July 09, 2011

#PeterKramer says: Listen more to Prozac

In an extensive New York Times op-ed, psychiatrist Peter Kramer, well-known as the author of "Listening to Prozac," says we should take those recent studies that claim, especially for mild to moderate depression, that antidepressants are little better than placebos, with a fair-sized grain of salt.

About that claim, he says:
This supposition is worrisome. Antidepressants work — ordinarily well, on a par with other medications doctors prescribe. Yes, certain researchers have questioned their efficacy in particular areas — sometimes, I believe, on the basis of shaky data. And yet, the notion that they aren’t effective in general is influencing treatment.
Kramer's argument is basically this, as I understand it:
1. Because we still don't have exact description for what depression is, the so-called "placebo response" may be confounded by imprecision in knowing who had depression in the first place and whether they have "recovered" or not;
2. Related to that, problems of recruitment of trial volunteers.

Of that second issue, he says:
The problem is so big that entrepreneurs have founded businesses promising to identify genuinely ill research subjects. The companies use video links to screen patients at central locations where (contrary to the practice at centers where trials are run) reviewers have no incentives for enrolling subjects. In early comparisons, off-site raters rejected about 40 percent of subjects who had been accepted locally — on the ground that those subjects did not have severe enough symptoms to qualify for treatment. If this result is typical, many subjects labeled mildly depressed in the F.D.A. data don’t have depression and might well respond to placebos as readily as to antidepressants.
Related to both one and two, he says more focused studies are more accurate than more diffuse ones, and longer-term ones more accurate than shorter-term.

I'm sure that's true, just as in psychology and sociology. And, that's exactly where we're at with depression - a juncture of medicine and the social sciences.

Why has the media bought into the "antidepressants don't work," then?

Kramer says, indirectly, it's a mix of media liking "hot" stories and the "Big Pharma" effect.

The first will continue to be with us, and on science stories, only get worse in the future. The second will probably be made worse by Internet surfing and conspiracy thinking.

Technology depersonalizes unemployment in U.S.

The New York Times had a decent article about how various factors have made the current unemployment crisis in America not become a sociological fire-starter. They include:

  • Greater dispersal of the unemployed;
  • Greater suburbanization of the unemployed;
  • Lower voting rates of the unemployed, and, related,
  • The unemployed coming from lower-voting demographics, and
  • Unions struggling for survival to the point of not having time/money/energy to focus on organizing the unemployed. (The story ignores 30 years of GOP antipathy to unions since the last great recession and 20 years of Democratic indifference.)

That said, the story buried one factor on page 2.
Today, though, many unemployment offices have closed. Jobless benefits are often handled by phone or online rather than in person. An unemployment call center near (community organizer) Barney Oursler, for instance, now sits behind two sets of locked doors and frosted windows.
I add "U.S." to the header, because the story goes on to note that unions in Europe have successful used the Web as an organizing tool whereas here, it's just to help people hunt for jobs and file for benefits.

Why this is, I don't know. But, most American unions probably need to address this.

Meanwhile, as the story notes, with a warning for President Barack Obama, historian Nelson Lichtenstein notes that after a year or two of him in office, many Depression unemployed started to sour on FDR:
Mr. Lichtenstein, the historian, notes that it took awhile for the poor to mobilize in the Great Depression. Many initially saw President Roosevelt as an ally and only later became disillusioned. As Langston Hughes wrote in a 1934 poem, “The Ballad of Roosevelt”:

The pot was empty,

The cupboard was bare.

I said, Papa,

What’s the matter here?

I’m waitin’ on Roosevelt, son,

Roosevelt, Roosevelt,

Waitin’ on Roosevelt, son.

For the moment, jobless Americans are waiting on President Obama. If unemployment stays as high as many expect, and millions exhaust their benefits, they may just find their voice in 2012.
Let's hope they do, and recognize that neither Obama nor Romney or whomever is going to represent them, be they blue collar, gray collar or white collar.

First Pop Ev Psych, now Pop Ev Sociology?

Remember those stories of a year or two ago about how things like obesity could be "socially contagious"?

Well, not so fast. It appears that they had a variety of statistical errors, the "research" behind them had never been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and other things.

Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler
That said, that didn't prevent the authors from giving a snazzy TED talk (it seems like TED is devolving more and more into pop science of various sorts and not always accurate pop science), and otherwise "selling" their findings.

That includes Fowler appearing on Colbert, where he made claims about losing weight himself as to not "infect" others. But, Fowler wants it both ways; he said he shouldn't have his research judged on comments like that.

