April 28, 2005

If You Are Reading This, and You're Over 65...

...you need to know you are still going to get your check. And that people who don't want to set up private accounts don't have to. And that those high gas prices are really hard to live with.

That was a public service announcement for those Americans who did not see tonight's Presidential news conference. Those who did see the news conference are invited to share their thoughts below. That's in the comments section, where readers can share their thoughts. About North Korea, and judges, and asbestos lawsuits and the other important issues facing our nation.

Quick impressions: when you don't do something like this often, it shows. That goes for the press as well as the President. When the first question was about Bush's feelings about poll numbers I prepared myself for a long evening. Also, it didn't sound to me as if the reporters there were all that interested in energy. Finally, are we all supposed to refer to the President of Russia as Vladimir, or is that just a President to President thing?

Posted by at April 28, 2005 11:12 PM | TrackBack (10)
Comments

I've been a strong supporter of President Bush, primarily because of his aggressive prosecution of the war on tyranny.

As I watched tonight's news conference, however, I'll admit to experiencing some discomfort over the president's lack of ease at public speaking and I even found myself wondering if the time of Bush's usefulness hadn't passed, as the President's mood seems to shift from slaying dragons abroad to slaying dwarfs at home.

Then the reason I love George W. Bush all came back to me, when he replied to a question concerning Kim Jong Il: "Kim Jong Il is a dangerous person. He starves his own people and puts them in concentration camps."

On the issues that really matter, Bush expresses himself in a refreshingly forthright manner.

On a paranthetical note, it is the exact same language on Kim Jong Il that Democratic opponents of the Bolton nomination are criticizing Bolton for having used, on the grounds that it has hampered negotiations.

Posted by: Stan at April 29, 2005 03:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Isn't the criticism of Bolton saying that because the other negotiators were saying something else at the time? I get the impression that's the latest area of attack/criticism - Bolton end-running everyone else he disagrees with (including his bosses)(?)

Posted by: TG at April 29, 2005 04:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I disagree with Stan completely!
Bush's answer about Kim was incoherent.
The fact Kim starves his own people is horrible, but not dangerous to us. The fact that he has nukes (probably) and may have the missiles to deliver them is the real issue, and that pansy in the White House can't even talk about it, must less do something.

Posted by: Marky at April 29, 2005 04:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...and that pansy in the White House can't even talk about it, must less do something."

Really?

What would you do, Marky (a real man's name, no doubt)?

North Korea is essentially nothing more or less than an army with a nation - possibly with nukes.

So, where do you start, Marky?

Do you involve the Chinese or not, Marky?

What about the South Koreans and the Japanese, Marky?

What about the North Korean artillery locked on Soul, Marky?

What's your plan, Marky?

Please share with us, Marky.

Posted by: Tim at April 29, 2005 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On energy Bush didn't say is where the real problems (both political, and policy) lies.

On energy, Bush did not even mention the words "conservation", or "renewable resources". He didn't seem to consider opening up the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and although he promised that Americans would not be "price gouged" at the pump, the words "windfall oil profits tax" did not cross his lips (let alone price-fixing and anti-trust law enforcement). And nothing about enhanced CAFE standards.

I agree wholeheartedly with Joe about the press' performance (although I suspect that the first question about polls was a set-up so that Bush could say he didn't govern by polls and focus groups --- which is strange, since he constantly used ideas and rhetoric that has been poll and focus group tested...). If you ask a four part question, you are only going to get an answer to one part---if you are lucky.

On Social Security, Bush hit the third rail by using the phrase "means testing." And his exaggerated rhetoric on Social Security --- it ain't going "bankrupt" in 2041, and Treasury Notes backed by the full faith and credit of the US of A are not "file cabinets full of IOUs" --- demonstrates that Bush is more concerned with "winning" the argument on social security than he is on dealing with possible long term problems.

On North Korea, he made all the right noises --- but was unconvincing. Talking about a "nuclear weapon free Korean peninsula" sounds good, but with the US holding ICBM and submarine launched nukes that can attack NK from outside the peninsula, its just rhetoric that will be rightfully seen by NK as a demand that NK unilaterally make itself vulnerable to an attack.

Bush was especially weak on Iraq and the War on Terror. "We're making progress", when the Pentagon is saying that the insurgency is just as capable as it was a year ago, and the State Dept is saying that terrorist attacks have tripled, is an exercise in cognitive dissonance. (Bush's best moment was when he emphasized that the US had already dropped troop levels after the Iraqi elections.)

I don't think that Bush achieved what he wanted to achieve in this press conference, and that it will be percieved by most people for what it was --- an exploitation of the office of the Presidency that was not newsworthy enough to interfere with their television viewing habits.

