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Friday, June 06, 2008


Well, I was just feeling extremely sick about my presidential choices given the world situation, and then I realized I had an alternative! Iowahawk is back in the race! A grateful nation sobs its relief as it reads a platform studded with genius such as this:
Basic Economistry 101 tells us that prices are a function of "supply" and "demand." Drilling and exploration are important, but this only addresses the "supply" side of the equation. We must also tackle our insatiable "demand" for energy. Thanks to my Piranha Doctrine foreign policy, America's military will be freed up to go after America's worst energy demand scofflaws -- the celebrity asshole community. Under my administration the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be directed to treat as hostile all private jets flying into Los Angeles airspace, backed up with coordinated pinpoint bombing of mansions and Priuses within the Malibu triangle.

See Shrinkwrapped for an explanation of why I feel sick when thinking of voting for either of them.

Even the Priuses? I can see the mansions and the jets, though.

Be sure to aim well - "here's your gun control you assholes"!

BTW, did you catch the latest eruption out of Trinity United Church of Christ, courtesy of Michael Pfleger? Just amazing.
If I remember my history correctly, the presidents with the most experience have done the worst.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had allowed the Cuba-invasion plan to be put in motion during the last of term just in time to land it in a new comers' lap for example. The guy that laid the plans to win WWII screws up invading a tiny country?

Suppose you had to choose between two Presidential candidates, one of whom had spent 20 years in Congress plus had considerable other relevant experience and the other of whom had about half a dozen years in the Illinois state legislature and 2 years in Congress. Which one do you think would make a better President? If you chose #1, congratulations, you picked James Buchanan over Abraham Lincoln. Your pick disagrees with that of most historians, who see Lincoln as the greatest President ever and Buchanan as the second worst ever, better only than Warren "Teapot Dome" Harding. Both served in what was probably the most difficult period in American history, where slavery and secession tore the nation asunder.

Before becoming President, Buchanan had served 6 years in the Pennsylvania state legislature, 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, 4 years as ambassador to Russia, 10 years in the Senate, 4 years as Secretary of State, and 4 years as Ambassador to England. Talk about experience, Buchanan did just about everything except serve on the Supreme Court, a job he was offered by President Polk and refused. Yet by any measure, he wasn't up to the job as President. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln served 8 years in the Illinois legislature and one term in the U.S. House (1847-1849), a decade before becoming President. The rest of the time he was a lawyer in private practice, a bit thin one might say.

In terms of experience, the 21 most experienced presidents include 11 bad presidents, including some of the worst, and 10 good ones. The two Roosevelts are in the bottom 1/2 of experience along with Lincoln.


What do I look for in a president? A good talker, a good leader, a person able to be flexible in decision making, even(especially) when he decided he was wrong but most important the ability to surround himself with leaders and experts to whom he will listen even(especially) when they disagree with him and act on that advice.

Bush Jr. failed in the main because he was surrounded by folks who agreed with him be it by accident or design. The GOP failed for much the same reason.

The question is not experience, but leadership, vision, a listening ear, decisiveness, charismatic talking ability and innovation. There is nothing that has the same experience as PUSA, so experience is a minor thing, maybe even a negative.

The thing is leadership. Like it or not Obama, took on the Clintons and won. He has literally forced the Dems in a new direction. As a flipping junior newcomer he did. There is something there to be that can be used in the office of the President.

So while Obama is not a progressive as I would like, and I know he will err in office and he will do things I will not like. He is never the less the best.
Bobn - you know the FUNNIEST part about that? Pfleger is a Catholic priest, and his bishop put him on forced leave from his parish for a few weeks over it. Oh, well. Sometimes I wonder if those folks aren't deliberately trying to deep-six Obama. His success would queer their pitch a bit, wouldn't it?

Interesting that all the progressives ranting about the religious right don't seem very offended when the religious left gets political in the pulpit. Personally I think free speech involves free speech for everyone, in and out of the pulpit. I hate race-mongering, though.

Vader - The problems Lincoln had to deal with were quite different than the current variety. The major one was the political rupture over slavery. He was elected because he was right on that topic. Therefore he was the right man for the job, because things were coming to the decision point regardless. Heck, the Republican party owes its existence and its first president to that one issue.

