Bushism on steroids?

The Washington Times may be fading away, but here is a parting shot from columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner:

The past decade will be remembered as the pivotal tipping point where the United States ceased to be a superpower. Like the Roman Empire in its later stages, America’s imperial grandeur masked moral rot and economic decay.

The beginning of the 21st century promised continued U.S. global dominance. Our economic might seemed unrivaled; the dot-com boom had not yet gone bust. Washington was still basking in the warm glow of its victory in the Cold War. America bestrode the world like a military and economic colossus.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks changed everything. Like Rome and Imperial Britain, the United States embarked upon costly, prolonged wars in far-away countries. The result is that America remains mired in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two wars have cost more than 5,200 dead and $1 trillion with no victory or end in sight.

The fundamental mistake was made by President Bush. Contrary to popular myth, Mr. Bush was not a unilateralist conservative traditionalist; rather, he was a Great Society Republican who championed nation-building abroad and Big Government corporatism at home. Our goal should have been to smash the forces of global jihad through a strategy of total victory through total war – just as in World War II, when every domestic priority was subordinated to defeating the Axis Powers.

Instead, Mr. Bush tried to plant democracy in the sands of Mesopotamia and the stony soil of Afghanistan. He followed a foolish – and ultimately, destructive – policy of seeking to implement social engineering, nation-building projects. The result was imperial overstretch.

Moreover, he also stressed that America could have both guns and butter.

There was no need to choose. Tax cuts, federalizing education, a massive Medicare prescription drug plan, runaway government spending, soaring deficits, huge bank bailouts and expensive stimulus programs – Mr. Bush’s brand of corporatist Keynesianism paved the way for socialism and reckless spending.

President Obama is making the same mistake. He is not the antithesis of Mr. Bush, but his culmination. Mr. Obama represents Bushism on steroids. He is seeking to erect a European-style social democracy characterized by a bloated public sector, a burdensome welfare state, economic sclerosis and foreign policy impotence.

This is a strong indictment of BOTH President Bush AND President Obama. It is surely an insult to both Republicans and Democrats to say that their guy is the same as his opponent. Does the author have a point? Can you defend your guy against his charges?

Happy New Year! Happy Thresholds!

And Happy January! This month is named after Janus, the Roman god of thresholds, and thus, of transitions. He had two faces, one that could see the past and the other that could see the future. So in going from one year to another, as we celebrate the New Year, it has been customary to both look back and look ahead. In the buildup to New Year’s Day on this blog, we have been looking back. Now let’s look ahead.

Predictions for 2010?

What do you think will happen in this new year of 2010? We’ve been doing this for a few years and checking the results (see below). The more specific you are, you more amazed we will be if you turn out to have been right.

Checking the predictions for 2009

Last year CNN assembled some journalists and politicos to make predictions about what would happen in the year 2009. As promised in my blog post back then, we’ll check their predictions. Actually, they didn’t do too bad.

Of greater interest, I asked YOU to make your predictions. See how you did. My former student Cindy Ramos was prescient (I taught her so well):

In college football, Texas will once again defeat Oklahoma. They will also beat Texas Tech and everyone else on their schedule, putting them in the BCS title game. (I won’t predict the outcome of that game, since it won’t be played until 2010.) Colt McCoy will win the Heisman.

Except for that last sentence. There were some other seemingly unlikely predictions that came true. Get a load of this from Eric M:

No major terrorist attack will occur on US soil which will set the stage for a relaxing of many of the “security” measures put in place by President Bush. This will be a good thing overall. As the wars in Iraq and Afganistan wind down, the terrorists will have more freedom of movement leading to major events in 2010.

He had some other spot-on predictions, as did Jeff Samelson and others. Good prognosticating. There were, however, some misses. The world did NOT end because we elected Barack Obama president.

Here is an even bigger miss.

UPDATE: Jeff Samulsen predicted that the stock market, at the time in free fall, would go up by double digits by the end of the year, possibly, he said, as high as 20%. I just read that it had gone up 20%. Let Jeff manage your money, if you have any.

Predictions for the next decade?

