Cain may be guilty more of keeping bad company than sexual misconduct, and all this democracy does not necessarily produce leaders…

November 29, 2011

Maybe what hapless Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is guilty of is not so much as sexual harassment, or not sexual harassment at all, and maybe not adultery, which has just been alleged, but instead keeping company with sleazy people.

What is it now? Five women he has accused of lying about sexual episodes with him?

First it was sexual harassment claims, but there seems to be some question as to the motivation of some of the accusers and in my mind at least whether the so-called harassment they claim was not horsing around with the boss for favors. And now a woman has come forward to claim that she had a more than decade-long affair with him, knowing that he was married. And why, pray tell, I ask, is she coming forward on this? What does she want — hush money? Or does she just want to clear her conscience and save us all from having another adulterer as president?

I for one wish Cain and the other clowns — Michelle “wild-eyed” Bachman and Rick “I can’t remember that third department I want to get rid of” Perry, would do us all a favor and drop out of the race. Poor Ron Paul looks a little feeble, but at least he sticks with his principles and generally makes sense, even if he may be out of touch with the modern world and the needs of people who are not medical doctors or congressmen.

There are really no statesmen in the bunch, although Newt Gingrich is giving it a try and Mitt Romney might be more like his late moderate Republican father once he appeased the far right to win.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, the Democrat in the White House, just keeps being the enigma he has turned out to be.

Come election day in 2012 it will probably depend upon what the state of the economy is and what new might be on the world scene.

The Republicans have a good chance of winning back the White House with a credible candidate, and although I guess it is still early, it seems strange they would even pay attention to some of the clowns who are running.

I continue to think a return to the old political convention smoke-filled room (except smoking has been moved to the outside now) model might be better that the drawn out primary system. Too much democracy does not seem to produce leaders.

And this occupy movement without leaders and all the chanting makes me nervous too.

P.s.

Okay, so maybe the energetic and seemingly intelligent and obviously worldly, former ambassador to China and Singapore, and Chinese-speaking Jon Huntsman could be a statesman, a leader, but he has not been able to out poll Cain — so much for letting the rabble decide. (I did not mention Rick Santorum — I just can’t think of anything to say about him.)


Newt Gingrich wins key endorsement by not just saying what he thinks people want to hear (or maybe he did say what he thought they wanted to hear)

November 27, 2011

I’ve written so much about Republican presidential candidates lately that I feel like I have turned into a Republican, but that is not the case — mostly it’s just that the only contest right now is on their side since the Democrats have the incumbent.

But anyway what about the rise of Newt Gingrich? I really know very little about him other than the caricature, for lack of a better word, of him as a kind of wild, irreverent, hard-right-wing guy, liable to say anything to take a poke at liberals — and of course he was at one time Speaker of the House and guided the so-called Contract for America, derided by the Democrats as the “Contract on America”.

Anyway, now he has won the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper (they used to call it the Manchester Union Leader), the outfit that made presidential candidate Edwin Muskie cry (or was it snow in his eye?).

Since New Hampshire has the traditionally early primary and it is considered a bellwether for candidates, that’s a big deal (I don’t know what their record for picking winners is).

While the editorial I read was short on specifics, I loved one line:

“We would rather back someone with whom we sometimes disagree than someone who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.”

That was a swipe at the play-it-safe and put-your-finger-to-the-wind strategy of Mitt Romney.

And the we don’t always agree part may have been a comment on Newt’s new liberal stance on giving long-time illegal aliens who work and have families and are law abiding a break.

And now that I think about it, although some of the reactionary right may have not wanted to hear about giving hard-working family people who do not have legal status to live in this country a break, some more progressive or compassionate voters might, so in a way maybe Newt was saying what he thought people might want to hear.

I had previously said that I need to read up on Romney. I may need to read up on Newt.


Debt deal impossible because professional legislators’ hands are tied, they’d rather hold onto their jobs…

November 22, 2011

Legislators who hold public office as a profession, as opposed to doing a stint in public service, are not in a position to make tough decisions because they want to keep their jobs, so they vote the way they think the people who put them there want them to or they vote the way the lobbyists tell them to, thinking of campaign donations and the propaganda power of the lobbyists and future job prospects as lobbyists themselves.