The good news is that Bush got the opportunity to "take his case directly to the American people." The bad news (for Bush) is that the American people aren't buying it.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 29, 2005 11:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with p.lukasiak.

On a slightly different note, how can someone be forthright yet completely avoid answering anything substantive? I don't understand how people think he's forthright... Saying Kim Jong Il starves his people isnt' substantive. It's a statement of fact, not a declaration of policy or approach. It's like listening to protesters... war is bad, abortion is evil, blah blah. How is this bold? How is this even remotely insightful?

Am I being forthright when I say I love my mom?

Posted by: just me at April 29, 2005 02:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim Jong Il is the sparkling rattle used to distract, from the people emptying the cookie jar. Bush needs another boogie man, and his concentration on the task at hand is about as long as those who donít see that few of the things he championed to get elected have come to fruition. North Korea has no natural resources and is embargoed to within an inch of its existence. Weapons are its only trade. Bombing it or sanctioning it will not make it see the light and start growing GM crops. I still have the TIME and newspaper from when I was working in Seoul, North Korea having the bomb was on the cover of both. That was ten years ago and I was forced to return to the US as a result. Developing societies have relied on armies to create employment since the beginning of time, as they become more advanced the ratio changes. There are far worse then Mr Kim all over Africa, but they are no strategic reasons to go there.
Tim, small minded insults about the toughness of someoneís name, is it the extra syllable that has you so pithy? We donít choose our names only who we become, none of which hides the fact that you seem to be a man of many questions and few answers. Sure go ahead and start a war in Korea and park at the 38th parallel for a few years, I am sure South Korea has great confidence in American power after seeing the stability it has brought to Iraq. Tim, finish your dinner before you start your desert.
Bush will never be a good public speaker and I mean that as no criticism itís just not his strength. Bolton is probably just the wrong guy for the job and the best way to get an approval is to pick a candidate that is right for the job. The UN is a bureaucratic mess but it was designed to be just that, to slow things down and to get consensus. It needs to be whipped into shape but a shape that fits a World that the US as a part of not to fit a US that the World is a part of.

Posted by: Frank at April 29, 2005 02:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

? I don't understand how people think he's forthright... Saying Kim Jong Il starves his people isnt' substantive. It's a statement of fact, not a declaration of policy or approach. It's like listening to protesters... war is bad, abortion is evil, blah blah. How is this bold? How is this even remotely insightful?

well, his statements were very forthright....the problem is that they were also guaranteed to be perceived not as "forceful" or "determined", but as belligerent. In other words, Bush was talking out of both sides of his month, discussing how hard it was working with other nations to disarm NK, while at the same time signalling to NK that it would be completely insane for it to abandon its only serious deterrent against a belligerent and overwhelmingly powerful nation.

Bush's "forthright" speech is guaranteed to ensure that the six party talks fail to disarm NK --- our allies are not going to press NK as long as Bushco is signalling its belligerence, and NK would be insane to think that either China or Russia would retaliate against the US should NK disarm and the US subsequently attack it. NK's ONLY option, at this point, is to keep building its nuclear deterrent.


Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 29, 2005 04:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Finally, are we all supposed to refer to the President of Russia as Vladimir, or is that just a President to President thing?

Alternative forms of address for Putin:

Volodya, Vlad, Voldushka, Voldoshkin, Voldushka Golubushka = [more or less] Willie, Will, Wills, Willers, Wills Magills

paren' = guy, buddy

Vladimir Valdimirovich formal Russian address, equal to "Mr Putin"

Gospodin Putin new westernized formal Russian address, equal to "Mr Western Wannabe Putin"

muzhik = [literally] peasant male [fig.] peasant alpha male, patriarch of the plow, [US equiv.] dude

Posted by: thibaud at April 29, 2005 06:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

p. (can I call you by your first initial), does this count as mentioning conservation:

"Fourth, we must help growing energy consumers overseas, like China and India, apply new technologies to use energy more efficiently and reduce global demand of fossil fuels."

While he didn't say the word "conservation," it sure sounds like a conservation plan (murmer, for somebody else, murmer, murber).

Posted by: PD Shaw at April 29, 2005 06:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

p.lukasiak wrote:

On energy, Bush did not even mention the words "conservation", or "renewable resources". He didn't seem to consider opening up the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and although he promised that Americans would not be "price gouged" at the pump, the words "windfall oil profits tax" did not cross his lips (let alone price-fixing and anti-trust law enforcement)."

Woah!! The SPR is meant for use at a time of war or a cutoff in oil supply. Besides, at the current level, it's only a 2 months supply. Releasing it won't dent any demand from China or India. That's what driving oil (as well as other commodity prices) higher.

