ABC's of Political Reform
Over 24 Political Topics and 80 Issues of Reform to Clean Up American Bureaucracy!
by Stephen L. Rush
Premise For Reform
When the President takes the oath of office, he swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States (Art. II, Sect. 1, Para. 9). The Constitution is far more important than the office of the President, for without it there would not be a United States of America. That document gives life and purpose to this great country.
Equally important is the Bill of Rights, the guarantee of how governance by this document is measured. It is not sufficient to say that a new form of government has distinquished itself from the monarchy of England, but what kind of value this new government places on the people it serves.
From that perspective, anyone can say they can fix the problems within government, but the distinction is whether one actually serves the people they are sworn to. For, any presidential candidate can declare that he or she has the best method to reform American government, but many fall short of being true public servants.
of Stephen L. Rush
--> Perspective on Cabinet Choices
for President-elect Obama
What is a Great Leader
Americans desire a leader who is equipped to handle turbulent times and even cares about the people they serve. One may recall California's Energy Crisis, the bankruptcy of Enron, 9/11 attacks, Quecreek trapped coal miners, Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, Northeastern U.S. snowstorms and blackouts, California and Arizona Aspen Wildfires, Indian Ocean Tsunami, Federal Budget record deficit, Pre-Iraqi war CIA scandals, and Hurricane Katrina. Prior to these events, unprepared leadership slid under the radar of mediocrity and concentrated on making themselves look good. Not anymore. Now today's leaders have to resist getting broadsided by disaster, security, and issues of compassion. Our leaders will be tested whether they have the internal fortitude to hold their ground during any crisis.
Strange Turn In Politics
Leading up to the election were many strange twists and predictions, and my comments have been archived at Archive of Candidates.
Why Have A Cabinet of Peers
Before getting into the details of what a Cabinet of Peers looks like, let it be clear why the President may be more limited than we think - not just in power but his ability. The office of the President is a lot for one man. Regardless of what we think of President Bush, the office has a great deal of weight associated with sitting behind its Resolute desk. Any given President is hopeful that there is only one major calamity during their administration – at the most. That is because each President has limitations to their personality and has to draw from their experiences, education, gifts, and talents, as well as political tools and skills they acquired to cope with such crisis. There are times when a President has the ability to deal with some crisis and not others, and that is true for any President.
But, our world has changed. Americans no longer live in an era where Presidents can merely slide by unscathed and hope they can impart their vision for America, whether those policies are foreign or domestic, without encountering a single catastrophic event. President Bush faced not one major crisis, but four: 9/11, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the Housing Bubble. These were all major events, although certainly there were many other issues and events that were important. President Bush may have had the skills to deal with one, maybe two. But administrations of the past were not ever given the standard that is presented to the 44th President: to expect 12 crisis events.
There is circumstantial evidence the Bush Administration specifically and knowingly had been keeping events from further escalation behind the scenes, almost like an unsung hero. Imagine for a moment that the Bush economic advisers specifically approached the President long before the nation had gasoline prices on its mind and recommended a move to stabilize foreign oil before an economic collapse made that scenario unlikely. Not saying this did happen, because it is just as likely that when the President was presented with options following 9/11, that a philosophical “slippery slope” led him to the same conclusion. No matter, the obvious choice would be to secure foreign oil – once made available to America when the Shah of Iran was in power – and that meant freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Not being a student of history, President Bush did not have the skills to recognize that Iran and Syria would view any War in Iraq as problematic: partly because of the economic destabilization of countries remnant of the Ottoman Empire with the loss of World War I, and partly because of the fact that the Shah’s secret police was aided by the CIA to protect American oil interests. It is not true that insurgents would not exist in Iraq had it been for these things; it just makes it more difficult. Anyway, the point is that President Bush implemented the unsettling idea of Preemptive war from the political hawks as a means to finish what his father started, and at the same time secure American oil interests again. This was a very brave move. It is preferred to change the economy than to go to war over oil, but brave nonetheless. At some point in time Bush would have to reckon with weapons of mass destruction not being found and also Preemption would eventually come to be viewed as a laughing stock, and so his popularity ratings would go anywhere but up. Ultimately, President Bush made a choice to care more about the future of America than his Presidency.
That is not all he did. There is also a growing belief that President Bush also manipulated the stock market on two occasions and worked steadily with trading partners to stabilize the housing market on another occasion: gasoline prices in Summer of 2007, banking liquidity early 2008, and the Dow in October 2008. There were several newscasts that quickly reported when the price of a barrel of oil cost seemed to normalize momentarily, when foreign investors brought in a sudden influx of cash, and when stocks hovered above 8,500. Not many people would give any thought to their implications, except a contrary economist like myself. It means that the Bush Administration made the decision to hold the prices of oil, housing, and stocks until a later date. This would have required a great deal of effort to make such arrangements and keep them under wraps, if true. And if true, it speaks highly of our 43rd President, George W. Bush. It may have been that there was only so much he could do given current law and provisions for the Presidency. Perhaps all he did was speak to some friends, at the very least. But he did do something, because the market does not behave like this on its own. And, that means the Bush Administration ultimately deserves credit. President Bush is perhaps not the worst President, then.
