Will the real President Obama and the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

October 16, 2012

President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are presumably listening to their respective advisors for guidance as to what kind of persona to project in tonight’s debate (Obama hopefully has some new help or is not listening — I mean it did not work last time).

But what if the rather dull Obama of last time out is the real deal and what if the secretly-taped Romney who writes off the 47 percent of voters who somehow live off the government and have no self-initiative and who would never vote for him is the real deal? Or is moderate Mitt of the last debate the real deal?

Why is it that we as voters constantly are told of all the strategies those who seek our votes use and then take anything they say or do on the campaign trail seriously?

I mean I am just told that a guy is preparing to put on an act and then I am supposed to suspend reality and take what he says and does as reality?

Kind of like the story I just read that Mitt’s VP candidate Paul Ryan donned and apron and made like he was doing dishes at a soup kitchen, when the dishes were already clean and when he was not invited to do so and it was all just for a phony photo op. All candidates do this kind of thing. Okay, maybe it’s just symbolic and I should not take it seriously.

I have a feeling that tonight’s questions from audience members in a town hall setting will dwell mostly on the economy but I would hope some would address the war situation.

I just read a NY Times editorial that suggested that much of our war policy has been based on the premises that when the U.S. acts boldly its adversaries back down, the Cuban Missile Crisis, as an example. I have pretty much subscribed to that theory, but this piece says uncovered evidence reveals that in the missile crisis President John F. Kennedy was more cautious than had been thought and was willing (secretly) to give more concessions than he did. The fact that he gave up some of our missiles in Turkey, we already knew for a long time now, was kept secret for years, I believe (the missiles were said to be outdated anyway, I seem to recall).

But the idea is that he was more worried about starting WW III than some of his aides revealed. Thankfully, so was then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. But they both lost control for a time because their respective militaries were sent into actions with their orders. A misjudgment by any of these commanders could have sparked a nuclear confrontation.

The reason I wrote all this is because the article mentioned that Kennedy in his caution was guided by his reading of the Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman, a book about the beginnings of Word War I, a tragic and needless war. Too bad George W. Bush did not read it (I doubt he did, anyway).

Romney does not show much evidence that he understands foreign policy beyond America has to be bold (I tend to agree with that, but maybe cautiously bold and maybe not say too much — actions speak louder than words anyway).

Obama probably knew little about foreign policy before getting into office but he certainly has been exposed to it now.

I have to admit I do not understand the current Libya flap the GOP is trying to score points with. They seem to suggest that the Obama administration is trying to cover up something. It is apparent that there was not adequate security at our Embassy there, the result being that our ambassador and several others there were killed. The GOP charges that the Obama administration was trying to spread the notion that the deaths were the result of mob action in reaction to a privately-produced in America anti-Islam hate video when in fact even the administration now has to concede that it was a planned Al Qaeda (or Al Qaeda-affiliated) attack coinciding with the anniversary of 9/11. Don’t know, but what would the administration have to gain from this? Interestingly, though, it seems that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is falling on her sword for this one, announcing within the last 24 hours that she takes full responsibility. But if she is sincere, I almost think you have to respect her. Not many in power these days takes responsibility for anything.

Don’t know if I will catch the debate live since I am working, but I hope to at least hear it on radio.

Here is a link to that Times editorial: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/opinion/the-eyeball-to-eyeball-myth-and-the-cuban-missile-crisiss-legacy.html?hp&_r=0


Half measures will not do in keeping terrorists from Pakistani nukes…

May 8, 2009

As we face the prospect of a grave military threat from terrorists in Pakistan who might grab that unstable nation’s nukes, I ponder my attitude toward war.

(And I call them terrorists because that is their methodology. They use the name of Islam, but their method is terrorism as brutal as any ever used and they have made no bones about wanting to destroy our way of life in the Western world and us along with it.)

I have always looked toward the wars in our time with ambivalence. Basically I am anti-war. That is to say I don’t see war as just another foreign policy tool. At the same time I have thought that once the nation is engaged in a war it should do so with focus on an acceptable outcome. That would be winning versus stalemate.

