Democrats & Liberals Archives

Best Options

In the coming years, let us remember to forget our promises when it comes time to do our duty, and simply look at what’s in front of us. We do, in fact, have the option of moving forward on policy in the wrong direction because we are politically constrained by what we’ve said before, but in the long run that will cause more political damage to us than it saves. To lead badly because one lacks the courage to take a political risk is to undermine one’s very legitimacy as an official.

We do not keep or remove our elected officials in real time. We wait a period of time, before we once again ask voters to decide on whether the official's tenure is extended. As fickle as voters might sometimes seem, what counts is what they finally vote at the end of the day, so there is much room for politician's reputations to recover.

In today's stew of instant punditry, micromanaged media images, and deterministic political consultants, its tough to remember that what really counts is results. Oh, we can get all cynical about it and try to fake all that with circuitous logic and endless spin, but the final result of all that is typically folks forgetting to get the results and suffering for that.

Real world results are what matter. If you don't screw something up, there won't be a mistake to be blamed for.

And no, you can't avoid screwing things up by simply doing nothing. That can be a screwup itself in the wrong circumstances, just ask Bush. Acting with more caution, of course, is advisable. The legislators of the class of '06 ought to be very careful about what they push, because any thing they write into law can come back to haunt them, not to mention the rest of America. If quantity must be sacrificed for quality, so be it. We should not pass any legislation that we haven't bothered to read ourselvses, If you want an example of important legislation nobody read before passing, The PATRIOT act is a good example. Lobbyists should not be given the opportunity to write legislation; legislators should be given the chance to earn those six figure salaries, instead.

Campaign finance reform, among other kinds, should be a major priority. Whatever advantage we accrue from the status quo will be weighed down by the negative publicity of maintaining it. We were put in place to change things, not take advantage of the voters. We had the chance to live with the old system, free of responsibilities, and we gave it up to become Americas leaders in the legislature. It would be damned stupid of us to fail to take advantage of being in the good graces of the voters in such a way that we remain in the good graces of them. No sense in reprising 1994 out of sheer stupidity.

We should not be shy about bringing America into the twenty-first century.

In the early seventies, Nixon, jealous of the success of Kennedy's space program, began downsizing it, eventually leaving us Earthbound, saddled with the underpowered, over pricey space shuttle. We need to get behind changing that, regardless of the economic climate. America has never grown by backing away from the frontiers of technology. What's more, this time we have to bring the private sector more substantially into the mix. Commercialization of space technology, with satellite imaging, GPS, and Satellite TV, has proven both lucrative and beneficial to American interests. Now we have to take the next step and make manned spaceflight work on a paying basis.

We should junk NCLB, in part if possible, wholesale if we have to. So we signed on to it originally. So what? It wouldn't be the first thing that we sought to end when we saw it wasn't working. America will go nowhere if education is reduced to a numbers game that leaves our students worse-educated than before. There are all kinds of knowledge that aren't easily reduced to multiple choice or wedged into a short essay. Science, being the wellspring of most of our good high-paying jobs, should not be neglected in our schools just so politicians can claim the kids are learning their three Rs better.

Being educated, smart, polite, honest, and rational should no longer be a liability in our culture. The Republicans pushed a culture of cynicism, base materialism, demagoguery, anti-intellectualism, not to mention open and nearly open prejudice. We should provide the country the leadership needed to raise America from these depths of this self-indulgence and dissipation. We need to praise and hold up what is best in the individual, and meld it with what is great about what Americans are capable of together.

The politicians, in their rhetoric, have made us a nation of buck passers. Somebody else is supposed to figure out how to get us off our oil addiction. Somebody else is supposed to pay for the taxes we aren't paying for our spending. Someone else is supposed to make our children learn, save us from the evil terrorists, fight the Iraq war, etc. We're just supposed to sit at home and veg like good consumers.

America is not suited to being so passive, so dependent on the creativity, courage, and spirit of others. It doesn't become us. We are not meant to be a nation of cud-chewing cattle, sheep waiting to be sheared. We are meant, as individuals and in our groups, to be daring and innovative, taking the initiative rather than letting the other countries of the world leave us in the dust.

The Democratic part must become the active, engaged, virtuous and driven vanguard of this country's leadership. No more complacency, no more status quo. This nation sent a message on election day that it is done stagnating in its own wastes. It's time for us to stop digging the hole we've been digging under the Republican leadership and start climbing our way out of it. It won't be easy, but it will be the American course of action.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2006 8:47 PM
Comments
Comment #195960

Stephen

We landed a man on the moon and brought him safely home during the Nixon administration. We went back to the moon several times until people got more or less sick of it. We tried to move to the next stage of exploration with the space shuttle and NASA suffered the scoliosis of an old bureaucracy and lapsed into inertia. Nixon had nothing particular to do with it. He didn’t make those kinds of micro decision and by 1973 had other things on his mind. Most organization atrophy after accomplishing their goal.

