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What Characteristics Should the President Have?

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In an earlier article I rated the presidential candidates on whimsical criteria, mostly based on some common characteristics (not to be confused with character) that past presidents had. Today, I want to rate them using some different metrics: character traits. The president of the United States is the face of the American people that the world sees. He, or she, should be the best foot that we put forward in dealing with other nations. He, or she, should be the best of the best of the best.

Who would volunteer for the job of president? The weight of a large portion of the world rests on their shoulders, and at any point in their time in office, approximately half of the country (frequently much more) is gunning for them over one issue or another. Given what they have to go through to get it, and what is said or done to them while in office, you would think we would have to force someone to be president.

The president’s job can’t be described as easy, but in principle it is simple: sign or veto bills; command the armed forces; preside over the executive branch of the government; nominate high judges; and a few other mostly ceremonial duties. Sure, there is some detail behind this list, and I’m certainly not saying that just anyone could do the job, but no one is forcing it on them either. But let’s assume that a person with above average intelligence and a minimum of organizational capability could do the job. What other characteristics should they have?

There are some basic qualities that we should expect from any candidate for president, and I’m sure that you can come up with your own list. Here are some, stolen unashamedly from the Character Counts organization:

    Trustworthiness (T)
    Being honest, don’t cheat, steal, or deceive
    Being reliable, doing what you say, having the courage to do the right thing
    Respect (Rs)
    Being tolerant of others and accepting of differences
    Dealing peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
    Responsibility (Rb)
    Planning and perseverance, self-control and self-discipline
    Accountability for your words and actions
    Fairness (F)
    Being open minded and listening
    Don’t blame others for your faults
    Caring (Cr)
    Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness
    Citizenship (Cz)
    Obeying laws, protecting the environment
    Voting and volunteering

Using these traits, and rating the current crop of GOP candidates, who stands out? For some there is more history to go on, less for others; some have hate blogs, and others love-me pages. I’m not going to go into a full analysis here, your opinion of what sources to use and how to analyze it is almost as valid as mine; do your own analysis. For developing the scores, I used their Wiki pages, PolitiFact, The Washington Post Congress Votes database, and Googling for specific facts. I’m giving a score of 1 -10 on each trait, with a highest total score of 60 possible.

Gingrich: T, not very truthful and those ethics violations; Rs, not very tolerant; Rb, fairly accountable; F, not very open-minded; Cr, not very compassionate; Cz, seems wishy-washy on environment. 28 / 47%

Romney: T, not real truthful; Rs, so-so on tolerance; Rb, seems accountable; F, so-so open-minded; Cr, seems to care; Cz, fairly pro-environment. 36 / 60%

Bachmann: T, not very truthful; Rs, lack of tolerance; Rb, a bit flaky on facts; F, not open-minded; Cr, just for the 23 foster kids; Cz, not a good friend to the environment but not bad on voting. 37 / 62%

Perry: T, makes a lot of false statements; Rs, not very tolerant; Rb, I don’t see anything wrong here; F, fairly open-minded; Cr, pretty hard-core on the death penalty; Cz, not at all a friend of the environment. 38 / 63%

Santorum: T, for flip-flopping on gay rights and ethics over the NWS thing; Rs, for lack of tolerance; Rb, for lack of forethought; F, for not being open-minded; Cr, for the ACLU suit; Cz, just a little off (his voting record is pretty good). 39 / 65%

Huntsman: T, fairly truthful; Rs, pretty tolerant; Rb, seems responsible; F, quite open-minded; Cr, also caring and compassionate; Cz, seems to care for the environment. 44 / 73%

Paul: T, pretty trustworthy; Rs, pretty tolerant; Rb, quite responsible; F, quite open minded; Cr, very caring and compassionate; Cz, fair on voting fair on voting and fair environmentalist. 46 / 77%

This has a very different look than my first try at rating the candidates. I would be interested in what others come up with using these traits and your own sources for filling in the scores.

I still think that something like this is what the country needs to use to evaluate every politician.

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About One Americans Rant

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The trouble with these sorts of ratings is that they’re so subjective. Something on a candidate’s record that you think is admirable others might take a dimmer view of. That’s why, for example, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R, AL) gets a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union and a 0% rating from the ACLU.

