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Bloggingheads
12-23-2007, 08:13 AM

Jay J
12-23-2007, 03:06 PM
Critiques aimed at Obama which state that he doesn't realize a confrontation will be needed with insurance companies (and other kinds of corporations) seem to fail on a few counts.

For one thing, most of the huffing and puffing towards these industries seem designed to signal to Democratic voters that they agree with them, rather than designed to actually make progress. I mean, I'm sure the candidates who always huff and puff about corporations and such (Edwards, Kucinich, etc) mean what they say, but I doubt anyone thinks that this campaign rhetoric will itself solve anything.

Obama shares the goals, or desires the results that Edwards does, he just thinks a different style will be more effective, or at the very least he's decided to stay true to his own style. I personally feel that smooth and professional will work better than pissed off country boy, but that's just me, and I also think that it will matter more what approach any administration would take rather than the temperment of the candidates. We're imagining that any administration's posture will mimic its leaders temperment, which may be all we have to go on right now. Nevertheless I don't think an Obama administration would be less competent than an Edwards one, I'm sure that an Obama administration would be as competent as a Kucinich one, and I doubt Hillary would be more aggressive with industry than Obama.

It seems like you don't want to waste your indignation on things that aren't...pressing. True enough all the issues the candidates are talking about are very important, but the actual fight over them isn't taking place right now, we're only talking about which style of person you want to have the fight. Edwards shows his indignation so much, it's just lost on me by now. Obama's speech at the Democratic convention in 04' shows that he can provide that fire-in-the-belly righteous speech that gets everyone believing and fired up. But you don't want to do that kind of thing all the time. When Obama chooses to confront something, I think he'll have more credibility, since he doesn't make a habit of it.

I actually admire Obama's approach, and I think he'll draw the lines and have the fights when it's necessary. Obama was right about Iraq, and Hillary and Edwards were wrong. It seem to me that Obama is more reflective, and won't be as effected by relatively short term political feelings. He's not a knee-jerk anti-war guy, but opposed the Iraq War on its own merit, or lack thereof.

Hillary hasn't served in the U.S. Senate much longer than Obama, so you have to decide if her experience as First Lady is worth more than Obama's experience of serving in the Illinois Senate and working like the rest of us. And of course then you have to weigh that against the fact that Obama is the only serious candidate for President who was right about our Worst Foreign Venture of the last quarter of a century, while the rest of the candidates were wrong.

I'll take Obama's reflectiveness and vision over the other candidates "toughness" any day of the week.

Jay J
12-23-2007, 03:40 PM
BTW, I have no idea if Obama's plan would work better than one with a mandate. But I know Obama has economic advisers just like everyone else, and my personal bias is to try it without the mandate first. Obama hasn't ruled out doing what it takes if his plan doesn't work.

Krugman's critique of Obama is fairly specific on this point, but when it comes to the broader critique of Obama, I don't buy it, and I talked about why in the above post.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 04:07 PM
Jay J:

I agree with your thinking on Obama. I will say that it hurts to have Paul Krugman disapproving of his health care plan. My favorite candidate and the columnist I respect the most squabbling? Can't we all get along?

Ultimately, I don't care if PK dislikes the plan's details per se, since I doubt any health care plan is going to survive intact from what any candidate pledges. It's just that I don't want PK's voice from his bully pulpit hurting Obama's chances of winning the nomination and the election.

Jay J
12-23-2007, 04:25 PM
bjkeefe,

I too am worried about PK's criticism of Obama. It seems like every time I turn around lately, I see another heavy hitter come out against Obama. Joe Wilson recently furthered the meme that Obama lacks the relevant experience and depth to be President right now. I hate to sound like a broken record, but all this would be more persuasive if Obama hadn't been more prescient than every other serious candidate when it comes to Iraq. This is no small potatoes to me.

Hillary gets miffed every time Obama starts talking about Iraq, but she's the one who keeps pushing this experience meme. So what's fair is fair. Obama made this move on the failure of health care reform in the 90's. I mean, if it wasn't her fault at least in part, then it what sense can she claim this episode as experience?

It's the same with Iraq. If she's experienced, then surely we can't ignore her support for what is the disaster of the War in Iraq. She can't have it both ways.

