The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Redistributive Change

Since the introduction of Joe the Plumber a few weeks ago (and his subsequent savaging by elements of the MSM), much has been said about Barack Obama’s real position on “sharing the wealth.” You’d think that the MSM would try to investigate this subject in depth, so that the broader electorate might better understand Obama’s true thinking on this matter (Obama, of course, has been less than forthcoming on the subject).

This morning, Bill Whittle reports on a 2001 WBEZ.FM recording of Barack Obama discussing constitutional matters. You can listen to Obama make the following statement:
You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil-rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay, but the Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [It] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn’t shifted, and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.

Whittle dissects this commentary in some detail and I would urge you to read his comments. But Obama's operative phrases are: “…The Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.” And later, “…One of the, I think, the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.”

I’d like to hear the 2008 version of Barack Obama answer detailed questions on what he meant by these comments and whether he still believes them. Exactly what did he mean by “redistributive change?”

But of course, the MSM won’t ask those questions, and even if they did, time is now so short that Obama’s obfuscatory answers would have no impact on the outcome of this election.

For those of us who have expressed concerns about Obama’s true position on important domestic matters such as taxation and the size and role of government, this direct, unscripted look at the real Barack Obama is not reassuring.

Until proven otherwise, I will stand by my position that the real Barack Obama (pre-2006) and the candidate Barack Obama are radically different people with radically different ideological positions. The question, I suppose, is whether Obama has changed in substantive ways. We’re gonna find out over the next four years.

I just hope it’s not the hard way.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Over the past few years I have written many, many posts castigating the main stream media (MSM) for blatant-left leaning bias that has over the past year morphed into outrageous acts of omission and advocacy for Barack Obama.

Regardless of who you’re supporting for President, I hope you’ll pause for just a moment and consider the long-term danger of a media that can no longer be trusted to report fairly. One of the strengths of our democracy is a free press—a powerful advocate for those of us who are not in government and an even more powerful watchdog guarding us from those who are.

Michael S. Malone, a fourth generation journalist who currently works for ABC News, has written a powerful column suggesting that for the first time in his professional life, he is ashamed of his chosen profession.

Malone is a pragmatist. He realizes that no one can be completely unbiased and that small acts of spin and advocacy have always occurred in the media. I agree.

But he goes on to suggest that we’re now witnessing something very new and very dangerous. He writes:
But what really shattered my faith -- and I know the day and place where it happened -- was the war in Lebanon three summers ago. The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia, only carried CNN, a network I'd already learned to approach with skepticism. But this was CNN International, which is even worse.

I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story & but it never happened.

I wrote many posts during that period arguing the same thing. It provides cold comfort to see a professional restate my concerns three years after the fact and after the damage perpetrated by the media bias had been done.

But it gets much worse. Malone continues:
But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.

Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press.

I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather -- not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake -- but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

But all of that is now water under the bridge. It’s very likely that the blatant bias of the MSM has been a major contributor to the election of Barack Obama. I’m certain that many reporters and editors at news organizations like the NYT, the LAT, the Washington Post, and the alphabet networks will celebrate their “victory” on the night of November 4th.

But in the long run, the MSM lost much, much more than they’ve won. They’ve lost the trust of tens of millions of people, who can no longer rely on their objectivity or fairness. They’ve lost their ability to serve as a watchdog against politicians who over-reach. They lost their credibility—and in the world of words, that’s pretty much all you’ve got.

The behavior of the MSM has been shameful—disgusting is not too strong a word. I’m not sure the media can ever repair the damage they’ve done to themselves and to the country.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


In a way, it’s ironic—George Bush’s most significant legacy may very well be the election of Barack Obama. I honestly do believe that the country has embraced Obama not so much because of his experience, his accomplishments, or his ideology, but simply because he is the anti-Bush. Lets take a look:
  • Where Bush gives new meaning to the term “inarticulate,” Obama is a world-class orator. The senator’s comments are purposely vague, but he presents them so glibly that many cannot help but be impressed.