    Your system, admittedly, is a bit less contentious because it ranks Republican presidential candidates and you are a conservative. Still, where you give Michelle Bachmann 10/10 on compassion because of all the foster kids, others might look at her opposition to gay marriage, to federal funding for the renovation of slum housing and to a law protecting whistleblowers as decidedly uncompassionate.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Doc,

    Definitely subjective, which is why I suggest that people make up their own list and evaluate it. Seriously, I wouldn’t think of voting based on something as simple as this.

    I want for the voters to stop voting just on “gut feel”, or who has the most air time, or the snappiest one-liners. I want people to THINK before voting.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when you choose someone to do a job, don’t pay too much attention to their personal habits (as long as those habits aren’t felonious). That’s why I gave the examples of Eisenhower, JFK, FDR, Thomas Jefferson, and Hitler.

    I normally don’t use foul language, but sometimes the best person for the job is an asshole…and such can certainly be found among our Founding Fathers, along with many and varied shortcomings.

    When choosing a president, we need to choose one who is intelligent, courageous, determined, and pragmatic. We must NOT choose an ideologue – which (along with his stated tolerance of racism) is the source of my great opposition to Ron Paul. No ideologue of any stripe should be president – ever! – because such are too likely to put whatever their personal ideals above what the people who elected him want (and what his advisers tell him).

    IMO all other personal non-felonious shortcomings should be ignored.

    For instance, look at Gingrich. He’s intelligent, he’s got guts (jokes aside) (and panache in spades), he’s certainly determined, and he’s above all pragmatic…meaning that he’s not afraid to change his mind if such is necessary. I think his personal life will doom his chances since half the voting population are women.

    The same metrics apply favorably to Huntsman, and IMO more so. Romney is still questionable when it comes to courage. I don’t know about Johnson. The rest of the crop should be laughed off the ballot.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Glenn,

    Then how can we know who is best for the job? Now, I’m all for throwing them in a cage with baseball bats to determine courage, but it’s hard on the runners-up. Before, I said that I thought military service was a good indicator, and you opposed that. What would be a good indicator of courage?

    As far as Gingrich goes, I’m worried that if he would use his Congressional position to make money, to the detriment of the country, what worse things might he do with even more power and access to info?

    If you can swing a laugh anti-vote, let me know when and where.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    These apparently, are the ISO specifications for US presidents:

    Minimum power output: x + 1 (where x = locomotive)

    Desired speed relative to other objects:
    5. Tortoise
    4. Airport baggage handler
    3. Usain Bolt
    2. Bullet
    1. President

    Can leap: Yes
    Obstacles able to leap over: Buildings
    Maximum obstacle height: None
    Number of leaps required: 1

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like Gingrich either. Of course, I am a significantly liberal Democrat.

    All I was doing was giving a different view on how we should judge who is worthy of the presidency. I stand quite firm on the no-ideologue thing, which is why I’d never vote for the very liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

    All of us have idealism to some extent, but those who let idealism rule their actions – as Ron Paul does – do not belong in a position of real power.

    And that’s why I like Obama. Yes, I can hear the BC conservatives’ collective heads exploding, but when a man takes office in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Depression and with two wars to boot, who never got a ‘honeymoon’ from Congress as new presidents traditionally do, who was determined enough to face the most obstructionist Congress since the Civil War yet still got us officially out of the Great Recession (despite the GOP’s ongoing efforts to keep us there), who had the pragmatism to accept the CBO’s negative numbers when he submitted his first suggestion for universal health care, who had the courage to accept Republican suggestions for universal health care (that they had supported up until the year before Obama took office), and who has gotten us out of Iraq (finally!) and has been far more successful than Dubya in the ‘War on Terror’…

    …yeah, I like the guy. He’s made significant mistakes – which I’ve written articles about – but considering the fustercluck he was handed on day one and the opposition he’s faced from the get-go, yeah, he’s done pretty doggone well.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Well said, Glenn. One of the things I hate about our bi-partisan system is that everyone piles on when things go bad. I too respect what Obama has done, especially given what he had to work with. The hard, right wingers don’t seem to remember anything that W did wrong – selective memory, I guess.

  • Cannonshop

    Okay, I guess I’ll take a stab at this.