So it should be no surprise that the Democrats and Republicans on the congressional Super Committee could not come up with a compromise for a federal debt reduction package. So that means automatic spending cuts will be phased in over time that neither Republicans nor Democrats will like, altogether anyway.

But really, so what?

Nothing is set in concrete. If things get too bad and the public is outraged enough, congress can pass new laws countermanding the automatic cuts.

In a previous post I asked, and never got the answer: why does the government borrow money, except in emergencies, such as war brought on by an attack on the United States?

But whatever the answer, the government lives on borrowed money and  keeps raising its debt as it borrows money to pay back borrowed money.

(I’m not that great on finances, but I’ve learned a lot about personal finance after all these years, like don’t spend more than you take in and avoid interest payments like the plague, that is unless it is interest payments coming back to you, such as from an interest-bearing account.)

But I have another question:

Is it really necessary for our federal government to pay off its debt? Or how much does it really need to pay down the debt to be fiscally sound?

Back to the way congress votes on all this:

I live in conservative country (I personally identify myself as a moderate). My local congressman is a conservative Republican. I’m sure he does not vote thinking exactly how things will affect the average person or family in his district, but rather how it will please the block of solid conservative voters, along with others who have voted for him. A large percentage of qualified voters do not vote, either out of apathy or ignorance (and I would just as soon the ignorant not vote anyway — but it might be better if they would wise up). He also votes the way the agribusiness and timber lobbies wish him to. Pretty much they do not want to be taxed. So how in the heck could he vote for higher taxes, even if they might help pay off the deficit?

I think that even though politics is what is causing the present stalemate, politics in the end will resolve it.

If the consequences of the automatic cuts are too dire, the electorate will rise up with a clear voice and demand compromise, thus giving even conservative Republican congressmen the cover to raise some taxes.

Now I am not necessarily gung-ho for raising taxes, but it seems that if the nation is deep into debt it has to somehow increase its revenue to pay off the interest.

Increased economic activity, of course, is what is really needed. But it is going to be hard to increase economic activity if the government cannot provide the services and the infrastructure upon which commerce depends upon.

A simpler tax code devoid of loopholes would go a long way towards raising revenue and would not require tax rates to go up as much. And it is imperative that the tax burden be shared among the economic classes of our citizens.

And as I have said in this blog space before, we need legislators who do not serve as an occupation, ones who are motivated by serving the public rather than how much will accrue to them personally through their actions.


I score Newt the winner, then Huntsman, then, reluctantly, Romney (with Romney likely the real winner anyway)…

November 22, 2011

I’m writing this off the top of my head without hearing anyone else’s account or opinions on tonight’s Republican presidential candidate national security debate, the second one on that topic to date — and I was surprised that all the candidates seemed more serious and grown up this time, and even Michelle Bachman sounded knowledgeable, to some degree (but she tended to fade into wild unsubstantiated charges at times too). But I would score Newt Gingrich the winner, and then maybe put Jon Huntsman second (although maybe he should be first), and probably concede that it all really goes to Mitt Romney anyway, and he turned in a credible performance.

Ron Paul with his total isolationism — something that has not really been all that popular since just before World War II — is definitely on the outside, but there is an appeal to his call against wasting our efforts on foreign wars and giving up our liberties here at home in the name of “national security” — not because we don’t want national security, but because that term can be used by the government and police to destroy our personal liberties when there is no authentic national security interest — in other words, we don‘t need a warrant, someone said you might be a terrorist. (I’ll address that issue later.)

Gingrich had what often seemed the best answers in the two-hour program, in that they seemed to be so all-encompassing, that is looking at an issue from all sides. And I think he hit a home run when he went counter to the no-immigration-amnesty theme of most of the Republicans by saying he did not think the American people would want to kick out people or separate their families if they are well established here and have not been in trouble with the law. I don’t think he considers his approach amnesty. He suggested some means of making people legal immigrants in some cases without offering full citizenship.

Romney took issue with that, as did Bachman. Gingrich said he is willing to “take the heat” over the issue.

