« "The Mendacity of Hope" Richard Cohen | Main | What change is wanted? Part Deux »

04 January 2008

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

lina

1) Healthcare reform. It is a idea whose time has come. When Hillary tried it in 94, she had the insurance industry and corporate elites against her. Obama will have the corporates on his side this time around, because they are tired of the costs of healthcare eating into their bottom line. He will be able to negotiate from a position of strength. Hillary took a my-way-or-the-highway approach to this in the 90s. She got slammed. Obama's style will get people to cross the aisle to make this happen.

2) Energy. The reason the economy was booming in the Clinton term was the digital revolution. Clinton got credit for it because it happened on his watch. Obama understands that if the government gets behind innovative environmental technology, the same economic boom can happen. He has to take on oil and auto, but it's do-able.

3) The Neocon foreign policy elites will be relegated to the dustbin of history. Thank God. Obama will make people understand there are not military solutions to every problem. Vice President Jim Webb will be very good at fostering this change in U.S. foreign policy.

s. wilber

Specifics?
1) Get our military out of Iraq.
2) Depoliticize the Justice Department.
3) Enforce banking regulations.
4) Use the army to seal the southern border.

Those would be a good start.

Nicholas weaver

I specifically want:

Fiscal discipline and a return to a more progressive tax code: There is no reason why Warren Buffett's marginal tax rate should be less than his secretary's, and there is no reason why hedge-fund managers should pay only 15% tax on their "2 and 20" when we are in such an economic hole.

It might actually be possible to get, if the democrats are smart on the PR for once: eg, "Restore the Paris Hilton Tax" and "Why Should a Hedge Fund manager pay a LOWER tax rate than you do?".

John Schmitt

Re: What do you want from the next President...
1. a well planned and executed retreat from Empire, i.e. fewer foreign entanglements, smaller military, less intrusive foreign policy and goals
2. universal health care achieved through a mix of public and private means
3. a national energy policy that reduces our dependence on any one source of energy and fosters more ecologically benign energy sources and seeks ever greater efficiency in the use of energy
4. a less powerful and more transparent executive branch
5. restoration and then maintenance of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution; an Executive branch that respects those rights, Legislative branch that protects those rights and a Judicial branch that serves as the ultimate and respectful interpreter of the Constitution
6. a generally less intrusive central government particularly in matters of faith and morals; less legislation and regulation that is focused on sin and morality

Mike

Colonel, you are quite right to demand of Americans that they specify what changes they would wish to see in your country, its government, society, economy, engagement with the rest of the world etc. It is a weakness of the modern democratic process in most western countriews, the US and Europe/Canada/Australia etc that politicians emit vast quantities of hot air uttering nice, feelgood, essentially empty platitudes (let us go forth as brothers and sisters, arm in arm,into the golden future, casting off the tyrannies of the past etc etc etc) while the overexcited electorate cheer and weep and throw their sweaty nightcaps in the air. I suppose that would-be national leaders feel they dare not risk throwing away their chances of victory by promising controversial, divisive and potentially unpopular policies and initiatives. The fact is that any change will be fiercely opposed by a substantial part of the electorate and any promise of moderate change will be distorted and exaggerated into major threats to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the too often mendacious and predatory media.

You would be right to argue that we in Europe (and Australia/NZ etc)have no right to urge upon Americans what specific changes we would hope to see enacted in their country by the new president. It is, after all, none of our business. But perhaps you would be interested to know how so many of us feel here about an America that currently is not wholly in harmony with European attitudes on many issues. So:

1 Specific policies aimed at reducing Carbon emmissions.

2 Economic policies that would result in a reduction in American trade deficits e.g. greater credit discipline, and perhaps a revival of American Manufacturing industry.

3 Establishment of a more equtable system of health care - something on the lines of the type of health services common in many European countries that provide health care free to all.

4 A disengagement from Israel and a more balanced approach to the whole Middle Eastern Israel/Palestine question.

Are these priorities for many people in America? How many candidates would see these as important and achievable?

