Morning Report – Wal Mart wage hike bodes well for wages in general 2/20/15

Markets are lower this morning as the EU / Greek kabuki dance continues. Bonds and MBS are up.

The Markit US Manufacturing PMI Index rose to 54.3 in Feb from 53.9 in January. Good reading, given the fact that the Northeast got slammed with snow all month.

Greece is set to run out of cash as early as next month, so the talks with the EU are increasingly important. Remember, this is all a kabuki dance. Greek voters want to stay in the Euro, and German voters want Greece to stay in the Euro. They will get a deal done, although bonds will be buffeted by the day-to-day headlines.

Megan McArdle on why Wal-Mart raised wages. It was not due to labor activists – it was a business decision to try and minimize turnover and motivate employees. This is good news for wage growth in general, as companies may be forced to raise wages to compete. The great stagnation might be ending.

67 Responses

  1. The great stagnation might be ending.

    Fingers crossed. It will be interesting to see how Target and other stores in that general category respond.

    Frist!

    (Oh, and Happy Friday to all!)

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  2. What’s interesting re Greece is that even ZeroHedge gets surprised by the various turns of events. They’re good at looking behind the headlines but are ever the less clueless.

    I think Germany gives a lot of ground to Greece.

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  3. Germany benefits tremendously from having Greece in the Euro. Their whole social welfare / manufacturing state depends on having a weak Euro. If the Euro consisted only of Germany, France, and the Netherlands, it would be much, much stronger.

    I would wager we could do the same thing Germany is doing by forming an Americas currency. The combined currency would probably still retain its reserve currency status but would be much lower, giving our domestic manufacturers an advantage. That said, we would have to bail out Argentina, Peru, etc every few years, but that is the price you pay.

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  4. I think JNC and I were almost asked to leave the PL.

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  5. Greg can be a twit…

    Edit: he was probably talking about me though…

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  6. Or Snarkbait. Like I said, I’ll leave if asked but no more whining about “where did the regulars go”.

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  7. Bush’s speech on Islamic terrorism is a very interesting reread given recent events and Obama’s rhetoric.

    http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html

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  8. Here’s the best reason I’ve seen listed for the special enrollment period:

    “The special enrollment period serves three purposes to the administration. It will increase the number of people with health insurance, a goal long sought by Mr. Obama. It will reduce the number of people who must pay tax penalties, potentially reducing anger at the White House and opposition to the Affordable Care Act. And it will increase the number of people who receive health insurance subsidies and thus have a personal stake in a Supreme Court case challenging payment of the subsidies in more than 30 states.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/us/incorrect-tax-information-health-insurance.html

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  9. This strikes me as a perfect comment that sums up the failure of Obama’s broader ME strategy:

    “Benjamin Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser and a close confidant of Obama’s, acknowledged that Libya’s situation was grim. “Getting the technocrats and the guys with the guns on the same page has been very difficult,” he said.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/unravelling

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  10. Here’s a question that’s relevant to the (illegal) Obamacare subsidies, what percent of those receiving subsidies have ever voted in a state or federal election?

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  11. I think JNC and I were almost asked to leave the PL.

    Wow–what’d I miss?!??

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  12. Greg just made a comment about “conservatrolls stinking up the joint.” Basically the only ones on there were jnc, nova, me, snark and welder.. the usual suspects.

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  13. “My biggest criticism would revolve around the part about underestimating the transformative power of democracy. I think Bush significantly overestimated it.”

    Yep. I also think that the term “Islamofascist” works about as well as any other piece of rhetoric can to make the distinction between moderate Muslims and the jihadis.

    This I thought was absurd too:

    “These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus — and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.”

    I’m not sure if that’s really a distortion of the idea of jihad.

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    • jnc:

      I’m not sure if that’s really a distortion of the idea of jihad.

      Agreed. It is very much on the order of Obama’s “true” Islam theme.

      BTW, I stopped in briefly at PL and made a comment to Brent. Okie saw me and announced to PL that I am “evil” and a “dirtbag”. That place sure brings out the best in people.

