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I've often written about the usefulness of being ruthless when the situation and the times demand it, and on occasion some readers have taken issue with that proposition, clinging to the notion that ruthlessness is always wrong.

Given the current constitutional crisis in Washington, I think this is a good time to expand on this proposition, especially because it goes to the root of what it means to be engaged in a power struggle with a bad-faith actor.

Let me first touch on the subject at a very basic, personal level... First, I recognize that the concept of power itself is amoral.  In other words, power does not care whether it is being wielded by a moral or immoral actor.

For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that the protagonist is a moral actor, i.e., a person who is guided by principles of honesty, fairness, justice, equality, and empathy...

I think it may be useful to illustrate the concept using an anecdotal account, first.  From a personal perspective, here's how I've understood the concept of power struggle with a bad-faith/immoral actor (a proposition which I admit is subjective when it comes to my own experiences).

No matter the environment or situation, when it comes to interpersonal relationships I always start by giving people the benefit of the doubt.  In other words, even when people seem to have done something wrong against me, I assume that they didn't do it on purpose (maliciously), and that they may have acted out of ignorance (i.e., they din't realize they were doing something wrong).

Because of it, my approach to dealing with perceived wrongdoing is to immediately let the person know (in a very dispassionate and respectful manner) about how I'm perceiving the action, and then watch carefully what that person does after he or she has been made aware of my perception.

Then, after that, I have series of "tests" I use to determine whether the person is a good-faith or a bad-faith actor, again giving the person plenty of opportunity to show he or she is a good faith actor who's transgression wasn't done on purpose (i.e., maliciously).

Here's where I think the concept of ruthlessness comes into play... If after giving the perceived antagonist plenty of opportunity to prove their good faith I determine that he or she is in fact a bad faith actor, then the gloves come off and that point my approach is total and utter destruction of the antagonist, ruthlessly.

In other words, at that point things like compassion, fairness, and especially appeasement or accommodation completely go out the window, all replaced by a ruthless and relentless focus on destroying the enemy (metaphorically speaking, of course).

But here's the thing, if you are to be successful this process require yo to be as dispassionate as possible; it must be almost like a mechanical process.

You evaluate the situation, your leverage against the other person, your weaknesses, any power imbalances, and then once you have a clear picture of those things, you patiently and relentlessly work towards gaining the advantage and putting yourself into situation where you'll be able to totally destroy the enemy.

The chess game metaphor applies here... It is very important that you don't make your final move until you are absolutely sure that it will lead to the total and absolute defeat of your opponent.  And again, that is why being dispassionate and extremely patient is of paramount importance in this process.

Once everything is in place, then you make your final move, and at that point you must feel no compassion towards your enemy or have any compunctions about the steps you're going to take to defeat him.

This is called ruthlessness...  It applies to any environment, but it can be especially effective in the corporate (where is where I've implemented it) or political environment.

Now, before I move on to the next area of discussion, I acknowledge that for certain people who are gentle, good-hearted, this whole concept would seem to be anathema.  In other words, the thought of being this calculative, this dispassionate, this ruthless is not something they could do, ever.  I understand that fully.  But also, that's the reason evil (sociopaths), seem to always find a way to power.

From The 48 Laws of Power:

Law 15: Crush your Enemy Totally - All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely.  (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.)  If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.  More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation:  The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge.  Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.
This is a good segue into the topic of President Obama's Original Sin... The original sin of course is that he was a neoliberal corporatist to begin with.
Obama's Big Sellout: The President has Packed His Economic Team with Wall Street Insiders

The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway

Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

-- by Matt Taibbi / Published on Sunday, December 13, 2009 by Rolling Stone

The emphasis is mine

This, of course, would doom any possibility of actually addressing the rampant criminality by the Wall Street racketeering criminal cartel and the war criminals/profiteers of the Bush administration, from the the get go.

But if one consider Taibbi's quote referring to him running "as a man of the people standing up to Wall Street," one must accept the fact that many millions of people who voted for him expected him to do just that.  We expected him to address the widespread looting by Wall Street, and the injustices that situation brought about.  And we expected him to hold Bush administration criminals, accountable.

Why, because both, the Wall Street criminal racketeering cartel and the Bush administration criminal gang have proven to be bad faith actors against the country, against the people, against democracy itself.  And thus they needed to be dealt with, ruthlessly.

At least to me, why the person so many millions of people thought was going to address these obvious injustices and criminality turned out to be a neoliberal corporatist, will always remain an enigma... But for the sake of discussion, let's assume that he's a good faith actor.  In other words, let's assume that he really though that for the sake of the country and given the circumstances the best course of action was to look forward, and not backwards, and to embrace certain economic theories aligned with neoliberalism.

If that is the case, then in my opinion he made a very grave mistake by assuming that the Wall Street racketeering criminal cartel could be tamed, or that he could reason with bad faith political actors.  This could have been a fatal mistake for the country.

Here's how Jonathan Chait, writing for New York Magazine, describes the current situation:

The Shutdown Prophet

Washington couldn’t have gone dark without a radicalized Republican Party. Or maybe it was destined to all along.

