Thursday, November 29, 2007

The question was, "which candidates which label themselves fiscally responsible, will endorse the elimination of farm subsidies if they are elected president in 2008."

Incredibly, Mitt Romney, former Governor of Mass. answered, "We don't want to find ourselves with regards to our food supply in the same kind of position we're in with regards to our energy supply. . . ." So he supported farm supports.

Let me get this straight, Mitt. The reason we import around 11 million barrels of oil a day out of the 20 million that we use is because we DON'T SUBSIDIZE ENERGY SUFFICIENTLY????

That's completely insane for two big reasons. First, we subsidize energy enormously. Second, and MUCH more important, this has precisely NOTHING to do with why we import so much of our energy.

Debates are rarely enlightening, and often contain lies and silliness, but this is truly extreme.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Those that are reading this may wonder, "why on earth did he call his blog 'flying pink unicorns.'" Here's why.

I talk politics and policy a lot with my friend Andrew. Andrew, you see, is just about always right. I can't count the number of times I've discussed an issue with someone and told them, "well, that's really my friend Andrew's idea." Anyway, I figured if I started a blog and of course gave credit to him when it was due I'd have the best of all worlds. I'd be fully honest in stating when an idea wasn't mine, my readers would think I was being falsely modest, and I'd get credit for his great ideas while having been totally honest!

So that's the backdrop. I've often said that Andrew is wrong about as often as one sees a flying pink unicorn. Well, when we discuss middle east policy, we do actually disagree now and again, and whenever he said something I thought was just totally wrong in an e-mail, I would respond, "well, I just looked outside my office window, and don't you know, a beautiful pink unicorn just flew by." Hence the name...

I analogize to a High School prom, from the perspective of a High School boy. I wrote this in January 2007, but it still holds.

As things stand, I intend to (with LITTLE enthusiasm) to vote for Hillary in both the primary and the general. Its the prom, I want to go, and she wants to go with me. She's the neighbor's daughter, I've known her for years (decades). She's reasonably cute, and socially adept, and won't embarrass me. Sure, she's calculating and crass, and only wants to take me to the prom b/c its to her advantage. But Edwards is hideous, stupid, and would embarrass me no end, Obama is only in 7th grade, she's just to young for me to go with (maybe in 4 years, maybe), and all the others except Bill Richardson have their own SERIOUS flaws. Richardson actually makes sense, but, in the end, I don't think she'll actually last all the way to the dance. Now the girl I REALLY wanna bring is Al Gore. She's gorgeous, the Captain of the Cheerleading team, very smart, cares deeply about the local and national environment, and she's sure to be elected homecoming queen, if she'd only go to the prom. Oh, and she's HOT! I'd LOVE to walk in the room with her on my shoulder. Just imagine the ego boost! But she's off running around promoting her movie, some big concert or something, and not showing many signs of wanting to go to the prom. Oh, she bats her eyelashes at the idea now and then, but she's showing no signs of wanting to go. She hasn't bought a dress, isn't even planning to be in town on the day of the prom, and every time I mention it to her, she says, "I don't think I'm going. I haven't completely ruled it out." So do I wait around for Al, or do I go with Hillary, who is quite clear that she wants to go with me? Well, I want to go, and Hillary won't embarrass me, or even close (she'll make a good president, despite her MANY flaws), so I'll go with Hillary. Now if Gore calls me the day of the prom and says she wants to go, I'll dump Hillary like a sack of potatoes, for Gore! I LOVE YOU AL.