  • Where Bush was often ham-handed in his foreign policy, Obama’s smooth image allows people to believe (against all evidence to the contrary) that he will deal effectively with the growing forces that wish us ill.

  • Where Bush was an unabashed believer in American exceptionalism, Obama, along with millions of his supporters, thinks (wrongly in my opinion) that we are the exclusive cause of many of the world’s problems, and therefore, we must worry more about fixing ourselves rather than the harsh realities that await us on the outside.

  • Where Bush was a believer in free markets, low taxation, and the primacy of personal responsibility, Obama’s big government philosophy has resonated after the financial collapse of the last month. People “believe” that the Senator, along with substantial democratic majorities in both houses and the “leadership” of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can somehow tame the economy though a combination of class warfare, growing entitlements, and hyper-regulation. “Spreading the wealth around” (to paraphrase Obama) appears to have resonated well enough with the broad electorate, at least until the wealth he begins to spread around begins to be taken from the saving accounts of those who don’t own yachts, Bentley’s or million dollar houses. But by then, it’ll be too late to do much about it.

  • Where Bush was an open book—what you saw (like it or not) was what you got, Obama is a cipher, allowing people (foolishly in my opinion) to project their individual hopes and dreams onto his carefully constructed blank slate.

All of Bush’s mistakes and many of the circumstances that were beyond the 43rd President’s control have led the nation to Barack Obama. Obama has spent much time criticizing Bush’s presidency, so I hope he’ll learn from it, because (Obama supporters might gasp at this comment) George Bush and Barack Obama have a number of things in common.

Bush entered the Presidency at the conclusion of the dot-com implosion. Although it’s difficult to remember now, we recovered and experienced five years of solid economic growth. Unfortunately, during that growth period a festering infection lay under the surface, and over the past month, tens of millions of Americans became economically ill. Recovery will take years.

Obama enters the presidency with the most significant economic collapse since the great depression. The moves he makes might look good to his supporters in the short term, but if he reintroduces a different, festering infection, he will do this country great harm. He should think about that carefully before he acts based on ideology, rather than sound economic advice.

Within nine months of his inauguration, Bush was faced with the single most devastating attack on the homeland in US history. Although much of what he did in the aftermath can be roundly criticized, he recognized that nothing we did precipitated the hatred of the islamists. It’s what we believed (or did not believe) and what we represented that drives these psychopaths to behead reporters, murder school teachers who dare to educate Moslem girls, cut off the hands of children who see western doctors, and stone rape victims to death. These continuing atrocities cause the peace-at-any-price crowd to become deaf and mute or to quickly change the subject.

Obama must ask himself how he intends to deal with the Islamists. Does he truly believe that sitting down with their surrogates—the Iranian regime, Hezballah, and Hamas—will serve our county’s long-term interests? Whether appeasement will somehow cause them to hate us less or respect us more? I hope upon reflection, he’ll come to realize that Bush made many mistakes, but he did not mistake the murderous intent or the evil that Islamofascism represents.

George W. Bush has likely given the presidency to Barack Obama. Rather than a thank you note, Obama should spend a few moments between November 4th and January 20th thinking about what he can really learn from Bush’s presidency. If he thinks that his election is a mandate to swing as far left and Bush intended to swing far right, Obama’s presidency will fail in much the same way as Bush’s. Over time and with the mistakes of hubris and inexperience, the ardor of a media that adores Obama will cool, and the country may again become sullen. Lord knows, we’ve had enough of that. Obama should think hard—very hard—about what he wants his legacy to be, even before he takes the oath of office.

I have to believe that on January 20, 2000, George W. Bush never guessed that it would come to this. I suspect Barack Obama can’t conceive that the same fate might befall him in the days after January 20, 2008.

Too bad, because a bit of humility and a dollop of moderation would go a long way toward reassuring the tens of millions of citizens who continue to have questions about his ability to lead this country in a way that will bring hope and (meaningful) change.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


With the exception of the debate about off-shore drilling, both presidential candidates appear to be aggressive about this country’s desperate need to become energy independent. Both seem to say the right things, and differences between their positions appear to be small.