Instead, to the slowly unfolding horror of the Obama administration and even some segments of the Republican Party, the GOP decided that the alternative to finding common ground with the president did not have to be mere gridlock. It could force the president to enact its agenda. In January, Boehner told his colleagues he’d abandon all policy negotiations with the White House. Later that spring, House Republicans extended the freeze-out to the Democratic-­majority Senate, which has since issued (as of press time) eighteen futile pleas for budget negotiations. Their plan has been to carry out their agenda by using what they call “leverage” or “forcing events” to threaten economic and social harm and thereby extract concessions from President Obama without needing to make any policy concessions in return. Paul Ryan offered the most candid admission of his party’s determined use of non-electoral power: “The reason this debt-limit fight is different is we don’t have an election around the corner where we feel we are going to win and fix it ourselves,” he said at the end of September. “We are stuck with this government another three years.”

Last Tuesday, House Republicans shut down the federal government, demanding that Obama abolish his health-care reform in a tactically reckless gamble that most of the party feared but could not prevent. More surreal, perhaps, were the conditions they issued in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling later this month. Lifting the debt ceiling, a vestigial ritual in which Congress votes to approve payment of the debts it has already incurred, is almost a symbolic event, except that not doing it would wreak unpredictable and possibly enormous worldwide economic havoc. (Obama’s Treasury Department has compared the impact of a debt breach to the failure of Lehman Brothers.) The hostage letter House Republicans released brimmed with megalomaniacal ambition. If he wanted to avoid economic ruin, Republicans said, Obama would submit to a delay of health-care reform, plus tax-rate cuts, enactment of offshore drilling, approval of the Keystone pipeline, deregulation of Wall Street, and Medicare cuts, to name but a few demands. Republicans hardly pretended to believe Obama would accede to the entire list (a set of demands that amounted to the retroactive election of Mitt Romney), but the hubris was startling in and of itself.

The emphasis is mine

When I read this, this quote from Rule 15 of The 48 Laws of Power comes to mind: "If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.  More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation:  The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge."

Imagine what would have happened if instead of appointing the same Wall Street criminals that looted the country, to government positions, or choosing to look the other way, or "look forward instead of backwards" when it came to the massive crimes of the Bush administration (and the deranged Republican party), he had actually done the right thing and allowed/enabled the proper investigations of those crimes, letting justice run its course?

We would not be in this position.  We would not be dealing with an emboldened and group of political nihilists willing to take down the country:

To weaponize the debt ceiling, you must be willing to inflict harm on millions of innocent people. It is a shockingly powerful self-destruct button built into our very system of government, but only useful for the most ideologically hardened or borderline sociopathic. But it turns out to be the perfect tool for the contemporary GOP: a party large enough to control a chamber of Congress yet too small to win the presidency, and infused with a dangerous, millenarian combination of overheated Randian paranoia and fully justified fear of adverse demographic trends.
The emphasis is mine

Instead, here we are, facing what could end up being one of the most destabilizing periods in the nation's history, caused by both, the timidity of a new president, and the boldness of a truly deranged political faction.

Obama is the one that should have been bold once he took office in 2009...

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness - If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it.  Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution.  Timidity is dangerous:  Better to enter with boldness.  Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity.  Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.
Both, the Wall Street criminal racketeering cartel and the crazed Republicans seem to understand these rules very, very well.

Finally, we'll have to see what ends up happening; we all hope that the impasse is resolved and that the country steps back from the brink.  But as I've argued before, keep in mind that if the situation is not resolved in time, and we get to the brink of default, or actually cross that Rubicon, the Wall Street criminal racketeering cartel and the billionaire funders of the Teabaggers will probably benefit the most from the chaos.

Market For The People |Ray Pensador | Email List | Twitter | Facebook

P.S. There is a small group of users who regularly engage in disruptive behavior in my diaries' discussion threads.  I would like to ask people interested in serious discussion to avoid engaging these few folks in any way.  They usually engage in insults, mockery, and fallacies intended to derail discussion, and post several messages each.  I know this may be annoying to some readers and may prompt them to engage these folks.  I highly recommend that they be ignored so we can focus on intelligent discussion.
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Comment Preferences

  •  T&R, Ray. (16+ / 0-)

    If Obama had entered with a take-no-prisoners attitude, we might not be at this point.

    Mostly, I wish he'd chosen his economic advisors from the saltwater school, not the Chicago school. Ours were prescient: theirs are still talking about trickle-down.

    By now, it's all moot. If he has the cojones to stare down WingNuttistan, then we win. Because sooner or later the semi-sane GOP pols will realize that their actions are mobilizing the Democratic base.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 01:02:19 AM PDT

  •  The criminals aren't on Wall Street. The (8+ / 0-)

    criminals are on Capitol Hill. That's where dollars and the rules about how to use them originate. Congress, instead of administering a utility and guaranteeing reliability, as they do for weights and measures, has relied on the distribution of dollars to promote their own incumbency and power.
    The earmarks were the least of it. All federal programs are geared towards rewarding friends and punishing enemies and, more specifically, the friends and enemies of the old timers.
    In the last three elections, the House has seen 212 freshmen, people who arrived full of ambition only to discover that the committee system leaves them with no power. All they can do is make noise and issue threats to some minority group to play to the fears of the folks back home.
    The trust fund programs, which operate autonomously, evade the imposition of strings to keep particular constituencies in train. The health insurance subsidies will increase that trend exponentially. Which means members of Congress will have fewer dollars to direct to secure their re-election. The Tea Party people are novices that are being used by the old timers. Lee Terry, for example, while not a real old-timer, has been in Congress for fifteen years, long before the Tea Party even appeared. Indeed, the rapidity with which the designation was adopted by Democrats for any politician they don't like should make it suspect.

