Saturday, September 20, 2008
Just a Thought
Not by any stretch of the imagination can you imagine the US tolerating let alone supporting any of the circumstances I described. But you have to assume by the general law that any democratic state would pursue the national interest of its citizens that those circumstances would likely arise or be pursued by a responsible democratic Iraq. So a democratic Iraq if you follow my logic is anathema to the US interest. The line that the goal of the war was to bring democracy to Iraq is a farce. The goal, by logical extension, is to create a client state for the pursuit of American interests in the region.
I know this isn't a radical perspective. It is pretty basic common sense knowledge among the intellectually honest observers. Just thought I'd put it out there.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Greenspan is Right
Now McCain says he will pay for this new spending by killing earmarks/pork barrel spending but how much money is he really going to find in earmark spending? A lot of those earmarks are for things like traffic lights, infrastructure projects in small towns, basically things that the average citizen and local governments actually need. McCain's not going to veto every single on of these bills. He will probably veto bills for scientific research deemed unnecessary by his administration or maybe his own discretion and he promises to "make them famous." His whole platform of reform is supposed to cut money from all kinds of departments, agencies and programmes to find the money to finance his massive spending proposals but the reality is, there isn't enough wasteful spending to cut to finance a massive tax cut and a continued War. As well as any other spending McCain plans to do.
I applaud McCain for trying to make transparency important in government so that earmarks are carefully reviewed and known of by the public. It's good that he sees the problem here. McCain says he's going to do it on his own with his famous pen. Barack Obama has a proposal called "Google for Government" which is going to make a lot of things transparent and open and he's been talking about this idea for two years now.
But the problem still exists for McCain. He's going to be financing his tax cuts with debt. Greenspan says its crazy and I agree.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
And I am working on figuring out how to remove the automatic postscript that follows these particular posts because in no way do I support Rogers. Except with all the money I pay them every month. Aside from that they do not get an ounce of support for their virtual monopoly from me. I hate to advertise them for free on my blog everytime I use my phone to make a post.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
The End of the GOP, Pt. 1
Reagonomics simply has not worked. The numbers don't lie. The economy has grown strongly over the last quarter century but real wages and purchasing power for the 98% of Americans who make up the group that was supposed to be trickled upon has remained stagnant and in some instances declined. While the socio-economic inequality between the top 2% and the rest has increased dramatically.
It's not that Reagonomics is a faulty theory of economics but rather the Republican party has taken that idea and turned it into a sort of dogma. The absolutist version of Reagonomics that doesn't take into account market failures, weakness and irregularity is really the culprit here. And now a timely quote from Barack Obama:
“I think I can tell a pretty simple story. Ronald Reagan ushered in an era that reasserted the marketplace and freedom. He made people aware of the cost involved of government regulation or at least a command-and-control-style regulation regime. Bill Clinton to some extent continued that pattern, although he may have smoothed out the edges of it. And George Bush took Ronald Reagan’s insight and ran it over a cliff."
Absolutely. What's interesting to me now, and what makes me think the GOP is dying, is that the party of ideas is now the party of dogma. Instead of addressing the fundamental problems with their economic principles the modern day Republican party has essentially "doubled-down" on it's gamble. The McCain campaign offers an even more absolutist and extreme version of Reagonomics than the Bush regime. Not only does he want to make the Bush tax policy permanent, he wants to decrease the tax burden on the super rich upper class and keep the tax burden on the rest of the population the same. It's like Wile E. Coyote still clutching the rocket before he realizes he's well off the cliff.
To tie this all together, here is a very well written and provocative analysis of why localities that have the highest degrees of income inequality vote almost exclusively for Democrats and progressive policies while those with a lesser degree of wealth segregation vote primarily for Republicans. And it's not just the bottom rungs of the ladder voting Democratic, the affluent and educated American population is as well. In fact the 10 most educated states are reliable strongholds for the Democratic Party. Here is a short excerpt from this well constructed and insightful piece written by David Frum a conservative author and fellow at the conservative think-tank the American Enterprise Institute:
In short, the trend to inequality is real, it is large and it is transforming American society and the American electoral map. Yet the conservative response to this trend verges somewhere between the obsolete and the irrelevant.
Conservatives need to stop denying reality. The stagnation of the incomes of middle-class Americans is a fact. And only by acknowledging facts can we respond effectively to the genuine difficulties of voters in the middle. We keep offering them cuts in their federal personal income taxes — even though two-thirds of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes, and even though a majority of Americans now describe their federal income tax burden as reasonable.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
McCain Speech Reaction
Unfortunately, there was absolutely zero substance. His policy discussion was limited to "I will cut taxes, he will raise them. I will keep America safe, he will not. I will save puppies from Euthanasia, he will set them on fire." It was extremely limited. But John McCain knows he's got no policy agenda to run on. The 2008 Republican platform by all objective measure is more right wing, more corporate and more extreme than the agenda of Bush's Republican party in 2004. In fact, the entire campaign is a relic of the 2004 election. John McCain is counting on the notion that won George Bush the election in 2004. And that was, "Who would you have a beer with?" I'd say Barack Obama but I'm biased. A good number of Americans, especially conservative Americans would say John McCain.
