even the oldest an the ugliest and the most disgusting witch from "Macbeth" was more girlish than Helene Thomas.

    Nancy Pelosi with Barbara Boxer being both serious contenders for the number 2 slot in that category.


    ["I wish I was so girly just like my dear papa"]

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  • 198. At 1:35pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Saint Dominick: "Thank you for crediting my form of speech. I wish I had thought of this one though"


    Well, actually you did: calling GWB a "reformed alcoholic".

    [Honour to whom honour is due]

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  • 199. At 1:40pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    SD opined:

    "Unfortunately, when it comes to certain issues, freedom of speech is limited to supporting the opinion of the majority."


    Granted. And we shall see it in November.

    Insh Allah!

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  • 200. At 1:44pm on 08 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    123. PMK

    Speaking of corruption, this is a classic:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/10263803.stm

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  • 201. At 2:11pm on 08 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    For those following the ongoing story in N Korea, bit by bit, half a turn at a time, China keeps tightening the screws. The Chinese government is preparing Chinese public opinion for stronger steps against a supposed ally. The pace may seem glacial by western standards, but for this to have been reported, at all, is an indication of China's displeasure:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/asia_pacific/10263325.stm

    There is a chilly draft descending on Pyongyang, and "you don't gotta be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

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  • 202. At 2:56pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: "Incidentally, how about an answer to how the defense or even the existence of Israel is in our national interest?"





    A bulwark against a spread of militant/terrorist Islamic fundamentalism?

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  • 203. At 3:07pm on 08 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    196. At 1:18pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "I'm blaming FDR and Churchill. For Tehran and Yalta."

    "Isn't it how this whole thread began, after all?"

    [me referring to 'useful idiots' with no vision?]

    ____________

    No, this part of the string started with you denying that President Reagan continued the post-war policy of containment which started under Truman, a contention that strikes me as nonsense.

    You also accused Truman of cowardice, for which you have provided no support, and which in my view is a gross and unwarranted smear against a man who has come to be regarded as one of America's better Presidents.

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  • 204. At 3:15pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "China says a North Korean border guard shot and killed three people near the countries' border last week.

    A fourth person was reportedly injured in the incident near the north-eastern border town of Dandong.

    China has made a formal complaint to North Korea, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said." [BBC]


    A beginning of the end of "the beautiful friendship"?

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  • 205. At 3:19pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re Truman's cowardice versus Mcarthur's clear-sightedness...



    Three Chinese killed by North Korean border guards?


    Looks like a begining of the end.

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  • 206. At 3:43pm on 08 Jun 2010, Bro_Winky wrote:

    196. At 1:18pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:
    IF: " And Stalin was right - that wasn't what they had agreed upon"



    That's why I am not blaming Stalin for making this phone call.

    [demanding that Patton's troops withdraw]

    I'm blaming FDR and Churchill. For Tehran and Yalta.
    ---------------------

    As dirty as the Tehran conference was, I tend to blame the situation rather than Churchill or FDR. After the recent victories at Kursk and the Dnieper, Stalin's forces were in a superior strategic position, and he was able to dominated the meeting because of it. The Allies wanted to coordinate military strategies with the Soviets (who at this time fielded the largest military land force the world has ever known) , and eventually bring them into the war against Japan. They had little option but to appease Stalin (in reality he had the capability to take what he wanted with or without their consent, and there was little they could do to stop him).

    ----------------------
    BTW. FDR Administrations literally saturated with Soviet spies.

    How would you explain (or explain AWAY) that?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    ----------------

    The simple fact is the Soviets had spies everywhere; The US, Japan, Switzerland, Britain, and Germany etc. The Soviets had a very well established spy network.

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  • 207. At 4:10pm on 08 Jun 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "Again, the issue is not her opinion, but the right of Americans to say what they believe without fear of retribution." (from SaintDominick at #195)

    This is a complete misunderstanding of First Amendment rights. The First Amendment guarantees the right to speak and to publish what you will without prior restraint. It does not provide immunity from the consequences.

    Helen Thomas is as free to speak and write today as she was last week. However she will no longer be syndicated by Hearst, which distributed her column, or represented by Nine Speakers, her agent for speaking engagements. These companies have rights also, and it is their right to choose not to represent any individual.

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  • 208. At 4:56pm on 08 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    202. At 2:56pm on 08 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: "Incidentally, how about an answer to how the defense or even the existence of Israel is in our national interest?"

    A bulwark against a spread of militant/terrorist Islamic fundamentalism?

    ____________

    There are different ways of looking through a Quartz lens. Perhaps,

    "An enduring cause of the spread of militant/terrorist Islamic fundamentalism?"

