Tag Archives: and History

January, 2015 Motto

[C]onsider the CNBC economy survey, showing that 53 percent of Americans are pessimistic about the current and future economic situation, while only 23 percent are optimistic.

—Washington Week, January 2, 2015

James Branch Cabell, my favorite pessimist
James Branch Cabell, my favorite pessimist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Branch_Cabell

Note 1. I am a contrarian. I believe economic and political conditions will improve over the next 10 years.

Note 2. I believe that economic improvement requires political improvement and vice versa.

Note 3. This site begins 2015 with a commitment to optimism including suggestions on how to create change that will cause pessimists to change their position.

Note 4. Optimism regarding economic and political affairs contradicts a near-lifetime of acceptance of James Branch Cabell, my favorite obscure novelist’s statement, “The optimist believes this is the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears it is true.” The earliest example is when I was nine years old, my mother took me with her into the voting booth for the 1956 election and allowed me to push the lever for Adlai Stevenson, which I did enthusiastically.

Note 5. The motto for December 2014 has been delayed. I may be the master of my fate and the captain of my soul. The motto itself is simple. For reasons endemic to my nature, I have been using many words and footnotes (yes, footnotes) to explain the importance of focusing on simplicity. As a consequence the posting is long, getting longer, and is not yet ready for publication. For reasons clear to me at the time, I decided to use the motto as a forum to advocate the use of footnotes. Academic publications are increasing abandoning The Chicago Manual of Style for style manuals which provide citations that do not require footnotes. This reminded me of footnotes I have appreciated, such as one from Hans Zinsser’s Rats, Lice, and History. I cannot find the footnote. I am not yet willing to abandon the search. Whatever decision I make, the December 2014 motto will appear when it appears. Watch this space.

 

I write in praise of Paul Ryan

My political perspective is different from Paul Ryan‘s.

I will be voting for Obama despite disappointment ObamaCare did not seek to cover ALL Americans for fear that non-documented workers might get health treatment.

Universal coverage critics appear unable to understand that communicable diseases can be stopped at the source saving lots of things–remember the Bubonic plague? Also, read Rat, Lice, and History.

++++

I am a paraplegic who has been on Medicare for 7 out of the past 18 years I have been a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance [SSDI]. I have been trying to obtain work–REAL WORK– get off Social Security by the time I am 65, but obstacles to getting off the public dole are considerable.

[I believe the greatest tax imposed on the disabled and elderly poor is requiring us over and over to prove we do not work, obtain outside income, and show (beyond a shadow of a doubt) we are not hiding huge quantities of stock.]

Back to Paul Ryan.

Yes, he gave a dreadful speech at the Republican National Convention.

Perhaps, I might be a bad yardstick, but if I had been able to spend time at the Universe Outside of Time Republican Convention in Tampa, I would have gone stark raving mad–a convention of bored Romney delegates none of whom had bothered to wear t-shirts supporting their candidate.

In the passion of the movement, a young man for the job (remember Teddy Roosevelt?) Ryan freaked out.

Who wouldn’t?

He was chosen to be a vice presidential candidate because of the impressive contribution he has made to the current substantive debate on economic policy. He may be young, but he is the only presidential and vice presidential candidate to have compiled an impressive analysis of the budget problems America faces. AND he has proposed detailed solutions.

I do not agree with the philosophy behind his analysis. Nor, do I agree with his proposals. But, he has the intelligence to realize that trying to understand the current baffling economy in which we are in is worth serious attention. [How many legislators do you know willing to devote time to thinking and learning and trying to solve problems worth solving regardless of their political views?]

Watching Paul Ryan with attention when he appeared last year and early this year on Meet the Press and other Sunday network television programs, he presents himself as a serious man intent on helping the U.S. economy. He has stated repeatedly that his plan is not the ONLY plan worthy of consideration. He says that he wants to be presented with other plans, hear other people’s ideas regardless of their views.

What is wrong with that?

Ryan has been accorded considerable respect among Wahington-insiders who know him.

++++

I lived in Washington, D.C. for 17 years.

This is a view of the Capitol focused primarily on the Senate side. For 17 years, I lived six blocks away.

Those living in the beltway know how things really get done in Washington. When I lived in DC, I was:

  • Senate-confirmed political appointee to the President of the United States serving as special assistant to the deputy secretary of labor
  • Consultant to Congress’ General Accounting Office and to the Office of Technology Assessment
  • Consultant to Democratic and Republican Chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Author of a book on the politics of food  [Let me tell you in detail about the Sugar Act of 1948 (as amended)]
  • Free-lance writer for The New York Times, The New Republic, and Newsday

The two legislators I admired most were: Tom Foley, liberal Democrat from Washington State and Bob Dole, especially in his role as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Former Speaker of the House Thomas A. Foley (D-WA)

Foley became Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture as a result of a revolt by the left-wing of the House who opposed the dictatorial policies of powerful chairmen (yes, men) who refused to allow freshmen members of the Committee to speak at all during hearings).When Foley became Speaker of the House, I was in heaven. At last, a legislator I respect is Speaker of the House. I felt as if I were the Elijah of a New Era where at last serious decisions about serious subjects would be handled by an individual I greatly respect.

Robert Dole (R-KA) former Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee

Bob Dole became a different Bob Dole when he ran as a vice and presidential-candidate coming across as a mean, incoherent, humorless fellow. The reality of Bob Dole as a senate leader is startlingly different. Those of us who lunched with him at the National Press Club were presented with a delightfully funny astonishingly competent senator. Bob Dole was the guy who rescued the farm bill from Senate Chair Jesse Helms’ venomous posturing on non-agriculture related issues.

There are 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate. For decades, I have been studying them. In any given Congress, fewer than twenty Senators and Representatives give a damn about solving the country’s problems–not furthering political objectives, but solving problems. Tom Foley and Bob Dole were the exceptions in their time.

Present exceptions include:

The skillful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

The fixer Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

 

 

The brilliant Sen. Charles Schumer (D_NY)

 

AND yes, Paul Ryan.

Do not underestimate Paul Ryan.