I must admit to being a little surprised that you agree with me on Obama here, bj. We've disagreed about The Jena 6 rhetoric, and we've disagreed about the New Atheist rhetoric. In those cases, and in this one, I see myself defending the longer view. In all of these cases, I see the approach that I think will be better, in spite of the fact that it won't satisfy the short term emotional frustrations of the most passionate participants on either side.

Just wondering, don't you think your view of Obama is a departure from the way you approach issues surrounding the New Atheism and The Jena 6? What levers are being pulled, and when?

I'll be away from the computer for most of the rest of the day, so I'll check your response later.

Have a good one,

Jay

ohcomeon
12-23-2007, 04:53 PM
We need to settle on a phrase. I have no problem with "Worst Foreign Venture in the Last Quarter Century". Although it is not as satisfying as "Worst Foreign Policy Mistake in History", I am more certain the former is absolutely correct than the latter. Does one prefer WFVLCQ or WFPMIH? Or is there something in between?

bmichell
12-23-2007, 06:20 PM
I like this bloggingheads pairing. Conn Carroll is evenhanded enough that I never suspected he was conservative, and the two play well together--bring out the best in each other, share a sense of humor-- and each seems to have a solid knowledge base for his comments.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 06:45 PM
Jay:

Just wondering, don't you think your view of Obama is a departure from the way you approach issues surrounding the New Atheism and The Jena 6? What levers are being pulled, and when?

Well, I never claimed to be consistent.

However, I don't see why you think my views on the NAs and the J6 would be a predictor of candidate preference. Who would you have thought would be my choice for president?

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 06:46 PM
ohc:

I usually just use WPE, for Worst President Ever.

jmcnulty
12-23-2007, 07:13 PM
It sounds to me like you are too young to have memories of Nixon or Jimmy Carter. I don't think you can support that Bush is the worst President ever. I have no recall of Harding or Buchannan, but they are usually ranked among the worst. Whatever, it is a matter of opinion, and Presidents go into and out of fashion. For example, Truman was thought among the worst when he retired, but is now thought among the best. Except for foreign policy, which is a big "except," I know, FDR should be ranked among the worst. His policy on the economy is now increasingly recognized as terrible. His "New Deal" actually prolonged the Depression, although Democrats still do not want to hear it. His NRA, a pillar of the "New Deal," which we were only saved from by the intervention of the Supreme Court, was Americanized fascism, overtly tailored on Germany, an attempt at Corporatism with industry "codes" drawn to benefit big business. Nazism without jackboots. He left the federal departments sprinkled with secret Communists and fellow travelers, like Alger Hiss, and bequeathed us 59 years of Cold War. The agriculture mess of today grew out of the policies of the "New Deal." Unpopular President? Yes. "Worst President Ever?" I don't think so.

David_PA
12-23-2007, 07:34 PM
You're kidding, right? Roosevelt was popular enough to get elected 4 times and his policies, including the war, got us out of the depression. It's only revisionist history by the corporate types and the wealthy who want more money for themselves and don't like Social Security and govt. intervention in business who are trying to re-paint Roosevelt as anything other than what he was - which was one of the greatest presidents.

And - a 59-year legacy of cold war - that was Roosevelt's doing? You're kidding again, of course.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 07:55 PM
jm:

David beat me to the punch on FDR, whom I consider the best president of the 20th century and in the top 2 ever (I go back and forth on him and Lincoln).

But to the main point: Bush = WPE. No doubt about it.

I used to hedge and say "worst president that I know a lot about" or "worst president of the modern era" but no more. He wins, hands down.

Of course, I don't expect to be able to convince you, and I won't waste the electrons trying. But you might find some of these links (http://www.google.com/search?q=worst+president+ever) instructive.