Arnie Podgorsky

Pat, now there's a great question. We watched Barack Obama last night and our quips went from "35 cents" (change) to, "Ah, I get it, he's black and, yes, that would be a change." But my wife did keep asking, "really, what does he want to change?"
This "change" discussion typically comes in populist garb, as in, "end the grips of lobbyists and corporate America." This is pablum, substituting for serious discussion of how, for example, we would restructure health care (including availability of prescription medication) if corporate interests had less influence, and what impact would a potentially resulting reduction of corporate profitability have on innovation or availability. These are serious policy questions and rhetoric about undue influence does not begin an intellectually honest discussion. Then again, Ms. Clinton's suggestion of a commission to address social security was less populist but no more productive or assuring, proving that there's more than one way to dodge a major issue.
What changes would I like to see? (a) Social security and Medicare are good and fair programs. Make the arithmetic changes needed to sustain them. The perpetual handwringing is a refusal to accept that everything has a cost; there is no free lunch. (b) Control our annual deficit and the debt. While we don't need balance each year, running up huge deficits and debt concommitantly degrades our economic strength and robs us of a future. We cannot run a nation on a Mastercard mentality. (c) More adequately enforce existing laws, including laws regarding securities markets and the environment. Our Constitution allows regulation of interstate commerce; this is part of our national structure. The notion that free markets solve everything is as silly a fantasy as the notion that government can devise and run markets. The truth, as in so many things, is in the moderate middle. I know, nobody likes moderates these days.
There is my wish list for change. Three basic items. Of course, a rational foreign policy would be nice but that's just too much to ask. Mostly, I wish for sufficient change to feed the parking meter or buy a Coke.

Yellow Dog

Colonel,

I'm not that interested in changing the "the social and economic matrix in which we live." For me, by far the most important change in direction I'm looking for is a stop to the direct attacks that Mr. Bush and his cronies have made on the foundational princples of our republic.

Is Obama the man to restore constitutional democracy? I'm not sure - Ron Paul is the only candidate who has made noises to that effect, but I have as much chance of being elected president as he does. I am certain that Clinton, Guiliani, and Romney would have no interest in overseeing a diminution of the power that Bush has arrogated to the presidency. Edwards might, but I am generally skeptical of his econmic policies. Huckabee appears nearly as fiscally liberal as Edwards, and he seems to be totally ignorant of the world beyond the USA.

I guess that leaves me with McCain or Obama. Would a vote for McCain be a vote for the Republican machine that brought us the last 7 years of misery? Do I take a chance on a kid like Obama? He reminds me an awful lot of Bush in 2000.

John Schmitt

Re: What do you want from the next President...
1. a well planned and executed retreat from Empire, i.e. fewer foreign entanglements, smaller military, less intrusive foreign policy and goals
2. universal health care achieved through a mix of public and private means
3. a national energy policy that reduces our dependence on any one source of energy and fosters more ecologically benign energy sources and seeks ever greater efficiency in the use of energy
4. a less powerful and more transparent executive branch
5. restoration and then maintenance of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution; an Executive branch that respects those rights, Legislative branch that protects those rights and a Judicial branch that serves as the ultimate and respectful interpreter of the Constitution
6. a generally less intrusive central government particularly in matters of faith and morals; less legislation and regulation that is focused on sin and morality

Mad Dogs

I'd like a "free lunch" and a "bicycle built for two".

Seriously, I'd like the following (if Santa will oblige next winter):

1. A Constitutional Amendment safeguarding privacy rights against Government warrantless surveillance (I thought that the 4th Amendment did this, but apparently it is too quaint for the current Administration).

2. A constitutional showdown where the Supreme Court rules that the Executive Branch does not have Executive Privilege...ever. Supporters of EP insist that voices and opinions will go unheard if there is no EP because they're afraid. Tough! With no EP, folks are going to have to be careful that their opinions describe things that are legal, moral and ethical. If they can't handle that, so much the better. I don't want opinions that can't meet that test.

3. A constitutional showdown where the Supreme Court rules against the use of the coverup-for-illegal-activities fig leaf called "State Secrets Privilege" except in the most judically reviewed circumstances. Classifying stuff that is illegal (the Terrorist Surveillance Program for example) is already itself against the law. The Supremes ought to put their money where their laws are.

4. A law ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court that any subpoena authorized by a majority of either body of Congress must be served by the appropriate US Attorney (this includes even when the Executive Branch says that it won't allow the service because of Executive Privilege. See 2 above).

