I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Electoral College

The time has come to speak of cabbages and kings and the EC (Electoral College.)

Whenever we have an election that looks close the TV babblers start talking about the EC and what happens if the EC vote differs from the popular vote.  During the coverage of the close 2000 election, Tim Russert of NBC said that if they differed then the election “goes to the House of Representatives”.  That is not correct.  (If no one gets a majority in the EC, then the president is chosen by the House of Representatives from among the top three finishers.  Note:  Each state gets one vote in that election.)  

If you don't like the Electoral College you might try to revive the Bayh Celler Amendment (see the Wiki article above) which is a legal way to change it.  A group called National Popular Vote has proposed a back door attempt to change it. That method would be a snake pit of bad possibilities. 

 So what does happen if the EC vote differs from the popular vote?

Nothing, except the TV babblers get a talking point and legions of people commit the stasis fallacy.  The stasis fallacy is the following logical error:  Change the rules of an activity and then expect that the behavior of the participants in that activity will remain the same as it was before the rule change.  So if Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral vote, you will hear people saying: If we used popular vote then Romney would have won (or Gore would have won in 2000).  This is of course absurd because IF we were using the popular vote as the determining vote, THEN there wouldn’t be any such thing as a battleground state and the candidates would campaign a whole lot differently and thereby change the popular vote.

Question: What do you call a man who loses the popular vote and wins the electoral college vote?

Answer:  Mr. President

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All the news that fits

Astounding!!  The New York Times has endorsed --- Barack Obama!!!

It is not true that they have never endorsed a Republican.  They endorsed Abraham Lincoln.  Seriously they also endorsed some other republicans, but none since Ike in 1956.  That means that their unbiased and impartial judgment has, 14 times in a row, led them to endorse the Democrat.  Must be some kind of statistical anomaly.

Surprises on Election Day? Inaccurate Polls.

This article gives some reasons why current polling of registered/likely voters might not be as accurate as in the past.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Canadian Solution

Over just a few years, between 1995 and 1998, Canada transformed a $32 billion federal deficit, equivalent to 4 percent of its gross domestic product, into a $2.5 billion surplus. This achievement was followed by a full decade of surplus budgets, with debt, tax and poverty rates all falling as growth, investment and employment rose.

"The deficit is not an invention of ideology, but a fact of arithmetic."  Paul Martin, Canadian Federal Finance minister in the 1990s.

Campaign humor

Jay Leno to Obama: "What's this thing with Trump and you? It's like me and Letterman. I don't get it."
Obama: "This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya."

Jay Leno Halloween Costume Idea: ‘Wear a Re-elect Obama Button - Go As a Journalist'

Friday, October 26, 2012

politics(?) to laugh and cry for

Try these two.    Lena Dunham                   "dishonest"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

voting time

I was tempted to title this:  Whatcha gonna do, Leroy?

The grades on the sections were:

                              Domestic               Foreign Policy                 Miscellaneous
Obama                   B                            B+                                   D

Romney                 C                            C                                      B

So that is very close and it looks like Obama gets the nod. 

Of course it is not that simple.  I could assign an importance number to each of the variables and get a sort of “mini Electoral College” vote, but I won’t.

The five most important issues for me are:

1.   Fiscal policy
2.   Obama’s foreign policy
3.   Healthcare
4.   Courts                        and
5.   Immigration

In that order.

Both of them will have to deal with 1 and 5 and I don’t see much hope that I will like the result in either case.
2 and 3 go to Obama and
4 goes to Romney.

So as Jimmy Fallon said in his imitation of James Taylor:  "I guess I'll vote for Obama one more time again."

It makes me sad in a way because Obama irritates me on a number of things.  (see the earlier notes on the campaign)  If I had to reduce the irritation to one word it would be "arrogance".

post decision note:  I heard today that Obama says his first focus in the second term will be a grand compromise on the debt and secondly on a comprehensive immigration policy.
A little bonus from my point of view.

PS  It is barely possible that I would change.

PPS  If Romney wins I will be back with a post about silver linings.