However, if you probe just a bit, you will find that there are question marks about the pragmatic steps that Barack Obama would take to move toward energy independence in the mid-term (the next 10 years). For all the talk about high tech, alternative energy (excellent ideas that will need time to develop), the best mid-term solutions are to augment our electricity generation capacity with clean coal, wind, solar, and nuclear energy. Obama is an advocate of wind and solar technologies, and that’s good. But he tries to avoid discussions of coal (so as not to rile his environmental backers), and is very slippery when he discusses nuclear power. He always uses the phrase “safe nuclear power.”

If you’re not paying attention, his use of the term slips by without a thought, afterall, we all want "safe" nuclear power. But in reality, this phrasing provides him with an excuse for not supporting one of the cleanest and safest power generation options. With the backing of radical environmentalists, I believe he will deem nuclear power not safe enough. The use of the word “safe” allows him to appear to be for it, but actually have no intention of supporting it.

Those of us who were alive in the aftermath of Three Mile Island will remember that those on the Left effectively killed nuclear power development in this country. Using scare tactics that were not supported by either past history or science, they encouraged so many regulatory restrictions that litigation effectively stopped the construction of new nuclear power plants. An unintended consequence was that oil-fired electricity generation grew and our current massive dependence on foreign oil resulted at least in part because of this.

Is nuclear power safe? Barack Obama is dithering, but many industrialized countries think it is and use it as a primary mode of electricity generation. From Wikipedia:
In France, as of 2002, Électricité de France (EDF) — the country's main electricity generation and distribution company — manages the country's 59 nuclear power plants. As of 2008, these plants produce 87.5% of both EDF's and France's electrical power production (of which much is exported),[1] making EDF the world leader in production of nuclear power by percentage. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country's total production of 540.6 TWh was from nuclear power (78.8%).

The French are sometimes used as an exemplar for the kind of governmental policies that Obama could support. Are the French so irresponsible that they’d use an unsafe power source for 87.5% of the electrical generation capacity?

What about Japan, one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet?
There are currently 53 operating nuclear power plants in Japan. The ten FEPC member companies own and operate 49 Light Water Reactors (LWR). Three more LWRs are operated by the private company Japan Atomic Power Corporation (JAPC) and the Monju Fast Breeder Reactor (a prototype) is run by the semi-governmental organization Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC). There are also three more nuclear plants currently under construction, as well as another six that are in advanced planning stages. One of those reactors in the planning stage will be owned and operated by another semi-private corporation, The Electric Power Development Co, Inc. (EPDC).

Are the Japanese so irresponsible that they’d use an unsafe power source for 28% of the electrical generation capacity and have three new plants under development and six in planning?

Nuclear power generation technologies have come a long way since TMI. The technology is “safe.”

Will Barack Obama cut regulatory constraints, limit vexatious lawsuits and actively encourage this important element of our approach to energy independence. Like so many other things about the Senator, we simply don’t know because he is ambiguous when he answers straightforward questions.

My guess is that nuclear power would not be part of his mid-term energy strategy and as a consequence, we’ll struggle to achieve the energy independence that we so badly need.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Joe Being Joe

I’ve been patiently waiting for the first in-depth media interview that probes, really probes, what Joe Biden meant when he suggested in a talk with donors (he assumed there was no media present) that a young and inexperienced (my characterization, not Biden’s) President Obama would be tested by an international crisis in his first six months. There's no real surprise there. That eventuality is highly likely. It's what he said next that is startling.
"We're gonna need you [the democratic donors] to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

What specifically did Biden mean when he said "it's not gonna be apparent that we're right"? Did he mean that Obama would respond with force and that the anti-War Left would be upset? Did he mean (turning 180 degrees) that Obama would try to appease an aggressor and the Center of the American electorate would be upset? For example, did he mean that Obama might turn the other cheek if Israel were attacked by Iran (Obama never answered a direct question on the subject of an Iranian attack on Israel during the second Presidential debate. McCain was unequivocal in his answer).

