Archive for the ‘Mit Romney’ category

GOP, Bi-Polar?

January 14, 2015

Governor Chris Christie thrilled his supporters yesterday with a rousing “State of the State” speech in Trenton, NJ. Christie’s speech was presidential in tone and like all good politicians, took credit for things that stretch the line of credibility. But the new Christie, many pounds lighter than two years ago, did look and sound like a serious candidate.

Christie took credit for shrinking New Jersey unemployment from over 10% to 6.4%. He did not pause to say the overall US economy improved by even more, or that the high unemployment which he inherited had resulted from the near depression conditions which prevailed following GOP President George W Bush’s term.

Governor Christie also took credit for reducing the rate of real estate property tax increase. Christie pointed to his Administration’s policies of cutting State spending rather than raising taxes. Christie omitted mention that he also stopped property tax rebates which had moderated the increase amount previously experienced. Hmmm.

Christie’s speech no doubt sent Republican strategists running for their Tums bottle. Despite skirting real truth, Christie presented a persuasive example that he should be taken seriously. Hmmm.

So what about Jeb and Mitt… and maybe Scott?

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were taking shots at both Bush and Romney, emphasizing the need for “fresh ideas”. Rick Santorum observed that both Cruz and Paul were “bomb throwers”, and that Marco Rubio lacked sufficient experience to be even a bomb thrower.

Not to be out done, Mike Huckabee gratuitously evaluated Barack and Michelle Obama’s parenting skills (as if that makes any difference) playing right to his bible thumping supporters. Romney and Bush said little except to the people who count… the big money interests. Their message, don’t count me out.

Hillary’s decision to delay her announcement is paying dividends already. The “right wing of the right oriented Republican Party” must make its case for relevance by impugning the “left side of the right oriented Republican Party” instead of beating up on Hillary. Oh what fun.

There is still a long time before the primary and Presidential election seasons. Jeb Bush’s tactic to try and steal the nomination by declaring (actually acting as if he had declared), just as in sail boat racing, is being quickly covered by other potential candidates. Their rhetoric is a hoot.

A martian visitor might rightly draw the conclusion that the GOP is lives within a large conservative bubble and is bipolar. Winning the 2016 election will require the GOP to field a candidate who can appeal to more than this conservative bubble. At this point potential GOP candidates, who step into the center of America’s political spectrum, do so at the own peril.

Christie, Next Great Hope?

November 4, 2009

I can, already, hear the music  beginning to play. “Here is the next President of the United States, Governor Chris Christie”. Is that a dream or a nightmare?

Yesterday, former US Attorney Chris “let me throw my weight around” Christie was elected New Jersey’s next Governor. He won on a relentless stream of negative television ads coupled with a fizzled bid by third party candidate, Chris Daggett . The present Governor, Jon Corzine ran a campaign similar to his past four years, a lot of hot air and not much substance.

New Jersey has arcane legislative processes and a history of “home rule”. This leads to a Belgium like solution to most problems, one for the North, one for the South. On top of that, every turn in the road has a school district, police department, mayor (or equivalent), and lots of elected or appointed officials. The joke is that people wonder why New Jersey has trouble passing its State budget even though it has the highest property taxes in the Country and one of the largest debt obligations.

Christie ran on the same platform as Corzine had four years before. Christie is going to cut spending and waste, create jobs, and lower property taxes. If he can accomplish that, then maybe we should not be surprised to see him become a top candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012 or 2016.

My guess is that he will have no more impact on New Jersey’s situation than past Governors. My guess also is that in the land of the blind, the GOP will not care and may banter his name around even for 2012. Watch out Palin, Romney, Pawlenty, and Huckabee, there’s a new kid in town (and he can fight dirty too).


The Candidate and the Team

August 14, 2008

In this marathon 2008 Presidential primary and national election season, we have been exposed to a lot of candidates and a lot of campaign staffs.  Thinking back the candidates fell into certain catagories.  These catagories were differentiated by how much the average citizen was attracted to the candidates and how their staffs projected them.  Here is my ranking of the candidate catagories.