So what do you think will happen in the decade ahead? Make your predictions here. As an example, here is what Anne Applebaum is predicting:

If I had to read the tea leaves and make a grand prediction, I would say that in the closing days of the 2000s, the future does not look good for authoritarian regimes in general. The signs, however, are very positive for one in particular: China. The signs also lead me to wonder whether competition between China and the United States — for resources, influence — will not be the dominant political story of the next decade. We are already heading that way: The Copenhagen climate summit failed, after all, because the United States and China could not agree on a matter that affected their prospects for growth. Meanwhile, Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, the focus of U.S. foreign policy for the past decade, looks more and more like a major nuisance — albeit one that keeps coming at us in different forms from different countries — rather than a coherent threat.

I think she is being extremely naive. What she says about the Underwear Bomber in the rest of her column concentrates on the fact that the attack was botched, rather than the more important fact that shows that all of our security measures are apparently ineffective when it comes to preventing a terrorist attack like this. She is remarkably sanguine about China, despite the fact that the growth of that country into a superpower would mean the rise of a new and successful form of Communism. She thinks that authoritarian governments are on the way out, looking at protests in Iran. I am more worried that we will have one ourselves.

Surely you can do better than this in your own prognostications. What do you think the next ten years holds? (We will suspend the Levitical penalty of stoning for inaccurate prophets.)

If this blog and I are still around in 2020–predict the likelihood of that!–we’ll check your performance!

The top stories of 2009

Here are the top news stories of 2009 according to an Associated Press poll of the nation’s newspaper editors and news directors:

1. THE ECONOMY: Despite a $787 billion federal stimulus package, much of the U.S. economy continued to sputter throughout the year. The jobless rate topped 10 percent, scores of banks failed, the federal deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion, and stocks fell to their lowest levels since 1997 before rallying. Yet investment banks’ profits surged, triggering public anger and efforts in Washington to crack down on Wall Street bonuses.

2. OBAMA INAUGURATION: Inauguration Day in January was a moving moment for many Americans, as the nation’s first black president took the oath of office. But Obama soon confronted the sobering realities of governing as he struggled to get the economy back on track and win support for his ambitious legislative priorities.

3. HEALTH CARE: A sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system, extending coverage to millions of Americans now without it, was a top priority for Obama and majority Democrats in Congress. But Republicans were almost unanimously opposed, leading to complex, bitterly partisan showdowns in both chambers.

4. AUTO INDUSTRY: It was an immensely challenging year for America’s Big Three automakers. General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner was ousted by the government, and Chrysler was pressured into an alliance with Italy’s Fiat. Ford avoided bankruptcy, but its worldwide sales — like its competitors’ — fell sharply.

5. SWINE FLU: Swine flu struck tens of millions of people worldwide, worrying governments as supplies of vaccine failed to meet demand. In the United States, according to federal authorities, swine flu sickened an estimated 50 million people, hospitalized close to 200,000 and killed 10,000.

6. AFGHANISTAN: Casualties on all sides mounted as U.S. forces, with their Afghan and NATO allies, battled the resilient Taliban. President Obama, after lengthy deliberations, opted to send 30,000 more troops. His decision was complicated by the disputed Afghan election, which prompted allegations of widespread fraud but resulted in President Hamid Karzai taking office for a second five-year term.

7. MICHAEL JACKSON DIES: The “King of Pop” died at the age of 50, triggering grief and nostalgia among his legions of fans around the world. His doctor became the focus of a Los Angeles police homicide investigation after telling investigators he administered propofol, a powerful operating room anesthetic, to help the pop star sleep.

8. FORT HOOD RAMPAGE: An Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, was accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, a sprawling military base in Texas, before being seriously wounded by police gun fire. Investigations were launched to determine if authorities missed warning signs that might have prevented the rampage.

9. EDWARD KENNEDY DIES: Sen. Edward Kennedy, who carried on the family legacy after the deaths of his three older brothers, died of brain cancer after a distinctive political career filled with highs and lows. Though his own presidential aspirations were thwarted, he earned bipartisan respect for decades of hard work in the Senate.

10. MIRACLE ON HUDSON: A US Airways passenger jet, both its engines disabled, made an emergency ditching in the Hudson River, and all 155 on board survived in what was dubbed “The Miracle on the Hudson.” The veteran pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, was hailed as a hero for averting a disaster.

What ones would you leave out and what would you replace them with? Are there any other events of the past year that were especially notable or significant?