Wednesday, April 11, 2007

David M. Walker:
Profit (Prophet) of Doom

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from an acquaintance of mine, Kirk Shamberger, urging me to watch an interview with David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States.

Being a financial advisor, Kirk usually has an interesting take on the news that I am likely to overlook.

It took me a little while before I got around to seeing the story from 60 Minutes, but it was worth my time- I hope you will watch it, too.

Mr. Walker is, in effect, the nation's top accountant. And he has some startling news:

when ... boomers start retiring in mass, then that will be a tsunami of
spending that could swamp our ship of state if we don't get serious

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are aware of the problem. They will need a great deal of help and support from their constituents, however, if they are to effect unpleasant changes.

From the 60 Minutes transcript:

[Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent] Conrad acknowledges that most people
in Washington are aware how bad the situation is. "They know in large measure
here, Republicans and Democrats, that we are on a course that doesn't add up,"
the senator tells Kroft [of 60 Minutes.

"Why doesn't somebody do something about it?" Kroft asks.

"Because it's always easier not to. 'Cause it's always easier to defer, to
kick the can down the road to avoid making choices. You know, you get in
trouble in politics when you make choices"

I hope you will watch the video, or read the story. I would certainly like to hear other options discussed, in addition to the scaling back of Medicare. For instance, I would definitely hope to see upper income tax breaks reversed, and I would like to see us decide, as a nation, how to empower our MIDDLE class- rather than reward the very rich.

Still, this debate is worth having. As a nation, we have high aspirations, and lofty dreams. It is impossible to reach those goals, however, if you are economically crippled. On the flip side, remember, it can actually be quite WONDERFUL to live in a third world country...but only if you're rich.

See the piece here:


Or read it here:

Friday, April 06, 2007

After the Veto

The New Dem Dispatch has a piece worth reading entitled: Iraq After the Veto. I'm not sure if I am totally in agreement, but I found food for thought.

Here are the Highlights:

House and Senate Democrats over the next several weeks will reconcile their
versions of a massive supplemental funding bill for U.S. military operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush, meanwhile, has threatened to veto any
compromise that includes deadlines for withdrawing U.S. troops.

Normally, we would be skeptical of attempts by Congress to write war
strategy into law -- as opposed to exercising its Constitutional duties to
declare and finance wars. But these are not normal times. President Bush
continues to run the war as if the 2006 midterm election didn't happen, and as
if the U.S. Congress doesn't matter.

If, as seems likely, Bush Veto's this bill, the temptation will be to send the same bill back again.
This would be a mistake, and would perhaps allow Bush to regain the initiative when it comes to the battle for public opinion.

Sen. Barack Obama is right: Regardless of the truly high stakes of this
dispute, Washington should not play "chicken" with funding for our troops.

The DLC offers three alternative suggestions:

First, they should quickly pass a short-term and clean supplemental appropriations bill that will simultaneously give the troops what they need while forcing the president to come back and ask for more funding in three months. That will give Congress a chance to evaluate the administration's "surge" of troops into Iraq, which administration officials have assured us will show results by late summer...

Second, Congress should examine not only whether security has improved in Baghdad, but also whether the Maliki government has made a good faith effort to reconcile Iraq's Sunni community to the post- Saddam political order. While there is too much glib talk about forcing the government to somehow deliver a "political solution" to the war, there's no doubt that real progress on the political front, more than U.S. troop levels, is the key to stabilizing the country.

Third, congressional Democrats should call for a diplomatic strategy to accompany the administration's military strategy in Iraq. For four long years, we've been fighting in a regional and international diplomatic vacuum. This makes absolutely no sense.

Personally, the idea of funding our troops while making Bush crawl back to Capitol Hill to ask for even MORE money for his unpopular war makes a lot of political sense to me.

The New Democrats finish with the following thought:

Democrats cannot totally impose their will so long as George W. Bush clings to
power. But they can expose his stubborn folly in the court of public opinion,
which he cannot forever defy.

I hope ahd believe this is true.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lincoln and Bush....Of COURSE!

This was a while back, but it was funny... go and take a look.


Jon Stewart: I'm joined now by Senior Comparative Presidential Historian, John Oliver. Uh, Bush and Lincoln? Clearly the pundits are trying to make that comparison. Is this a fair comparison?

John Oliver: It's not a comparison at all, Jon. It's an opening bid. The first salvo by the President in the negotiation over where he'll rank among his predecessors. Obviously, he's starting high. He knows he's not going to GET Lincoln; it's just part of the game. Bush opens with Lincoln; America comes back with Harding. Bush says, "Harding? You're killing me here! I'm at least Eisenhower!" America says, "I'm sorry, we can't go any higher than Hoover." And so on and so forth, until we all settle on something in the low "Van Buren" range.

Jon Stewart: Are there any similarities, historically, between Bush and Lincoln?

John Oliver: There are some, Jon. Both men presided over civil wars. One ours and historically inevitable; one someone else's and ridiculously evitable. Both men suspended the writ of habeas corpus, although Lincoln did mention it publicly. And, of course, both weren't afraid of the grand gesture: we all remember Lincoln on the deck of the U.S.S. Monitor hailing the end of Civil War combat operations three years before the South actually surrendered.