1. Early in, early out.  This group included Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Ducan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Jim Gilmore.  These candidates announced early, gave a few good speeches, and dropped by the wayside.  They were either one issue candidates or were simply too unknown to stir the hearts of a nation.  Their campaign staffs stuck pretty much to the basics and acted honorably.

2. A little flash, then the dash.  This second group contained John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney  and Fred Thompson.  This group appealed to a national base and chose certain themes that excited narrow interests.  Their campaigns searched for ways to differentiate the candidate but in the end it was the amount of money they had raised that determined their early departure.

3. The glorious twins.  At opposite ends of the political spectrum, but thoroughly committed to their advocacies, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich represented what is truly great about politics.  These two campaigners presented their cases in a straight forward and above board manner.  Interestingly Ron Paul struck a chord across a wide spectrum of voters and did so without slamming any opponent.  (Ralph Nader could take lessons.)  Both candidates simply could not get enough votes.

4. The second best hands.  In this next to last group we find two serious contenders who played to special interests while trying to appeal to everyone.  Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton ran legitimate campaigns that arguably could have won had either of the presumptive candidates stumbled.  In this near “winning” group, however, we see the campaign team departing from who the candidates tried to say they were.  Worse, we saw Mike and Hillary stooping to enlarging the truth about themselves and omitting or misleading the truth about their opponents.  Lost was the discussion of issues and why they would be able to deliver on their promise, and instead it was why they were a better choice than their opponent.

5. The presumptive candidates.  John McCain and Barack Obama are the two left standing.  In full glory we now see the campaigns and we must strain to see the candidates themselves.  The mud has begun to fly and soon it will be impossible to know which one threw first.  Money is still king and the one with the most will have a big advanatage (no surprise).  This time around the Democratic candidate will have plenty of money and could outspend McCain.

Having lots of money is necessary but also comes with its own limitations.  The major problem is who will decide what image is portrayed for each candidate.  You would hope it is the candidate himself but don’t jump too quickly to that conclusion.  This is a great test of the commander in chief skills that Obama and McCain possess.  Can they keep to the facts and proposed policies, or will they resort to fear and slander?

This is also an important time to listen for signs that either candidate will lack the prerequisite skills to be a chief executive and become a disappointment like George W Bush.  Bush looks Presidential in pictures but that is the end of it.  He has been unable to select sensible policies, choses fear and division to distract voters, and has been a complete failure at managing the business of Government.  We must look carefully at both candidates and select the one who will try to unite all Americans, has policies that fit the US now, and who has the stamina and interest in seeing the work of Government finished.

Calculated and Outrageous

February 7, 2008

Earlier today, former Governor Mitt Romney told an audiance of right wingers (super conservatives) that he was suspending his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.  It was a reasonable and calculated decision given the cost and the thin chance that he had to win the nomination given where he is now.  It was reasonable also that withdrawing now could put conservative IOUs in his bank account for the next time he chooses to run (like in 4 years).  (He also stopped short of raiding his childrens inheritances.)

The outrageous part was his explanation of why now.  Rather than just saying, “I am not willing to spend any more of my own money and I can not raise enough from others, so it is the end of the line this time around”.  Instead he said “the country is at war” (outrageous) and he wanted to give time for the Republican Party to unite around John McCain (time to unite is not outrageous).  The second outrageous statement was that unless the Republicans unite around McCain, the country will elect Obama or Clinton who will bring the troops home and America will lose the war.

1. There is no war.  Congress has not declared a “state of war” with anyone.  With regards to our troops in Iraq, the Country is already strongly in favor of ending this mess.

2. The Iraq invasion (police action at the best, illegal and unjust more likely) needs to end for a variety of reasons.  The Country needs to re-examine its “national interests” and chose other less costly (and more effective) methods to achieve them.  The Bush/Cheney war card is a fear based and a ruthless political control method and nothing more.

3. The one thing that will assure either a Clinton or an Obama victory is for John McCain to pick up the Bush banner and defend the last 7+ years.  It will be a landslide victory for the Democrats.

I would normally say the Mitt-ster’s public office career is over except I remember Nixon saying “the press won’t have me to kick around any more” only to have his come back from the dead.

