Time’s Bin Laden cover with the Red X on Twitpic.
Usually don’t like Hitler comparisons, but think there’s a relevant point to be made about the fate of political mass murders.
Two of my main complaints about politics is that no one ever admits they’re wrong, and no one ever gives their political opponent any credit. So here’s my Maya culpa – last night President Obama definitively proved me wrong, and he deserves a ton of credit. As a McCain supporter, I thought President Obama would have a tiptoe-though-the-tulips style weak foreign policy. While last night wasn’t the only time instance where he proved that theory incorrect, it was the most definitive proof that I was flat out wrong. A weaker leader may have tried to capture instead of kill Bin Laden, a weaker leader may have hesitated in making the actual decision, a weaker leader may not have okayed a ‘at sea burial.’ All these decisions were not only appropriate, but needed. Kudos President Obama, you’ll always be remember as the guy who got Bin Laden.
A second big congratulations goes to the military, CIA, and all other operatives that played a role in pulling this off. Fortunately, America has learned it’s lesson from Vietnam and gives it’s service members the respect they are due. However, many of these operatives and Special Forces members can’t be fully recognized for their exceptional service, as secrecy is obviously vital in what they do. So a special thank you to those we don’t really know, whose job we often don’t fully understand, who sacrifice greatly without glory or adulations. Kudos to a job so well done.
Primary Season has started in New Hampshire. The events so far are party events – fundraisers and/or talks to rally the troops. The open events like town halls and house parties haven’t really begun. Those are the events that show off whether a candidate is a real contender or not. The potential candidates I’m most interested in seeing are Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney & Tim Pawlenty. I’d like to see Ron Paul too, but doubt he really will be a candidate.
Readers of this blog that know I was and avid McCain supporter last election may be surprised to find out that it is possible for President Obama to win my vote. I am undecided, though I do have specific concerns about both sides of the aisle and their candidates. My big problem with President Obama is simply spending and the size of government. The health care bill is too invasive, too expensive, and appears to be largely ineffectual at addressing the issue of cost. The other part is not just the spending that came with the stimulus package, but the thinking behind it that spending ones way out of economic difficulty is either wise or effective.
On the other hand, I am impressed with President Obama’s foreign policy. While he hasn’t been perfect, he does seem to have learned from mistakes and corrected them as he’s gone along. Don’t think one can ask much more than that out of a politician. He’s receiving a lot of heat from both sides about the intervention in Libya. The left doesn’t want any military commitments made. The right seems to be split in there opinion. Some are upset about the cost of intervention; others think more should have been faster with a stated goal of removing Gadhafi.
While there isn’t too much doubt that quicker would have been better, the basic decisions were solid. Gadhafi stated he was about to slaughter his own people (again). Obama worked with the international community (as he said he would during the 2008 election) to prevent that slaughter. That group of participating countries found that seeking the removal of Gadhafi was not an appropriate goal for their group – a completely reasonable decision. Having Secretary Gates, and Secretary Clinton on his side is a big advantage to him, and surrounding oneself with good people is part of what makes for a President good.
On the flip side of the aisle, the type of candidate that is most likely to win me over is one that is focused on the economy and being fiscally responsible. Also, he/she would need to demonstrate that they have the capacity to handle the difficult foreign policy decisions that are bound to arise. A candidate like Governor Romney has a very good chance of winning my vote as he is smart enough, knows the economy, and seems like someone who makes things work. There are likely other Republican candidates that could win my vote too. However, some Republican candidates have no shot of winning my vote. Those are the candidates that are full of rhetoric and short of substance. Both parties have this type of candidate. They are often very popular with the party faithful, and gain momentum after a big win like the Republicans had last year. While I hope that isn’t the type of candidate that Republicans nominate, we can only wait and see. So welcome to New Hampshire – it’s game on.
I’ve frequently griped about the way government spends money, and about some of the wasteful policies and programs it has established. However, there is one program (at least) that I believe in. Government funded home weatherization for people/families with low incomes. It makes sense on several levels. The home improvements are costly for someone living paycheck to paycheck, yet the energy savings from winterizing a home can be substantial. No one with a heart wants to see people in cold climates without heat. Also, the reduction in energy for that home is good for the individual, for the community, and even for the earth. Simply put it’s a practicle useful government expenditure.