That is a different problem than the one you are postulating. You say that a politician will be blamed for screwing up. You are right. But in today’s climate, they will also be blamed for success. Any real world success will be short of an abstract ideal. We used to apply a reasonable man standard. No more. Now we analyze ex-post-facto and demand perfect prescience in planning and omnipotence in implementation.

This has been building a long time. When I studied history a generation ago, one of my professors observed that nobody would dare write the kind of history attempted by Arnold Toynbee because some grad student would find the erroneous details and ruin his reputation. We live in an age of happy debunkers, an age of little men finding the weaknesses of the big men and tearing them down in order to get their moment in sun. Worse yet, we have professional dirt diggers finding fault in order to make the big bucks for liability suits or the achieve the big power by vanquishing their political opponents.

I am not sure if we can get out of this death spiral. There are too many pissants looking to take down their betters.

Posted by: Jack at November 20, 2006 10:45 PM
Comment #195961

Stephen,
As a skeptical non-party affiliated person you have hit the nail on the head with this one. I just hope that you are not the only one on the D side of the isle with this thought process. If you D’s do work hard to push what we are asking we will vote for you again or maybe even vote for you for the first time even if we do not agree with most of what you stand for.
Results are what we seek. Smart legistration with less pork and fill will entice us independants to follow allong as long as you deliever the results.
I must admit that I am really pissed at this admin about, I can help in some small fashion you just have to ask it.
Hell tell me that for the sake of the country I should check the air pressure on my car every week. This little thing can save 1-2mpg on a vehicle, while it is insignificant for just me multiplied out by 1million adds up to a significant amount of saved gas.
Tell me that by changing 2-3 light bulbs in my home with florescent bulbs can save a couple of kiliwatts a mounth. Once again just me it is insignificant but multiplied out by 100million is a huge amount of saved energy.
Small things can be big, we don’t all have to put on uniforms (or in my case, put the uniform on again) to help our country out.

Posted by: timesend at November 20, 2006 10:55 PM
Comment #195968

Jack-
The problem is that you’re centering on the image problem, on being blamed regardless of what one does. True enough, that will likely happen, but the difference is, with the person who is blamed unfairly, events will vindicate them. That is what I’m talking about in terms of having the courage to do what’s right.

You talk of people’s betters, I look at this outgoing congress of ours, and I have to ask “what betters?” These are not great men. They demanded the nation’s loyalty to them, and for our troubles, we got incompetence, corruption, and a mess my generation’s going to have dig out of and strain against to get anything done.

Great men don’t spend long periods of time complaining about their lot in life. They’re too busy taking care of business, keeping an eye on what matters. Government is a full time job.

The Republican party’s problem is not image half as much as its unwillingness to engage problems on a practical level. They’ve become the ivory tower academics they accused Democrats of being. They’ve become the corrupt big spenders they vowed to vanquish. Like the Democrats they defeated, they’ve become a party whose only virtue to present to its party members was maintaining power. What does maintaining power count for when you’ve failed to do much right with it?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2006 11:14 PM
Comment #195973

Stephen

Much depends on luck. Some people are suited to particular situations and not others. Think of some like Winston Churchill. Many people thought he was nuts and actually he was under most circumstances. Had the war not come when it did, he would have died a nut. My point is that being right is only vindicated if conditions permit and being wrong may be rewarded.

Most wildly successful people are not well balanced. They are good at one thing and they are lucky to be around when that one thing is useful. Think of the biographies of Grant and Sherman. These two were major losers. They were good at a very specific set of tasks. They were vindicated, but may very well have not have been.

I am not talking about image here. This is real power or not. In our open democratic system you do not get a chance to do very much if people do not think it is a good thing.

There is also something very important to remember about power. You have to have it before you can use it. It doesn’t matter if you are right and are vindicated later. A person in power has to spend a lot of time just keeping power. If he stops doing that, he loses all the potential to accomplish his program.

Another thing to remember is most people dislike change. A good leader in a democracy much not only sometime lead his people through hell; he must make them look forward to the journey. Think of FDR in 1940-41. Almost everything he did in foreign affairs was illegal and almost everything he told the American people was not true. History vindicated him because he was right AND he won. What if he had shied away from the duplicity?

Finally, the verdict of history is never set. People today still argue about ancient decisions. Was Julius Caesar good and insightful or just lucky? Many great men are considered great because of the great risks they took. But it is very possible for great men to be the result of a series of very bad decisions and low probability results.

There is a very good book I just finished reading called “Fooled by Randomness”. The author gives the example of somebody playing Russian roulette. If he wins he get a big payoff, but it is not a good game to play. However, random chance will indicate that if a lot of people play the game SOME of them, just by chance will win many times. If we do not know any better, we will consider the winners to be a man who took the big risks but made the big gains and we may even praise his foresight. In fact, it is nothing but randomness. If enough people play the game, there is a some will die on the first spin, but some will win dozens of times. Are they really to be admired?

IF you want to make this practical, president Bush took two really big risks. He tried to reform SS and he invaded Iraq. Had he succeeded, we would be hailing his bravado. SImilarly, if our war with Germany had gone badly, Roosevelt would have been demonized for having “provoked” it.

