Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Brunch

Political wonks, like me, love polls and to see how their candidate stacks up.  Fact is we are still weeks from the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, almost a year from the election, and President Obama still doesn’t have an opponent.  Keep in mind that McCain and Obama were neck and neck, even with Palin on the ticket, until the GOP candidate infamously said on September 15, 2008 “still the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”  So enjoy the sideshow that is the Republican Primary but campaigns are not decided until the final quarter Sep – Nov.
National debt crossed the $15Trillion mark this week while the Supercalifragilisticexpialidouches Committee fiddles away their task.  Where are the grown-ups?  Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed to meet the greater demand of benefits from the aging baby boomers, longer life expectancies, and advances in medications and surgical procedures.  Tax reform is also required to expand the tax base and increase revenues from the top income earners.  The Republicans have it half right; we do have a spending problem.  But we also have an income problem.  Corporations and top earners need to be paying at least an effective tax rate of 28%.  And we have a debt problem, which means we ALREADY spent the money.  Cutting future spending does not address you existing debt.  That requires revenue.
I think we all ideally wish for freedom for all and a world without tyranny.  When we see public protests in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan we sympathize with the protesters as they strive to overthrow the yoke of tyranny and corruption.  But are we willing to accept a Salafist, jihadist fundamentalists, led governments in these nations?  Dictators, for all their heinous and monstrous faults, do maintain order.  Who among us hasn’t thought, “I think people should be free, but it is in out best interests?”  That is what diplomacy is all about.  That is what the Obama administration understands better than the neocons and chicken hawks on the right.  We over threw a democratically elected leader in Iran and propped up the Shah, and 32 years later we are facing  an existential threat from a soon to be nuclear armed Iran.  Would things have been different if we had reached out to the Islamists?  Who knows?  But we always fail to see the long term repercussions of our acts.  I think President Obama realized that continued backing of Mubarak was not a in our long term best interests.  Will we have short term unease, even chaos as the liberal secular reformists joust with the Islamists and Salafists?  Yes. 
Anybody want to argue with the fact that the SEC West Division isn’t the hub of excellence in college football?  LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas are 1,2, and 3 in the AP poll.  That would be like having the Packers, Saints, and Steelers in the same division. 
Finally, while everyone is focusing on President Obama’s handling of anti-terror issues in the Middle East, Libya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, his national security team and state department have quietly reestablished US strength and presence in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.  Through strong coalitions and leadership, the Obama administration is building anti-China counterweight to protect trade routes and build potential trade partnerships.  In South America, in spite of Chavez’ bombastic speech, Mr. Obama has built strong alliances with the heads of state in Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil.  Now, the administration is looking to reach out to Myanmar, a depsotic regime, in the hopes of increased engagement will lead to freedom.  Yes engagement and networking is a lot better than cowboy statesmanship from Bush, Perry, or any other GOP wannabe.

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