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How Bad Things Might Have Been

Posted on Aug 13, 2009

By Eugene Robinson

    We’re told the economy is on the mend, but we still see six-figure job losses every month. The health care debate has become so polarized that even if it ends in breakthrough legislation, chances are that opponents will still be irate and supporters more exhausted than overjoyed. The deficit is gargantuan, bipartisanship is nonexistent, the prison at Guantanamo is still open and the war in Afghanistan looks like a potential quagmire. The summer has become a bummer.

    But anyone sliding into a slough of despond should keep things in perspective. Almost every day, there’s some reminder of how far we’ve come since President Obama’s inauguration—and how much worse things could be.

    This week, there were two such aide-memoires. The first was a report in The Washington Post that Dick Cheney, in his upcoming book, plans to detail his behind-closed-doors clashes with George W. Bush. The story, by Post reporter Barton Gellman—whose book “Angler” is the definitive account of how Cheney, as vice president, basically tried to rule the world—quotes a source as saying that Cheney believes Bush went all soft on him during the second term.

    That was when Bush ordered a halt to the waterboarding of terrorism suspects, closed the secret overseas CIA prisons, made diplomatic overtures to hostile states such as North Korea and Iran, and generally started to behave in ways that Cheney apparently deemed entirely too reasonable.

    Gellman reported that Cheney, in the book, will also deal with what Time magazine has reported was an aggressive, in-the-president’s-face campaign to persuade Bush to grant a full pardon to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, who was convicted on perjury charges. Bush refused, and Cheney is said to be still steamed about it. It’s useful to be reminded that for eight years, until Jan. 20, we had a vice president who thought his proper title should have been Caesar.


Square, Site wide

    The other lesson on perspective we got this week came from The New York Times, which offered new details about the kind of America our would-be Caesar wanted to create. In a story by Times reporters David Johnston and Mark Mazzetti, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the CIA official who set up those secret CIA prisons, tells how he did it. Foggo is now serving a three-year prison sentence for his role in a contracting scandal that was not directly related to the “black site” detention centers, which owed their existence to his logistical skills.

    Foggo marshaled the materiel to build three secret prisons—one in Bucharest, Romania; one in another, unnamed former Eastern Bloc city; and one in Morocco, according to the Times account. They were designed to be identical so that detainees would be disoriented when moved from one prison to another. Among the amenities Foggo provided were plywood-covered walls that would be less likely to cause serious injury when detainees were slammed into them.

    Yes, until recently we had an administration that didn’t believe in niceties such as due process and rule of law. Our nation asserted the right not just to detain suspects indefinitely, but also to abuse them, to torture them, to make them “disappear” like victims of some banana-republic junta.

    I know I’m not alone in wishing that Obama were moving more quickly to erase the stain that the Bush-Cheney excesses left on our national honor. I wish Guantanamo were already closed—but Obama did set a date certain for shutting the place down and pledges to follow through. I’m troubled that he hasn’t flatly rejected the concept of indefinite detention—but he at least recognizes that some kind of due process needs to be involved.

    I’m most troubled by Obama’s resistance to a full-bore investigation of the Bush-Cheney transgressions. I can only hope that the president sees the error of his ways—or at least that the probe of CIA interrogation abuses that Attorney General Eric Holder may launch is allowed to follow the evidentiary trail to whatever crimes it may reveal.

    But that was then and this is now, you say. Bush and Cheney are history. They were going to leave office in January anyway, no matter who replaced them.

    That’s true. But witness Sarah Palin’s weird near-daily eruptions—about imaginary death panels and the like—and reflect on what the summer would be like if she was serving as vice president of the United States.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling much better about everything.
    Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
    © 2009, Washington Post Writers Group

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, August 15, 2009 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

“Prodessional Courtesy.”
I love it.

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By Shenonymous, August 15, 2009 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

Easy to see there is no shortage of venom on this forum. 