5. A law that allows a majority of either body of Congress to authorize a Special Prosecutor with full, unlimited powers to investigate and bring charges against any person in Government. No Executive Branch approval is required or desired.

As to "foriegn policy" which is the life-blood of your Blog Pat and for which I'm eternally grateful, I'll wish that the discussions and opinions continue to flower without the need for any fertilizer. *g*

jlcg

Repair of the physical structure of the country Universal single payer health insurance. Guaranteed retirement pensions. Increase of the birth rate. Return to constitutional rights. I do not want equality of income. what I want is to reduce the existential anxiety.

David W

A brief list:

-A universal health care program

-An energy plan that reflects the needs of citizens, not corporations

-A more intelligent approach to dealing with 'terrorism' (ie. international police-type action, not a military-led 'war')

-New heads of the EPA, FDA, FCC, Dept of the Interior, etc. that are not industry sock puppets

-Severe restrictions on how lobbyists are involved in writing legislation

-Undo the damage of the Cheney/Bush administration (restore habeas corpus, FISA guidelines, etc.)

That's just off the top of my head. Whether they are doable or not is anybody else's guess but mine, since I consider all of the above to be straight 'common sense.'

If I were to wish one change, it would be campaign finance reform, repealing the ridiculous 'money equals free speech' ruling, and providing public financing, and an equal footing for all candidates. That one will never fly, unfortunately.


Henry FTP

I'm a great fan of rhetoric, and I'm somewhat old-fashioned in thinking politicians should have a command of it. But you're right in suggesting that rhetoric is only effective as a means of persuading people to support specific action. I remain skeptical of the "change" Obama proposes, because it still seems to me that he is suggesting that it can be transformational yet somehow non-threatening. In the specific areas he mentions, health care, energy policy, and foreign policy, change will in fact require someone's ox to be gored, and it won't be limited to a few Gucci-clad K Street lobbyists.

In these areas, however, it doesn't trouble me that some oxen will have to be gored. I think we need to figure out how to make health care more universally available in our country, which will likely mean that some of it will no longer be available on instant demand. I think we need an energy policy that seeks transformational change away from fossil fuels, which will likely mean paying more for the fossil fuels we consume and more for our beloved cars. I think we need a foreign policy that disengages us from the failed attempt to remake Iraq in a semblance of our own image, with a serious plan to withdraw all American troops coupled with active engagement of Iraq's neighbors in trying at least to keep Iraq's troubles from spilling over its borders. And I think we need to rollback the police state being built in our own country, with adequate tools being given to our security professionals to do their jobs that reflect the technological innovations of the last 30 years, which still does not require wholesale repeal of the Bill of Rights.

The last two items will mean that there will be additional bloodshed in Iraq that will be blamed on us for leaving before political stability had been achieved, and that some bad guys may slip through our security precautions who might otherwise have been caught in the Cheney dragnet. Both are prices I think we must be willing to pay for regaining broader influence in pursuit of our national interests in the foreign policy sphere and maintaining our republican way of life at home.

bstr

Putting a halt to political momentum is much like turning the tide, its a very specialized job and requires a unique workforce. During the last seven years we have watched while our freedoms have been assaulted in the name of a movement dedicated to political consolidation. The Unitary Executive, with its signing statements, its shady privatization deals, and its increasing lack of transparency represents a trend that has its own momentum regardless of Party. Giving up the high benefits that come from that political theory will take a particularly brave individual. Some have attributed economic growth in China and Russia to an Authoritarian Capitalism. The theory of the Unitary Executive, so beloved by Addington and Cheney, fits very well within that same basic fascist framework. When a future President tries to tear away at the progress made in that unfortunate direction he or she will face terrible opposition from within their own party and from the agents of big money. What I would like is a brave and dedicated President. To use a popular culture reference, someone like the town sheriff in High Noon.

wasab

Obama is not my first pick but quite a few people I have talked with are primarily interested in his purported ability to bring together Republicans and Democrats to end bipartisanship and "get things done". I sure have my doubts about his capability to do just that. It's not a question of can he be a uniter. We don't need one at this time. We need to repair some of the damage done by this Administration before it becomes the norm. (excessive signing statements, executive privilege, secrecy, etc.)
I'm parphrasing from another blogpost somewhere on the intertubes:

What we need is Truth and Reconciliation.
Truth without Reconciliation would be progress.
Reconciliation without Truth is a dangerous fantasy.

sbnative

1. A President and administration that researches before it decides, consults before it decides, thinks before it decides.