Given that Gore has only a year left in office, I thought this would be a good time to take a quick look back on his presidency. Overall, I'd give him about a C. I'll gloss over Florida. Its stunning the the Supremes let the recount go on, less stunning that the recount managed to produce a victory by 1,128 votes. Well, we'll take it. He sort of meandered through the first year, not real popular or anything, then came 9-11. His speeches to the country, and call to reach across party lines was exactly what the doctor ordered. Appointing James Baker as a special roving ambassador was a master touch. And Jimmy has performed real well, to the surprise of many. It was a good idea, it really was. Definitely his finest hour. Bet he misses those 82% approval ratings! God only knows how Bush would have mishandled 9-11! His taking out of the Taliban was masterful. Easy, I suppose, but masterful. I'm less happy about his sticking to his 25,000 and no more strategy. The Taliban are making a comeback, and we're not DECISIVELY WINNING. Pretty wimpy, Al, pretty damn wimpy. The tax cuts of 2003 may have been nakedly political, but being narrowly targeted, the tax cuts did little to slow the resumption of budget surpluses, which, as you'll recall, began small in 2004, and are projected to be at $204 billion in his last year of office. Not a bad way to leave the fiscal house reasonably in order for your successor. His big fiscal failing, of course, was his utter failure to do ANYTHING about health care costs, either in the short run, or in the future. He signed onto the prescription drug entitlement, and did nothing at all to slow the runaway growth of medicare. History will not be kind. Even JEB BUSH talks more about health care costs than Al. Yesterday Iraq finally shot down an American plane. We've said it was inevitable. John McCain has broiled Gore in oil for failing to do something about Saddam, but has been awful quiet about what exactly he would do. Given that he ran as tough on defense in 2004, and made a fairly close election of it at that, its a tad surprising that McCain hasn't been clearer about what to do about Saddam. I agree, something really DOES need to be done. A targeted assasination would be a fine idea about now. Ah, the 2004 election. Incredible that it AGAIN came down to Florida. McCain winning New Jersey and Michigan as well as Iowa and Wisconsin made for nervous times. But Gore rewrote the map, winning Tenessee by 10 points(!) Arkansas, Missouri (by 3,000 votes!) and Ohio. These states made up for the above lossess, leaving Florida's 27 electoral votes to AGAIN decide the whole damn election. At least this time it was a 25,000 vote margin, real close, but McCain graciously conceded after the first automatic machine recount produced a few dozen extra votes for Gore. Talk about groundhog day! McCain was a class act in conceding quickly. Makes me wonder if we wouldn't have been better off w/him. But no, the damn repubs stll hold Congress, and w/o a reasonable donkey like Gore, god only knows what they'd do. Jeb Bush is CRUSHING Hillary in the polls as of now, just whipping her lil arse. 21 points! When Gore replaced Lieberman with John Edwards as VP in 2004 he practically guarnateed that Hillary would win the nomination. Lieberman's unwillingness to fully support Gore in 2004 crippled him with the base. And Edwards ya gotta admit was teriffic as Vice, giving the administration at least one human being in the race. But as a potential nominee, VP Edwards has laid a big fat egg. On the GOP side, George Allen stands no chance-- Bush is the certain nominee. And he WILL beat Hill, badly. Its really not pretty. Ya gotta admit, President Bush does kind of roll off the tounge. Besides, the Court is still fairly liberal, and Chief Justice Dershowitz will probably keep it that way even if Bush does win and does get a few appointments. The last 4 years have been mostly a waste. His latest big try at an Israeli peace deal is doomed to fail, like those before it. His engagment with Iran is highly disappointing, no surprise there. He's punting for his successor. His rekindling of Clinton's North Korea deal in 2002 is the one shining success foreign policy wise. Sending Sec State Biden to Pyongyang worked far better than anyone could have thought. Hell, Gingrich and McCain applauded once we announced we had their entire nuke program under lock and key in the States. At least he had the good sense to stay entirely out of the roiling immigration debate. Jeb Bush is actually well placed to lead on this issue, god help me for saying so. The one bright spot was Katrina. After a few AWFUL days, where the federal government was AWOL (we all remember those horrifying scenes), Gore really took hold. That was the post-9-11 Gore, the decisive, in charge, Gore. The guy I volunteered for in Florida in 04! He fired the FEMA director on the spot, ON TELEVISION!!! That took cojones! And the relief aftermath, while disappointing, has, ya gotta admit, gone better than you ever expected. 90% of the people are back, and Gore's practically a saint in New Orleans! Its global warming where Gore's been the most disappointing. This issue has animated him for decades, and yet as president he's done precious little about it. Oh, sure, he personally negotiated the Beijing protocol, in which China and India are brought into the process. But we never even ratified Kyoto, and the Euros are missing their Kyoto targets anyway. Think China and India are going to take tough action under the Beijing Protocol while the US doesn't even bother with Kyoto, and the Euros miss their targets? Not so much. Nice going Al.
Well, today in Annapolis, we begin the sideshow of Israeli-P "talks." This is of course silly. Neither side has budged from its previous positions if reporting is to be believed, even in private. Both leaders are uniquely weak. But Condi and W feel a need to do the statesman/stateswoman thing, so off everyone goes to Maryland to sit in various rooms to no good end. Everyone calls the Israeli-P (readers will learn, I use P to mean Palestinian, to save space) dispute "complex." Actually, its analytically reasonably simple. Land/settlements, refugees. These aren't "complex" issues, like how to best structure the US health care system, or developing a replacement to the space shuttle. They are politically difficult and explosive, and not super-simple, but not really complex in the end.