PPPS  I sometimes vote "strategically", that is for someone less than my first choice.  For example I leaned toward Reagan in 1984, but I knew that he was going to win big, so I voted for Mondale.  Why?  Because when these guys win big it goes to their head.

bat guano crazy

There are a couple of Republican Senatorial Candidates that are giving their .."fill in the blank"... a bad name.

Check out Indiana's Richard Mourdock who has joined Missouri's Todd Akin as the two people most likely to cause the Republican party trouble on Nov. 6.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

In the last debate Romney protested that he always supported government guarantees for post bankrupt auto companies.  Obama said, "... you did not say that you would provide government help."

Romney's presentation in that exchange that led me to suggest in "The last debate" here on Oct. 22  that he looked real bad there, in part because I had bought into the idea that what he was saying was not true.  

The following is an excerpt from Romney's op ed in the NYT on Nov 18, 2008.

But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost.
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk. 

This proposal is more or less what Obama did (except that I think Obama provided some extra government payments to the unions which would not have been possible with a regular bankruptcy.)

So apparently Romney was right and Obama was wrong.

Or if I were to mimic Obama's current linguistic style:  Romney was right and Obama lied.

PS The name of this post widely reported in the media as a quote from Romney is not a quote from Romney.
The fair minded editors at the Times  wrote the headline.  

Campaign 2012 Romney Miscellaneous

Social issues – I disagree with him on most of this stuff, but I do not expect he would move on that because it would be too disruptive and the money problems are too pressing. For example I am “OK with” Roe v Wade, but I wish it had been argued on the basis of the 9th amendment rather than fairy dust. 

Immigration – I supported “self deportation” before Romney named it.  It simply means enforcing the law that requires legal status in the country to work here.  This would impel those who are here and could not work here to leave.

Education – I lean his way on this.  I would like to see the Federal Government’s involvement in K-12 education be more in the area o f measuring how well the states are doing rather than direct involvement. 

The Court is the area in which I am most conservative and would therefore agree more with Romney.  I do not agree with the system of constitutional interpretation preferred by Obama which can be summarized as: “If it feels good, then I can find it in the living Constitution (or close enough for government work.)”  It is the system that gave us Dred Scott and Plessy-Ferguson.  It is currently very fashionable with liberals and they use it to further their political objectives.  They either don’t know or don’t care that in the past that same system has been used to (more or less) claim that the Constitution says that our economic system must be capitalism.  It should be noted that, in the future, that system could be used, for example, to declare that the Constitution “says” human life begins at conception and therefore all abortions are murder.  I believe that a SCOTUS justice should be tethered to something and I know of nothing more appropriate than a reasonable interpretation of what the constitution says.  So I will probably be unhappy with Obama’s selections for the SCOTUS.

So in this area he gets about a B from me on policy here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The last debate

I think that Obama looked a little better.
But Romney achieved his primary objective of looking credible and not dangerous.  Therefore the viewers can "quit worrying about what he might do overseas and focus on who they want for domestic issues".

You can go to this fact check by the National Journal whose credibility I do not know but it seemed pretty reasonable.

Maybe I imagined the following because no TV people (that I saw-corrected on10-23)mentioned it.  At about 80 minutes into the debate, Romney was discussing what he had really said about the auto bailout.  There seemed to be a certain desperation in his voice and face which was a bit startling.  I took that to reflect the importance of that question to Ohio voters.  However, when I went back to look at it again it did not look so noticeable and the above mentioned fact checkers did not call him for what he was saying.

MSNBC tells me that Romney cannot be relied on to do what he says he will do.
Both candidates are pandering like crazy to the middle class.
Both candidates are guaranteeing that there will be no tax increases for the middle class.
I believe that there must be a tax on the middle class.
Does this mean that I should vote for Romney?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The politics of Benghazi

I believe the President was concerned that the terrorist attack on Benghazi would be seen a harbinger of the collapse of his middle eastern foreign policy.  That is why for two weeks his administration conducted a media campaign to convince us that it was a demonstration that got out of hand and not an organized activity.  Being more clever than most he also made a statement the day after which minimized any mention of terrorism and still included some indirect references that could be used, if needed, to claim that he had said all along that it was an act of terror.  Romney’s ineptness and Candy’s expansion of her role from moderator to active participant in the second debate made that work out for the President temporarily.

