Backstage Barry

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In Barack Obama's post-forum gathering someone asks if he has "a Lyndon Johnson side to go with your sunny optimism."

"First of all, welcome to Chicago," Obama says. He boasts a little bit about his fast rise and then winds into this: "Notice the last two weeks where I've got the whole foreign policy establishment attacking me. These were some of the same people who were so wrong about Iraq."

Obviously he's pandering a little to the room, which includes Matthew Yglesias and Glenn Greenwald. I don't know if there'll be any meat to this, any actual policy differentiation, but he doesn't mind keeping this fight going.

I don't hear anything else ground-breaking in this session, stuff he hasn't said before. Honestly, it feels just like you'd expect it to feel. Hillary spoke on a podium with three advisors seated at a table behind her, while Obama runs on stage, waving and smiling, and then grabs the mic and walks around the dais with it. Hillary's jokes usually go back to her public image (like the "vast right wing conspiracy" gag) while Obama likes to compliment what people are wearing and mess around with their questions. One guy asks a health care policy question and mentions that he and wife will get penalized if he gets her pregnant.

"That might be too much information," Obama says. "Although I think kids are great!"

Policy-wise, lots of spending, not as much "let's stop government waste." On health care: "If I had to design a system from scratch I'd design a single payer system." On Katrina reconstruction: you want money, you got it.

NEXT: More on Dr. Michael West

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  1. Do you know why Obama proposed attacking Pakistan?

    Edwards already had dibs on Saudi Arabia.

  2. regarding attacking Pakistan… it’s a bit misleading. Pakistan itself is “attacking Pakistan” (aka Federally administered tribal areas). We should have invaded waziristan after tora bora and finished the job. There is nothing opportunistic about promising americans to bring back osamas head on a stick. It would be a nice change from current shithead who shifted gears before we’d decimated the taliban and Genuine Al Q leadership.

  3. Let’s see…years more of the same old crap, or some refreshing change. I think Barack wins this one hands down.

  4. The only thing I can imagine that would be more wonderful than voting for Hillary would be voting for Barack. (I’d love a single payer system!)

  5. “That might be too much information,” Obama says. “Although I think kids are great!”

    That’s one of the very few genuinely funny comments I’ve seen BO make.

  6. Barack Obama’s foreign policy sounds about as sophisticated as Wesley Clark’s domestic policy.

    But hey, he’s articulate. Hire that man!

  7. “But hey, he’s articulate. Hire that man!”

    Well, it’s an upgrade from the current model, at least.

  8. Wow, three “anybody’s better than Bush” comments in such a short span. Even if the commenters herein are willing to sell their liberties and shackle themselves to one another in the New Really Great Society just to get the current GOP leadership out of office, I would hope that 2004 might have demonstrated that more than “I’m not GWB” is required in order to make such a thing possible.

  9. I can’t speak for others, but I would like to have the chains removed that shackle me to an unwinnable war, warrantless wiretaps, corporate welfare, and the grasping clutches of a power grabbing executive branch. Seems to me that might improve our liberty as well.

  10. At least someone has the right country this time. If you would follow the money from 911 then you would see it leads to the Pakistani Intelligence Agency, not Iraq. Saudi Arabia provided the people and Pakistan provided the money.

  11. Wow, three “anybody’s better than Bush” comments in such a short span. Even if the commenters herein are willing to sell their liberties and shackle themselves to one another in the New Really Great Society just to get the current GOP leadership out of office, I would hope that 2004 might have demonstrated that more than “I’m not GWB” is required in order to make such a thing possible.

    The difference between Democratic spending and Republican spending is that Democratic spending is more likeley to be permanent. You will always have political pressure to cut down on corruption and pork, but social security and other social welfare benefits are here to stay. We edge closer and closer towards socialism.

    If you care about small government, vote Republican.

  12. Libertarian News Flash! Ron Paul has a crushing lead over Duncan Hunter among Iowa Republicans! You heard it here first!

    In the Post-ABC News poll, Romney led the field with 26 percent, with Giuliani at 14 percent and Thompson at 13 percent. About four in 10 Romney supporters said they back him strongly, however, and three in 10 of his supporters said they are “very satisfied” with their choices.

    The poll showed McCain and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee tied at 8 percent, followed by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo at 5 percent, former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson at 4 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 2 percent and California Rep. Duncan Hunter at 1 percent.

    There was limited interest in a possible candidacy by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who has talked about running for much of the year. If he were on the list of candidates, he would register 4 percent.

    The poll was conducted by telephone between July 26 and July 31 among 402 likely Republican caucus participants. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

  13. If you care about small government, vote Republican.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this comment.