Two Shotgun Weddings?

February 7, 2008

Super Tuesday’s primary results moved the ball forward but certainly did not assure anyone the victory.  John McCain is probably the closest too claiming the nomination but the longer the Republican nominee remains unnamed, the longer the ultra-right have the opportunity to slam McCain and drag his name through the mud.  On the Democratic side, Hillary did very well in view of the swelling support for Obama.  The age, gender, and ethnic preferences became clearer.  But let’s let out minds wander a minute.

1. There are two huge issue that will face the next President.  First will be the sorry state of the economy and the second will be the sorry state of our Federal budget.  Bush is literally in the process of bankrupting the country.  The problem that will be at hand is that all the candidates campaign promises and/or their proposals to jump start the economy will take money (most likely borrowings) on top of an already debt ridden mess.  Who can address that as President?

2. Hillary Clinton, in exit polls, consistantly rates higher than Barack in the catagory “who is ready to be commander in chief on day 1”.  John McCain scores the same on the Republican side.

3. So it might make sense to anoint those two as the Presidential nominees and get on with the selection process.  But Mitt, Mike, and Barack have a quarrel with that approach.  The elegant solution is for McCain to choose Huckabee as his running mate and Hillary to choose Barack.  Again, not so quickly, why would Mike and Barack agree?

4. For Huckabee, it is that way or the highway.  His base, although valuable to McCain, is too small to support a Presidential campaign.  For Barack, it must be a “sealed in blood” promise of the top spot in the future and a significant role in the Clinton Administration.

There is still a distance to go before the nominees are clear.  There is always a chance for a miss-step too.  Both McCain and Clinton are the most at risk.  McCain can speak his mind and most all American will not care, but the ultra-right will.  Hillary must come to grips that she can not discredit Barack and get away with it.  Even if her accusation was true, the Obama supporter does not want to hear it.  All that will result is further disillusionment and a much less robust Presidential campaign if she does win the nomination.

The Elephant (Pun) in the Room

February 5, 2008

The 2008 Presidential primary campaigns began months ago with calls such as, “9/11”, “I was for the surge first”, “I am more conservative than anyone else”, “I was against the war and I am going to bring the troops home”, “my healthcare proposal is universal and yours is not”, and “I am the agent of change, and you’re not”.  Then all of a sudden it became the “economy stupid”!  Today I am wondering whether all the candidates should be kicked off the stage and both Parties (including independents) asked to propose new ones?

The most important issue surfaced yesterday when our “chief executive”, President George W Bush sent forward his budget proposal.  The budget calls for $3.1 trillion in expendatures with a $ 400 million deficit.  The budget does not contain the necessary funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on top of that!  If this was the work of a Fortune 500 CEO he would be summarly shown the door.  Heres are some implications:

1. The additional war spending will be somewhere between $ 150 and $ 250 billion, so the actual amount needed to be borrowed will be about $ 600 billion.  The interest on this, say $ 30 billion will be added back into the expendatures either causing more borrowing or displacing some other expendature.  Since the largest buyer of US debt is currently China, you can see further complication in our foreign policies.

2. Since Bush took office in 2001, he has presided over an unbalanced budget each year thanks largely to a huge tax reduction and a huge increase in spending associated with the unnecessary war in Iraq.  Our national debt has risen from $ 4 trillion to over $ 9 trillion and it is still rising.  Do you still have questions why the dollar has weakened over 40% against the euro?  A weakened dollar is the first step to inflation and robs everyone of the value of their savings.

3. The rhetoric will undoubtably focus on the “entitlement” programs and that they are the root of all evil.  While it is true that the projected cost of these programs is very worrisome, simply cutting them is not the answer.

  • The budget is unbalanced today because Bush drove through too large a tax reduction and did not find a way to fund the unneeded war other than through borrowing.  This imbalance needs to be fixed first.
  • Medicare is part of the much larger healthcare issue and a much grander solution is necessary.  Any solution, however, will carry with it the requirement to pay for it.  The Government will almost assuredly have a role to underwrite some of the cost (like for those who simply can not afford to pay) and to ensure that healthcare costs are kept to the lowest feasible amount.

