Sunday, September 28, 2008

McCain vs. Obama on Foreign Policy.

By the end of the dabate Friday night, both presidential candidates tried to show their audience why they were better suited to be a president. McCain used the same refrain of attacking Obama for his "lack of experience" and he used the Russian invasion of Georgia as a a case in point:
And I -- and I honestly don't believe that Senator Obama has the knowledge or experience and has made the wrong judgments in a number of areas, including his initial reaction to Russian invasion -- aggression in Georgia, to his -- you know, we've seen this stubbornness before in this administration to cling to a belief that somehow the surge has not succeeded and failing to acknowledge that he was wrong about the surge is -- shows to me that we -- that -- that we need more flexibility in a president of the United States than that.
Earlier in the debate McCain accused Obama of not understanding the situation between Georgia and Russia :
Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, “Both sides ought to show restraint.” Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government.”
As we have posted before, it must be first reminded that Georgia was not merely a victim in this case. Russia's response was certainly disproportionate but it is Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili who triggered the actual war by attacking Russian troops. In fact, it is MCain's reaction that was not only wrong but hasty and dangerous.
Former Secretary of State Colin Owell also seems to clearly believe that McCain didn't handle the situation very well in this case:

Well of course, McCain has a long history with Georgia that may explain some of his strong reaction.

In the end, the debate had the merit of giving us two clear different visions : McCain's vision is simple and bellicous: "Us vs. Them", resembling Bush's vision of "Good vs. Evil". (It has the advantage of being understood by any one with even a simple mind which makes it precisely very dangerous.). And the other is more complex and subtle and may be harder to sell to some people but in essence it gives us the hope that the US should respected again for its values.

McCain/Bush's vision has already led us to an unnecessary war, how many more are needed before we tried somethign different?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives

Attempting to inject a little sanity into this elections season, a professor from UVA explains his research on the moral roots of our various political views :


Sunday, September 21, 2008

McCain Wants Healthcare to Be Like Banking.

In the meantime, while McCain praised the "fundamentals of the economy" he also recently wrote this :
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Recently THIS Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries, in an article called "Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American" as Paul Krugman noted in the NYTimes:

So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!

If McCain gets away with this, then there is no more to hope from the American people!


This is isn't France!

"Somethign is rotten in the state of Denmark"
Hamlet, Act I, Scene 4.
Clearly this is the perfect phrase for this week's events:

In their bold response to the deepening financial trauma, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department appear to have tossed aside the playbook that guided official thinking on the economy for three decades. (USA Today)

And not everybody is happy :
Former White House economist Nouriel Roubini, who forecast the current financial storm two years ago, has a harsher verdict.
He says the USA is turning into "the United Socialist State Republic of America."

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., describing himself as "outraged" by the Fed's assertiveness, sounded a similar theme: "The only difference between what the Fed did and what Hugo Chávez is doing in Venezuela is Chávez doesn't put taxpayer dollars at risk when he takes over companies. He just takes them." (USA Today)
So is the United States becoming more like .... France?

Feel reassured. According to Kenneth Rogoff, former IMF chief economist:
"The government has no intention of running AIG for the next 20 years. This isn't France. This is temporary!"
No, it isn't a "socialist" country, here in the US, you only socialize losses, not profits. Phew! For a moment I thought the taxpayer - I mean the "government" - would even keep some potential profits made by the hard working CEOs.

Imagine how well this will play outside the U.S. especially in Mexico, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil or Argentina which all had to go through major economic crisis - even if thay had different origins, there is some unbearable cruel irony in the current situation :

As the U.S. confronts its day of reckoning, the gap between the economic remedies it urged on others and its own actions are glaring. (USA Today)
The government may be right in acting but Americans need to learn their lesson from this : let the government supervise and regulate financial institutions and learn some humility with regards to the plight of others.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

9/11 and the Globalization of Stupidity.

The world has now reached a new dimension in stupidity, according to this International poll:

A new poll of 17 nations finds that majorities in only nine of them believe in that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Now if you're a teacher, like myself, you may think this is a sign of poor education but not even:
Even in European countries, the majorities that say al Qaeda was behind 9/11 are not overwhelming. Fifty-seven percent of Britons, 56 percent of Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite al Qaeda." However, significant portions of Britons (26%), French (23%), and Italians (21%) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 percent of Germans cite the US government, as do 15 percent of Italians.

It is almost remarkable that the French should not show worse results : after all, one of the leading proponents of 9/11 conspiracy theory is a French man called Thierry Meyssan and he has been given some coverage. (his book was translated in no less than The book was translated into 28 languages!).

Let's rejoice: political stupidity has now also reached global proportions (well, it probably always was, we just didn't know it!)


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Republican Europe Bashing

Here's what Mike Huckabee said at the Republican convention last week :
John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to a need for change. But let me say there are some things we don't want to change: freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper. Barack Obama's excellent adventure to Europe... (LAUGHTER) ... took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don't even vote or pay taxes here. But let me hasten to say that it's not what he took there that concerns me. It's what he brought back: European ideas that give the government the chance to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood. (video here)
This comes from the man who finished 2nd in the primaries.
The man must be right - surely Americans should be aware of the danger of European propaganda. They should probably not even travel to Europe. Who knows...? They might even get sick and get free health care there and even enjoy it.
Or worse, Europeans might even convince some Americans that government intervention in the private sector is a good thing. Because THAT would never happen in the land of the free. We'd never let anyone take our liberty to go bankgrupt... (not even if you're Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, the Penn Central Railroad, Chrysler.... etc .... or would we?) or "bomb, bomb, bomb"anyone we want.