So what’s the complaint? The Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program website. First off, the name itself alludes to the problem with the site. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a person use the word ‘intergovernmental’ in a sentence before, and it is the unintelligible nature of the website that is the problem. This is the opening paragraph of the website…
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program provides grants, technical assistance, and information tools to states, local governments, community action agencies, utilities, Indian tribes, and overseas U.S. territories for their energy programs. These programs coordinate with national goals to reduce petroleum consumption and increase the energy efficiency of the U.S. economy. They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
Well, I’m glad to hear that, “They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.” Seriously, they can’t say something like – we’d like more people of modest means to be able to weatherize their home? While clearly this site was intended to be used by the states and organization, and not the individual, it’s baffling that there is no resource for people looking to winterize their home. There is no clear directory to the states agencies and organizations that offer these services. The site is a maze of pages for the user to search through an alphabet soup of forms.
Now this may seem like a trite complaint, certainly there are bigger problems than a poor government website. However, this a symptom of one of the major problems with government – a serious lack of common sense. Just because you can make people jump through hoops doesn’t mean you should. As I looked through the site my reaction was first – ‘where do you get info on home weatherization?’ and second – ‘glad I don’t need to find a form’. There is a problem with government that isn’t political, it’s functional. Government often does a rotten job of performing efficiently and intelligently. It is a dificult issue to address, as there is probably no politicians who are ‘pro-big-beaurocracy’ or ‘pro-confusion,’ but that is what is often created by the government. It is wasteful and in some cases it can even be dangerous (just ask the people onthe Gulf Coast). The message to government shouldn’t be ‘work more,’ it should be ‘work better.’
The elections are over, the House is controlled by Republicans and the Democrats no longer have a super-majority in the Senate. So the question now is, ‘Can they work together?’ Only time will tell.
However, there is one issue (at least) that lends itself to bipartisan compromise – Energy. There are all sorts of good reasons to want a substantive energy policy. In fact there are so many reasons for addressing energy policy that Republicans and Democrats don’t have to be motivated by the same rationale…
The socio-political rationale: We purchase much of our oil from dangerous and volatile regions of the world that often don’t like the U.S. very much.
Environmental rationale: Energy derived from fossil fuels is not good for the environment.
Supply rationale: Some day we will run out of oil and coal.
Economic rationale: High energy costs and fluctuating energy costs negatively impact the economy in numerous ways.
Clearly these rationales are over-simplified. How much oil is available? What is the environmental impact? Where do our oil dollars go? Who can and can’t afford energy/heat? All serious issues worthy of study and debate. But here’s the simple version – the cost of energy is problematic in a variety of ways, and there are alternatives. So the big question… ‘Will Congress have the Backbone to Address Energy?’
Greta Van Sustren did a couple post election interviews that provided forthright, honest, at times very blunt assessments of the election results. One with Senator Lindsey Graham, the other with Senator Orrin Hatch. Both these Senators have worked across the aisle in the past, and have received heat from there own party for doing so.
GretaVan Sustren: What did you think about the Presidents press conference yesterday? Were you convinced that he was properly chasten because there was a message from the American people; or not? You shake your head no.
Senator Lindsey Graham: Well, I just don’t think he understands that it was his policies that got him into this mess. You know President Obama came in with a wave of hope. The American people picked this young man, they were hopeful he could change things, and the policies, health care and the process passing health care was everything different than he said it would be. The stimulus package, the financial regulation bill, the amount of debt, the growth of government – people rejected his policies. He lost his own Senate seat. Illinois voted for a Republican, a moderate Republican, how much clearer message can you get/give to the President. People of Illinois, like him personally, saying you’re going the wrong way. We want to check and balance you, and I don’t think he understands that. It was policies not personality that got him in this mess. People don’t love Republicans. It wasn’t like people in Illinois woke one day and said ‘Boy, I’ve been a Republican all these years and didn’t know it. It’s the Obama overreach.”
Senator Orrin Hatch has been very critical of the health care legislation. He provides a unique perspective because he has often worked with Democrats specifically on health care legislation like s-chip. His entire interview is worth viewing, but he provide an amusingly blunt assessment of the health care bill when he said…
“I was going to say it was a piece of crap, but that would not be fair to some people who were very sincere in trying to do what is right.”
Recommend checking out these two interview at the ‘On the Record’ home page.