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  • 209. At 7:19pm on 08 Jun 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 207, GH1618

    Yes, corporations have the right to hire and fire to protect their interests, but it seems that in our country only some comments are construed as being damaging to corporate interests while others only elicit a wink and a smile.

    Judging by Glenn Beck's ability to keep his job, it appears that there are certain limitations or barriers as to what constitute offensive behavior and what does not. Dan Rather, the Dixie Chicks, Valerie Plame and others make our interpretation of freedom of speech debatable.

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  • 210. At 7:30pm on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "There are different ways of looking through a Quartz lens. Perhaps"

    "A bulwark against a spread of militant/terrorist Canadian fundamentalism?"

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  • 211. At 7:33pm on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Wolfbane;

    "Incidentally, how about an answer to how the defense or even the existence of Israel is in our national interest?"

    It isn't. Neither is the defense of any other nation except our own. Nor was the NPT. Any nation which appeared to be developing nukes should have been neutralized at the time. That way we would have maintained a monopoly. That was in our interest.

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  • 212. At 8:12pm on 08 Jun 2010, Doc Ken wrote:


    Of course obama is nothing like Hamlet. (except he never smiles anymore) he is simply an inept, inexperienced administrator who knows not how to lead other than to make promises (he never keeps) threats, and backroom deals (for which he may face criminal charges as he has been illegally meddling in state elections by offering deals to state pols to do what he wants them to do. Whereas Hamlet was introspective, obama cannot think at all. Look how long it took him to follow his generals' request for more troops for Afghanistan.

    Unlike Hamlet, obama is not earnest. He is an empty suit, has no sympathy nor empathy with the common man. He does not understand how to be a President. He goes on vacation and dates when he should be leading the clean up of the oil spill.

    Obama's "dazzling display" of rhetoric has proved as effective as a sky rocket, lots of momentary flash, but no lasting effect. He has not kept one single promise made in that rhetoric.

    Unlike Hamlet, obama is quite familiar with his setting and of of being a wheel and deal politician. He knows from his Chicago thug politics how to circumvent the law and do what he wants without having to bother with ethics or morals. But over and over, we see that he cannot lead, he doesn't know how to get out there and clear the path for cleaning the Gulf, or how to meet with the press and answer honestly the questions they have about have he has done, is doing or plans to do about the issues and emergencies of the time.

    Unlike Hamlet, again, he does not wind up a tragic figure, rather he will wind up a buffoon, his actions in dealing with the issues and emergencies are farcical, not serious in nature as he pratfalls at every occasion.

    Obama does not lead by creating consensus; he ignores it as he did with the health care bill when 71% of the people of the US did not want this bill, he just rammed it through by buying off those who objected to it with the LA Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback.

    I cannot imagine obama giving a Hamlet-like agonizing soliloquy. He simply does not care about morals or ethics, the common man or the environment or anything other than his agenda to destroy the US as he finds it and to make himself one of the richest men in the world in the process. In the process it is becoming more and more clear that he has broken the law several times and will quite likely face impeachment when the Republicans take over the Congress. He knows he will not be reelected and we know that the oil spill in the Gulf is his hostage crisis. Like Jimmy Carter, the only thing good about his Presidency will be its end.

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  • 213. At 8:40pm on 08 Jun 2010, kingcubicle wrote:

    Amazing how the media has so quickly spun this disaster into a tale of Obama the ditherer, the airy fairy intellectual presiding over a salon of experts, discussing the problem rather than actually plugging the leak. I am surprised that no one in the media is mentioning the chants of "Drill, Baby, Drill" from the 2008 election. I am not gloating over this tragedy that is poisoning countless people, plants and animals in the region, and will for decades, but it is supreme irony that it is GOP states with coastlines covered in oil. If anything good comes of this, it is my hope that my conservative countrymen can begin to open their minds to attempts to move away from fossil fuels and cap CO2 emissions.

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  • 214. At 8:53pm on 08 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    210. At 7:30pm on 08 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Perhaps"

    "A bulwark against a spread of militant/terrorist Canadian fundamentalism?"

    [[Anyone else having trouble bringing that concept into focus?]]

    ____________

    In any case, you're too late:
    America already has teams in the NHL.

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  • 215. At 01:24am on 09 Jun 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #209

    Helen Thomas crossed the line as did many years ago Jimmy the Greek.

    Her cooments were inexcusible.

    She should have been sent to the back of the press room for her unprofessional questions years ago.

    But she was given the Robert Byrd treatment of excusing racism because of age

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  • 216. At 05:49am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF: "You also accused Truman of cowardice, for which you have provided no support"



    Yes I did, referring specifically to Korean War (remember the Forgotten War?). And firing of McArthur.

