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The state of the union

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, January 24th, 2015 - 75 comments
Categories: us politics - Tags: ,

One of my (r0b’s) favourite American writers / political commentators is William Rivers Pitt. Here are some extracts from his analysis of Obama’s recent “state of the union” speech. Well worth reading the whole thing.

William Rivers Pitt | Twenty Pounds of BS in a Ten-Pound Bag

Let me be perfectly clear from the jump: It was a fine speech, one of the best of President Obama’s political career, which makes it automatically one of the best in the State of the Union’s august history. The last fifteen minutes, in particular, were absolutely soaring, not just in rhetoric, but in the delivery as well.  …  “Now what do we do?” …

You see, apparently we’ve “turned the page” on the economic wasteland created by our Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal brain trust in Washington. The shadow of crisis has passed, and we’re on a new foundation. How many people do you know who actually feel that way? Just about everyone I know is economically scared to death, and most of them are living paycheck to paycheck…

The President of the United States gave a speech on Tuesday night that would, in parts, have gone over like gangbusters at any Occupy rally in the country, and then he turned on a dime to brag about our massively impressive oil and gas production, i.e. fracking and maybe the Keystone XL pipeline, and then went on further to give an impassioned aria about climate change, at which point my brain crawled out of my ear and slithered into the bathroom, where it wept piteously into the cold porcelain truth of the base of the toilet. …

It was a fine show on Tuesday night, a masterful performance, and a comprehensive waste of time. Leaving aside everything I’ve said, there is the stone-cold fact that absolutely none of the progressive ideas President Obama proposed on Tuesday night have the vaguest chance of seeing daylight in this new GOP-dominated congress…which begs the question:

Why did he wait until now – when everything he proposed was demonstrably doomed before the words even passed his teeth – to uncork the kind of rhetoric so many of his voters have been waiting for?   …

Why indeed. Though infinitely better than a Republican alternative, history must surely recall Obama’s term as a missed opportunity.

75 comments on “The state of the union ”

  1. millsy 2

    IMO I dont think he or his party really recovered from backlash over his healthcare reforms.

    • Ergo Robertina 2.1

      Tariq Ali’s book back in 2010 clinched it – The Obama Syndrome: Surrender At Home, War Abroad; the title aptly summarises the situation. You had to look no further than who he appointed to his economics team upon taking office, acolytes of financial deregulation champion Robert Rubin, including Larry Summers.
      See also, George Packer’s The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America; essays the well known and the obscure, including one on Rubin and an insider account of trying to regulate Wall Street and how it was impossible in any meaningful sense.
      Packer’s writing is really really good; a review is here:

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.2

      That must be why he prosecuted all those whistle blowers, extended a programme of targeted assassinations to include American citizens, keeps dozens of innocent people inside Gitmo, ordered the undermining and physical destruction of the Occupy encampments nationwide and continues the militarisation of the US police force.

  2. There were some minor victories for the forces of social justice: it was the first SOTU to specifically recognise lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as worthy of basic human rights and dignity. And apparently John Boehner looked like he was going to throw up throughout.

    But it highlights once again how the Western world tends to look on Obama as this progressive leftwing hero *in comparison to other American leaders* despite the fact he’s really not.

    (I remember WRP from waaaaaaaaay back in my misspent youth when I thought NZ politics was boring and devoted hours to the debates on Democratic Underground. Bloody good writer.)

  3. Macro 4

    In my admittedly limited experience, the USA is a very sick society, from the moment one enters the country, to the time of departure, one is aware of the hopelessness of many of the people. On one occasion I visited a mall, where there was a constant plea over the sound system for donations to be made for the forthcoming xmas appeal for the homeless and destitute (whose presence is evident almost everywhere in the major cities). Good, but isn’t this the role of Government?