    •  ? Somebody funds the criminals (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emal, 3rdOption

      on Capital Hill. Those in DC are only tools.

      •  No, see, that's the grand deception. Congress is (3+ / 0-)

        tasked with the origination and distribution of the currency. They have set up the Federal Reserve as a middleman to launder the funds, which the Federal Reserve requisitions from the Treasury on demand from member banks. Routing dollars through the Fed makes it possible to pretend that collections come before dispersal. But, that's the reverse of the logical process. The federal government (but not the states) spends dollars into the economy and then is supposed to levy taxes that bring them back to be counted and sent out again. The MMT people call the dollars that don't come back "leakage" but I don't think it's a good term. Wall Street hoarding dollars to play with an inflate stock prices is not a leak.
        The Fed has been pouring dollars into the economy, but the uncertainty caused by the jokers on capitol hill keeps them from doing anything but the equivalent of playing volley ball with the dollars.

        I'm beginning to think that the Congressional habit of rationing, which has been going on for at least three decades, actually prompts Wall Street to hoard. What is effectively rationing reverberates all down the line. States hoard because they never know how much money they'll have to work with. Cities hoard for the same reason. The red states don't know they've been privileged with more dollars than anyone else; nor do they know that these dollars have come at the price of getting minimal public services because all the public officials and the financiers take a cut.

  •  There you go again, Ray. Good luck. (8+ / 0-)
    P.S. There is a small group of users who regularly engage in disruptive behavior in my diaries' discussion threads.  I would like to ask people interested in serious discussion to avoid engaging these few folks in any way.  They usually engage in insults, mockery, and fallacies intended to derail discussion, and post several messages each.  I know this may be annoying to some readers and may prompt them to engage these folks.  I highly recommend that they be ignored so we can focus on intelligent discussion.
    •  :'( (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kharma, Ray Pensador, 3rdOption

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 02:35:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can't imagine why (6+ / 0-)

      even Ray's most ardent fans would bother taking the time and effort to write substantive comments in his diaries.

      Far from being "ruthless" and resolute Ray doesn't even have the integrity to leave a diary up that he feels hasn't either done well or gotten the attention it surely deserves.

      Two in less than a week deleted.

      Ron Reagan: "Sarah Palin's constituency are people who wear red rubber noses and bells on their shoes."

      by AnnetteK on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 02:44:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting that the diarist call the President a (8+ / 0-)

      "corporatist" (a personal insult and mockery directed at Barack Obama) and yet is worried that others will make personal insults and mock him.

      Contrary to the diarist, I would say that a President who has given a society access to healthcare, which has eluded said society for close to a century and where heretofore many in that society would get sick and die, is a man of the people.

      Oh how noble are these lofty individuals who scoff at Barack as not being a man of the people justified in doing so, since of course their ability to wax eloquently for perhaps a hundred years has not yielded that which the "not a man of the people" has accomplished for millions.

      Still, it is also important to note that this 44th President as achieved all that he has despite being blocked and sabotaged by a terrorist segment of Congress.  That even as he has been called a "corporatist", he is also despised by corporate America, who have spent tens of millions of dollars to oppose him.

      Despite obstructionism by Republicans, the individuals who are really aligned with corporate America, the President passed a Wall Street reform legislation with the aid of individuals who are, I guess, also considered “corporatist”.  What are the names of such “corporatist”?

      Patrick Leahy, Al Franken, Tom Harkin, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse and Bernie Sanders, what a bunch of “corporatist”!

      These individuals voted for the legislation because they understood that politics is not doing the impossible, but doing the possible. It is doing the best that you can under difficult circumstances and improve on your efforts later.

      If individuals such as these had adopted the stance of not voting for any legislation unless it were perfect we would not have passed the Affordable Care Act or even Social Security.

      We would have gotten nothing accomplished, just the chance to boast that we joined with those that were against the interest of the people to block legislation that wasn't perfect. We would have had NOTHING.

      Am I wrong? Let’s see…. Let’s take a look at the Republicans who voted against the Wall Street bill.

      Chambliss (R-GA)
      Coburn (R-OK)
      Cochran (R-MS)
      Corker (R-TN)
      Cornyn (R-TX)
      Crapo (R-ID)
      Inhofe (R-OK)
      Isakson (R-GA)
      Johanns (R-NE)
      Kyl (R-AZ)
      Graham (R-SC)
      Grassley (R-IA)
      McCain (R-AZ)
      DeMint (R-SC)
      Sessions (R-AL)

      These are staunch Conservatives, who habitually vote against the interest of Democrats and the nation, so nothing remarkable here. But what is remarkable? There was a Democrat, whom many so called "true Progressives" consider the epitome of Progressivism, who voted along with Republicans against the Wall Street legislation, and who was that Democrat?

      Feingold (D-WI)

      What has Ross Feingold achieved, in terms of stopping the injurious practices on Wall Street since voting against the Wall Street bill? A bill that, although not perfect,  put at least some regulations in place?


      He helped the Republicans vote against the legislation and has nothing to show for it except the boast, perhaps, that he along with Republicans voted against the legislation.

      This more than anything else illustrate  the mindset of the all or nothing, Obama is a “corporatist” crowd.  They talk and talk and talk, and have even waited a century before giving tens of millions of people the ability to gain access to healthcare, until the so-called "corporatist" "not a man of the people" Obama showed up.