I agree that Carter and Nixon are on the short list, though.

jmcnulty
12-23-2007, 08:01 PM
Why do you immediately reject something that challenges your presumptions? The truth is that FDR's politices, corporatism to the max, prolonged the Depression. For example, unemployment was higher in 1936 that it had been in 1932, when Hoover was turned out because of the Depression. Only government contracts and World War II (and the Supreme Court declaring the "NRA" unconstitutional) got us out of the Depression. What was go great about Roosevelt? He was not brainy. Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said that FDR had a "second-class mind" but a "first-class personality." I was not kidding. Thinking the unthinkable. In fact, Truman had to clean up the mess that FDR left with Communists in the administration (with loyalty oaths and other things today thought McCarthyite). You will accept, will you, that Alger Hiss was a Communist? How about the Rosenburgs? How about Klaus Fuchs? Where was he working during the war? Do the Venona intercepts mean anything to you? I give FDR high points for "stagecraft." Yes, he was popular. He also broke a tradition that went back to George Washington. But winning elections doesn't make him a "great President." On that basis, Bush is a greater President than Truman, which I do not believe, because Bush won two elections while Truman won only one.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 08:16 PM
jm:

Blaming FDR for Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenbergs is borderline wingnut reasoning.

On second thought, strike "borderline."

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 08:28 PM
bmichell:

Conn Carroll is evenhanded enough that I never suspected he was conservative ...

Did you catch Conn's slip today, when he said "we" when talking about Republicans?

Actually, I don't mind that he's letting his partisanship show. You're right -- it's a good pairing of two people who have good chemistry and who know their stuff -- reporting on the blogosphere.

David_PA
12-23-2007, 08:33 PM
Have you been reading one of those FDR debunking books like "Rethinking the Great Depression" by the pro-business American Enterprise Institute? That polemic wouldn't possibly be about discrediting Roosevelt to take away govt. programs like the SEC and Social Security, would it?

Business and industry had a role in prolonging the great depression. So did bad monetary policy as the Fed was then controlled by business, not government. Conservative (or at least laissez-faire) economist Milton Friedman has argued in his book "A Monetary History of the United States" that monetary policy is the primary blame for the prolonged depression, when a recession should have been the effect of the initial downturn.

From a Wikipedia synopsis to this Friedman point: "He claims that if the Federal Reserve had acted by providing emergency lending to these key banks or simply bought government bonds on the open market to provide liquidity and increase the quantity of money after the key banks fell, all the rest of the banks that fell after the very large and public ones did would not have, the money supply would not have fallen to the extent it did, and would not have fallen at the speed it did. The banks that failed were nearly all small local operations in neighborhoods or small towns. Before 1933, there were no major bank failures in the major cities."

Surely, if there hadn't been prolonged and such widespread bank failures, things would have turned around much faster.

hans gruber
12-23-2007, 11:36 PM
"Business and industry had a role in prolonging the great depression. So did bad monetary policy as the Fed was then controlled by business, not government."

Say what? The federal reserve has ALWAYS been a part public and part private entity, that's one of the reasons why it's called an independent central bank. Friedman believed the collapse of the money supply and banking was the biggest reason for the severity and length of the Depression and he considered that a governmental failure. But you obviously don't know much about the man if you think he would approve of policies like the minimum wage in order to boost employment (the minimum wage was introduced as a crackpot way to reduce unemployment). Counter-productive policies like this are certainly part of the reason the Depression was a depression and not a recession.

David_PA
12-24-2007, 01:13 AM
"Business and industry had a role in prolonging the great depression. So did bad monetary policy as the Fed was then controlled by business, not government."

Say what? The federal reserve has ALWAYS been a part public and part private entity, that's one of the reasons why it's called an independent central bank. Friedman believed the collapse of the money supply and banking was the biggest reason for the severity and length of the Depression and he considered that a governmental failure. But you obviously don't know much about the man if you think he would approve of policies like the minimum wage in order to boost employment (the minimum wage was introduced as a crackpot way to reduce unemployment). Counter-productive policies like this are certainly part of the reason the Depression was a depression and not a recession.

The late Austrian school economist Murray Rothbard blames the Depression squarely on Hoover's monetary policies. Such policies as the minimum wage were part of the reason there was a depression and not a recession, but, only a relatively small part.

What got us out of the Depression was the massive influx of public spending in WWII. Those more left than Roosevelt argued he should have put in place a much higher level of public spending in the early and mid-thirties. Whether politically Roosevelt would have been able to do this is questionable. But, an earlier stronger public infusion would have at least lightened the Depression and likely would have brought us out sooner.