    Clearly Obama is a lame duck. Powerless to effect any sensible change in a system that is heavily biased toward the ultra right. He speaks well but frankly he is an empty vessel. What good are the words – if he has not the ability to carry them out. On the one hand he speaks passionately about the need to address Climate Change, and in the very next breath is opining about Fracking and Xpipeline! (Which he does have the ability to do something about). What lies ahead for this nation of a few wealthy and many have-nots, I shudder to think. The greedy Right will have only themselves to blame when it all turns to custard.

    • Colonial Rawshark 4.1

      Obama isn’t a lame duck. He did what he was supposed to do: act as a Black spokesperson, PR rep and executor for the US financial industry.

      Who knows what the NSA has on him, but they started surveilling him before he even became a senator.

      • Murray Rawshark 4.1.1

        I don’t think the NSA need to have anything on him. He is a true believer and beneficiary of the American dream. I think he’s worse than Bush and we would have been better off if O’Bomber had never won an election. A Teabagger president wouldn’t have loved war any more, and the American left would have organised rather than spending 6 years defending their guy in the big house.

    • Andrea 4.2

      A number of the state governments are flirting with bankruptcy.

      There would be a foaming of Republicans if anything so insanely socialist was suggested as a federal government responsibility. Medicare is bad enough.

      Meanwhile, it’s said that Mitt Romney is offering as a candidate (again), and another out of the Bush stable (oh, please, NO).

      Which leads me to wonder – who could follow the Glorious Key to push us all a little further past the water trap? The unthinkable must be thought…

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.2.1

        Worth remembering with the Bushes, Clintons etc all vying again, that the USA is a dynastic oligarchy/kleptocracy. Not a democracy.

    • I really hate this usage of “lame duck”. Traditionally, especially in US politics, a “lame duck” President is one whose successor has already been elected, i.e. in the period between an election and the subsequent inauguration. The whole point of the idea is that it’s seen as inappropriate to be using Presidential powers when you’re quite literally *done* and shouldn’t force policy on the new representative of the people.

      Of course the US Republicans are desperately trying to extend the meaning to imply that Obama’s administration is illegitimate (just like they have since the day he won the nomination) but FFS, the next election is in November 2016.

      • Macro 4.3.1

        So Stephanie – just inform us all just what Obama can and can’t do as President with regards improving the well being of ordinary US Citizens? Just attempting to render a small improvement in their unjust and despicable health system was almost a step too far, and look where it got him. He can rant all he likes on addressing Climate Change – but a few people in Congress say he can’t – it is these few greedy people who hold the balance of power who hold the fate of the world and their country in their hands.
        I call him a lame duck for very good reason. His ability to wrought any substantial change for the betterment in this world or his country is very restricted.


        The Impact on Energy and the Environment
        by Stephen M. Ryan and Sam. C. Neel*

        The November midterm elections represent a major victory for the fossil fuel industry and a significant defeat for proponents of greenhouse gas reductions. Republican control of the Senate and an even larger Republican majority in the House means four key things for anyone interested in energy and the environment: the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will now be controlled by a chairman who believes climate science is junk science; the Keystone XL Pipeline now has the necessary votes to be immediately greenlighted; legislative attacks on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fossil fuel regulations will be much stronger; and there will be no legislative caps on carbon emissions, and thus, virtually no chance of a meaningful international treaty at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.


        • You’re reading a lot into my comment which isn’t there. I’m merely pointing out that the use of “lame duck” to describe Obama’s presidency is a transparent bit of Republican propaganda.

          That’s not a defence of Obama, that’s not support for Obama, and I disagree with a hell of a lot of his positions and actions.

          But he is not a “lame duck” President, because that term has a specific meaning.

  4. Ad 5

    Whether he’d been Republican or Democrat, Obama has been the worst hand-wringing weakling of a major country leader I’ve yet seen. Maybe John Major gets to the equivalent depth.

    Obama and Geithner have no doubt followed a far faster path away from a global financial disaster than Roosevelt and his New Deal took to get the US out of the Great Depression. But to do so he sacrificed the idea of corporate accountability. Obama’s leadership of the economy is a major plus in his favor IMHO.