Worse, showing once again that even actual science, not alleged science, isn’t perfect, the NEJM, per the story, is standing behind the claims.

And, that's sad, since the mainstream media never gives debunking stories the same play as it does original claims. If the NEJM isn't going to be a better gatekeeper, it's not so "good." Especially since it rejected a piece of debunking research. In short, professional journals like NEJM can "pull a Mooney," not just pseudoscience ones.

And, also "worse" is that Christakis and Fowler shoot legitimate research in the foot with antics like this:
So is obesity contagious? What about happiness and divorce and poor sleep? One irony of the contagion battles is that even if their methods are suspect Christakis and Fowler are obviously correct that peer influence exists and that it may be even more important than we realize. ...

But just because contagion is important in one context doesn't mean something like obesity spreads like a virus—much less one that can infect someone as remote from you as your son's best friend's mother. (For the record, I and my best friend's mother will eat our hats if it turns out to be true, as Christakis and Fowler claim, that loneliness is infectious, too.) Yes, we influence each other all the time, in how we talk and how we dress and what kinds of screwball videos we watch on the Internet. But careful studies of our social networks reveal what may be a more powerful and pervasive effect: We tend to form ties with the people who are most like us to begin with.
In other words, correlation is not always causation. And, to the degree causation is behind correlation, one had better get the correct order of cause and effect understood. Christakis and Fowler appear to be bad social scientists right there.

Sheila Bair: The one insider who fought the bailouts

Joe Nocera has a great "exit interview" with Sheila Bair, who is stepping down as head of the FDIC.

We have her, more than anybody else in the administration (arguably, more even than Elizabeth Warren, yes) to thank for the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform bill actually having any teeth. We have her to thank for the fact that while non-investment American banks aren't the healthiest, they're healthier than those in Europe. We have her to thank for the fact that the unholy mix of Alan Greenspan and retread Clintonistas with Goddam Sachs connections (plus Henry Paulson, who's not a Clintonista) didn't make "too big to fail" even more set in concrete than it is.

Her "reward"? No goodbye encomiums from Obama. No offer to make her head of the financial regulation commission if Warren is deemed too "toxic" to get past Congress. No appointment as a White House economic adviser to replace all those who have left.

Nope. Just the door.

A shame.

Read the story and you'll see how much we owe Sheila Bair. As well as how much she was unable to change Team Obama.

AND ... she's a Republican, no less.

Obama idiocy watch July 8

Since a president is ultimately responsible for his (or her, someday) administration, this occasional look at Preznit Kumbaya screwing the pooch will include gaffes, politicizations and other actions by top department staffers, as well as the Preznit and WH staff.

First, I've already, along with many others, criticized the free trade deal with South Korea as actually being a backdoor free trade deal with China. But, as the L.A. Times notes, Obama insisting that such deals need to be passed to address the ongoing recession that isn't technically officially one reeks of "small ball." It also reeks of the technocratic approach to governing that neolibs in general and Preznit Kumbaya in particular seem to embrace.

Related to that, speaking for the wingnut division of the MSM the WaPost's Jennifer Rubin called Obama's Rose Garden speech on the economy a string of one-liners. She's right, but only from the angle of the likes of a Paul Krugman, whom she of course dissed.

But, will Obama learn from comment like this that his infatuation with a wedding with the GOP is one based on unrequited infatuation, with an ever-increasing "dowry"? No, and not so much because he's clueless but because he wants to pay that high dowry. (Obamiacs, OTOH, remain clueless on the fact that Beloved Leader actually wants that price.)

Second, Team Obama appears determined to continue the War on Drugs to BushCo's full extent. Exemplifying that is a federal claim that marijuana has more medicinal value. Really? Didn't Kumbaya talk about evidence-based medicine in part of his national health care insurance bill?

The ruling is the DEA's, on marijuana activists' claim to get the "schedule" of marijuana changed; the feds currently have it in the same "schedule" of dangerousness as heroin.
The decision comes almost nine years after medical marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify cannabis to take into account a growing body of worldwide research that shows its effectiveness in treating certain diseases, such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.

Advocates for the medical use of the drug criticized the ruling but were elated that the Obama administration had finally acted, which allows them to appeal to the federal courts, where they believe they can get a fairer hearing. The decision to deny the request was made by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and comes less than two months after advocates asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition. ...