The budget elephant casts a whole new light on the candidates and their rhetoric up to this time.  Doing away with the IRS, or being tough with Iran, or bringing the country together, or waving a hand and saying my 35 years of experience will help me solve this problem are not the type of answers we need.

The Bush Administration has failed the Country thoroughly and there is no reason to believe Bush look-a-likes will do any better.  Hillary and Barack need to acknowledge the problem and admit that their programs for universal healthcare will have to wait and be part of a total program to repair the finances of our Country.  They need to tap the best of the best financial minds in our Country and augment those efforts with foreign and domestic policies that are compatible and realistic.

Some parts of the program could be:

  • The Iraq War costs must be dramatically reduced over the next two years to $ 50 billion or less.
  • The Defense Department budget of over $ 500 billion and about 5% of our GDP should be reduced to about 4% (it was 3% in 2000 when Bush became President).
  • The Bush tax cuts must not be renewed and therefore tax revenues will increase.
  • There should be an overall fundamental plan to stimulate economic growth through encouragement of science and rebuilding the infrastructure.  We need a healthy economy to generate even more tax revenue.
  • There should be a centralized effort to stimulate export business in order to balance our trade accounts and bring stability to our money supply.

Can you imagine any of the candidates finding a sound bite to summarize this?  Never the less, voters must recognize that our Country’s basic finances have been driven onto the rocks by the Bush Administration, and regardless of which Party is elected, the Country’s financial house will need fixing first.

The Eve Before

February 4, 2008

Tomorrow is “Super Tuesday” when an almost sensible event will take place.  It is a primary event for both Republicans and Democrats with between 40-50% of the delegates being selected.  What would make it fully sensible would be if it were the single date for all the delegates.  ( I could expand and suggest a finite and much shorter period for primary electioneering, say 3 months, and then the vote taken.  There could be 1 more month of politicking and then there would be the general election.  But that is not our system and today’s post is not about campaign reform anyways).

On the eve, I would like to summarize how I see the candidates.

1. Barack Obama

  • Inspirational, provider of hope in and for the future, relatively free of the “politician” label.
  • Charming, uniting, projects a sense of caring.
  • Untested, commander in chief role unproven.
  • Question: how will he lead if Republicans decide not to play ball?
  • Positives: he will not be a George W Bush, he will not tolerate a Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, there will be no Abu Ghraib on his watch, and he will clearly demonstrate more understanding and fairness than Bush.

2. Hillary Clinton

  • Experienced and a street fighter, can take and dish back any crap thrown by Republicans or any other hate group, won’t be deterred by this type of slim.
  • Safe choice but strongly interested in a second term and therefore susceptible to all sorts of political pressure, will most likely look to polls for deciding tough issues.
  • Genuinely for the rights of all and improving the opportunities for the disadvantaged.
  • Likely to surround herself with a blue ribbon panel of experts and select a first rate cabinet.  Government will be charged to work for all Americans.
  • Has one foot in the old world of politics and one (as a woman) in the new world.
  • Question: can she overcome the high negative approval among voters in order to become the next President?
  • Positives: Very presidential in appearance, stamina, and energy.  She is smart, intelligent and capable of working with even smarter people.  She will not be a George W Bush nor tolerate a Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.  Depending upon your view, she is more realistic and cynical of other world leaders than Barack.

3. John McCain

  • Seasoned, strong willed, experienced.
  • Confident, forceful, strong in stamina
  • Potentially conflicted with personal instincts and the reality of compromises he has made 
  • Potentially a twin of Bush with regard to stubbonness (Bush was faith based and needed no data, McCain is simply certain of his ideas and may miss the value of opposing views
  • His strong support for George W Bush is a liability and makes one wonder if there could be another Dick Cheney or another pre-emptive war.
  • Question: Can John unite enough Republicans and attract enough independents and dissatisfied Democrats to win?
  • Strengths: Statesman-like and healthy in appearance, convincing in his delivery that he is not swayed by special interests, reputation of being a maverick and by inference, against status quo.