    His healthcare reforms are very significant.

    But that’s it.

    Neither achievement ranks anywhere near LBJ’s Great Society Programme. LBJ was a prick, but sure as hell he got the job done – and inside one term.
    Same when you rank him against either Teddy Roosevelt. Hell even Clinton was sexy, entertaining, and could gather and express the wisdom of a gathered room like few before him.

    When he finally exists Stage Left, Obama won’t get into the top thirty of the best US Presidents so far.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.1

      Obama and Geithner have no doubt followed a far faster path away from a global financial disaster than Roosevelt and his New Deal took to get the US out of the Great Depression. But to do so he sacrificed the idea of corporate accountability. Obama’s leadership of the economy is a major plus in his favor IMHO.

      What the hell? All Obama did is save Wall St. Then he set Wall St up to hit record profits. In the US the top 1% to 2% have done very well from record levels in the stock market. What else would you expect from a Congress, White House and Federal Reserve beholden to Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and the rest of the Robert Rubin acolytes.

      Bottom line: the US democratic party still talks the talk (Chris Hedges describes as the classic Democratic “feel your pain” empathetic languaging), but in power it represents only corporate interests and the interests of multi-millionaires and billionaires.

      I don’t think that deserves much credit.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        To me the bottom line is we had a recession, not another Great Depression.
        Deserves credit.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Not if CR’s picture of US politics is accurate. The people who caused the problem don’t get any credit for reducing the level of their incompetence and greed from gargantuan to monumental.

          • Colonial Rawshark

            said better than I could…the 1% are the ones who have made out like bandits under Obama’s reign.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          Not sure why you are using the past tense. Last I saw US labor force participation was at multi-decade lows and 48M Americans live on food stamps.

          And we have been totally set up for a GFC 2 with the financial sector larger and riskier than ever.

          The only public spending programmes Obama has consistently endorsed over the years has been that of the military-surveillance-industrial complex.

  5. mpledger 6

    He was electioneering. He says he’s wants to do great things for main stream American and main stream America will go “yea, those things sounds good” but the Republicans will just block everything. But that will make main stream American mad at the Republicans and the more things Obama can get them to block, the more pissed off mainstream America will be – it will make the next president a Democrat.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      This President has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations put together, and as a former constitutional law professor, has overseen the gutting of the US constitution and all the civil liberties which go with it.

      Makes Bush and the Patriot act look like play time.

  6. Colonial Rawshark 7

    The President of the United States gave a speech on Tuesday night that would, in parts, have gone over like gangbusters at any Occupy rally in the country

    Obama would not be welcome at any Occupy rally. Obama approved the use of federal power to physically destroy the Occupy movement in a dozen cities of the USA, and to attack all the leaders of Occupy with criminal charges, court action and prison time.

  7. Jamie 8

    Did your precious ‘peace’ winning pResident mention US Resolution 758 in his speech???


    I didn’t watch his speech, I got better things to do than watch a puppet on a string prance about on stage

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      A Republican bill that urges him to do things is not the same as him doing them.

      The Russian media has been dining out on this, and still no-one has explained why Obama would follow Republican orders.

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1

        It’s a House Resolution stating as fact a multitude of assumptions around Russia being the bad actor in Ukraine, and demanding that Russia withdraw.

        It’s not a piece of legislation/bill requiring the President go to war, it is the production of context by which a future war could be supported.

        In addition to the Republicans, almost all the Democrats in the House voted for it. It passed 411-10.

        As for Obama – the hawks in the US have three main goals at the moment, it would seem. 1) Make Ukraine an outpost of NATO from which missiles have a 10 minute flight time to Moscow. 2) Torpedo any peace/economic deals with Iran, which Russia has been a major player in supporting. 3) Take down Assad in Syria by weakening Russia as a shield for Damascus thereby ending the Russian base at Tartus.