      Big Talkers.


      •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, emal, churchylafemme

        "Contrary to the diarist, I would say that a President who has given a society access to healthcare, which has eluded said society for close to a century and where heretofore many in that society would get sick and die, is a man of the people."

        Sorry, but the ACA does not give access to healthcare, but access to health insurance.  They are not the same.  There are still going to be millions that cannot afford the costs of treatments and/or medications.

      •  ACA is a CORPORATE "solution" (4+ / 0-)

        with mandatory tithes to corporate profits.

        Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

        by The Dead Man on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 07:23:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Keep saying that. Tell that to people who have (3+ / 0-)

          lived for years without care. You folk who keep trying to diminish the ACA with the big scary suggestion that it is a "corporatist" plan, will never understand that to the average person all that is important is that he or she can get care. Just like those on the Right who keep trying to diminish it your arguments are more just noise.

          If people had to depend on your "perfect" model to get healthcare they would have had to wait another 100 years. I believe that the plan can and will be improved but I don't subscribe to the view of most of you folk here who wanted the plan killed because it didn't live up to your wish list.

          Talk talk talk.... And frequently no action.

          •  We should all praise god for the table scraps (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            churchylafemme, Ray Pensador

            our betters leave us.

            Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

            by The Dead Man on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 10:50:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  So saying the ACA is corporatist (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            automatically means a person wanted the bill killed? How do you know "most of us folk who wanted the plan killed because it didn't live up to our wish list?"

            Or are you just ascribing the most extreme position of that debate to anyone who says anything that isn't 100% complimentary?

            Yes, I do believe that's exactly what you're doing.

            And talk, talk, talk, but frequently no action means that no one tried? People were screaming for a public option. A lot of us thought that's what Obama wanted. Until he didn't, because there "wasn't enough votes." Because nobody had it in them enough to twist Lieberman's arm, or whatever the excuse was for giving up on it without a fight.

            It doesn't change the fact that the insurance industry has a lot of nice, new customers.

            Being a giveaway to that industry is okay, because a lot more people can get insurance. Fine.

            It's still a giveaway, and it's far from perfect. People can point that out if they want, because it's a fact. A few bloggers saying something unflattering isn't gonna undo the law, nor is it going to prevent people from taking advantage of it, so you can rest easy.

            But as long as you're here to take umbrage on his behalf whenever someone says something mean about his achievements, we can be confident in the knowledge that we're one step farther away from realistically evaluating anything he does.

            Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

            by DeadHead on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 11:04:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  What's missing . . . (16+ / 0-)

    is the situational context.  

    What is a person's leverage in a given situation?

    This matters a great deal.   In all conflicts there must be an understanding about where the conflict is being waged.  You can't just make a judgment in isolation in the abstract.  

    In 2011, the GOP had just come off a pretty decisive victory in the mid-terms.  Obama was over a year away from his re-election.  His approvals were at the lowest point in his presidency.  He was not in a position at that time to dictate terms -- even in dealing with a bad faith actor.  

    In the case of the GOP too, I don't think "bad faith" encompasses the full reality.  In the case of a GOP, there is some genuine bad faith, but there is also an element of genuine incompetence.   This is part of the broader context as well.

    In some sense, by giving the GOP favorable terms, in 2011 which the GOP stupidly refused, Obama got incredibly lucky.  He may have botched the negotiations, but whatever blunders he at least bought time, which he desperately needed at that point.  And his screw-ups were not as monumentally bad as the GOP -- at least in terms of achieving objectives.

    The context now is quite different.  The economy has improved, he is less than a year removed from a fairly decisive re-election, the Dems gained seats in both houses of Congress.  The GOP stupidly focused in on the ACA at a time when the exchanges themselves were going online, and inadvertently undid what they almost succeeded in doing by cutting the DHS's advertising budget for the roll-out -- e.g. giving the exchanges a lot of free publicity.  His own election is no longer an issue, the fate of the ACA is no longer as insecure as it was in 2011 after the Supreme Court ruling, and the relitigation of the issue through the 2012 campaign.  His stance is a reflection of these circumstances.  The Dems stance also reflects the change dynamics since 2011.

    A further point: his objective is not the "destruction" of his political enemies.  At the end of the day, his goal is to achieve the best possible policy objectives.  

    If the focus is just directed at destroying an opponent, you risk losing sight of the original objective.  This I see as the GOP's fundamental problem.  Their focus on Obama has weakened their vision of reality and caused them to lose focus on the real endgame.  

    Instead they have gone for a Hail Mary, and risk losing even more ground as a consequence.

    If you deal with a bad-faith actor, "destruction" in most cases is way too excessive.  Most negotiations aren't existential threats or crisis.  In this case the stakes are high, and the threat of a breached debt ceiling could be an economic catastrophe -- still the end game is not to destroy the adversary.  It is first and foremost to just get the debt ceiling raised with at most, a face saving, purely symbolic concession.  If the end game was to simply destroy the adversary in this case, breaching the debt ceiling may actually be the best way to achieve that outcome.  But it also brings tremendous uncertainty, and the downside risks are huge.  

    In any negotiation you must be willing to walk away and you must understand what you want to achieve and what you are willing to give.  On some level, whether the negotiating partner is acting in bad faith or not, is not hugely significant, if the deal substantively is one that is acceptable to you -- or at least achieves the best possible outcome at that time.

