Sunday, October 19, 2008

And wingnut heads exploded...

General Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama for President.

Waiting for the Swiftboaters to come out....

  • "He's just endorsing Obama because he's black!"
  • "He cut-and-run from the Bush Administration so he hates Republicans!"
  • "My Lai!"
  • "Slam dunk WMD presentation at UN!"
Just wait and see. By Monday morning, at the latest.

Meanwhile, I need to watch this again because General Powell gave the best endorsement I've seen for Barack Obama since, well, ever. He both explained the positive reasons why he is voting for Obama, and the negative reasons as to why he is not voting for McCain. And he showed that he understands exactly what Obama is saying -- unlike the tighty-righties who are too busy shouting about how a nigra president would be socialism and so forth to do anything of the sort.

-- Badtux the Easily-impressed Penguin


  1. Wingnut talking points on this are laughable and easily defeated with reason.

    But I don't want reason. Wingnuts talking points are proving my case in favor of Obama and are showing their own and Colin Powell's lunacy at the same time.

    My words are nothing any American wants to read right now; I understand it really well.

    *THE ECONOMIST's fantasy worldwide electoral college vote in the 2008 election was Obama 8372 McCain 16 99.81%

    *Inside the USA Obama is likely to make 369 electors 63.84%

    *Obama's international approval ratings are around 94%

    *I checked Gallup and Zogby and they had no recent figures on Obama's US approval rating, but my guess would be that it's around 65%

    *Before his endorsement of Obama, Powell had a 74% US approval rating and that's likely to go way up

    *Worldwide his approval rating was maybe 5% and it might go up to 10% after this.

    This endorsement has some small meaning in the US. Outside, it's meaningless at best. At worst, it's the equivalent of General Augusto Pinochet rising from the grave to endorse Michelle Bachelet for president of Chile.

    It's fine to laugh and say "who the hell is Michelle Bachelet?" The problem for the USA is that the country has lost all it's friends worldwide except for China and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Nigeria.

    There are a number of first-world governments which support the US agenda, Canada, Colombia, France, Israel, Italy, and Peru, but the majority of the people there don't. The UK can be persuaded, so, too, South Korea and Taiwan. But the people of those countries don't buy it.

    So, all of Powell's medals and gravitas mean far worse than nothing if he's part of an "exceptionalist" Obama foreign policy when there's a copper crisis and Obama's begging Bachelet and Codelco for some help.

    Copper itself is a relatively small issue, and America is big and strong to be sure. I'm only 5' 6"; I get it. Add up all of the "small" issues like the copper market which the USA doesn't control and you see the problem.

    The "American Exceptionalist" agenda does not work for the rest of the developed capitalist democratic republican parliamentary first world: Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuadaor, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, The Caribbean Bank Centers, The European Bank Centers,Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

    The Middle East is a mess. South Asia is a mess. The Rest of East Asia is inaccessible and too small, the rest of Africa is too small. Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are too unpredictable.

    Russia is a big, big powerful country which can be friend or foe.

    So, the US going forward has some collection of friends: China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Nigeria and a whole collection of small dictatorships.

    There's some power there but has this model worked real well to date? Barack Obama has promised a new model. I'm ready to take him at his word. I think he can deliver if given a chance. Those countries and people who have opposed the American agenda are now willing to support any efforts at change that Obama plans so long as state sovereignty is respected.

    I believe the proper way to process the Colin Powell endorsement is merely to say "thank you very much." And that's it.

    If Powell has a significant role in US foreign policy, he will put Barack Obama and the USA back to square one.

  2. All that's interesting and such, but somewhat beside the point. The deal is to get Obama elected by a landslide so large that Diebold and voter suppression can't steal it for the Rethugs. For the "low information" voters, they don't know all these nuances of foreign policy and don't care. The fact that a man who they view as a dignified and moderate man of character just came out and endorsed Obama in a calm and dignified way that basically calls all of McCain's lies about Obama just that, lies, while saying that Obama is a man of character, gives them permission to vote for Obama without worrying about Obama's character. And furthermore he makes the positive case for Obama as a steady man better fit for handling the current economic crisis. That can't hurt either.

    All that other stuff... well, the low-information voters (the only ones who haven't voted yet) don't know about any of that stuff. All you do is confuse them.

    As for reason, since when does reason have anything to do with American politics? I mean, c'mon. In 2004 a draft dodger was the "courageous war hero" and a multi-bemedalled genuine war hero was the "cowardly french-looking dude who will call surrender." Granted, Kerry ran a terrible campaign, but deal is, if reason had any place in American politics, it would have been a landslide for Kerry. Instead, he trailed pretty much all the way to the end.

    - Badtux the Cynical Penguin

  3. I really enjoy having this discussion with you because you are a THINKER.

    You don't have to convince me about Barack Obama. I've studied the guy in depth and while I have some areas of disagreement on issues, I agree with roughly 70%-75% of his platform and 90% of his voting record. To me, that's HUGE. I don't demand perfection in any candidate in any captitalist democratic repulican parlimentary first-world candidate.

    I agree with the idea that the bigger the landslide the better. I don't have too many concerns about a theft this time because the FBI, as awful as they can be, is aware of who the likely cheaters are and who they aren't. There's noise about a trivial investigation into ACORN fraud. There's a huge investigation into coordinated systematic Repubican efforts at suppressing Democratic votes in six swing states.