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  14. scott, please quit “slumming.” If you have comments for PL, please just make them (as do others) without the derogation. Who knows, you might just attract a lefty besides michi to give some credence to your out-of-date designation of “all things in moderation.

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    • okie:

      Welcome back.

      If you have comments for PL, please just make them (as do others) without the derogation.

      I did. But then you questioned why I was back at PL, so I answered you.

      And “evil” and “dirtbag” is how I see you. No apology.

      None needed. It says more about you than me anyway.

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  15. And “evil” and “dirtbag” is how I see you. No apology.

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  16. “Welcome back.”

    Bwahahahaha.

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  17. Hi Okie! We miss your inspired and informative rhetoric. You’re like a breath of fresh air!

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  18. Looks like someone still has a boulder sized chip on her shoulder.

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  19. Worth a note:

    “Did the Torture Report Give the C.I.A. a Bum Rap?

    By DAVID COLE
    FEB. 20, 2015”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/opinion/sunday/did-the-torture-report-give-the-cia-a-bum-rap.html

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  20. Basically the only ones on there were jnc, nova, me, snark and welder.

    I missed that as well. I have welder and others of his ilk on Ignore (of which there are about a half dozen, perhaps not all unique) but to someone who reads an unfiltered comment stream it must reek pretty bad. There are several liberal PL commenters I wish would post a lost less but I realize I am living in a glass house here.

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    • yello:

      I read your PL comments on Giuliani. I am curious why you mock the notion that an American might think the US is “exceptional”. If a man truly loves his wife, it isn’t at all surprising that he would believe her to be special and “the best” wife in the world. Indeed, to me it would be odd if he didn’t believe such a thing, and so if he was constantly critiquing his wife, and mocked the notion that she was in any way special or exceptional, I would strongly suspect that he didn’t truly love his wife at all.

      I think the same about expressions of love for one’s country. It is fully expected that, if one sincerely loves ones country, one will think that one’s country is special or exceptional. And so for those who disparage the notion that their country is in any way special or exceptional relative to other countries, I think it is perfectly reasonable to question whether such people do indeed have any real love of country. And if they claim such a love, while at the same time denigrating the notion that it is any way special and those that think it is, I can only ask: Why do you love it?

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      • “My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”

        ― G.K. Chesterton, The Defendant

        There is a fine line between patriotism and jingoism and Giullia911 is well past it.

        If a man truly loves his wife, it isn’t at all surprising that he would believe her to be special and “the best” wife in the world.

        It’s one thing to love your wife, but if you go around telling everybody she is hotter than Angelina Jolie, I’m just going to roll my eyes.

        The patriotism slam against Obama seems to boil down to two things, a) he admits we have made mistakes, and b) people in other countries love their country too.

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        • yello:

          It’s one thing to love your wife, but if you go around telling everybody she is hotter than Angelina Jolie, I’m just going to roll my eyes.

          Perhaps, but that is not what I proposed. I proposed that a man who truly loves his wife will think that she is truly special and exceptional. And one who truly loves his country will think the same. So my question to you is 1) why do you mock people who’s love of country leads them to think that their country is special/exceptional and 2) Why do you love your country (if indeed you profess to) if you find nothing special/exceptional about it?

          The patriotism slam against Obama seems to boil down to two things, a) he admits we have made mistakes, and b) people in other countries love their country too.

          Actually I think there is more to it than that. With regard to a) it arises not because he “admits” to mistakes, but rather the perception that he harps on those mistakes (ie they seem to define his understanding of the country) and with regard to b) it arises not simply because he recognizes that people in other countries also love their country, but rather he uses that fact to dodge expressing any sense of exceptionalism about his own country.

          Sort of like someone asking “Is there anything special about your wife that makes you love her?” and responding “I guess so, but everyone thinks their own wife is special.” The obvious implication being that, objectively speaking, there is in fact nothing special at all.

