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in Turkey, we already knew for a long time now, was kept secret for years, I believe (the missiles were said to be outdated anyway, I seem to recall).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

Obama or Romney, if only there was a third option…

August 29, 2012

I don’t know what will really happen when I get into the voting booth (well, when I fill out my absentee ballot at home) next November, but as of now I am inclined to look for a third option even though I realize that is probably a vote for the guy I don’t really want to win. I am not impressed with either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. But then again, so far Romney has neither said nor indicated anything that would make me think he would be better than the incumbent president.

It’s a little dismaying to say the least that Romney appears to be falling back on the Richard Nixon Southern Strategy, that is take advantage of the deep reservoir of racism and fear among the white populace and the suspicion of intellectualism and science. But as I understand it Romney feels forced to do this because the thought is that he has to capture the majority of the white vote or he does not win. Minorities and the poor or less well off are not inclined to like his politics. Romney used to be a moderate and in his heart I am relatively sure he still is, but he has wanted the presidency for so long that he just feels a man has got to do what he has to do.

I guess Romney has also had to embrace the anti-abortion cause and keep the illegal workers out cause for the same reasons mentioned above. Ironically, it is often Republican businessmen who hire illegal workers. And ironically it is those who decry government intrusion on our personal lives who speak out the loudest on what women can do to control the reproduction process (well we know one almost sure method, but that does not seem acceptable). 

While I think the Republicans have a point on out-of-control government spending (but they are just as much to blame) I have to disagree with them on the notion that government is always bad and never gets anything right. We have to have government for civilization and those who criticize it so heavily would not know what to do if we did not have it to keep the peace and protect us from foreign invaders, educate the populace (yeah, there is private education but if all those who could not afford it just went stupid we’d be in a heck of a fix), build roads (okay maybe the Ron Pauls want every street and highway a private toll road), provide health and safety oversight (as in contaminated food recalls and water purity regulations and enforcement), and the courts, and probably most important of all to the haves, keeping records of who owns what, and so on.

Also the big bad government keeps those Social Security checks and Medicare payments coming and neither Republicans nor Democrats dare mess too much with that, despite some dangerous rhetoric from the GOP side.

But again, I think the Republicans have a point in that you just can’t keep spending more money than you take in and that the only way to control out-of-control spending is to cut back on the overall spending.

It seems to me that if there is to be any kind of government stimulus, though, either in the form of direct subsidies or tax breaks, it ought to be for industry, preferably with the emphasis, but not limited to, heavy industry. Agriculture also needs to be promoted. It is our remaining strength area in production. Unfortunately, over the years ag subsidies have gotten out of control and therefore have gotten a bad name. But we do need to have some kind of minimum protection of this valuable endeavor. We are fortunate to have the natural resources and area to support it and should make the most of it.

To hear the Republicans tell it, everyone who gets food stamps or other public assistance drives a Cadillac to go pick them up. There area always cases of fraud, but we all know that is not the norm. Public assistance is out of hand because for one reason cutbacks in spending have stripped welfare departments of the resources for checking up on their clients (we used to say “recipients”). Also, job training programs are always being cut back. Actually, industry should be taxed specifically to pay for job training programs and then able-bodied folks on assistance should be required to take part in these programs to get assistance. End of story on that one.

And just as the Bible says: there will always be the poor among us. And we know there will always be the unemployed. In fact, with the lighting advance of technology that continues to displace human workers this will continue to be a vexing problem. I personally think that workers would do well to invest in their own form of unemployment insurance, either through some private investment means and/or some alternative (legal one that is) to the regular job. People growing up today are going to need to be multi-skilled no doubt. And maybe workers should pay part of the premium for their government unemployment insurance. As of now, employers are taxed for that (it probably should be both).

But the one thing that really bothers me in choosing between tweedle dee and tweedle dum is that neither candidate gives me the hope that the U.S. will extricate itself from the wars and militaristic intrigues (drone attacks) that are draining our economy and killing off or maiming for life a portion of our population and making us look ugly in the eyes of the world. Don’t get me wrong. I am in support of a strong defense, offense, not so much, with the exception that once committed to a justified war of self defense, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Maybe the coming debates between Obama and Romney will bring things more clearly into focus.