Posted by: Jack at November 20, 2006 11:56 PM
Comment #195974


Jack: What you just said made a lot of sense until you tried to apply it to George Bush.

“reform SS and he invaded Iraq. Had he succeeded, we would be hailing his bravado.”

Had president Bush and the Republicans succeeded in privatizing SS who would be hailing his bravado, the 20% that were for it or the 80% that opposed it.

With the plans and policies that this administration has elected to use in Iraq, there is absolutely no way Bush could have succeeded.

According to Mark Russell- What does one congressman say to another on Wednesday?

Have a good weekend.

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 12:24 AM
Comment #195989

jlw

If Bush had passed SS, hearts and minds would have followed. You still would have had 80/20, but it would have turned to support.

Re Iraq - I think it was poorly implemented, but fortune plays a role in that too. Ironically, I believe that had the actual fighting been tougher, we might be in a better positon today. We got such rapid battle success that we were not ready to take control and the bad guys didn’t get the idea that they were beaten.

On the other hand, the fast victory avoided widespread destruction of oil resources and prevented the predicted refugee crisis and early civil war and of course fewer people died intially. That is the problem with luck. You never really know if it is good or bad.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2006 7:49 AM
Comment #195999

Stephen,

Except for your innuendos about Bush and the GOP, you would find that both political parties would agree with you and practice it on a regular basis. The implementation of your post is where the disagreement comes from.

I cannot stand a “leader” who sticks his wet finger in the air to test the political winds, before doing anything. Moderates tend to do this; they stand for nothing and everything at the same time. You never know who or what they really are.

All the statues of great leaders in our country were never “moderates”, and you never see any statues dedicated to a committee.

Posted by: cliff at November 21, 2006 9:46 AM
Comment #196047


Jack: The Republicans could have passed the president’s SS reform bill. They could have held ranks and used the nuclear option in the Senate.

If it is so vital to the nation, why didn’t they do it?

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 1:14 PM
Comment #196059

Jack-
Fortune favors the prepared. FDR was prepared to fight a war. Bush was not. FDR was prepared for setbacks, Bush was not. FDR had a postwar setup prepared. Bush did not. FDR was handed the reason to go to war by the Axis Powers. Bush had to create a reason to go to war, only to have it turn out false.

Bush was not prepared. That’s why he’s not lucky. His luck hasn’t improved because he hasn’t taken care of the practical problems. The way things are going, he may never get that chance.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2006 1:50 PM
Comment #196060

jlw,

The Dems and the AARP set up their traditional scare tactic, telling everyone that Grandma wasn’t going to get her money anymore.

The idea is still good and better then anything that the dems have come up with.

BTW, Their answer will be “tax the rich”…come to think of it, that’s the only answer they have for everything…

Posted by: cliff at November 21, 2006 1:50 PM
Comment #196068

Jack

You have a point. When Eisenhauer was allied commander he was asked what was most important to him when he picked a general. His response was that they be lucky.

There is a longtragic list of errors by this administration that cannot be atributed to luck.Many of these mistakes were ideaolgically driven and some were political. A partial list: Disbanding the Iragi army,Bremers delay in instituting a new government in order to have time to privatize many state run industries including oil,trying to do things on the cheap and not providing enough troops to secure national institutions like the muesiums but enough to secure the oil ministry,the hire of mercenaries under no rules of engagement to privatize the effort,cronism and poor oversite of the reconstruction effort.The list continues. Hard to even imagine that this was not a planned effort to actually create an anti-american insurgency. They could not have done a better job of it if it was. This was not “luck” and what we have now are “results”.
If Bush had managed to privatize SS both houses of congress would have veto proof Dem majorities come Janurary and the neo-con wing of the Rep party would be well on the way to the political obscurity they so richly deserve. Careful what you wish for.

Stephen
I cannot recall wether it was you or Paul that had a bet going about oil prices raising after the election. At any rate it is time to collect.

Posted by: BillS at November 21, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #196072


Cliff: Did you just say that the Republican politicians are a bunch of cowards who because of their fear of the AARP propaganda, refused to do what is best for the nation?

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 2:37 PM
Comment #196076


Bills: In the Spring when Gas went to $3 per gal. I announced that the price would be $2 or less around election time. Right before the election I said that the price would rise afterwards. It actually went up a little before the election when it was realized that the strategy wasn’t working. That is just the way market forces work and if you don’t believe me just ask Jack.

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 2:53 PM
Comment #196085

Stephen

FDR was in no way prepared for the war. I sure hope Pearl Harbor was not evidence of preparation. Our soliders had to train with wooden guns in the early days of the war. We could well have lost (or at least not won).

FDR had no postwar setup, unless you think that he planned Yalta or leaving Berlin isolated surrounded by hostile territory.

You probably have seen how the MSM assessed our success in Germany. If not take a look.

History looks much neater from a ways away.