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  21. @okiegirl: “And “evil” and “dirtbag” is how I see you. No apology.

    And no sense of irony.

    And absolutely no understanding of the definition of the word “evil”. But, a common misconception in our modern era that “evil” = “disagrees with me”.

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  22. re: American exceptionalism. I agree with your wife analogy, but it also involves a misconception on the part of many liberals, I think about what American exceptionalism and patriotism means, and means to those who espouse it. Frankly, I love expressions of deep patriotism from any nationality (be they Italian, English, Australian or other).

    America is an awesome country. It’s not to say it’s always perfect, or is perfect today, or that slavery wasn’t bad or that the Iraq war was a good idea, just that America is awesome, and that representative government and broad individual freedoms make for a great country, overall.

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    • …representative government and broad individual freedoms make for a great country, overall.

      Could not agree more.

      One can prefer their mother be sober, yet still love their mother deeply.

      Exactly the point.

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  23. ” It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.””

    One can prefer their mother be sober, yet still love their mother deeply. 😉

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  24. @yellojkt: “The patriotism slam against Obama seems to boil down to two things, a) he admits we have made mistakes, and b) people in other countries love their country too.”

    I think some of it comes down to the level of perceived unhappiness that many folks on the right have that Obama is far too disappointed that America allows the conservative (i.e., right wing) side of the political spectrum a voice. I think some of it is also (as I often ascribe such stuff too) the tribal orientation of human beings. He’s on the wrong team, thus, by definition, he cannot be patriotic!

    Also, the problem is often that the reasons giving for loving the country by the opposite side is not the reasons your side likes. Finally, we don’t like the decisions the other side makes when in political power, as we think they erode important rights, thus we don’t consider them patriotic. But the “not a patriot” think is liberally thrown away by both sides. Wanting tax cut for the rich has been characterized as unpatriotic. Often, “unpatriotic” means “disagrees with me on policy”.

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  25. Wanting tax cut for the rich has been characterized as unpatriotic

    That sounds slightly strawmanish but I am open to examples of this actually being said. I will concede “Tax cuts for the rich is un-American.” I want to see the explicit link to patriotism.

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  26. I proposed that a man who truly loves his wife will think that she is truly special and exceptional.

    One can love their spouse or country and not be blind to their or its faults. Unconditional devotion should be reserved for dogs towards their owners.

    As for romantic relationships, it’s fine to use a little poetic license but as Dan Savage likes to say, there is no The One for any given person. You find a person who meets most of your needs and round it up to one.

    Why do you love your country (if indeed you profess to) if you find nothing special/exceptional about it?

    I do love America and think it is the best country in the world which is why it is so disappointing when it fails to live up to its own ideals.

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    • yello:

      One can love their spouse or country and not be blind to their or its faults. Unconditional devotion should be reserved for dogs towards their owners.

      I have not proposed that anyone is or should be “blind to their or its faults”, nor have I suggested unconditional devotion. I have proposed that if one truly loves ones country (or wife), then it is perfectly reasonable, indeed expected, to think that one’s country (or wife) is special or exceptional. Do you think the US is special or exceptional relative to other countries?

      I do love America and think it is the best country in the world…

      Why do you think so, if there is nothing particularly special or exceptional about it relative to other countries?

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  27. @yellojkt:

    http://www.ringoffireradio.com/2010/07/papantonio-the-unpatriotic-no-tax-conservatives/

    And this is ref to Joe Biden but also John McCain, who has said similar things (but it’s really about tax hikes being patriotic, rather than the opposite):

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/09/18/602908/-John-McCain-Tax-Cuts-for-the-Rich-are-Unpatriotic

    And lots of folks think incorporating off-shore to avoid paying taxes is unpatriotic, which I get, but . . . then aren’t all tax shelters unpatriotic?

    And I’ve had it said to me directly in forums like PL by other users.