Unfortunately during my lifetime we have had no wars that I can think of with an acceptable outcome. Korea took place when I was a small child. We did hold the red tide back or beat the red tide back, but at great cost. I think in history it is questioned as to whether we should have gotten involved. North Korea with the backing of Red China (remember? we used to call it that) and the Soviet Union overran South Korea, but we got involved under the auspices of the United Nations and beat them back to a stalemate and all these decades later must still contend with a belligerent communist North Korea who threatens us with ultimate creation of their own nuclear force. This is after the Soviet Union dissolved and although the old Red China is still communist in government, it has a primarily capitalist economy (that I think one day would result in communism dissolving). We wouldn’t let Gen. MacArthur chase the red devils all the way to the North Korean capital. I was still a child, as I said, but that was the start of our more cautious approach to war. Whereas in World War II we decided the way to resolve the issue was total victory, by the early 50s we had no stomach for that – quit while we are ahead (where we began is where we finished).

And then came Vietnam. Again, the red menace. The country was sold (at least there seemed to be support) at first when it was thought we would just throw a little weight around (yes I’m skipping over volumes of history) and be done with it. But the war dragged on. Casualties mounted. And we did not define what winning was, let alone resolve to go for total victory, which would have been to take over what was North Vietnam, the belligerent who eventually overran the south. Nearly 60,000 American dead and thousands gravely wounded, and for what? Today a unified Vietnam as China has a communist government and, though not on the scale of China, it has moved toward a capitalist economic system.

Saddam Hussein’s forces turned out to be a pushover in the first Gulf War, but once again our resolve was less than full fledged (at least by our leaders), and instead of total victory, overrunning the belligerent nation that started it all, Iraq, we held back. And eventually the first president Bush’s son became president and found a convenient excuse to finish what his daddy didn’t. Some say all the trouble the younger Bush had in Iraq is proof we would have been wrong to invade the first time. But that was then and this is now. All evidence is we certainly could have done the job the first time, but we would have needed the forces and the resolve.

There is evidence we might have gotten more cooperation this time around in our initial invasion had a large portion of the Iraqi population thought we had the resolve the get the job done. They correctly guessed we did not and acted accordingly.

We initially invaded Afghanistan supposedly to go after Osama bin Laden and his forces who took credit for the 9/11 attacks. There was widespread public support and world sympathy (help would be nice, but sympathy’s good too and I know we’ve had help, but only token help — again my apologies to the soldiers involved). But little Bush decided he wanted to make a stand in Iraq and we dithered in Afghanistan (with all due respect to the actual troops who did not run the war – I’m talking about the leadership).

Today we face the threat of Taliban and Al Qaeda getting their hands on nuclear weapons due to an unstable Pakistan, our nominal ally.

I continue to be ambivalent toward war. It shouldn’t be  just a tool in the bag of foreign relations. But the survival of all mankind depends upon keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists.

Does Barack Obama have more resolve than his modern predecessors?

The fate of the world may depend upon the true answer to that question.

P.s.

I actually was going to blog on a slightly different, but closely related subject. It had to do with the fact we don’t seem to get much actual war reporting. I checked out a library book entitled “The Blog of War” (a play on the phrase “the fog of war”), by Matthew Currier Burden, a former U.S. Army major. Nowadays soldiers tell their own stories in realtime (or near), blogging from the field. But unless you read those blogs you are not likely to know how things really are. It is not going to convince me politically whether a war is right or wrong by knowing how a participant feels, but he or she can provide me a sense of the real situation on the ground and the human aspect of the whole thing. That is something that has been missing, I think. And really the whole dynamic of the professional soldier (the all-volunteer military) vs. the drafted citizen soldier adds a whole new dimension to war for the United States, good and bad. When I finish reading the book I will have one more thing blog about, I’m sure. I had previously purchased another book with a kind of insider’s view of the war but at the time it seemed too much of a pro-warrior, my country right or wrong, inside baseball approach. But I’ll have to get back to it sometime, because it too had some actual battle accounts you just don’t get from the standard media. I think those who run the paid media feel that citizens just don’t have the patience or attention span for real stories and the business-oriented management thinks that they don’t sell. This is a long post script. I’ll quit now.


Who to criticize: Obamaphiles or fake capitalists???