As for gas prices, building more refineries will aliviate some of the demand / supply issues. But the different grades of additives mandated by various states makes the price sensitive to any disruptions in supply
(like stoppages at the refineries.). Plus, if you want lower gas prices, tell your state legislature to reduce the taxes on gas.

As for 'renewable' energy sources...what are they? Wind, solar and hydro power. But these depend on the location as well as on nature. Hydrogen fuel cells? Well, where does the hydrogen comes from? Electric powerplants. Whether its a nuclear, coal, oil or hydro plant depends on NIMBY.

Posted by: John Kuran at April 29, 2005 07:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

PD: Actually, that particular part of the energy program that the press wasn't interested in is pretty interesting. I'll have more on this later today.

Posted by: JEB at April 29, 2005 07:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Woah!! The SPR is meant for use at a time of war or a cutoff in oil supply. Besides, at the current level, it's only a 2 months supply. Releasing it won't dent any demand from China or India. That's what driving oil (as well as other commodity prices) higher.

the high price of crude is speculative -- based not so much on current demand as on expected demand, and one higly significant factor is the "war on terror" and the perceived vulnerability of the oil supply to terrorist attacks. In other words, since we are at war right now, and it is affecting the price of oil, using the Strategic Reserves is perfectly justifiable. (We don't even have to tap into the Reserves....we continue to fill those reserves, and if we instead diverted that oil to the marketplace, prices would go down.)

*************************

While he didn't say the word "conservation," it sure sounds like a conservation plan (murmer, for somebody else, murmer, murber).

its sounds like a (long range) conservation plan for the rest of the world, and not one for the US of A. Last night I heard (on TV, so I don't have a cite) that China's fuel efficiency standards for automobiles are hgher than the USA's..... in other words, other net energy importers are already making the effort to conserve energy, and won't require much arm twisting to adopt "new technologies" as they become available.

and yeah, you can call me "p" :)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 29, 2005 07:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wish people would understand the difference between polls/focus groups driving your politics, and polls/focus groups shaping the message of your politics.

It's one thing to have a position, and use a poll or focus group to hone that position into a marketable position.

It's quite another to use a poll or focus group to decide what your position is.

I believe the President is referring to the later when he says his decisions are not poll driven.

His pushing for Social Security for instance, is not poll driven. In fact he wouldn't be seriously talking about the third rail at all, if he were choosing his positions based on polls.

****

With regards to the speech and followup, I think the President did fine. A B- at least compared to his other performances.

Posted by: Keith, Indianapolis at April 29, 2005 08:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't care about the President's speeches, I care about his actions. He likes to project the image of a tough guy who doesn't compromise, and reaches for national glory, just like Napoleon. Napoleon's overreaching sent him to Elba and collapsed the French Empire.
Bush's overreaching has three terrible consequences: he creates more terrorists every month and antagonizes the leaders of "Old Europe" whose support we need. Our schools and healthcare are bad and getting worse- Missouri is phasing out Medicaid at a time when prices and profits are up and wages are down- more people can expect to be without health insurance. Bush puts his money into military adventurism and the mindless missile defense. He takes it away from major social needs.
This worked when the stiff windsurfer who had the courage to speak against the Vietnam War but lost it on Iraq was the main spokesman for the opposition. It works less well as jobs continue to disappear and thereís a new opposition leader whose life was repeatedly threatened when he was head of the Nevada gaming commission and who knows when to compromise - the elitist culture war crap won't stick to Senator Reid. It sure stuck to Kerry and the Clintons.

Posted by: anciano at May 1, 2005 08:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I want to call him Vlad.

Bush was WAY too timid in his speech. I'm from Canada where people think timidity is some kind of saintly virtue and if Bush (wasn't loathed) was that timid (about something else) in Canada, we'd probably form a sick socialist religion around him.

The only good thing is just what Joesph wrote: clarifying that reforming Social Security isn't the same as destroying Social Security. God Almighty. Only in America could anyone even consider getting away with reforming a program like Social Security. Good luck.

Posted by: Dylan Sherlock at May 2, 2005 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

...i personally call him 'Vlad'.

Posted by: Doc at May 4, 2005 07:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Reviews of Belgravia Dispatch
"Awake"
--New York Times
"Must-read list"
--Washington Times
"Pompous Ass"
--an anonymous blogospheric commenter
Recent Entries
Search
English Language Media
Foreign Affairs Commentariat
Non-English Language Press
U.S. Blogs
Columnists
Think Tanks
Law & Finance
Security
Books
The City
Western Europe
France
United Kingdom
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Spain
Central and Eastern Europe
CIS/FSU
Russia
Armenia
East Asia
China
Japan
South Korea
Middle East
Egypt
Israel
Lebanon
Syria
B.D. In the Press
Archives
Categories
Syndicate this site:
XML RSS RDF

G2E

Powered by