    Jesse Jackson made the case that Republicans who didn’t attend Obama’s address were unpatriotic:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/09/10/jesse_jackson_republicans_who_skipped_obamas_address_unpatriotic.html

    There are lot of casual references by rank-and-file liberals to the lack of patriotism of Republicans or conservatives (one comment, I recall, advanced the theory that the GOP became the unpatriotic party at it’s founding, because it was explicitly founded to the protect the interests of capitalists).

    Lack of patriotism may be a more common accusation from the right, but I suspect that is because the further left you go, generally, the less “unpatriotic” is an insult. For many on the left in my experience, patriotism is indistinguishable from jingoism or chauvinism.

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    • Kevin:

      Lack of patriotism may be a more common accusation from the right…

      I actually doubt that very much, at least among public figures, particularly because anyone on the right who makes such an accusation can expect a huge media backlash, while those on the left can expect a media pass. Hence those on the right are a lot more careful about making such public accusations. Even Giuliani’s comments were made at a private dinner, not a public event.

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      • Well, my informal observations would tend to indicate that accusations of lack of patriotism are more common from the right, for the reason I cited, I think. When those on the left queue up the accusation, they do tend to get a pass. It is generally tantamount to a capital crime from a Republican to accuse a Democrat of lack of patriotism. 😉

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  28. @Scottc: America is a far superior country to, say, Afghanistan. Heck, I think we’re more awesome (to mention, far friendlier to immigrants) than Mexico. 😉

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  29. There’s also the whole premise of American exceptionalism being associated with the “indispensable power” theory. Obama himself acknowledges this:

    “Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility.”

    http://www.vox.com/a/barack-obama-interview-vox-conversation/obama-foreign-policy-transcript

    This was his most explicit reference to American exceptionalism that I recall:

    “I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. ”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19751-2004Jul27.html

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    • jnc:

      There’s also the whole premise of American exceptionalism being associated with the “indispensable power” theory.

      Yes, that is actually the true meaning/origin of the phrase “American exceptionalism”. But generally when those on the left disparage the notion, or mock those who profess to embrace it, I think they are using the term in the more generic sense of special in some way or another relative to other nations.

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  30. For many on the left in my experience, patriotism is indistinguishable from jingoism or chauvinism.

    Largely because the latter is frequently passed off as the former.

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  31. There’s also the whole premise of American exceptionalism being associated with the “indispensable power” theory.

    That is literally exceptional. No country even comes close to our military power. Not that that keeps from losing wars time and time again.

    Why do you think so, if there is nothing particularly special or exceptional about it relative to other countries?

    I’m really trying to ignore how many words you are putting in my mouth. When did I say there was nothing special about America?

    Aspects of governmental or cultural exceptionalism which I find admirable in America are a dedication to individual rights (especially freedom of speech), the immigrant experience, and over two centuries of stable transfer of political power.

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    • yello:

      Aspects of governmental or cultural exceptionalism which I find admirable in America are a dedication to individual rights (especially freedom of speech), the immigrant experience, and over two centuries of stable transfer of political power.

      So you think these admirable qualities are particular to the US relative to other nations in the world? If so, why then do you mock people for also holding that America is exceptional relative to other nations? If it is reasonable for you to think America is “the best country in the world”, why is it mock-worthy for Giuliani to think so?

      Like

      • So you think these admirable qualities are particular the US relative to other nations in the world?

        Lots of other countries have met or exceeded our listing of rights, but they have largely followed our lead. Being first with the Bill of Rights makes us exceptional in that point.

        If so, why then do you mock people for also holding that America is exceptional relative to other nations?

        I mock them for thinking we are uniquely exceptional. Greece is the birthplace of democracy. France not just broke from monarchy but overthrew it. Great Britain abolished slavery long before we did and was once the premier military power in the world.

        If it is reasonable for you to think America is “the best country in the world”, why is it mock-worthy for Giuliani to think so?

        It’s mock-worthy for Giuliani to question Obama’s patriotism.And as I did say earlier, Giuliani’s comments fall into jingoism which is always mock-worthy.