Huntsman seems wise, knowledgeable, and thoughtful on foreign affairs — he has extensive experience as an ambassador overseas, and is an expert on China, having lived there (he speaks Chinese).

While the other candidates, save Paul, seemed to think we have to fight on to victory in Afghanistan (whatever that may be), Huntsman thinks we have achieved what we needed to there and need to move on to other concerns, namely rebuilding America (sounds good to me).

Huntsman also said that it bothers him that we have spent so much blood and treasure in Afghanistan while the Chinese are getting mineral rights there. He said that we need to focus our military efforts (or did he say foreign policy?) to coincide with our economic interests (I thought that was what we usually did, even if it has not always been successful).

——————————-

And a strange thing: everyone knows (this is my opinion) that we went into Iraq over oil and yet we got no special right to it in return, but the Chinese, who never fired a shot or had anyone killed there, have gotten choice oil contracts there, I understand.

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Although it may be overlooked, I thought Huntsman had one of the best lines when in reaction partially to Herman Cain’s constant vow to essentially do what the generals suggest (you know, the experts), and I think Romney’s similar answers too, when he, Huntsman, said he seemed to recall what happened when the president listened to the generals in 1967 (Vietnam).

But probably the most forceful line and maybe even a game winner was when Romney said he believed America was an “exceptional nation” (American exceptionalism) while president Obama believes we are just another nation. And that he believes America must lead the way, not just collaborate with others. I think that could be a top campaign line for him in foreign policy.

I believe Huntsman said that the U.S. can’t let Iran get the nuclear bomb, which most of his colleagues agreed with, and said so before him, but he stressed that nation building at home is paramount.

The very first question was on what should be done about the Patriot Act, such as strengthening or limiting it. Gingrich had the best answer, I thought, when he said the issue has to be divided into criminal law and national security. He said that people charged with routine criminal matters should be afforded all the constitutional protections but that people charged in relation to national security or war crimes come under a different category.

But Paul warned Americans not to “sacrifice liberty for security”, and went on to claim that the tag national security can be used to deny American citizens their rights. And he made reference to the fact an American citizen was recently assassinated by our government (no trial) on the grounds he was a terrorist.

I personally think it is a tough balancing act and wonder if there really needs to be a Patriot Act. I have never understood why warrants cannot be obtained against people when there is evidence that some criminal act has occurred or is being plotted. But at any rate, even under the current Patriot Act, there must be some balance between the need to prevent terrorist acts and the need to protect citizens from over-zealous authorities or those bent on personal or political vendettas, using the tag national security as cover. It happens.

So anyway, I thought Gingrich, Huntsman, and reluctantly Romney, came out as potential credible contenders.

I do not know at this time whether I want to see Obama defeated and a Republican move into the White House — third party or independent anyone?

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UPDATE: (Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011)

I thought this column in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman about Obama was a good: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/opinion/friedman-go-big-mr-obama.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB#

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P.s.

Oh, and another good line: this one by Gingrich or “Newt” as so many refer to him as:

When it was suggested that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistani territory outraged the Pakistanis, Newt said: “We should be (have been) furious” — in other words, we should be the ones mad because he was sheltered all that time by our supposed ally.

Gingrich also, I thought, gave an excellent description of what we do when we go after the enemy (besides Bin Laden) in Pakistani territory. He called it “hot pursuit”.


Herman Cain cannot stand the heat in the political kitchen, and now taxpayers must fund his security

November 19, 2011

While I understand someone running for political office might well get frustrated when he feels his message is being distorted, I don’t see how one could think he could completely control everything described or depicted of him. But that seems a favorite tactic among political candidates these days, particularly Republicans, it seems, who see all journalists as left-wingers and secret or not-so-secret fans of the Democratic Party.

After being rightly embarrassed by his major flub on a foreign policy question in a taped editorial board interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, GOP presidential primary candidate Herman Cain cancelled a meeting with the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader, demanding that he not be videotaped (even though other candidates agreed to being video taped).

It is unclear, according to reports, what the reason for the cancellation was, if indeed there was one, beyond the fear of more embarrassment. The Cain camp, in addition to no taping, also wanted a shorter interview.