March 7, 2009

Anyone who has followed my blog, which began somewhat less than a year ago, saw that through the presidential election campaign I made observations but tried to give both candidates the benefit of the doubt. Okay, I’ll come clean. I leaned toward Obama all the way in my mind. But even so I tried to keep an open mind for my blogging (I’m not into preaching to the choir). In the end, as a voter I made my decision and was quite satisfied with it.

Am I now? Too early to tell for sure. He seems reasonable, much more able to see the broad spectrum of the issues and from all appearances more concerned about society as whole instead of just an elite monied class, whom under the previous administration we were supposed to look up to and ask for their benevolence. Oh Please anointed ones, may you prosper and trickle down upon us!

To be sure, the Rush Limburger Cheeses and his ilk warn us of being lured into class warfare by a special liberal elite snobbery who only want us to be dependent so that they then can control us. In reality they claim if we all had any self-respect and confidence in ourselves we would throw off the yoke of socialism and all be rich. Sir Ronald Reagan is the great dead prophet who invented Trickle Down. But if we were all rich whom would we trickle down upon? And why pray tell would one even want to be rich if he could not trickle down upon someone lower. And isn’t the notion that everyone can be rich false? The correct word to express it escapes me, but basically being “rich” in the terms of money is a condition that’s definition depends upon a comparison. For someone to have more depends upon someone else to have less. But I certainly agree with my blowhard brethren on the right that dividing things up equally neither works nor is fair. Communes reward those who do not work as much as those who do and that approach stifles innovation and just is all around kind of dull.

And isn’t this kind of strange? I actually started off this blog with the intent of asking one thing:

“When will the love affaire between the mainstream media and Barack Obama end?

Some folks near and dear to me ask me if someone has a better idea of what to do than what Obama is trying to do.

My answer is no, apparently not. But while no one knows quite what to do, some things should begin to be apparent as to what not to do.

Throwing out money to the Wall Street banking industry and the dinosaur that is the domestic auto industry is as good as lighting a match to it.

What if all that money had gone to relief efforts for displaced workers and medical care for the needy? At least it would have done some good.

If the interests who preach the philosophy of Laissez faire (government keeping its hands off business) believed in what they preached they would run in horror at the notion and the shame of accepting money from the public trough, made worse because it requires further indebting ourselves to Communist China.

No I am not anti-Obama. But he is not above criticism, just as the phony capitalists who do not have the courage to support their supposed convictions are not either.

And the biggest conundrum of all is that Communist China resorted years ago to capitalism to save itself and prosper, but on that fateful day that Capitalist Sir George W. was told he really had no clothes (okay there was no money in the counting house) he socialized the debt of the Wall Street bankers, reserving their right to eventual profit.

But in so doing, Sir Bush once again sought to cover his nakedness by cloaking himself in the imaginary wardrobe as Savior of the People, willing to take drastic, distasteful measures to save the economy. Giving money to his base, a group of moneyed elite may have been embarrassing if he had any feeling of self respect, but not really so distasteful.

If the wave of business failures and unemployment along with bank failures along with endless bailouts in which no one has a clue where the money is going continues, Obama along with all of the politicians in Washington could face more than voter disapproval. They may well face an ugly backlash that could lead to a failed state.

Alarmist you say? How many of you even thought it would ever get like this?

(Copyright 2009)


Obama should set clear rules and move on…

February 11, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

I still say that the big time money establishment in this country is just waiting to see what the rules will be and most importantly how much (more) it can get out of the government. Once that is clear, things should get moving again.

The Obama administration would do better to let them know in clear and concise terms that there is no more free lunch – you’re the money experts, so you made some big mistakes, handle it. That is not what will happen, I suppose.

Apparently the government will throw trillions of dollars more into the bottomless pit we generically refer to as banking (and this does not refer to those smaller commercial banks not asking for government bailouts).

Perhaps the banking system should be nationalized on an emergency basis long enough to rid the system of the poor (and corrupt) managers and reform it into a new privatized, but responsible system.

I am also reading that small business, which provides a large portion of this nation’s employment, is being left out of all this stimulus and bailout action for the most part.

If government has to do anything, certainly it has to help small business.

It does seem, though, that in all of this, President Barack Obama is intent on moving ahead with the power that he was elected rather overwhelmingly behind him. And move ahead he should. Bi-partisanship is good when you can get it, but the power from the voters who got you there works too.