In my original version of this post I used quote marks on the Bible passage, but have now omitted them since it was not necessarily exact word for word, just the idea. So in the interest of accuracy and to avoid contextual confusion or argument I omit the quote marks.

Sometimes I think I am a conservative, just not a reactionary one…

October 31, 2011

I think I was approaching middle age when New York Times columnist, and conservative, Ross Douthat was born, but that boy seems to have some pretty good insights and observations on politics.

Within the column to which I will provide a link, I think he makes some pretty good points — not that I necessarily agree with it all, but he does present some things worth pondering.

He has already gone on record in another and recent column proclaiming that no matter what is said  by pundits– even by him — between now and the 2012 Republican convention, Mitt Romney is the inevitable candidate. And now he offers that Romney may reach beyond is moneyed background and do good for the common man.

He attempts to point out some flaws of liberalism and even the extreme of his own conservatism.

And if I understand what he is implying, ironically Romney could be the GOP’s answer to FDR (although I may have misunderstood — but you can read the column for yourself).

I appreciate what he and others are saying about the bloated public sector. While I confess to being, in part,  plain jealous, I have always wondered why those in local public employment, something I am more familiar with, feel it is their right to have better pay and pensions than most in the private sector and even the right to goof off on the job. I should not condemn all public workers, but I have witnessed enough and read about enough to know there is an overall prevailing attitude. And I do know that the pensions just got too cushy. And one reason is that public workers form a large voting block and the politicians know that and the public has been apathetic until the Great Recession hit, and besides many of us thought we too might get a government job one day.

I do want to say that I appreciate the help I have received from public employees, such as, and not limited to, those who work for Social Security. But that does not force me to overlook waste and abuse where it is. I think the requirements for public employment should be fairly rigorous (as far as it is necessary to fit the job) and public workers should be paid well, and have reasonable job security — with some trade-off of slightly lower pay but better security than in the private sector, as it was once intended to be.

In public education there needs to be more going into teaching than the bloated administration. I read a story in an Alabama newspaper about a law there that was enacted to allow experienced classroom teachers to collect retirement but keep on working and drawing a salary. Trouble was when it was investigated, they found out that most of those receiving the double benefit were administrators.

I’m going a little off the subject, but I believe one of the reasons, or in fact, the reason, for bloated administration in public education is that local school districts have come to depend upon state and federal aid and in so doing must make tons of documentation and grant proposals for those programs. In my mind local districts, or counties, should tax more for public education and then they would have more control and need fewer administrators and the local voters through their locally-elected school boards would have more control over how their tax dollars were spent. In addition, aid from state and federal governments ought to come in the form of block grants without so many strings attached that require so much administrative work.

I have cited this example before, but when I heard someone else cite it independently of me, I knew I was not just imagining things or misinterpreting. It goes like this:

When I was in high school we had two administrators, the principal, a kindly old man we hardly ever saw and did who knows what in his office and the more highly visible vice principal whose main job seemed to be to walk the halls to see if boys had their shirts tucked in and girls’ dresses were not too short (a ruler was even used sometimes) and to peek into the restroom to see that no one was smoking — a highly-paid and educated man and this was his job. But at least we had only two administrators. About five years after high school I returned as a local newspaper reporter. The school enrollment had not significantly changed and now there were a half dozen administrators — principals and vice principals. For a time frame here, I graduated in 1967. A lot of federal programs had been enacted during Johnson’s Great Society.

Overall our public education system in this nation has gone downhill. One of the reasons may be a great upheaval in society (to include the fact that the broken home is the norm — my own children were almost outcasts because they had a real mom and dad at home), to include changes in work ethic, attitudes toward intellectualism, the misguided notion that everyone should go to college, programs that seem to offer more to the supposed process of education than the actual education itself — fancy programs titles and grant applications and high paid administrators cannot match up to willing students and able teachers and supportive parents (and taxpayers).

