Obama Does with OFA What He Should Have Done with OFA Long Ago

He turns his campaign operation into a not-for-profit political lobbying outfit.


Jon Carson, White House director of the Office of Public Engagement, is being tapped as executive director of the group, which will have offices in Washington and Obama’s hometown of Chicago.



David Axelrod, senior adviser to the 2012 campaign, will become a consultant. White House senior adviser David Plouffe is expected to join the group after he leaves the administration later this month, the Democratic official said.


Total spending in the presidential campaign exceeded $2 billion, Federal Election Commission filings show. During that time, the Obama For America campaign compiled a grassroots juggernaut of about 12 million e-mail addresses, tapped social media platforms and developed sophisticated political tracking methods to identify voters and their interests.



Such machinery can now be used for an electronic lobbying campaign to carry Obama into the legislative fights with Congress over the next four years.

You know who else had his own political organization with millions of active members who could be stirred to pressure the legislature to act?


Put your guesses in the Open Thread below.


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Are deportation levels going to be part of immigration reform?


The admin is on pace to rack up over 2 million total deportations by the year's end, and has set a record every year of Obama's presidency, breaking 400k for the first time in 2012.


In over 200 years of its history from 1776 - 1997 the US had a grand total of just over 2 million deportations. Obama is on pace to nearly double that total in his two terms in office unless things change.


My girlfriend works with families torn apart by deportations every day. I wish we'd start talking about de-prioritizing deporting undocumented workers who don't have criminal records.



They're working on


de-prioritizing deportations.  It's in the same queue as de-prioritizing prosecutions of marijuana users in states where it's legal. 


Be reasonable, catchy.  Do you have any idea how much it costs to not deport someone?  I mean any old lawyer or BP officer can be hired to do a deportation,  but almost no one is trained in how to not deport.  That's a specialist job.  It would take massive funding to stop deportations, and the admin just doesn't have those kind of resources on hand.

2 million deportations costs 25 billion


The Fed government spends more on immigration enforcement per year than on higher education. Same with drug enforcement.



He'll never lose.

mmghosh's picture

Comments in the Guardian on the Armstrong PR disaster

Agreed. If anything I thought he handled the Oprah interview superbly. He spoke with clarity, humility, class and grace. The emotional pain he felt was almost palpable as he grimaced through Oprah's yes/no opening gambit.


Regardless of the circumstances, he is an athlete like no other. I mean this guy came 3rd in the 2009 Tour when he was clean and in his late 30s. Pure indomitable spirit I say.

Regarding the way he treated his detractors, it's regrettable, but to err is human.


Thanks for seven years of pure magic, Lance.


The man had cancer ffs, he was just levelling the playing field. Many sportsmen that we know and love today have cheated but we still love them because they were never caught. Lance Armstrong is a legend and a bit of doping doesn't make you a 7 time winner of the Tour de France. Hard word, sacrifice and bloody-mindedness got him those wins.
He has apologised - move on. Who here can say they have never cheated at anything? If they can't then his only fault was doing it at a higher level. Legend.

And apart from Armstrong's bullying and character defamation of the whistle blowers, I can't say that that sentiment is entirely wrong either.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Yes, he is without a doubt


Yes, he is without a doubt one of the most phenomenal athletes of the past several generations.  Winning that much is incredibly difficult.  He doped but so did everyone else.  The talk of "sportsmen" cheating is all well and good but the legend of Lance is sullied.  He is merely a phenomenal athlete, not a legend.  Not a man I will point to and tell my son "that is what sports is all about".  He wanted to be that person so bad he managed to screw it all up.

Is it posssible for an atheist to support Intelligent Design?

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Awful review

HankP's picture

I hope he's misrepresenting Nagel, if he's not the book is worthless. Saying things are "unlikely" without providing an alternative is just a big waste of everyone's time.


I blame it all on the Internet


brutusettu's picture

The reviewer worked for Notre Dame as his day job.

Fascinating explanantion for the cold spell in Russia

mmghosh's picture

by Dr Francis via Artic Sea-Ice

While various oceanic and atmospheric patterns such as El Niño, La Niña, and the North Atlantic Oscillation have been blamed for the spate of unusual weather recently, there’s now a new culprit in the wind: Arctic amplification. Directly related to sea-ice loss and earlier snowmelt in the Far North, it is affecting the jet stream around the Northern Hemisphere, with potentially far-reaching effects on the weather.


Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall. This has led to an increase in near-surface, autumn air temperatures of 2 to 5 degrees All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather. C (3.6 to 9 degrees F) over much of the Arctic Ocean during the past decade. All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale.


But if so, how does it work?


The Arctic region is of course colder than the temperate zones, and it is this difference in temperature that propels the west-to-east river of fast-moving air known as the jet stream. This atmospheric feature separates warm air to its south from cold air to the north, and tends to follow a wavy path as it flows around the Northern Hemisphere between about 30 degrees N and 60 degrees N. It usually resides near the altitude where jets fly, hence its name. As high latitudes warm more than mid-latitudes, however, this north-south temperature difference weakens, which has two impacts on the jet stream.

The first effect is to slow the west-to-east speed of the jet stream, a phenomenon that already appears to be occurring. Upper-level winds around the Northern Hemisphere have slowed during autumn, from October to December, which is exactly when sea ice loss exerts its strongest effect on the north-south temperature gradient.


Because of Arctic amplification, the northern peaks of waves, called ridges, will experience more warming than the southward dips, called troughs. This is expected to cause the ridges to stretch northward, which will increase the size of the waves. Larger swings in the jet stream allow frigid air from the Arctic to plunge farther south, as well as warm, moist tropical air to penetrate northward. These wavy flows often lead to record-breaking temperatures.


There have been many examples of “stuck” weather patterns during the past few years. Deep troughs in the jet stream hung over the U.S. east coast and Western Europe during the winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, bringing a seemingly endless string of snow storms and teeth-chattering cold. In the early winter of 2011/2012, in contrast, these It’s increasingly likely that the weather you have today will stick around awhile. same areas were under ridges, or northward bulges of the jet stream, which brought unusually warm and snowless conditions over much of North America. At the same time, however, a deep trough sat over Alaska, dumping record snows. In early February this year, the jet stream plunged unusually far southward over Europe, bringing frigid Arctic air and snow to some areas that hadn’t seen those conditions in over half a century. During summer, persistent weather patterns are responsible for droughts and heat.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Trade not aid has unforeseen problems.

mmghosh's picture

Of quinoa and asparagus.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Disgusting Mali Islamists ban music


including fantastic Mali musician Ali Farka Toure:


After making northern Mali's "Blues" music famous around the world, Ali Farka Toure is a legend in his home town of Niafunke, where he was mayor until his death in 2006.



The memorial to him is still intact but his music is no longer heard in the town's streets.

"The town has gone silent," says 28-year-old farmer Ousmane Maiga (not his real name) over the phone. "It's way too quiet".



Islamist fighters have taken over Niafunke, which sits on the banks of the river Niger 100km (60 miles) south-west of Timbuktu.


They have introduced a strict social code: Women and girls must be covered, young men cannot wear loose trousers and all forms of music are banned.


M Scott Eiland's picture

So the women have to cover up, and "young men" need to wear tight pants. Gee, I can't imagine what agenda these particular loons have in mind.

But yeah, they need to be explosively transitioned to their next incarnation.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Why interfere in Mali's affairs?

mmghosh's picture

So there is a civil war.  Why is that a French problem, popular though they think it is?

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Because when al Qaeda is in control


of territory (especially of a sovereign nation state) Bad Things tend to happen.

Sure. To other Malians.

mmghosh's picture

But if they don't want al-Qaeda in their midst, its their business to sort it out.  Why is it a problem that the French need to get involved in?  


The Germans, Italians, Poles, Czech or Turks don't seem to feel the same need.  Neither do we, or, say, the Chinese.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Well, I'm pretty sure that the U.S. is sitting this adventure


out because former French colonies are their bailiwick, so to speak. And it's not just bad for the Malians. Al Qaeda having a place to train and operate means a much larger headache for western law enforcement, intel, and counter-terrorism. One North Waziristan is bad enough...

Al-Qaeda will be best combated by Muslims in their own countries

mmghosh's picture

and they are the ones to do it.  "Former French colonies" talk is an echo of Vietnam.  


Sooner or later some village or wedding party will be blown up by a French missile with the usual consequences.


I don't see why the French have to be overtly concerned, where the Russians, Chinese, Brazilians etc (who have equal or more security concerns than a mid-sized European nation) aren't.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Let Me Know When They Start That In Earnest

M Scott Eiland's picture

In the meantime, open season on Al-Queda and any allied organizations. Kill them to the last fighter.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

They already do. More Muslims are killed by al-Qaeda

mmghosh's picture

than people of all other religions put together.  Even in a country like Pakistan, with a government infiltrated by and largely supportive of Islamists.