    • greywarshark 8.2

      @ jamie
      Who is the sneer directed at? Who said this “Did your precious ‘peace’ winning pResident”? If you are attempting sarcasm or thoughtful criticism do explain your point better please. I feel you don’t read widely and thoroughly, or think about what you do see.

      • Jamie 8.2.1

        To the greywarshark

        The sneer is directed at all the pResidents men (admirers, defenders, enablers, excuse makers, sycophants)

        As to what you feel or think I couldn’t give a dam

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          You don’t seem to care much about the opinions you pay lip service to, either. If you’re opposed to something it’s probably a good idea to make sure it exists first.

          Like, if Obama were intent on sabre-rattling he has his very own bully-pulpit to do it from, and it’s telling that you didn’t like, quote him doing it.

          Say someone in authority took you seriously and you got a seat at the big table and started railing against things that’ve never happened. They’d stop taking you seriously pretty quick eh, and then all the people who were relying on you would probably think you were a shill, or a tool, or just incompetent.

          Food for thought.

          • Jamie

            Hard to take an anonymous bloke seriously

            Food for thought

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              You don’t have to – you can address my argument instead.

              You can address my argument, eh, Anonymous Jamie.

                • One Anonymous Bloke


                  Poor sensitive petal wilts under pressure.

                  • Jamie

                    Projecting much???

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Unable to address my argument much? 😆

                    • Jamie

                      What argument???

                      That Obama is clearly an insane traitor???

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      The ones you can find if you scroll the fuck up.

                      1. Obama has plenty to answer for (war crimes, for example) and still isn’t responsible for things Republicans do.
                      2. Objections to non-existent problems make you an easy target for your detractors.
                      3. Putting your energy into breathless eye-popping rants makes you impotent.

                    • Jamie

                      I scrolled the F up but couldn’t find where you called obola a war criminal, agreed though

                      obola’s situation is definitely not a non-existent problem though, more like a chilling and dangerous problem with huge implications

                      Don’t know what you’re going on about with your last comment- bit of a low blow attacking my manhood bud; projecting again I guess

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Impotent as in powerless.

                      Alternatively, stick clear of the breathless rants and you’ll be ok.

                    • Jamie

                      SIR YES SIR!!!

                      Still couldn’t find your comments about obola being a war criminal

                    • greywarshark

                      @ OAB
                      I see Jamie as just another trole. Calls Obama obola multiple times and seems to have empty time to fill using his empty head. Has learned how to express some things on his little communication square and is moving to bigger, longer messages, but similar to what he pops off to his buddies.

        • greywarshark

          @ jamie
          I take it that someone on this blog is regarded as Obama’s ‘admirers, defenders, enablers excuse makers, sycophants.’
          Your sour hate is unpleasant and more so when it is directed here as in –
          your precious ‘peace’ winning pResiden.

          And what I feel is important as is all the thinking of people who come to this blog.
          Including yours. I give a damn.
          Give us the citation to the peace winning president quote.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          Jamie, please don’t bother sharing next time. Your thoughtless opinions are worthless.

  8. Jamie 9

    US Resolution 758 – not worth having an opinion on says Colonial Rawshark – what are you and greywarshark brothers or something

    Here’s the peace pResidents citation – bestowed on him for simply existing I guess

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

    Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

    My opinion worthless as it is

    WW3 is on


    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      That isn’t what CR said: he said your thoughtless opinions are worthless*. I’m not sure that’s strictly true, as they might present a learning opportunity, and it’s pretty close.

      The President has little influence over Congress as a body. I think he has plenty to answer for, just not things the Republican Party does.

      *ie: it’s a rude way to spur you to thinking.

    • greywarshark 9.2

      Thanks Jamie
      I agree that described broadly the peace president prize is an example of premature

      But I asked where you had seen the reference to the peace president here. We like to tie down comments like that. We have been more than disappointed in Pres. Obama for some time after being initially hopeful. So sticking to the facts or saying that you aren’t sure of them, would be good if you come again.

