Saturday, November 5, 2016

Obama Has No Agency

I see this over and over again in the chorus of denunciations of Hillary Clinton.

She and she alone is responsible for every foreign policy disaster and every act of war committed by Our Rulers, if not since Time Began, at least since she was elected to the Senate.

The President has no agency whatever; he is merely a bystander of the raging warmongering and disastrous foreign policy decisions of La Clintoon.

This would be silly of course -- were it not for the fact that Darth Cheney was authoritatively asserted to be the deus ex machina of all the warmongering and foreign policy disasters of the Bush 2 Regime. Ergo, it's only natural that La Clintooooon is the originator of all the foreign (and no doubt domestic) policy catastrophes of the Obama Regime.

The idea is that Presidents are merely the tools of others whose nefarious and bloody schemes they give the nod to but have no input into. They don't even have to give the nod to these schemes, they just have to stay out of the way.

In this manner, The Hag is blamed directly for Iraq, Libya, Syria, Honduras, etc., while no mention is made of Presidents Obama or Bush or the various other departments and agencies in the Executive Branch or Congress and their involvement - if any - in these disastrous and bloody efforts. Hm.

In fact, the implication is that neither Obama nor Bush 2 (nor apparently Darth) had anything to do with them. It was solely Mrs. Clintoon who brought them on. And if The Hag is elected to the Presidency, all bets are off; there is a very high probability that she will start a nuclear war with
Russia. God save us all.

Such absolute power The Hag has been wielding since Time Began. Gee. Who knew?

This is a partial transcript of a speech delivered by Mr. Trump on Hallowe'en which illustrates the point:
Hillary led us to disaster in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya. ... Hillary and our failed Washington establishment have spent $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East, and now it’s worse than it’s ever been before. 
Had Obama and others gone to the beach, Obama could have gone to the golf course, we would have been in much better shape. 
We shouldn’t have gone into the war, and she thinks I’m a hawk. Oh, Donald Trump.
Imagine if some of the money had been spent, $6 trillion in the Middle East, on building new schools and roads and bridges right here in Michigan. 
Now Hillary, trapped in her Washington bubble, that’s blind to the lessons, wants to start a shooting war in Syria in conflict with a nuclear armed Russia that could drag us into a World War III. 
Okay, folks. She – I’ll tell you what. She will get us into World War III. She will get us into World War III. I will tell you that. She’s incompetent. She will get us into World War III. 
The arrogant political class never learns. They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They keep telling the same lies. They keep producing the same failed results.
It appeared at b's place, "Moon of Alabama," one of the leading objectively pro-Trump sites on the ostensibly "progressive" InterTubes.

I generally like b's analysis of the Syria conflict and the other conflicts which the United States Empire is tangled up in, but he fails badly when he -- and others -- blame them all on Hillary and denies (or almost denies) any agency to the President and the Foreign Policy Establishment and War Department shops which come up them and implement them. Hillary has never had the powers imputed to her. No president or cabinet member does.

If she were President, she would not have the kind of absolute power that is imputed to the Presidency -- power imputed only if she or Trump occupies the Big Chair, not when Bush 2 or Obama is in the office.

I realize this is political rhetoric, not a genuine understanding of how the government works, but still, it's jarring.

The rhetoric says that Hillary -- the Hag -- is directly and solely responsible for every war and every foreign policy disaster in recent history, and she will start World War III on top of it if she is allowed to ascend to the Throne. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, it is asserted, has been an active opponent of every war and every foreign policy disaster in recent history and will prevent World War III from his perch in the White House once he ascends to the Throne.

This is because he's just a businessman, and she's a warmongering neoCon hawk politician and grifter, don't you see?

Well, no. That's not quite how it is and has been. Nor are the assumptions of who will start and who will prevent the ultimate annihilation particularly accurate.

The President's powers and authorities are considerable, but they are also constrained by Congress, the Constitution, precedent, and custom. The Bush 2 Regime broke a lot of the historic constraints on Presidential power and authority, beginning with its lawless installation by the Supreme Court. That lawless act enabled much of the lawlessness to come. The lawless legacy of the Bush 2 Regime still reverberates, and the Obama Administration has utilized aspects of Bush 2's lawless legacy in its own pursuit of national/imperial goals.

