“It’s also important to keep in mind that the president—and politicians generally—have limited control over economic growth. Though Obama and other contenders tout job numbers or GDP growth during their time in office, ultimately those indicators reflect more about the normal ups and downs of the business cycle than any one politician’s economic prowess.”
I’ve been waiting for some media source to say something like this for years. It is one of the most understandable of things that the public, politicians (at least those of the party out of office) and presidents seem determined to deny.
The president doesn’t have enough influence over the economy to make it obey his will. All the forces of the government, including the Federal Reserve cannot make it do what they might want it to do (even if there were agreement among all parties to the conversation about what is desirable).
Whether we like it or not, we live in an international economy which is “free market,” because all the other players, whatever their internal economic systems, are free to respond in what they see as their own best interests, to whatever we do.
Politicians would have you think otherwise; when there is good economic news the party in power is quick to take credit for it; when there is bad news, the opposition party is quick to point it out. There is not enough truth in most of these assertions to take them very seriously but many among us do.
This kind of talk deserves not just a grain of salt but with a block of salt, no matter which side is talking.
I haven’t posted much lately and almost nothing from other blogs but this seems worth thinking about solemnly at a solemn time:
Just in case you’ve forgotten, when some airline pilots (who have often served in the armed services and received their training) wanted to be allowed to carry guns in the cockpits of planes, one of the first rationalizations the government made for opposing them was that “a misfire would blow a hole in the plane and take it down.” Ultimately this among other arguments against the pilots’ request were overcome and now pilots can have guns in the cockpits under very circumscribed conditions and after receiving training in handling firearms.
Now we’ve seen the five foot hole in the passenger jet that opened up during flight as well as the successful landing of that plane involving no injuries. Does anyone think a bullet hole would jeopardize the plane more than the hole we’ve seen?
My point is that the original position of the government authorities toward the pilots’ request was simply “off the cuff” and untrue. Assuming it was made in good faith, as I will here as one option, the official speaking didn’t know what he or she was talking about. Assuming it was not made in good faith, an assumption one may consider to be supported by the regulations established to circumscribe the conditions in which the crew may have a gun in the cockpit, it was a cover for another agenda, possibly just “anti-gun” although I don’t normally think of that position as opposed to guns for law enforcement and public safety, or something else I don’t know.
Is it any wonder people have come to distrust the government? In matters large and small it is possible to find examples like this one in which government authorities put forth justifications for policy positions that are either easily refuted and disappear only to be replaced by other means of doing as it pleases or seem to hide some other agenda?
I disapprove of almost all the policy stances associated with the Tea Party but I understand how it could have emerged from the myriad government evasions we encounter with some regularity. Would that the people like myself who have become disgusted by government conduct could coalesce in some organization before the next election!
Heated as I am over WikiLeaks and our government’s response to it, I have tried to resist taking up this blog with my ire but to read:
“The Air Force is barring its personnel from using work computers to view the Web sites of The New York Times and more than 25 other news organizations and blogs that have posted secret cables obtained by WikiLeaks, Air Force officials said Tuesday.” Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/us/15wiki.html
is more than I can take. The Department of Defense is pointing out that this did not come from it, distancing itself from the Air Force leaders who did it. The article concludes as follows:
“Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, a secrecy specialist, said dozens of agencies, as well as branches of the military and government contractors, had issued their own policy instructions based on the Office of Management and Budget memo.
“It’s a self-defeating policy that will leave government employees less informed than they ought to be,” Mr. Aftergood said.”
That Office of Management and Budget memo instructed government employees not to read these documents on websites of newspapers, on either office or home computers.
This means effectively, as Mr. Aftergood says, that government employees will be less informed than they ought to be or than the public. There is something extraordinarily twisted in the thinking behind such decisions. The WikiLeaks news stories are interesting and revelatory to me but I am completely outside any context in which the information is useful to me or to the national defense. Unless the government calls to active service 67 year-old one time first lieutenants, that is. Presumably some significant fraction of government employees might actually see the day when something remembered from these stories “clicked” for them and the remainder of government employees should be put at no disadvantage just for being interested in what their government is doing, as I am.
So, to recap: the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment. Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even though other countries have provided the victims with compensation for their much more minor role in what happened. Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.
Here is the link where this amazing story is elaborated: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/11/exceptionalism/index.html
Surveillance infrastructures and databases built for benign purposes tend to persist even when their administrators cease to be benign.– Julian Sanchez Cato Institute
via Quote of the Day: Julian Sanchez | Trading 8s.
This says it about as succinctly as it can be said.
The following are to tease you into reading the full Glenn Greenwald piece in Salon which seems to show that the Department of Defense isn’t as worried about Taliban retribution against Afghans who help us as it is in “getting” WikiLeaks:
“UPDATE II: Sean-Paul Kelley, who very harshly criticized WikiLeaks for the lack of redactions in the released documents, today, to his immense credit, re-considers and retracts that criticism in light of the evidence presented here.
UPDATE III: Newsweek‘s Mark Hosenball follows up on the issues raised here in a new article today, with more evidence proving that WikiLeaks has been attempting to secure the Pentagon’s cooperation in redacting names — exactly as Assange has been explaining — while the Pentagon has been issuing multiple false denials of these facts. Shouldn’t anyone who criticized WikiLeaks for its lack of redactions also be criticizing the DoD for refusing WikiLeaks’ requests for redaction assistance (and then falsely denying it happened)?”
Please read the following from Greenwald: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/20/wikileaks