On My Politics

Some readers have noticed my recent criticism of Democrats and President Barack Obama, particularly relating to national security matters. Some seem quite upset by this, hurling invectives like “RWNJ” (Right-Wing Nut-Job) at me, a common playground term they employ. I have indeed been sharply critical of certain policies pursued by this White House, particularly relating to the almost unimaginably dysfunctional National Security Council, led by the almost unimaginably awful Susan Rice, a presidential favorite. History will not be kind to Obama over his NSC, nor should it be.

Some months ago, the American mainstream media, what might be termed the court press, began stating what was obvious, that Obama’s foreign and defense policies were going off the rails. Sensible liberals were signaling that, with these missteps, some of them notably serious and, worse, eminently avoidable errors, Obama was endangering the Democratic Party and the liberal project — as is surely true. The recent midterm Congressional bloodbath is an indication of where things are headed for the Democrats if they don’t start course-correcting soon. Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) recent broadside against the White House’s political priorities indicates a civil war may be brewing in Democratic ranks.

This has been met with vociferous denials that Obama and his staff have done anything wrong — not now, possibly never. These are the people who refer to Obama as “PBO,” which gives a creepy, vaguely North Korean feel. Despite the fact that hardcore Obama fans have convinced themselves that no administration has ever been criticized like this one, with racism (of course) being at the root of the alleged atmosphere of hyper-critique, actually the opposite is the truth. Fearful of appearing critical of Obama, the mainstream media for years low-balled or simply didn’t report the concerns about the administration’s competence that they shared privately. Having helped create the Obama myth, and playing a key role in getting him elected twice, the MSM until recently had no interest in having the horse’s teeth checked by a reputable dentist. Now, however, when it’s apparent to all but Obama hacks that the president is doing damage to the Democratic brand that may have lasting impacts, MSM voices are at last willing to state the obvious about the lamentable state of this administration.

Yet the MSM’s role in fomenting enduring dysfunction in this White House is a key part of the story. By covering for Obama and his staff, the media prevented a normal process of critique and adjustment. This was advocacy journalism of a particular sort, and just as pernicious as it always is. Every administration makes mistakes; the first year of any presidency has goofs and worse due to inexperience and hubris (see: Bay of Pigs). Presidents remembered as successes control their staffs, not the other way around, and cashier the ineffectives. They learn to do better. What is astonishing about Obama is how his White House continues to make rookie missteps nearly six years into its tenure on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This is not about ideology, rather competence. Obama is surrounded by sycophants and yes-men (actually mainly yes-women); what this says about his mindset I leave to others to analyze. It is, however, impossible to miss that Democrats who are famous for getting things done, like Chicago knife-fighters Rahm Emmanuel and Bill Daley, tried and failed, unable to penetrate the White House security detail of sycophancy, ultimately abandoning this administration in something like despair.

The story of Obama has been told many times, from many angles, but is clear in its essentials. This is a talented man whose gifts lie in the propagation of Big Ideas rather than the execution of them. Obama’s inexperience at Washington, DC, politics got less MSM attention in 2008 than it merited, while his descent into hubristic ridiculousness at the outset — what else will history make of Obama’s overblown July 2008 campaign speech at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, much less his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for getting elected? — set standards that Obama never stood a chance of meeting. For this, he has nobody to blame but himself and his handlers.

I have objected less to Obama’s policies than to their delivery. His dealings with the collapsing financial sector when he entered office, with all their imperfections, nevertheless will stand up better under historical scrutiny than almost anything else Obama has done, while even the dishonest hash this White House made of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, cannot mar the fact that Obama at least tried to do something about America’s troubled health care system, as no president had seriously attempted in decades. In combat training they tell you that when you’re under fire, “Do something. Even if it’s wrong — But do something!” and this has application in politics too. Like Sen. Schumer, I think ACA got too much attention in Obama’s first term, at the expense of pressing economic issues, but then Monday morning quarterbacking is the nature of life inside the Beltway.

It was in foreign and defense affairs, above all, that I felt Obama offered the country a much-needed course correction. During the two terms of George W. Bush’s presidency, I witnessed, up close, two wars halfway around the world go very wrong; that one of them was a misguided war of choice made the situation all the more tragic. I always believed “Dubya” was a decent, if somewhat superficial, fellow, who had no business being in the White House. His essential humanity was never in doubt — I can personally vouch that Bush took our battle deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan much harder than the public knew — yet some of his closest advisers lacked his decency and humanity. The result was disaster in many areas. History will not be kind to the likes of Cheney or Rumsfeld (or, let it be said, Franks, Tenet, and many others who were lauded at the time), nor should it be. It will take America many years, perhaps many decades, to recover from Bush’s well intentioned yet deeply misguided responses to 9/11. Perhaps, like Britain after its ugly and needless Boer War of 1899-1902, we never really will.