Perhaps on Monday we will delve into the broader issues centering on the fact that it was an organized terrorist attack.  I think there are two.

First is the question of whether there was appropriate security.  It appears not.  Biden’s defense in his debate with Ryan was that Ryan had supported a $300 million reduction in funding for Foreign Service Security.  This is a silly argument.  How much they had was not the problem.  The problem was where it was placed and that is a presidential responsibility.

Second is that the entire Obama policy for that part of the world is brought into question.  Whether it should or not it will certainly be part of the campaign. 

I do not believe that the murder of the Libyan Ambassador and others is a particularly important piece of evidence that our current middle eastern policy has failed.  (I hope not.)  However, I believe that the Obama administration thought that it was very important in that regard and that it had major political implications.  To blunt the impact of those political considerations is the reason that they have concealed evidence of the nature of that attack in the hopes of convincing the public that it was only a minor incident that grew out of a demonstration. 

As usual the attempt to cover it up is going to be worse for them than the event itself.  

PS  This was talked about by Tom and Rob in comments on the post on Oct 18.

Candy Crowley


I find it depressing that only one person that I know on the left thinks that Crowley's interjection of herself into the debate was inappropriate.

Are there others out there?

Campaign 2012 Romney Foreign Policy

Romney  - foreign policy

Recall that: What I hope will be characteristic of our foreign policy goes something like this:
1. Be strong where US security is involved.
2. Be reluctant to interfere inside other countries even “for their benefit.” Use all other available means first.
3. If you must go into another country, then go in carefully and get a lot of other countries to go with you so that it is (and appears to be) a world action.
4. Lay the groundwork for reducing the military budget (I would hope to about 3 % of GDP) AND reducing the military mission by a concomitant amount.
5. Agree with Walter Lippman’s belief that: "Foreign Policy is bringing into balance the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power, with a comfortable margin of power in reserve."

So what would I expect Romney to do vis a vis this program?

1.  Very good.
2.  I think he would be more willing to interfere than I would like.
3.  Probably more unilateral than I would like.
4.  It sounds like a no here.  Romney does not sound like someone who is willing to reduce our role in the world, or the role of our military and (concomitantly) their budget.
5.  I do believe that Romney indicates that he is more alarmed by our fiscal situation than Obama indicates that he is (the difference of roles – incumbent v challenger – may account for that) and that is very positive.  A strong economy and rational limitation on what it can provide to support our foreign policy are essential to meeting Lippman’s description.

The Afghanistan war is going to be very difficult for any president.

In summary I expect that Romney would offer a very traditional foreign policy which I would not like as much as what I think Obama’s policy is.

Probably give him a C.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Electoral despair

Maybe I'll vote for the Libertarian Party.
Two examples - one from each side.  (Including Obama's full text from the Rose Garden.)

 A.   In 2008 the price of gas went down below $2 where it stayed until after Obama came in.  Therefore Gov Romney can, (and did) on some technical ground, say the president's energy program isn't working because the price of gas is much higher than when he came in.  Of course the price of gas now is about what it was five or six years ago, about $4 a gallon. It was only down because of the great recession which began before Obama came in.

Two comments about this.
1.  I thought Romney should have been embarrassed to make that argument.
2.  However, technically it is true what he said, but Candy Crowley did not abandon her role as moderator and point out to the president that Romney was right about gas prices.

B.  Later Romney said that the president did not call the attack on the Benghazi Consulate an "act of terror" until 14 days after the event.
Obama said that he did call it an "act of terror".  And Candy Crowley then jumped into the debate and said
 said to Romney: "I -  he did in fact sir"

Well not exactly.