Bill S

See above. BTW the Iraqi army disbanded itself. They just gave up and went home. We should have been a little less strict about the former Baathisist. You know that in post war Germany we had intended a more complete purging of Nazis, but we had to compete with the Soviets.

jlw

I paid $2.03 today. I do not think this exactly qualifies as a conspiracy theory proof. That is how market forces work. I want it to be even higher.

Re SS. Yes Republicans were cowardly and played politics. And let us admit that Dems just beat them at the game. It is very hard to change such a big thing as SS. I see that Dems are starting to embrace personal accounts, just coming at it from the other direction.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2006 4:11 PM
Comment #196090

jlw,

Cowards…no…
The dems and AARP had created such an avalanche of spin against the measure, that it didn’t stand a chance.

Mark my words…the dems will raise taxes on the rich to “fix” the problem…it is their answer to everything…

Some people would not know a good thing because they believe anything and everything that people/media say. Our country has lost the ability to actually discern truth.

Posted by: cliff at November 21, 2006 5:32 PM
Comment #196091


Jack: It’s up to $2.38 here.

That’s right, they were cowards and rightly so. They knew that had they passed the bill, we would not be talking about a power shift in Congress. We would be talking about how the Republican party destroyed it’s self.

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 5:36 PM
Comment #196100

jlw & Cliff

Both of you are right. Republicans chickened out of the real reform. Dems will raise taxes, which will stave off the problem. But entitlement have grown from about 1/3 of the budget in 1970 to 2/3 now and the pace is accelertating. Eventually you just cannot tax enough to pay for it. When look back on this, we will all regret that we did not start to reform while it was just painful and waiting until it became really harmful.

In ten years time we will all regret Republican cowardice and Democratic malice of the SS debate. We will probably call it the squandered opportunity.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2006 6:55 PM
Comment #196109

Jack-
First peacetime draft, help to our allies both under and over the table, modernizing of the army from its WWI equipment, turning America to as much of a war footing as an isolationist public would allow. I think FDR did pretty well, considering. As for there being no Post-War occupation plans in place merely because the Soviets advanced in Germany faster than us? No, it doesn’t work that way. We had plans, and they were implemented.

As for the Dos Passos article, that’s one source. Friction is inevitable in an occupation. Outright violence is not. Few if any soldiers died in combat during our occupation of Europe. Thousands have died in Iraq. Iraq is boiling over, and you’re still acting like its a bump in the road. You’re still passing the buck for Bush.

Bush had all kinds of advantages going in, that he and Donald Rumsfeld just squandered. They had people telling them what would happen, and they didn’t listen to them, much less act with foresight concerning what they advised. Most of the problems that plagued this war were predictable, problems we had run into elsewhere, and which the experienced among our command new would come up. You had Jay Garner advising Bremer not to disband the Iraq army, to bring them back instead. Now we’re having to bring them back in the midst of the chaos of a civil war. Many of the same people we fired, are those we’re now trying to rehire, or facing in the insurgency. You’re still passing the buck for bad decisions

We had chances to make these things better. Bush and the Republicans were too busy trying to deny the problem to take care of it, though. Now we have to deal with the luck that comes with not having taken care of business earlier. This war isn’t being lost by the media, or the gullibility of the public, it’s being lost by the stubbornness of those who for political and ideological reasons still can’t admit they screwed up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #196110

Cliff
…the Dems will raise taxes on the rich to fix the problem..it is their answer to everything.

That is because it is a good idea.

Bushco wanted to put a spear in the belly of the most successful New Deal program left. They even started work on trying to swiftboat AARP until someone realized they would get creamed. Americans are just not that stupid. Damn education.Well they can keep trying to screw that up,I suppose. Another factor was corporate scandels etc. Sure thing. Take your pension and invest it with Enron.Pleeeeze

Posted by: BillS at November 21, 2006 8:25 PM
Comment #196111

As for Social Security, let me put things plainly: this deal was dead as soon as it became clear that the reform in question had no chance of making SS more solvent.

Americans are not as sold on this bit of Republican Market Theology, especially after the Enron collapse and the Medicare debacle. Americans like the security part of Social Security, and after Enron, private accounts is not such an secure option in people’s view. Coupled with the fact that this reform would put Social Security even more in the hole before, Democrats really didn’t need to spin things all that much. Things pretty well spun themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #196112

Jack
How can you charcterize the Dems sticking up for the most successful anti poverty program in history as
malice” is beyond me. Seems to me the Reps that joined them showed plenty of courage and the ones that sat on the fence at least showed a little.You should not underestimate your party. You have some good people.
At some point it would be good to have a thread just dealing with entitlements. You know another huge and growing entitlement program is military retirement Anybody got the political will to take on that?

