Streetwise Professor

July 14, 2011

Ziva Obama

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 8:01 am

On the TV series NCIS, Ziva David is a Mossad agent seconded to the US agency.  She speaks excellent English, except she routinely mangles idiomatic expressions.

At least she has an excuse–she’s a foreigner.  What’s Obama’s?  (Don’t go there.)

Case in point.  Yesterday, in a dramatic flourish, he walked out of tense negotiations over the debt ceiling and said to Republican representative Eric Cantor, “Eric, don’t call my bluff.”

Huh?  Didn’t he really mean to say the exact opposite?  That is, warning Cantor to take him seriously, and not to make the mistake of thinking he’s bluffing?

Or maybe it’s a big Freudian slip, revealing that he is in fact bluffing, and is afraid Cantor will call it.  That would be kind of funny, actually.

Regardless, I would call.

Maybe we should seek the advice of our resident poker expert . . . you know who you are.

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  1. Most respectable poker players understand the importance of stack management. These clowns are playing with the jobs, lives and hard earned savings of other people. Its easy to pay poker, make bad bets and bluff for the hell of it when you don’t have any skin in the game. Sadly, the individuals involved in the debt negotiations will never have to experience the actual cost of their mistakes, arrogance and stupidity. Somehow, I can’t believe our founding fathers ever envisioned a government comprised of a professional class of ruling elites, insulated from the world in which the people live.

    Comment by Charles — July 14, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  2. Why should we take Cantor’s word at its own value? He’s not exactly going to say that Obama told him he was going to call his bluff, now is he? That said, likeliest version is that it really was an Obama Bushism.

    Regardless, if the Republicans go on your recommendation to call, then it would indeed be quite funny, as it is Obama who is holding the nuts. Why? Republicans force-close the government –> the current sluggish economy will be forgotten, as Americans vent their anger on the Republicans for causing the resulting chaos (as in 1995), and/or a new recession (the sudden withdrawal of so much government spending, if prolonged, cannot fail but cause one) – or even worse.

    As it stands, the Republicans are playing like “maniacs”. They have a shit hand and want to go all the way to the showdown. Too bad that they want to take ordinary American “fish” for the ride with them.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 14, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  3. S/O –

    The argument isn’t about the budget. The argument is about the fundamental size, scope and role of the federal government. Obama wants to shift power from the people and the states to the federal government. Cantor, and his like, want to restrain the power of the federal government and have power not retained by the people vested unto the states. How is believing the power of the federal government should be limited a “shit hand?”

    The fundamental question of the scope and role of the federal government should be decided by the American people during the next general election. The gamesmanship of Obama is designed to ensure the powers of the federal government will continue to grow (by not limiting federal revenues) at least until 2016. 2016, because he is betting that the American people will choose divided government, rather than have the Republicans control the House, Senate and White House after the 2012 election. The last thing Obama wants is a second term with limited powers to effect his social engineering and wealth distribution schemes.

    Comment by Charles — July 15, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  4. Well, because you can believe whatever you want, but doing so isn’t going to up your chances! 🙂

    The US has basically three options for balancing the budget:

    (1) Eliminating most entitlement programs, immediately plunging millions of Americans into poverty, thus cutting consumption, causing a recession, and necessitating further cuts as revenues drop. Years of stagnation. (The military budget is of course out of bounds for both parties for ideological reasons, but even cutting it by half isn’t going to solve the problem.)

    (2) Playing sorcerer’s apprentice (favorite SWP metaphor) by defaulting. Investor flight; global financial cataclysm (with the US $ likely losing its reserve currency status); probably, a depression in the US itself.

    (3) Doing the responsible thing, which is cutting some of the less crucial programs while at the same time hiking taxes on the rich and natural resource companies (who are raking in record profits). There is still economic damage, but it is far less than in the two other scenarios, and the overall outcome is far fairer.