    The FBI isn't doing this because they love Barack Obama. They probably hate him. They're doing it because soon Barack Obama will be their boss. In fact, their boss will be someone far less forgiving about Wingnuttery than Obama is. Their boss will be Obama's Attorney General and I think the likely candidates are Deval Patrick, Eric Holder and Alan Vinegrad. None of those three are going to tolerate any Wingnut bullshit or tacit racist Republican support within the FBI. Voting Rights Act violation? Obstruction of justice and conspiracy? Forget it. The hammer will come down.

    One of the aspects I really like about Obama is his global perspective. I write often about global issues because I have to deal with them. People outside the USA are maybe somewhat more enlightened on the whole about certain aspects of social policy and are definitely better educated on average but there are practical reasons why someone would know the leaders of countries half a world away. I don't care at all if Joe-The-Plumber is intersted. I know he isn't.

    I'd like (the collective) you to be interested, though, because in practical terms these things will have a much larger effect on the American standard of living than some of the campaign themes will.

    I don't minimize the importance in of electing an African-American president to moving the USA forward in every way. And you'd better believe I'm glad the person is a Democrat with brains and sophistication.

    It could have been Powell!

    And that's the point. A world far more ready to accept Obama than his own country is would not take the same view of a President Powell. His color or race or whatever would be irrelevant. The world would expect to have to defend itself against yet another American authoritarian. I'm very glad I never had to witness the spectacle of American self-congratulation over the election of Powell as president in 1996 over Bill Clinton.

    I don't think I ever would have visited the USA and I probably would have tried to boycott all its products other than TV sports.

  4. Seems many who would be considered intellectual and moderate on both sides are getting behind Obama.

  5. Kelso, if you expect a fundamentally different foreign policy from Obama I believe you will be disappointed. American exceptionalism is so deeply engrained in the American psyche as to defy all reason. Our schools teach American exceptionalism from day one, our media trumpets American exceptionalism every day, and if you ever dare express the notion that America isn't #1 on something you're immediately branded as "anti-American" and probably a traitor. For example, even today you find Americans trumpeting the "fact" that the U.S. has the "best health care system in the world", despite the fact that in pretty much every international statistic the U.S. health care system is somewhere between Bulgaria and Croatia, profoundly mediocre in every way except cost (where the U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world). But despite this, you will still find a significant number of people who continue to believe in American exceptionalism, who refuse to believe that America could be less than #1 in anything at all.

    Obama is an intelligent man, but in the end he is a politician in a democracy, and he is limited by the population he leads. While it is clear that he will not embrace a Bush/McCain style of "bomb'em all and then invade" foreign policy, that does not mean he will be able to engage in any foreign policy that admits that the U.S. is now a washed-up has-been nation, not #1 in anything except high-tech weaponry (and that only because the Europeans are more interested in the welfare of their own people than in military adventure nowdays and don't spend the money necessary to build lots of high-tech weapons systems). You will continue to see a foreign policy that pretends that the U.S. is relevant in the world and has a right to determine what can and cannot be done in the world, and the fact that such a policy is delusional... well. It will be many, many years before the majority of Americans are reality-based enough to let go of their delusions, and it's going to be a long, hard slide before we get there.

    - Badtux the Realist Penguin

  6. 3....2....1
    Just like you predicted, right on schedule.

  7. BADTUX: You have a very deep understanding of how life is lived both inside and outside the USA. I assume you've travelled quite a bit.

    You certainly understand why culturally and how economically the countries of Europe, South America, Oceania, plus Canada, South Africa and Israel do it. Even in the cases of Venezuela and Israel which have large militaries, their training and technology is so strong that they don't spend anything near what the US does per capita. This frees up a lot of budget room depending on the government at the time of either very generous social policy, very generous tax policy, or a nice mix. All of these countries use a flexible Keynesian style fiscal stimulus or cutting when necessary and all agree on the more classical Fisherite monetary policy of neutrality. Foreign policy is always trade focused not war focused.

    No matter the peculiarities of whichever country in question, the social contract is way more progressive and at the same time way more libertarian and civil rights' oriented than the US is. Criminal justice issues are handled totally differently. The police are demilitarized. And the judges have total discretion in sentencing. Most non-violent crime does not receive custodial punishment. No country has the death penalty or life sentences or locks up kids with grownups. This also saves a lot of budget room. All have single payer health.

    I've really grown accustomed to being in this style of society and being treated like a responsible adult not like a potential enemy of the state the way it is in the US.

    Since there is general agreement on the big stuff, the debate bounces between center-left and center-right and is pleasant not dirty and focuses on very specific issues.

    That's why I ID'd with one of your recent posts about pragmatism. That's the model the successful countries are using, borrowing ideas from left, right and center. And getting along.

    No politician every gets up and says "____is the greatest place and most perfect democracy on earth or anything like that." Michael Moore is absolutely right about the health care outside the US. It's more luxurious and nearly free. So's the university education.

    This, buddy, is why Colin Powell makes me so sick. What enables this new pragmatic model is the recognition that very little in the way of military spending is needed. And they never fight wars of choice.

    Also, only in America are the extremist versions of these religions the most popular. I mean in the West. Also, most of these countries have a 25% cohort of atheists, too.

    Yeah, American Exceptionalism totally holds America back and despite what the idiot Republicans say, for my money, Obama while very bright is very, very AMERICAN!

    I think the new model is good but what do I know?

    Yes, I see how Ae

  8. "American exceptionalism is so deeply engrained in the American psyche as to defy all reason"

    This is true especially in the South. I hear many who have never read about other countries nor visited them claim how much better and greater the US is compared to other countries.

    There are a lot of flag waving nationalist in this country that remind me a lot of the types of nationalism one sees in dictatorships that are fascist or Communist.


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