I don’t know, even if you hated the reporters or editors or the whole newspaper, what would it hurt to try to get their endorsement? What would it hurt to get your views out to potential voters?

The Union Leader has a tradition of playing an important role in the presidential election process (and as far as I know, it always supports the conservative cause). Making them mad, I mean it does not seem like a wise political move. Like it or not, to be an effective president, one has to be able to play the political game — no one has ever been able to take the politics out of politics.

How strange, when political candidates or important public figures have something to sell or boast about they call for media attention, but if things turn the other way, they have no use for the media, as if journalists had no more purpose than publicity writers, as such people were called before someone thought up the term (euphemism, really) public information specialists.

(While it was probably not the first time, my first memory of a politician trying to control the media message was when President Richard Nixon had his “Committee to Re-elect the President (the name itself, not mentioning Nixon the person, seemed to indicate it was a public duty to re-elect THE PRESIDENT). He conducted a whole re-election campaign, as I recall, without any actual open public appearances, just controlled photo ops. He did win, but I think I could have beat George McGovern.)

If I think what I am watching is simply an infomercial, why would I bother?

Cain thinks he could become president of the United States but his image cannot be seen unless he has complete control over it (edits out his flubs)? What universe, what country, is he living in? Maybe the pressure is just too much. It certainly seemed to be in that disastrous interview in Milwaukee. He actually indicated he had canned answers and got them mixed up, couldn’t remember the one he was supposed to use:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAGGpK7bSWc&feature=related

As Harry S Truman was often quoted as saying: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.

Since such a prima donna as Cain really has no chance anyway in a general election, this is probably useless to comment upon.

But I for one resent the fact that someone who wants to be part of the public political life thinks he can control the free flow of information and that he does not have to subject himself to public scrutiny and even the unkind and even sometimes unfair things said and depicted about people in public life.

Grow up Mr. Cain or at least don’t bother us with your fairytale about being the president of the United States; you apparently cannot handle the job.

And now to add insult to injury, Cain has asked for and received Secret Service protection due to death threats. Certainly no civilized person would want to see anything bad to happen to someone trying to run for political office (except losing the election). But it is galling that someone who rails against wasteful government spending wants us to pay for his security. I would think such a reportedly well to do man could hire his own — you know, take personal responsibility.

I don’t know how many candidates have had to have Secret Service protection, but one story I read said that Barack Obama had it even before he was nominated by his party.

Coincidentally, or not coincidentally, both Cain and Obama are black — there is still a strong contingent out there who cannot accept a black in authority.

I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, but it is tragic that any nutcase can get a gun and threaten society. Think about poor Congresswoman Giffords of Arizona, who suffered devastating injury, and the others who were killed or injured while meeting with her. Just one crazy man is all it takes (and remember Oswald?).

P.s.

I read a quick bio of Cain via Wikipedia. I hate to be so hard on someone who has apparently worked his way up from humble beginnings, and who apparently had such a good example at home growing up, but as honorable as he may be (or may not be? the sex harassment questions?), he still does not seem to have the broad base of knowledge needed to be president (not that all who have served in the office have measured up to the job).

Another thing about Cain and his CEO mentality is that he keeps saying he would consult with knowledgeable people (he’s just the leader) — so why don’t we elect knowledgeable people in the first place? Heck I could do what someone tells me (if I wanted to).

Okay, there is such a thing as leadership ability (which life experience tells me I don’t have) beyond pure knowledge, but I think a leader needs wide knowledge as well.


Make as much money as you can and keep up your family ties…

November 16, 2011

On my way to work (the place where I pick up my truck to go out on the road for days at a time) I drive through the part of town where the homeless hang out, as well as where the poorest of the poor rent homes and apartments. The library, and a nice library it is, is in that part of town and many of the homeless hang around there.

I do not know everyone’s story when I see them or what their living arrangements or financial state is, of course, but I have noticed recently that a lot of these shabbily and curiously-dressed people have pets — they cannot take care of themselves, or barely, and yet they have pets to tend to.

I saw a couple, and by their dress and demeanor one would assume they are among the homeless (not necessarily so, though), and they both had little miniature dogs (who looked quite healthy) on leashes. Oh, and both people were carrying large plastic soda cups like they sell as fast food places or convenience stores.