Joe Elford, the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead counsel on the recently filed lawsuit. said he was not surprised by the decision, which comes just after the Obama administration announced it would not tolerate large-scale commercial marijuana cultivation. “It is clearly motivated by a political decision that is anti-marijuana,” he said.
Oh, clearly it's political. Obama is assuming that libs will believe they have no choice, and will be so afraid of the GOP candidate that they'll still vote for him rather than staying home or voting Green.

Well, we need more people to prove him wrong.

Meanwhile, let's see Obamiacs defend this one.

And, speaking of Obamiacs, the Preznit sure gets his share of sycophantic laughter, as NYMag documents. Since Obama doesn't actually seem to have that good of a sense of humor himself, he probably doesn't get that the laughter is all sycophantic.

Speaking of possible Obamiacs, Eli at FireDogLake wonders if Obama is almost as bad as Bush. But, don't hold your breath over him or anybody else there stepping outside the two-party box.

Meanwhile, the NYT has a story about Democratic operatives trailing GOP candidates with the latest in video flipcams, the better to catch them in gaffes. All we need now is the Green Party to do the same with Obama.

July 08, 2011

#Yellowstone is the latest reason you can't trust #Exxon

ExxonMobil, known on this blog as triple-X eXXXon, has again shown it simply cannot be trusted with anything regarding Big Oil.

The latest? The state of Montana has cut ties with an eXXXon command post overseeing, or whatever, its Yellowstone River oil spill.

Why? Because eXXXon is trying to restrict public access. It claims that that's just security doing its job.

And, here's another laugh line:
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana said the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials will hold the first congressional hearing on the spill and on pipeline safety Thursday.
Yeah, a Big Oil suckup and all-around wingnut is actually going to do anything. Notice how this "hearing" is six days off.

On the ground?
(Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer) criticized Exxon Mobil for its response, pointing out discrepancies in the company’s reports of how long it took to shut down the pipeline and saying company officials were downplaying damage to wildlife.
Good luck getting any of that info.

Mainstream media shows white man's bias

Contra Bing, St. Augustine, Fla., is NOT the oldest city in the U.S. No, not even the oldest continually inhabited one.

That's either Acoma's Sky City Pueblo in New Mexico, or Moenkopi, a Hopi pueblo in Arizona.

Who's more fake: #RogerClemens or his wife

Who's more fake?

Accused steroid-using pitcher Roger Clemens may be facing an interesting perjury trial. Yahoo reports that Judge Reggie Walton has "a flair for the dramatic."

Well, really, Walton, who chastised the government over lies about Dr. Steven Hatfill in the post-9/11 anthrax scare, has a flair for being no-nonsense.

Rusty Hardin and Clemens had best not screw around. Ditto Congress; it had better make sure everything Clemens/Hardin submitted in advance of testimony to Congress gets handed over in discovery.

Meanwhile, the header of this post?

Looking at Rog and his wife, Debbie, leaving the court, it's clear that she, too, is no stranger to modern "medicine," plastic variety.

THE GREATEST IS HOPE

St. Paul was wrong,
Especially if we remove religious and metaphysical overtones
From “faith, hope and love.”
Love cannot abide without hope,
Whether the hope that a lover, or an adult child,
Will change bad behaviors.
Or the hope that a parent will accept an adult child
With different values and beliefs.
Without such hope, love cannot abide.
And faith, not metaphysical faith in things unseen,
But, faith in the sense of trust?
Faith cannot abide, either,
Without hope that a person, or a place,
Will improve, even if we don’t yet know how.
Even faith in our own selves cannot abide,
Without hope that we have some degree of control,
If but in a small corner,
Over our own lives and selves.
The greatest, and most basic, of these
Is hope.

July 07, 2011

The time for emails to Obama is long gone

First, on issues like Social Security and Medicare, he is NOT Bill Clinton "triangulating" in the mid-1990s. He actually wants these cuts. That's one reason he has squeezed House Democrats out of the picture. (Take note, David Brookses of the world who critique his leadership style.)

More proof that he wants these cuts? Remember, the "Catfood Commission" was HIS commission and he has never disavowed its recommendations. Second, his knifing in the back single-payer national health care.

The health care issue also shows not just that Obama lied when he talked about how "open" his administration would be, but the degree of brazenness with which he lied.

And, yet, many people think that clicking a link from MoveOn will magically inspire Obama to "save Social Security."

Wrong.

Get it through your thick heads, people who still have Obama love affairs, bromances, unreturned infatuations. Grover Cleveland Obama doesn't care how you feel, unless you finally get a clue and tell him you're voting Green.