4. Mitt Romney

  • Efficient, organized, business-like
  • Energetic, healthy looking, purposeful
  • Fully compromised with his past performance and the pandering he has chosen to do in order to win the nomination.  Which Mitt Romney will show up if elected President is unknown.
  • Probably the most qualified executive of all the candidates but it is still unclear whether he can mix the necessary political skills in with his executive skills to become a great President.
  • Unlikely to see a repeat of Abu Ghraib but he has said he would build another Guantanamo… worrisome.
  • Question: Can Mitt ever overcome the plastic appearance of his personality and come across as a competent human being?
  • Strengths: Competent, independent, hard working, thorough, reality based, and from outside the current establishment.  Mitt would not have done what George W Bush did with respect to Iraq (but it is not clear what he will do to right these wrongs).  Despite his weaknesses, Mitt is probably the best compromise of the Republican candidates given their stated positions.

5. Mike Huckabee

  • Smooth, inspirational (like a preacher), down to earth, and projects a feeling of compasion.
  • Experienced government executive, knowledgeable on domestic matters, able to make political compromises across party lines.
  • Strongly voiced religious views provide a reason to worry whether he can govern others who do not hold his views, or will he try to use his office to propagate his religious views?
  • Worrisome is anyone who holds that “intelligent design” is a viable idea and should be taught in public schools’ science classes.
  • Question: Does Mike have enough support to be more than a spoiler at this point?
  • Strengths: Articulate on domestic issues, especially to the common person.  He projects the image of “what you see is what you get”.  Would not have gotten us into Iraq nor promoted a tone at the top that lead to Abu Ghraib.  

In summary, it looks to me like either Hillary or Barack would offer the best chance to bring the US back to the center, and either would be a reasonable chance for the Presidency.  John McCain would right many of the wrongs of the Bush Administration since they conflict with McCain’s view of right and wrong.  It is unclear whether McCain will bring his own Pandora’s Box since he is a pro-military man.  Mitt would make an acceptable President and would try hard to govern.  He is likely not to be acceptable to enough of the Republican establishment.  Mike will do well in the bible belt and no further.

We shall see who emerges after this primary and whether there is a clear cut leader.  Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s primary, the candidates will be the same people I have tried to described and ultimately, we will have to decide which one will become President.  Stay tuned for the remaining rounds of mud slinging.

The Rising Tide

February 3, 2008

The upcoming election will be a very important one.  These words are frequently used to dramatize a general election and prod apathetic voters into taking part.  But in 2008, it is more important than ever.  Here’s why.

1. Arguably 2004 was the most important election to that date when the Country had a chance to repudiate a failed Presidency and did not.  Voters did turn out in record numbers but somehow John Kerry found a way to lose.  The need for a change, the need to wipe clean the slime and mud that Bush and friends had heaped upon the USA, and the folly of the first four years were abundantly clear.  The question voters had to weigh was “is Kerry the answer?”  Narrowly the voters chose to stay with the same broken horse they did not elect in 2000.

2. John Kerry looked old and talked like he was an insider, a member of the Skull and Bones or some other secret society that all the well off college students join before they take up big jobs in Government.  But Kerry was someone else and this contradiction made him look less than genuine.

3. Mike Huckabee speaks very smoothly and often makes sense.  There is, however, that sound of a preacher and this is a loud signal to voters to watch out.  Mitt Romney is stiff and plastic-like and although he speaks credibly on most all issues, he tends to be believable only in person.  John McCain has been trying to regain his image of an independent thinker that propelled his candadacy in 2000.  It is now 2008 and he has gone soft on campaign reform, kissed too many back sides of “for profit” religious leaders, and the greatest sin of all, he has resolutely backed George W Bush for reasons one can only assume are calculated reasons, namely getting the 2008 nomination.

In summary, all the Republican candidates will have a bit of the John Kerry factor with Independent and Democratic voters this year.  In a word, the do not represent change nor do they represent hope for the future.  But what will the Democrats put forward?

4. Hillary Clinton has been her own worst enemy during the campaign.  First she presented herself as the anointed candidate.  Then she turn to mud and slim to attack her opponents.  Finally she showed a soft and sensitive side, and was rewarded with a victory in New Hampshire.  There should be a message here.  Hillary is clearly qualified and will represent a change from the failed policies of George W Bush.  Her election would be a beacon of hope for all women.  If that was all there was, the question of who will be the next President would be clear.

