Archive for September, 2008

Reliving the 1970’s

September 28, 2008

I noticed at the beginning of this year how the times we are living today compare to the 1970’s. The “energy crisis,” the dependency on middle east oil, smaller cars, the war in Afghanistan (in the 1970’s Russia was in Afghanistan), the plan to get out of Vietnam (now Iraq), the Arab-Israeli wars, the total discrediting of a President, and finally the general economic funk. In the 1970’s the economy was in a state of “stagflation,” something that the economists of their day couldn’t explain. Today we have the “credit crisis,” again something that economists cannot explain.

The 1970’s ushered in Democratic President Jimmy Carter to save the day. There are a lot of similarities between Obama and Carter. Both have no experience and had to find a Washington old-timer as the V.P. to get credibility. Both were considered to be great intellects by their adoring fans. I remember a skit on SNL where Carter was taking questions on the phone from viewers and a guy who had O.D.’d on LSD called in and the SNL Carter talked him down. Carter’s knowledge was so vast! Carter ended his presidency a failure. He was clueless, and still is. He is good friends with the Saudi royal family. He told a story on Jay Leno about how the King of Saudi let him use his place in Aspen one winter and how Carter’s daughter was so impressed with the opulence of it. It was clear Carter was too.

The Carter campaign message was the same as the Obama campaign, a message of an honest guy coming to Washington to kick those horrible Republicans out of power. Carter offered a large number of programs to “fix” the economy, raise taxes on the evil rich, and bring fairness and competence to the federal government. Sound familiar? The story turned out to be that of a corrupt incompetent politician. Carter had only one success in his career, getting Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin to negotiate peace between their two countries. Sadat got a bullet in his head for his efforts.

The Carter years were not a good time for this country, and we are still paying for it. The last year of the Carter administration made Iran what it is today, a menace to worldwide Democracies and perhaps a real threat to the existence of not only Israel, but all of us. Carter was clueless about how bad the Shah’s alternative would be. To contain fundamentalist Iran we propped up secular Iraq. Now we are in a war in Iraq to clean up the mess that Carter brought us, if we can.

But the biggest single burden that Carter put on us today is his killing of the nuclear power industry. Carter was so worried about a strong Soviet Union that he killed our domestic nuclear power. Does that make sense? It did to Carter. He felt is was better to negotiate with the Saudi’s for more foreign oil (and killing most domestic oil production at the same time) and negotiate with the Soviets to reduce nuclear proliferation. Negotiating with one’s enemies isn’t always the best approach.

For those who don’t know how Carter’s 1970’s ended, think 10% annual inflation and 9% unemployment. Listening to Obama today you would think that our 4% inflation and 6% unemployment are the world coming to an end. During the Carter years Obama was stoned (according to his own autobiography), he probably doesn’t remember any of it. Those who don’t remember history are doomed to relive it.

Obama’s Bridge To Nowhere

September 18, 2008

Bill Clinton used his “Bridge to the Future” to defeat Bob Dole 12 years ago. In this campaign we again hear about a bridge, this one to nowhere. The “Bridge to Nowhere” was originally a metaphor for Government waste. Why build a $400M bridge to connect 500 people to the mainland? Good question. That bridge was never built, but some of that money was used to build roads and other structures that were actually needed.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” has new meaning in this election. Candidates such as Obama are thinking of allowing some limited drilling for oil as a bridge to green energy. The idea here is that green energy will happen in 10 years because of some yet unknown and unknowable invention or discovery. We need the time and the oil, then, to get to this panacea. My view is that this is the real “Bridge to Nowhere.”

A serious analysis in Scientific American (i.e. the authors are seriously promoting their work) of how a solar-based power system for the U.S. might work shows that we would need to cover 165,000 square miles of the southwest with solar panels. I don’t know if this includes cloudy days. Just for reference, Arizona is 114,000 square miles. Implementing the system would require over 40 years and need technologies that currently do not exist. Obama is promoting this bridge to nowhere.

On the other hand, nuclear power plants that reprocess their fuel would yield more electrical power in a smaller space, and could be distributed over the whole country. By reprocessing fuel in place, there is no need to transport or store nuclear waste. Yucca mountain would be obsolete. McCain is promoting such power plants. They were banned in the Carter administration because of Carter’s 12 year old daughter’s fear of nuclear proliferation.