    • Colonial Rawshark 9.3

      Obama is worse than G.W. in a multitude of ways. And even more appalling, because Obama actually has the intelligence, education and constitutional qualifications to understand that he is partaking in the fundamental destruction of the United States as it is envisioned and conceptualised in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

      As for giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. Well they really fucked up in Oslo, didn’t they.

      As for your WWIII comment. It is entirely likely that the early stages of that began on Sept 11, 2001.

      • nadis 9.3.1

        No – I think the one place where the USA and Russia have common ground is their views on islamic derived terrorism. Doesn’t mean they won’t encourage it as a means of annoying the other side, but both governments believe strongly it is a long term strategic problem. The Russiasn are just a lot more racist, and lot less concerned about human rights in how they go about it.

        I think the real start of the path to increased Russia/US tension was February 2007. This was the first time Putin publicly laid out his vision for a strong outward looking Russia modeled on the old Soviet Union. It also marked the point at which Putin and his St Petersburg clique had plundered enough of Russia’s wealth to be confident there wasn’t much left for anyone else, and because of that, stronger focus on a nationalist, nostalgic, proud Russia would enable him to further crush any internal dissent or disquiet about the kleptocracy as he wrapped himself in the flag.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          In terms of “crushing dissent.” The USA utilises a multi layered mass surveillance system on its citizens. Senior NSA whistleblowers who worked against the old Soviet Union and East Germany say that it would have been the envy of the old communist secret police and Stasi.

          This is not just a system in theory, US authorities have used this technology to disrupt and destroy the lives of whistleblowers, journalists and other US dissidents. It may even have been used to retroactively uncover General Patreaus’ affair with his biographer and force him out of the CIA under a cloud.

          And just read the details of how Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning was kept in solitary for months, physically abused, stripped naked, sleep deprived etc. then put in prison for 35 years while not being able to present any of his primary legal defences to the court, all for revealing the war crimes of empire.

          How is that for “crushing dissent.”

          The Russiasn are just a lot more racist, and lot less concerned about human rights in how they go about it.

          Yes and no. Abu Ghraib, US soldiers desecrating the Q’uran, abusing Muslim prisoners in Gitmo, and randomly dropping advanced ordnance on Muslim civilians throughout the world make it pretty even stevens in my mind.

          And Russia does have a thriving Muslim community which practices fully and in public eg marking the end of ramadan on the public streets of Moscow and St Petersburg. Not something you would ever see in New York City.


          Re: the oligarchic/kleptocratic nature of the Russian government vs the American govt. Again, I call it pretty even. In the US its the banksters, weapon makers, health insurance industry and oil barons; in Russia its…well, the oil and gas barons.

          Having said that Russia and the EU/USA did engage in extensive co-operation against Islamic terrorism for many years after 9/11 and it is unfortunate that engagement has broken down now.

          • nadis

            Your equating of the US and Russia always amuses me – just cos Russia is the enemy of the USA shouldn’t make it your friend. I know the USA does plenty wrong, but really? You seem to be claiming Russia is better on any count than the US. You’re on drugs.

            Ever heard of SORM?

            For someone who is a big believer in progressive politics your defense of Russia must be quite hard to internalise.

            I know the US will score negatively on some of these, but that’s not my point. My point is that Russia is worse on every score than the US, and worse on most by a country mile.

            Inequality gap – Russia is the worst in the word

            Gay rights – welcome to Russia

            Institutional racism – Russia is virulently anti-monority, and has open policies discriminating against non-ethnic Russians

            Unfettered domestic surveillance by 8 different government entities without warrants -that’s Russia

            Telecom and internet providers must provide direct access to state agencies – the providers have no idea if or who the security agencies are spying on or whether they have a warrant.