She was discussing in the next day on CNN where she works.    She vehemently claimed that she had not backtracked on her claim about what she said.  She then described what she had confirmed the president as having said as: including the word "terror"; or "acts of terror"; he did not say "act of terror", but rather "these acts of terror".

Actually what he said was "No acts of terror will ..."  and he did not explicitly call it a terrorist attack although there were several opportunities to use those words.

It appears to me that Ms. Crowley had something that was, at best, an impressionistic recollection of what the president said.  Certainly not enough to support her in the role of fact checker.  But that didn't stop her from abandoning her role as moderator and stepping up to defend her president.

As I said before, if Romney expects to be treated fairly by the press, then he is not smart enough to be president.

This is the full text.  The tone is quite different from what one sees in the excerpts at, for example, Media Matters. WB

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya
Rose Garden  Taken from the White House webpage.

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It's especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney v Obama - 2

The major post debate polls are showing most debate watchers think President Obama was
the winner — and a typical finding comes in the CNN post-debate poll of registered voters who actually watched the debate.

They were 33 percent Democratic and 33 percent Republican — which means it’s weighted a bit to include about 8 percent more Republicans than the voting population as a whole.

Bottom line: by 46-39 percent, the CNN.com poll respondents called Obama the winner. But asked who did the debate make you more likely to vote for, the respondents were tied between Romney and Obama, 25-25 percent.

Still, Romney won in other key areas:
*On who would better handle the economy: 58 percent Romney; 40 percent Obama.
*On who would better handle health care: 49 percent Romney; 46 percent Obama
*On taxes: 51 percent Romney; 44 percent Obama
*On who is a stronger leader: 49 percent Romney; 46 percent Obama
*On who is more likeable: 47 percent Obama: 41 percent Romney
*On who cares more about your life: 44 percent Obama; 40 percent Romney
*On who answered more directly: 45 percent Romney; 43 percent Obama

CANDY CROWLEY, debate moderator, after the debate: You know, again, I heard the president's speech at the time. I sort of reread a lot of stuff about Libya because I knew we'd probably get a Libya question, so I kind of wanted to be up on it. So we knew that the president had said, you know, 'these acts of terror won't stand,' or whatever the whole quote was.

I think actually, you know, because right after that, I did turn to Romney and said you were totally correct but they spent two weeks telling us that this was about a tape and that there was this riot outside of the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn't. So he was right in the main, I just think that he picked the wrong word.

WB:  But while the debate was going on she confirmed Obama's version.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


 Angelina Jolie has written a moving article We All Are Malala about the 14 year old girl that the Pakistani Taliban almost murdered because she advocates education for girl children.

No, that is not a typo.  In the eyes of the Taliban her advocacy of education for girls is a capital crime and their rules call for her to be killed without trial.  Their first attempt failed, they have vowed to try again.

There is a bit of good news in this story.
The president of Pakistan has denounced their actions.
The people of Pakistan seem to be quite upset.
The Taliban has threatened the press because they are not getting the treatment in the press that they want.

However, my googling of "denouncing the Taliban over Malala" does not produce a list of Muslim religious leaders who are denouncing this act.

Why are there no religious leaders of the "1.5 billion peace loving Muslims" who are speaking out on this?
Isn't this an opportunity for them to finally lead the 1.5 billion against this sort of thing?
Or do they actually support the Taliban?
Or perhaps they are opposed but, for some unutterable reason, are just refusing to speak out?

Campaign 2012 Romney Domestically

In domestic policy the main thing that I want is fiscal responsibility and the second thing is that I want for the ACA to have the chance to evolve into NHI (= national health insurance.)  See YA NHI1 and YA NHI2 .
I believe that Romney is clearly for the first and strongly against the latter.   So that is huge plus and a big minus.

