To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Solomon could have added "a time to campaign and a time to govern". If ever there is a time in our political cycle where the crops have been planted and undisturbed growth can occur, it should be year 7 of an eight year presidency. The passion of two presidential campaigns is behind us; the administration's relationship with the opposition party has been firmly established so little posturing is necessary; the president wants to build a real legacy; the party out of power wants to demonstrate that it could govern responsibly; the next generation has not yet arrived on the stage.
A few observations:
- Slowly, painfully, the administration is acknowledging that Islamic terrorism (while Obama will not yet call it that) did not die with Osama bin Laden. Six months after beginning significant, ongoing combat with ISIS in Iraq and Syria the President has belatedly asked for Congressional authorization for the use of force, including the potential limited use of ground forces - which should be easily forthcoming. He will finally retreat from his disastrous ideological obsession to remove all ground troops from Iraq - which won him the Democratic nomination in 2008. With the help of the Kurds and the Iranians, the new government in Baghdad appears capable of eventually re-taking much of the territory lost in 2014. A unified statement of American commitment will be a big help.
- With the help of six years of cheap money from the Federal Reserve, and a Republican Congress which has slowed the growth of government through the 2013 sequester, the American economy has gradually recovered from the 2008 financial collapse to the point where we are adding 250,000 jobs per month. The discussion is now about inequality and the people left behind, but the world's largest economy is in a position where we - as the loudest voice in the G-20 - can agree that it is good for the rest of the world to add debt and devalue their currencies while we do the heavy lifting with rising rates and a strong dollar. Fortunately, the Republicans are in a position to ignore the President's budget submission.
- Somewhere in the basement of the palace in Riyadh, a few of King Abdullah's grandsons have run the calculation of the supply/demand balance that will yield an oil price which will blunt the expansion of high cost fracking and deep water drilling. Somewhere between $50 and $80 per barrel the boomtowns in North Dakota will slow down, the social programs in Venezuela will be cut back, the Iranians will have to further tighten their belts, and the Russians will accelerate their long term supply agreements with China. With 10% of the S&P 500 market capitalization in energy companies there will be prayers (to Allah?) for the $80 figure. With gasoline prices around $2.25 per gallon the politicians are bragging about their economic expertise.
- We can get on with a serious approach to cybersecurity, by creating a consolidated center for sharing data on public and private breaches. In this season the voices against new government agencies and intrusion into personal privacy take a back seat to those who worry about what the Russians, the Chinese, or the North Koreans could do to our electric grid - or to Wall Street.
2015 may not be a good year for Fox and MSNBC. The public is not much interested in the background murmur of which consultants have signed on with Jeb Bush or Scott Walker; the battles over Obamacare and immigration seem "so 2014." A lot of work is going on behind the scenes, but for now the administration, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell are interested in governing. And that's a good thing.
This week's video is a brief tribute to Jon Stewart who announced this week that he will be leaving "The Daily Show" after 17 years of informing the under 30 crowd with his quirky version of the left-slanted fake news.
bill bowen - 2/13/15