Not all constraints on Presidential  powers and authorities were lifted with the installation of the Bush 2 Regime, but it's truly shocking how much was transformed by Bush and his appointees including Darth Cheney.

Nevertheless, with some exceptions, none of them had independent authority. Not the President, not Darth, not Rummy or Condi or any of the rest of them. They were all linked together and they had to operate as a team, with the connivance of Congress and a compliant media, or the whole thing would have fallen apart. Bush 2 was the coach, the man in charge, and he was the one who set and enforced policy -- on the advice and counsel of his team, but also on his own directive.

This is how Presidencies operate, even when they go rogue as Bush 2's Regime did. They have to. For the President, despite all, is not an autocrat.

Came Obama and he was rather quickly disabused of independent notions of what he could and couldn't do in office. The constraints on him were interestingly much greater than those on Bush 2, who seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted at home and abroad. The situations were different of course, but more than that, the Bush 2 Regime was intimately tied into existing permanent power structures within government. These were the players and the practices that were baked into government from long before. Cheney, for example, had been part of the governing clique -- whether he was in or out of office -- for decades; so too Rummy. Colin. Not so much Condi or some of the others, but Bush himself was the son of a President who understood how the machinations of power within government worked and knew who to call on to get things done the way he wanted them done. In other words, the Bush 2 Regime came into office as Members of the Club of Rule/

Obama had no such advantages. Good heavens, no. He was a neophyte newcomer -- and a Negro for gawd's sake. He had to be -- and was -- put in his place right quick. He had few or no allies in the permanent government, and he found out that his freedom of action was strictly constrained, not only by his youth and inexperience, but by opposition in both parties to pretty much anything he wanted to do. Biden could run some interference with the Senate, but Biden fell under many of the same constraints Obama did, as he was never a full member of the Club.

So that brings us to The Hag and her position as Secretary of State. According to the current myth, She had unlimited and total power to do as She wanted in Her position, and Obama had none. According to the myth, She was operating Her foreign policy independently of the White House and Obama didn't even know what she was doing. Or something like that.

She, as Big Dog's Woman, had all Power -- just as Big Dog did -- from the moment she entered the Senate if not before. Why, She might even have been the True Power behind Big Dog's Throne. Imagine it.

This is nonsense. She could not operate independently any more than Colin or Condi could when they were Secretaries of State, nor can Kerry do so now. They are the creatures of the White House, and they follow the policy decisions made in the Oval Office. Even Maddy Albright had to do that when she served Clintoon I.

They have input into those decisions, of course, but they don't make those decisions independently.

She -- the Hag -- did not start or lead the wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria or any other place, nor could She have done so as a Senator or Secretary of State. And as President, She cannot start World War III independently.

Much as one likes to believe She can and will, that's not how these things happen, if they happen.

There is a whole series of agreements that have to be reached within the administration and the permanent government (aka The Deep State) before a -- say -- nuclear war can begin, particularly if it is a war of aggression which it would almost have to be given Russian reluctance to engage in mutual annihilation.

In addition, the public has to be convinced that nuclear annihilation is the preferable course of action, because reasons.

The anti-Russian/Putin propaganda campaign is in full swing, of course. It appears to be designed to induce Regime Change on the model of so many others since the destabilization and collapse of the Soviet Union, but it's not entirely clear what's going on. There are elements of pure ridiculousness and pretend in it that make little or no sense. Trump's contrariness over it doesn't mean he doesn't go along with it. He may simply have a different -- and more personally profitable -- view of how to exploit it. Exploit it, believe me, he will, whether or not he ascends to the White House.

What he says on the campaign trail about not going to war with Russia is essentially meaningless -- as he is well-known for re-negotiating deals after closing the sale to get out of whatever it was he promised to make the sale. That's his way, and it's the way of his class. Nothing these people say is confirmed until they actually do something, and what they do is exploit every weakness they can find for personal gain and profit. If that means lying to the rubes, so what?