5. Barack Obama, however, is the new and genuine looking candidate that brings excitement unseen since John F Kennedy’s election in 1960.  Barack’s demeanor speaks quiet confidence.  He is painted in different colors than the experienced politicians.  He is and looks honest and concerned about America’s future.  He projects the image of someone who would not use fear to herd the American public one way or the other.  He looks like someone who can build a coalition and make progress.  He looks like he could be the next President of this divided country.

The irony of the Democratic dilemma is that a very qualified and inspiring female candidate will possibly be denied the nomination because a more charismatic candidate has emerged.  From my perspective, either Barack or Hillary would be a far more centrist President than George W Bush or any of the current Republican candidates.  No one knows what awaits the next President in terms of surprise events.  I am confident, however, that the Republican record of ignoring green house gas effects, treating gays and lesbians as less than human, and demonizing undocumented workers (read Mexicans) are totally unrelated to making America greater and better prepared to deal with the unknows that will arise in the next Administration.  This time it should be the Democrat’s turn.

“Commonwealth”, The Role of Government

February 2, 2008

Much of the divide between Democrats and Republicans revolves around the proper role of Government.  Republicans call out for lower taxes and less Government while historically, Democrats propose new Government activities (read more government employees) to solve social needs or to right injustices.  What is the basis for this dichotomy?

1. I have observed that many people who are fortunate to earn or inherit a lot of money simply do not like to share it.  These people think taxation is a method to separate them from their money and they do not like that idea.  A progressive tax makes these people especially angry and they look for every chance to support tax reductions.

2. Many people who do not earn much money and/or do not have any wealth think that they have a right and should be able to enjoy certain “entitlements” such as free education, free (or very low cost) healthcare, government support for lower cost housing options, retirement benefits (called social security), as well as all the normal things like national security, great parks and recreation facilities, safe drinking water and air polution protection, and the ability to navigate through the myriad of Government agencies and find what it is that they are looking for. 

3. This does not mean that all the rich people are Republicans and want no Government help, or all the poor people are Democrats and do not realize that they have also a responsibility to eventually pay taxes.  Many Republican farmers are quite happy asking for and taking Government subsidies, and still vote to lower taxes so they can keep more for themselves.  In the same breath, there are rich people who feel Government is necessary to solve the “big problems” that the poor especially feel. These people also see a role for Government in building and maintaining the “commonwealth”.  Projects such as road construction, habor development, grants for higher education or specialized research, and a strong and effective military are all efforts that enable everyone else to pursue a living and grow prosperous on their own merits.

4. Once upon a time, Republicans were know as the more “fiscally responsible” party while the Democrats inherited the label of “tax and spend”.  The past 7 years has put a new view on that.  The Bush Administration has run up huge deficits in all 7 years by simply taxing less and spending more.  In addition, and shamefully, they have also increased the National Debt by about $1 trillion (with a T) by asking no American to step up and help finance the Iraq War.  This is shameful and dangerous since our children and their children will have to pay it back, and the debt’s cost (interest) is taking a much larger share of our annual budget.  That will make it harder to balance any future budget.  Most shameful of all is the recognition that the Bush years have not increased the Country’s “commonwealth” although most of his friends have done quite well. 

5. This performance by the Regan and Bush Administrations indicate that the Republicans are really the party of greed if you measure the rank and file members by who they elect.  If you judge Democrats by the Clinton years, they are the party of progressive ideas and actions that raised all boats (rich and poor).  But there is something missing.

6. No one (Republican or Democrat) seems interested in seeing that the Government Agencies we do have run well.  No one seems interested in improving the efficiency or effectiveness of entitlement programs so that they deliver their intended purpose at a lower unit cost each year.  No one seems interested in making Government easy to use and pleasant to deal with.  Why spend more if it were possible you could get more from what you already have.

