Thursday, September 18, 2008


Today Chris Matthews met with House Representatives Wexler (D) and Cantor (R) opening up his Hardball show on MSNBC.

We all know the Wall Street turmoil: Bear Sterns, Lehmann Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, subprime mortgage crisis.

The truth is that the current crisis is a complex phenomenon that cannot be solved by punchlines, finger pointing and single tax cuts. It's a combination of cyclic economic reality, lack of regulation on the macro-economic level, diminishing workforce performance in the United States due to lack of innovation and efficiency (despite what is believed: education in the United States is subpar, workforce flexibility is nowhere near that of Asia or even some European countries) and a widespread belief in a culture of credit - where liquidity is irrelevant and only solvability matters and that refinancing is an excuse to buy yourself into vertical growth.

Chris Matthews tried to pin blame completely on the failed policies of the current administration and thus putting Rep. Cantor on the spot for that. In my opinion, Mr. Matthews did so in an unfair way, which is not without precedent, by the way. Rep. Cantor defended the Republican policies and of his presidential candidate's quite handily. In doing so however, he does prove Mr. Matthews' point: he acknowledges the current crisis, and provides ways to try to alleviate those, but by doing so, inadvertently attacks the current administration. The contrived position he is in, necessitates him to "take off his uniform" as a Republican - since that brand is in tatters by GW Bush' doing - and to almost defend John McCain as a new, unconnected candidate.

What Chris Matthews tried to accomplish with the big hammer, may come across as the liberal media unfairly trying to push for power in troubling times - using political and moral superiority to downplay ones' conversational opponent. Despite having a point.

Big hammers are not good in economics. The USSR had one in its flag, and look where they ended up.

Friday, September 5, 2008

State of the Race

Although I am a wholly uninvolved observer (Belgian), I too am tired of the fact that America keeps choosing the wrong leaders. Why is election politics so fickle in its rightful result? From the start, and after initial research, I immediately knew Sen. Obama was the leader right for America and the world in this point of time in history. Just like FDR was right his day, Roosevelt in his, Reagan in his, etc.

The cynical truth however is that election politics is still a game, and both senators have played it masterfully so far. Barack Obama has set up a modern, internet-plugged bureaucratic campaign with grassroots organisation and funding, the topic of change and a calm to constantly analyze new events without being played by them. This is how his campaign won from Sen. Clinton's, who, as a candidate, has immensely more credentials, but whose campaign was ridden with overly strong individuals and an unsteady course and message.

Up until the appointment of Sarah Palin, Sen. McCain campaign was nowhere. He was nominated simply because the other GOP candidates were so weak. The Mitt Romney story however (and his parting concession speech) showed that energizing the GOP base with core conservative values can lock down the majority of red-leaning states swiftly. Sen. McCain has tried to do this, and has partially been succesful, eroding Obama's lead in polls during the summer.

However, I bet this didn't feel right to him.

An independent by nature, holding conservative ideals yet with libertarian morals and modi operandi, any observer could feel that when McCain was on the conservative stump, it wasn't his message. Sure, he's for the Iraq war and Reaganomics, but he does not hold these ideas as absolute truths and undebatable facts, unlike the hateful GWBush-Rove-Rumsfeld administration (the current administration is much more common sense, partly due to the quiet admission of its past failures, but also because of the influence of individuals like Condi Rice).

Both his independent nature and his deficiencies in public oratory have kept enthusiasm levels for his campaign low - compared to the rock star World Tour that is Barack Obama's campaign.

However, with Sarah Palin, McCain has made a choice as brilliant as that of Nerva (Roman emperor who was old, wise, and died quickly, but who did appoint Trajanus - the herald of Ancient Rome's Second Golden Age). As posted previously, she brings to the GOP what Obama brought to the Democrats: vigour and a clear message. And like I said about my comments on Obama, I immediately felt that Sarah Palin was an intriguing and impressive personality.

In the coming days, it was proven that Palin was the full conservative Monty, easily weathering personal attacks (because Democrats are bad at exploiting them) and on the stump on Obama's weaknesses.

However, Sarah Palin pure and simple is a character candidate. Like George w. Bush, her appeal simply comes from the fact that she's identifiable to the electorate she represents (Hockey Moms, Heartland USA), but not as much of the ideas she can bring to changing America for the better.