    Personally, I tend not to like to reward the crowd that has engineered the biggest power grab at the executive level since FDR. If someone tries to fuck me in the ass without my permission, my first thought is not to say, “Thank you. More, please.”

    In fact, I’d like to punish them, but I fear that an unchastized Democratic President might avail themselves of the same levers of power that the unitary executive theory has wrought.

    Vote for divided government.

    (And pray to Zod that they won’t get a wild “bi-partisan” idea in their heads along the lines of NCLB or Medicare “reform.”)

  14. How about the power grabs of LBJ and Nixon.How soon we forget.

  15. You know, if you’re a Bush apologist, you should probably go for a different metaphor than “shackles.” Just a thought.

    Republicans launch the type of misleading gang attacks that they’ve launched against Obama for his Pakistan comments in two situations: when they’re terrified of someone’s political strength (see Howard Dean and the “body-piercing freak show” commercial) and when they see a chance to rile up the base with some Lord of the Flies “Kill the Pig!” action (see John Kerry’s misrepresented quip about Bush getting stuck in Iraq).

    This clearly isn’t the second situation – since when is suggesting an expansion of the war on terror into another Muslim country something Republicans reject? – so it’s gotta be the former.

  16. On health care: “If I had to design a system from scratch I’d design a single payer system.” On Katrina reconstruction: you want money, you got it.

    He’s a generous guy.

    Wonder what credentials qualify him to design a health care system?

    And pray to Zod that they won’t get a wild “bi-partisan” idea in their heads along the lines of NCLB or Medicare “reform.”

    Or ADA

    IMO, divided government doesn’t work particularly well either. Don’t matter if your shot or stabbed your still dead–and the name of that tune is More Taxes Will Solve Everything. [turns and spits while muttering under his breath….fargin’ Republican lying sacks of wheat]

  17. John Kerry’s misrepresented quip about Bush getting stuck in Iraq

    Poor Johnny, it’s hell being quoted in context. But then if your a Democrat apologist you can work around anything.

  18. If he’d been quoted in context, TWC, you wouldn’t be so confused.

    You do know that that joke was the third consecutive one he told about Bush’s intelligence, right?

    Clearly, since you’ve seen him quoted in context.

  19. What, no liveblogging of the Republican debate on ThisWeek this morning? Or did Weigel oversleep?

  20. Anyway, Tancredo and Brownback agreed that we should destroy Mecca and Medina if Islamic terrorists attack us again, while Romney said we can’t spread democracy just by holding elections in the countries we invade, we have to fix their health care systems and infrastructure first. Yes, he actually said we should have worked on fixing Lebanon’s health care system before they had the recent elections that put Hezbollah in power.

    I only caught about the last 40 minutes of it, but during that time they asked Ron Paul ONE FREAKING QUESTION. A Rudy Romnabee fest, it was.

  21. Oh yeah, and while Tancredo’s you-fuck-with-us-and-we-blow-up-your-holy-sites comment drew applause, Paul’s statement that “we walked right into Iraq, we can walk right out” drew lots of boos (along with some applause).

    Times like this I’m ashamed to be a Republican…

  22. Oh yeah, and while Tancredo’s you-fuck-with-us-and-we-blow-up-your-holy-sites comment drew applause, Paul’s statement that “we walked right into Iraq, we can walk right out” drew lots of boos (along with some applause).

    And thats why I became an independent!

    If you care about small government, vote Republican.

    This statement may have been true in 1980. In 2008, not so much.

  23. This President with (until very recently) with the help of a Republican congress, has expanded government even more than LBJ during the height of the Great Society!

    I think the best possible combination would be a conservative Republican congress and a centrist Democrat DLC-type President. Hey, it worked to curb government in the 1990s.

  24. Cesar,

    I think the best possible combination would be a conservative Republican congress and a centrist Democrat DLC-type President. Hey, it worked to curb government in the 1990s.

    That statement may have been true in 2000, but not in 2008.

    Do you think a conservative Republican Congress and a moderate Democratic president would undo the power grabs in the Military Commission Act? Ban warranteless wiretaps? Take on the USA PATRIOT Act?


  25. Do you think a conservative Republican Congress and a moderate Democratic president would undo the power grabs in the Military Commission Act? Ban warranteless wiretaps? Take on the USA PATRIOT Act?

    I was referring to the fact it would be a good way to control government spending and slow the growth of government. I didn’t think about foreign policy, though Bill Richardson is centrist and I’m pretty sure hes against all the things you mentioned.

  26. I’m hardly a Bush apologist, and my analogy was pretty apt, thank you.

    I am merely suggesting that the alternative to Republican leadership is not necessarily a positive one. Furthermore, it might be prudent to actually see which candidate will end up being the lesser of two evils, rather than voting for just anyone on the other team because they happen to be on the other team.