    In my opinion, the first thing desirable in a President, is the ability to admit it when he’s screwed up, instead of parsing out blame and making excuses. It’s the one feature we AIN’T seen with ANY of the candidates, OR the sitting POTUS, and it’s a problem, because failure to admit responsibility generally means they’ll repeat the same mistakes, only BIGGER, Louder, and Uncut.

    The second feature, is genuine independence from the Party Brass-it’s a tough one to achieve, and tougher yet to demonstrate.

    Third is mission focus-if something will get done what you need done, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like how you’re doing it. Clinton demonstrated this one in the second half of his first term, and the entirety of his second. Sometimes this means working with the opposition, sometimes it means going to the wall against them, but it’s always about getting the job you’re selected for done.

    Fourth: Moral Limits. Acknowledging that there are lines that, no matter how much you desire a specific outcome, you’re not going to cross, even when someone offers you the power to do so without consequence. One of the FEW things Bush got right in the 2000 campaign (and got wrong after 9/11) was “The president doesn’t have that power.” He was right in saying it about the abortion debate, but wrong in that he didn’t apply it to the National Security issue. The idea of a moral limit basically breaks down to “Just because they want to GIVE you that power, doesn’t mean you should TAKE it, even if you WANT it.”

    I guess what I want, is a presidency held by an ADULT-as we would commonly term it in relation to a citizen-someone who has both strong ideals and morals, AND the restraint to avoid forcing them onto others, the restraint to avoid grasping the easy, cheap, cosmetic solution, and the ability to think long-term and accept the possibility that one is not omnipotent, nor should one wish to BE omnipotent.

    Like I said, we don’t have one of those at the moment, in either party, and it’s unlikely we’ll GET one either.

  • Clavos

    We must NOT choose an ideologue

    Too late.

  • Deano

    Just out of curiosity Clavos, to whom are you referring?

    I can guess, but I would rather not jump to conclusions…

  • Igor

    6-Glenn:

    I hate to admit it, but I agree with you; Obama has done a far better job than we had any right to expect, given the fustercluck he was handed on day one and the irrational incessant nitpicking opposition from the republicans.

  • Baronius

    A lot depends on how you define “ideologue”. I would expect a president to have consistent thought, an underlying approach that he applies to all problems.

    Three caveats to that: I’d expect him to comprehend the merits of his opponents’ ideology, to be willing to compromise when politically necessary, and to correctly perceive those situations where his ideology may not apply. Otherwise, I want someone who has a specific system of thought and sticks with it.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Cannonshop,

    I guess then, that we are stuck living with the least of the evils, which in ’08 WAS Obama.

    Who fits that definition for ’12?

    Who is the least ideological while still having morals and ethics that we can live with?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Very few politicians ever own up to making mistakes, because they’re afraid it will cost them votes.

    They’re right about that, but what they forget is that it won’t cost them nearly as many as when it later turns out they did make a huge mistake and didn’t come clean about it.

    If Arnie had owned up to diddling his housekeeper, for example, California might still have a Republican governor now.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/2011/09/presidential-approval-so-what.html Tommy Mack

    Harry S. Truman said, “All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” I wish I had said that.

    Tommy

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I wish I had said that.

    You will, Tommy, you will.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good ole Tommy, a patriot to the end, forever espousing the virtues of the republic, partisan to the core, cheering himself besides about the prospects of Democrat victory while the entire nation is about to go in flames.

    I really wish I had an ounce of your optimism, Tommy. But then again, on second thought, please spare me. I think drugs would be better.

    When will anyone here ever dare look stark reality in the face?

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    What, in your opinion (I almost hate to ask), does the face of stark reality look like?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We’re going down the drain.

  • REMF(MCH)

    I think fidelity should rank up there pretty high. If a guy or gal can’t keep his vows to his own spouse…well, integrity starts at home.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Not a good reason to impeach somebody, though, REMF. That was pure malice, and fortunately enough Republican senators felt the same way.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    REMF, I agree, It goes towards general trustworthiness.

    Doc, what if all of the senators felt the way I do; that they should ALL be held to a higher standard.

    Now, that said, we don’t do a very good job a choosing them, and that’s on us.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    REMF –

    Just to point something out that I just posted recently on another thread, Eisenhower, JFK, FDR, and Thomas Jefferson were all quite unfaithful to their spouses, whereas Hitler was quite faithful to his lover…and so was Dubya, as far as I know….