Would those who are attacking Roosevelt from the free-market side for his unfriendly business policies, have agreed with a more massive public works program 5 or 6 years before the WWII build up? Certainly not. Surely, this attack from the free-market side doesn't also try to say that after the monetary collapse and the run on the banks, a free-market approach (without any infusion of stimulating public funds put into the economy) would have gotten us out of the Depression faster. And, a supply-side approach of lowering the high tax rates on the wealthy would not have provided nearly enough stimulus to get us out of the pit of the Depression.

A big problem with applying economic analysis though is that it's always wrapped up with a political agenda. So, what might be the best approach might not be favored for political reasons. Furthermore, there's not much science to economics. There's no theory or approach that works in all situations. A mixture of monetary, deficit increasing, and laissez-faire approaches is probably the best way to go - they all have a positive effect up to a point, but turn negative when used as an exclusive view.

CrowsMakeTools
12-24-2007, 01:40 AM
I would differ somewhat with Bill Sher's assessment of Romney's attempts to reach out or "dog whistle" to his evangelical "brethren":

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7275?in=00:26:11

Evangelical Christian theology (and Christian theology in general) reserves salvation for baptised Christians, everybody else is going to Hell, or at least not getting into heaven. Mormon theology, which suggests that all of us, except for the real devil worshipping "sons of perdition," have a shot at a good afterlife (well, there are degrees of good afterlife, in the Mormon view). This view is actually more in line with contemporary secular sentiments than with traditional Christian theology.

When you get down to theological brass tacks, Mike Huckabee believes that if you don't have a personal relationship with Christ, you're going to Hell. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. Romney, with his misty-eyed talk about remembering when LDS doctrine changed with regard to including Blacks in God's plan for salvation, and his Dad's march (metaphorical or real) with Dr. King, is actually more congruent with contemporary ecumenical American sentiment in this regard. If you die before accepting Christ, he can always baptise your eternal soul. No second chances with the Huckster.

When Romney speaks about Jesus as "the Savior of All Mankind" he is actually antagonizing the serious evangelical types, see, for example: http://books.google.com/books?id=pKxN6S1iVuMC, for a critical evangelical account of Mormon views on Universal Salvation.

So when Mitt talks about Jesus as the Savior for All Mankind, he's actually trying to outflank Huckabee to the left, preaching a view that is more akin to an all-inclusive Unitarian Universalist tradition than Huck's hellfire and brimstone brand of evangelical Christianity. This is one advantage that Mormon theological tradition has. If you look back at its 177 year history, previous "revelations" concerning banning polygamy, for example, and including Blacks, have consistently helped Mormon believers tack back towards the mainstream of American social sentiments.

If you want to watch Huck shuck and jive in response to an audience question, see what he says if you ask him, straight up, if he believes that Romney is going to Hell, or if you're going to Hell.

Jay J
12-24-2007, 04:16 AM
Brendan,

I don't think your views on the Jena 6 or the New Atheism can necessarily be a predictor of candidate preference.

What I find hard to reconcile (which may just be my problem, or something I'm missing) is how you can agree with my particular reasoning about Obama on his "toughness" or lack thereof.

Anyway I wasn't trying to be confrontational, I actually thought you may have a ready made answer. But since we're already into the conversation...

I think the reasoning I expressed above about Obama is at least in part an endorsement for a more "above the fray" approach to politics. Obama has a real magnanimity about him, and it seems to be a part of his substance, not only his style. On the Jena 6, Obama was accused by Jesse Jackson of "acting white," since he didn't express specific enough certainty in his indignation, like Jackson and Sharpton are so willing to do. You and I had some significant disagreement on the Jena 6, and how such things should be handled and what slogans we should get behind. The problem I had with one of the diavloggers involved in the Jena 6 thread is that we legitimately don't know enough about each specific instance to make a judgment. HOWEVER, it is clear that a disturbing pattern emerged, which is that at every turn white participants in confrontations were given light punishments, and black participants were given harsher punishments. Obama expressed that the events were "troubling" and I agree. But though we can make a very confident inductive statement about the patterns of discrimination, we can't confidently make statements about each incident and know which side started the confrontation or if the prosecutors were wrong in their handling of it.