And, that you make that a reality, not just an idle threat.

The only things you accomplish by clicking a MoveOn link are encouraging online slacktivism and encouraging MoveOn to try to hit you up for money.

Google+ - blog followers and others with G-mail

If you're interested, this is me on Google+. I'm not yet "gung-ho" about it, and will probably be more active on FB first, but, we'll play it from there.

July 06, 2011

Democracy: An intrinsic good or "only" a utilitarian one?

A British philosopher of science, Philip Kitcher, makes the argument that in at least some science issues, and specifically that of anthropogenic global warming, it's clear that democracy's "good" in general is "only" utilitarian, and that in the specific case of AGW, it has, at least right now, no intrinsic good at all.

In other words, to put this bluntly, sometimes, as in this case, democracy is bad.

Do we need this, or Kitcher to tell us that, though? Probably not.

Stereotypes about it aside, specifics of how democracy was structured in Weimer Germany show it was utilitarianly bad, in the end. Ditto for the fledging socialist democracy of Russia between the two 1917 revolutions.

When democracy in a specific situation is bad for structural reaons, that doesn't mean other versions of democracy would be bad in that situation. The more stable-post WWII Germany democracy might well have survived Weimar. A different Russian leader than Alexander Kerensky, western democracies not threatening a loan cutoff if Kerensky took Russia out of the war, or both, would have increased the survival odds for 1917 democracy.

That said, those historical issues all center on matters readily understandable by laypeople. The average citizen, though, as the SciAm blog points out ... just doesn't get global warming. Or other science issues.

Now, as the article notes, Kitcher's proposed solution is both expensive and unwieldy. Beyond that, psychologically, as Chris Mooney and others have noted, many people reason and argue to strengthen in-tribe beliefs, and Kitcher's program simply isn't likely to overcome that.

So, in a place like the U.S., a nonparliamentary democracy where the use of executive orders has steadily expanded over the last decades, how much democracy should a president "sacrifice" if he or she is really ready to "go to the mat" on this one?

Let me add that, right now, I am reading Seth Mnookin's "The Panic Virus." Per statistics such as the fact that 18 states now allow loophole-ridden "philosophical exceptions" for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, it's arguable that democracy kills people. No, not as often as dictatorships. But, this is a clear illustration of why, even if "intrinsic goods" exist a lot in the world, democracy doesn't have intrinsic worth.

I should add a bit about my philosophical inclinations, as part of why I think Kitcher has some good thoughts.

I'm an anti-absolutist in general, and specifically, somewhat related to this, an anti-idealist. So, I generally shy away from claims of things having intrinsic value, unless it's something like clear, evolutionarily-grounded questions of ethics.

At the same time, though, I'm not a utilitarian, certainly not ion the narrow philosophical sense, because utilitarianism has a boatload of philosophical problems, some of them ethical (as Sam Harris, probably unwittingly, demonstrated in "The Immoral Landscape.") What means are "allowable" to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number? If we decide, in dire emergencies, to "weight" needs of children vs. senior citizens, by how much do we do that? And who decide? How much of a supermajority, speaking of democracy, should be required for many "hedonistic" calculus" issues? Bentham, Mill and their followers, including Mr. Harris, basically ignore or dodge these and related questions.

So, really, my answer is that democracy doesn't have an intrinsic value, and that, in principle, we can never agree on how much utilitarian value most things in life do or do not have. That's kind of where Walter Kaufmann comes from on "Without Guilt or Justice" which pretty much demolishes Rawls, and by extension and indirectly, utilitarianism in general.

July 04, 2011

NYT op-ed roundup on freedom and America

The good Joe Nocera defends Cyrus Vance Jr. against Bernard-Henri Lévy. Why can't he write more op-eds like this?

Even David Brooks thinks the modern Congressional GOP is pretty stupid on its rigid no-tax stance on debt negotiations.

Meanwhile, one Senate Republican and two Democrats are pushing for Afghanistan withdrawal.

And the usually good Roger Cohen is, again, with a solid look at the present and future of Brazil.

Let's be fair, or, the gods were NOT crazy

The second half of the title of this post on fairness, and its deep roots in the human nature, come from the fact that the Kung! "bushmen" of the Kalahari desert are among the studied people who reinforce this.
Among the !Kung bushmen of the Kalahari in Africa, a successful hunter who may be inclined to swagger is kept in check by his compatriots through a ritualized game called “insulting the meat.”
That said, note that societies with written "commandments," etc. all are post-agricultural revolution, with private property and all its attendant problems, started us down the road of today's hypercapitalism.