It is in this context that Obama’s interactions with the world must be viewed. Having made decisions under pressure, I have innate sympathy for anybody who must do the same, especially for the Commander-in-Chief, whose burdens are very great. Obama’s 2008 promises — to close Guantanamo Bay, to get out of Iraq, to return the country to a more peaceful footing in its foreign affairs — were all things I supported. Yet, even when Obama has done some of them, their execution has been flawed. Sometimes deeply so. Noble intentions do not by themselves effective policy make. Here the role played by senior White House advisers of dubious ability, and honesty, must be considered cancerous, though the task falls to future historians to untangle the frightful mess that Obama’s foreign policy has become.

I have been sharply critical, in particular, of Obama’s dealings with an increasingly aggressive Vladimir Putin. Here is a case where, first in Syria then in Ukraine, Obama has dodged difficult choices and has thereby enabled progressively worse outcomes. In his commendable zeal to back away from Bush-era aggressiveness in foreign affairs, Obama has gone to the opposite extreme, imagining a world where raw power has no just place. This, to say the least, is an odd position for the world’s leading power to find itself in. It’s therefore not surprising that Putin views Obama with undisguised contempt — Russian put-downs of our president, which microphones have caught coming from the mouths of disturbingly senior Kremlin officials, invariably imply effeminacy — which is a most dangerous thing.

Obama seems to misunderstand how the whole world watches the actions he and his top staff undertake, and makes plans accordingly. When you telescope indecision and weakness, others less fissiparous will expect more of the same. My greatest fear is that Putin will grow increasingly aggressive and Obama will stand by until, finally, Putin goes too far and the White House must respond — and we have a major war on our hands. To be fair to the dangerous men in the Kremlin, why would they assume Obama’s talk of “redlines” has any validity, after they saw the American president brush them aside in Syria? Neither do Obama’s feckless efforts to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria inspire confidence in his statesmanship.

Obama has more than the whiff of the faculty lounge about him, something that any professor, and KGB colonel, can smell across the room. The flashes of professorial petulance the president emitted on occasion in his first term have become commonplace of late. It seems that, having witnessed the damage to the Democratic Party that his own policies have caused, as the recent midterm elections rendered obvious, Obama is doubling-down and seeking to irritate Republicans further. This does not bode well for the last two years of this administration.

I have no sympathy for the GOP. Having surrendered principles during Bush’s two terms, they shattered the Republican coalition that had stood reasonably firm for decades. That said, adults in the GOP have weathered their Tea Party tantrum, which looked to drive the Grand Old Party over the cliff in its hunt for ideological purity, and have reasserted control, at least for now. I expected the GOP’s in-the-wilderness phase to last many years, thanks to Bush’s grave mistakes, and the remarkable rebirth of the Republicans as a national party, looking at the 2014 Congressional results, can be attributed less to the GOP’s ability than to the rising incompetence of their opposition.

Democrats read Obama’s two election victories quite wrong. The president assembled an odd coalition of high-income whites, plus minorities sexual and racial, and single women (the “gays, blacks and college professors” bloc, in the words of Democratic stalwart Paul Begala) that may not have coherency without Obama on the ticket. Certainly they prematurely asserted that demographics rendered the GOP obsolete. While such messaging may yet pay great dividends around 2040, they will not suffice to win big much before then.

Moreover, telling whites, especially working class ones — who, after all, remain the single biggest voting bloc in the country — that they are obsolescent, not to mention saddled with old-think, is no way to win national elections, while the obvious contempt that liberal commentators express for Southern whites ought to render the total Democratic collapse among such voters no mystery at all. Belatedly, even liberal stalwarts have realized that maybe it’s not Kansas that has the problem.

Time will tell; it always does. Since my title promised a look at my own politics, here I deliver. Like most people who have worked in counterintelligence, I take a jaundiced, not to say cynical, view of all democratic politics. I despise the empty theater that passes for debate in our political system, and I assume many, if not most, politicos are on the take in some fashion. Certainly most of them don’t quite mean what they say. Yet the true-believers scare me: corruption is preferable to fanaticism.

I find much to like, and even more to dislike, in both our major parties. I lack the gene that makes partisan politics fun for its own sake, I suppose. I don’t think either party has offered real solutions to the grave socio-economic problems that confront America today. My politics derive more from Central European traditions, particularly post-1945 Christian Democracy, than anything I see on FoxNews or MSNBC. I’ll take Adenauer, Schuman or DeGasperi over Maddow or Hannity any day of the week.