As for American ferocity regarding Islamists, this is (relatively) recent.  We all remember US Senators on the frontlines with the mujahideen.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Of Course, They Were Killing Russians...a Positive Good at...




....that time...not so much now.


There were few Western howls at the laying waste to Chechna and Grozny.


Times change.


The war continues on many fronts...Mali is it for now.



Which is my point.

mmghosh's picture

When economics come in, it doesn't matter who you kill, who is on your side and who is not - white European men or Afghans or Africans.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Neither Mali, Nor Any of the Wars Discussed Were Economic


...in the sense that you want to make the argument turn. It is true that martial ambitions can make very strange bedfellows, but ideology in the broadest terms actually controls...most everything. (Don't let my Marxist Theory professor hear this!)


Even in modern wars that may appear on the surface to be economic, in truth are not. The Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere and FDR's economic blockade may seem to be classic examples of war as economics, but they are not.


I know you are going to quote this to me:


Although the two countries had fought intermittently since 1931, total war started in earnest in 1937 and ended only with the surrender of Japan in 1945. The war was the result of a decades-long Japanese imperialist policy aiming to dominate China politically and militarily and to secure its vast raw material reserves and other economic resources, particularly food and labour.


However, you are wrong.


This war that actually started over the Social Darwinian ideas that infected Japanese Society that they were a superior Race and hence deserved to exploit Chinese resources and labor.


Social Darwinism has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century. Originally brought to Japan through the works of Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel and German orthodox mendelian, United States, British and French Lamarkian eugenical written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[30] Eugenism as a science was hotly debated at the beginning of the 20th century, in Jinsei-Der Mensch, the first eugenics journal in the empire. As the Japanese sought to close ranks with the west, this practice was adopted wholesale along with colonialism and its justifications.[31]


This was the source of the War, and I might add that a sense of Superiority what animates the Islamist to war...economic benefits are as you would maintain, Nice, even important, but absent famine, they are not necessary or sufficient to wage war, as Culture is.


Best Wishes, Traveller



I don't deny the role of racism in power politics

mmghosh's picture

or of racial snobbery (and there will be some of that in the French action in Mali, as it is in Palestine and as it was in Iraq and Afghanistan) but I'm more influenced by the old Americanism "follow the money".  


I will concede there are the "martial" peoples who prefer to dominate, versus the "peaceful" peoples who get along with other peoples.  I also think we also have an amazing capapcity for self-deception about motives.  No doubt the reasons for the French intervention in Mali will become clearer.  I will keep my powder dry until then! 

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I've Been Reading the Wiki During the Game, What a Mess...



...European History is.


Why should our Time be any different across a broader canvas?



Large North African immigrant


Large North African immigrant population?


Plus of course the usual imperial ambitions.

I suspect its about cheap uranium from the Niger basin area

mmghosh's picture

70% of France's electricity is derived from nuclear power.  Why not be open about it?  Manufacturing clashes of civilisation justification, spread of Sharia, al-Qaeda etc are unnecessary.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

At present it is small leftwing newsmagazines carrying the story

mmghosh's picture

of blood-for-uranium, after a quick googling, but no doubt at some point the Guardians and NYTs of the world will pick up on the story.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I Suspect Not Blood-for-Uranium...Clash of Civilizations....



...one can always buy Uranium here or there, maybe pay somewhat more, somewhat less, but this is hardly sufficient reason to take on the the very real and vast risks the French are assuming by intervening in Mali.


I think people like to paper over the sometimes real differences with economic talk, as you have here, because it is so much more uncomfortable to discuss the reasons that separate people sometimes so utterly there can be no accord, not compromise, no solution.


I was reading myself to sleep last night with the establishment of the English church, the real and ever present practice of torture by Elizabeth I, though not the public burnings that so blackened Elizabeth's half sister's reputation, Mary, by burning her Protestant heretics at the stake in public, while Elizabeth tortured her Catholic priests in private.


The main premise was, however, that the entire Protestant establishment across Northern Europe, as well as the establishment of the Church of England, was not possible at all except for the fact that militant Islam as led by the Turks and Suleiman the Magnificent occupying Hapsburg's, the Papal States, France (to a much lesser degree) and Eastern Europe's attention in this direction for a long generation, and of course before Suleiman also.