But again, this is why her choice was so brilliant. John McCain is now liberated from addressing the conservative morality issues and can reclaim his Maverick image. And Palin also brings Obama-levels of enthusiasm to the GOP base.

The big question is how independents will react. In a country and world on the brink of economic recession and unmendable environmental peril, who to choose? There have been signs that Palin is sweeping female voters, but honestly, I hope not.

Sen. Obama is the only candidate with such a clear, yet sufficiently worded and complex answer to the challenges the world faces. Although I respect John McCain very much (more for his years in Congress than for his veterancy), his values would take America to a lesser place than that what Obama would take it.

But this is not the time to sit back and bask in the media glory that is Sarah Palin. We need to appreciate her being as a strong vice presidential candidate and viciously stump Sen. Obama's message while taking apart the GOP's. The road has been long but hope for a better future for the entire world lies at arm's length. Hold the course, react accordingly to current events, and never forget why you've supported Barack Obama in the first place.

It's for the end of politics as it has been played forever. It's for a belief in shared responsibility as opposed to suburban individualism. It's for the ideal that if one tried, one should make it, in dignity and respect. It's for a planet that needs to be saved and that has been ignored a shamingly amount of time. It's for you and me, who trod day by day, just hoping for some common sense and goodwill in America's leaders.

Elect Barack Obama. The time is now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Watch live coverage on:

ABC News

CBS News

Fox News


Boys and girls, hang tight, this is gonna be the ride of your life.


I liked John McCain's speech. He said what he had to say: contrast himself against Sen. Obama but also Pres. Bush, stressing that his campaign is about "the right change" and highlighting his own strengths (public service, patriotism, belief in small government). For the most of the speech however, all of his remarks are fair and an expression of genuine and just conservative concern for a nation in challenging times. Unfortunate observations were his "young man with bad ideas" remark, the slogan "A Leader We Can Believe In" (plagiarism!) including his hook "This isn't change we can believe in!" and his sometimes unadapted facial expressions (especially his smile).

Note that MSNBC interrupted Sen. McCain's speech for the announcement of Obama clearing the 2118 vote target at 9pm ET. After the announcement, they didn't switch back to the speech and had Olbermann and Matthews praising Sen. Obama and his campaign's achievement.

**Update 2**

On 9:30 PM ET, Sen. Clinton made her prime time address. She shot off by congratulating Sen. Obama, his campaign, and his achievement. She went on to make a review of her campaign and of the historic proportions of this Democratic primary season. At the end of the speech, she explicitly said "not making a decision tonight", much to the satisfaction of a strikingly vigorous crowd. She would "meet up with party officials to determine how to move forward, in the best interest of the party".

**Update 3**

Sen. Obama gave his speech at 10 PM ET in St. Paul, Minnesota. I'm going to bed (4 am in Belgium) but suffice to say - I'm in a victory rush now. And from Obama's lips to these bloglines: "This primary season is over" - "I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America".

Monday, April 21, 2008

Declare your independence

So today finally is April 22nd. I repeat what I said before the Ohio and Texas primaries. Time to end it, America. Even though Sen. Clinton had a favorable standing after the April 16 ABC debate (which was edgy, and stirred many a pundit's opinion), this primary season is really in its closing stages. It's like the a regular season of the NBA just keeps on going: it's great to see the teams playing, but sooner or later you want the play-offs and the finals to start.

Warm greetings from Hong Kong,


Thursday, March 27, 2008

"The Right Choice?" - A fair Conservative view

In "The Right Choice?", Andrew J. Bacewich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, writes a profoundly insightful commentary on the current state of affairs. In this essay, published on "The American Conservative", he analyzes George W. Bush's neoconservative war policies, but also mentions other arguments as to why the GOP aren't conservative at all, like Bush letting the budget slide further into debt and his administration increasing the federal apparatus and the executuve offices and further diminishing the roles of the legislative and judiciary branches of government.
The writer opposes John McCain mostly due to his overt, staunch and continuing support for the war in Iraq, which the writer dubs as of huge cultural but minor military significance.
Mr. Bacewich also critizes Sen. Obama, because of his clear liberal profile. However, given the other candidates, he argues that Sen. Obama is the only one with a proven opposition of the Iraq war. Also, he is convinced an Obama presidency might prove to be a transformative one, one in which conservative legislation can at least be proposed and even might come to pass.