MarthaA you may have a point,... or two.  But it is sad to see a vase with only one wilting flower in it.  If you want to whip up the masses, you are going to have to change your style.  I suggest a thorough reading of everything Thomas Paine wrote.  Maybe not for his particular ideas about natural justice, if you don’t like them, but for his command of an awakening language that was able to lather up the hoi polloi. An ardent advocate of republicanism and liberalism (which I’m sure would gall you), he did promote removal of monarchy (all monarchy in any form!), and viewing government as a necessary evil. He opposed slavery, proposed universal, free public education, progressive taxation, guaranteed minimum income, and other ideas then considered radical (I do think he would adore healthcare reform).  To move huge numbers of people who are not as ignorant as say the Russian peasants at the time of Stalin et al, one has to have a fever equal to the tyrants.  Your forty years of deafened ineffectuality has left you with a litanous and repetitious drone.  I suggest you get even more sicker and maybe it will activate your revolutionary impulses.  Even though I tend to the left, it is a rightish left, you know I applaud your sentiments but I don’t see them as working any wind of change.  Wind maybe but not for change.

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By knobcreekfarmer, August 15, 2009 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

We can “feel better” and convince ourselves that PrezO is far better that a PrezMc/VeepPalin over and over. But the reality is the next few years are going to be a pivotal time for the US and the world. A time when all we know and have come to depend on will falter.

We are at a crossroad in the history of man. Things are going to get worse no matter which corporate sell-out is in the Whitehorse. There is a Biology term for it: “overshoot and collapse.” Google it sometime. 

I’ve been saying events that are out of our control will get worse over the next few years. Soon, the far rights screaming rhetoric will become so loud and so many starving and displaced people will be convinced that “vengeance on to the Liberals” is a divine path and PresO will be replaced by PresPalin.

Will we ever learn? God help us.

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By kath cantarella, August 15, 2009 at 3:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama’s popularity has taken a hit because he IS actually doing some tough things, things unpopular with the powerbrokers in the US. He’s doing it carefully, trying not to piss them off too much, because he is not the highest power in the land, the big money/corporations are, basically organized crime by any other name. Obama isn’t the system: he’s trying to work within it. With some luck and longevity he may be able to change the actual system, but for now if he can nurse the economy back to health AND give you decent healthcare in his first term in office, that is a heroic effort. Okay to apply the pressure, but it’s also good to give credit where credit is due, especially since a lot of powerful people want to see Obama go down before he gets around to killing their golden geese.

I know he’s a politician but I still have hopes he will, shrewdly and surely, improve your system that is still largely controlled by corporate criminals, NOT Obama.

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By hippie4ever, August 15, 2009 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

LostHills, I think this argument by Mr. Robinson is a variation on the lessor-of-evils strategy followed by the American electorate. The problem with this line of reasoning is it is unhelpful and will not promote meaningful change. Instead it is a superficial choice, such as choosing to eat at Burger King instead of McDonalds; neither sells good food and both are bad for your health. Perhaps one prefers Obama because he doesn’t actively promote torture, yet he may become a bigger warmonger than Bush. Or one may prefer Bush insofar as he was true to his brand; and yet he was a bumbling fool.

Finally, it comes down to this: “nothing is as bad as something that’s not so bad.” I believe Oscar Wilde first said it and just to add that the mediocrity of evil smooths its application and enables its eventual acceptance.

As for cheerleaders hanging out in Vegas and celebrating the end of the evils of Dubbya, need I remind you that all the major war criminals are running around scot-free, thanks to Obama?

It’s called professional courtesy; it’s popular with sharks and criminals.

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By Outraged, August 15, 2009 at 1:09 am Link to this comment

Re: diamond

Your comment: “Obama is better than Bush and Cheney. Much, much better. I broke open a bottle of champagne the night he won. It was as if a horrible era had ended - and it has.  There is still a lot of shit to be dealt with but if McCain and Palin were in the White House can you imagine what those two fruitloops would be up to?”

Absolutely, I agree.

ENDORSE SINGLE PAYER.  Consider “The Three Musketeers”,


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By MarthaA, August 14, 2009 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment


It’s nauseating to hear the interminable response of the Left-Wing to “organized Right-Wing sophist framing”—- I have been hearing the Left responding to “organized sophist Right-Wing framing propaganda” for forty years and I am still waiting to hear the Right-Wing responding to “organized sophist Left-Wing framing propaganda”.

It is my sincere opinion that all “organized sophist framing propaganda” should be criminalized as a treasonable offense to National Security and it is also my sincere opinion that until such time as “organized sophist framing propaganda” is criminalized that “organized sophist framing propaganda” should not be used exclusively by the Right to the exclusion and non-participation of the Left.

As I said before, it physically sickens me to hear the left continually responding to “organized Right-Wing sophist framing propaganda”, rather than proactively representing the Left with “organized Left-Wing sophist framing propaganda”.