    Considering the likely field of candidates next fall, I would tend to agree with de stijl.

  27. In other words, joe, when I said “Centrist” I was thinking more along the lines of Bill Richardson or Jon Tester than Joe Lieberman.

  28. Cesar,

    I understand, but I have to ask; hasn’t the set of problems that people worried about the scope of government intrustion into people’s lives changed since Bush began his term? Are spending and welfare programs really the biggest things on the small-government-types’ platter right now? None of my examples were about foreign policy – they were all about how the government treats people in America.

    Hugh, I take back the “Bush apologist” term. How about “someone pulling for Republicans?” – better?

    Anyway, I see your point, but seriously, when you talk about the government putting people in shackles, in 2007, the first image that comes to mind is not metaphorical shackles. It’s people having their arms and legs chained, blacked-out goggles put over their eyes, and being shoved into a jet to take them to their sessions at an ex-secret police prison in Bulgaria.

  29. Politics is like a toilet bowl; the nasty, bloody shit sinks down to the center. (aka Hilary, Lieberman, Giuliani)

    Ron Paul on the other hand, is like the shit with air trapped inside that floats above them. Vote Paul in ’08, he’s the fluffy shit in the toilet bowl of the Republican Party!

  30. None of my examples were about foreign policy – they were all about how the government treats people in America.

    But they are closely tied to a foreign policy that pursues a strategy of endless war in foreign nations, turning the United States from a republic into a paranoid security state afraid of its own citizens. If you don’t have that world view, there is no need for such programs. Empire abroad brings despotism at home, etc.

  31. Anyway, I see your point, but seriously, when you talk about the government putting people in shackles, in 2007, the first image that comes to mind is not metaphorical shackles. It’s people having their arms and legs chained, blacked-out goggles put over their eyes, and being shoved into a jet to take them to their sessions at an ex-secret police prison in Bulgaria.

    “Libertarians against shackles”. Awesome campaign strategy. Or is it “Libertarians against EX-SECRET POLICE PRISON IN BULGARIA”? I’m not quite sure. Maybe it is “Libertarians against GOGGLES”?

    You should run that by Ron “Awesome” Paul.

  32. (see John Kerry’s misrepresented quip about Bush getting stuck in Iraq).

    Or that pernicious misrepresentation about christmas 1968. Jesus joe, shill much?

  33. Cesar, for someone who “don’t think about foreign policy,” that was pretty profound.

    Well spake, old bean.

  34. pigwiggle,

    You mean the events he wrote about in his diary entry ON CHRISTMAS DAY 1968? You know, in the paragraphs on the same page as the one his detractors quoted?

    Jeebus, get your information from lousy sources much?

  35. I’m pulling for one particular Republican, but he’s a bit of a longshot.

    I certainly don’t condone the swelling of executive power under Bush, nor the attendant atrocities. Iraq was never a good decision, even if we could have won. I want it stopped as much as you, but I’m not convinced that putting a Democrat in the White House is the best way to do that.

    Grand Chalupa has a point, once those social spending programs are in place, they will never go away. On the other hand, the media will continue report quite negatively on Iraq, Gitmo, torture, extraordinary rendition, etc. until even the densest Republican congressman won’t need to be told which way the wind is blowing.

    I don’t think that selling out the country economically for the rest of its existence justifies putting this shameful chapter of our history to bed a few years earlier.

  36. It’s cute how Republicans cling to their boogeymen like Linus and his blanket.

    John Kerry hasn’t been a major political figure for three years, and yet the use of an episode involving him as an example of how the GOP goes after its opponents to dust off the same old arguments.

    pigwiggle, TWC, did you even notice that there was some point I making in the bit where I dared to mention He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named? Or did the mere sight of his name drive all other thoughts out of you heads?

  37. Same goes for all of the domestic outrages as well, in case that wasn’t clear.

  38. Hugh and Chalupa-

    What about NCLB (a massive federal intrusion into a local matter) and Medicare Part D (the biggest expansion of entitlements since LBJ)?

    I pine for the day when the Republicans were for dismantling the Department of Education, not expanding it.

  39. Cesar, those are great examples of social spending that, once implemented, will never go away. That they were implemented by Republicans does not make them any better.

  40. Cesar, those are great examples of social spending that, once implemented, will never go away. That they were implemented by Republicans does not make them any better.

    Yes, and that was kind of my point. “Compassionate Conservatives” are usually just as bad as Democrats in the spending department.

  41. “If you care about small government, vote Republican.”

    how do you say that with a straight face after eight years of bush and co.?