The Democratic party’s position on nuclear power is either uninformed or irrational. They are against all forms of nuclear power. Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth regarding nuclear power, sometimes he seems to support it, other times he seems to be against it. Will Obama fight against his own party and lead us over the bridge to a nuclear powered future? I doubt. His bridge leads to nowhere.

Surprisingly, McCain Gets It.

September 17, 2008

I’ve been listening today to the political jousting over the financial problems our country is facing. Obama is claiming McCain “doesn’t get it.” Obama is trying to make “McCain doesn’t get it” his new slogan, hoping it will take off like “It’s the economy, stupid.” did for Clinton. It is plausible that McCain doesn’t understand the reasons for the financial problems we are seeing, and it is equally plausible that Obama doesn’t get it either.

Based on the news of today, McCain thinks that some financial charlatans have invented new and impossible to understand financial instruments (he said that even they don’t understand them) that amount to gambling and have rated them as reliable investments. BINGO. I have been saying this for years. McCain even mentioned specifically derivative investments, which are the exact source of the current financial instability. He gets it.

On the other hand, Obama blamed: 1. Bush, 2. lobbyists, 3. our economic system. Blaming Bush and lobbyists are stock complaints, nothing new or interesting there. But what does Obama mean by “our economic system?” I think our economic system is Capitalism. Does that mean Obama is against Capitalism? I can only assume so. I’m not sure if other people have picked up on this, but I expect them to soon.

Obama’s view of Capitalism comes from the people and institutions that educated him: Frank Marshall Davis (U.S. Communist Party), Columbia and Harvard. He sees Capitalism as the problem, not the solution. Obama has not told us his solution to “our economic system,” but I think it begins with an “S”.

Dems On a Roll – Who’s Next?

September 13, 2008

The Democratic party has always promoted itself as the “Big Tent,” the party that accepts everyone without prejudice (as long as you agree with their platform, that is). Republicans have been cast as the party of white men. This presidential election, however, has Democrats are kicking most of their prized constituents in the guts. Let’s run down the list of parties that Obama and his campaign have derided, mocked, and belittled:

  1. People who live in small cities
  2. People who live in depressed areas
  3. People who like their guns
  4. People who like their religion
  5. Women
  6. Mayors
  7. Governors
  8. People who live in small states
  9. Old People
  10. Obama’s Grandmother
  11. People who don’t use computers
  12. Cripples (especially crippled vets)
  13. People with special needs children

The McCain campaign has also made fun of some people:

  1. Paris Hilton
  2. Britney Spears
  3. People who think of themselves as the next messiah
  4. People who run for President of the world
  5. People who think their words will cause “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

Last night on Charlie Rose three “Journalists for Obama” leaders lamented the performance of the Obama campaign. One (Jonathon Alter) said that Obama fancies himself the Michael Jordan of politics. He goofs off in the first three quarters and then turns in on in the fourth. I can’t wait to see who is the butt of his next slam dunk.

The Real Bush Third Term – Redux

September 11, 2008

The entire Obama campaign is based on two tenets: McCain is the Bush third term and Obama will bring change. I guess that’s really just one tenet. What change will Obama bring? He will bring a Democratic President back with a Democratic Congress. What will happen after that is anyone’s guess, but I doubt it will be a change, it will just be out of control Democrats instead of out of control Republicans.

But the main tenet of Obama’s campaign is his assertion that McCain will mimic the presidency of George Bush, i.e. McCain is the Bush third term. Let’s compare Bush, Obama and McCain by comparing the men and their histories, not so much their policies. If we could vote for policies then comparing policies would be fair, but we vote for people.

Bush – known for his religious background, Obama – known for his religious background, McCain – known for his military background.

Bush – no experience in foreign affairs (not even personal travel) before presidency, Obama – same, McCain – very experienced in foreign affairs – he has seen the world.

Bush – generally inexperienced before presidency, Obama – very inexperienced before presidency, McCain – very experienced.

Bush – thought experienced V.P. would make up for his own inexperience, Obama – thinks experienced V.P. will make up for his own inexperience, McCain – thinks he has enough experience for both his job and the V.P. job.

Bush – promotes faith based programs (i.e. government gives money to religious organizations), Obama – promotes faith based programs, McCain – does not promote, but probably supports, faith based programs.

Bush – served part-time and stateside during war, Obama – no military service (did he even apply for selective service? don’t know), McCain – served in war.

