Thoughts On The First Debate

An interesting debate — despite the odd, phony start in which the candidates talked about the President’s anniversary, and the somewhat flaccid closing statements — in which the moderator lost control almost immediately, and some good points were made by both candidates.  On balance, I think Mitt Romney bested President Obama.

I think it helped Romney to be on the same stage as the President.  It helped to legitimize Romney, and made the efforts by the Democrats to depict him as some wealthy nut seem silly.  The President treated Romney with respect, and treated his proposals as serious; at times he even nodded at points Romney was making.  I think that has to help Romney seem viable.  The President, on the other hand, seemed to filibuster and seemed distracted by a desire to get the full spread of talking points into his answers; that approach made some of his answers seemed disconnected.

Romney started off on the defensive on his tax plan, as the President pressed him on specifics, but Romney got his bearings.  I thought he seemed knowledgeable, and gave some great answers along the way.  His answer about the role of government, and his references to the Constitution, were just terrific, as was his answer about working with Democrats in Massachusetts to get things done and his answer about why he thinks “Obamacare” is not the right policy notwithstanding Romney’s approval of a Massachusetts health care plan.  The President talked a lot more than Mitt Romney did — but did he make wise use of his time?

Those are my thoughts, without listening to any pundits or spinmeisters.  Now, we’ll see what the American people think, as the points discussed in the debate sink in, and people talk about the candidates and their presentations over the kitchen table and the water cooler.  I’d be interested in hearing what the other Webner House contributors think.

Heroic Hairlessness

If you’re a guy and you’re losing your hair, you’ve got a choice:  you can accept it and live with it, or you can take extreme measures, like expensive toupees, hair implants, or Rogaine or other hair growth treatments, to try to deal with the issue.  What to do?

For generations, men have bemoaned baldness.  They think women find bald men unattractive, and third parties think chrome domers are pathetic.  Now experiments conducted by a University of Pennsylvania researcher suggest these concerns are unfounded.  In fact, his experiments indicated that guys with shaved scalps are viewed as more manly, more dominant, and taller, stronger, and having more leadership potential.  According to the experiments, baldies still aren’t considered as physically attractive as men with full heads of hair, but a shaved head still beats the thinning hair and comb-over looks every time.  (Although the linked story doesn’t say so, incidentally, I’m assuming the depilated dudes didn’t have unsightly ridges, bumps, or scars on their heads.)

Why is this so?  I think it’s because people who accept their condition and deal with it are always going to be viewed as stronger and more decisive than people who try to mask the condition or reverse it.  Trying to hide something always seems weak — and trying to hide something as obvious as thinning hair, or wearing a bad toupee, just makes the individual seem ridiculous, too.

The Questions I’d Like To Hear Answered Tonight

Everyone focuses on the candidates and their preparation for presidential debates, but the moderators deserve attention, too.  After all, it’s the questions the the moderator will ask tonight that will drive the “debate.”

The format for tonight’s debate will consist of six 15-minute segment on topics that have already been announced.  The moderator will open each segment with a question, each candidate will have two minutes to respond, and then the moderator will guide a discussion.  The six topics are:  The Economy – I; The Economy – II; The Economy – III; Health Care; The Role of Government; Governing.

Here are the questions on those topics that I’d like to see asked tonight:

The Economy – I:  Both of you have talked about balancing the budget, a process which would require cuts in spending.  Please identify one specific federal program that you would be willing to eliminate in its entirety in order to achieve a balanced budget.

The Economy – II:  We’ve been reading for years now about the debt crisis in Greece, Italy, and other Eurozone countries.  Should we be learning a lesson from what is happening in Europe, and if so what is that lesson?

The Economy – III:  Do you agree with how the Federal Reserve has managed monetary policy in response to the economic recession?  If not, what would you have done differently?

Health Care:  In your view, should the federal government be involved in attempting to force Americans to lead more healthy lifestyles in the interests of controlling health care costs that are caused by obesity, smoking, and other lifestyle choices?

The Role of Government:  In your view, should the federal government ever make loans or offer tax breaks to particular companies or industries in furtherance of long-term goals, such as increasing sustainable energy sources?

Governing:  What can we do to avoid contrived, stopgap political compromises, like the “debt supercommittee” that failed to agree on debt reduction measures, and get back to a federal government in which Congress actually passes appropriations bills, budgets, and other legislation and the President then signs or vetoes those bills, as the Constitution contemplates?

I’d like to see short, pointed questions, and some follow-up that doesn’t allow candidates to dodge the questions.  No touchy-feely subjects, either (especially on a topic like “governing”).  We’ve got some serious, concrete problems in this country; those problems should be discussed in concrete terms.

Ohhhhh No – Not More Defense Spending

Please – I just don’t get it !!! Mitt wants more defense spending ! This last month the big question in Money magazine to subscribers was How would you balance the Federal Budget – 43% of which I was one who said yes to cutting Defense Spending – 29% said raise taxes, 15% said cut Medicare and 13% said cut Social Security.

The difference between the president and Mitt Romney is $2 trillion dollars, Mitt wants us to build more aircraft carriers and he wants to add 100,000 more conventional forces. Do we really need this ? Today close to 16% of the federal budget is spent on defense and the United States accounts for about 41%  of the worlds current military expenditures. President Obama wants to put the brakes on defense spending.

Mitt wants to make sure that we have a military so strong that no one wants to test it. A large military simply makes no sense in this day and age, we need a military that is leaner more agile and more efficient. It’s only my humble opinion, but I am bothered by Mitt’s military eagerness and it reminds me quite a bit of George Bush. Does this bother anyone else, am I wrong ?