    In this case, the destruction of the GOP may be the outcome -- highly unlikely -- but perhaps the GOP will suffer some long-term damage to its brand as a consequence.

    However, it's worth noting that that damage is being almost entirely self-inflicted and in a way, it is just a secondary effect/benefit, and not the objective of the administration and the Dem leadership's strategy.  The focus on the ultimate object is what matters.  

    As you indicate, power is value neutral, it is just a tool that you use to obtain other more important objectives -- most properly a means, not an end.  However, a focus on destruction of the enemy/adversary -- especially in a non-life-threatening context is likely to be counterproductive seems to undercut this entire idea.  It elevates the power relationship above other considerations.  

    This is precisely the problem with the GOP right now.  They are so obsessed with demonstrating that they still have power -- including the power to destroy -- that they ultimately come off looking reckless, and weak.   They are almost entirely incapable of constructive action, because they really don't seem to have any objective in mind other than the expansion of their own power.  Power has become their only end -- i.e. making Obama a one-term president, the refusal to deal on the economic recovery in 2009, because of the calculation that bad economic news would help them get back to power sooner.  In the end though, if you use your power recklessly and selfishly, you risk losing it.   And people are most likely to use their power recklessly and selfishly, when they lose sight of common shared objectives that they share with other people, and instead focus solely on the destruction of the other.

    In any event, thought-provoking topic.

    •  This *is* a life-threatening context. (3+ / 0-)
      ...a focus on destruction of the enemy/adversary -- especially in a non-life-threatening context is likely to be counterproductive seems to undercut this entire idea.
      To those whose aid is cut, to those who might lose any opportunity for health care if the ACA is damaged, or medicare cut, or lose food for their children, or for vets whose medical (and mental health) care may be disrupted, this is a life-threatening context.

      Likewise, for too-big-to-fail banks, for corporate raiders, for those intent on privatizing everything in sight to the detriment of the public good, having Obama come into office understanding that often the best first step in looking forward is to look backward, and put destructive criminals in prison (where they can do no further harm going forward), for those bad-faith actors whose social impact is destructive, an integrity-driven Obama is a life-threatening Obama.

      So make no mistake, one way or another, the election of Barack Obama was potentially a life-threatening event for some, and the corruption of President Obama has enabled a life-threatening context for many others.

      Imagine the current state of the nation if President Obama had put as much effort into dismantling the criminal banking cartel that has caused so much misery, made so many homeless and unemployed, and cost so many their lives, worldwide, if he had put as much effort into combating psychopathic Corporatist criminals as he has put into attacking psychopathic Islamic fundamentalist criminals who, by their very constitution cannot come close to doing as much damage.

      Imagine our current situation if he'd focused, from the beginning, on the necessary war against greed, greed which has done far more international damage than terrorism.

      Without a nuclear device, Al Qaeda cannot realistically aspire to wreak as much havoc as Goldman Sachs has already done.

      But one is now crippled, and the other emboldened, empowered, and enriched.

      While both consider themselves to be doing God's work, only one contributed to candidate Obama's initial election to the Presidency. And only one was given a pass when President Obama chose to "Look Forward".

      It would take at least one diary to address the myriad flaws in your comment. I'll just leave it at this.

      "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

      by 3rdOption on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 09:47:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was absolutely brilliant! Thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  How does "destroying" an adversary . . . (0+ / 0-)

        resolve any of those very real life threatening issues?

        The point is, these are decisions made through an electoral, Constitutional process.  

        In a generalized way, there are any number of choices that politicians make that may have life or death consequences for some constituents -- this is especially true with economic policy.  You still have to work within the process and obtain popular consent.  Something like the ACA/Obamacare should reduce suffering and provide some economic security to families, but even that law doesn't go far enough.  A single payer system may go even further, but even in systems with nationalized health care, there tends to be rationing (e.g. choices made whether a health care system will pay for an expensive drug that only increases life expectancy by two to four weeks -- if the panel of experts decides not to pay for that treatment, because the money might be used in other ways to save more lives at a lower cost, life and death choices are being made).  Hopefully someday we can deal with those kind of problems, rather than the mess that we currently have.

        Obama's election was "life threatening" mostly in the abstract to some crazy people.  Yes, there are people who might think that a 4 percent increase in tax rates on income above $400K is the end of all freedom, but those people are nuts.

  •  Well done Ray. Congratulations. :) n/t (5+ / 0-)

    Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
    Left/Right: -7.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

    by Bud Fields on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 02:37:27 AM PDT

  •  There's always naked truth in your writing. (11+ / 0-)

    I'm stumbling on one point near the end of this diary.

    We would not be in this position.  We would not be dealing with an emboldened and group of political nihilists willing to take down the country.
    The interests that see an advantage in harming the country have been around (in modern form) for decades and they pushed their agenda relentlessly using considerable resources and a comprehensive strategy.  To them, Democratic public policy is a potential hindrance to their agenda or a delay in its full implementation.  

    What they plan and what they do is rooted in who and what they are.  They're neither emboldened nor discouraged by what Democrats do.  Their course is steady and determined and they always have the same destination in mind.  Their advancement would be greatly facilitated if they had the votes to enact the policies they want, but they aren't troubled by the elections they lose.  They proceed anyway.  No matter what.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 02:40:03 AM PDT

    •  At this point, they don't lose elections. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador

      Because they've already bought whichever candidate wins, R, or D.