For the sake of argument, I will accept his clear statement that his tax rate cutting proposal will not raise taxes on the (much pandered to) middle class and would not lower the taxes of the wealthy, and that he can find the deductions to match up with the desired rate cut to obtain a revenue neutral program (I’ve seen credible things both ways on that.)  Now, why did we do that in the first place?  It was going to inspire the “job creators” to spend their money on growth.  But if the program is revenue neutral, then why would they change their behavior?  (Maybe they could gain income from the rate cut and lose income from not getting a deduction on his second home.  Perhaps this would move him to sell the second home and put the extra money into economic activity.)  It sounds very much like the standard Republican story about cutting tax rates and the pixie dust will “fix whatever ails you.”

On the job creating front he is vehemently opposed to “stimulus spending” and I am not a fanatic about it either, but I believe it has a place as I have noted before:  [I too am a national debt worrier.  But there are limits.  Scheduled, short term debt is different.  More and more people are pointing out that our unhappy economy has a bright spot:  although we have high unemployment, and major infrastructure needs it is also true that the Fed. Govt. can borrow for 10 years at less than 2%.  When you get a silver lining, take it!  We could borrow and spend a trillion dollars, earmark Obama’s tax on the rich (or something else) to pay it back over ten years. You can do that for a total interest cost of 11% of the loan.  I do not think Romney would take advantage of that.]

I blame the Republicans for the profligacy of continuing the “Bush tax cuts” (and other things), the Democrats for the subprime mortgage fiasco which the government financed and which has not yet been unwound, and both of them for constructing a new financial system which also includes entities which are too big to fail.   They have not fixed any of these things.  (Capitalism without failure is an oxymoron.  If a company is too big to fail it is too big to exist.  Break it up.)

In a president I am not looking for a buddy or someone to have a beer margarita with.  So the personality thing doesn’t bother me.  In fact, I don’t want someone who is some kind of regular guy.  I want somebody who is a hell of a lot smarter than a regular guy.  However, I do worry about Romney’s attitude towards the people, as in the 47% debacle. 

I believe that the fiscal problem is very serious.  Not just the “fiscal cliff” that you hear about on TV from those who don’t know the difference between the debt and the deficit.  I mean the long term short fall.   The public finally thinks that it is a problem.  I am concerned that Romney sees the public opinion as an opportunity to cut the size of government.  In the long term I do not believe that those who are committed to major reductions of government services and spending can win.  If they achieve their cuts, then as soon as the people feel the pain those guys will be removed from office.  I do still have hope that someone will someday advocate that we a) have the safety net that we want and b) recognize the need to pay for it.
We the people have been borrowing and spending all of this money, not just in the recession, we have been doing this for years.  Who is doing it:  the “great middle class.”  That is the POWER in this country.  Who will speak truth to POWER? The politicians have been pandering to that POWER.  Listen to how often all of them talk about how they are going to protect the great middle class.  It is a constant pandering and it is hard for us to hear because they are pandering to US. 

The left wants a larger government.  An honest liberal will tell me (or at least give me a signal) that to achieve his vision (with fiscal responsibility) we will need serious tax increases on the middle class (as well as the rich).  I have not heard that from Obama.  In fact what I have been hearing from Obama is a litany of promises to maintain all of the goodies that the various groups get from the government.

The right wants a smaller government. An honest conservative will tell me (or at least give me a signal) that to achieve his vision (with fiscal responsibility) we will need to cut some programs that are dear to my middle class heart and pocketbook.  I have heard that from Romney’s first choice: Paul Ryan.

I will give him a C.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What happened to Obama?

I have a friend who sent the following interesting question:

 I wondered why Obama was not more aggressive in that debate.
Which of the following expresses your view?
A) Some people say he was too lazy to prepare.
B) He was preoccupied with running the affairs of state.
C) He was mentally bushed.
D) It was his strategy .
E) None of the above.

I think it was D, his strategy.
Whatever one might think of him, he is not that dumb, to not be more aggressive.
Z) It energized his base.
1) resulted in major fund raising.
2) Kept his base from becoming too relaxed.

I think:  
Obama was walking away with it (slowly but surely) until he got mugged that night.
Therefore if you think he did it on purpose, then you are indeed a "true believer".