Obama was accused of acting "white" because of his hesitancy to act as if he knew the "ins and outs" well enough to diagnose Jena, Louisiana as the racist hellhole so many involved thought it was. He obviously disappointed Jackson, and I know for a fact that Cornell West isn't happy with Obama's "above the fray" approach. But I actually agree with Obama, what's disturbing is an obvious trend of discrimination. Now I know crowds will eventually get out of line and stray from the politically responsible message, but that doesn't mean our leaders have to do this too, and those of us who take a longer view can also refrain from this.

I thought many involved simply indulged in the short term feelings, rather than giving a sober diagnosis of the problem. To be frank, I thought the views you expressed in the Jena 6 thread also simply gave way to the moment, rather than reflecting on what will help in the long run, and seemed knee-jerk and doctrinaire. I think Obama, on the other hand, gave an honest appraisal, and one that will hold up to long-term scrutiny, but he also didn't ignore it.

This approach seems to have served Obama well, and I think his judgment on Iraq also illustrates that his reflective temperment is more than just style, but is part of his substance, and will serve him well as President.

Regardless of how much the common person relies on gut feelings to decide who to vote for, political junkies who spend time on blogs probably vote for whoever they agree with most on policy issues, which is why I don't think your views on the Jena 6 or the New Atheism can be a predictor of who you'll vote for. But you did say that you agreed with my thinking on Obama, so this part causes me some confusion, since my thinking on Obama seems to cut against the grain of the way you approach say, Richard Dawkins' "in your face" style.

If you think that this style is called for in the fight against religion, then why shouldn't it be called for in politics? If it were, then someone like Edwards or Kucinich is what we need, since they think what the world plainly needs now is a fight with corporations, and an "us against them" attitude regarding special interests and such, regardless of how many innocent by-standers are effected and regardless of how many key subtleties are lost. If the right-wing is causing problems, then we should be aggressive and antagonistic with them right, without highlighting any common values. I mean, that's what you prescribe in matters of religion.

I'm not suggesting that you can't answer this, and I'm not playing a gotcha game. I was only interested, not in why you support Obama at all, but why you agree with my particular reasoning on him.

I'm a sort of New Democrat, I once kinda liked the DLC, but not only has Al From turned into the Grinch, but this organization became reflexively pro-war and became a knee-jerk defender of Joe Lieberman, and these things really turned me off. So now I'm only generally Moderate. I actually like Hillary, and sometimes I find the difference between her and Obama to be pretty marginal, (other than on Barack's relative prescience on Iraq) which is why things like Obama's temperment become more important, though I've explained why I think this is a tangible attribute of his as well. And I really don't care why you support Obama, only that you do, since he's the one I want to win the election. So we agree on allot, or rather, perhaps what we agree on is more important than what we don't agree on. And I'm glad that Obama appeals to people in various ways, and to people who occupy different positions on the political spectrum.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 06:55 AM
Crows:

That's an interesting observation about the different beliefs regarding the afterlife, and one that I agree with -- at least, I do know that most flavors of Christianity have that belief about baptism being part of the entrance requirements for heaven, (modulo some squishiness in some quarters about people who didn't have the opportunity to get baptized).

Why, then, do you suppose Romney would have been so clear in stating that bit about Jesus being the Savior for All Mankind? My impression was that the speech was mostly designed to win over evangelicals, or at least allay their fears about his membership in a what many of them view as a cult. Since you believe that he was "trying to outflank Huckabee to the left," why do you think he included that part that excluded -- and effectively alienated -- people who aren't religious? That seemed like a clear and purposeful attempt to pitch to evangelicals the idea of "us vs. them."

Another question, also out of curiosity: How do you know about Mormon theology? Are you a Mormon, or were you raised by Mormons? If this question is an intrusion into your privacy, I apologize. I just like to know where people are coming from.

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 08:04 AM
Jay:

I can understand why you see dissonance between my attitude of favoring confrontation on the religious front and liking Obama, who presents as the candidate most inclined to reach out to the other side. Put like that, it sure doesn't sound consistent. On the other hand, there are some complicating factors.