And, yes, there's a strong evolutionary past for sharing more:
As Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has pointed out, you will never see two chimpanzees carrying a log together. The advent of agriculture and settled life may have thrown a few feudal monkeys and monarchs into the mix, but evolutionary theorists say our basic egalitarian leanings remain.

Studies have found that the thirst for fairness runs deep. As Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich and his colleagues reported in the journal Nature, by the age of 6 or 7, children are zealously devoted to the equitable partitioning of goods, and they will choose to punish those who try to grab more than their arithmetically proper share of Smarties and jelly beans even when that means the punishers must sacrifice their own portion of treats.
Deeply evolutionary:
A sense of fairness is both cerebral and visceral, cortical and limbic. In the journal PLoS Biology, Katarina Gospic of the Karolinska Institute’s Osher Center in Stockholm and her colleagues analyzed brain scans of 35 subjects as they played the famed Ultimatum game, in which participants bargain over how to divide up a fixed sum of money. Immediately upon hearing an opponent propose a split of 80 percent me, 20 percent you, scanned subjects showed a burst of activity in the amygdala, the ancient seat of outrage and aggression, followed by the arousal of higher cortical domains associated with introspection, conflict resolution and upholding rules; and 40 percent of the time they angrily rejected the deal as unfair.

That first swift limbic kick proved key. When given a mild anti-anxiety drug that suppressed the amygdala response, subjects still said they viewed an 80-20 split as unjust, but their willingness to reject it outright dropped in half. “This indicates that the act of treating people fairly and implementing justice in society has evolutionary roots,“ Dr. Gospic said. “It increases our survival.”
That said, The Gods Must Be Crazy, and the Kung! behind it, aren't about Marxism post-dictatorship of the proletariat, either. Some hierarchy is normal:
Low hierarchy does not mean no hierarchy. Through ethnographic and cross-cultural studies, researchers have concluded that the basic template for human social groups is moderately but not unerringly egalitarian. They have found gradients of wealth and power among even the most nomadic groups, but such gradients tend to be mild. In a recent analysis of five hunter-gatherer populations, Eric Aiden Smith of the University of Washington and his colleagues found the average degree of income equality to be roughly half that seen in the United States, and close to the wealth distribution of Denmark.
I'd take Denmark over the U.S. any day.

And, stress that hypercapitalism is unnatural.

And, note that this shows a role for legitimate evolutionary psychology.
Other recent news has documented the role of anger in perhaps promoting human fairness; this only deepens that.

July 03, 2011

National Corruption Index

Fellow true liberals, add National Corruption Index to your bookmarks! It focuses on national security-related corruption.

George Barack Hoover?

Yesterday, in blogging about the need to start really considering if President Barack Obama is a neoconservative, I compared him to tight-fisted Grover Cleveland.

Before, I've compared him to Jimmy Carter: someone brainy, but with the wrong type of brains, and psyche, for this job.

I see I'm not the first on this, and maybe I've not been thinking outside the box enough on presidential comparisons.

Two years ago, a Harper's article called him Barack Hoover Obama. I think the general comparison is true ... brainy but by the book, even though in pre-presidential lives, these people had operated outside the book at times.

However, there's a difference. I think Hoover, more than Obama, recognized the magnitude of the problem facing the country at that time. And, pre-FDR, there was little template for boldness.

Harper's Baker thinks at least partially along those lines:
Why was Herbert Hoover so reluctant to make the radical changes that were so clearly needed? It could not have been a question of competence or compassion for this lifelong Quaker, who had rushed sustenance to starving people around the world regardless of their nationalities or beliefs. Ultimately, Hoover could not break with the prevailing beliefs of his day. The essence of the Progressive Era in which he had come of age—the very essence of his own public image—was that government was a science. It was not a coincidence that this era brought us the very term “political science,” along with the advent of “nonpartisan” elections and “city managers” to replace mayors. ...

Progressivism aspired to be something of a political science itself, untrammeled by ideological or partisan influence: there was a right way and a wrong way to do things, and all unselfish and uncorrupted individuals could be counted on to do the right thing, once they were shown what that was.

There were plenty of progressives, led by Teddy Roosevelt, who understood that bringing real change meant fighting to bust up trusts, regain public ownership of utilities, and secure rights for labor, women, and others. But the great national effort inspired by World War I softened memories of the bitter class conflict that had characterized much of American politics since the Civil War. ...