Why speak highly of President Bush? Historians interviewed by the History Channel spoke of Presidents in terms of their accomplishments, no matter what the American people thought of them at the time. There are numerous examples that persist, but some that come to mind are Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon. Hoover brought fiscal responsibility and Nixon opened trade with China, yet both these men are blamed for the worst administration of any major crisis in American history: The Great Depression and War in Vietnam. Okay, so President Bush is not the worst President by a long shot. In reality, we cannot blame him for the economic ills America is facing today, because he did what he knew how to do. We also cannot blame him for what happened during Hurricane Katrina, because the flaws in infrastructure and local governments were the result of mismanagement blunders a couple hundred years in the making. We cannot blame him for 9/11 terrorist attacks when Congress only became aware of the potential of a threat the day before and thought they had all the time in the world to address the problem. Certainly, we expect the President to have all the skills to deal with any number of crisis that might come up, but President Bush did not. Does America really expect its President to have all of these major crisis occur in one term, and the skills to deal with each and every kind of issue? No, because that would be unthinkable that one person has all the skills. So, neither did he.
Many political commentators remark how they would not want the job of President because it is too much for any one man, and proved especially taxing on President Bush. Americans may disagree with his methods regarding Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act taking away rights and privacy, but it has saved lives. Americans may disagree with his policies for Preemptive Strikes when war with Iraq may not have been necessary and destabilized the region for now, but it has stopped the slaughter of ethnic Kurds and provided America with a potential oil ally. Americans may disagree with his personal belief regarding Hurricane Katrina and the Economic Winter of 2008 that the President cannot do anything to change the circumstance that caused the calamity, but he did work to organize local governments and deploy FEMA to New Orleans, in addition to secretly manipulating the economy. My point in all of this is that President Bush should be honored, despite it all. Certainly, Bush may be somewhat illiterate when it comes to public relations, and he has made some very sore mistakes. But, he is not the first and most likely will not be the last President to do so. It does not mean that we cannot appreciate what he has done.
Having said that, even though Obama was smart enough to bring Rahm Emanuel on as his Chief of Staff, Obama will still need more than that. Obama needs something far greater - like a team of president-peers to all focus on one crisis at a time. That is where the idea for a Cabinet of Peers comes from.
What A Cabinet of Peers Looks Like
Certainly it has been said the the President-elect has done things differently already. Out of possible picks for key administrative positions, my choices would have been Hagel for Secretary of State, Gates for Defense, and Daschel for Health and Human Services. But under these economic conditions, those picks are a luxury (see Solutions For The Economy).
There is a real economic crisis, and it is going to determine what kind of President Obama will be. One concern is that his administration will be a one-term presidency, and that plays right into the hands of the Republicans. The American people are looking for their savior within the Democratic Party, and all eyes are on Obama. The best thing for the survival of the Democratic Party beyond the 44th President is for Obama to select a business stratagist as Co-president on the economy, and then discard him as a scapegoat when things do not go well. The best thing for America would be to select a cabinet among all the VP hopefuls - each according to their expertise - and rotate them in as Co-president every 180 days or rotate them out as scapegoats as well whenever they fail. Essentially, there would be a two-tiered system where the the Co-presidents would have executive authority over two key administrative positions, and those key administrative positions are picked by the President but report directly to the Co-presidents. Given the predicted timing of critical issues, this cabinet of peers would look something like:
Candidate Major Platform Critical Year Cabinet Posts
Biden Justce/Humanty 2009 State & Justice Dept
Rush Economy/Hope 2010 Economy* & NASA
Clinton Health Care 2011 Health & Education
Gore Environment 2012 Environment & Energy
Edwards Poverty 2009 Housing Dvlp & Labor
Richardson Borders 2010 Immigratn & Homelnd
Dean Infrastructure 2011 Transportation & Vets
Dodd Budget/Privacy 2012 USTreasury* & Comm
Gravel Resources As needed Dept of Intr & Agri
(*Note: Economic Dept is separated from Customs Dept out of the Treasury House to form another office.)
This Cabinet of Peers gives each major issue the focus and attention they deserve without the inclination for panic while other things are going on. Whatever happens, as Boomers pass the baton to Generation X'ers, it will get interesting for sure.
Why go through all that trouble - isn't a normal cabinet enough? Cabinet posts as they currently exist only represent Directors over various departments of government, whereas Co-presidents are theoretically able to coordinate with Congress, United Nations, the press, industry, and global trade partners. Such an arrangement allows for the President to narrow his focus, like a skilled conductor carefully fine tuning each sound of his vision, as if leading a mighty orchestra through one of Mozart's operas. In doing so, the President is able to pass on duties to his cabinet that normally would flow through his own Whitehouse staff. In essence, there would be two Whitehouse staffs at any given time: one general, one specific. One for affairs of state, one for affairs of crisis. The effect is that no issue should be orphaned through simple neglet. If it is true that one man cannot be expected to do it all, then fine. So, make sure there are two.