My goodness. Are we to be left guessing what Biden meant? Apparently, in their blatant bias in favor of the Obama-Biden ticket, the MSM seems afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked—afraid that no matter what the answers are, it won’t bode well for their Chosen One. So they dither and turn away, while the voting public is left to guess, or more likely, to remain ignorant about the entire episode.

Kirsten Powers (a Democrat) comments:
Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden as his running mate prompted a small wave of warnings about Biden's propensity for gaffes. But no one imagined even in a worse-case scenario such a spectacular bomb as telling donors Sunday to "gird your loins" because a young president Obama will be tested by an international crisis just like young President John Kennedy was.

Scary? You betcha! But somehow, not front-page news.

Again the media showed their incredible bias by giving scattered coverage of Biden's statements.

Like so many things throughout this seemingly endless campaign, the voting public is left with no answers when the actions, associations and even words of Barack Obama or now, Joe Biden precipitate serious questions.

The problem, I guess, is that pro-Obama editors and reporters sense at an unconscious level that some, if not all of the answers will reflect poorly on their guy. So they abuse the public trust, forget their professional ethics, and act like the three monkeys—hearing, seeing and speaking no evil.

For those readers who think I’m overstating this point, imagine for a moment that Sarah Palin had said what Biden said. The media would be relentless, calling her irresponsible or worse and demanding that she explain what she meant. Her comments would be in heavy rotation on the major broadcast and cable networks and above the fold in major newspapers. She would be hounded until answers were offered. And you know what, if she had made such provocative comments, that would be the appropriate media response. But Biden … he gets a pass. Why?

It's not very hard to figure out. Sad.

Monday, October 20, 2008


As we move ever closer to the election (actually, early voting begins today in SoFla), endorsements from major national figures and minor small town newspapers (and everyone in between) have begun. Not surprisingly, the majority of the MSM has endorsed Barack Obama, while the few conservative media outlets have aligned themselves with John McCain.

I find it interesting that in virtually every Obama endorsement, the writer discusses the Senator’s “steady” approach to politics over the past six months, his command over the Obama campaign operation, and his deliberative approach to the issues of the day. These are contrasted to John McCains “erratic” behavior (a brilliant, if grossly overblown DNC talking point). The time line is always kept very short and the emphasis is on the tenor of the approach rather than its actual content and depth.

Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek is representative. He writes:
Let's be honest: neither candidate has past experience that is relevant to being president, except that they have now both run large, multiyear, multimillion-dollar, 50-state campaigns. By common consent, McCain's has been chaotic and ineffective, while Obama has run a superb operation, and done so with little of the drama and discord that usually plague political machines.

This is the case for Obama on substance, which is the most important criterion. But symbolism is also a powerful force in human affairs. Imagine what people around the world would think if they saw America once again inventing the future. And imagine how Americans would feel if they saw their country once again fulfilling its founding creed of equal opportunity, if they saw that there really were no barriers in their country, not even to the highest office in the land, not even for a man with a brown face and a strange name.

Symbolism does matter, and I can’t argue with Zakaria’s premise that the “symbol” of a Barack Obama would be a net positive. But is that all this is about? Symbolism? I’m reminded of an old commerical for Canon SLR cameras where the tag line was “Image is everything.”

I guess I’m just old school. Image and symbolism do matter, but so does content of character, so does a record of demonstrated bipartisanship, so does legislative experience, so do career accomplishments that predated the campaign, so does an ideological position that we can be assured (based on past history) to be neither too far Right nor too far Left.

Or maybe at the dawn of a new postmodern period, image is everything.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A General's Endorsement

I have enormous respect for Colin Powell. He is a man of vast accomplishment, broad experience, and impressive achievement. He is an intelligent and moderate man who exemplifies leadershipship. A public servant who has integrity as well as depth. He is everything that we should seek in a President, and I would vote for him in a heartbeat.

This morning Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President. He said:
"I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain."

Powell indicated that he has known Barack Obama for the past two years and is very impressed by the man. I will not question his judgment.

Here’s my problem. When I take an objective look at Barack Obama, not over the past two years — the span of his presidential run — but over his entire adult lifetime, I simply do not see a man of vast accomplishment, broad experience, impressive achievement. I do not see a man who has been a successful leader in any meaningful context. In fact, even Obama's most ardent supporters are hard pressed to list transformational accomplishments or achievements prior to his presidential run.