A lot of the problems that the US has today are problems which have been around forever, but have been avoided by the political establishment. Those are how to pay for the retirement bulge, which is going to piss off both the left and the right wing. Higher taxes, less entitlement programs for everyone else. We're going to have to cut a lot of funding down to the basics to do it. Then there's energy, and Obama favors an economically suicidal program of carbon cap and trade and he seems to be pandering to the wacky wing of the environmentalists. Just to make things really, really special for persons who share that opinion with me, McCain does too.

I would probably be okay with Obama except that I think the economic combo of him and Pelosi would be awful, and I think he will screw up on foreign policy severely and end up getting the US into a major war by accident. Maybe not on his watch, but within six years. I guess I will end up voting to protect the soldiers, but boy I feel sick when I think of pulling the lever for McCain. I don't feel sick when I think of voting for Obama, but rationally I think it's not going to work.

He just screwed up yesterday with his talk about a united Jerusalem. He really doesn't seem to get the basic concepts.

I understand his appeal - I think he is a better nominee than Hillary without a doubt. She reminded me more and more of Nixon as this campaign wore on, and that is not a good thing in my book. And if circumstances were different he might be a good president. But the circumstances are what they are, and every voter has to do the best he or she can with what's offered.

My bet is that if McCain is elected Obama will get the next go-round.

What's incredibly different between Lincoln and Obama is that Lincoln had led a very hard life and Obama hasn't. It is greatly to Obama's credit that he has tried to get close to the real problems of our day. But I think he has too little knowledge of the limitations of economic possibility and the darkness of mankind to be a successful president at this juncture. Nor does he have the depth of mind and philosophy that Lincoln had. But he is better than his detractors think. I found a bunch of threads discussing students' experiences with him as a law professor, and I was impressed.

Mind you, if he wins I'll be rooting for him. It would be stupid not to root for anyone who wins.

I do think it would be best for Obama if he lost this election.
I think it would be better for Obama if he lost the election as well. However, we are also not pleased with the other party. Integrity and character in high office counts for far more than what people might be willing to understand. A lot is at stake here.
Vader, the only reason they think Buchannan was a worse president, is because they are people who believe in an imperial president. Lincoln threw out habas corpus. Like FDR, he consolidated power and ignored the Constitution when he could get away with it.

Here's the thing, when making your decisions; the economy will be key. If we have major bank failures, who do you want to deal with that? Who do you want to make the decisions about whether or not we drill for oil in the U.S.? Do you feel that the Dems in power now have done such a great job that you want to give them even more power? You'll have to vote or sit it out. I think the lines will be clearer when we get to November.
MCcain has so many problems,I can't bring myself to vote for him.His latest statement saying telcom companies should get a free pass for violating FISA did not sit well with me.Nor did finding out that he is getting $58k a year tax free from the VA because he is 100 % disabled.Obama is no prize,he is a normally corrupt big money dem with an oversupply of hubris.But he has talked about getting rid of the military commissions act and restoring habeas corpus,and heck,he might choose someone better than phil gramm as economic adviser.As a friend told me "hey,we know we are getting screwed,might as well get an "O" while we are at it."
Teri - I just hope we get off the personalities and on to policy discussions. That's what is important.
Bobn - you know the FUNNIEST part about that? Pfleger is a Catholic priest, and his bishop put him on forced leave from his parish for a few weeks over it.

I work in Chicago and live in the 'burbs. The local papers are all over this - Pfleger has to go apartment hunting because the Cardinal won't even let him live in the rectory (whatever that is - what do I know, I'm Jewish) while he is on forced sabbatical or whatever it is.

Interesting that all the progressives ranting about the religious right don't seem very offended when the religious left gets political in the pulpit.

I still tend to identify as a liberal (sometimes) and I found Pfleger and the people cheering him on in the church totally offensive. Check my blog.

I would probably be okay with Obama except that I think the economic combo of him and Pelosi would be awful, and I think he will screw up on foreign policy severely and end up getting the US into a major war by accident.

Well, OK, but besides that minor stuff what's your problem? ;-)

With choices like this, I don't even know how to start to decide who to vote for. I still think the executive brach needs a good flushing out. And Obama (or someone on his team) shows some actual understanding of the financial crisis - he had a pretty nuanced response regarding the Fed's recent actions (not the BSC thing, all the bizarre swap-o-rama stuff that's been going before and since that) and Paulson's bogus 'regulatory reform' plan. His comments to AIPAC seemed suitably hawkish, other than the stunning blunder about Jerusalem. But I may just say screw it and vote for McCain so i can keep clinging bitterly to my guns.
Well, Bob, you absolutely do not pull your punches.