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        • yello:

          I mock them for thinking we are uniquely exceptional.

          So, then you must think we are not uniquely exceptional. What, then, makes the US “the best country in the world” if there is nothing uniquely exceptional about it? It can’t really be just the fact that we were “first” to list rights, even though others have since surpassed us. I mean, I assume you wouldn’t proclaim Ford to be “the best car manufacturer in the world” even though others produce more/better cars just because it was first to mass produce cars. So what is it that makes the US in your eyes better than all the other countries in the world?

          It’s mock-worthy for Giuliani to question Obama’s patriotism.

          Your comment on PL seems to have disappeared (as has my response), but you were mocking the notion that America was exceptional.

          And as I did say earlier, Giuliani’s comments fall into jingoism which is always mock-worthy.

          What distinguishes your proclamation that the US is “the best country in the world” from mock-worthy “jingoism”?

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        • So what is it that makes the US in your eyes better than all the other countries in the world?

          Are you questioning my patriotism? Or do you just not like the answers I already gave you?

          Your comment on PL seems to have disappeared (as has my response), but you were mocking the notion that America was exceptional.

          See the ‘words in my mouth’ comment above.
          Pro-tip: Refresh the page and you can probably find them but I doubt they say what you think they said.

          What distinguishes your proclamation that the US is “the best country in the world” from mock-worthy “jingoism”?

          The ability to criticize and find fault in polices where we have failed to live up to our ideals. See “My mother, drunk or sober” quote above.

          Let’s skip a few round of twenty questions and just move on to defining ‘uniquely’.

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        • yello:

          Are you questioning my patriotism?

          Not yet.

          Or do you just not like the answers I already gave you?

          It is not that I don’t like them, but they don’t make sense. The US is the “best country in the world”, but the characteristics that you find admirable are 1) not unique to the US and 2) have been both matched and surpassed by other nations. So how can the US be better in terms of those admirable characteristics than other nations that have them in greater quantity/quality? Your answer implies that perhaps it is merely that we were “first”, but I find that unlikely, as my Ford analogy demonstrates. Again, your claims so far really don’t make any sense at all when taken together.

          See the ‘words in my mouth’ comment above.

          You said, “Our exceptionalism is the greatest. Go ‘Merica!”. Clear mockery of the notion of American exceptionalism, or at least those who express it (albeit not Giuliani directly.)

          The ability to criticize and find fault in polices where we have failed to live up to our ideals.

          Does a person who criticizes Obama’s policies as having failed to live up to our ideals get a pass from “jingoism” when he/she thinks that the US is the greatest country in the world? Or is it only criticisms that you agree with that count?

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        • So how can the US be better in terms of those admirable characteristics than other nations that have them in greater quantity/quality?

          We’re still not to defining uniquely, but we’re coming close.

          Clear mockery of the notion of American exceptionalism, or at least those who express it (albeit not Giuliani directly.)

          I was directly paraphrasing and mocking this statement from Giuliani in his WSJ op-ed today:

          And to say, as the president has, that American exceptionalism is no more exceptional than the exceptionalism of any other country in the world, does not suggest a becoming and endearing modesty, but rather a stark lack of moral clarity.

          http://www.wsj.com/articles/rudolph-giuliani-my-bluntness-overshadowed-my-message-1424646358

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        • yello:

          We’re still not to defining uniquely, but we’re coming close.

          Feel free to define it if you think it will make what you have said so far more coherent.

          Like

    • yello:

      I’m really trying to ignore how many words you are putting in my mouth. When did I say there was nothing special about America?

      Given your mockery of Giuliani’s reference to America being exceptional, I just assumed you must think there is nothing exceptional about it. But finding out just what you do think is precisely the point of my inquiry.

      Like

  32. This is the non-Giuliani version of the same argument on Obama:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/02/rudy_giuliani_says_barack_obama_doesn_t_love_america_that_s_absurd_but_the.html

    The issue is when Obama views and presents himself as a dispassionate outside observer of the US and it’s policies rather than the representative of it. Analyst vs advocate.