I would agree that if Powell’s judgment is correct, Barack Obama could become a “transformational figure” because he has the charisma and the communication skills to transcend normal politics. But right now, all we can hope is that the past two years of soaring rhetoric will translate into eight years of achievement.

Colin Powell believes that they will. I hope he’s right.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh, No! ODS

BDS—Bush Derangement Syndrome—began shortly after George W. Bush won a very close and hotly contested election against Al Gore in 2000. Within days, Left-leaning websites began relentless and harsh criticism of the new President, using derisive terms that rapidly morphed (on Websites like the DailyKos and Huffington Post) into the Bush/Chimp/Hitler mime.

Those of us in the Center watched this display of irrational hatred and just shook our heads. It’s okay to disagree with a man’s politics and it’s necessary to criticize bad decisions, but to attribute evil intent to his every decision (think: the Iraq war or hurricane Katrina) is, well, unhinged.

Sadly, what goes around in politics, comes around.

It appears that Barack Obama will win the Presidency. The current economic meltdown has given new meaning to the phrase “people vote their pocketbooks” and the incumbent party will be made to pay for the economic collapse that has engulfed us all.

What troubles me is that as the reality of an Obama presidency begins to sink in, we're beginning to see ODS—Obama Derangement Syndrome—rear it’s ugly head at Right-leaning blogs and Websites. Like those on the Left who adopted BDS as a driving political philosophy, some on the Right appear to be rapidly descending into an irrational hatred of Obama.

All of us must (to borrow a phrase) put our country first. Although he is woefully inexperienced and untested in the mosh-pit that is Washington politics, it’s only fair that every one of us give an Obama administration a chance to guide our country out of the mess we’re in. We may not agree with his politics, and over time, we may criticize his decisions, but I do not think his intent will be evil.

BDS was and continues to be despicable. ODS will be nothing less than the same thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Best Offense

Whether it’s the NFL or the NBA, every coach will tell you that “the best offense is a good defense.” The Obama campaign has heeded this sage device and has decided that the best defense about questions arising from Barack Obama’s long list of highly questionable associations (Rev. Wright, Tony Resko, Ali Abunimah, Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers, among others) and his long standing financial support (via grants, legislation, and earmarks) of ACORN is to trumpet the charge that the McCain campaign is using “guilt by association” or initiating unfounded “attacks” that are both ungentlemanly and unfair.

Many in the mainstream media, who have become an extension of the Obama campaign, recognize the potential damage that a full investigation of any of these associations might do. As a consequence, they have decided to run out the clock, spending little if any time investigating these matters. When forced to confront an issue, say the Ayers connection, the MSM focuses more on the “attack” than on the substance of the charge.

It works. Obama has become the Teflon candidate. Questions about his judgment and character—all tied to the long list of associations, go unanswered. His supporters contend that the questions should never have been asked in the first place or respond that even John McCain palled around the Charles Keating, one of the key bad guys in the S&L scandal in the 1980s.

The problem is that McCain has close to 20 years of important legislative accomplishment that has occurred after his association with Keating. He may have made a mistake in associating with the man, but his actions (forget his words) in the years after the scandal demonstrate clearly that he is a reformer, a bipartisan legislator, and a man with more integrity than most politicians.

What about Obama? His record is so thin that we have no idea whether or not he has gotten beyond his associations. He has done nothing legislatively to indicate that he vehemently disagrees with Wright’s or Ayer’s characterization of his country. He has never sponsored a bill or acted in any way that indicates that he would oppose Abunimah's and Khalidi's views on the Middle East.

The real irony and brilliance of the Obama campaign is that while they use guilt by association as a bogus defense against legitimate questions about their candidate's character and judgment, they have themselves used guilt by association as the centerpiece of their campaign— “four more years of Bush’s America.”