Posted by: BillS at November 21, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #196118

Stephen

A great thing we could do right now is start a program for energy conservation. In WW2 the home front effort for war bonds,scrap metal drives etc. played an important role not just in the war effort but a role in the nation comming together to defeat a common enemy. The enviormental and geopolitical necessity is obvious.It should not be to hard to convince Americans that is in the national interest to save energy. Even if one chooses to deny global warming the fact that our oil imports are financeing our enemies should be enough.If you want to support the troops hang the laundry out on a line,check your tire pressure,turn off that light,go easy on the Christmas display,buy that hybred instead,carpool,vacation closer to home,put in more insullation,replace the bulbs with diodes and push your city to do the same etc. and do it for your country. Hell,we could get Al Gore and Grover Norquist on the same stage promoting a gasless sunday or some such thing. There is plenty of room onthat paticular bandwagon for everyone and once the ball got rolling it should not take a lot of tax money.Most could be accomplished by changing priorities of existing program.By that I mean instead of that insipid owl(“give a hoot,don’t pollute”) with a drawing of an American soldier saying something like”We’re doing our part,now you do yours.”You are right.If Americans are asked to sacrifice for a common good we will.We always have.

Posted by: BillS at November 21, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #196128

Stephen

We were clearly unprepared for World War II. FDR did as good a job possible. He did it by stretching the law and lying to the American public. That is why he was a great leader.

You are right that much of the postwar situation was dictated by the tide of the war. That is exactly the point. Do you really believe that FDR had a comprehensive plan for the post war and that he Truman implemented it. Thank God their plan didn’t work out. They had planned to de industrialize Germany and make it into a pastoral economy. The W. German Wirtschaftswunder happened in direct oppostion to the orders of the occupation. We were in process of dismanteling German coal and steel industries and would have continued to do that had we not needed the Germans to counter the new Soviet threat.

Fortune plays a big role. Had the Red Army not stopped to allow the Nazis time to destroy the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw uprising in September 1944, they might have rolled over all of Germany and occupied the country to the Rhine instead of the Elbe. How different history might have been.

We have the same vicissitudes of fortune at work in Iraq. The Iraqi army disbanded itself. It did not surrender intact. It did not capitulate; it disintegreated. The U.S. plan was to use the Iraqi forces to police the peace. That plan turned out not to be possible. Iraq was broken a lot worse than we thought. The infrastructure was in a lot worse shape and the country was ungovernable once the threat of Saddam’s terror was lifted.

The Bush Adminisration made lots of mistakes. Lots of mistakes are made in war. We need not minimize those mistakes, but it is equally false to imply that this is out of line with the general experience in war.

Bush cannot run again. Any Republican who runs in 2008 can (and will) distance himself from the Bush policy. There is not point to pretend that all went according to plan. It is equally pointless to pretend that a different leadership would have produced perfect outcome. There were many worse and better outcomes possible.

What we need in Iraq now is options. The past is gone. I really do not care about passing the buck. Look at the situation we have NOW. What are the options now?

Bill S

SS was designed for a time when life expectancy was 63. When we expected to have many young workers to support few retirees, when the U.S. economy was dominated by very large industrial enterprises, when half of the workforce had only an elemetrary education and only 5% are college graduates. It was also a time when few workers had even a bank account and financial markets were poorly developed by today’s standards. SS worked very well in the conditions it was designed for. Just like a 1935 Ford was a good car for the time. What do conditions of 1935 have with today? Almost nothing. That 1935 Ford probably needs more than a tune up.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #196132

bills,

quite myopic…
Best New Deal program that is currently being propped up by thin air…The Dems answer? Throw someone elses money at it…

And a market place that outperforms anything that SS could even muster…(tell be you have NO money invested in the market…if you don’t, you are depending on the government to take care of you…which means you are in sorry shape)

You are right about education…unfortunately there wasn’t enough…

I believe in empowering the individual, the dems believe that people cannot take care of themselves and that they are all victims.

Posted by: cliff at November 21, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #196138

“let us remember to forget our promises when it comes time to do our duty, and simply look at what’s in front of us.”

Stephen,

I agree with pretty much everything you say after this, but I do expect those elected to live up to their promises while they were campaigning. I also realize that no one person alone can deliver on a promise in politics.

I was disappointed that Clinton backed off of his proposition for national health care as easily as he did. I’m sure those on the right feel the same about Bush’s proposal to partially privatize Soc. Sec. OTOH they did try.

I think a person should try like hell to live up to their campaign promises. If they don’t they damn well better be able to explain why they didn’t. That aside, I can’t think of one damn new law passed by the Republicans that doesn’t need to be at least rewritten.

Early on Bush pushed for a “Sunset Commission” to basically play “terminator” on ineffective programs. Well, Bushy Boy, it’s here, it’s called the Democratic Party. NCLB doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, fix it or trash it!

The Patriot Act needs to be broken down into a “one purpose per bill” format. One thing that must end is the open ended emergy appropriations. We don’t need improved communicatios in garbage trucks or increased security at ice skating rinks. (:

There are provisions in the new bankruptcy law that are just insane. I’m in a bankruptcy right now but I’m stuck on “go” because I’ve been physically unable to complete the “credit counseling” clause and it’s so poorly written that the bankruptcy trustees can’t determine whether or not my medical condition exempts me from the “credit counseling” requirement.