So long as “organized sophist framing propaganda” is the political STANDARD for the Right-Wing, the Left-Wing needs to join the battle; not to do so is so utterly and completely incompetent politically, that those representing the Left-Wing, in the context of Right-Wing framing; instead of Left-Wing framing, should not be allowed the dignity of being treated as anything other than the incompetent bungling ignorant cooperating fools that they are, and replaced as politically incompetent by the Left-Wing at the earliest convenience.

So long as “organized sophist Right-Wing framing propaganda” is the STANDARD, the Left-Wing dialectic must be grounded in “organized Left-Wing sophist framing propaganda” without acceptance and response to “organized Right-Wing sophist framing propaganda” as a Left-Wing STANDARD.

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By LostHills, August 14, 2009 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

I have a severe and serious problem with this article. The premise seems to be that Obama “saved” us from Bush and Cheney. Obama did not run against Bush and Cheney. Those two criminals had to leave office whether Obama was running or not and whether he was ever born or not. Yeah, he ran against McCain and Palin (which is why I voted for him.) We really don’t know how “president” McCain would have performed so far, but it probably wouldn’t have been as far different as we wanted to believe on November 12th….. Obama also ran against Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Hilary Clinton. A more interesting article might ask the question, “Where would we be today if Dennis Kucinich had won the Democratic primary.” A different place, for sure.But that article would also be a feint, and a sideshow. A more important article would be one that asked the question, “Why is President Obama continuing all the worst abuses of the previous criminal regime, and why are the American people standing for it.” When Truthdig finds the cojones to feature that article it will be a beacon in the night instead of a McDonald’s sign with two burned out tubes….

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By Urizen o8, August 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

What is this guy doing on TruthDig? Anyone from the left who does not see BO as a big disaster for progressive agendas - ain’t payin attension!

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By Rontruth, August 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

I consider that your ideas about the current administration’s potential investigation of the crimes against humanity by the Cheney/Bush junta as, in fact, worthwhile as an objective.

Afterall, the lies they told, going all the way back to the leadup to the horrific tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, and the Bush-on-Cheney’s knee “testimony,” to the politically appointed “9/11 Commission,” amounting to nothing less than a BS-type cover-up, NEED to be actually INVESTIGATED. I firmly believe they had not been investigated.

The oil and natural gas wars that followed, still in process due to Congressional caving in to what they say they believed about the 9/11 attacks, should be exposed for the fascism that they in fact were, and are.

With the detention and torture of mere suspects who, in the end had not been tried for anything, it is unConstitutional to think that such crimes would NOT be properly investigated, and charges brought, and ttials, and those guilty convicted, sentenced and puhished according to the law. As Bush said, “we are a nation of LAWS.” OK. Now, it is time for the American people to, for the moment at least, get rid of their rotting partisan differences over whether or not BushCheneyCo. should be charged and tried, and demand, through their separate, then collective political channels, that such a scenario happen.

To do otherwise is to simply bitch about all these things, but be, indeed, too damned lazy to do anything about it. If that be the case, then we deserve the kind of hidden government that we still have.

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By Paul_GA, August 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

I find myself thinking of something Jeff Cooper wrote in his regular column for “Guns & Ammo” magazine 20 years ago, when Bush Sr. proved to be passionately pro-gun-control:

“Now then, all together:

“Bush is better than Dukakis.

“Bush is better than Dukakis.

“Bush is better than Dukakis.

“Keep it up. It may help you sleep.”

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By FreeWill, August 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

Eugene! You’ve got to stop smoking that shit it’s messing with your mind.  Or else you to have been bought out by the Corporate interests.  Hum….???
  To even consider that Obama has made any real improvements since coming into office is absurd.
No progressive expected Bush to do any thing good and we knew there would be a train wreck to clean up.  The problem is that Obama led us to believe that he would take a stand for the people and instead it is Corporate placating as usual. His list of failures and broken promises grows by the day.  This ship is sinking,the crew is in deep water, and our Captain is in the Lounge having drinks with the Corporate crooks.
Anyone who thinks we will ever have a responsible, “we the people” government with a leader from either party is probably smoking up with Eugene.

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By ardee, August 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

I wonder, diamond, whether your antipathy towards the Bush/Cheney administration has colored your reaction to its end and its successor?