It works … and it appears increasingly likely that it will result in an Obama presidency. But after the celebrations of November 4th, after the giddy pleasure of the inauguration, and after the honeymoon of the first 100 days, the legitimate questions that should have been thoroughly vetted in September and October will remain unanswered.

The one thing that Barack Obama will learn is that there is no such thing as a Teflon presidency. His character and his judgment will be tested by a frightening set of domestic and international challenges. I can only hope that his associations were nothing more than inexperience and that at his core, he is a man who is ready for the most difficult job on the planet.

It would be far better if we knew now, but I’m afraid all we can do is hope.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gordon Gekko

As I have noted in earlier posts, there are no good guys in the current credit debacle that is rapidly turning into a global psychodrama. Borrowers, lenders, politicians, and Wall Street hot shots (the real life progeny of the fictional Gordon Gekko) have given new meaning to the word: irresponsibility. Over the next months and into the term of the new President, there will be massive recriminations with each irresponsible segment pointing fingers at the other. A pox on all their houses!

As the dust begins to settle (and that won’t be anytime soon), we need an overriding philosophy for moving forward. The Australian's Kevin Rudd enunciates such a philosophy better than any American commentator I have read:
There is an alternative political and policy narrative to the one that has tended to prevail in recent times. A narrative that recognises the importance of markets, but one that also recognises the limitations of markets and recognises also where markets fail.

It recognises the role of public goods and that one of those public goods is market regulation. It values transparency, competition and innovation but does not encourage speculation or reward for merely short-term success. It is a political and corporate culture that values profitability and productivity achieved through hard work, but one that does not endorse the Gordon Gekko ethic of the quick buck, based on little more than a single financial transaction.

We believe that market participants need strong incentives and rewards for success. But we believe their success should be measured over a sustainable horizon. We believe in strong incentives for individuals, but we also believe that trust and traditional ethical standards are essential elements of the financial system. We believe strongly in the profit motive but we also believe in responsibility to the community where those profits are made, a belief increasingly evident in Australian corporate philanthropic behaviour.

When we are through this crisis, it will be time to take stock. Because across the length and breadth of the nation, the cry of the people is clear, and that is for a long-term, sustainable vision for the nation's future. It is a vision that goes beyond the electoral cycle, that goes beyond a quarterly corporate reporting cycle and that certainly goes beyond the 24-hour news cycle.

Those of us who pay for 70 percent of government don’t ask for much, but we’d love to see the new president stress and/or force responsible actions for all of the bad guys in this drama—less debt at an individual level; ethical behavior among lenders; reform among politicians who worry more about their reelection than their country, and regulation of Wall Street’s children of Gordon Gekko whose extreme hubris and greed led us all into this mess.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Point

The MSM has finally begun talking about the relationship between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama (an inaccurate and misleading article in the New York Times appeared yesterday). I've covered the Ayers-Obama relationship in many earlier posts and repeated wondered why the MSM had not delved into it. It's interesting that they're doing so now. In fact, I suspect they're trying to inoculate their Chosen One from the release of the story by the McCain camp. By controlling and spinning the content as the NYT did yeasterday, the MSM is trying to convince the public that there's nothing there. Their efforts, I suspect, will work.

In the early 1970s, ABC television released a feature length cartoon entitled “The Point”. A synopsis from The Cartoon Database:
In the town of Point, a land where everyone (and everything!) has a point, the birth of a pointless boy throws the kingdom into an existential crisis that is temporary resolved by banishing the youngster, round-headed Oblio, to the Pointless Forest with his pet (and accomplice) Arrow. On their journey, Oblio and Arrow meet a bizarre stable of characters. Furthermore, they discover that just because someone or something seems to have a point doesn’t mean that they do, and that sometimes, the most seemingly pointless things are the most integral to human existence.

I can remember watching this wonderful cartoon and still recall the money quote: “People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.”

During this final month of the campaign, there simply aren’t enough undecided’s left who have the desire or energy to explore the complex relationship between Ayers and Obama, and more importantly, what it says about a man who will likely be President. The public will watch and listen, but see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

The Ayers story, as damning as it is, won’t matter. Three months ago it may have, but now, what’s the point?