As a once and (likely) future** Obama voter -  I will choose E: none of the above.  I offer four possibilities. 
1.  He may have expected the Romney that showed up would be the one who is depicted in Obama's ads.
2. He may have been depressed to have to defend a record that is not as good as he had hoped it would be.
(That does not presume that it could be better.)
3.  He may have expected the Romney that showed up would be the one who is depicted in Romney's ads.
4.  It may have been a much larger variation of Bush 41 looking at his watch in 1992 as if to say "Why do I have to be here." I believe that there is a bit of a messianic streak in Obama.  Perhaps he was having trouble assimilating why he should have to go through all of that "rig a ma roar"* as if he were a mere mortal.

PS Prediction:  The format may hold him back some in number 2, but he will be back in #3.
* rig a ma roar - this is a James Burgessism meaning "rig a ma role".
**  Perhaps not the second time if the Libya thing turns out to be as bad as it looks now.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Today October 12, 2012 is the tenth anniversary of my quitting smoking!

VP debate

I watched the VP Debate on PBS and I agreed with the post debate verdict that both men did what they needed to do.  Biden needed to take the edge off of Obama's bad performance and Ryan needed to appear credible.  I thought Ryan got a bit the better of it.

Ryan seemed a bit too scripted, but I was more bothered by Biden's manner of constantly interrupting (the moderator did nothing to restrain him) and his "argument by laughter".

I thought Ryan flubbed the final question about abortion by taking too long of a pause before saying it should be left to the political process. Maybe it was to appear reflective.  (Perhaps I'm biased by the fact that I disagree with him)  Biden then said that Romney would probably appoint someone to the court who would outlaw abortion.  (Which underlines how stupid people are about this issue.)

Biden did at one point make what I think is a good argument for the Ds about medicare when he said
"Who are you going to trust. ... since they (the Rs) were never for it in the first place.."  That argument would  work a whole lot better with me if it was proceeded by an acknowledgement that there is a problem with medicare and that the Ds were committed to solving it.

There was one humorous moment when Biden said something about the Romney's 47% remark and Ryan tried the line, "... And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way."  (LAUGHTER)
Biden shot back: "But I always say what I mean. And so does Romney."   
For whatever reason Ryan did not note that Biden's "always" would then include the time a few years ago when Biden had to drop out of  a presidential campaign because he had plagiarized his biography from that of a British politician.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

just a thought

I just have a brief note - not of any particular importance, but I felt like sharing.

I am a young liberal arts guy and have lots to learn about all of the fiscal mumbo-jumbo that frequently dominates the discussion here, but these two things occurred to me today:

1) After finishing college, I worked almost exclusively as a public school teacher in various settings for a few years and my salary was paid in full by the American taxpayer.

2) Now I'm a first year graduate student at a public state university. I get free tuition and a modest salary paid by both the American taxpayer and university students taking out loans.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Democracy is not easy 2

on Sept 16 I put up a post on the middle eastern situation.

The  most recent comment on that post which came this morning:

An excerpt from a AP post on Tuesday

Asked about the administration's initial - and since retracted - explanation linking the violence to protests over an anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet, one official said: "That was not our conclusion." He called it a question for "others" to answer, without specifying. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.


It brings me sadly to the following:

I do not believe that the murder of the Libyan Ambassador and others is a particularly important piece of evidence that our current middle eastern policy has failed.  (full disclosure:  I believe in that policy.)  However, it is becoming clear that the Obama administration thinks that it is very important in that regard.  They have concealed evidence in those killings in the hopes of convincing the public that it was only a minor incident. 
As usual the attempt to cover up is going to be far worse for them than the event itself. 

Democracy is not easy even after it is well developed.

Perhaps this is what Obama was thinking about during the first debate.

The first among equals

In the 8-23-12 post on Obama’s foreign policy I wrote:  I think we should move away from the (unsustainable) KATN (kick ass and take names) U S foreign policy and toward the next proper (and sustainable) American role in the world: that of being first among equals.  For an example of how that could work without being (or appearing to be) weak, see Fareed Zakaria's book:  The Post American World, 2.1.