    Had the haberdasher not chickened out and listend to McArthur there would have been no North Korean Gulag, no DMZ, probably also no nuclear-armed PRC, and of course no need of keeping dozens of thousands of US troops in Republic of Korea and in Japan till this very day.

    [The money saved could have been used, e.g. to subsidize health care "reform". Or improving EPA's monitoring system :)]

    BTW. Many Japanese (particularly the older ones) seem to have much higher opinion and appreciation of McArthur than many Americans.

    Sort of ironic, isn't it?




    As for RR policies and actual actions vis-avis-Soviet Empire Reagan rejected the containment concept as inadequate and ineffective: he designed a ROLL-BACK policy (that's how it was called).

    As said previously: you seem to have no clue what RR and his Administration actually did (through different 'active measures').

    And how much his policies and tactics applied in that area differed from those of his illustrious predecessors.

    Although quite a few high rank former Soviet officials and Soviet intelligence officers do know. Perhaps you should ask them?

    [Some of the latter live today in the U.S. Quite happily.

    Just like the son of Nikita Khrushchev :)]


    P.S. I will skip an issue of JFK's cowardice and Bay of Pigs fiasco.

    Or of Jimmy Carter's 'reaction' to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Unless really pushed.




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  • 217. At 06:23am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re# 206 Bro_Winky


    You're right to a large extent.

    [that was also a reason for UK's silence re Katyn Massacre - very much in the news these days]


    Except: There was no reason for allowing Soviets to take Berlin.

    [there was no agreement of any sort about THAT].


    As I stated before: if we had, there'd be no bloodbath caused by Berlin Workers Uprising, no Berlin blockade, no need for a v. expensive Berlin Air Lift, no untold number of escapees from DDR killed by German border guards. So on and so forth.


    [Just like Korean War did not have to and in a stalemate and a partition of Korea. For which we (U.S.) have been paying dearly -literally! - till this very day. :(]

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  • 218. At 06:32am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #208


    I recall militant Islam conquering a large chunk of Europe long before there was the state of Israel, and, even -fancy that! - the United States.

    And Shia slaughtering Sunnis for at least a millenium before a

    "unjustified invasion of Iraq".

    [Saddam did not have any WMDs, and Chemical Ali gassed Kurds with Chanel No 5 in aerosol spray. Am I right or am I right?]

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  • 219. At 06:47am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #215 "she [Helen Thomas] was given the Robert Byrd treatment of excusing racism because of age"




    Since MAII referred earlier to fiddling while Lousi..errr.. Rome burned...


    HT and RB would make quite a team

    He would fiddle while the witch burned.

    [Robert Byrd used be a pretty mean blue grass fiddler]

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  • 220. At 07:18am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Macbeth: "She should have died hereafter".

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  • 221. At 2:20pm on 09 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    216. At 05:49am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF: "You also accused Truman of cowardice, for which you have provided no support"



    Yes I did, referring specifically to Korean War (remember the Forgotten War?). And firing of McArthur.

    ____________


    Mao had just finished winning a very long running civil war in China that he won in the face of US support for his opponents. You seem to forget that "our side" in the Chinese civil war was incurably corrupt, swallowed endless amounts of aid, and yet was largely incapable of effective action on the battlefield. Mao had the full material backing of Joe Stalin.

    Re-opening the Chinese civil war, and putting American lives at risk to do it was and adventure with decidedly poor prospects of success. The government of the United States wisely decided that was not in America's interest. That was the considered policy advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    What you also seem to forget is that at the time the world was exceedingly tired of war, and for good reason.

    Douglas MacArthur was fired because he decided that he knew better than his employers, made a disastrous decision that brought the Chinese into the war, and was clearly insubordinate. Marcus points to his fine work in Japan. Be that as it may, generals in the field do not get to overrule the government, and MacArthur's conduct was clear insubordination.

    His firing was approved, and supported by George Marshall, Omar Bradley, Dean Acheson, and Averill Harriman. I have no doubt it would also have been most heartily supported by Chester Nimitz and most, if not all, of the US Navy, who had a bellyful of MacArthur during the war. No doubt you will also accuse those men of cowardice.

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  • 222. At 4:59pm on 09 Jun 2010, Bro_Winky wrote:

    217. At 06:23am on 09 Jun 2010,

    Except: There was no reason for allowing Soviets to take Berlin.

    [there was no agreement of any sort about THAT].
    As I stated before: if we had, there'd be no bloodbath caused by Berlin Workers Uprising, no Berlin blockade, no need for a v. expensive Berlin Air Lift, no untold number of escapees from DDR killed by German border guards. So on and so forth.


