Archive for the ‘US Politics’ Category

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Final rant about the bailout

September 22, 2008

My (hopefully) final thoughts about the bailout

What really annoys me about this is the scaremongering from the press and Paulson. The irony is that things are nowhere near a depression. A technical recession maybe, but even at the nadir last week the money markets were merely as bad as they were in the early 1980s and much better than they were in the 70s. The problem is after twenty years of relative stability, at the first sign of a slowdown people assume that it is 1929 again. This is the first time in history that we are going to bail out the banks long before any of them actually go bankrupt. The irony is that the glut of international regulation that is going to follow Paulson’s socialist folly (nationalised ratings agencies, caps on bonuses, IMF involved in global financial regulation) will make thing permanantly worse.

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Almost makes Palin sound coherent

September 20, 2008

Look, I’m sure there are some of my friends saying, ‘I thought this guy was a market guy — what happened to him?'” Bush said. “Well, my first instinct wasn’t to, you know, lay out a huge government plan. My first instinct was to let the market work, until I realized, being briefed by the experts of how significant this problem became. And so, I decided to act and act boldly.

“It turns out that there’s a lot of interlinks through the financial system. The system had grown to a point where a lot of people were dependent upon each other and a collapse of one part of the system wouldn’t just affect a part of the financial markets, it would affect … capacity to borrow money. to buy a house or to finance a college loan. It’d affect the ability of a small business to get credit. In other words, the systemic risk was significant and it required a significant response. And Congress understands that and we’ll work to get things done as quickly as possible

– George W Bush

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How will the Bush Presidency be viewed in ten years time?

May 11, 2008

TPT evaluates the Bush Presidency

At the moment George W Bush is not viewed very highly by the American public. At the moment the latest estimates are that less than a third approve of the job that he is doing. Indeed, Pollster.com put hiis approval rating at a dismal 28.3%. His immigration proposals went down in the flames last summer and he is assailed by the right as a big spending liberal while two towns in Vermont voted to arrest him and Dick Cheney if they ever dare to enter the city limits. Some people even believe that the damage to his reputation extends beyond Bush himself with the respected commentator Professor Larry Sabato declaring, in an article last summer pondering possible Republican running mates, that ‘(Jeb Bush’s) last name is tarnished for a generation’. Democrats leaning pressure groups are running ads trying to portray John McCain as ‘four more years of Bush’. However, although it is unlikely that Bush’s reputation will have dramatically changed by November, although past President’s tend to a enjoy a small uplift in the last few weeks of their presidency, it is interesting to try to evaluate Bush’s administration over the past eight years.

Indeed, it is difficult to realise from contemporary views that venerated figures John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were, at various points in their careers, highly controversial figures who experienced bouts of unpopularity. One way to view the Presidents since 1928, which is popular with historians, is to divide them by tiers. Although it varies from historian to historian I would say that the first tier would includes presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman who had major achievements in both the domestic and foreign spheres and fundamentally changed the tone on the political culture. The second tier includes those who left their mark but either had enough flaws, such as Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, to disbar themselves from the first tier or did not spend enough time in office, like JFK, to run up a solid list of achievements. The third tier is for those who were too controversial or bland for the second tier, such as Dwight Eisenhower, while the fourth and fifth tiers are for mediocrities (George HW Bush and Gerald Ford) and disasters (Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter) respectively.

So which tier does Bush fall into and how does he compare with Clinton? If you look at domestic achievements, then Clinton did have a tendency to focus on ‘small ball’ but he did succeed in chipping away at the more obvious problems, with action to reduce gun crime and expand access to healthcare for children. In contrast Bush managed to turn a large surplus into a deficit with tax cuts that were skewed towards the wealthy and his immigration package, although surprisingly sensible and progressive, folded in the face of Republican opposition. However, Bush did take the first tentative steps to raising educational standards, with the No Child Left Behind Act. In terms of upholding the integrity of the office and changing the tone of American politics, both Clinton and Bush failed. However, Bush’s problem was that he created were a culture where special interests and donors held sway and a slash and burn style of politics that focused on dog-whistles and smears.

However, in foreign policy the positions are reversed. Although the Clinton administration did eventually intervene in Bosnia and again in Kosovo, this was done at the behest of world leaders like Tony Blair and congressional leaders like Bob Dole. Although the Bush administration has been criticised for taking its world view from an episode of 24, most notoriously in terms of military interrogation, the Clinton administration was definitely guilty of buying into the West Wing view that all world problems can be solved with a bit of diplomacy and a few photo opportunities. Bill Clinton would probably have liberated Afghanistan and might even have attacked Saddam, but he would not have been able to face down the United Nations, nor would he have kept troops in Iraq for five years. Clinton also lacked Bush’s philosophy of spreading democracy, instead preferring to take his guidance from whatever book happened to be on his nightstand that evening, or whatever advisor had spoken to him last.