Bush – most important decision in his life before becoming president? to run for president. Obama – most important decision in his life before becoming president? giving a speech to his supporters (he actually said that). McCain – most important decision in his life before becoming president? Whether to stay in a POW camp indefinitely (turned out to be a few years) or go home – he stayed because it was the right thing to do.

Bush – didn’t know that Rumsfeld had the wrong strategy in Iraq, Obama – didn’t know anything about Iraq other than we should leave immediately at all cost, McCain – took the lead in ousting Rumsfeld and implementing what turned out to be the winning strategy in Iraq.

Bush – hangs around with right-wing loons, Obama – hangs around with left-wing loons, McCain – hangs around good looking women.

Bush – thinks that government can solve people’s problems, Obama – thinks that government must solve people’s problems, McCain – government should get out of the way and let people fix their own problems.

Bush – seems aloof, Obama – seems aloof, McCain – seems like an angry old man.

Bush – speeches much better than spontaneous talk, Obama – same, McCain – speeches suck.

Bush – spend and spend, Obama – spend and spend and spend and spend, McCain – don’t spend.

Bush – inaccessible to the press, Obama – inaccessible to the press, McCain – extra accessible to the press.

Bush – thinks government should conform to his moral beliefs, Obama – thinks government should conform to his moral beliefs, McCain – government should be pragmatic.

Bush – unable to admit mistakes, Obama – unable to admit mistakes, McCain – harder on himself for his mistakes than others are.

Shall I go on?

Obama, like Bush, would enter the presidency a complete unknown. We don’t really know what he might do, what his liberal instincts tell him, or what is good for the whole country. I don’t think he knows either. If he is anything like Bush, he will do in office exactly what he says he will do, well, if he ever says what that is.

The left, and others, have put their hopes and dreams onto Obama, blindly hoping he will reflect their thinking onto the country. The right did the same for Bush. Nobody is putting their hopes and dreams onto McCain, he is there running all by himself, on his character and his record.

Best Analysis is Common Sense

September 11, 2008

I was asked today how one can figure out which candidates or pundits are telling the truth and which are lying. It seems that the media and especially the press have their biases, many obvious to even the most casual viewer, so you can’t tell by listening or reading what is the truth. He posited that what we are left with is making decisions based on the feelings we get from the candidates, their most common labels (i.e. conservative/liberal) or on a single defining issue such as abortion. I suggested that you can apply common sense too.

Take, for example, Obama’s health plan. I don’t know much about it EXCEPT that he claims that his plan will significantly improve the availability of health insurance and medical access and will cost about $60B/year. Let’s use some common sense. Looking up on Google, the U.S. expends $2.3T on health-care right now, and is growing by about 10% per year. $60B is 2.6% of the total health expenditures. What Obama is saying, then, is that he can fix healthcare by increasing expenditures by 2.6%, less than the annual growth rate. Does that make common sense?

Let’s look at Obama’s $15B/year green energy plan (taken from his website):

Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.

Do you believe that the Government can spend $15B/year on green energy. I do. Do you think that it will create any commercially viable product or service? That would be a first. In 2007, about $30B was invested by all venture capital firms. Somehow Obama thinks he can reproduce, or grow by 50%, the entire venture community with government bureaucrats. Does that make common sense?

Obama claims that he did not know that his friend and pastor, Rev. Wright, had a “God Damn America” attitude in his sermons. He claims he had no idea that Rev. Wright had such negative views of the U.S. Government. Maybe he knew and didn’t care, but NO, he claims he did not know. Does that make common sense?

When presented with ideas that are difficult to analyze, the best approach is to take the high level view. Look at what is being done today: how much money is involved, how many people are involved, how much time is involved, etc. Then look at what is being proposed. Could it happen? Is it possible? If it is possible then it may be true, but if impossible then it is certainly false.

Team Obama Retools

September 8, 2008

Last week John McCain countered Obama’s pivot to standard Democratic party policies and politics with a flanking move by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly outflanking a stunned team Obama. Then McCain advanced against Obama with a full frontal assault, trying to take Obama’s “change” standard bearer and make it his own. By the looks of today’s polls, that assault is resulting in a McCain surge taking the lead from Obama. Team Obama must retool, but how? The answer at this point seems to be the Clintons.

Obama screwed up by putting Biden on the ticket, and maybe he will take the bold move of replacing Biden with Hillary. Given his record of never admitting a mistake (for example, he still denies that the “surge” in Iraq is working), I doubt Obama could make that move, but it would be the smart thing to do. Instead Obama will again try once again to appease the Clintons into helping him. What would the Clintons want in return?