      Only a handful of candidates have achieved real positions of power, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, without the corrupting support of Corporatists.

      "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

      by 3rdOption on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 09:50:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes of course you always give people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, Diogenes2008

    the benefit of the doubt.

    Is this before or after you accuse them of being a troll, a shill, just 'not getting it', just 'not having your patience (which apparently is saintly except when it's it not) or all the other ways you have clearly not given people the benefit of the doubt?

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 04:10:42 AM PDT

  •  Are you an INTJ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kharma, Ray Pensador

    Because I swear I could have written this myself... LOL

    Great diary.

  •  I support the President exactly because he (8+ / 0-)

    has the world view that he does.  I'll use his admonition:  respect, empower, include.

    Its called a mutual mindset by some.  I also learned some things about how other people respond in my sixty years.  A lot came in the last fifteen or so after working through the nature of domestic violence and how not to ever let it happen to me again.

    Being cruelly disempowered at a critical time and by critical people in ones life, the theory goes, leads to seeing life as one long power struggle.  Unless one has a person in ones life that can validate the unfairness of the abuse, one can grow up with the constant need to make sure one is never the underdog again. For someone effected by this scenario there is no such thing as equality, mutuality.

    I learned that if I approached someone who had this power over mindset as an equal, they would immediately try to put me down.  I learned about this issue in my Studying the nature of abuse also termed bullying explained so much and helped me understand many types of interactions.

    The President is engaging the world as a mutual person and that is driving some people on the Left absolutely crazy.  They are thinking perhaps that the bullying of others is all about him not being a bully.  It doesn't really work that way.

    If we try to imagine a world where we can deal with one another fairly and mutually, we need to seek out leaders that are capable of those basic attitudes.

    I don't want the President to change AT ALL.  He is one of the most inspiring representatives of how one can have an equality testimony and at the same time live life with courage.  The President sacrifices himself but never anyone else to his cause.  God bless him.

    •  You have to be kidding? (7+ / 0-)

      Not sure if this is sarcastic.  He is a capitulator.  He is ALREADY saying "I will bargain IF ONLY you will pass the CR and debt limit rise."

      He is quite simply the most incompetent President in my 63 years of life.  There have been worse Presidents as far as policy goals (by far). But unfortunately they KNEW how to play the game of politics.

      He does start nice foreign wars and keep the economy stalled though.

    •  You seem to discount human Evil. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador
      If we try to imagine a world where we can deal with one another fairly and mutually...
      You seem to have ignored Ray's central thesis in this diary, that

      There is no point in treating bad-faith actors fairly.

      One thing that I disagree with Ray on is giving bad-faith actors the benefit of the doubt. As you should know from your experience with the abused, "benefit of the doubt" is where abusers make hay.

      There are red flags (that are often obvious, but only after you know what to look for) that can alert you to a bad-faith actor (or as I prefer, Evil actor) before they can even have the opportunity to do damage to you, your organization, or your nation.

      I would contend that some individuals are fundamentally Evil, and that they will resist any attempt at "redemption", no matter the origin. (I hate using religious terms here, because my definition of Evil is secular, not spiritual. But those terms work, so...) I believe that there is a tipping point for some, and once that tipping point is passed, self-reinforcing mechanisms are in place that insulate against "moral health". Some people, such as serial killers, may be born beyond that tipping point, as evidenced by small children born into healthy families who immediately display a marked tendency toward cruelty, such as torturing and killing small animals.

      We will never successfully deal with the innately cruel, selfish, and duplicitous in a "mutual" manner. To attempt to do so is to invite misery into our lives, unnecessarily.

      You deal with Evil people by excluding them from your life once you recognize them, and if they refuse exclusion, by crushing them as Ray has described. In domestic situations this may involve restraining orders, incarceration, or even more drastic alternatives if in imminent danger.

      Importantly though, one must be able to distinguish between opponents and bad-faith enemies. Opponents can be negotiated with, and can be dealt with in the good-faith, mutual manner that you described. Opponents, because they are good-faith actors, can sometimes become allies, often very loyal allies.

      Not so for bad-faith enemies. One of the incessant complaints of current Democrats, especially ones who are older, is that the Republicans used to be good-faith opponents. Chris Matthews is hawking his book on this very topic right now. But Newt, right-wing talk radio, and FOXNews changed all that.

      The new core of the Republican party is composed of bad-faith actors, and President Obama should have never been naive enough to negotiate with that group. Hell, they act in bad faith within their own party! And the President should view them as a mortal enemy not just to himself and the Democratic party, but to our democracy.

      The best thing that can happen to the Republican party is that it be killed. Dead. We were on the cusp of doing so in '09, but Democratic corruption threw them a lifeline. If Obama and the Dems hold firm, and give the R's nothing in this current crisis, the Republican party will destroy itself.

      From that self-destruction will emerge at least three spin-off parties, and only one of them will be the "Evil seed". That will allow the good-faith Republicans to purge the bad-faith actors from their ranks, and begin to build a far less toxic coalition to counterbalance the Democrats. (This is what happened to both Japan and Germany at the end of WWII. The Evil at the top was excised, and the good-faith elements of the populace were allowed to become dominant and flourish.)

      If Obama blinks however, and does not go for the throat and destroy the Republican party as we know it, the Evil element of the Republican party will be empowered and emboldened, and they will have successfully consumed and taken full control of the that party.

      And that could be the end of American Democracy as we know it, and as it was intended to function.