The hatred of the the Turk is still real and palatable across much of Eastern Europe, especially in the South. A stranger cannot but be struck by subject matter upon entering the national galleries in Budapest or Belgrade or Brataslava or Vienna,that the only subject that mattered for artists for centuries was the painting and telling the story of killing the Turks...most often in monumental canvases.


These were the lessons learned and being taught in the national art, not, I suppose unlike ancient little old ladies in Dublin practicing the oral tradition still talking about the hated British Blacks & Tans.


In reference to the Turk, it was a near thing too. Had not Suleiman not murdered his able and capable son, Mustafa, as he watched, in favor of his freckless and corrupt and dissolute son born of his Russian mistress, the essential territorial body of Western Europe might well have fallen to the Turkish sword.


The thought is that African Islam has to be stopped somewhere, and Mali has been chosen as the battleground. The outrages of Islam against African Animists and Christians have been unabating in their terrible viciousness for at least a decade now. Either the rest of Africa will step up into this essential fray or not is the test to be seen for the entire continent.


So no, not Uranium, if it were that easy, there would be no line of control between India and Pakistan with soldier's standing at ready and often deadly watch.


More important things are at stake.


Best Wishes, Traveller




If that were so, there would be no Franco-Ottoman alliance

mmghosh's picture

from 1536 to 1798.




Of course, the Turk was hated - which imperial power is not?  Did the Jews not hate the vastly more civilised Hellenes or Romans?


As for deadly hatred, the entire matter of the Crusades was punctuated by short term alliances and counter-alliances between factions amongst the Saracens and Christians, the factions fighting between themselves almost as much as with their nominally religious enemies.  We haven't forgotten the Fourth Crusade now, have we?


The only recent war without a (nominal) economic cause I can think of is the Iraq invasion of 2003 by the USA - its still hard to work out the real reason for that war.


More digging - the French sources of uranium seem to be a combination of Africa, Canada and Kazakhstan.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The Franco-Turk Allilance was Religious and Power Politics..Also


....the Alliance was a very, very on and off thing and after the the death of Suleiman had little meaning, and even less after the massive defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto...in 1571, truly a pivot in the history of the world.


As Noted below:


With Charles V unsuccessful in battle and squeezed between the French invasion and the Ottomans, kings Francis I and Charles V ultimately made peace with the Truce of Nice on 18 June 1538.[41] In the truce, Charles and Francis made an agreement to ally against the Ottomans to expel them from Hungary.[42] Charles V turned his attention to fighting the Ottomans, but could not launch large forces in Hungary due to a raging conflict with the German princes of the Schmalkaldic League.[42] On 28 September 1538 Barbarosa won the major Battle of Preveza against the Imperial fleet.[43] At the end of the conflict, Suleiman set as a condition for peace with Charles V that the latter returns to Francis I the lands that were his by right.[36]

The Franco-Ottoman alliance was crippled for a while however, due to Francis' official change of alliance at Nice in 1538. Open conflict between Charles and Francis would resume in 1542, as well as Franco-Ottoman collaboration, with the 4 July 1541 assassination by Imperial troops of the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Antonio Rincon, as he was travelling through Italy near Pavia.




According to historian Arthur Hassall the consequences of the Franco-Ottoman alliance were far-reaching: "The Ottoman alliance had powerfully contributed to save France from the grasp of Charles V, it had certainly aided Protestantism in Germany, and from a French point of view, it had rescued the North German allies of Francis I."'[64]


All of which goes against your premise that Wars and Alliances have economic basis.


The entire French-Turk alliance were religious, and religious in effect in allowing the establishment of Protestantism, which was my point, or one of them.


The larger point was...Culture is more important than money.


Best Wishes, Traveller


What is "power" politics if not economic power?

mmghosh's picture

Finding money to pay for wars, and continuing wars were the reason for the existence of states at the time when nation-states did not really exist.


Also, the Protestant-Catholic division between the Germans and the Pope was, IIRC, because Germans did not (and still do not) want to carry on paying Italians.  Minor doctrinal issues can always be inflated to make them seem larger than they are, and that's what the Protestant-Catholic divide is about (at least to this outsider).  Fighting over praying for the dead?  Come on.  The doctrinal differences between the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches seem even more minor.