            In terms of Kleptocracy you really should do some reading – there has never been a period in the 20th century where so much wealth has been stolen by so few. The US does not institutionalise the organised theft of public resources in the same way as Russia has done. The entire machinery of the state is mobilised to transfer resources from the wider country to a small elite. Numerous laws allowing the confiscation of assets pre any trial.

            Organised killing of journalists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia

            Arbitrary confinement – habeus corpus is not a Russian concept.

            Corruption at every level of society. Organised crime protected by government officials. Non-acquittals policy of russian courts.

            The fact that over 4000 prisoners die in Russian prisons every year from

            Official harassment of NGO’s?

            And remember the FSB planting bombs in Moscow apartment buildings to boost Putins popularity?

            In my mind, the worst thing about Russia is the lack of rule of law. Their constitution “guarantees” so many things – freedom of assembly, racial discrimination (but not on the basis of gender or sexuality), freedom of association, freedom of speech, prohibition of torture, arbitrary detention – yet those are all the things routinely violated by the government on a regular basis.

            Bradley Manning? Imagine if he was a Russian, releasing the Russian equivalent of that info. He wouldn’t be in prison, he’d never have got to trial. And given he/she pleaded guilty to 10 charges which would have resulted in a 20 year sentence anyway, I’m not sure that’s a great example for you. If Manning had any brains he would have released the info which showed genuinely shit conduct (i.e., the helicopter video etc) rather than just everything he could find, his actions would be way more defensible and justified.

            How can you be a progressive and be sympathetic to Russia?

            • Colonial Rawshark

              Dunno why you’re complaining about the kleptocracy/oligarchy in Russia. Massive wealth transfer and privatisation of state assets to just a few is exactly what Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan helped Russia organise in the 1990s after the fall of the USSR, in the best traditions of western capitalism.

              “Greed is good” remember?

              The US does not institutionalise the organised theft of public resources in the same way as Russia has done.

              ??? Really? What do you call the F-35 fighter programme? Or the multi-trillion dollar bankster bail out? Or the open tax payer cheque book military-industrial-surveillance-congressional complex?

              BTW I’m not claiming that Russia is “better” than the USA. Both of them show distinct features of top down oligarchic empire. Although I will say that Russia hasn’t caused the deaths of several hundreds of thousands of civilians as a direct or indirect result of their for-profit global military adventures like the USA has in the 21st century.

              • nadis

                You should read more about what really happened in the 1990’s. Here’s a good place to start, plus the other books I’ve mentioned.


                I seem to remember the first and second Chechnya wars causing in excess of 160,000 civilian casualties…….

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Yeah, by the second Chechen war Moscow just decided to fuck the place, no holds barred.

                  • Wayne


                    A large number of commenters on this site prefer Russia to the US, and probably always have done, because they are Hard Left. As a general proposition, this site and more particularly many of the commenters are well to the Left of Labour who they describe in any event as a Right party.

                    So Obama will always disappoint, because he is not a socialist. And I presume when he chose to stand for the Presidency he will have to known that one of the obligations of the office is the willingness to use armed force.

                    As the leader of the most powerful nation, and to use that somewhat out of date term, “the Leader of the Free World”, he has to lead. He cannot say “ISIS, nothing to do with me; Afghanistan, who cares; Iran I don’t care whether they get nuclear weapons; Israel, you are on your own; Russia do as you please with Ukraine, etc, etc.”

                    Though I imagine most commenters on this site wish he did.

                    • mickysavage

                      A large number of commenters on this site prefer Russia to the US, and probably always have done, because they are Hard Left.

                      Can you name them Wayne? Russia has not been a “socialist paradise” well ever. Are you yearning for the days of reds under the bed So?

                    • Morrissey

                      A bizarrely hilarious comment from poor old “Wayne”….

                      A large number of commenters on this site prefer Russia to the US, and probably always have done, because they are Hard Left.

                      The deep thinking and commitment to truth that drives the members of the National Party is, once again, evident here.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      So Obama will always disappoint, because he is not a socialist.