First, I may not have said so directly to you, but if you've read other posts I've put up on the topic of dealing with religious people, you might recall that I I've stated, repeatedly, my belief that being confrontational is not the only way to go. I like the multi-pronged approach, in which there are some people like Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens, and there are others who favor a softer approach; e.g., Mooney and Nesbit. I like this partly for tactical reasons: the Dawkins attitude has, at minimum, the effect of shifting the Overton window (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window). I also like this approach for reasons of personal taste: I generally find people who take their holy books literally to be more insufferable than I do people who don't share my political views.

There are exceptions in both cases, of course. I don't loathe every devout person I've ever met, and I do loathe some people just for their political actions, like most of the Republicans in high office for the past decade or two. Here, again, we come back to the idea of a multi-pronged approach. I like that there are people out there railing against Bush & Co., and I like that there are other people who are trying a more inclusive approach. Now that Bush appears liked by less than a third of the country, one could say that the confrontational approach has done its job, and now it's time to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding the country. I'm not sure the VRWC (http://silmaril.ie/cgi-bin/uncgi/acronyms?vrwc) is ready to cooperate, but I see the chances as better with a President Obama then a President Clinton.

There's one more way in which I see a difference between the religious and political fronts: Ideally, I want religion excluded from matters of state as much as possible, but even in my dreams, I don't want different political viewpoints to go away. Part of this is idealistic: I'd like to think that the dominance of religious thinking might someday wither, but I never want political debate to go away. Part of it is pragmatic: I'm less sure about the correctness of policy prescriptions favored by my side than I am about the idea that religion should be a private matter. Combining these two, I think it is more realistic to hope that workable compromises can be found in the political sphere, but I don't see such an outcome being possible on the religious front, at least until the clout of the extremists is reduced by a large amount. Being stridently anti-Bush has worked faster than has being stridently anti-fundamentalist, unsurprisingly. The latter will be a longer fight.

Apart from the idea of confrontation versus conciliation, there is a whole other set of reasons why I like Obama. Like you, I don't see a whole lot of practical difference between him and the other leading Democrats on policy issues. Also, as I've said, I tend to discount the importance of the specifics put forth during campaigns, since few of them survive intact after passing through the Congressional sausage-making machine. Therefore, once a candidate has passed the first cut of being generally in line with my policy views, I tend to care more about aspects that are less than completely rational. I find Obama by far the most inspiring speaker, for one. I think he is the most likable, for another. I think he is the best symbol of a new America, from the point of view of the rest of the planet, for a third.

My hope is that Obama as president would mean a reduction of mindless partisan squabbling purely for the sake of squabbling, and would also mean a softening of the image of America as international bully.

As for the Jena 6 controversy, I don't really care to reopen that can of worms. I'll cop to some of the implied accusation that I reacted in a kneejerk way to that event. It's true that I saw it, and cared about it, more as a symbol of racial inequities than as a standalone occurrence.

jmcnulty
12-24-2007, 10:05 AM
I have not said that Roosevelt was to "blame" for the Depression. I have only said that he was responsible for prolonging the Depression. The "New Deal" so became a "try anthing" program, no matter how stupid. Read the Supreme Court case of Wicard v. Filburn and tell me if you think the "New Deal" inaugurated a wise agricultural policy. We are still paying for that mistake, with crop subsidy checks for millions going to Manhattan addresses. The SEC is an interesting question. Roosevelt named political scion, mob financier, and future facist Joe Kennedy as the first head of the SEC on the basis that he had been on Wall Street and "it takes a thief to catch a thief." Kennedy later embarassed him as ambassador to England by backing Hitler in the early years. All that I have said is that FDR's stock among historians (not that list of newspaper articles that I was sent) has fallen everywhere except the Democratic Nation Committee. I am surprised that someone has not made the argument, make commonly in these cases, that FDR "saved" capitalism with the "New Deal" in a world that featured both German fascism and Russian communism. I also am not blaming FDR personally for the presence of the Rosenburgs or Klaus Fuchs. But he set the tone by thinking that the famous Roosevelt "charm" would work with Joe Stalin. The "New Deal" attracted many communists and fellow travelers and set the stage for things -- like the McCarthy "red scare" and the militarization during the Cold War -- that the Left professes to oppose. All in all, I would put him in the middle of Presidents regarding "greatness." He dithered in entering World War II (saved by a foolish sneak attack by the Japanese) and sat by while England was almost defeated (they were saved only by Goering"s stupid change of strategy) and the Russians were almost defeated (read Gen. Heinz Guderian's book about the Panzers beinging in sight of the onion domes of Moscow), playing to public opinion, instead of bringing the country to where it needed to go. Incredibly, he ran in 1940 (while London was burning in the "blitz") on the slogan "he kept us out of war." Comparing Lincoln to Roosevelt? I don't think so.