We, all of us progressives, moderates, liberals and lefties, were certainly glad to see the end of what was quite possibly the worst administration in American history but you seem, in your cheerleading fashion, to be overlooking the terrible disappointments we have experienced in this admittedly short reign of Obama.

While this is not about McCain certainly, the least you could do is get his bio right. It is his second wife with all the cash, the Senator comes from a naval background. His father and grandfather were both admirals, and, while that rank makes a decent living, it hardly pays enough for seven homes.

One might certainly take your position , that Obama was a better choice than the other one, but that really does the nation no good at all in ones quest for peace, prosperity and common sense.

Obama promised openness in government, his administration is as zealously private and closed up as was his predecessor’s. Obama promised he was against the war, and boasted he was the first one to oppose it in fact, yet he is escalating that war. Obama has continued rendition while saying he is against torture, hardly the actions of an honest man. He is bought and paid for by the very interests that caused our economic brink of ruin in fact.

I could go on, and on , and on in fact but we are ,all of us, aware or damn well should be of the failure to lead that is the hallmark of this early regime. The point, diamond, and I think it an important one, is that if we seek change then we must put aside misplaced loyalty and silly suggestions that at least this one is better than that one. That sort of reasoning brings nothing to the table.

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By BobZ, August 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment


A lot of the Truthdig posters have developed selective memory it seems, otherwise how can they possibly think Obama is similar to Bush. For starters Bush hired a bunch of incompetents and was loyal to a fault to them. Obama has a much better team in place, even at the lower levels. Second as you describe, a McCain/Palin team would have put us in a catastrophic situation. I mean when in eight years did Bush try any form of diplomacy? We already have most of our friends back on our side that Bush just antagonized. Sure Israel is upset but so what. They have been getting a free pass for years and it’s time for the U.S. to play its proper role as an honest broker in the Middle East. Obama needs to get health care reform passed and based on the revised Democratic strategy of being more agressive, he will succeed. Then he can get to the issues that some of the posters have an issue with. We were in Las Vegas when Obama won and it was so nice to go to the bar and have a celebratory cocktail and watch the crowds screaming with happiness. I will never forget that night. I realized right then that our long nightmare was over.

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By diamond, August 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Tropicgirl, Obama is better than Bush and Cheney. Much, much better. I broke open a bottle of champagne the night he won. It was as if a horrible era had ended - and it has.  There is still a lot of shit to be dealt with but if McCain and Palin were in the White House can you imagine what those two fruitloops would be up to? Iran would already have been bombed by now with God knows what terrible consequences, economically and otherwise. The growing and catastrophic aggression towards Russia would have expanded exponentially. McCain has seven houses and is basically richer than God,comes from a privileged background and has no interest in fixing America’s ramshackle, immoral health care system. Palin believes climate change is some dangerous, greenie plot and thinks she can see Russia preparing to invade Alaska from her verandah-and McCain probably does too. There would be no time frame for taking troops out of Iraq and those journalists locked up to do seven years hard labour in North Korea would still be there. Most of the truth about the CIA’s torture regime would not have come out on McCain and Palin’s watch, I can assure you. Can you imagine McCain and Palin taking the politically unfashionable steps Obama took to curb the American economy’s downward spiral. I certainly can’t. Palin knows nothing about the economy and McCain can’t see anything wrong with an economic system that lets him sleep in silk sheets and drive big expensive cars. As a politician he also has the best health care money can buy, paid for by taxpayers. He’s not going to worry his mind in that situation, is he, about those who have no health coverage (or no useful health coverage since their insurance company won’t pay for that liver transplant etc). Clue- McCain never worked as a community organizer, he just got richer and richer and then married someone even richer than he was. I don’t know of one truly useful and progressive thing McCain has done for the human race in his entire political career and he thinks America should stay in Iraq for a century. You narrowly avoided Armageddon and you should be grateful, not surly.

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By herewegoagain, August 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have to say that John McCain would probably have vetoed the stimulus bill, which is at least doing some good for the unemployed by covering 65% of COBRA insurance for the laid off, extending unemployment insurance, and also reducing tuition costs for college. He also would have vetoed the SCHIP expansion bill, for sure.

And, he likely would have championed “fixes” to health care that would further reduce meaningful coverage, not to mention further restrict our 7th Amendment rights to civil redress in the courts.