In government, though, you have to play the game more subtly. You can say anything you want on the campaign, but in office you have to follow certain rather strict rules or... you're out or at least you will be tied up in knots. Examples there are many. Some quite recently, too.

In other words, Presidents have to get along with, and likely go along with the permanent government and their own administration. The President's ability to start or stop something is therefore limited.

But it does not mean Presidents have no agency at all. Far from it.

Yet Obama is asserted to have no agency in his own Presidency. Clintoon controlled it and still does, The Hag, and were she President, I guess she would control the whole wide world from her perch in the Oval Office.


But there you are. That's what happens in hotly contested elections in which a Clinton is a candidate (it happened during the Clinton I Regime, too. And we know what a rollercoaster/game show that was.)

I would say that as a general matter, Presidents are not as directly powerful as they are made out to be. They are not monarchs nor are they autocrats, though the Presidency itself is modeled on heads of state and government of historic Britain and Rome.

Compared to many other heads of government, Presidents have both too much power and too little. Their constraints have mostly to do with their advisers, cabinets and the inertia of the permanent government (Deep State). Congressional constraints are limited, but they can operate either for or against Presidential prerogative. A prime minister, on the other hand, operates in conjunction with his or her party and the party's majority in parliament. Their party is always part of the permanent government, so the constraints put upon the prime minister  by the permanent government are somewhat less than those put on a president from either party (parties function a little differently in a parliamentary system.)

A prime minister will generally have a less rocky road in office, but there are exceptions. On the other hand, there are some things a prime minister won't do that a president might.

They say a president has a completely free hand in foreign policy and war powers, with no constraints at all. It certainly looked that way in the Bush 2 Regime, but what they did required an amazing amount of coordination and cooperation between branches of government and TPTB up and down the line. Were it not for the media's complicity and lies, much of what the Bush 2 Regime did, including the disastrous war of aggression on Iraq would not have been possible.

I wonder whether the permanent government and the neoLibCon Overclass have learned any sort of lesson from that debacle or if they are capable of Lessons Learned. If they have learned, it might be the wrong lessons.

The idea that The Hag has had ultimate power since her Senate days is of course ridiculous. But what she would do in office is a valid concern as it ought to be with any President. I doubt she would instigate a nuclear Armageddon with Russia, partly because of the conditioning she and almost everybody else of her generation (my generation as it were) got regarding the permanence of nuclear annihilation and the results of instant incineration. The United States has never gone mano a mano against a nuclear armed power partly because of that conditioning.

Cold War brinkmanship was another thing altogether, and aspects of it have been revived to assert American hegemony over rivals. For how many years was the US Government threatening war against Iran, for example? Note how it was resolved. That was brinkmanship in action. Much the same procedure is taking place with regard to Russia, with interesting results. Both sides are operating cautiously, though the rhetoric out of DC is hot. Not so much out of Moscow, though. That's how the game is played, and it was played much the same way during the Cold War. And as was the case during much of the Cold War, there are constant backchannel communications between the Kremlin and DC -- partly in order to keep things from going nuclear.

Hillary actually made a comment during one of the debates which clued me into what is probably going on: she said that a No Fly Zone over Syria would only occur as a negotiated agreement between the US, Syria and Russia, it would not be imposed unilaterally. Its purpose would be to provide a safe-haven to civilians attempting to escape  the conflict zone.

It makes sense, and it is likely that just that sort of negotiations are going on right now. The rhetoric is warmongering, but that is not necessarily what the discussions are about. The Russians and Syrians have temporarily halted air attacks on East Aleppo, for example, as a means of fostering dialog and allowing the escape of civilians who wish to leave. It's a difficult process because of the nature of the conflict and the many disparate parties involved, but it appears to be taking place nonetheless.

It will not lead to WWIII under the circumstances.

And yet the fear being whipped up is all about the impending nuclear exchange between Superpowers.

And everyone knows that's what The Hag intends to do once she's in the Big Chair.

That's not how these things work.

The President has agency, but it's not that of an autocrat.

Obama is in charge of the current regime, just as Bush 2 was in charge of the previous one, but their authority is and was not absolute. At some point, it would be nice if Americans understood how their government actually works.

Oh well....

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