I worry deeply about rising inequality in America, which has been growing my whole life and shows no signs of abating, rather the contrary. It is making the country something very different from what it was for several happy generations. Accepting that mass prosperity, which peaked in the middle of the last century, making us the envy of the world, is gone for good will change American politics in ways that we can only yet see in outline. We cannot stop globalization and technological changes that promise to up-end the economy, nor should we try to, but wise and compassionate politicians will seek to soften their impacts on fellow citizens.

The obvious home for socio-economic reform, the Democrats, once the proud party of working people like many of my forebears, has lost its way. Its emphasis on identity politics at the expense of basic socio-economic fairness has driven away countless average people who are struggling and want justice, yet don’t like being lectured endlessly about how racist, sexist and cisnormative they are.

The Republicans have run perilously close to pushing these people, who are mostly white but by no means exclusively so, away too, with their fetishizing of the free market at the expense of common sense, but if the GOP decides to not be stupid by prioritizing ideology over victory, they can win many of these voters to their side; the recent midterm results will be surveyed closely by Republican pollsters who want to win the presidency in 2016.

I believe in quite a few old-fashioned things that would place me on the right-wing of today’s GOP, such as a tough law and order approach to crime, a need to secure our borders to protect our security and American jobs, plus a belief in religion as a social good. Yet the Republican embrace in recent years of neoconservative adventurism, a utopian desire to transform the world through force, a dangerous Wilsonian fantasy untempered by countless disasters since 2001, means that there is little of this “conservatism” that I can stomach.

At the same time, I’m too left-wing to fit comfortably in the Democratic Party of 2014. I’m probably closer to Bernie Sanders than Elizabeth Warren on many socio-economic issues. I think Hillary is less noxious than most of the options confronting us in our next presidential election — unlike several of the Republican possibles, Ms. Clinton is at least in earth orbit, politically speaking — but her personal embrace of corporate greed exemplifies much that has gone wrong with the party of JFK and RFK that I was taught to adulate in my childhood (my parents had pictures of Jesus Christ plus the martyred Kennedy boys on the living room wall: guess which were bigger). Moreover, the Democrats’ flirtation with Social Justice Warrior fanatics, who seek to purify America in line with their Cultural Marxist fantasies, is driving countless normals away, and I’m in that disaffected brigade too.

This leaves me homeless, politically speaking. I’ll settle for being called a reactionary social democrat, since that appellation fits better than most. Above all, my worldview — rather Weltanschauung, to talk like the Ph.D. that I am — is suffused with a sense of both the promise and the tragedy of the human animal. My faith tradition teaches that people are neither angels nor devils, but both. George Kennan, a figure I can easily relate to, spoke of man as “a cracked vessel” eloquently in his cranky memoir, and that homo sapiens surely is.

Moreover, having spent quite a bit of time in the Balkans, I have an acute sense of how fragile civilization really is. Beneath the pleasant surface there lurk monsters, and those monsters are us. In a few short years, Yugoslavia went from being a success story, a benign socialist regime with a high standard of living and apparent amity among its photogenically diverse peoples, to a charnel house of terror. Economic decline and ethnic resentments, combined in evil fashion, led to war and genocide. It’s nice to pretend this can’t happen, but history shows plainly that it can. After all, American optimists in the 1850’s, the TV talking heads of the day, considered the Civil War that was looming ominously to be impossible — right until cannons roared at Fort Sumter.

America remains a great country with enormous promise. I’m with Obama in being a bit skeptical of “American exceptionalism,” which seems well intentioned until it’s used to justify invading other countries, but there’s no doubt that we are blessed by the huge oceans and smaller neighbors that surround us. Even in the age of ICBMs and transnational terrorism, these give the USA a degree of security that most countries can only envy. Over a century ago, Bismarck famously quipped that God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America, and that still may be the case. I feel certain that the only genuine threat to America now is within itself. How we deal with this will determine the course of this still rather new century.




64 comments on “On My Politics”
  1. davidbfpo says:

    Well done John. I expect your position is held by many readers, who are less than impressed with the choice we are presented at the ballot box.