Ironically, it was Bush’’s one shout out to Clintonian policy making that nearly undid all the gains in Iraq, namely the decision to convene the Iraq Study Group. This decision made it appear as though he was not in control of foreign policy, and left many people (including myself) convinced that he was about to announce a withdrawal from Iraq after the mid term elections. Even this mistake, and the failure to send enough troops, was overcome with the surge strategy, which has succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. Another irony is that, the unilateralist has probably done more to kick-start the process of making the UN a more effective and accountable organisation than Clinton the internationalist, although a lot more work needs to be done. So, to conclude, the Bush administration was definitely a middle tier presidency. In Bush’s case he has been ineffective in the domestic fields and has lowered the tone of politics. The decision decision to make promotion of democracy and human right an integral part of America’s relations with the rest of the world, even if it means unpopularity both domestic and abroad is commendable. So in that sense Bush’s presidency is a presidency redeemed, although hopefully his sucessor can raise the tone of politics.

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Obama’s leads falls again to 13.50%

March 31, 2008

Another small fall for Obama, but he still has a solid lead

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Adding the ARG poll to the collection of North Carolina polls, I’ve come up with the following projections.

Barack Obama 50.96
Hillary Clinton 37.46

Hillary seems to be catching up again. However, even the most hardened supporter will accept that she has a mountain to climb if she wants to reduce Obama’s lead to single digits. However, if she manages to creep up on him percent by percent, without a massive swing in his favour, it is possible.

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Is this an opportunity for Rudy or Hillary?

March 11, 2008

Could Giuliani or Clinton run for New York’s Highest Office in 2010?

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Now that Republicans are threatening impeachment, and there is even talk of Spitzer facing criminal charges, it is almost certain that Elliott Spitzer will be forced to step down as Governor of New York. Although, the Lieutenant Governor David Paterson will step into his place, Paterson allegedly has his own ethics problems. This will mean that to all intents and purposes the governor’s mansion will be an open contest. This leaves the field open for Rudolph Giuliani on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton, if she is unsuccessful this November, on the Democratic side. The governor’s mansion would be an ideal stepping stone for the Presidency, allowing the occupation two years to showcase their executive abilities on a larger scale. Of course Hillary could be criticised for only spending two years before running for the White House again (and so would Giuliani). However, they could sidestep this by selecting a strong running mate, possibly Donald Trump on the Republican side and Andrew Cuomo for the Democrats. Of course Hillary could still win the Democratic nomination and Giuliani could be McCain’s running mate. However, this does reduce the likelihood of Hillary accepting the bottom place on a ticket with Obama, if nothing else.

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9 Predictions for 2008

December 31, 2007

10 Predictions for 2008

1. Mitt Romney will win the Iowa caucus…..
2. …but John McCain will win in New Hampshire
3…..and in South Carolina.
4. Different candidates will be declared the winner in the official results and in the ‘Entrance Poll’.
5. Barack Obama will NOT be the Democratic nominee for President.
6. Joe Lieberman will be nominated for the second spot on the Republican ticket.
7. The Democrats will nominate James Webb for Vice President.
8. Either Ron Paul or Michael Bloomberg will run for President.
8. There will be either an internal challenge to Gordon Brown or a surprise election.
9. A EU constitution referendum will be called this year in the UK.

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Is there still value in betting against Romney in Iowa?

November 20, 2007

Why you should still short Mitt.

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One of the most interesting development in the race has been the extent to which Romney’s supremacy in Iowa has been challenged by Mike Huckabee. Although Huckabee is still, by my estimation, over nine points behind Romney, the fact that the governor of Arkansas has managed to get so close to Romney without spending any money on advertising, indicates that Romney’s support in the Hawkeye state is very thin. This has been reflected in the betting markets with the contract on Romeny winning Iowa falling from a peak of 69.3 in early October to the current level of 55.9. However, I think that the Romney contracts still have a way to fall as the fact that Huckabee is attracting enough money to begin airing some adverts in the Hawkeye state will boost his name recognition and make him seem a more credible candidate. I believe that once Huckabee has been perceived as the more credible candidate, a lot of the Evangelicals who were unsure about Romney and Thompson, or were opposed to Romney but were not decided about who was best able to stop him, will move to Huckabee. I firmly believe that Romney’s contracts are overvalued until they enter the low 40s.

What do you think? Add your thoughts below.