                      Get a grip Wayne.

                      If you are going to try and explain things then at least make an attempt to get it right instead of presenting fairy tales.

                      Obama disappoints because he has deliberately undermined the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution and also went further than Bush ever did in terms of extra judicial mass surveillance and killings even of American citizens which is utterly unconstitutional.

                      The stuff around his servility to the top 0.1% wealthiest of the US population is certainly disappointing but utterly normal for US politics of the last…well, forever.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      As the leader of the most powerful nation, and to use that somewhat out of date term, “the Leader of the Free World”, he has to lead. He cannot say “ISIS, nothing to do with me; Afghanistan, who cares; Iran I don’t care whether they get nuclear weapons; Israel, you are on your own; Russia do as you please with Ukraine, etc, etc.”

                      Well, you’re right in that ISIS’ strength has everything to do with the destabilising activities of the USA and its allies in the region.

                      While we’re on the topic, would you like to tell us why after 10+ years and hundreds of billions of dollars of the USA proving themselves unable to train Iraq security forces to do more than run away from a foreign militia with light arms, why NZ’s contribution to “training” is not going to be similarly a waste.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr. Mapp avoids answering any questions about the links between US foreign policy and the rise of ISIS. And I still want to know whether he aided torturers during his time as defence minister.

                      I’ve been trying to think of what Dr. Mapp’s comment reveals about his imagination, perhaps best illustrated by thinking about what it would be like to be standing inside a stationary ping-pong ball.

                    • greywarshark

                      Gosh Dr Mapp. I bet you need a map when you are driving, and a guide. So you get advised when to turn left and what is ‘hard left’. What does that mean? Perhaps it actually means a U turn, as hard as a turn could be. I bet you could never turn that hard.

                      And I don’t think anybody who identifies with this blog is going to do a U-turn. They’re all left leaning but still know which way is up, whereas you are as confused as a bee in a bottle and not as useful either. Go pollinate something.

            • greywarshark

              @ nadis
              Methinks you do protest too much in this USA-Russia thing. If only USA was completely clean then it would be so easy for you to decide which to admire.
              Unfortunately they are going the way of all human entities when those at the top have absolute power which tends to corrupt absolutely. The two countries just do their rorts in different ways, and its almost as if they adopt each others’ unethical methods and then graft them onto their own culture.

              • nadis

                No i fully acknowledge the faults of the US system and their imperial approach to world affairs. I do though believe the US model is the least bad on offer globally, and I tend to focus more on the benefits of the US system (innovation, research, science based knowledge, engineering, academic driven advances etc) rather than some of the obvious drawbacks.

                It does however cause me great offence when commentators who claim to be “progressive thinkers” support Russia, simply because it opposes the US. I struggle to see a single issue where the Russian Government deserves the support of anyone who is not a fascist. The Russian government is a self enriching gangster clique that uses every oppressive tool that the Soviets and the Mafia used plus more to consolidate the position of the elite at the expense of everyone else.

              • Wayne

                Quite a few commenters have protested about my use of “Hard Left”, used to distinguish such commenters from the moderate left as represented by the leadership of the Labour Party.

                I note the BBC, in relation to Syriza uses the terms “far left” and “radical left”, with the latter being the more common usage.

                I presume to the “radical left” that “Hard Left” is objectionable for its somewhat communist overtones.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Nah, it’s the way the daft list of things you falsely ascribe to the Left sits with the fact that you were once a minister of the Crown and still hold high office.

                  Not so much objectionable as farcical.

                • Olwyn

                  I did not write an answer to you yesterday, but my objection to the term “hard left” is more to do with the tone of dismissal that goes with it than communistic associations. You are right in pointing out that you are not the only one that uses the term, and that too is disturbing.