Hoover’s every decision in fighting the Great Depression mirrored the sentiments of 1920s “business progressivism,” even as he understood intellectually that something more was required. Farsighted as he was compared with almost everyone else in public life, believing as much as he did in activist government, he still could not convince himself to take the next step and accept that the basic economic tenets he had believed in all his life were discredited; that something wholly new was required.

Obama has the the advantage of seeing that template for activist government that FDR developed. He has the advantage of much more being developed in economic policy theory in 80 years since Hoover was president.

Baker could perhaps be partially excused for writing the following two years ago, in claiming "Obama was alone" with Democrats like Max Baucus and Evan Bayh in the Senate:
Obama’s lack of direction, his lack of accomplishments in his Hundred Days and counting, cannot be attributed solely to his illusions about the august body he just vacated. Obama, like Hoover in his time, is almost alone among politicians in grasping the magnitude of the crisis. In his masterful February speech before the joint houses of Congress, Obama explained to the country why we cannot afford to continue with a tottering health-care system that has left 46 million Americans uninsured and that impedes our exports by adding, for instance, $1,500 to the cost of every GM car; why it is that climate change has to be addressed now, and how by addressing it we can regain our industrial base and actually begin to make things again; why it is that our financial system could not simply be bailed out and patched up but must be fundamentally reformed and re-regulated. Above all, he explained the necessary interaction of all these reforms, of how they were not just some liberal wish list but the actions that the radical moment demanded.
And yet ... Baker needs no forgiveness, for already then, he recognized the reality of Barack Obama:
Speeches almost as powerful have followed, always linking these ideas together. But, like Hoover, Obama has been unable to make his actions live up to his words. Health care is being gummed to death on Capitol Hill. Obama has done nothing to pass “card check” provisions that would facilitate union organization and quietly announced that he would not seek stronger labor and environmental protections in NAFTA. He has capitulated on cap-and-trade in the budget outline and never even bothered to push for an actual carbon tax. Only minuscule portions of the stimulus bill or his budget proposals were dedicated to mass transit, and his indifference to the issue—what must be a major component of any serious effort to go green—was reflected in his appointment of a mediocre Republican time-server, Ray LaHood, as his transportation secretary.

Still worse is Obama’s decision to leave the reordering of the financial world solely to Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner. ... Just as Herbert Hoover could not, in the end, break away from the best economic advice of the 1920s, Barack Obama is sticking with the “key men” of the 1990s. ...

No doubt, President Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, would claim that by practicing “the art of the possible,” they are ensuring that “the perfect does not become the enemy of the good.” But by not even proposing the relevant legislation, Obama has ceded a key part of the process—so much so that his retreat seems not so much tactical as a reversion to his core political beliefs.
Of course, the reality is that Emanuel was and is as much a "time server" as LaHood. And, appointed by the same man.

And so Obama chooses to be "incremental" in change. Or, not even wanting real "change" in fiscal and economic policy, whether on taxation, regulation, or other issues.

Or, per Baker, in addition to Obama believing his own myth, he believes myth about Bill Clinton, too:
Just as Herbert Hoover came to internalize the “business progressivism” of his era as a welcome alternative to the futile, counterproductive conflicts of an earlier time, so has Obama internalized what might be called Clinton’s “business liberalism” as an alternative to useless battles from another time—battles that liberals, in any case, tended to lose. Clinton’s business liberalism, however, is a chimera, every bit as much a capitulation to powerful and selfish interests as was Hoover’s 1920s progressivism.
Clinton was the author of his own myth here. His claim that he was ignorant of how his whole "program" was going to be hostage to the bond market because of its worries about the national debt rang hollow even then, when one realizes how closely he palled around with financier Jackson Stephens when Slick Willie was governor of Arkansas.

So, in that sense, it's not fair to compare Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama. It's not fair to Hoover.

First, Calvin Coolidge never told whoppers like Clinton did to inflate his myth. Second, Hoover never would have believed them, anyway. Third, Hoover never wrote up his own myth, let alone inflicted it on a largely unwitting electorate.

Picture if Harry Truman had promised to veto Taft-Hartley, then backed off that promise after the House of Morgan gave him a secret slush fund, and you get the idea of where today's national Democratic leadership is at.

Another Obama enviro fail

Why is his administration fighting the EU's proposed carbon permits for airlines? Rather, if he really were an environmentalist, he'd back this and use it as leverage to try to get something similar, if m ore modest, done here in America while challenging American jet engine makers like GE and Pratt & Whitney, to do better.