    [Just like Korean War did not have to and in a stalemate and a partition of Korea. For which we (U.S.) have been paying dearly -literally! - till this very day. :(]
    ---------------------------
    There wasn't any need for one. At the time of the Yalta Conference, the Soviets were only 40 miles from Berlin with bridgehead across the Oder River. The Allies had only just reached the Rhine River, which was a dozen times farther from the Nazi capital as the Soviets.

    Regardless of who took Berlin, the cold war schisms would have been the same. The zones of occupation for Germany (including Berlin) were already agreed upon at Yalta, and they couldn't leave out the Soviets (who had destroyed more German forces than anyone else). Due to their particularly brutal struggle against the Nazis, for the Soviets, the capture of Berlin was all about symbolism and revenge, but they took about 300,000 casualties (killed & injured) to take it. Eisenhower had no intention of taking those kind of casualties for a city which held little emotional value for the Allies (compared the Soviets), and was already carved up amongst the victors, especially when the Soviets were willing to do the dirty work.


    Regarding Korea, the only option for that conflict was stalemate and partition. If the war had escalated, it would have inevitably lead to a third world war, less than a decade after the end of the second.

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  • 223. At 6:05pm on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF:" What you also seem to forget is that at the time the world was exceedingly tired of war, and for good reason."

    Indeed : which explains Chamberlain. And Daladier.

    And, of course, Petain.

    And which did not prevent WWII. Au contraire.

    Sapienti sat.


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  • 224. At 6:08pm on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF: "Dean Acheson, and Averill Harriman." [supporting firing McArthur]



    Of they would.

    Particularly in view of what we know now. :)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

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  • 225. At 6:15pm on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    IF, I suggest, respectfully, that you familiarize yourself with Mitrokhin Archives.


    If only to find out how many high rank officials of both FDR's and Truman's administrations were on Lubyanka's payroll.

    [many others were simply 'volunteers' and worked pro bono :-)))]

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  • 226. At 6:32pm on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #222

    Had it not been for massive bombardments of Berlin by USAF and RAF which Soviets specifically requested (just like bombing of Dresden, btw.) Soviets would have a very hard time to conquer the city.

    And re Korean War...

    USSR, let alone PRC, were at the time in no position to start anything even remotely resembling any world war since both were in shambles.

    Russia is in shambles again, but PRC isn't.

    Reminds me, btw., of what Marshall Grechko said at a Soviet Politbureau meeting in 1969 [time of Ussuri clashes] about a "missed opportunity which will never repeat itself".
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "THE KNIGHT IS DYING WITHIN HIS SHINING ARMOUR, AND ALL YOU CAN SEE IS THAT ARMOUR"

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  • 227. At 10:37pm on 09 Jun 2010, JMM_for_now wrote:

    221. At 2:20pm on 09 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner RE
    216. At 05:49am on 09 Jun 2010, powermeerkat

    IF, you should have mentioned that the US Military has always [except for notable Civil War treason] been true to its oaths to uphold the US Constitution and to obey the orders of the lawful command, the lawful Commander in Chief being the President of the US.

    To be fired in this case was to be let off easy, he could have been accused of mutiny or treason if he had gone just a bit further. He did not, and thus saved his good name.

    As to the Japanese, they refer to him as the American Shogun. No real American would yearn for a shogun [or any kind of military dictator], so the Japanese respect for him should not translate into Americans holding the same view.

    I have always thought that Truman did the right thing by defending civilian control of the US military. I have also thought that MacArthur is respoinsible for North Korea being more than a narrow buffer zone along the Yalu. Had he halted the US advance at Pyong Yang when the Chines threatened invasion, North Korea would scarcely exist today.

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  • 228. At 02:25am on 10 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    227 JMM.

    Yep.

    Whenever I think of MacArthur, I think of Gen. George McLellan at the same time.

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  • 229. At 06:29am on 10 Jun 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    Re: "Incidentally, how about an answer to how the defense or even the existence of Israel is in our national interest?"

    All right, since this thread has apparently survived -

    "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

    The existence of Israel is evidence of this promise.

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 230. At 07:41am on 10 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #277 JMM: "He did not, and thus saved his good name."




    Well according to some here (and you know who you are) McArthur had no good name to protect in the first place.

    [according to Quatermaster Eisenhower neither had Patton.]


    BTW. Shoguns were not known for imposing on their their subjects democratic and pacifist constitutions.

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  • 231. At 7:04pm on 11 Jun 2010, _jane_ wrote:

    Only certain people and media outlets are calling for some sort of emotional outburst from Obama. Most of us in America couldn't care less about tantrums and public profanity. We want only results.

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