In some way he needs to move ahead and around the obstacles presented by the Wall Street crowd who still seem to be clinging to the privileged rules of the recent past.

A new sheriff is in town. Haven’t they heard?


Obama stumbles, but at least he admits it…

February 4, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

Only last week I was blogging that President Obama was just getting better all the time – he was even reaching out to Republicans when he didn’t have to, and now since then things have slid a little. He can’t seem to find key cabinet picks who fill out their income tax forms correctly (and wouldn’t you know it? the mistakes they made were to their own advantage, that is until they got caught).

And of course right wing talk radio is having a field day as the new administration stumbles.

Tom Sullivan, used to be of Sacramento Radio station KFBK, nowadays of the Fox network, was glibly noting over the airwaves that the “Obamaniacs” must be beside themselves what with Obama not being for change after all in that several of his cabinet picks have tax problems (as well as nanny problems and various ethics issues, I add myself). I was going across town and only heard a minute or two of Mr. Sullivan, but apparently he feels that to have been an Obama supporter one has to have been a maniac and implies that he thinks anyone who supported Obama felt that their man could do no wrong. Maybe that is because during the last administration the Republican line was that the president can do no wrong – if the president does it, it has to be right. There was some dissension perhaps in the far right wing over some things George W. did (especially at the last when he went socialist), but our boy George never could see any of his mistakes until maybe the bitter end when he allowed as he might have erred in his handling of Katrina and he also said he felt bad about the economy. His invasion decisions? Well he kind of admitted to acting on the wrong reasoning, but said well it worked out the way he wanted it to anyway and in some type of weird logic he said that even though he acted on erroneous information, he likely would have done it anyway (??).

In the final analysis, I felt Barack Obama was the man for the job, and yet I don’t consider myself an Obamaniac.

And these past few days I have not been beside myself, but I have been disappointed, and I had come to the conclusion that Tom Daschle should not be appointed to a cabinet position (I missed the New York Times editorial against him, but I think that was the coup de grace). Daschle withdrew Tuesday under the mounting pressure. (I think Geithner should have too.)

I was pleased, though, to see President Obama on ABC TV news appearing a little contrite and vowing to do better. People who own up to their mistakes or who explain questionable actions seem more honorable to me than ones who ignore criticism because either they didn’t see it in the first place because they ignore the news and/or from some inner belief that they alone know the way and that they are on a mission from God (we may all be on a mission from God, but in this nation we have chosen to operate our governmental affairs by human rules while maintaining our own personal spiritual rights).

In another somewhat related matter, Wells Fargo Bank after receiving beaucoup government bailout money was planning to send some of its people to Vegas to party hearty but under public scrutiny has reportedly said “never mind”.

Maybe it may finally sink in with the bankers and Washington politicians that they are all under more scrutiny and the rules really have changed. Or maybe not. But if not, the public may do some rule changing on its own since it’s our money and lives they are fooling around with. And it might not be pretty.

And maybe we should have let the chips fall where they may in this current financial crisis and let things work themselves out according to the conventional rules of business – which do include bankruptcy – letting losers lose and winners win.

One reason nothing seems to be working is that no one really knows what the new rules are and no one wants to be the first one to take a chance while not knowing what the new rules are.

If the new president can just find folks with squeaky clean records (too late for Geithner), who choose to err on the side of caution in things such as paying taxes, and get them on the job, perhaps the new rules can be set forth.

Until then, it would seem any kind of confidence in the financial system cannot be achieved.

P.s. When I wrote about right wing radio talk show host Tom Sullivan last week I did not realize that he had gone on to the big time with a gig for the Fox network (he can still be heard on Sacramento Radio station KFBK weekdays, noon to 3 p.m.). I did get a comment from him, though, posted on my Jan. 27 blog. I was happy to see that he felt I had analyzed him well (“mostly correct”). I always strive to be mostly correct.