      1. Martin Sattler says:

        As a new reader, I welcome the civility of the comments section and the willingness of the author to address the comments of others. So, in the spirit of the robust intellectual fare I find, I would like to take serious exception to Mr. Schindler’s uncertain grasp of the idea of American exceptionalism. You seem to imply that two oceans and small border countries somehow contribute or define this idea. Or am I reading this incorrectly? It was always my understanding that our exceptionalism was based on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which vested political power in the citizens of the country. So, would you be kind enough to expand your thoughts on this, just to ensure I understand you correctly. thx

      2. 20committee says:

        My point is that a lot of countries think they’re exceptional. For reasons beyond written documents. America existed before the Declaration and the Constitution and she may exist after. Time will tell. Exceptionalism can be dangerous; ask the Germans.

      3. Martin Sattler says:

        John, I know you do not mean that “America existed before the Declaration and the Constitution”; before the Declaration, we were colonies, not an independent country. Much more bothersome, to compare our concept of exceptionalism – which places national sovereignty in the people rather than the govt, a wholly new departure from previous political practice – to Germany is wrong-headed in a very profound way. The concept of exceptionalism is incredibly powerful for our sense of identity; we are not old or new Europe, but derive our values and our sense of purpose and action from this idea that we have made the idea of popular sovereignty work and work well. Obama likes to think other countries are exceptional as well. Fine by me but we are Americans, with a deeply embedded political and social system which can be found in those foundational documents. I certainly respect your politics but do think that certain concepts should not be misued or misrepresented.

      4. 20committee says:

        A definable American identity existed before the Declaration and Constitution — otherwise, how could the revolt of 1775 have happened? I can assure you that what got the soldiers of the Continental Line through the crucible of war — the marching, the starving, the freezing cold, the horrors of battle — was not a piece of paper, rather a deep-seated faith in their cause and that it was just, which was based in their unshakable sense of who they were. That we have, I think, lost.

      5. Martin Sattler says:

        I think that you confuse the ideas of exceptionalism and nationalism. No other country thinks of itself as exceptional – the President is wrong – but all countries have a very strong streak of nationalism, that is until the govt abuses its people to such an extent that personal integrity and survival trump nationalism.

      6. 20committee says:

        I can assure you that plenty other countries think they, too, are exceptional. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Alex says:

    Any favorite (potential) presidential candidates for 2016? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. 20committee says:

      My cat is tanned, rested & ready.

      1. Joe Katzman says:

        If you can get a frowning-type picture of your cat for posters, and act as its spokesperson (“translator”). I’d say that 10% of the vote is well within reach…

  3. Terry says:

    FBO, I aint gonna read all that. FPBO

  4. Phineas Fahrquar says:

    I just don’t get the inability some people suffer from of being unable to reasonably disagree or accept that one can agree with someone on some issues, but not on others. I suspect we disagree a fair amount on domestic politics (I’m largely a small-government, free-market person), but I’ve learned a helluva lot from your articles, including some things that have corrected my own views. It’s the quality of the information that matters — the name-callers and purity police can go jump in a lake. (BTW, if your cat runs, I’m in.)

    1. 20committee says:

      Thanks…PS Meow! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Heide says:

    Some people will never see the light. They have been blind for 6 years now. They better
    wake up to the truth. How can they miss it?? What about all the promises that were never
    fulfilled…look at the facts man. He has really damaged out image all over the world…

  6. Heide says:

    I also noticed when the 1st election was being debated where Obama was running, the press or TV personalities never asked a tough question nor were any of his answered questioned again at any debate. I totally lost respect for the News people who were doing the interviews with all the candidates. They gave Obama a free ride. I did have respect for Charles and George but not after the 1st round of their questions. I thought they were serious news people, but obviously not.
    Do you think the network made the questions for them to ask?? If so why in heavens name would
    they agree to ask such lame questions from a potentially future president?

  7. Anthony says:

    Great post, as always. How do you feel about Jim Webb’s candidacy?

    1. 20committee says:

      Thanks — I like a lot about Jim Webb, have for a long time; his candidacy would be…very interesting.

  8. xtmar says:

    A few thoughts:

    1. The Democrats hope to win in 2016 by boosting turnout of diverse counter-cultural young people by running the most establishment white boomer in the party, which seems a bit counter-intuitive, shall we say.

    2. I’m somewhat more sanguine on Russia than you are, at least so far as it applies to the west (not NATO). To be clear, I think Russia’s aggression is the most pressing issue for the international community right now, and I don’t expect Obama to do anything meaningful about Putin, other than perhaps some more sanctions and some good hashtags for twitter, none of which are likely to significantly alter Putin’s path. However, I think over the long run, the facts necessarily favor the west, as emaciated and emasculated as it is. While it will be painful in the short run, especially for the Ukrainians and others near and dear to Putin’s territorial ambitions, I think we are best served by waiting Putin out and giving him enough rope to hang himself. The wild card of course is if Putin decides we won’t retaliate against tactical nukes, but even supposing that Obama doesn’t, I would be much surprised if the French didn’t retaliate, and I would put heavy money on the Germans (and others?) becoming a nuclear power if such a situation were to arise.