7. The notion of connecting “productivity” with “commonwealth” seems to be missing in the discussions.  When effective Government programs are executed, and for example, improved rivers, roads, and airways result, everyone is given a means to do better.  Businessmen who otherwise object to paying taxes, are being enabled by the very same Government in making their fortunes.  Investment in the commonwealth is an investment for everyone.  The question is where does the money come from that is used to invest in these programs?  It must come from taxes and fees and the duty of Government is to “invest” this money wisely. 

The 2008 Presidential candidates need to speak to the issues of a balanced budget, debt reduction, and improved Government services before we discuss “universal healthcare”.  Fixing our healthcare disgrace, creating energy independence, and reviving the pasion for math and science are essential programs for our future but they can not be built upon a set of Government programs that run inefficiently or a budget that is consistently unbalanced and requires the Nation to increase the debt each year.  We simply can not afford to keep acting as we have for the past 7 years.  If we do, we will doom the US to second class status like all the other past great powers.

The path to a sensible future will include fair taxation for all, improved efficiency of all Government Agencies, a commitment to Government’s role as everyone’s ally, and all new spending  targeted at improving the commonwealth.  Then the Government can get out of the way of American free enterprise and watch the country grow again.

War and The Election

February 1, 2008

You can almost see it coming.  If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee and the Party bosses decide to work for him, the War in Iraq needs to be hot and hot enough to bring fear to most Americans.  I would hate to think that the Bush Administration would stoop to this ultimate low in order to keep the White House Republican, but events could independently bring about the same results.

This morning there were reports of shelling into Basra after many months of relative calm.  Also being reported in Baghdad were two suicide bombings, each accounting for about 50 people, and each carried out by female radicals.  It is unclear to me how the surge could eleminate this type of attack and so I would expect more of them in the months ahead.  These attacks, which were on other Iraqis, could just as easily be against American soldiers and it is problematic whether the surge could be effective in preventing this irrational behavior.

President Bush said also yesterday that he would not bring the troops home (reduction in troop strength to be clear) if in doing so violence increased.  I wonder about:

1. Will keeping the troop levels at 130,000 or higher be an admission that the surge was not effective and only helped reduce violence on the short term?

2. Will the President move General Patreaus to become the top NATO General before the redeveloping mess in Iraq can spoil his record?

3. Will anyone figure out a strategy to extracate the US of this Vietnam-like quagmire in Iraq and bring focus on where it needs to be – Afghanistan.

4. Will Congress bring impeachment charges against the President and Vice President?  (While this is unlikely, it would serve the country well to thoroughly review the basis that the President can commit the country to a full scale war, and even worse, to do it without any coherent set of policies to get out).

5. Will anyone figure out that the mess in Iraq and the mess with the Israelis and Palestinians are related?  Will anyone figure out that as long as the US maintains a large Army in Iraq there will always be problems with Iran, and worse, our arguments for keeping Iran nuclear weapon free will have little morale strength.

I would like to think that all the major candidates can see the futile effort that Bush and Cheney have gotten us into.  I would also hope they would avoid using the fear card and speak straight forwardly about what needs to be done to put a lid on Iraq and properly focus on Afghanistan.  Hillary and Barack who are both already on record to bring the troops home, need to say more.  They need to expand the discussion to

1. Disavowing the policy of pre-emptive aggression (maybe “hot pursuit” in some cases is ok).

2. Close Guantanamo and return to strict adherence to the Geneva Convention

3. Alter the mission of US Forces in Iraq to training and reaction forces to attacks by armed insurgents.  This should be done while withdrawing the bulk of the troops over the next 18 to 24 months.

4. Make clear to the Iraqi Government and the key neighbors (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran) that the US will pull out all troops within 24 months if there is not a stable functioning Iraqi Government, then what happens then will be their problem.  The US will ensure

  • Israeli’s right to exist
  • The Arabian Seas shipping lanes are free and open
  • There are no radical training grounds allowed to operate freely in any Middle East country (like existed under the Taliban).

Whatever the solution to this mess, we can be sure it will not come from an Administration torn with conflict of interest.  The Bush and Cheney gravy train for their supporters and ideologs is incapable of seeing reality and equally unable to propose solutions to this difficult situation (which never needed to exisit).