Sometimes I think I just might be a conservative — but Lord please don’t let me be an ignorant reactionary one who blames everything on homosexuals, illegal immigrants, nasty liberals, Islamic terrorists, and atheists, oh, and Hawaiians.

But back to that Douthat column. If you have not already, read it and see what you get out of it:


Is what’s good for business really what’s good for the nation? Economy could put Romney in the White House

June 14, 2011

Even though the United States is mired in economic malaise and tremendous debt I am not at all sold on the idea that what we need is a businessman as president.

A nation is not really a business. It is true that the thinking of a businessman could help in budgeting, that is about where it stops.

To state an obvious fact, not everyone runs a business. In fact, the majority of us don’t.  And the president is supposed to represent the interests of all people.

It is true that we all depend upon the money generated by business,  so in that regard certainly it would be nice for the president to have a keen understanding of business.

But the aim of most businesses is to make as much profit as possible, not really to ensure that everyone has a job or a piece of the action or health care (even though most businesses of any size offer some health benefits to employees), or health and safety protections.

And should the president decide whether to go to war or commit troops to action (war seems hard to define these days) based on business considerations? There is some thought and evidence that indeed that is how we decide to go to war — but as Nixon  would have said: “but that would be wrong”.

I would agree, though, that a president should not be seen or be an enemy of business.

President Barack Obama seems interested in business, but I think he may be a little too tied into the idea that so-called “green industry” is the way to boost our industrial output and economic growth. I really don’t understand. My idea is that green industry mainly involves finding more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways of doing things. That is wonderful and quite important as far as it goes. But it sounds more like a support effort than straight out production. It seems to me that the problem in this nation is that long ago we fell for the notion that we should abandon dirty industry in favor of clean (in the environmental sense) efforts, such as the financial service industry. We see where that has gotten us — we let that run amok because making money can never be criticized.

Mitt Romney is currently the putative front runner among Republican candidates (according to the pundits) for the presidency.

He has a track record in the world of businesses for making money and a reputation for taking control of and streamlining businesses and seeing thousands of people laid off and shipping jobs overseas where labor is cheaper in the process — good for business, not so good for people.

On the other hand, Romney seems to be fairly moderate in political ideology and not afraid to implement liberal or new ideas, such as his own health care plan for the state of Massachusetts. That has gotten him into hot water in the modern Republican Party in which you can only think in the most narrow-minded of ways. Even so, he seems to be the front runner for now, at least according to the pundits.

Romney does not mind changing views on issues at a moment’s notice when he sees the wind blowing the other way. It is good to have someone who can bend, especially if he sees new information or research or just takes a fresh look at things. But it is also nice to think that when someone takes a position on something he (or she) is sincere.

Romney is clever on the health care thing as he chastises Obama for Obamacare. Even though his program in his home state of Massachusetts was essentially the model for Obamacare — so much so that some of his Republican or Tea Party detractors are calling it “Obamneycare” —  he says his plan was just for states, meaning conceivably people in any one state could choose their own idea of a health care system. That sounds kind of weak, really. For one thing, have you noticed that a large percentage of Americans move from state to state on a frequent basis? And if the program was good for Massachusetts and Romney designed it, why is it not good for everyone?

Other candidates will emerge probably (I know there are already many of them, but really what do we know about them?).

Michelle Bachman is making a splash (according to the punditry). She has been fairly well characterized heretofore in the mainstream media as a little bizarre, outlandish, or just a ditz. I do not know enough of her myself.

Sarah Palin, yes, she is a ditz (and not a declared candidate — she‘s basically showbiz for now).

Both Bachman and Palin would probably be described as good looking. Romney would too.

I guess Obama too — Ron Paul, not so much.

But does good looks make a good president?

Okay, I was wrong four years ago when I predicted Romney would be the winning GOP presidential candidate. And truth be told, I have never found anything to like about him. But I think he has that stylized American presidential look. And I guess he speaks well.

If he can placate the extremists in the GOP (good luck) and keep enough to the center, and , biggest of all, if Obama cannot work a miracle with the economy and get everyone back to work, Romney could indeed win in 2012.