    3. Going in a somewhat different direction, I wonder if the recent dysfunction of the system is the natural evolution of all systems, especially as we more or less actively try to tear down the unifying bonds and unspoken norms that held it together. Very few systems work when every aspect of them has to be enforced with rules, rather than a common understanding about what the norms are. As people have less and less allegiance to society writ large, rather than their own sect, they see less and less wrong with pushing the system to the legal limits and waging procedural warfare. A society with a fairly strong set of norms can tolerate a small subset of people who flaunt the norms, since they’re sort of like the awkward cousin at Thanksgiving or whatever, but once flaunting the norms becomes the norm, all you’re left with are rules, and at that point you’ve lost 90% of the battle.

    4. As bad as our current state is, we’ve still got it pretty good compared to just about everywhere else statistically, except for perhaps Norway, Switzerland, and a few mini-states, like Liechtenstein. Having lived abroad for a few years, and traveled fairly widely, what I always appreciate about coming back to America is the sense that everything is done at 11, which is something that I don’t think you see even in places that have nominally better numbers than we do. While this can be enormously hard on the people who get spit out of the system for one reason or another, on balance I think it’s one of our strengths.

    (I know you’re not a fan of the grand sweep of history type arguments, and I generally agree with you that history is far less determined than most would have it, but at the same time economics and the size of relative industrial bases and so on won’t be denied. Yes, Vietnam and Iraq show that a determined small enemy can defeat a lackadaisical but larger force, but I doubt the Germans or Poles would view actual Russians as a sort of half-hearted threat to be beaten by putting yellow stickers on your car. The muted response of Germany so far, I think, is mostly because they view the Russian threat as more hypothetical than real, in terms of tanks pouring over the Fulda Gap bound for the Rhine.)

    Anyways, always interesting to read your thoughts.

    1. 20committee says:

      Thanks for reading so closely and sharing your detailed feedback…much to ponder there, methinks.

  9. BeeJ says:

    Well done, John. Was amazed at how much of what you stated was very similar to my own thoughts. Appreciate your writings (and tweets) no matter if I agree or not. They are well written. Appreciate examples cited for clarification.

    1. 20committee says:

      Thanks so much for your kind feedback.

  10. Hello John,

    I’ve been a frequent reader of yours for quite some time – rather infrequently so lately due to issues I’ve shared with you privately – and this is by far your most interesting piece that you’ve written (interesting that it’s nothing to do with intelligence per se). There’s quite a lot to chew on here and pardon me if I take over your comments section for a minute, because your modes of expression aside, I have mostly found you to be a worthwhile interlocutor.

    Perhaps I should right off the bat state my biases, noting that I’m a former liberal Republican (yes, we existed) who’s now a left-leaning independent and a staunch (but not knee-jerk) supporter of President Obama. I’m not sure if that makes me one of the “hardcore Obama fans” you derisively refer to, but if the shoe fits, I’ll happily wear it. I actually share a lot of your sympathies on many domestic issues – the unquestioned market orthodoxy and the almost obsequious adherence to corporatism in our 2-party system is one of the main reasons I am an independent. I don’t conceive of myself as a Social Justice Warrior, but I don’t see it as something to be viewed negatively – I am an African-American Catholic man, two groups with an extensive record of social activism in the USA. I happen to think social justice is something to be fought for and not mocked, but that’s my take.

    It gets worse on foreign affairs. My FP views are a cross between Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Kennan and Colin Powell, and as such, I have little patience and tolerance for knee-jerk interventionism and banal exclamations of “leadership”, “strength” and “isolationism” which typifies foreign affairs commentary. These things almost always mean “lobbing bombs at something and/or someone we don’t like”.

    Clearly we disagree on a great deal, maybe not necessarily on policy prescription but on the application thereof. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this your personal take on politics and political philosophy and found it not to be nearly as disagreeable as I assumed, save for the bit about the press coverage of the Obama presidency, white working class voters, “Cultural Marxism” and SJWs. I mostly believe in the greatness of what America is and can be, and come from a family with a proud record of service. I am the son of retired FSOs, have siblings in the US Navy, USAF and FBI (hey, we’re Marylanders ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and believe that America, despite its very obvious flaws as the events of the past few months have shown, is a fantastic place.