      Finally, note my signature.

      "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

      by 3rdOption on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 11:06:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bad-faith actors and external existential threats. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        One more point.

        At the political level, you can tell the bad-faith actors by how they respond to an external existential threat to all parties.

        After 9/11, Democrats acted in good-faith. They worked with President Bush and Republicans to address an external existential threat. (The wisdom of some of those actions has been litigated elsewhere.) No one can say that the Democrats took advantage of 9/11 to undercut W or the Republicans.

        Now, what happens when the US, under President Obama, comes under threat, in any fashion, from an external source? Politics, with the bad-faith Republicans, no longer ends at the border. They choose any international issue that is bad for the US as an immediate opportunity to attack the President.

        Look at what they did with Benghazi. They were issuing formal statements attacking President Obama before even the State Department knew what was happening. Before we even knew that our ambassador was dead!

        This was shameful. And it was as clear a tell as any good-faith actor needs to confirm that they are up against a bad-faith enemy. That

        Compromise is impossible, and this bad-faith enemy must be exposed to the public, and then destroyed.

        "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

        by 3rdOption on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 11:22:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Another brilliant analysis. Let me clarify (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        something.  It's not necessarily that I give bad faith actors the benefit of the doubt; it's that I have a process I follow before determining somebody is a bad faith actor, because once that determination is made, I then proceed to the path of ruthless destruction of same (if the opportunity presents itself).

  •  Some understanding of what I think you might (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kharma, Dianna, Ray Pensador, emal, Justus

    find interesting:

    I'm reading People of the Lie by Peck, author of  
    The Road Less Traveled. Peck pretty much writes how people who Lie constantly are deceivers and basically 'evil'.
     He then explains how Followers are immature folks, who basically sit back and let their 'Leaders' do all the work. If the Leader of any group is a Liar by nature, the whole group is tainted and responsible by complicity of the Lies perpetrated on the rest of us.

    Study group dynamics, any group, and you'll understand how this happens. Seems to be human nature, that we want or need to belong to groups, who at first, preach what we want to believe and then we are snagged, hook line and sinker.

    All it takes is one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch in the same box.

    I am by no means suggesting President Obama is a liar, but some of the Political Group-Think these days is based on 'Corporate Liars' across the Board in my opinion. And we all know how Corporate Money influences the political these days.

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    "It's said that the honest man has nothing to hide. Not true. The honest man has to hide himself, because honest men are the prime targets of those who lie." (TY Hannah:)

    by roseeriter on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 04:27:50 AM PDT

  •  You misspelled "original" (8+ / 0-)

    I'm sure you put a great deal of work into your diaries but frankly the purple prose is off-putting and gets in the way of whatever point you are trying to make, IMO. I would say "President Obama's Original Sin" is, in fact, the definition of purple prose.

    tell mr. godot I'm walking the dog

    by chicago minx on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 05:19:46 AM PDT

  •  Well if not for that “sin” (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I doubt he would have been elected.

    It's not like he hid that fact in the 2008 elections. Both he and Hillary Clinton were roughly equal in terms of centrism and corporatism. Neither is a real progressive, but neither are they fervently anti-progressive.

    I can recall, for example, many discussions with a libertarian friend of mine during the 2008 campaign. He usually votes Republican or 3rd party, but he was sick of Bush, so was paying a great deal of attention during the Democratic primaries and later during the elections. He favored HRC by a little, but was perfectly content to vote for BHO; in both cases, it was their centrism that persuaded him away from a 3rd party vote or a vote for Pappy McCain. I'm sure that was replicated thousands if not hundreds of thousands of times across the country in 2008, and that it also played a convincing role even in 2010.

    In a sense, Obama is like the ACA: not as good as what we really wanted, but much better than any viable alternative. That's what you get with pragmatism, compromise, and democracy.

  •  One of the things I have noticed (5+ / 0-)

    from dealing with politics in the workplace is that even people with good intentions or good faith won't always follow through if they think they don't derive some benefit or if they think the idea is controversial and backing it will hurt them. I am a supervisor in a hospital and we have bi-weekly leadership meetings. Quite often my colleagues will feel strongly about an idea or an issues and talk big about it but remain silent in the leadership meetings when the big boss is there. I am an idea person, I am always pitching them and if I decide to make a suggestion in a meeting I do it assuming that all those people who said " yeah girl, I am gonna back you on that one" will probably not do it. That way I am never angry or disappointed if I hear crickets. However, I never suffer too many consequences because I am generally very careful about my delivery, so the bonus is I often bring up very unpopular things that my boss does not want to hear because I never attack. I am also not interested in moving up the food chain at my job so even if I suffer damage it is temporary.

    People are pretty predictable if you spend enough time observing them. The problem is in our culture of instant reaction and social media, nobody reflects very much which means they are often surprised when even people they admire turn out to flail a bit on delivery.

  •  Honestly... (15+ / 0-)

    The President's original "sin"...and yes, for us here, its sarcasm, for his opponents, it is the truth...

    He was born a black man.

    His opposition can't stand that fact, and that fact alone.

    ======================================================== Those who can, teach. Those who can't teach, make rules about teaching.

    by oxfdblue on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 05:54:51 AM PDT

  •  This is a bit more disjointed than usual, Ray. (19+ / 0-)

    In trying to find and reply to your main point, I was much diverted along the way.