2. A President and administration that researches before it speaks, consults before it speaks, thinks before it speaks.

3. A President and administration that believes that ALL Americans need to be represented and that the NATIONAL interest is paramount to the administration's interest.

4. A President and administration that have read and understand the Constitution of the United States and KNOW that their oath of office is to defend the CONSTITUTION rather than the "homeland."

TSWittig

On health care: I would like a real shift to preventative and holistic approach to health, not a get-fat-pop-a-pill medicalized version. This would include:
- Universal Medical Care in some workable way
- A system to encourage public-private-charity partnerships (see CHCPs in Scotland for an example in action)
- More and more creative health spending, including health promotion campaigns (a la Truth Campaign), free preventative medicine, ect
- Adoption of the WHO's Ottawa Charter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Charter_for_Health_Promotion)

Alvord

I won't give my entire list but here is a very big one.

Climate Change, unlike weather, comes in on cat's feet. You have to pay close attention to notice it. Fortunately scientists around the world have been paying close attention. Increasingly the rest of us are paying attention too.

I want Obama or the whoever wins to take the actions necessary to make dramatic reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That is a first step to regaining U.S. credibility in the international arena where the real fight to prevent run away climate change will be fought.

We are running out of time. We cannot afford another President who sticks his head in the sand on this issue.

Grumpy

Col., I agree, Obama is a fine speaker. But in speaking, there are two aspects which are really important, "form and CONTENT", not, "OR CONTENT." My Father taught us the difference between voters and politicians. "Voters take as few words as possible, to say as much possible. Politicians take as many words as possible to actually say as little as possible."

Everybody, last night, talked of "Agents of Change." What and WHY are we changing, as you say, w/specifics. We need to focus on NEEDS, not wants. We must remember, we can take a bad situation and make it even worse. This is the time we really need to slow down and just walk. Take some time to get your bearings from history, traditions and also from the future. "Move out, to your positions!"

zanzibar

I'm really not for "change" in the sense of what we got with Clinton and GWB.

What I'd like is return to our founding constitutional principles. I would like echo many of the same ideas proposed by Mad Dogs.

1. Transparency in government and legislation. Limiting the use of "state secrets" defense. Open book on the writing of legislation - all the drafts and changes and their authors published instantaneously on the internet. My fellow citizens are quite capable of making good decisions.

2. Enshrining the right to privacy by clarifying the 4th amendment and making explicit the probable cause rationale for surveillance.

3. A non-interventionist foreign policy that promotes US national interests (not Likudniks) and that respects people and cultures for who they are. Using the force of our ideas and example to foster better relations and stability.

4. Fiscal discipline and elimination of moral hazard. Government accounts to something like GAAP. Investment in infrastructure here at home and the focus on building productive assets not just financial paper shuffling.

5. Enforcement of existing laws in a transparent manner including securities regulations.

6. Stopping the cartelization of big media.

7. Transparency in campaign finance - everyone should know who the ultimate donor to any campaign is - candidates to propositions.

PeterE

Specific changes: (1) National health insurance and a public health system at least as good as France's. (2) Effective measures to mitigate global warming and other environmental problems. (3) An education system that produces high school students at least as well educated as Japan's. (4) A reduction in the power of the executive branch.

Expectations: My desired changes won't happen. Our politicians serve powerful interest groups that aren't interested in these changes.

Steve

Dismantle the empire. Close all foreign bases. Close most of the bases in CONUS. Reduce defense spending by 50%. Reduce the Marine Corps down to a small commando force, and take them out of the embassy's.

Universal health care.

Take peak oil seriously.

Hard look at our entire food situation. Bring back local food production. Reorganize the USDA.

Outlaw torture for once and for all.

Carpet bomb K Street.

Abu Sinan

I would like healthcare reform. It isnt just those that have low paying jobs that worry about getting and paying for healthcare. I paid $6,000 out of my own pocket this year for medical expenses, that is WAY too much.

I'd like to see a complete overhaul of our international alliances and foreign policy. There needs to be a genuine national debate about the best course for the US in the international arena.

