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It is hard for me to understand how anyone can seriously blame President Obama for our current economic mess.  We are still living out the consequences of Bush era foreign and economic policy.  The real folly, however, is in thinking that the Republican Party is the party to extract us from our mess.  With a few notable exceptions, like the weaker-than-it should-have-been Democratic stimulus bill, the failure of Obama policies to work can be largely blamed on the Republican Party which at every turn has said “NO” to anything proposed by the President.  You see, the reality of American politics today is that the interest of your political party comes before country.  President Obama succeeding with economy would decrease the Republican Party’s chance of winning the next election.  The calculus is that simple.

Along these lines, there’s good opinion piece in the Washington Post today contrasting the disconnect between voters support for Obama economic initiatives and their blaming of Obama for our economy’s ills.   The real blame lies with the Republican Party, past, present and future.  America needs to wake up, before it’s too late.

The piece by Greg Sargent is entitled: The big disconnect: Strong disapproval of Obama on economy, solid support for his actual policies.

 

 

There were two pieces of note in yesterday’s Washington Post that are broadly in sync with the substance of my last weblog posting and the general sentiments routinely expressed on this website.  The first, by Dan Balz, is entitled Bloomberg appears to be centering himself to run for president in 2012.  The second is by David S. Broder and is entitled Centrist on the rise, discussing the apparently new Barack Obama.

I consider both pieces to be must-reads.  The Broder piece discusses an Obama that seems to finally understand that to win re-election, he must separate himself in the electorate’s mind from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.  This is absolutely right.  This Barack Obama, Mr. Broder suggests, will also have a much better chance of re-election than the one that was shellacked in last month’s election.

This Obama, too, is much less likely to draw a Michael Bloomberg into an independent run for President.  As Mr. Balz points out, Bloomberg apparently needs a weak Obama as well as a Republican opponent from the most conservative wing of the party to enter the presidential contest as a contender.

I’m delighted with both developments.  I am thrilled that Mr. Bloomberg is coming out swinging at our federal governmental dysfunction and contemplating an independent run for President.  I look forward to hearing his comments at the No Labels rollout in New York City on Monday.  I will be there cheering him on.  I am likewise comforted that President Obama may have finally found both his centrist voice and a strategy for success in dealing with his Republican opposition for the next two years.  He needs to challenge the excesses of the Republican right and it is best done from the center of the spectrum.  I am convinced a centrist message will resonate with a vast swath of the American electorate.

Paul Krogman in an Op-Ed in the New York Times today entitled There Will Be Blood echoes sentiments I’ve been expressing on this weblog for the last few weeks.  We are in trouble if the Republican Party keeps true to its promises.  Deep trouble.

This piece today by Mr. Krogman, someone with whom I’ve often disagreed, is spot on.

While I was off introspecting this summer, something stunning was happening in American politics.  Conservative Republicans were being rejected by Republican voters in primaries and caucuses across the country:  Bob Bennett (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Mike Castle (DE).  Charlie Crist would surely have lost the Republican primary had he not opted to run as an independent first.  These conservative Republicans were beat because they were not conservative enough.  They were too “moderate” for the Republican rank and file.

The extent of this lunacy is well-described by Dana Milbank in an October 6 Op-Ed in the Washington Post entitled Who’s a real conservative?  It’s all relative. I consider this a must-read.

It helps explain why I am not longer a real Republican.  If there is no place in the party for folks who are with you two-thirds of the time, there is no place in the party for a relative centrist such as myself.  And it speaks to a very dangerous America in the years ahead when our two parties are so ideologically distant.  Nothing that this country so urgently needs to do will be done, as Thomas Friedman so eloquently pointed out in his October 2 New York Times Op-Ed, discussed and linked in one of my blog postings yesterday.

What I am pleased about is that Senator Murkowski and Governor Crist have opted to run as independents.  Fantastic.  My hope would be that they would choose not to align with either party and start building a third party base in their home states.  I think there would be enormous freedom in not having to pander to either party’s ideological base.  The country would undoubtedly benefit as we’d likely see more common sense and rationality emanating from at least two U.S. Senators.  I regret that Mike Castle declined to also run as an independent.  He would have been a great U.S. Senator, especially if freed from the need to pander to his party’s right wing.

In an October 2, 2010, Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled Third Party Rising, Thomas L. Friedman hits a nail directly on its head with two primary assertions:  (1) That our government is failing to seriously address the significant crises that beset it, and (2) that we must, as a country, rip open the two-party duopoly and have it challenged by a “serious” third party that will be able to develop rational and centrist public policy with greatly diminished special interest influence.

I couldn’t agree with more with this piece.  In fact, I am making it a mission to identify these groups working on East and West coasts to develop “third parties”.