    Thanks for this, and keep ’em coming, my man. *taps glass*

    1. 20committee says:

      Glass tapped back. Great to hear from you, brother. Excellent stuff to ponder there…must get on another post someday. Hope all is well with you, thanks for the feedback!

  11. Blackshoe says:

    I think I’ve mentioned before on here that Obama will be uncomfortably compared to Harding in the future, though Wilson is probably a more attractive simile. Harding was a man of big ideas about what should be done, but little experience in managing things and beholden to a small clique from Ohio (the infamous Ohio Gang) for the execution of his government.

    I think Barack Obama is at least a better person than Harding was, if that’s any compensation.

    1. Tento says:

      You lost me at better person….

      I see little evidence that Obama is anything by a malignant narcissist. Thin skinned, shallow, incapable of change. He assumes that any disagreement with his ideas is only due to racism, so he doesn’t have to listen. I wouldn’t trust him to mow my lawn, much less run my country. His decisions have been almost uniformly self serving and awful.

      Now, I say all this as someone who reluctantly voted for Obama in 2008. Hard to believe I was so foolish. On so many occasions, in so many ways, Obama has manged to make every situation worse. Imagine him not focusing on ACS, but on the economy. Or better still, telling his party he wouldn’t sign anything that didn’t attract at least some republican support. What if he had done simple thing, like turn the Nobel prize down, saying he didn’t feel like he deserved it? Over and over he has blown up compromises with the republicans after they were negotiated, simply because he couldn’t take yes for an answer. I’m not sure we have ever had a president as bad as this.

      Name for me one world leader. One. That likes Obama. Name any leader that he has some sort of personal relationship with. How about any member of congress, either party, that likes and respects the guy? Who does he pal around with when not working? Check around and in private, even democrats say he is 1) he is arrogant and self preening, 2) foolish and incompetent. 3) immune to logic, reason, or compromise.

  12. Adam S says:

    Do you consider yourself more of a paleocon, such as what Pat Buchanan says, or even Goldwater?

    1. 20committee says:

      I’m probably the only person who thinks both Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader have expressed some fine ideas (along with some wacky ones).

      1. AIM9 says:

        Almost stuck this down at your XXCommittee, reply to dougr100 but seeing you’ve squared my sails so neatly here …

        “RWNJ” huh?

        It would appear some Readers haven’t been paying attention. At least for very long.

        I well recall a certain post of yours spurred me to offer what I thought would be both my first and last comment. Led me too, to making my first of your site’s bookmarks. (There’s only the two incidentally.)

        Thank you Sir, I’ve long held the theory being homeless, politically speaking was necessarily – and particularly so when such thoughts having been entertained in the same skull as those two gentlemen – anyway was necessarily a lonely place.

        I see it ain’t necessarily so!

        Oh. That bookmarked post?


  13. masterman says:

    An extensive and, I think, accurate analysis. But even though you write US-specific, the ills and fissures you describe are endemic in democracies worldwide. Identity politics, income inequality, polarization, politicians on the take, and above all the inefficiency of government could just as easily describe Poland or Israel. Small wonder that “illiberal democracy” is on the rise and that Putinism is finding adherents in the West.
    As members of the “radical middle” where do we go from here?

    1. 20committee says:

      Nowhere good? ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. A reader says:

    Sorry, the first part is an overly long ramble and you take far too long to get to your point. If you freely admit you don’t have a home politically, it’s unclear why you get so upset when your Democatic/lefty/liberal/etc. followers get mad.

    Did you deserve being called KKK? Nope. Do the Dems/left/liberals, etc. go around the bend at times over Obama or whoever or whatever? Absolutely. But some of your posts and Tweets are very much in opposition to what they believe and yet you almost *never* seem to understand that.

    1. 20committee says:

      I fully understand it; I just disagree.

  15. Cegorach says:

    As Polish I do have a lot of respect for Wilson, but much, much of the rest I definetely agree with.

    As many I moved from center-right towards center, center-left since 2008 even if the crisis didn’t make much impact in Poland and social inequality in my country is getting less and less severe, so is poverty and unemplyment. A large subject to discuss, so I’ll stop right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But the problem is global and USA being the most powerful force and leading democratic country and its problems hit not only that country, but essentially the entire democratic state as a form of government. In the entire world…

    So I hope people with similar views as Yours will bring back as much of former strenght of the USA as possible. To paraphase Mazurek Dฤ…browskiego and possibly the Ukrainian anthem – United States politics is not dead yet.