Unfortunately for John McCain 2004 is not 2008. I don't think the American people are going to vote for the guy they like better, I think they are going to vote for the guy with the policies they like better. The McCain campaign will try everything in it's power to keep the issues off the table for the next 2 months and the Obama campaign has to do the opposite. All in all it was a good effort by McCain and his campaign strategy seems clear now. The Sarah Palin pick was to lock down his base and now that he's done that he's going to move to the center, he'll be less partisan, and he'll try to win based on his character. It's all making sense.
America's Other War
It was a carefully constructed night with zero substance, mind-numbing double talk and irony laced attacks that no-doubt had Karl Rove swelling up with tears of pride. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and worth an estimated $200 million, critiquing east-coast elitism. Then there was Rudy Guiliani, former mayor of New York city, sneering about cosmopolitan cities. But they saved the best for last.
Alaska Governor Sarah Who (well, Matt Scully) was mainly attacking Barack Obama's biography. Whaaat? The American people don't know a single thing about her aside from she's got a dysfunctional family, a developmentally challenged child and a penchant for lying to the public. I don't see how you can attack someone's biography when people know so little about you.
In style, her attacks were sarcastic and juvenile. For example she chided Obama's experience as a community organizer and tried to contrast that with the rigors of being the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska population 9000. But the underlying theme of the entire speech was "We're small town American, Obama is San Francisco" and that's the exact same theme the Bush campaign used in 2004 to attack John Kerry. The culture war is on. No mention of policies. No mention of healthcare, the economy, national security or the Iraq war. Those things aren't important. It's not as if we all didn't see this coming:
"This election is not about issues," said Davis. "This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."
Monday, September 01, 2008
Squeeze first. Vet later. Vote McCain.
McCain's campaign has dispatched a team of a dozen communications operatives and lawyers to Alaska.
I thought this was a reckless choice but apparently he didn't even vet her properly.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I've just finished reading this very long piece by David Leonhardt for the New York Times Magazine and it so elegantly illustrates some of the reasons why I am for Obama.
As anyone who has spent time with Obama knows, he likes experts, and his choice of advisers stems in part from his interest in empirical research. (James Heckman, a Nobel laureate who critiqued the campaign’s education plan at Goolsbee’s request, said, “I’ve never worked with a campaign that was more interested in what the research shows.”) By surrounding himself with economists, however, Obama was also making a decision with ideological consequences. Far more than many other policy advisers, economists believe in the power of markets. What tends to distinguish Democratic economists is that they set out to uncover imperfections of the market and then come up with incremental, market-based solutions to these imperfections. This helps explain the Obama campaign’s interest in behavioral economics, a relatively new field that has pointed out many ways in which people make irrational, short-term decisions. To deal with one example of such myopia, Obama would require companies to automatically set aside a portion of their workers’ salary in a 401(k) plan. Any worker could override the decision — and save nothing at all or save even more — but the default would be to save.
In his policies you can clearly see Obama's pragmatism and anticipate a departure from the age of ideology. Here is an example where he sees the end of not only encouraging but facilitating savings, a huge problem for the American people that has not been addressed during the Bush administration, and finds the most practical solution for it. You may not agree with his solution but in this example you can see his thinking. This particular solution may lean to the left but at least it's a real solution. In his energy policy his Chicago School economic principles and laissez faire influences come through more brightly. Obama's cap and trade system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions would actually auction off 100% of the permits to pollute allowing the market to set the value of those permits. This would force the competition required so that only the most efficient and profitable corporations purchase the permits. A perfect blend of free market economics and government regulation. Leonhardt does an excellent job explaining this.
He's not an ideologue and so he can borrow ideas from all sides and points of the political and economic spectrum. He's not confined to Reaganism, Clintonian Centrism, or any other -ism of the 20th century.
So I asked Obama whether he thought he had been able to tell an effective story about the economy during this campaign. Specifically, I wondered, did he think he had a message that compared with Reagan’s simple call for less government and lower taxes.
He paused for a few seconds and then said this:
“I think I can tell a pretty simple story. Ronald Reagan ushered in an era that reasserted the marketplace and freedom. He made people aware of the cost involved of government regulation or at least a command-and-control-style regulation regime. Bill Clinton to some extent continued that pattern, although he may have smoothed out the edges of it. And George Bush took Ronald Reagan’s insight and ran it over a cliff. And so I think the simple way of telling the story is that when Bill Clinton said the era of big government is over, he wasn’t arguing for an era of no government. So what we need to bring about is the end of the era of unresponsive and inefficient government and short-term thinking in government, so that the government is laying the groundwork, the framework, the foundation for the market to operate effectively and for every single individual to be able to be connected with that market and to succeed in that market. And it’s now a global marketplace.
“Now, that’s the story. Now, telling it elegantly — ‘low taxes, smaller government’ — the way the Republicans have, I think is more of a challenge.”
Obamanomics is about restoring the role of government in the market without getting in the way and I think he's prescribed a fairly effective method here. He's going to really challenge the idea that trickle-down economics works. It's been ingrained in the American psyche as a truism, but it hasn't really proven true in reality. It's also going to be about "balancing market sensibilities and moral sentiment" as Obama puts it. It seems that as a result of Reaganomics, economic prosperity has not translated into an increase in the standard of living like it was supposed to. And finally, it's going to be about creating sustainable economic growth for the future so we as a global economy don't hit a wall.