    Unfortunately, the demented Tea Party ideologues are dead-set against (3) and are instead gunning for (1) and if not that then (2). If we don’t get our wishes then let’s bring the roof down on everyone.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 16, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  5. S/O:

    Your analysis of the situation lacks such substance, I question how you arrived at your options.

    You seem to think the only way to balance the budget is to reduce spending. Why would holding spending constant and increasing revenues not achieve a balances budget? If federal revenues grow ( from growing the economy, not from raising taxes) then the budget problems become much less daunting. Obama’s stated goal during the 2008 campaign was to “redistribute the wealth” (his words, not mine. Governments confiscating wealth, adding in administrative costs and then redistributing that wealth to a favored political class will not increase wealth, will not increase federal revenues and will not increase the quality of living of the people. Obama is attempting to do as he stated and redistribute existing wealth without creating economic opportunity and we are experiencing the expected results – a train wreck of an economy.

    Over 60% of the U.S. military budget goes to cover salaries, pensions, benefits and healthcare for those in uniform and for veterans. Cutting the U.S. military budget isn’t the same as cutting the budget of a country such as Russia. The U.S. has commitments abroad that have fostered conditions that ensured the longest continuous peace in Europe in recorded history, has helped free hundreds of millions from oppressive totalitarian governments in Asia and Eastern Europe and continues to protect the freedom of billions around the world. Cutting the U.S. military budget by half will mean cutting personnel by over 2/3. That would leave such a huge security void in the world, we would soon expect brutal totalitarian dictators to again attempt to enslave peoples around the world. That, of course, would mean we would again be called on to build a military from a position of weakness. Doing so would cost far more than we would save by decimating our military. There has never been a war between two democratically elected governments in modern history. That way we reduce our military expenditures is to promote democracy around the world.

    As far as default is concerned, technical default ( failing to meet debt payments on Aug 2) would not cause a crisis. The problem in the U.S. is not economic, it is political. Investors know the money is there to make the payments and that payments will be made. Holders of U.S. government debt may choose to sell, buy buyers would step up and gain from the panicked selling of others. It would be the buying opportunity of modern times.

    Our problem isn’t that we aren’t taxed high enough. Our problem is that the size and scope of the federal government has grown to such a degree that we are, as a nation, being forced to have a discussion as to what the role, size and scope of the federal government should be in our society. Once we agree on how much government we wish to purchase, we will be determine how we will pay for government services. there is no economic crisis. We have a higher growth rate than Japan and Japan has a government debt that is twice the size of ours (as a percentage of GDP).

    In conclusion, your belief that we need to sacrifice global security to such tin pot dictators as Putin, to allow China to dominate global military affairs and to destroy our economy by raising taxes to a confiscatory level to support a bloated and inefficient federal government is misguided.

    Comment by Charles — July 16, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  6. In conclusion, your belief that we need to sacrifice global security to such tin pot dictators as Putin, to allow China to dominate global military affairs and to destroy our economy by raising taxes to a confiscatory level to support a bloated and inefficient federal government is misguided.

    Because the US economy in the 1950’s-60’s was characterized by inefficient socialist stagnation.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 16, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  7. S/O:

    What is your point? What does the state of the U.S. economy in the 1950’s and 1060’s have anything to do with today? Are you lost in this discussion, or just hitting the bottle a little too hard?

    Comment by Charles — July 16, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  8. You waffle about tin pot dictators and opposing totalitarian governments. My post was direct and to the point (to which you responded with an hom).

    What I was quite clearly pointing out (had you cared to click on the link and/or connect some dots) was that marginal tax rates in the US during mid-century were far, far higher than today.

    They raise a few uncomfortable questions that libertarian ideologues such as yourself do, however, have to answer:

    Were they at a confiscatory level?

    If not, why should Obama’s proposed (and very modest) tax increases be considered “confiscatory”?

    If yes, how do you square that with the fact they coincided with what is known as the “miracle economy”?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 16, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

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