  16. Monigatti D says:

    I’m not an American, but if both chambers some bills agree, because of values for a free and strongly defended world! Whose country need a President against them? Agree fully, John! From old Europe! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Your political leanings sound like an old school Christian Democrat (American, not European that is) along the lines of FDR and Huey Long: pro-small “d” democracy, pro-family and pro-union. That’s why I think Clinton is the worst president we ever had. Never mind his Milosevic obsession when he should have been focused on Bin Laden, Clinton turned the socially conscious democratic party into republican-lite neoliberals. And worst of all, his deficit hysteria is directly responsible for the Great Recession. Economist Walter Mosley says the Great Recession has caused more total misery for Americans than all American wars in history combined. This is a good post on how Clinton’s deficit hysteria was its proximate cause http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/11/loathsome-wall-street-deficit-hysterics-blame-old-sick-us-part-1.html

    With regard to illegal immigration, none other than Cesar Chavez himself opposed illegal immigration. He reported illegal immigrant strike breakers to INS because he understood the obvious, exporting good paying jobs is the exact same thing as importing cheap labor.

    I really can’t think of a single American politician in the vein of old fashioned democrats. All the current bunch- Bernie Sanders included- pander to free market ideology or zero sum identity politics that would make FDR throw up.

    1. 20committee says:

      Funny how nobody remembers that about Mr Chavez, innit? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated!

  18. Geo Kant Jr. says:

    Sadly, and ironically, you do not leave any room for reasonable people to disagree with your assessment. Instead, those who believe that voters made the correct decision in twice electing this president are cast as mindlessly loyal.

    Also, you do omit the role race has played in the hyper critique of our nation’s first non white male president. A complete assessment surely would have acknowledge that some of your critics find you critique of President Obama and Susan Rice to be virtually indistinguishable from those of say, Sarah Palin.

    For me, and I have found your critique of Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald to be spot on, I am highly suspicious of any critique that does not allow for President Obama and Director Rice to be merely wrong, but entirely incompetent! Really? I find it doubly suspicious given the deeds and decisions of the previous administration.

    My suggestion is that you put forth what you would do differently, how you would have done it given the current Congress, and who you would have help you carry out these improved policies. It is easy to claim you have all the right answers when you have not put yourself forward before the nation to lead. This is true for the folks like Snowden and Greenwald, and it is true for you too.

    So now that you have invested so much in tearing down those who have actual responsibility, please distinguish yourself from the trolls by sharing with us your vision for foreign policy so we can better evaluate your credibility and intentions.


    1. 20committee says:

      I don’t ‘omit’ the role of race at all, I just think it’s not the dominant factor. That argument is EXACTLY WHY the media shied away from necessary criticism for years, out of excessive non-racism, rather fear of being accused of racism by SJW fanatics. Obama should have been treated like any president by the media; he was not. The kid-glove treatment did not help him or the country.

      Here on Planet Earth, Sarah Palin — I’m no fan, BTW — was treated vastly more harshly than Obama or Susan Rice. The latter is not only thoroughly incompetent but a nasty piece of work to boot. Her disgraceful performance on Africa in the mid-1990s ought to have disqualified her from any USG position ever again.

      If you can’t handle these truths, that’s too bad.

      1. Geo Kant Jr. says:

        Sorry but you can save the dismissive jabs for the Snowden crowd.How ironic that you taunt me for an inability to handle truth when you not only believe that race is not a dominant factor and that it gave President Obama some kind of pass from the media.

        And why do you apologize for Sarah Palin? She has been “treated so harshly” that she has made millions! And while Susan Rice is far more accomplished than you, you would have us believe that she too, like Barack Obama, just lucked up into where they are now.

        Do not think that your personal dig diverted my attention from the fact that you ignored the meat of my comment.

        I have enjoyed your critique of Snowden and Greenwald and I share a dim view of the current state of politics in our nation. We live in a polarized country and denying the core reasons for this polarization just promotes the status quo. I will continue to follow your thoughts on the intelligence community, but you have demonstrated here that you are not offering anything insightful on politics or foreign policy. Indeed, this article is the kind of standard issue reflexive reaction to modernity offered daily on Fox News and other oligarchy-funded media aimed at resentful souls.

        Thanks for the reply.

      2. 20committee says:

        People like you are the reason US politics are deeply polarized. Susan Rice, just like Condi Rice, is a longtime personal friend of POTUS and a rare woman of color in the natsec field, so they have special rules in DC, de facto. Neither was qualified for the jobs they were put in. Relationships with POTUS matter, and not always in a healthy way for policymaking.

        You are stating your opinion as fact. That’s fine, but don’t expect people to take that seriously.