  42. Hey, it worked to curb government in the 1990s.

    That’s the claim but if you look at the budget and regulatory increases (state and fed) that relentlessly (libertarians like the word leviathan) moved forth during that decade your enthusiasm may wane a bit.

    Granted the Republicans removed all doubt about where they stand on fiscal restraint, butting the hell out, and smaller government. But, that wasn’t entirely unexpected given the how well the reign of George No Newt Axes Bush the I went.

    Every CONgress and every administration in modern times has ramped up spending and regulation to hitherto unheard of levels. And just when you think they’ve said the stupidest thing ever, they keep right on talking.

  43. Crime, I’m never using a toilet again, thankee very much.


  44. That’s the claim but if you look at the budget and regulatory increases (state and fed) that relentlessly (libertarians like the word leviathan) moved forth during that decade your enthusiasm may wane a bit.

    No doubt government still grew, but it grew more slowly.

    I know I know, Its not ideal but hell its better than what we’ve had the last 7 years. You gotta start somewhere.

    Of course if HillaryCare had passed that wouldn’t be true at all.

  45. biggest expansion of entitlements since LBJ

    right indeed, except that LBJ invented entitlements.

    pigwiggle, TWC, did you even notice that there was some point I making in the bit where I dared to mention He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named? Or did the mere sight of his name drive all other thoughts out of you heads?

    My knees went to jello and my eyes glazed over right after the screen erupted in flames…..

  46. Of course if HillaryCare had passed that wouldn’t be true at all.

    Mrs TWC claims that as a victory for divided government. I’m not entirely convinced.

  47. Cesar, government continues to grow exponentially. It isn’t linear but the end result may as well be. Our old friend Harry Browne illustrates it well.

    In 1886 the federal government spent $242 million. In 2003 the federal government will spend over $2 trillion – 10,000 times as much.-Harry Browne

    Assuming I can do math, and that is a broad assumption, and assuming that I counted the decimals right, if you adjust for inflation and you get about five billion in modern dollars. Not 2 trillion.

  48. TWC-

    The best way that was ever illustrated to me was when I learn that before World War I the entire federal government was housed in the Old Executive Office building. It can’t even hold one department of it now.

  49. It really is shocking. To borrow a page from Harry Browne…..if you propose to someone that we should cut the federal budget in half they will recoil in shock. He or she simply cannot understand how it would be possible to run the federal government on half the amount of money we now spend until you point out that a mere ten years ago we were running the federal government on half the money we spend now.

  50. “pigwiggle, TWC, did you even notice that there was some point I making in the bit where I dared to mention He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named? Or did the mere sight of his name drive all other thoughts out of you heads?”

    I don’t know about them but you lost me at “Bush Apologist”.

  51. Front-runners on both sides seem to be in a smiling, gladhanding race to the bottom. And Obama is sounding more and more like an empty suit every day.

  52. Front-runners on both sides seem to be in a smiling, gladhanding race to the bottom. And Obama is sounding more and more like an empty suit every day.

    Short of Ron Paul being nominated or, failing him maybe maybe Richardson, it looks like I’ll be writing in Thomas Jefferson.

  53. Yes, and that was kind of my point. “Compassionate Conservatives” are usually just as bad as Democrats in the spending department.

    They aren’t as bad as Democrats in the taxing department

    Even the “poor working families” are gonna get ass raped by sin andenergy taxes, and “fee increases”.Haven’t the Dems also made clear they are going to let the bush tax cuts expire,presumably including the one in the bottom bracket? After all, the tax cuts for the poor and middle class aren’t “targeted” enough.

  54. Even the “poor working families” are gonna get ass raped by sin andenergy taxes, and “fee increases”.Haven’t the Dems also made clear they are going to let the bush tax cuts expire,presumably including the one in the bottom bracket? After all, the tax cuts for the poor and middle class aren’t “targeted” enough.

    So instead of taxing, we just put it on the federal credit card. Yeah, thats sooo much better.

  55. So instead of taxing, we just put it on the federal credit card. Yeah, thats sooo much better.

    Well I am assuming, based on past performance,
    that the extra tax revenues aren’t going for defecit/debt reduction but to new programs like healthcare and subsidies. Richardson was booed by the Kos crowd for talk of defecit and debt reduction.

  56. Richardson was booed by the Kos crowd for talk of defecit and debt reduction.

    That made me like him more.

  57. Wine Commonsewer,

    Hillarycare was defeated during the 93-94 Congress, when both houses were controlled by Democrats. But it did take a fillibuster by the minority Republicans in the Senate.

  58. Just because I don’t like Tweedledee doesn’t mean I should vote for Tweedledum.

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