The new Medicare drug law was probably the one thing Bush did to prove he was a “compassionate” conservative. But it’s too damn costly and it’s just stupid. The taxpayer is paying for this. The government should be able to negotiate for drug prices, and the “donut hole” is beyond stupid. The coverage should be continuous. If the budget will only cover 50% from January 1st thru December 1st then so be it. It’s stupid to cover 80% until you reach a point where you’re really SOL and then cut you off. The drug comapnies and insurance companies wrote this turkey. FIX IT OR DUMP IT!

I could go on, but by now you’re bored and I’m tired. Bottom line: every piece of junk legislation passed in the last six years needs to be revisited.

Posted by: KansasDem at November 22, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #196144

Jack,

Your comments about Social Security, while not altogether false, certainly fall short of the full truth.

Look at this:

http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issueguide_socialsecurityfacts

And especially this:

Saving Social Security with stocks
The promises don’t add up:
http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm?id=2073

The truth is that privatizing Social Security now will bankrupt the program sooner than expected and shift a greater burden onto both federal and state welfare systems to support those who can’t support themselves.

The modern day Republican party could be much better described as “opportunistic” than conservative. Some of us find homelessness and hunger unacceptable in the USA.

You, sir, obviously don’t give a damn.

Posted by: KansasDem at November 22, 2006 12:44 AM
Comment #196145

KansasDem-
I wanted an attention getter there, but also a meaningful paradox. People assume that fulfilling promises is a good thing, but Bush’s agenda was generally what he promised: lower taxes, never allow them to rise, do a medicare drug benefit, stay the course in Iraq, etc, etc. It’s been politically advantageous for him to take this angle, but it’s been disastrous for the country in general.

Promises are promises, and yes, it is good to keep promises. I would qualify that, then, by saying that they should promise modestly and wisely, and that also they would be well served to place priority on the promises they make when they take their oath of office. Politicians make and keep promises to win, but they must remember where their first loyalties are suppose to lie.

By the sound of what you’re writing, it’s clear you agree with me on the importance of the quality of the legislation. If we think about it well, its better to break a few poorly chosen promises than create a bigger problem by letting them come to fruition.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2006 12:45 AM
Comment #196147

“they should promise modestly and wisely”

Stephen,

From what I’ve seen, we Democrat’s have done just that, and rightfully so. Of course I can’t speak for each and every Democrat because all politics are local.

We’re on the same page.

BTW, if you’re so inclined please check out the thread, “Charitable conservatives and dictatorial Democrats” on the Red side.

Posted by: KansasDem at November 22, 2006 1:12 AM
Comment #196149

Cliff & Jack
I am not proposing saveing SS with other peoples money. I am proposeing saving it with MY money. Years ago,under Reagan I believe, American workers started paying much more into SS than was needed. This was prudent. What happened to this “fund” was it was borrowed by the Federal government. Among other things it was used to finance the cold war military build up instead of tax increases or budget restraints. This is still going on. We are talking about truly huge amounts.Even though the dire warning about SS solvency are overblown by those who oppose it on idealogical grounds much of the shortfall can be covered by the government paying the fund back the money we have already paid into it. Yes that will mean raising taxes. That happens when you borrow money .You have to pay it back. To not do this is the largest theft in history and working Americans will not stand for it.

Jack; You do have a tendency to blame the victum. I suppose my 83 year old mother owes an apology for living so long.Yes SS was written in 1935. It has been modified and added to since. Good institutions last if they are flexible.

Posted by: BillS at November 22, 2006 1:42 AM
Comment #196168

Cliff-
The Marketplace out performs on average over time. But with any specific stock, or even fund, deviation from the average is not only normal, but guaranteed. That makes it into a competition, where only the best investors prosper. That, however, was not the point of Social Security. Social Security is there to be low risk, low return It’s not promising much, but it’ll be there.

The system is being held up by the FICA taxes, taxes which are being borrowed from, as BillS said, in order to offset deficits. The solvency of social security would grow only worse under the private accounts plan, and Bush, even with his optimism couldn’t bring himself to deny the fact that his plan will do nothing to make SS solvent for the future.

It’s a shell game. What you’re selling is the eventual complete privatization of Social Security, at cost to the taxpayer. This plan will require trillions of dollars in new liabilities simply to pay for the bureaucratic setup. If its not going to make the system solvent, why do this?

This is the economics of wishful thinking, the same economics that have us hundreds of billions of dollars in the hole on the budget, despite the promises that economic expansion would grow us out of the revenue shortfall. I know you’ve got your heart set on private accounts, and doing everything you possibly can with the markets, but the purity of ideology of any kind is rarely reflected in what actually works.

Jack-
Fortune is an illusion, nothing more than the fact that events can operate independently of one’s awareness. Once you’re in contact with such events, its the ability to learn about and do something about such events in real time that matters. Having good luck is often equal parts being observant and intuitive about events on the battlefield, and having the training, experience and preparation at hand to do something about it. Scientists looked at people who felt they were lucky and those who felt they weren’t, and found that the big difference was often in their attitude and their willingness to try different things.