At this point I think Bill wants blood. My guess is that soon a senior Obama campaign manager will be handed his head as the man who called Billy a racist. Then we will see Obama become the son that the Clintons always wanted. Obama will abandon his sham veil of “change” and replace it with “Just call me Barack Obama Clinton,” the real Clinton third term. I’m not sure how Hillary is going to respond to this attempt to take the Clinton brand. She might put the kybosh on the whole deal.

If Obama can purchase the Clinton brand he will use those big guns to soften McCain’s attacks. What next in the Campaign of 2008? McCain must hold his front lines and surround Obama around his flanks. Once surrounded, team Obama will have no retreat and the bloody final battle will begin.

Could Obama Be a Vulcan?

September 5, 2008

At the beginning of this week many people were asking if McCain had made the right decision by picking Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Today, people are asking if Obama made the real mistake. Obama selected a old fart, Joe Biden, who is actually politically older than McCain himself. Biden is like your bloviating old uncle, the one that makes you race to leave the room when he starts to talk. Obama’s decision was based on logic. Put long green ears on Obama and you get Mr. Spock. Mr Spock could see all sides of an issue, but was powerless to decide which was best. I think Obama approached his selection process very… logically. He created a list of the possibilities, he wrote the pros and cons of each, he assigned them weights, he sorted them, he did some role-play, he did some polling, he ask consultants, he had lots of meetings, he eliminated some candidates, he reassigned weights, repolled, hired some focus groups and finally one candidate came out on top. He picked that one. Too bad is was Joe Biden.

McCain’s approach was decidedly different I’m sure. McCain is Captain Kirk. McCain looked at all the possibilities and said, probably a millisecond later, “I like her!” He might have started by wanting his real “old friend”, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, but my guess is that he knew, deep down, such a partnership would not work. Did John Tiberius McCain use logic? I doubt it. He saw her and he liked her. I think he saw a little of himself in her, and he saw something that he could never be in her.

Star Trek taught my generation about leadership, the value of intellect, the value of competence and the value of humanity. One episode that taught us about leadership was “The Galileo Seven”, wherein Spock became the leader *by rank) of a small group of crew-mates stranded on a planet with killer giants. Spock made his decisions logically, but when it came to the critical decision to save his crew, his decision transcended logic. Command decisions require knowledge, but they are often illogical. As Spock said in his closing line: “Sometimes acting illogically is the logical thing to do.”

If Obama were Kirk he would have picked Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Rejecting Hillary was Obama’s way of telling us that he won and she lost. I think we know that. But rejecting Clinton also tells us that Obama is scared of being upstaged by Bill and Hillary. I don’t think Captain Kirk was ever afraid of being upstaged!

John McCain’s pick was decidedly illogical. Had he used logic, McCain would have picked Gov. Powlenty. Before she gave her speech last night, you could hear all of the logical arguments against Sarah Palin on the various chat shows, as well as on the regular news shows. McCain showed that leadership is not a matter of applying logic to the facts at hand. Had McCain acted logically he would never have had to worry about being upstaged. Instead, he revels in it.

Press To McCain: Don’t Make Us Work!

September 2, 2008

When McCain picked Gov. Palin to be his running mate he made one mistake: he thought he was running against Sen. Obama, but in fact he is running against the press too. Gov. Palin is a complete unknown to those of us not living in Alaska, and she a complete unknown to the press. You would think that the press would welcome the opportunity to do their job and teach us about Gov. Palin. Instead they are making stuff up and challenging the whole process that chose Palin, claiming that she was not thoroughly vetted.

I have already seen CNN’s Wolf Blitzer show his ignorance by implying over and over that the Governor is a slut and a vengeful bitch. I have also seen Newsweek “Senior Editor” Jonathan Alter make up a story that nobody in the McCain camp went to Alaska to check out Palin. Last night I heard a Time magazine writer wonder out loud if McCain knew that Palin’s daughter was, God forbid, p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t, or that her husband had a DUI 20 years ago. If having a drunk relative or a teenage pregnancy in the family were a disqualifier, then the only qualified person running for office this year would be Ralph Nader.

Why is the press doing this sort of stuff? It might be because the press wasn’t involved in the decision making process. In fact, the press had no clue whatsoever. It might be because they are all in the tank for Obama and this looks like a good way to just generally attack McCain without showing policy bias. But I think the real reason is simpler: McCain is making the press do their job, and they don’t like it.