Also, IIRC, one the of the main reasons for the Anglican division was because the English king wanted the revenue from the existing Catholic establishment.  Doctrinal disagreement is minor


One can always make up existential threats.  The very idea of an existential threat to modern civilisation by semi-organised desert nomads needs only to be stated to demonstrate its ludicrousness.  I don't deny that al-Qaeda are a threat in Mali, or Algeria.  Or even Syria (where the West is supporting the Islamist opposition, to mention in passing).  But at the same time we note no overt campaign in Syria because there is no economically worthwhile natural resource to fight over.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Iraq was simple

HankP's picture

it was all about oil. Not grabbing it, but making sure it would continue to be traded in the existing petrodollar framework.


I blame it all on the Internet

Man Videos Live Chase On Broadcast TV


Continues to roll tape as the chase jumps off his TV screen and passes outside his living room window (NSFW exclamation as the man realizes what's just happened.)




What a strange surveillance society we live in.


(Via Jalopnik.)

People are strange?

brutusettu's picture

If people had cell phone's at Ford Theater, someone would've have gotten Booth jumping on stage and posted that on YT and crossposted on FB.  Others would have instagramed that joint and tweeted that out.


M Scott Eiland's picture

The willingness of people to document and report (and embellish) weird stuff happening in front of them hasn't changed all that much over the years. The instrumentation available to facilitate such actions has, on the other hand, improved a lot--and people seem to be far less, ahem, inhibited about engaging in such activities in public these days.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Horseburger scandal won't go away.

mmghosh's picture


The trajectory of the scandal has a familiarity to it too. It began with the announcement on Tuesday evening by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that it had detected other animals in 85% of all beefburger samples it had tested two months previously. Tesco Everyday Value beefburgers topped the adulteration league, being 29% horsemeat, but Lidl, Aldi and others were caught up in it too, with more than a third of all the beefburgers tested containing some horse.


The meat-processing companies from which the dodgy burgers originated include some of the largest in Europe. They supply most of the retail sector.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The story of the Irish beef processing industry is quite amazing


and to see Larry Goodman back in the center of a nation scandal is a hideous flashback to the 80s and 90s Fianna Fail Ireland, the endless tribunals and investigations that cost billions (literally) and punished no one (we even hada beef tribunal). The man seemed to pretty much own the country then. A few of the details here:




But the embarassment continues to follow me around. I remember back in the 90s I signed up with one of the American multinationals that was moving on to ireland as part of our new tiger economy. The were setting up on an old Meat Packers site. The whole startup had to be delayed since when theyt tried to dig foundations they discovered that the meat packers had been illegally burrying all the meat waste on site instead of paying for disposal. The whole site had to be dug up and treated (this wasa very large campus style setup).

So they make burgers out of dodgies *too*?! That's outrageous!

aireachail's picture


Old news

HankP's picture

the last time we eliminated government regulations wholesale we got The Jungle. Now we get horsemeat (and who knows what else) in our burgers, and the usual business suck ups complain about even labeling laws as being unfair to business.


I think we'll have to wait for lots of kids to die before anything happens, though, that seems to be the only way to get large scale outrage about these kinds of things anymore.


I blame it all on the Internet

I wasn't aware that Robert Heinlein was an Upton Sinclair fan

mmghosh's picture

the things one learns from wikipedia links.  So one can read Heinlein again, and from a different viewpoint.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Could Be Worse

M Scott Eiland's picture

If the "mystery meat" turned out to be leprechaun, PETA wouldn't know whether to s**t or go blind while everyone else in Ireland was rushing off to worship at the porcelain shrine.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Blogroll's links

brutusettu's picture

Clearly these guys were due for promotion


Fed missed warning signs in 2007 as crisis gained steam


"We have no indication that the major, more diversified institutions are facing any funding pressure," Geithner said according to the transcripts, which total 1,370 pages. "In fact, some of them report what we classically see in a context like this, which is that money is flowing to them."

Similarly, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke underestimated the risks of a looming financial blow-up.

"I do not expect insolvency or near insolvency among major financial institutions," he said in December 2007.

To be fair

HankP's picture

while several people warned about problems, I don't think anyone knew exactly how bad it would get. Also, it wasn't until the summer of 2007 that measuring indices started going haywire. So sure, they should have seen problems coming, but not the details of the crisis. Also, banks weren't only lying to the Fed and the media, they were even lying to each other within bank management. So 20/20 hindsight and all that.


I blame it all on the Internet