And then there are the people strategically placed at street corners or on and off ramps or at the entrances and exits to the supermarket with their signs — hungry.

I always know there but for the grace of God could be me. I have reasonably good health (save for the incurable form of cancer slowly trying to do me in) and I have family, and right now I have a job — but bad and totally unexpected things happen in this life.

Everyone out there has his or her own story. Some, quite a few, I think, are at least a little off their rockers (you think?). Others are disabled (and that is a pretty wide category). Many are alcoholics or drug users. Some lost their jobs and things quickly went down hill from there, I suppose. Some just chose what they feel is the free and easy way (I would not consider it that, however).

But I think the homeless, whatever their individual stories, bring a blight upon a community and they present a health hazard to themselves and others. I personally would have no problem using tax money to build dormitories or to take over abandoned housing and provide it to them — in some cases with subsidies and in some cases right out. It seems that this had been tried to varying degrees in places but there have been various problems. One is security. You force someone to live in a dormitory and then they may wind up at the mercy of thieves and murderers if there is not adequate security. Also, I when I was taking a college class dealing with law I recall a California state case in which the county of Sacramento tried to force people on public assistance to live in some type of  home or dormitory and the court ruled against that (not sure on the facts of this case or what the state of the law is today).

Right now a lot of people who have worked all their lives (I read anyway) are facing the prospect of being homeless (or are homeless) because of the lack of jobs. This points to the importance of families. Not all families support each other, but historically people have depended upon family. I think in my lifetime we have gone through a great social upheaval in which the family unit was made to seem less important. People have come to feel that it is their right to get government support when things go wrong. Well, of course it is their right if it is available, but at some point things reach a tipping point and those who are called upon to sacrifice their earnings start to ask if they are not being put upon too much. And just how is it decided which part of society works and provides for themselves and which part just gets taken care of — or for that matter is left to fend for themselves?

I am all for strengthening the family unit. But it seems the main ones to push that are the evangelicals or those who insist everyone should live by their code. Well, I was not brought up in a religious household and yet I have a sense of family and what it means. So I agree with the fundamentalists that family is important, but I disagree that I have to live by their strict code.

And at 62, I have come to believe the only answer is to make as much money as you can and keep up your family ties. Wished I would have realized that earlier, but for anyone much younger reading this, you might take note.

P.s.

I guess the best insurance against poverty is wealth.


America needs to re-assert itself, but wisely; Cain needs to give it up…

November 15, 2011

After Herman Cain’s embarrassment over a foreign policy question before an editorial board one scholar said he is going to quit commenting on Cain because it is unkind to pick on ignoramuses. I comment on this further down in the post — just wanted to say that off the top.

Anyway:

As much as I abhor the terrible waste of money and human lives (and I should not put money before human lives) we have wasted in the Middle East, it occurs to me that the United States must do what it can to remain the world’s super power — for if we lose our spot someone else will take it and they might not be so friendly to us or the rest of the world.

That is not to say we must be at perpetual war in the Middle East or anywhere else, but we cannot hide our heads in the sand either.

But the problem is our economic system is in havoc. I think we are in danger of going the way of  our old foe the Soviet Union, the mighty nation who once shared the world stage with us as the world’s only other super power.

Now we have China rising as the United States has let its manufacturing capability atrophy and fall away.

We have also turned into a somewhat directionless society with little sense of purpose in the world.

The United States must restore its manufacturing base and must not just talk about becoming energy independent but do so in any and every way it can. There is no one source of energy or energy-producing method to solve our problems. We need to combine methods and do much research.

We do need to utilize our natural resources while maintaining strict, but sensible and reasonable environmental controls.

And most of all we need to move beyond the right and left, Republican/Democratic narrative or script on everything and get our nation rolling again with a sense of purpose.

In my last post I said I would read more of the transcript of the recent CBS GOP presidential candidate foreign policy debate. I have read some more (and I did hear parts of it live), but so far nothing has really jumped out at me and nothing seems much different from what President Obama is already doing, save a little 20/20 hindsight.