But yes, exactly. The corrosive nature of those sentiments is something that deserves to be punched out. It's the antithesis of our culture.

I can tell you that I couldn't have sat in a church like that for 20 years, much less taken my kids (or anyone's) to it. It's destructive to the hearer, if the hearer absorbs and believes it. It's destructive to society. It's destructive to the foundations of our law and the constitution - that we will condemn individuals only for their individual crimes.

It is also pretty ridiculous, since a lot of blacks in this country don't have slave ancestry, and most of the whites don't have slaveowner ancestry. Reasoning such as this has been used as the foundation for so many horrendous crimes, even in recent history. It's the flip-side of Aryanism.

I don't know whom to vote for really, but I think it's going to have to be McCain for the reasons I wrote. But every time I think about actually doing it, I LITERALLY get sick to my stomach.

Congress is in huge need of flushing out!!! HUGE. We know we're getting a change in the White House, but what about Congress?

The idea that Obama might routinely have taken his kids to see the Revs. Wright and Pfleger is, to me, the single most disturbing idea about the whole thing. (I don't know that he actually did, but what kind of church-goers don't take the kids?) How could he do that? At what level is he functioning to think that that is proper material for growing minds?

Agree with you about Congress. It makes one long for term limits - but in the absence of some way to get Big Business out of politics, I see no solution. The big money has bought the place.

My point however, is that some of our biggest current financial sector problems might have been much more limited had it not been for regulators who won't regulate, or who even stopped other regulators - and I would expect more of the same from McCain based on the crap he has spewed so far. Regulators who won't regulate - which is to say, won't follow the law - have always been one of my gripes about the Republicans.

So that is why I have been more in favor of a Democratic president - but I want to hear a little more detail about Obama's "phased withdrawal" plans in Iraq, first. Can't let that become "Afganistan - the Movie". And I'm also annoyed that Obama has never met a gun restriction he didn't like - and he has met some whoppers - while *also* saying he thinks the 2nd amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership. He seems to be able to maintain, simultaneously, 2 utterly contradictory ideas, at the exact same instant.
Well, that ability to maintain mutually contradictory ideas is kind of the problem with the church, isn't it? Yes, they took the kids.

Regarding the regulation, it's a real problem, but it began before the Bush administration.

Repealing Glass-Steagall was a tremendous mistake, but both parties hopped on it with great vim and vigor. And truthfully, once the law was changed an ADDITIONAL level of regulation was necessary. Allowing the investment banks (subject only to SEC) to get into the mortgage business, the insurances, etc. An awful lot of these problems are generated by the fact that commingling all these business lines allows one to make a great deal of money quite quickly if one ignores risk.

Regulators do not have an entirely free hand. A lot of practices have historically been controlled under the heading of safety and soundness. But more importantly, there simply is no such funded regulatory body to audit and examine the non-bank financials and mortgage brokers. A highly profitable failure to assess the risk originating there is not something the SEC would pick up.

We can fairly blame the bank and CU agencies for allowing some banks to go overboard. However those same agencies had no ability to regulate New Century and Goldman Sachs, so much the same would have occurred regardless of what the FDIC did.

Also, the s_n_t_rs keep covering their butt and claiming that the FRB had the authority to regulate under HOEPA. That is wrong. The FRB has the ability to regulate equity-stripping refis under that law, but nothing to do with purchases. Also, the courts have slapped the agencies pretty hard for trying to expansively regulate with clear legal authority.

Thus, the problem is still with us. Congress repealed Glass-Steagall. A GOP-led Congress passed the law, and the Clinton White House signed it. But even before the legislation, even in the very early days of the Clinton administration, regulatory waivers were granted to sidestep longstanding regulatory walls and allow the conglomeration of businesses in financial companies that was banned as the result of the Great Depression.

There is nothing much that any president can do to change essentials of financial regulation. That constitutional power is assigned to Congress, and Congress is running from the problem like the hounds of hell are after them.
"So while Obama is not a progressive as I would like...

# posted by vader : 12:09 PM

Hmmm... rated the most liberal in the Senate, an acolyte of Saul Alinksy, and not progressive enough for you?

I'm sorry - I believe Lenin is dead already...
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