    You've put in 12 paragraphs at the beginning that show your own personal preferences and biases as applied to people who respond to you. Were I to take the admittedly tempting step of taking those paragraphs apart, you would simply respond that those were not the point of the diary and that I was trying to threadjack the conversation, and that I was replying in bad faith. The fact that, to you, it was worth 12 paragraphs in the diary does not make it a legitimate object of attention in a reply to the diary. I am beginning to understand that.

    You then quote a single Law from The 48 Laws of Power, without a link to either Wikipedia or a strong search I note that, in general, these Laws are intended to be a description of the patterns that the power elite use, and wonder whether you are promoting their use in general, since they would seem to be the basis for the power and corruption you generally decry. Some of the Laws you do not quote would seem to be very much against your case. Again, not a legitimate area for questioning, by your standards, since it is only tangential to the real purpose of your diary. (Which I haven't gotten to yet) - 17 paragraphs...

    Ah - I think I have the point: The original sin of course is that he was a neoliberal corporatist to begin with. I'm assuming that this description means that his corruption and urge to power was as great as the institutions you wished him to take down, so he couldn't have been expected to try to do anything about the corrupt individuals and institutions.

    But, wait... what I see you saying is that, if you were wrong about him being a neoliberal corporatist, the real problem with Obama's Presidency is that he was NOT acting as he should have if he were one of the corrupt and powerful elite. He was NOT working on the basis of the 48 Laws of Power. There's the statement that if he had only been willing to use their methods, and used the power of the law to ruthlessly expunge all corruption, and all the corrupt, we wouldn't have had the situation we do today. (I think this assumes that the legal power of the Presidency trumps all the power that other elite consortiums have gathered, which is a stretch, but I digress.)

    So let me recap, and ask if my conclusions about your point are correct.
    1. President Obama is and has always been a tool of the corrupt elites.
    2. If he were not, he would have been able to clean up Washington, the Republican Party, and the corrupt 1% in the first four years of his Presidency, and we would not have a problem with any of them at this point.
    3. The failure to use the methods of those with power against them in turn is the only reason we haven't been able to eliminate that power and corruption, and the proof that he is a tool of the corrupt elites.

    If this is indeed the point of the diary, then I can, finally, begin to reply. My reply is this:

    You have concluded that we must accept and adopt the basic corruption and methods of those you have characterized as the ruling elite in order to do anything about them. I think this is a shortsighted assumption unless your goal is simply to set up another power structure with different and probably no less corrupt players. I think you have mischaracterized President Obama without bringing any solid argument to back up your mischaracterization - that your arguments in fact tend to turn around and bite their own tail.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 06:04:01 AM PDT

    •  Here's how I see it, in a nutshell (10+ / 0-)

      The best racehorse in the world cannot run at full speed if Shaquille O'Neal is the jockey.

      It can't run at maximum speed if it has to wade through two feet of mud.

      And it can't win a race if the finish line keeps moving.

      The Republicans in Congress obstruct. They are far worse than any Congress any previous President has faced in the history of this nation.

      The system of checks and balances we have in place prevents any one person from making drastic changes by themselves, even without this historic level of obstruction.

      And that's not even getting into special interests, and lobbyists, and the rest of that kind of crap.

      If you expect a racehorse to overcome all those challenges and win all the races against all the odds without a whole lot of help - well, you don't know much about how the freaking world WORKS.

      No one human being, not even the best and brightest of them, can change this country by him or herself. Ever. If it were possible, it would have happened already. And if it had - we'd be living in a dictatorship.

      Change is difficult, it requires a ton of work, and it requires that EVERYONE FUCKING PITCH IN and quit expecting one person to be able to do it alone. And if we're not willing to be patient and do the work, then we have no right to throw stones at anyone who is.

      (This comment is not aimed at any one person - it's a general statement.)

      "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

      by Diogenes2008 on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 08:38:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So Obama is really part of the corporatist elite (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and can't really deal effectively with the Tea Bagger's audacious act of shutting down the government because he never used his power to slap down his enemies in the first place, and so they have slapped him down instead.  So he looks like he's down for the count now and whatever happens the Tea Baggers and their Koch master's will come out ahead especially if there is a world wide destablization of the world's and the US's economies.  

  •  I'm a very ruthful person (4+ / 0-)

    Ruth!! Got lots of it

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 06:11:27 AM PDT

  •  Wilson was a similar president, marginalizing and (0+ / 0-)

    imprisoning the left while self-identified as a progressive. What you point to is the defeat of a moral center. In 1851 Sumner was elected to the Senate to break the immoral silence about slavery. At that time a civil war had been averted by a compromise that left the North complicit with the slave catchers. If you want a profile in courage, read his pre-war speeches that broke the silence and triggered the civil war, "Freedom National, Slavery Sectional," "The Landmark of Freedom" "The Crime Against Kansas" and the "Barbarism of Slavery". His career demonstrates how it works in the US system, he founded the party that would elect Lincoln. There is no one remotely close to this today, without which nothing moves.

  •  An very elderly friend (0+ / 0-)

    (Her hubby was appointed by LBJ )
    Hates Obama, cause he's not ruthless enough, to get much done

    Who is mighty ? One who turns an enemy into a friend !

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 06:55:00 AM PDT

  •  Correct typo in title (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador
  •  I think Pres Obama was not sure how he would (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, Ray Pensador

    Survive if the bankers went against him when the economy was in shambles as he took office.

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