This discussion MUST include Israel and rational discussion whether our support of the apartheid state is in the national interest or not.

We need to talk about the recent loss of privacy and rights at the hands of the US government and how we can get it back.

Will we get any of this? Maybe some movemment on healthcare depending on who is elected, the rest, forget about it.

JohnS

Off the top of my head:

1. Out of Iraq and talks along the line of Col. Lang's "Concert for the Middle East."

2. Refocus on Israel/Palestine with us as a truly impartial mediator.

3. Repeal Bush tax cuts.

3. Single payer universal health care.

4. A more vital role for SEC:
i. beefing up the anti-trust division (financial services, telecoms, cable companies, big media, Hollywood studios/tv networks, etc.)
ii. Wall street investor protections, such as severing the compensation link between research and banking divisions that taints investment advice.

5. ensuring "net neutrality."

6. reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine."

7. Repeal the odious "Bankrupcy bill."

8. Al Gore in as Energy Secretary (with special focus on saving our car industry by offering incentives to Detroit to produce fuel efficient cars. If a 35 year old mechanic in Nebraska can retool Hummers to get 80mpg on biodeisal using standard GMC parts and retool Neil Young's 1960 Lincoln Continental to get 100 mpg, so can Ford. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/motorhead-messiah.html

9. weed out the Bush/Cheneyites from the federal bureaucracy.

10. No pardons for any former elected officials should they be indicted/convicted for war crimes or other crimes while in office.

Ronald

It is notable the Pat is constraining the consideration of the reasons for voting for Obama. Did all the Obama supporters caucus for "change"? I am not so sure. Did none of the Hillary supporters caucus for change? Hillary sure was emphasizing her ability to "change" Washington in her ads. I live in IA, and I caucused for him because he plain and simple has shown better judgement than anyone else. I agree that the rhetoric (of all the candidates) is much pablum. We do not elect kings, so most of what candidates say is hollow.

Who else running got it right on what was wrong with our approach to Iraq? Obama had the good sense to know a war in Iraq would be a distraction that would be much tougher than the cheerleaders thought. (To be fair, Ron Paul gets points for that, too.) That good judgement was what first attracted me. Obama's other positions seem to reflect a sober rationality.

Yellow Dog- With all due respect, the idea that Obama, a very well-spoken and bright former law professor is anything like Bush was in 2000 does not get off the ground. People who were paying attention (I lived in TX then) knew GWB was a hands-off lightweight running on the family name. That GWB and Obama share relative inexperience is not enough to make them substantially similar IMHO.

Respectfully,

Henry FTP

I'm a great fan of rhetoric, and I'm somewhat old-fashioned in thinking politicians should have a command of it. But you're right in suggesting that rhetoric is only effective as a means of persuading people to support specific action. I remain skeptical of the "change" Obama proposes, because it still seems to me that he is suggesting that it can be transformational yet somehow non-threatening. In the specific areas he mentions, health care, energy policy, and foreign policy, change will in fact require someone's ox to be gored, and it won't be limited to a few Gucci-clad K Street lobbyists.

In these areas, however, it doesn't trouble me that some oxen will have to be gored. I think we need to figure out how to make health care more universally available in our country, which will likely mean that some of it will no longer be available on instant demand. I think we need an energy policy that seeks transformational change away from fossil fuels, which will likely mean paying more for the fossil fuels we consume and more for our beloved cars. I think we need a foreign policy that disengages us from the failed attempt to remake Iraq in a semblance of our own image, with a serious plan to withdraw all American troops coupled with active engagement of Iraq's neighbors in trying at least to keep Iraq's troubles from spilling over its borders. And I think we need to rollback the police state being built in our own country, with adequate tools being given to our security professionals to do their jobs that reflect the technological innovations of the last 30 years, which still does not require wholesale repeal of the Bill of Rights.

The last two items will mean that there will be additional bloodshed in Iraq that will be blamed on us for leaving before political stability had been achieved, and that some bad guys may slip through our security precautions who might otherwise have been caught in the Cheney dragnet. Both are prices I think we must be willing to pay for regaining broader influence in pursuit of our national interests in the foreign policy sphere and maintaining our republican way of life at home.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

October 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Blog powered by Typepad