Two questions about the expression “First among equals” have been raised to me.  One wondered what it meant the other claimed that it was just BS.  So I thought that I would say what I mean by it.  Modifying Wikipedia’s definition from persons to nations would look something like this: 

 A nation is the first among equals if it is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance or unofficial leader by their peers.  

Illustrations of why I would classify America as a "first among equals" nation.

For three generations the world’s reserve currency has been the US Dollar.

Twice in this century the world has formed international organizations that they hoped would maintain peace among the great powers.  The League did not have the US in it and failed, the UN did have the US in it and is, more or less, successful.  (Also the UN chose to have itself in the United States.)

After Kuwait was invaded, a large group of nations  followed American Leadership in ejecting the Iraqis.

U S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said that “America is the indispensible nation.”

The Iranian dissidents, who were protesting against their theocratic government, appealed in the streets to the American president to stand with them.  They did not, as far as I know, appeal to the Russian President, or the French President, or the Pakistani President, or, well you get my drift.  Did you ever notice how many countries have "president" as the title of their head of state?  I wonder how that got started.

Candidate Romney's assertion that the World "yearns for American leadership" may be an overstatement,  but as Tom Friedman has said, "If you think you don't like the middle east with American power, just wait until you try the middle east without American power." 

Feel free to make suggestions for this list.  Future additions will have the date added.

(I do not include our leadership of the group of nations in Afghanistan because we were the aggrieved party and therefore there was nothing special about our leading that.)

Some things that I mean by KATN are:

The unilateral invasion of Iraq.
The fact that half of all of the military expenditures on this planet are made by the US.

P S I would agree that KATN was much more appropriate during the cold war.

P P S Secretary Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937, is perhaps a biased witness.  She also said:  “I was a little girl in World War II and I'm used to being freed by Americans.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

That Evil Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart in partnership with American Express will introduce a new banking function that has a paucity of the normal fees associated with a bank account.
    1.       No set up fee
    2.       No minimum balance
    3.       No monthly maintenance fees
    4.       No annual fee
    5.       No fee for access to your money when using an American Express ATM

Aimed at the “under banked”  the Bluebird accounts (as Wal-Mart calls them) offer direct deposit, deposit by cell phone, deposits at any Wal-Mart cashier and a card that can be used exactly like a debit or prepaid cash card at any store that accepts AE.

There is one more thing.  Remember the cap that the Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank legislation put on “swipe fees” for Debit and Cash cards?  They won’t apply to Bluebird card swipes since Wal-Mart defines them as electronic traveler's checks.

It will be interesting to see if Wal-Mart is praised for inventing a banking system that can actually be used by lower income individuals, sans the normal fees, or whether they will be vilified for skirting the Durbin amendment.

Campaign 2012 Obama Miscellaneous

Social issues – On abortion I support the basic position of Roe v Wade, but I wish it had been argued on the basis of the 9th amendment rather than fairy dust.  I pretty much stand with Obama in this area, including gay marriage.  (WRT the last I think that it is true, but not widely known that spousal rights in Social Security cannot be obtained by civil unions.  The wording requires “marriage”.)  I personally wish all of those laws were changed to require civil unions done by the government or other authorized agencies and have the government get completely out of the “marriage” business and make it a non-legal social question.

Immigration - on the one hand he has deported more illegals in 4 years than Bush did in 8.  But he made no effort that I know of to solve the general immigration problem. I believe that he has used it as a political football.  (successfully I might add) 

Education - I would like to see the Federal Government’s involvement in K-12 education be more in the area of measuring how well the states are doing rather than direct involvement.  On his change from bank lending to government lending for student loans I think that that is fine – of course it will not be paid for.