Obama killing foes with kindness, firmness…

January 27, 2009
(Copyright 2009)
Barack Obama just keeps getting better every day. I think we are in good hands with this new president.
Today he reached out to House and Senate Republicans in his $850 billion stimulus package even though he didn’t have to, seeing as the Democrats control both houses.
But the president seems to be making good on his promise for a new bipartisan or post-partisan approach to Washington politics.
For my part, I think the Republicans are frustrated because President Obama isn’t fighting fair — he’s being too nice, too congenial, too reasonable.
But don’t get me wrong, we need the loyal opposition, one that unfortunately was AWOL for much of the former  administration.
I’m blogging from my oldest daughter’s home in Roseville, Ca., which is — sorry Rosevillians — kind of like greater Sacramento. For those of you who don’t know, I’m out of Redding, Ca., which is at the northern end of California’s giant interior valley, known as the Central Valley.

(A Home Depot store in Roseville, it was announced on the radio as we drove toward town, is going out of business, resulting in even higher unemployment for the area already hit hard by the bust in the housing market. Meanwhile, in Redding the local paper seems to be running stories every day about local businesses going under. One day recently the whole front page was devoted to store closures.)

At any rate, as my wife and I neared Roseville yesterday I began picking up a Sacramento radio station and listened to their local talk guy who in the afternoons does his rendition of Rush Limburger (I know not his real name, but I refuse to use his actual name) politics. The talk guy’s name is Tom Sullivan (his real name). He is a curious guy, obviously more cerebral and reasonable when he wants to be than Limburger, but nevertheless hard right wing.

I want to say more about Mr. Sullivan‘s style, but before I do, I just want to note that he seems perplexed on how to stand in the current Obama thing. By politics he has to be against Obama. Even though the Republicans always harp on the idea that a patriotic citizen must support the president when their guy is in office, they change their tune when they are out of power.

Yesterday Sullivan was commenting on the fact that the Obama administration wants to let California have more stringent auto emission standards than the federal government. By politics Mr. Sullivan is predisposed to oppose that. Anything that the automakers don’t want should not be allowed because they are business people and if they say it is bad for business then it is bad for America.

But Mr. Sullivan, unlike Limburger, sometimes reveals his own thoughtfulness. He admitted that he was conflicted. He knew that California’s already high anti-pollution standards have actually helped the environment, helped to reduce smog in the LA basin and that is a good thing. He did object, though, to auto makers having to potentially face 50 (number of states) different standards for the production of their products. And that last part seems a reasonable concern. But the fact that Mr. Sullivan would admit that there is some merit to protecting or improving the environment is interesting.

Also, I get the idea that Mr. Sullivan and other hard line Republicans know that extraordinary measures need to be taken to deal with our current financial calamity, so much so that even their boy, George W., moved the whole nation toward socialism in his final desperate days in office. But they want this new socialism to only help businesses, kind of a business-socialism, with public debt to provide private profits.

Well, I’m going a little too far in trying to explain Mr. Sullivan’s feelings because I have not listened to him much for the past few years. I used to live in this area and listened to him regularly. I also listened to Limburger — kind of for entertainment, kind of to see what the belligerent hard right was thinking or what line they were taking. There were times I had to turn Limburger off and vow to never listen to his vitriol and mean-spiritedness again — then I would go back occasionally. And to be fair, at first I appreciated Limburger for some of the hypocrisy on the part of the left that he gleefully pointed out — he never seemed to see it on his side , though.

And now back to Mr. Sullivan. When he first came on the air — maybe 15 years ago — I don’t know precisely when, he just did a talk show on investments — him being a kind of stock broker investment adviser kind of guy. Then he began to comment on local politics, with that golly gee whiz approach — is that the way they do it? He seemed to be somewhat of a neophyte to the workings of government. But he was a quick study and obviously bright and articulate, for real, rather than pseudo bright and articulate as Limburger, who incidentally started out at the same radio station as Mr. Sullivan.

At first, Mr. Sullivan was refreshing to listen to, because even though he took the conservative line, he was able to for discussion purposes frame the argument of the other side in a totally reasonable way. But I think he learned that his ratings improved when he dropped all pretense of seeing the other side, or of even being middle of the road, and simply spouted the intolerant and close-mined Limburger approach. He was not as fun to listen to anymore, but I think his ratings soared. Actually I don’t know, but I have to assume so, because he is still on the air.