Newt Gingrich, who is rising in the polls, sounded pretty astute in the debate and said we need to take a wide view of the situation in Afghanistan and realize the connection with what is going on in Pakistan (I think that is what he said). But I also thought it peculiar when he talked about using covert methods in Iran, “all strictly deniable”. Well not when you just went public with the fact you would use covert methods. But anyway, of course we have already and will continue to do so.

It is also senseless for candidates to say what specifically they would do in any one hypothetical instance. I mean why would they give their strategy away? We do need to know the direction they would take, though, on foreign policy.

Herman Cain went before a newspaper editorial board, and through lack of sleep, an attack of nerves, or even just plain ignorance, made a fool of himself, seemingly not being able to remember what he was supposed to say about Libya or even what the situation was there. He now rivals Rick Perry, who could not remember the third cabinet department he would dismantle, in a previous debate, for the Bozo or maybe flop sweat award. Mr. Cain was once a CEO and had held other high positions. He must know that if a job applicant failed that miserably on a question pertinent to the job he was applying for he would most certainly not get the job, no matter what his excuse.

A story and video of Cain flop on Libya question:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-cain-libya-20111114,0,1827861.story


Romney, Huntsman, Gingrich only GOP candidates up to the job…

November 12, 2011

UPDATE ( SUNDAY, 11/13/11):

I like what Ron Paul had to say in the GOP presidential candidate foreign policy debate Saturday night about whether the U.S. should go to war with Iran over its developing or obtaining nuclear weapons. He said no and he said it sounds like the talk that led us into Iraq where we never found any weapons of mass destruction. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich seem hot to go to war there if it seemed necessary (if other pressures do not work).  Paul also said that we should only go to war via the formal declaration method set forth in the Constitution and that once committed we fight, win, and get it over with. I do feel, though that Iran cannot be allowed obtain nuclear weapons capability. A full-out war is probably not practical or necessary there, but a strike might be if all else fails (but of course that might set off some type of war). And now that I have gone this far, I have to acknowledge that in this modern day and age, it may be necessary for the nation to conduct various military operations short of war, but they should be kept to a bare minimum. I updated this post after reading part of the debate transcript — I’ll read it all and post about it later.

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When Barack Obama won the presidency I can recall people, that is ones who supported him, saying, “at last we have an adult in the White House”.

Since it is likely that Obama will lose in 2012, because it is hard to retain the presidency when so many people are in economic difficulty, it is fascinating to think who might be the proper adult to replace him.

After watching snippets of the CBS GOP presidential candidate debate on foreign policy this evening (I missed most of it due to the fact I had just got home off the road and was fixing my dinner), it seems to me the only real adults, or responsible adults, are, and not necessarily in this order: Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich (well, responsible might be a stretch there, but Newt is professorial, kind of like the old sage).

Ron Paul is correct on many things, and seems well meaning, but he also does not seem to realize that not all of us are doctors and can afford his world.

This all has nothing to do with whether I agree with their politics — on some things I do and on some I don’t; I’m just thinking who could reasonably handle the job at the helm of the world’s super power.

Actually Huntsman should be the man. He is astute. He speaks Chinese and seems politically moderate and broad minded. But he apparently just does not fit into the modern Republican Party. Actually a ticket with Romney and Huntsman would be exciting, but I doubt the nation is going to put two Mormons in charge — there’s a question even one can get elected.

Herman Cain, despite his being top in the polling among identified Republicans, is not likely to have a chance in a general election. And foreign policy, which is a vital part of running the world’s super power, is way beyond his depth, he has clearly demonstrated.

Actually on foreign policy I am torn between Paul’s Libertarian view, best described as isolationist, and those who would be ready to nuke Iran so it does not get nukes.

(And I do think that to allow Iran to acquire nukes is suicide for us and the whole world. I doubt that we should, would, or could get into a land war with that nation over the issue, but there must be some way to prevent such a catastrophe.)

History shows that turning our back on problems or pretending they are not our problems leads to things such as Hitler with his Wehrmacht trying to take over half the world and Gen. Tojo and his military the other half.

The electorate, though, right now is probably more concerned about domestic issues, read that “the economy”, “jobs”.