Namazu
12-24-2007, 11:02 AM
I will say that it hurts to have Paul Krugman disapproving of his health care plan. My favorite candidate and the columnist I respect the most squabbling?
At the risk of tarnishing Krugman's halo, I invite you to look at the history of his "evolving" position on whether Social Security is a crisis. I have no other evidence that he wants to work in a Hillary Clinton administration, but his recent conversion (to the "it's not a crisis" position) is consistent with making that a possibility. [And note that Bob Rubin would no longer survive a confirmation hearing after the Citi fiasco.] Also worth mentioning is the bad karma Krugman has built up with the NYT fact checkers over the years. Keep a salt shaker handy when you read him, particularly down the stretch. Did you read his latest book, by any chance?

bjkeefe
12-24-2007, 11:14 AM
Namazu:

At the risk of tarnishing Krugman's halo, I invite you to look at the history of his "evolving" position on whether Social Security is a crisis.

As long as I've been reading him, he's always been of the position that SS is not in a crisis. When was he singing a different tune? Got any example links?

Also, what's so bad about having an evolving viewpoint? You think it's better to be like George Bush, and never change your mind about anything, no matter what new evidence comes to light?

I have no other evidence that he wants to work in a Hillary Clinton administration ...

I would be delighted if he was appointed to any administration. I don't know about a Cabinet-level job, but certainly as an adviser.

[ADDED] You might be interested in this post (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/24/unfit-to-serve/).

Also worth mentioning is the bad karma Krugman has built up with the NYT fact checkers over the years.

Nearly every time I've seen someone trumpeting a "mistake" in one of PK's columns, it turns out to be either an ideologically-motivated different way of interpreting data (sometimes arguably as valid, sometimes not) or nitpicking about something that couldn't be fleshed out in a 700-word column. PK's new blog (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/) has helped regarding the latter.

The few times he has made a genuine mistake, it seems to me, he's pretty good about posting corrections.

I summary, I don't buy at all the idea that PK is any more susceptible than any other human being to making mistakes. I would also add that he's gotten a lot of big things right before other people, and had the guts to say so. For example, no one else in the MSM was as spot-on and as early to see the flaws in Bush's economic and foreign policies as was Krugman, and he had the cojones to publish when doing so got one branded as a traitor.

Did you read his latest book, by any chance?

I have not, but I'm looking forward to it.

David_PA
12-24-2007, 05:32 PM
I have not said that Roosevelt was to "blame" for the Depression. I have only said that he was responsible for prolonging the Depression. The "New Deal" so became a "try anything" program, no matter how stupid. We are still paying for that mistake, with crop subsidy checks for millions going to Manhattan addresses. All that I have said is that FDR's stock among historians (not that list of newspaper articles that I was sent) has fallen everywhere except the Democratic Nation Committee (snip ...) All in all, I would put him in the middle of Presidents regarding "greatness." He dithered in entering World War II (saved by a foolish sneak attack by the Japanese) and sat by while England was almost defeated (they were saved only by Goering"s stupid change of strategy) (snip ...) Incredibly, he ran in 1940 (while London was burning in the "blitz") on the slogan "he kept us out of war." Comparing Lincoln to Roosevelt? I don't think so.

You missed my main point re: Roosevelt and the Depression. What would have gotten us out of it sooner was a much greater infusion of public funds. A laissez fair approach would have deepened the problem. I'm sure you aren't trying to tarnish Roosevelt for not being left-leaning enough. The real reason conservatives didn't (don't) like Roosevelt is that he gave govt. a legacy of too much power over business. The dislike has little to do with the Depression really. (I'm all for removing ag subsidies to the wealthy.)