I find Mr. Bacewich's arguments to be very convincing indeed. Not based on politics, they are based on a clear standpoint (ie, conservatism) but without spin and simply by sticking to the facts. His elaborate analysis shatters what "liberal" and "conservative" have come to be distorted into, and reverts them to healthy political views that should be respected and not mutually exclusive. And not surprisingly, Sen. Obama's views coincide with this kind of analysis: that it is time to face the problems, deal with them, but not through blind partisanship and political sidewinding.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Word of Barack

As you may have noticed, I've been away for a long time. I got fed up after March 4th, the bitterness across campaigns, the endless punditry, the sickening spin. I abandoned the campaign trail simply because I couldn't stand being disappointed and gutted until August.

Then Sen. Obama spoke.

Once again he is the unique politician with one of the most compelling views and ideas in the history of the United States. With his back up the wall after low blow after low blow, Sen. Obama responds. Admitted, some of Rev. Wright's statements are downright bigotrous and destructive. But instead of downplaying and ignoring the problems, he faces them head-on. Not in an ignorant way, but by bluntly showing us the complexity and nuance of real life and moreover, by using deeply personal relationships and experiences as examples, not betraying friendships for politics. No politician of similar significance has ever used such insight, vision and disarming honesty.
All great politicians have a few traits in common. They were great speakers, had a keen insight in the matters at hand, and asked the right question at the right time. Like when Lincoln questioned American unity and freedom at Gettysburg, when FDR announced that December 7th, 1941 was a date that will live in infamy and when Ronald Reagan dared Gorgatchev to "tear down this wall".
Now Sen. Obama looks us square in the eye and asks us if we want to keep playing the games, the immobility, the hate. Not through slogans or cheap tricks. But by facing facts and proposing to work them out.

*That's* the Audacity of Hope, stupid.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Playing God in the Ant Farm

Remember those hot summer days when you were a kid, with none of your friends around because they were on holiday and your parents busy with whatever grownups do? You had to entertain yourself out of boredom, or indulge in the sweet bliss of idleness. Remember the ant farm in your backyard? There was the uncontrollable urge to help them build their fort, get them some sugar, or to guide them to wherever they needed to go. But at your whim, you could decide to make them walk an obstacle course of straws, erasers and all kinds of small rocks, or to plainly be evil and destroy their nest, or burn them with a magnifying glass.

Peter Molyneux confessed this childish urge to and glee in total control, was his main inspiration in creating Populous and Black & White.

The media however, has much less constructive expressions of this prime instinct.

With Junior Super Tuesday less than 24 hours away and the polls tighter than ever, the media has not stopped analysing and digging. I've already touched on my deepening fatigue, but this video has gotten my blood boiling altogether.

Link to MSNBC Video

In this segment, pundit Craig Crawford discusses the Ohio and Texas primaries. What enrages me however is the glee with which he describes the political process. He literally says "Why should the media want to end this?", in a statement about the exceptional length and intensity of the 2008 Democratic primaries. Although I share the observation of the extraordinary nature of it all, and the wonderful fact of (new) voter participation; an "enjoyment" of the ongoing trench war is sickening to me. It's like Nero playing the harp when Rome burnt, like the Navy SEAL instructor enjoying to see his men suffer, or like the boy playing with his ants.

But these are not ants. This is serious business - the future of America is literally in the balance. While pundits are quick to say Sen. Obama arouses empty, rock star emotions, and that Sen. Clinton is on the short and dishonest end of everything, they are ignoring that both are campaigning at an inhuman tempo, with, in the end, only their political beliefs to drive them. The media doesn't care about the issues, the candidates, and even less about the voters. They care about the story, the spin, and the impact of it all. But I don't blame them. It's their job.

So please turn off all the TV sets, talk radio shows and internet politics joints. Take a pause, think about why you like or want to vote for any candidate. Take pride and responsibility in democracy, and cast your vote. And let March 4th be the end of it.

Because we are not ants. We deserve better.

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