                  Under the current international system, a population that is fed housed and happy (and not just its middle class) is seen as fat to be trimmed or a threat to be quashed. And anyone who seeks to defend people against this trimming and quashing gets labeled “hard left.” The implication is that an “acceptable left” would offer crocodile tears rather than action, and otherwise acquiesce in business as usual. The “hard left” term offends because it treats the defense of those most under attack as an outrageous, over-the-top position to hold.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Wayne, all the while the 0.1% continue to expect multiple levels of socialist support and big contracts from the state.

  9. Wayne 10


    Going back over many years there has always been a faction of New Zealanders who in most Russia/Soviet Union and US tussles, would tend to prefer the Russia/Soviet Union position on just about any issue, whatever it was.

    And I certainly see that on this site, not really with the lead items, but certainly with some of the commenters. I suspect some of them were pretty close to the various communist parties that used to exist in New Zealand, even if they were not actually members. After all the membership of the CPNZ (or the alternative USSR aligned party) has included some pretty distinguished New Zealanders, including Ken Douglas.

    There is a definite group of commenters here whom have tended to side with Russia on Ukraine. And having just re-read Beevor’s book on Stalingrad, you can see why for most Russians, the east of Ukraine feels Russian which was paid dearly (extraordinarily so) for with Russian blood seventy-three years ago. This is an area where the West should tread very carefully. Which I have stated in several posts on this topic.

    And there is another group who state that there is no difference on what I might describe as a “freedom index” that the US is just as repressive to its citizens as Russia. Greywarshark being a case in point.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      These “groups” have one or two members each.

      Smear away, Dr. Mapp, it simply gives rise to the suspicion that you’ve nothing of value to contribute.

    • vto 10.2

      wayne, a person I know well spent many years in China. That person laughs very loud at those who see New Zealand as free, entrepreneurial, open and happy in comparison to China. I would suggest the same with Russia.

      We have little idea of what goes on in those countries thanks to a few generations of your type foisting propaganda on us.

      I don’t see hordes of Russians and Chinese wanting to come and live here, or escaping what you describe as repressive regimes.

      It is all bullshite

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.3

      Wayne, could you please explain why NZ is following the US into Iraq to provide “training” when the last 10 years has shown that the US has wasted both blood and billions to try and train up the Iraqi security forces – but those forces ran at the first opportunity leaving bases and armaments behind for the enemy when confronted with a few thousand irregular militia men armed with light weapons. Even though the Iraqi forces themselves had US supplied army and heavy weapons.

      How are we going to achieve anything different?

      As for US vs Russia. The west is trying to collapse an economy which sustains 140M Russians. This is the third time in 25 years that the USA is trying this shite on the Ruskies, each time it results in hundreds of thousands of excess civilian deaths. Moral high ground for the West eh Wayne?

    • greywarshark 10.4

      There is no definitive right or wrong country that could be used as an exemplar Wayne. Not one that should be honoured and cosied up to without restraint, there is just what is happening and what is being said. All have faults and events and actions that, on close and critical inspection, are shameful.

      When a country like the USA or Russia, or any other, makes some statement from what position of stability of purpose and integrity is it being broadcast and how much should be accepted without question? When a criminal financial adviser provides advice to the public do they not look at past history and wonder if this advice is honest, spoken with wisdom and understanding, and worth betting on.

      I would have thought this would be taken as read, not red, by you as a sensible, mature adult.

  10. Morrissey 11

    Let me be perfectly clear from the jump: It was a fine speech, one of the best of President Obama’s political career, which makes it automatically one of the best in the State of the Union’s august history. The last fifteen minutes, in particular, were absolutely soaring, not just in rhetoric, but in the delivery as well.

    This is mindless adulation, similar to what is expressed in North Korea for their Dear Leader.

    Obama is a fraud and impostor, as well as a very bad method actor….

  11. greywarshark 12

    There was an interview with a USA commenter Jack Hitt who put an interesting strategic view of Obama’s powerless and isolated position and what he has been saying.recently.
    9.47 am 11m42 9 to Noon

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