Romney thinks he can use his supposedly proven track record in business to streamline things and get our fiscal house in order. At the same time, he does not come across as a right-wing firebrand who would dismantle every last bit of our economic safety net.

I was distressed when several of the GOP candidates wholeheartedly gave their endorsement to torture.

I would have a hard time voting for anyone who would support torture (unfortunately, the last time around the winning candidate opposed it and then continued the policy supporting it  — okay, I am now clarifying this or correcting this: my instant web research says that Obama has banned water boarding, but there are also stories claiming there are policy loopholes that allow torture to continue in some cases — unclear on this. I also note that I think the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” is nothing more than a euphemism for torture).

It’s probably too bad the whole issue of water boarding and other tortures ever came out in the open in the first place. I mean if it is only done to truly evil people and if there is anything useful produced from it, then who cares? But there is no guarantee that it is or would be limited to truly evil people (and in fact would not be used against the innocent) and it is questionable whether anything useful ever comes out of it — torture me and I may confess to anything and tell you anything you want to hear, but not necessarily the truth. And of course there is the troublesome moral question. And worst of all, once we put ourselves on record as being fine with torture we have no ability to dissuade our enemies from using it on our own people; we are left with no moral high ground to stand on.

On the other hand, once we go on such a public record as opposing torture, we lose some of that power to bluff suspects. Police use the bluff all the time.

But it always floors me when I hear people who seem nice and civilized wholeheartedly endorse torture.

I do not.

P.s.

In an update of this post at the top I said that I had read part of the debate transcript. One really has to have either watched the whole thing or read the transcript and not depend upon news stories or blogs (like mine) to get the full sense of the whole thing. And these are not really debates — they are forums and not conducted in a way that gives each candidate equal time to cover each issue — each candidate does not even get to answer each question — time considerations, I imagine, and audience attention span would prohibit that. I think one-on-one traditional debates would be better, but of course in the primary there are several candidates.


Consumer’s ultimate weapon: just say: ‘no deal’

November 11, 2011

It’s strange to me that we consumers sometimes don’t seem to realize how much power we have in the market place.

The biggest power we have over too high prices or poor service or poor quality products or whatever is to just not do business with those we have a problem with.

Now when someone is the only game in town or every business acts the same way, that does pose a problem — nonetheless, I’d rather go without than deal with something or someone who does not agree with me.

A young woman college graduate in Washington D.C. thought the $5-debit card fee enacted by Bank of America, along with similar actions by other banks, was unjust, so she did something about it. She got online and initiated a nationwide movement of people to move their accounts to regional banks and credit unions. Bank of America blinked (see link at bottom).

And here’s the deal:

First, as far as I see it, banks should be paying you money for using your money (of course if you barely have anything in there and keep over drafting, you don’t have much of a case).

Secondly, it was the banks that pushed people to use those plastic cards and they keep pushing. Years ago I got chewed out by a teller for having the audacity to come inside the bank to make a transaction. She thought I should be using the ATM outside.

I’ve been dealing with a regional bank for some time now, way before the current move began, and am quite satisfied.

In addition, I’m not running a nationwide boycott, but I am running a one-man boycott of Best Buy. To me they seem to be more into selling you stuff and not so much into good and/or fair service. I’m not going to put them out of business, but I am saving my own sanity.

I’m not a big fan of Walmart, but I will say this: my late wife tried to buy a flat screen TV at Best Buy and they were no help. She went over to Walmart and they even carried it out to the car for her (I was out of town driving down the road in my truck driving job).

Now here is kind of a twisted way (or logic, perhaps) where ultimately the consumer wins. Take the housing crisis, please. Anyway, for years the price of normal family dwellings, as opposed to Mcmansions or houses that were way beyond what the regular family might need, were way overpriced, especially considering the salaries that people made in any given area. Well after the real estate bubble burst in 2008 prices came way down — people weren’t buying.

Same thing with gasoline. Apparently the limit is somewhere around $5 per gallon. After that people just won’t buy.

If consumers really wanted to be smart, they would deal in cash only. Go with the rule: if I cannot pay cash, I cannot afford it.

If everyone did that prices would come down, way down.