    He does it on several other topics as well.

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  33. When is it ok to question someone’s patriotism? Can each of us provide an example of an unpatriotic American?

    I’ll start.

    Bill Ayers is an unpatriotic American.

    Like

  34. The issue is when Obama views and presents himself as a dispassionate outside (emphasis added) observer of the US and it’s policies rather than the representative of it

    What makes Obama an outsider? He is a politician working within the system, This is another way of emphasizing the ‘otherness’ of Obama which Giuliani dogwhistles. When Rudy says “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” there is very specific ‘you’ he is addressing.

    And you keep trying to make Bouie’s article say something it doesn’t.

    Barack Obama’s view is a little different. Compared with the visions of his predecessors, his is less triumphant and informed by a kind of civic humility. “I believe in American exceptionalism,” he told Roger Cohen of the New York Times while still just a candidate, but not one based on “our military prowess or our economic dominance.” Instead, he said, “our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our values, and our ideals. We are at our best when we are speaking in a voice that captures the aspirations of people across the globe.”

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    • yello:

      What makes Obama an outsider?

      His own presentation of himself. When qualifying one’s expressions of admiration for one’s nation by noting that of course other people think the same of other nations too, one is attempting to establish oneself as an ostensibly dispassionate, objective observer rather than as an involved partisan. That’s the very point of making the observation.

      Like

  35. No, I’m not making it say something other than what it says:

    “Crude as he is, Giuliani isn’t wrong to sense a difference between Obama and his predecessors. Previous presidents have been profuse with their praise of America’s perceived exceptionalism. And they’ve done so without question or reservation.”

    “The issue is when Obama views and presents himself as a dispassionate outside (emphasis added) observer of the US and it’s policies rather than the representative of it

    What makes Obama an outsider?”

    The same idea that he’s above it all that he brings when he does a meta analysis of Democrats & Republicans in history for example. Democrats jumped all over him for arguing that Reagan was a transformational president.

    If you read his book, he’s very clear about the idea that growing up overseas gave him a different perspective on America than most people. Trying to act as a semi critical analyst of US policy and an advocate for it at the same time taxes even his rhetorical capabilities.

    I find it particularly annoying when he does it against the own policies of his administration without acknowledging his role in them in the first place. e.g. bemoaning a lack of transparency in the TPP deal.

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  36. I attribute it more to his professorial even-handed demeanor. After all, a liberal is somebody who won’t even take his own side in an argument

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  37. For what it’s worth, I think that when The Right accuses people of being unpatriotic they believe that other person either does not love the country or at least love it unconditionally. I don’t agree with the sentiment re patriotism but that’s what I think is meant.

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  38. “And to say, as the president has, that American exceptionalism is no more exceptional than the exceptionalism of any other country in the world, does not suggest a becoming and endearing modesty, but rather a stark lack of moral clarity.”

    Obviously, we’re more exceptional than at least some other countries. 😉

    Like

  39. Obviously, we’re more exceptional than at least some other countries.

    Rudy was strawmanning. Obama just said that other countries think they are exceptional too. Which is pretty incontrovertible. In fact, the lest exceptional a country is, the more they crow about whatever minor distinguishing feature they have.

    Like

    • yello:

      Obama just said that other countries think they are exceptional too.

      Why, do you suppose, would he bother saying this? Towards what end? Seems to me it is only in an effort to downplay any belief in American exceptionalism…”Yeah, sure you think we are exceptional, but everyone thinks that about their own country.”

      Like

  40. He was worried his base would think he was a rube, a bitter clinger.

    Like

  41. “yellojkt, on February 23, 2015 at 10:40 am said:

    I attribute it more to his professorial even-handed demeanor. After all, a liberal is somebody who won’t even take his own side in an argument”

    Same thing. Republicans would prefer that in the rhetorical fight with ISIS, that the American side of the argument is taken by the American president.

    Like

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