When it comes to being lucky, being good at what you do helps greatly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2006 8:58 AM
Comment #196200

Bill S and Kansas

Those currently retired or near retirement should not be affected by SS changes. We need to change the system for younger workers. If we do not, the system will collapse. It was not designed to work under the condtions we will have in the near future. It is like saying that your snowmobile has gotten you through January and February. It will fine in July and August.

Kansas re homless - if we do not reform the system we will have more homeless and more poor. Good intentions and beautiful rhetoric will not feed or house even one of them.

Stephen

How can you be a liberal if you think that people are responsible for everything that they do?

Joking aside, we live in a world of risk and uncertainty. Even the best plans can go wrong if you are unlucky and some really stupid plans have succeeded on the basis of good fortune.

That does not mean we have no control. We have alot, but we have to understand the nature or risk and uncertainty. If we look ONLY to results, we will not have an accurate measure of our input and we cannot improve. If we ignore results, we also cannot improve the process.

You are looking at the good result in WWII and the bad result in Iraq and assuming the plans must have been good and bad respectively. This is not the case.

Re WWII the passage of time has made it look better too. It was not lived as well as it is remembered.

Posted by: Jack at November 22, 2006 12:04 PM
Comment #196241

Jack-
Good or bad as some of the planning in WWII was, it was flexible, and FDR did not weigh it down with micromanagement from above. He allowed troops on the ground to deal with situation with much more autonomy, and the mission was pretty clear. Some of our victory was luck, but much of luck depends on what opportunities we are capable of taking advantage of. We had soldiers to move to the front when attrition cut their numbers down. Our lack of numbers in Iraq forced us to take a far unluckier course in Iraq.

Luck, you could say, is just what we call what we don’t understand, a God in the Gaps explanation of why events can turn against a supposedly powerful nation, or give weak forces the chance to defeat a more considerable enemy.

Luck, though, is a deceptive concept. It can lead one to believe that all those other elements are unnecessary. They aren’t. They’re crucial. Often in war, all that we’re calling luck is being observant, noticing a crucial element in the midst of the battle. From that point forward, one’s luck depends on one’s skill, one’s resources, and the inability of the enemy to recover from their mistake or their unrecognized weakness. One could then say that if there is such an opportunity and poor skill, resources and the closing of such an opening get in the way of it, one had bad luck.

But taking it from that view, luck is no longer the main factor. Preparation, discipline, training, equipment and other factors become predominant, in good fortune to take advantage of the opportunity, in bad fortune to minimize losses and failures.

You could say that the Bush administration simply had bad luck, but a close examination of the facts indicates that much of their bad luck results from opportunities their own failures denied them. The disbanding of the Iraqi army, De-Baathification of the government, and the failure to retain the state police forces was an example. Other examples include the paucity of troops employed, and the unwillingness to face up to and be frank with Americans about the growing insurgency. In war, your luck typically does not get better the longer you let territory spin out of your control. Events proceed to the point where the solutions to problems are out of your hands, and you’re no longer capable of making your own luck where it counts.

The victory in WWII was more than just virtual, more than just good luck. There was substantial planning, training, and experience that went into getting that war right.

I think Republicans today focus too much on the headgame of the war. The headgame’s irrelevant if you don’t have the force on the ground to back it up. It is much harder to beef up morale with Cheerleading at home when the fumbles continue to occur, and the downs keep on seeing the ball retreat towards one’s own goal line. You can’t win on shear denial. You have to start with real progress. Those who depend on luck will find themselves sorely short of it at some point.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2006 5:22 PM
Comment #196255

Stephen

Let’s talk about Monopoly. You must have played the game. It is a combination of luck and skill. If you rely on luck only, you probably will not win. You have to take the basic steps of buying property and building. Luck determines much of what you will get initially. The best properties to own are the red or the orange. But even if you own hotels on New York and Illinois, your opponents could skip by you and you could land on the one property you do not own - Boardwalk - each round.

So if we just know who won the game, we may not know who was the better player.

In Iraq the war itself went amazingly well. It was over faster than we had a right to predict and with much less destruction and fewer refugees than anybody predicted. BUt that laid the foundations for the post war trouble, as I mentioned above. In the post war, the U.S. never really got a decent break.


Posted by: Jack at November 22, 2006 7:45 PM
Comment #196275

Jack-
I sort of see your point, but we have to go back to that quote about wanting officers who were lucky. If we couple that point my point, then we get a better picture of what we may rightly mean by the “better” player.

I have played Monopoly, recently, and I came to the conclusion that the most strategic properties were along the two middle valued sides. Anybody who controlled those could balance relatively cheap purchase and development with relatively expensive rents.

If you had reviewed my complete holdings under that view, you might have found them wanting. I wasn’t lucky enough to get controlling interest in those holdings.

I still bought properties from there, though, despite the fact that other people had pieces of that. The logic was simple: yes, I only controlled the light blue. No, I wasn’t likely to win on just that. But indeed, by holding them, I prevented everybody else from developing, while I managed to do so. There was no definitive end to the game, for other reasons, but the strategy kept me in the game.

I may not have been the luckiest person, but I knew what pieces of property mattered, and I made my own luck with them.