Let me close with a excerpt that especially resonates with me:

“We basically have two bankrupt parties bankrupting the country,” said the Stanford University political scientist Larry Diamond. Indeed, our two-party system is ossified; it lacks integrity and creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems. We simply will not be able to do the things we need to do as a country to move forward “with all the vested interests that have accrued around these two parties,” added Diamond. “They cannot think about the overall public good and the longer term anymore because both parties are trapped in short-term, zero-sum calculations,” where each one’s gains are seen as the other’s losses.

Hear, hear!

When Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post speaks, we are wise to listen.  His business commentary is distinctly non-partisan and filled with common sense observations about the state of our economic world.  His piece today in the Washington Post is another must-read.  It is entitled Keeping an open mind on solutions to the budget deficit.

On the eve of the election in Great Britain there were two Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post that I regarded as worthwhile reading. They were Mark Penn’s A new wind in politics and David S. Broder’s A test of two parties.  While Nick Clegg’s Liberal  Democrat Party didn’t do nearly as well as predicted (an understatement), it looks like it will still play the role of kingmaker. That is hopefully good news for those of us who believe that two-party rule is failing in the modern world to move policy in the right direction.

Let this also announce my complete and total endorsement of Charlie Crist’s run as an independent for U.S. Senator from Florida.  Two-party rule must be broken.

I heartily recommend a New York Times blog post I came across this morning thanks to a friends post on Facebook.  It is by Pico Iyer and is entitled The Doctor is Within.  It’s an excellent piece talking about the Dalai Lama and Buddhism.  It made me think about why I stopped writing on this blog several months ago.  Perhaps I was trying to change the world and was realizing the futility of such an effort.  Perhaps it was a cognizance that I needed to readjust my thinking before I commenced writing again.  And, perhaps it is appropriate that I began again with different expectations.  Perhaps.

There was a superb piece by Peter Singer in the New York Times on July 15 entitled Why We Must Ration Health Care.  For one thing, we already do it; we just don’t do it equitably.  A public plan with the ability to purchase supplemental insurance or to purchase private insurance would be preferable to what we have an not as onerous as a single payer system.  But we can’t lose sight, the author points out, that even in countries with single payer systems, people are far happier with their system than Americans are presently with what they have.  It is time to move forward on health care reform.  This article helps point us in the right direction and dispense with the argument that we can’t ration health care.  I strongly recommend it.

There is a must-read opinion column in the Washington Post this morning by Robert J. Samuelson.  It’s entitled The Bias Against Oil and Gas.  It is spot-on.

Energy is critical to the healthy functioning of the U.S. economy.  It is, therefore, a crucially important issue for President Obama to get right–to address in a rational manner.  The point here is that Obama’s “bias” against oil and natural gas will have consequences.  These consequences include failure of his “energy policy” and quite possibly failure of his economic policy upon which so much, even rhetorically, rides on the over-estimated potential of renewable energy.  Worse yet, it means that Republicans may be handed an issue, when oil prices once again soar (and oil prices will again soar, trust me), that gets them re-elected before they deserve to be.  The loser will be the country.

The point here, and I am certain the prime motivation behind Mr. Samuelson penning the piece he did, is that there is time to correct course.  There is still time to get it right.

There are a couple of reasons in particular why someone as brilliant as Mr. Obama has gotten this issue so terribly wrong.   One, and at the top of my list, is that our president doesn’t really understand energy policy.  This is understandable.  Although Illinois is an oil and natural gas producing state, it is not Texas.  While once a significant producer, Illinois’ production has declined and oil’s economic significance to the state is limited.  Additionally, spending a career in Chicago and so little time as a Senator representing the entire state, President Obama has had little opportunity to be educated.  Thus he, like most Americans, has learned about energy not by first hand experience but by what he’s been informed about energy, and particularly about oil and natural gas, by popular culture.  Popular culture tells us that oil is dirty and is bad for people and the planet and the way to move ahead is to not drill any more dirty oil wells.  It tells us that solar and wind are clean and abundant and we must only try harder and that will be our future.  As nice as this sounds, however, it is myth.

Another reason Obama has this wrong is alluded to in Mr. Samuelson’s column.  It is the power of the environmental groups and the fact, quoting Mr. Samuelson that “[t]o many environmentalists, expanding fossil fuel production is a cardinal sin.”  Given that environmental groups are an important contituency of the Democratic Party, Democrats are loathe to challenge its orthodoxy.  Yet a rational energy and economic policy demands a overt challenge.  Unless challenged it will lead the country down a path that does not lead to energy self-sufficiency.  It will lead to even more oil imports in the years ahead.

Expanding domestic oil production is not inconsistent with our country’s, and the world’s need, to limit the burning of fossil fuels in the years ahead.  That need is properly addressed through legislation that will begin to put a cost on the burning of fossil fuels so as to discourage its use.  In the meantime, the goal of this country needs to be moving as much production as it feasibly can back to this country.  We must never lose sight that every barrel not produced at home will otherwise have to be imported.  And every barrel of oil imported amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs going overseas.

Energy and economic policy will only work if built on a rational foundation.  It is time to re-lay the footings and begin to construct an energy policy that has architectural grounding.   

 

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