Mr. Sullivan once considered running for congress, but told his listeners he decided against it because he would have to spend all his time campaigning and fundraising (congressmen have two-year terms) and he would have to do too much compromising. If I wanted to make a snide remark here, I could say that it is far easier to spout off hard line positions than to come up with solutions and work for the good of everyone. But, really, I guess I should respect his decision. I think he found he would have to take too much time away from his investments and that he would not be able to provide whatever he provides his listeners with. He wanted to stay wealthy (which he reportedly is) and be able to continue as a spokesman for his so-called conservative ideology.

I did get laughs at times when he was still in his see both sides mode and some of his Rush Limburger fan listeners would call in and sound perplexed and worried that he was taking the wrong side.

What ticks me off the most about Rush Limburger is that all he does is preach to his own choir, with everyone competing to be the ultimate sycophant, which they call ditto-heads. No thinking required. “I agree with you Rush. Dittos”.

To be fair, what little left-wing radio (and I hate to use that term because it connotes communist, but you have to use some term) I have heard (there isn’t much) it is often the same. Reasonable discussion with both sides aired and discussion in the middle does not seem to produce ratings (too dull, I suppose).

And back to Mr. Sullivan. I wished I could have pulled his signal in over the past year or past several months as our economic system shaped mostly by the neo conservative politics lo these past many years, and even going clear back to Reagan, has led us to near ruin. I know that he was always the apologist for big business when I listened to him. If it made money it had to be right. He was a huge defender of multi million dollar bonuses for executives because you have to provide top pay for top talent. Now that it has been proved that those getting that top pay either did not know what they were doing or were simply crooks, I don’t know what his explanation is.

Back to President Obama. I also applaud him for making overtures to the Muslim world, saying we are not their enemies, that we are willing to get along, but that we will also defend ourselves.

So far, the president is killing them (Muslims and Republican foes) with kindness, but offering firmness, as well.

And so far, the new president does seem to be taking a new post-partisan approach that seems to be rankling both some Democrats and for sure a lot of Republicans.

I want the loyal opposition to keep at it.

I also want some progress and feel that there just might be.

While certainly the president is correct in cautioning that progress may be slow, The American people need to keep their leaders’ feet to the fire and demand that some amount of progress be made and swiftly.


President Obama to do what Bush did not…

January 20, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

(BLOGGER’S NOTE: this was my initial reaction to President Barack Obama’s inaugural, and as you will read, I had to go back and make some almost instant adjustments. My wife read it and noted the blog seemed to lack any enthusiasm or depth. Sorry. I am enthused and quite hopefu, and no I didn’t go into any depth. But, maybe we as a nation are coming out of what has seemed like a bad dream and are awakening to a new and brighter day.)

Thought the invocation was a little too long.

It seemed that now ex-president George W. Bush was getting the cold shoulder as he was introduced, with folks turning their heads or averting their eyes.

And surprisingly, the then President-elect Barack Obama flubbed his lines in the swearing in ceremony. Maybe he didn’t bother to practice, thinking he simply had to repeat what the Chief Justice said. I was waiting for him to clearly say: Barack HUSSEIN Obama, and I didn’t hear it, because he got mixed up on what he was supposed to say (he may have said it – I’ll have to look at the tape or YourTube).

AND NOW  THE TV NEWS TELLS ME IT WAS THE CHIEF JUSTICE WHO FLUBBED THE LINES, MESSING UP THE SWEARING IN.

President Obama gave a virtually flawless speech (at about 23 minutes (okay, was it 18?), a little long, I thought).

If you read between the lines you would note that his speech was basically a promise to avoid doing everything the way Bush did and to forge ahead and do things right.

And that’s my instant analysis of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States….

P.s.  President Obama did  issue  a warning to Muslim extremists, and when you contrast that with the long invocation by a Christian minister, that could be read as a sign that the U.S. is carrying the torch for the Christian world in its long rivalry with the Islamic world. And whether it be government or religion, the people want peace, while many leaders do not (hopefully President Obama can lead the way toward peace).

Add 1:  Having computer problems, but I did get a glimpse of a swearing in tape and I did clearly hear him say Barack HUSSEIN Obama. Just for the record. Now I know what they mean when they say eyewitness testimony is often unreliable. I’ll try harder.