  19. Christopher says:

    Just a small correction on your article:

    “Obamaโ€™s overblown July 2008 campaign speech at Berlinโ€™s Brandenburg Gate”.

    Obama did try to get in front of the Brandenburg Gate and caused a lot of uneasiness within the German government as this spot is only allowed for elected leaders, not for candidates (which didnt hold him back from trying nevertheless).

    In the end he was allowed to speak at the Victory column, which is compared to the Brandenburg Gate definitely a 2nd tier spot to appear in Berlin, but still gave a lot of impressive pictures for his fans.

    And while I cant really comment on the Intra-US politics, I can confirm that he would not get that same German crowd again to show up, if he would do another speech in Berlin. Even without the NSA-affair, his reviews are quite mixed here in Germany to say the least.

    1. 20committee says:

      Yes, Obama’s stock isn’t quite so high in Germany now, clearly.Thanks for the clarification, had forgotten that; fact of Obama’s hubris, however, still stands. MfG

  20. MarqueG says:

    Hmm… Cards on the table. Interesting read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve wandered across the political map over the years, too. In the late ’90s I was in Germany and a card-carrying member of the Free Democrats. It was the strident anti-Americanism of Chancellor Schrรถder (once an eager pen-pal of Egon Krenz) that later made me abandon the joint altogether.

    America’s political parties are just plain different from any others in the world. Ours are ever-evolving loose coalitions that expand and shape-shift amoeba-like ideologically over time. Even more importantly, our parties are only loosely shaped from the top down. That makes them all the more resilient over time.

    On the other hand, the parties are a something of an infotainment conspiracy. I can see why someone with an intel perspective would find them all too similar to global disinformation campaign shops. To me it resembles a conspiracy of the Acela-corridor elites against the flyover people of Central Rubestan.

    But there’s no need to worry. It’ll all end in tears anyway. For everyone, eventually.

  21. dougr100 says:

    I dunno. You sound an awful lot like a Democrat to me ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. 20committee says:

      I’m not. I find big problems with both Dems & GOP.

  22. me says:

    Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party – at least you’ve got a choice. As it seems in my country we don’t have one (vide: local elections in Poland). Pozdrawiam!

  23. Ryan says:

    I’m a libertarian, only because US interventions and aid don’t necessarily improve stability. They do create dependency, as well as a bitterness against the US among underrepresented groups in the foreign country. And then we are surprised when those groups seize power, and start denouncing us or worse.

    Washing our hands of the matter is simplest.

    I agree with your disillusionment of democracy, but I disagree with your dislike of fanaticism. Fanaticism is fine, as long as it isn’t used to mask corruption or greed. I would feel more secure with leaders that are fanatics who are honest and believe in equality (whatever the form), as I would know where I stand in such a world.

    With corruption, it’s a subtle twisting of laws and rules to serve your own ends.

    Naturally, an honest politician is a rare breed.

    1. Ryan says:

      Additional thought: that said, blind fanaticism does scare me. I swear the death of Steve Jobs was the death of a Communist dictator.

  24. cw says:

    What should obama have done in Syria and Ukraine?

    1. 20committee says:

      Read my writings on that very topic.

  25. Gus says:

    If the Russian economy is indeed moving towards the meltdown that it seems to be moving to Obama’s handling of the Ukraine crisis will appear to have been an masterstroke. As regards Syria and Iraq however, not even in the very far future can I imagine it to be seen as anything else but a huge cock-up (albeit one largely inherited from his predecessor).

  26. Guns says:

    Some people put their faith in Elizabeth Warren after her recent speech against the big bank bailouts as a possible way ahead. What is your opinion?


  27. Tom says:

    Speaking for myself only, I couldn’t have put it better about my own politics. You make an honest argument. You actually sound like an awful lot of ordinary American voters, albeit with a far, far more informed understanding of intel, military, and foreign policy sides. You seem to be a disaffected, unanchored independent. It will be those voters who will determine the 2016 federal, state, and local elections. Lead on…

    1. 20committee says:

      Thanks for your kind feedback.

  28. Fritz Wunderlich says:

    Sounds very reasonable and well said, a position I can whole heartedly support. I` m just under the impression that we are old school, no future.

  29. Great post … good things to ponder for the Canadian context as well, especially with a federal election in 2015.

    It seems we also have a slate of political parties which to me, talk a lot of good sense in certain areas, but – whether beholden to highly motivated single-issue voters, seat-winning strategies, or just ideology – spout quite a number of questionable positions.

  30. section9 says:

    Well said.

    It’s like I always say, if they brought Nixon back, he’d have your vote.

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