Nevertheless, I didn’t vote for things to “not get worse” than they already were; I voted for things to get a hell of a lot better. That doesn’t seem to be happening, not even close.

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By pathman, August 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have some more Kool Aid Mr. Robinson. You need to dig beneath the surface.

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By johannes, August 14, 2009 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

So you think its over, well it will come much worse, other wise they dont make more wars, Afganistan, and look what they are doing in the old country of Russia, Georgia, America is become a Country of war.

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By Shenonymous, August 14, 2009 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

old hip allz ah ken sey iz…. duh.

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By oldhip, August 14, 2009 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

To Shenonymous:  You said the “best article” got no comments.  Wrong.

True, it got no comments at my blog because I link to the article here at Truthout, and did not do a copy & paste of it inside my blog, so the readers came here, and did not stay in my blog, and therefore left their comments here with the original article -

In fact they left ? 269 COMMENTS ?

Also note that my humble blog is no where near as popular as Truthout, so getting “no comments” is not indicative of the value of any article I link to, or emphasize at my blog.

You might want to actually read the article, and the 269 COMMENTS.

You could just possibly find yourself enlightened by his “b.s.” (or maybe even the 269 comments???)

Ignorance is curable - Stupidity is forever.

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By hippie4ever, August 14, 2009 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

Agreed, Martha, but when Obama appointed Timothy Geitner the con was in place.

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By MarthaA, August 14, 2009 at 11:07 am Link to this comment


“He [Obama] could have not bailed out the banks and AIG and he would have got no quarrel either from progressives or conservative Republican’s.”

You have got to be kidding.  Bush was already DEEP into the bailout before Obama even got into power. Conservatives were whining, even begging on their knees for protection of their greedy gain. Obama kind of got stuck in the bailout because the bailout had already been started, but in the long run, as far as the economy goes, those toxic assets are still toxic assets and are going to end up still being pawned off on the common population.  The greedy capitalists that made the toxic assets should have to suffer the slings and arrows of their own greedy mistakes like everyone else.

But there is always SOCIALISM to save the greedy capitalists, because SOCIALISM is good for greedy capitalists, just can’t be allowed for the common population to get any benefit from working together toward common economic goals, but the capitalists—that’s different, because the capitalists are the elite and can’t be allowed to suffer, like the vile, mean and vulgar common population that the elite can’t stand to look upon while they flit around in their expensive lifestyles.

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By hippie4ever, August 14, 2009 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

BobZ, would you say that America is coming out of the “recession” because you’ve read the statistics compiled for the benefit of Chinese currency investors? Do you actually believe a depression turns around before people return to work? Have you considered who benefitted from Obama’s bailouts, and that he couldn’t have hated them so much, because he did their biding, didn’t he?

As for re-regulation, do you think this is his decision to make? I’d suggest that a nation such as ours that is owned primarily by foreigners, receives great pressure from without, for such reform. Obama is there for the signature.

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By BobZ, August 14, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment


I agree with you big time. Obama has been a sea change from the dark dark days of Bush/Cheney. I thought last night about the rock and a hard place Obama is in right now vis a vis the economy. He could have not bailed out the banks and AIG and he would have got no quarrel either from progressives or conservative Republican’s. Of course the country likely would have fallen into a world wide depression but Obama could have blamed the debacle on Bush and cited the mounting deficits as a reason to not provide any keynesian stimulus money. McCain/Palin may have charted just such a course had they taken office in January, and Republican’s would have agreed with him. There is a group of about a dozen people who know how real this scenario might have been and they aren’t talking. But suffice it to say, Obama is one person who probably hated the idea of bank bailouts, massive bonuses, and rewarding bad behavior by companies like AIG. The question is will we see the massive re-regulation we need to ensure we don’t have to contemplate ugly scenarios like this again.

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By hippie4ever, August 14, 2009 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

I don’t feel better about America at all; in fact I’ve never felt more pessimistic about the chance of meaningful reform on ANY issue. Obama has already sold us out on meaningful health care reform—he’s received lobbyists from Big Pharma and Big Insurance six times at the White House, yet has never met with representatives of consumers who want a single-payer system. That’s right, Mr. Small Change won’t even talk or listen to what the majority of Americans want.

Don’t get me started on Obama’s warmongering, Big Bank bailouts, his cap-and-trade (another bait-n-switch), betrayal of same-sex civil rights, his flip-flop on medical cannabis…there isn’t enough room on Truthdigg for THAT RANT!