Of course many will argue that such a cut in consumer demand would  really put us into a financial depression and then no one would have money to buy products no matter how cheap the prices. Nothing is perfect.

But the most potent weapon you have or we have as consumers is to pass on that.

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The link:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2098715,00.html

 

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CLARIFICATION:

In the original version of my previous post about the GOP presidential candidates I paraphrased something Herman Cain said in response to sexual harassment allegations.  I subsequently revised the post with the actual quote, taken both from a story on the web and from a YouTube video (the meaning does not change). It is: “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations”. If  I wanted to be sarcastic I would say, yeah they do, so why don’t you just drop out. But seriously it is an interesting story with most of us not knowing whether he is the victim of a political smear or whether he just was not thinking ahead that some day he might run for president and then everything comes out. Despite his money-raising ability and even his polling, I don’t see that he has any chance to become president (vice president? I don’t think so either). The indications are that he has no real policy views, be they domestic or foreign, and all his answers revolve around his 999 tax plan. And I have already said too much about Cain.


Now is the time to start reading up on Romney…

November 9, 2011

THURSDAY, NOV. 10, UPDATE:

I’ll have to read up on Romney to see if he could make me vote Republican in the presidential race. A pretty tall order, that is voting Republican. I did not catch the GOP so-called debate last night but see that the pundits declared Romney the clear winner and Rick Perry the clear loser due to a case of the flop sweats.

Cain held his ground with answers limited to cutting taxes and spending I guess and, meanwhile, his lawyer is threatening to take legal actions against accusers in the ongoing sex scandal. Obama has been a dissapointment to many (including me), but with Cain I don’t even see anything to get disappointed about.

ADD 2:

Checked the debate blog and apparently Cain did answer a question on the sexual harassment allegations, saying: “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations…” He also said his supporters are just sending him more money over the issue. I do think, though, that beyond his die-hard supporters, he has lost a lot of ground.

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ADD 1:

I have to remind myself that right now we are in the primary, partisan mode of the presidential campaign — a lot of nonsense, not many real issues. In the so-called Republican debate tonight it is reported that the audience booed when questions were asked about the sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain — they were booing the questioner. If you are only supposed to ask softball questions or ones that simply set up the talking points for the candidate, really what is the use? It would be helpful, though if the media (and I hate to use that term because it is a kind of pejorative to describe working journalists) asked questions on true national and world issues and skipped the gossip, except that whether someone who wants to be president of the United States is in the habit of groping women (we had one that was famous for doing just that, Bill Clinton) is somewhat of an important issue — it goes to character, as they say. It was a big deal among the know-nothing contingent of the far right when Clinton did it, but just propaganda from the left when Cain does it (or is accused of doing it). Actually I think he is losing some of his flock over the matter.

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Maybe Mitt Romney will finally win the presidency and the GOP can claim a victory, but right now it is looking to me like they have shot themselves in the foot by too much pandering to the far right, and not just conservatives, but no-nothing, anti-intellectual conservatives — there is a such a thing as intellectual conservatives — ever hear of the late William F. Buckley Jr.? And there is such a thing as thoughtful and honorable conservatives. Ever hear of the late Barry Goldwater? And there is George Will, who uses words so big or obscure that the average so-called conservative of today would not know whether he is on their side or not and I don’t know either. I haven’t read any of his stuff lately — maybe I need to see what he thinks of the current GOP circus.

I am so tired from working all day that I really don’t have the energy to write. But I was going to listen to tonight’s GOP debate on CNBC, but I seem to have no live video or even audio access to it. But a live blog post I read said the first question was on Italy and it went to Herman Cain. But he did not address the question but instead went on to something else. Figures. From what I understand about him he has no world view whatsoever.

I hear that Newt Gingrich is moving up in the polls, thanks to Cain’s problems with the sex scandal.

But I think the smart money is still on a Romney- Obama race.

I have also heard that there might be a third-party attempt by maybe someone like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who could finance it himself.

We really need a third alternative (actually alternative indicates two, so we need a third option).

We also need to get all the clowns out of the race. Looks like we might be losing one if the sex scandal keeps up.

I need to cook dinner and get some sleep.

Tomorrow has to be better.