Regarding entering the War, if you are saying that you think R could have marshaled the US to get in sooner, I don't think so. The will was not there before Pearl Harbor. The lingering predominant isolationist view from WWI needed a big event to sweep it away. Pearl Harbor did the trick and Roosevelt then jumped.

I didn't compare R to Lincoln, but L did go back and forth many times prior to finally deciding that the Civil War had to be fought. Nothing wrong with waiting until the timing is right. Though, I must say, I'm a little intrigued by Ron Paul's recently expressed notion that buying all the slave's and then releasing them would have cost less (certainly in lives) than the Civil War did. I wonder if the numbers really work out on that. It's a pithy bow to Southern pride as a hindsight insight - not that it would have been politically possible at the time.

And finally, re: your ranking of the Presidents. I am cringing already in thinking that you'd probably put Reagan ahead of Roosevelt.

Palliser
12-25-2007, 12:13 AM
If you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, you are entrusted with an almost sacred power...the ability to choose the man or woman who may become the next President of the United States. As you weigh your choice, I beg that you remember the only candidate who has for the past four years, and longer, spoken out against the corporate interests who have come to dominate the American political landscape. I plead with you to understand the anger that has motivated his struggle against the forces which have used the cover of free market capitalism to usurp the interests of the American worker. How can we stand by.....how can we ignore the plight of the working man...how can we disregard the suffering of the middle class? We, the people of the United States, must stand up against the corporate oligarchs....against the entrenched privilege of the upper classes...against the inherent classist and racist doctrines of the Washington elites! The common suffering of our citizens can no longer be ignored! We must rise up and support the man who will defend us against those who wish us harm...who knows what obstacles lie before us...and who will aid us in our struggle to be free! He has himself known the despairing position and the blinding misery of poverty and desperate need.

I beg you to support John Edwards, no matter the obstacle. Whether a simple matter of weather or circumstance stand against you, or the vile and prohibitive political machine of a powerful Democratic rival, you know what you must do! When your party asks whom you support, stand forth, proud and unafraid.....Tell your friends and neighbors, "I support John Edwards, who will lead this country to equality, who will lead this country to greatness, who will lead this country to be the country it should be! God bless the United States of America!"

CrowsMakeTools
12-27-2007, 01:30 AM
I'm interested in Romney's Mormonism because I think it holds some important keys to understanding his psyche, and it seems as though even serious observers have difficulty getting past the silly business about ritual underwear, etc, which tells us nothing about Romney or the way his mind works. I'm not Mormon, and I think that even a casual study of its origins reveals its foundation to be a transparent hoax. To me that makes it even more interesting that it is a growing faith tradition with millions of adherents, who seem perfectly willing to place a higher value on faith than even the most minimal level of critical inquiry.

Mormonism actually presents a much more positive view of human nature and human perfectibility than traditional evangelical Christianity. Huckabee's Christianity really condemns most of us to eternal torment. Most of us are destined to be "left behind," in Huckabee's eschatology. Mormonism is all about 2nd chances. You can get baptised even after you're dead, and heaven is open to everybody (hence Jesus is the Saviour of "all mankind"), and not the exclusive destination of those of us who have worked out a "personal relationship with Christ," a la Huckabee or Jimmy Carter.

Mitt's really trying to thread a needle here, and I don't think it's going to work for him, because people are just are not that interested in listening carefully to what he's trying to say about this stuff. Mitt is arguing, in effect, that Huckabee's theology is condemning unbelievers, or even Christians like Catholics, to Hell, but Mormonism, in contrast, believes that all souls, except those few, irredeemable "Sons of Perdition," can go to Heaven. That includes atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Jews, everybody. This is what he means when he says that Jesus is the Savior of All Mankind. In Mormon theology, you don't have to accept Christ during this lifetime to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You can get baptised by other people, looking after your soul's salvation, even after you're dead. So Mormonism, like other doctrines of Universal Salvation, is really more inclusive. And Romney would like you to believe that this brand of Christian theology is more compatible with contemporary secular and humanistic values than born-again evangelical Christianity.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 03:48 AM
Crows:

Thanks for filling me in. I have to say, though, no matter if his religion seems less objectionable than Huckabee's, I don't want any president who places that much emphasis on his faith. And I flat-out don't like Romney for other reasons -- the guy is an obvious phony.