Thank you LostHills, I see through the “dog and pony show” too.

Tropicgirl, you’re correct as usual and I hope everyone visits City Hall on the day Congress officially sells us out on health care reform. And the day after just “sick out” while you’re still well enough to do so; that’s right, hit Capitalism in the nuts: GO ON NATIONAL STRIKE!

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By Rontruth, August 14, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Well, pray tell, if enough Dems, moderates and libs, tell the current minority party that, in order for them to earn the votes of all three, including Republicans, 20% of whom voted for the Dems in Congress as well as Obama, whose coattails the Dems rode to power on, they must do as Obama did, and promise to end the Iraq war within the next few months after they take office, or tell them we’ll all vote enmasse for Jesse Ventura, or some other gutsy Independent who will end the wars, and torture.

The Dems may have a better healthcare insurance coverage piece of legislation, and other internal policies, but the wars are what is dragging this country down, economically. We simply cannot afford them anymore while still paying for needed social and economic infrastructure programs here at home.

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By tropicgirl, August 14, 2009 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

To think Obama is any better than Bush is a fantasy.

He just made permanent all the mistakes.

Wow. I’m truly amazed at the delusion but it won’t last.

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By MarthaA, August 14, 2009 at 9:02 am Link to this comment


“...tell your congressperson’s phone representative that you demand Congress end these things, or face you voting for their oppoents in a year and a half,”

Pray tell, how do you suppose voting REPUBLICANS back in as an option for an opponent could possibly be a choice, after what the traitorous CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN conspiracy has done to the country economically.

The only possible solution is to REFORM the Democratic Party, which is the only party of the two that will do anything for the people as a whole and to use the PRIMARY ELECTION PROCESS to THROW OUT the corrupt and REFORM the party to represent the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION, that is hasn’t been representing.  REPUBLICANS DO NOT REPRESENT THE 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION, never have and never will.

The REPUBLICANS had their chance and blew it trying to take over the country and the world, causing catastrophic consequences that will be felt for centuries.  Only fools or ignoramuses would want CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS back in power and control. Conservatives have no innovation, that is the liberals—- this website from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson gets out the truth about the two parties that divide government, CONSERVATISM and INNOVATION, innovation being LIBERALISM, and this definition is 100% correct:

“The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made. This quarrel is the subject of civil history. The conservative party established the reverend hierarchies and monarchies of the most ancient world. The battle of patrician and plebeian, of parent state and colony, of old usage and accommodation to new facts, of the rich and the poor, reappears in all countries and times. The war rages not only in battle-fields, in national councils, and ecclesiastical synods, but agitates every man’s bosom with opposing advantages every hour. On rolls the old world meantime, and now one, now the other gets the day, and still the fight renews itself as if for the first time, under new names and hot personalities.

Such an irreconcilable antagonism, of course, must have a correspondent depth of seat in the human constitution. It is the opposition of Past and Future, of Memory and Hope, of the Understanding and the Reason. It is the primal antagonism, the appearance in trifles of the two poles of nature.

There is a fragment of old fable which seems somehow to have been dropped from the current mythologies, which may deserve attention, as it appears to relate to this subject.

Saturn grew weary of sitting alone, or with none but the great Uranus or Heaven beholding him, and he created an oyster. Then he would act again, but he made nothing more, but went on creating the race of oysters. Then Uranus cried, ‘a new work, O Saturn! the old is not good again.’

Saturn replied. ‘I fear. There is not only the alternative of making and not making, but also of unmaking. Seest thou the great sea, how it ebbs and flows? so is it with me; my power ebbs; and if I put forth my hands, I shall not do, but undo. Therefore I do what I have done; I hold what I have got; and so I resist Night and Chaos.’

‘O Saturn,’ replied Uranus, ‘thou canst not hold thine own, but by making more. Thy oysters are barnacles and cockles, and with the next flowing of the tide, they will be pebbles and sea-foam.’

‘I see,’ rejoins Saturn, ‘thou art in league with Night, thou art become an evil eye; thou spakest from love; now thy words smite me with hatred. I appeal to Fate, must there not be rest?’ — ‘I appeal to Fate also,’ said Uranus, ‘must there not be motion?’ — But Saturn was silent, and went on making oysters for a thousand years.