The Court is the area in which I am most conservative.  I do not agree with the system of constitutional interpretation preferred by Obama which can be summarized as: “If it feels good, then I can find it in the living Constitution or somewhere nearby.”  It is the system that gave us Dred Scott and Plessy-Ferguson.  It is currently very fashionable with liberals and they use it to further their political objectives.  They either don’t know or don’t care that in the past that same system has been used to (more or less) claim that the Constitution says that our economic system must be capitalism.  It should be noted that, in the future, that system could be used, for example, to declare that the Constitution “says” human life begins at conception and therefore all abortions are murder.  I believe that a SCOTUS justice should be tethered to something and I know of nothing more appropriate than a reasonable interpretation of what the constitution says.  So I will probably continue to be unhappy with Obama’s selections for the SCOTUS.

One additional point that troubles me is the inclination to lawlessness.  The most important of these is related to the drone targeted assassinations (DTAs).  I applaud his use of this method and I believe that they are likely to be a better way to deal with terrorism than invading the host country.  The problem comes from the left’s obsession with denying the “war on terror” and insisting that this whole thing is just regulation crime fighting.  I am sure you see the problem.   If you are in a war on terror and an American citizen declares himself to be on the other side then DTA boom – laws of war - no legal problem.  However, if you are just fighting crime, then DTA boom uh-oh what happened to the Bill of Rights.  The administration says that the review within the Executive branch is sufficient to ensure that the Bill of Rights is followed.  The second was the decision that, since the “dream act” didn’t pass congress, Obama would just pass it himself by decree that those affected by it would no longer be at risk for prosecution.  The third and most recent example was the directive to certain industries to ignore the law and not notify their workers of the possibility of layoffs, presumably because the notices would come just before the election.  The additional specification that - if it caused the companies to be sued, then the government would pay the bill for it - is a bit much.

So in this area he gets D from me.  (Note part of that is policy differences not qualitative performance.)

Monday, October 8, 2012


On Sunday the Taliban issued this statement:

"With the help of Allah, the valiant Afghans under the Jihadi leadership of Islamic Emirate defeated the military might and numerous strategies of America and NATO alliance,"

After 12 years and 3,199 NATO soldier deaths it is difficult to construct any argument that defines this as anything other than a defeat.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

You are mistaken in your number for the attendance at Woodstock in 1968.  It was actually 0. Woodstock was in 1969.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What happened to Obama?

"Obama did a great job."  Biden

"The President is just too dignified to get in there and mix it up."   Sen. Michael Bennet, D (CO)

"Jim Lehrer was unfair."   various
 (he only gave Obama 5 minutes more than Romney)

"I debated an imposter." Obama

"Liar. Liar. Pants on Fire."  Al Sharpton and Jon Stewart

"Denver is 5000 feet high."   Al Gore sighed

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The first debate

I think they both did well.  Romney succeeded in looking like a possible president.

I then watched PBS coverage and they thought that Romney did a little better.

I watched CNN now I understand that Romney was aggressive and  it was not good for the president, but he will come back.

I watched MSNBC and now I understand Obama was a disaster and looked horrible.
Why didn't he mention the 47%?  Why was he so tentative?  Why didn't he press back?
(Perhaps tomorrow they will realize that Romney was bullying both Obama and the moderator.)

CNN (they say scientific poll) 67-25 said that Romney won.  They now described it as a spanking,
but by winning he actually lost.

I couldn't bring myself to watch Foxnews.

As I said at the top, I realized long before it was over that Romney was winning big.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


As the legislation stands today “Sequestration” with its required defense spending cuts will kick in on Jan 2, 2013.  Under the WARN act impending mass layoffs must be preceded by 60 days notice.  That would be November 2nd 2012. 

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has been told by the white house to NOT send notices as required by law because the OMB states that “the Pentagon didn't plan on killing any contracts on Jan. 2” but if Lockheed incurred any fines for not complying with notifications required by the WARN act

“the government would pay for severance costs mandated under a federal layoff notices law, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.”

Now I don’t think anyone believes that “Sequestration” requirements will remain “as is” following the election.  However, that does not change the situation (and the law) as it exists today.

I have a problem with a Federal administrative decision that instructs a private entity to ignore the law and promise to pay any fines incurred as a result with tax payer dollars.