The problem with your approach is that it’s passive, and war is about actively spreading bad luck to the enemy. You aim to cause them misfortune in what they most want to happen. But that aim and theirs depend on the ability of both parties to bring about the resources, manpower, and strategic consideration necessary to actually cause your adversary trouble. How you start these things determines greatly where you end up. War is contingent. Where you go, where can go next, largely depends on where you are when you initiate the action.

The biggest problem with the Iraq war is that the Bush administration was more political than contingent in its thinking. In the headgames of politics, there’s a great deal more one can do to reverse a bad situation, since most everything that matters is not dependent so much on reality. In contingent situations, you can’t so easily reverse the past.

In your other post, you wrote about natural balance. Let me let you in on a little secret. There isn’t any such thing. There’s what’s called Metastability. The system tends to absorb stimulus pretty well, but pushed past a certain point the system not only shifts, but does so permanently. You can fight towards a new, better order, but the old organization of events is dead, and one has to deal with things as they are now, not as they were before.

Wars are metastable. By staying the course, Bush made sure that the metastability of the situation developed in a certain way. He should have changed course much earlier, when we had a chance ot avoid so many of these problems

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2006 11:26 PM
Comment #196284

Stephen

Red and orange. The light blue are hardly worth having. But it is always a combination of luck and skill. You know it also is a probablility of the dice. Players are repeatedly sent to places like go or jail. The most likely combination of dice is 7. That is why you find unbuyable properties at seven from Go and Jail. Remember too that Illinois is 2x7 away from jail and Kentucky is 3x7 from Go, AND there is a card that advances you to Illinois Ave. But even if you know all these things, you still need to throw the right numbers and the dice have no emotion and no memory.

I think it is a fault of modern society to simultaneously underestimate and overestimate the role of chance. We blame leaders, doctors and big firms for not anticipating every possible scenario, but then we happily assume that all those rich and successful guys were just lucky.

Posted by: Jack at November 23, 2006 12:13 AM
Comment #196368

Jack-
I think we’re edging towards some kind of agreement on this, but I’ll maintain this position: The evidence shows that many of our problems in Iraq stem from choices that not only were under our control, but which our leaders had been told would turn out the way they did beforehand.

It’s not hindsight if you were told before and just didn’t listen. It’s not luck if you had control over a certain aspect of planning and failed to properly address it.

To focus on luck is to miss the real errors. To miss the real errors is to ensure both their current continuation and their future repetition, neither of which does us any good. The Iraq war, if it is lost, will not be lost by the media or the Democrat, or the Republicans. It will be lost by those who failed to plan for what are logical possibilities in a war of the kind we started out of an ideological and political blindness.

The people who made those mistakes, and who are still in a position to run things, must be held accountable. If the Republicans do not want to utterly destroy any chances for a new majority, they must face the real causes of failure here, or else they will utterly destroy their credibility for the next generation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #196666

It Is Time

On the Statue of Liberty are inscriptions about giving Americans the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It is time to actually fulfill that promise and give our Latino brothers and Latina sisters that promised freedom. It would appear we, like some Madison Avenue advertising agency have shown the slogans, yet denied the reality to much of Latin America. We seem to say you can attempt to cross the border illegally, and have children in the United States, but you cannot become a citizen. Many have lived here for over twenty years and have as many as three generations in America, but are still considered illegal and must constantly be on constant vigil against reprisal.
Every one knows that conditions south of our borders have long been devoid of the opportunity to allow families to grow and prosper with a life style that rewards ability and enlarges the middle class. They have struggled to get here and died in closed freight trailers on some lonely desert or fallen prey to rings exploiting them into prostitution and economic slavery. They must keep watching with a constant eye for immigration and threats to be deported should they try to get better wages or living conditions. Mexicans in particular have migrated in large numbers to America to provide for their families in land that once was in fact theirs. Additionally Latinos from Latin and Central America have come here to escape political and economic hardships. Their children have grown up here and seen the hypocrisy between what we do and what we say we do.
America should be the literal shining beacon of hope and justice for immigrants, but most with the exception of the first Europeans who crossed the ocean shores, have had to suffer until they were assimilated and accepted into a kinder, gentler society. There were Irish, Italian, Jewish, Black, and Oriental slums and repressions. And so, there are now Latinos marching, shouting, and asking for justice in the American mosaic that is our culture. People that have been here ten years should be on a fast track toward citizenship. Those that have lived in America and have two or more generations that are native born and lived here have earned that right. People that have lived here and been gainfully employed for five years should have that right as well. We should reform the hiring laws to penalize those that hire illegal workers and have degrees of legal work status for those that desperately seek jobs and enrich, not detract from our culture. Parents of children born here need to be able to remain and provide for their families. An Amnesty Day must be set and adhered to that is fair and real. We must retain the heritage to the claim of the Land of Opportunity and Freedom.
It is time to reestablish that culture that our Forefathers lived and died to create, not in merely the words, but the deeds. It is time.

-Thomas P Love

Posted by: Thomas Love at November 28, 2006 9:18 AM
Post a comment