The press are a lazy bunch of parrots and trained dogs. Journalists feel that their job is not to inform the public but to inflame it. They grab onto one little thing and, like a rabid pitbulls, they flail it about until either it gets everyone’s attention or they drop dead, not caring if they hurt any innocent bystanders along the way. We see this with these long drama’s like Caylee something in Florida, or Anna Nicole, or O.J. The press has become a tabloid, and we know that sex and drugs are the main fodder of the tabloids.

McCain should have known that the press was going to fight, tooth and nail, against Gov. Palin and he should have prepared some material for them to consume. In the gap between now and Gov. Palin’s first national speech, the press will continue to fill their ignorance with their prejudice. We see the “liberal” press view Palin as a cheap political ploy, a female politician from po-dunk-ville. Paint her hair blue and you have Marge Simpson. They know everything about her even though they know nothing. She has never been on any of their chat shows, so she isn’t credible.

There is a lot of pressure on Palin to show that she can play with the big boys. Based on her record of kicking entrenched big boy’s butts out of office, I’m sure she can. But can she kiss the ass of the press? I’m not sure about that.

A Plate of Palin

September 2, 2008

If Gov. Palin were a plate at a restaurant, few of us would have even the slightest idea of what we would get if we ordered one. Apparently the people of Alaska like the dish, but the rest of us are ignorant. When faced with ignorance of this proportion, we rely on the MEDIA to inform us. Unfortunately, the National Enquirer has not stepped up yet, so we are left with only the second and third rate journalism of NBC, CBS and ABC.

How is the media dealing with this ignorance? We have the good: Maria Bartiromo (CNBC) interviewed Gov. Palin the day of the VP announcement. I saw the interview and can tell you that Gov. Palin is the only politician in this race that can respond to a question with a clear and understandable answer. We have the bad: the rest of the media that are guessing about her policies and her competence based on one or two pieces of information that they got off her Wikipedia page (I doubt they read the whole thing). And we have the ugly: some “liberal” blogs that claim, based on no information, that her daughter is a double-slut.

The problem that the press has with Palin is that she is going to make them work for a living. The press doesn’t work, it just reprints things that people send it, skipping the insightful or detailed information and going straight for the most biased, inflammatory and salacious. A few people in the press may use the internet to get basic information, but most rely on their friends and partisan blogs to get their “facts.” They enjoy talking about her lack of experience. Duh. If McCain were to die in office, then perhaps Gov. Palin could call Obama and ask his advise.

In the first few hours of the Republican convention I heard CNN’s Wolf Blitzer talking about Gov. Palin. Talking about her isn’t really correct, he just asked everyone he could find two questions: “What do you think about Palin’s daughter being pregnant. What does that tell you about the Gov?” and “What do you think about the ‘scandal’ where she fired her sister’s husband during a custody battle? Is that going to hurt her?” Wolf reduced Gov. Palin down to the “liberal” view of women: as sluts and vengeful bitches. Now that the Republicans have a female candidate, we can see what “liberals” really think of women. I can’t wait for those nude pictures to show up on the Daily Kos.

There are a few liberals speaking out on this neo-misogyny. I heard a short interview on Fox News with Geraldine Ferraro who said that Gov. Palin was the first person of national stature, including Ferraro’s favorite candidate Hillary Clinton, that actually thanked Ferraro for leading the cause of females on the Presidential ticket. Ferraro didn’t outright endorse Palin, but perhaps she will get the guts to do so soon. After being called a racist by the Obama campaign, and now working for Fox News, Ferraro’s future in the Democratic party is over. I think she is holding out hope over hope that the Democratic party will once again become the party that accepts women as leaders.

Gov Palin will have to deal with lots of shit over the next couple of months, but based on the one interview I saw of her, it looks to me like she can take it and dish out a bit of her own. If asked about her family’s reproductive proclivity, I would offer this answer from Jurassic Park: “Life happens.”

Update: I was just watching MSNBC where someone was interviewing Newsweek Senior Editor and Obama cheerleader Jonathan Alter. He was asked if he thought that McCain had thoroughly vetted Gov. Palin, and, of course, he said that McCain hadn’t. Then he offered an example of what goes for journalism today. Mr. Alter said that McCain had not sent someone up to Alaska to vet her. His proof? He said that he assumed this since nobody in the McCain camp said that they had sent someone up there. This is journalism today.