Perspective on Presidential-elect Obama:
This is a brief critique of the candidate's strengths and weaknesses, as well as character. The question is fundamental: "Does Obama have what it takes to be President?" The following is based on the above understanding of the "Strange Turn in Politics". How that question is answered depends on the criteria. The criteria for this publication is focused on their legacy as party unifiers, public servants, and policy inventors. Below is a critique that compares him to the likes of Lincoln or FDR, and Gerald Ford or Martin Luther King Jr, and ultimately what he would do in preparation for the "Gauntlet of Issues" he will face as the 44th President. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but provides a glimpse of how he might react to a series of crisis.
As we reflect the days following the election, the question remains what kind of economic leader Obama will be. Obama has shown to pick leaders from several key economic positions with years of experience. For example, in attendance at one economic policy meeting that Obama arranged for of Summer 2008:
This group gives an honest look at the choices that Obama has in mind for resolving the economic crisis. Out of some of the advisers, it is apparent that some were chosen for their political clout and for not their contribution. For example, the ties to union bosses are an obvious political gesture (for a Democrat especially), since the unions have not been able to successfully reinvent themselves in an economic decline. There is an indication that some in this line-up are more prepared for the current economic trend than others. For example, Rubin, Reich, Summers, and Buffett helped create the Reagan-era prosperity, while others still have faced some of the more recent economic woes such as tech stocks. However, theirs is still not the vision of the future but merely what was learned the last several bumps in the road.
Perhaps Obama is merely picking their brains for show, and then will use the information he has collected to abondon rear-view mirror thinking altogether and appoint advisers who actually know how to ride the current storm. That scenario is unlikely and the American people will suffer the consequences of "what you see is what you get". What do next-generation middle-class Americans see in this group? What we do not see is the presence of innovators of our future, the foray of contrary economists to free the day, even though we do see some innovators of our time. It provides an insight into the way Obama thinks, and at the very least he does want an economic cabinet that has shown to think outside the box at some point in the past. That much is encouraging.
Obama's Stance on Environment
Obama has several skills that are useful in recognizing when change comes, although it is hopeful his advisers will have the experience or wisdom to know what to do with the present situation. It is my recommendation he appoints a Cabinet of Peers (see above).
What Is A Great Leader
A new trend in America is the desire for a leader who is equipped to handle turbulent times. One may recall Califonia's Energy Crisis in Summer of 2000, the bankruptcy of Enron and collapse of New York's Twin Towers in the Fall of 2001, only one of nine coal miners trapped in Pennsylvania's Quecreek coal mine climbed out Summer of 2002, destruction of Columbia Space Shuttle early 2003, Biggest Blackout and record snowstorms of 2003 in the Northeastern U.S. while the Arizona Aspen Wildfire and 800,000 acres of California burned in the West, with the Indian Ocean Tsunami admist the Federal Budget Deficit soaring to a record $413 billion in 2004, not to mention the continued inteligence failures of pre-Iraqi war CIA scandals and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Prior to these events, Executives, Governors, and the President could easily slide under the radar of mediocrity and concentrate on issues that made themselves look good. Not anymore. Now today's leaders have to resist getting broadsided by new social frontiers, disasters, and security concerns of Americans. Whirlwinds of distress will come test whether our leaders have the internal fortitude to stand during a crisis. Issue One: finding an Economic Co-President for Obama's team.
What The Bank Bailout Does For Main St
What does the Bank Bailout do to fix the American financial crisis? Imagine for a moment an average someone notices a traffic officer redirecting cars into a tunnel where construction crews are working on the infrastructure. The officer points in the direction where things are not flowing ahead, but motions to go forward anyway. Unknown to the driver is a jagged metal rebar in the road, while other cars are catching up from behind. Now, the driver is so focused on the road ahead when the car impacts the metal obstruction, that the driver gets rear-ended in a car accident. The car that hit them is a rebuilt 1929 Pierce Arrow, was in mint condition to that point, complete with a luggage rack and rumble seat. The gentleman that steps out is finely dressed in a Hickey Freeman designer suit. It is obvious to the driver that the well-to-do man is a banker. The police officer calls the construction company to bring someone over, and already has their insurance agent on his radio saying, "they will fix all the damage", and "not to worry". Much to that driver's chagrin, the construction company owner slips the officer a bill and the officer orders the insurance company to send a check to the banker. And so, just like that average someone's car, Main Street's financial crisis is still busted.
Who Is To Blame
Now, there are those who would blame the person who caused the problem when they try to come up with a solution, but I do not think it is so simple. It is more about lawmakers fixing what they know to fix when it comes to the banking industry, and not knowing how to fix Main Street's problem; there is more than one problem here much in the same way the story above speaks of both the metal shard and the collision. Since that is entirely believable the government does not know what to do, given the old world political tools Congress is using for stimulus, someone needs to present an comprehensive economic solution to deal with the intricacies. That means bringing in someone entirely new, such as: a business strategist, rapid decline expert, contrary economist, or the like.
You've found him : Stephen L. Rush!
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