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I think you're right, the appointments really are key. That's what I find so interesting, or perhaps frustrating, in all the hand wringing and finger pointing over Obama's culpability. On one hand he is just one person, hoisted on top of the vast executive bureaucracy, how can he be responsible for all of their varied and long-running machinations, but on the other hand, he is ultimately responsible for those appointments (with congressional approval) which could drastically change things. In 2008 I really thought Obama could clean house, but it doesn't seem like he did. If that's the solution you're waiting around for, I'll join you in your pessimism. Then again, the one thing about the future is that it's unpredictable, so who knows.

I don't seriously think the Stasi is here either. What we have is certainly different, but I've seen people make comparisons.