(cont. at following url)

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By Shenonymous, August 14, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Knowing there are toadies on this forum who will hold hard Leftist or Rightist views and find my fence-sitting (uh, neutralizing) observations negligible, I can only say, too bad.  I prefer to take a rationalist assessment in all things.  To each his own.  You have your path, I have mine.  And I’m not asking for company.

There is hardly any journalist I respect more than Eugene Robinson.  So much that I make it a point to listen to what he has to say when called as a commentator on TV as well.  But…when he says, “...we still see six-figure job losses every month,” I get exasperated.  Yes I realize he is just listing all the lesions and warts the US economy is suffering, but the word “still” with respect to the job loss puts a shade of unreality on the situation.  Did anyone expect, realistically, that after being apprised about the truly horrid economic disaster that not only has job loss been as bad since the last depression, but that it would continue to get worse for many more months and that a reverse of job loss will come only after the other economic palliative actions have had time to permeate the entire national economy?  This sense of impatience is a huge part of why partisan and glory seeking headliner news media is able to whip up irrational expectations and hatred for the government.  There are signs of workers returning to the job force, minor as it is, and a slowing down of job loss gives us also a moment of carnal delight, brief as it is.  But it does show that there is a bottom to the black hole of repression.  I hold a more optimistic view than most, because the history of Americans has shown they are a tenacious bunch, regardless of the opposite extremes that exist about every and all issues. 

The averaging factor in statistics shows from the newest information of results on the relative correctness of the opinion of the majority shows the majority is more often right than any other group’s opinion.  If interested, see “Evaluating the Competence of Experts, Pooling Individual Judgements into a Collective Choice, and Delegating Decision Responsibility to Subgroups.” And even better than that is the IJPOR Article, “Willingness to Self-Censor: A Construct and Measurement Tool for Public Opinion Research.”

Not being a fan of the Bible, even though I have read it, many times, but not having memorized it! there is one and only one quote from John to which I totally subscribe: John, VIII, 32.  “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Well, I defy anyone to offer a verifiable truth.

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By Anarcissie, August 14, 2009 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Lost Hills.  When one praises the present administration by saying it is better than Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, that is faint praise indeed.

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By Ivan hentschel, August 14, 2009 at 7:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not altogether certain that “despond” is a noun, but…Eloquent and poetic, maybe, but lame…

I am inclined to side with Losthills and Ardee: the distractions are merely that and much of Obama is Bush redux.

The cake being served up is stale and full of bad ingredients,like unemployment,foreclosurers, world strife, rampant political/moral corruption and failed health care…so he puts Cash for Clunkers icing on it and most of us eat it right up.

Mr. Robinson, this guy needs to stand up and defend himself and not rely upon well-meaning writers such as yourself to do it for him.

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By Caryl S. Foster, August 14, 2009 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

President Bush best decision during his presidency:

Forgo any hunting trips with Vice President Dick Cheney.

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By Rontruth, August 14, 2009 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Most presidents have learned that it is impossible, WITHOUT public support, which means the support of his political opponents as well as his supporters, to make the kind of changes he, or any president, has proposed. ALL he can do is PROPOSE.

In the case of torture and renditions to secret prisons, since they were created, oh Great Republican Liars Association, when Congress was run by your serve-the-rich-and-powerful-by-buying-Congress, when Congress was run by the Republican Party (when Cheney ran the show until Bush’s brain kicked in…after the first four years), it is IMPOSSIBLE for Obama to get Congress to admit to us that they supported what amounts to torture and rendition of detainees.

If enough people decide to actually call Congress at 202-224-3121, and tell your congressperson’s phone representative that you demand Congress end these things, or face you voting for their oppoents in a year and a half, it would happen. It is getting them to admit that, under the political umbrella provided by the obvious comlicity of Bush/Cheney in the 9/11/2001 “terrorist” attacks, Congress was unable to politically stop allowing the torture.

When George W. Bush’s poll numbers came out for the previous week’s polling on September 10, 2001, he stood at from 49% to 51% approval ratings. The following week’s poll numbers showed Bush at 88% to 90% approval ratings. He had finally gone to lower Manhattan, New York, alapped the back of a rescue worker, said he heard their anguish and would capture the guilty (bin Laden). This is why Congress did as it did, and if it were to end torture, etc., as horrible practices, it would be admitting that what they supported (torture) was also horrible.

Congress does whatever will get it re-elected, even if it has to LIE to the American people in order for re-election to occur. Both major political parties are guilty.

