"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Decision points?

Bush II has been pretty good about staying home and keeping quiet. But, alas, the allure of the easy memoir dollar has pulled him out of the shadows and the Oprah’s of the world are only too happy to accommodate even while deprecating. We haven’t read it; don’t need to; don’t plan to. We lived it.

There is little doubt but that the current administration is beset with a myriad of problems that either began or were enthusiastically enhanced by both Mr. Bush II and Mr. Clinton. Clinton gets a break in the current viewpoint for several reasons, including; one, the basic media machine is pro Clinton and anti Bush, and; two, Bush overextended the US military in two unnecessary adventures as they were designed and executed. Third, the housing bubble that began under Clinton and the congressional mishandling of FHLMC and FNMA as well as the feds politically motivated monetary ease policies and disregard for fundamental regulation all burst wide open on Bush’s watch. Frankly Bush deserves the attributed blame for this mess because he did nothing to step in and mitigate it. And debt rose almost $5 trillion during Bush; about $1.5 trillion during Clinton.

Bush had many other troubled and bad “decision points.” He did nothing to rein in the spending of the federal government. The federal debt rise on his watch is tough to pass off as someone else’s responsibility. Of course, he is not responsible for the promiscuous spending in states such as California, New York and Illinois; Connecticut and New Jersey. But his policies supported the flow of federally collected and borrowed moneys to these spending machines and that is unforgivable. On the other hand the same promiscuity occurred under Clinton. To this day, few grasp the significance of the federal government’s support of America’s most insolvent states.

So what else could Bush have done? Could he have pressured the fed to raise interest rates and regulate bad housing lending? Enforce lending standards such as documents and earnings and down payment requirements? Of course he could. He didn’t. And the fed will quickly respond that he could have vetoed spending legislation (fiscal policy) which he completely failed to do. He gave lip service, perhaps, to Fannie and Freddie silliness but he really didn’t mean it. He enjoyed laying claim to responsibility for expanding housing ownership, particularly among minority groups. Some leadership, huh? Decisions? Hardly. More like take credit for whatever spin you can get out of the situation and avoid responsibility for the unanticipated negative consequences. But, alas, not too many memoirs entitled, “Avoiding Responsibility.”

Ultimately, the early returns on Bush cannot help but to question the very title of this premature memoir. His decision points, today, with little time passed for aging and perspective suggest that much of his presidency was not based on “decision points” but was characterized by panicking in lieu of thoughtful consideration and decision making. It seems that Mr. Bush followed a fairly consistent pattern of what we at TheFundamentals have observed personally from other leaders who lack history, perspective and patience. They believe they must do something even when they don’t know what to do. So they send subordinates on missions that frequently find them bouncing off walls and returning to their starting point with nothing to show for their efforts except the appearance of motion and activity and huge expenditure records. They believe you can’t sit still. People expect you to do something. Or, they believe doing something is better than doing nothing because you can be deemed disengaged for doing nothing. Nothing worse than having to justify patience and forbearance, huh?

We have said it before. America needs a big and lengthy time out. A period of quiet introspection that would also be characterized by sacrifice and frugality. But, what could possibly be more un-American than doing nothing? And slowing down our borrowing and spending? And lecturing to everyone but the fellow/gal in the mirror?

So, the Bush nonsense continues with the replacement kid who thinks that strategically government is the answer and spending is the tactic by which to implement the strategy. He now lectures the world that American economic recovery is critical to the well being of the world. A few years ago he was dodging roll calls in Springfield, Illinois and now he knows what’s best for the world? Implicit in that thinking is that you had better help get our spending/consuming/borrowing machine back on track or your gonna be sorry. Without us to buy your stuff, you won’t be making as much of it would appear to be the logic of this argument. In the meantime one of his hands reaches out to the Muslim world while the other gropes your privates at the airport screening designed to prevent bad Muslims from blowing up American planes. We often wonder how much of this goofy behavior would occur if they and their families were subject daily to their solutions imposed on the rest of us? (Aside: Does Obama shop at Wal-Mart? Answer: Not in Chicago.)

Back to George II. We had eight years of this leader (liberal use of term) who displayed his lack of history, lack of knowledge about limitations and lack of foundation in fundamentals by panicking whenever a thoughtful process was required. We think history will characterize these eight years as “Panic Points” not decision points.

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