Who knew that the attacks were coming? Could it be the wealthy and powerful who ordered “put orders”  on stock purchases of the airline companies whose aircraft were supposedly involved in the attacks? (even though eyewitness accounts that were seen and heard on the morning of 9/11/01 of one such aircraft that had NO windows, and had a circular blue and red logo painted near it’s nose?) Another had an obvious pod with a missile attached to it, attached to the plane’s fuselage., etc. etc. (Just a few oddities that came out of that dread day) The filmed witnesses testifying to what they saw and heard were never shown again on national TV news.

9/11/2001, and what happened and was reported, accurately by local news media, carried on national TV networks on that first day, reminds those of us who are open, honest, and HAVE STUDIED THE HARD EVIDENCE in it,  of the assassination of President Kennedy and the changes that were made in the news reports over that dread weekend, November 22-24, 1963. Kennedy died in his efforts to end Vietnam, and reach final peace with Russia. China was to later follow.

The 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001, did not die in their efforts to create peace. Their deaths led to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the torture that we all want Obama and Congress to end.

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By LostHills, August 14, 2009 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

Quick, look at Bush! Over there! Look at Cheney! And did you hear what Palin said today? Let’s not talk about the war, rising unemployment, or what happened to single payer health care. Let’s talk about— Levi Johnston!

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By freddie screamer, August 14, 2009 at 5:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is Robinson continually put on Truthdig? Things are much worse, you corporate hack.
The Washington Post has had a central role in opposing single payer health care, in fact, the entire organization was singularly discredited by an outrageous conflict of interest (that admittedly had most people yawning from desensitization).

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By ardee, August 14, 2009 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

False hope,better than nor hope at all…..

Mr. Robinson is a literate, intelligent and well spoken apologist for all things Democratic Party, including, apparently a Democratic President who is a kinder, gentler version of Bush.

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By Shenonymous, August 14, 2009 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

Yeah, the “best” article was so good that in four days no one made a comment.  B.S. everything Hedges writes is B.S.  But then some people love that smell.

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By godistwaddle, August 14, 2009 at 2:57 am Link to this comment

The Bush-Cheney war criminals remain uninvestigated, unindicted, unhanged.  Same with bankers and insurance executives.  Obama, right-wing tool, is making the world safe for predatory plutocrats, and making sure that insurance companies’ primary obligation, profit for shareholders, is not interfered with by health care.

20,000 yards of piano wire, numerous lamp-posts, and the stinking corpses of the rich would lead to reform.

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By oldhip, August 14, 2009 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

Maybe you should have read the following concerning this?
(Which, btw, was on Truthdig also.)

“Best Article Of The Week”

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By ChaoticGood, August 14, 2009 at 12:55 am Link to this comment

In any good drama, the hero is only as good as the villain is bad.  Obama needs Bush/Cheney to contrast against.  The drama is wonderful, the villains are most vile and heinous and the hero is heroic. 

I can’t wait for the Republicans to vilify Obama more and more.  It just elevates his stature among his followers.  Keep it coming Republicans, maybe the threat of “healthcare for all” or the threat of “death panels”, or the threat of “prosecuting Bush/Cheney” will drive you to even greater lunacies.

One can only hope that Republicans keep helping Obama succeed.  I just love it when the Republicans attack him accusing him of greater and greater crimes against America and he just smiles and shrugs it off like just a bit of rain on his hat. 

He knows that we, who are the majority of Americans, support him, and will never vote for a Republican whose lunacies make us laugh and shake our heads wondering how can any group be so stupid as they.

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By Samson, August 14, 2009 at 12:30 am Link to this comment

Oh come on.

The Obama regime still doesn’t believe in such niceties of law.  It still asserts the right to hold prisoners indefinitely.  Its continually defended the Bush/Cheney position in courts.  It still believes in torturing and abusing prisoners.  They’ve just returned to the pre-Bush policy of extraordinary rendition to get our ‘allies’ to do our torturing for us.  And the only thing it did on ‘secret prisons’ was to put them back under the control of the military instead of the CIA.  We sure haven’t scaled down the awful military prisons in Afghanistan while Obama has been escalating his war over there.

This is standard Democrat spin control.  Anytime people start to notice how awful the Democrats really are, just start screaming that the Republicans are worse.  Maybe no one will then notice that nothing really changed when Bush became Obama.

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