    So…while that by no means indicates that womanizers make better presidents, it just shows that marital fidelity or the lack thereof has no bearing on one’s ability to govern well.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Things are getting worse…but “down the drain”? No. Not only is the world not going down the drain, but (global warming notwithstanding) it’s going to get better. The world is already more peaceful (relative to population) now than during any decade of which I’m aware in all of human history…

    …so that tells me that overall (meaning the whole human race), we’re doing better than we ever have…

    and THAT tells me that while pessimism is an important tool, we should by no means be pessimistic about the future.

    Once you finish gagging, Roger, then tell me exactly why it is that you think the nation is about to “go down in flames” when humanity is more peaceful than ever before?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Marital infidelity for men of Jefferson’s era was practically expected. The society in which FDR, DDE and JFK moved frowned on it, but turned a blind eye: what a president did with his trousers down wasn’t considered to have any bearing on his ability to govern.

    That’s changed in the modern era, and now anything that can conceivably be used by political enemies and by the media to attack a president is considered fair game. The problem is that this nurtures a public expectation that the “leader of the free world” should be morally infallible, while we all know know full well that it’s an impossible standard.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Times change, technologies change, even cultures change…

    …but people – and the biology that drives our desires and temptations – do not. There’s plenty of examples of cultures in the past that were far more strict about marital fidelity than we are now.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Doc,

    I don’t insist on infallibility, just that they be better than average. There are just too many in office that see it as a chance to increase their own power. Do we want 435 Anthony Weiners in office? As bad as that would be, imagine a full house of Gingriches – all using the office for under-the-table insider trading.

    If the man in charge of it all, can’t be above those types of things, why would they stop?

  • troll

    Glenn – a couple of things:

    first how are you (empirically) defining ‘peaceful’ in #24?

    second I recommend that you check out Eva Braun on Wikipedia to get a more clear picture of Hitler’s fidelity or lack of it

  • Baronius

    Dread, your comment #25 is really wrong. Accusations of affairs have always been serious business in politics. Alexander Hamilton’s political life was ruined by his infidelity. Andrew Jackson’s 1828 campaign had to deflect accusations of adultery by firing worse ones back at John Quincy Adams. The scandal-tainted James Blaine nearly beat Grover Cleveland because of Cleveland’s rumored adultery. Blaine would have won if it weren’t for a last-minute gaffe.

    If you look at what we know today about Jefferson, Kennedy, et cetera, you could say that politicians have always had dalliances. But that doesn’t mean that people knew about them at the time. Staid or sympathetic media may overlook such things, but opponents and populist rumor mills have always been around.

  • John Lake

    The characteristics you list would be more consistent with a search for a news anchor than for the President of the United States. A thorough knowledge of world history, and insight into today’s world come closer to the mark. Also wisdom, and the ability to deal with allies and adversaries might be laudable.
    Your naiveté is frightening. Should the man be “good looking” as well?

  • troll

    (btw Glenn – despite roger nowosielski’s base interpretation what inspired my comment to you about your reading comprehension the other day was the impression I got that you’d allowed your anger at Chris’ comment to get the better of you – not unlike your response to nowosielski’s ‘enemy of democracy’ comment a couple of months ago

    I do apologize if you felt I was discrediting you entire argument)

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    John, John, John…

    Have you read any of my articles? The whole point it to raise questions; to stop basing our selection on perceived qualities such as looks or a clever sound bite.

    It may be that I am naive, but I doubt in this area.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @32

    That may be fair, my man, but how are you going to get the voting public to do that?

    Don’t you think that most are voting their predispositions (which is why the sound bites are so effective)?

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    Sure they are, but I would try and change their ways.

    One. Small. Step. At. A. Time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, how are you going to do that?
    Isn’t this the question we should be asking?

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    By this very simple thing I’m doing now, that will, hopefully, grow into a grassroots-level change. If I can open a few eyes here and there, and they in turn open a few more, eventually, we will have the entire country thinking differently. Realistically, I should have added another word to my prior statement.

    Slow

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll #31 – no offense taken. I didn’t read your comments that way at all, because you haven’t resorted to insults and judgmental language.

    #28 –

    first how are you (empirically) defining ‘peaceful’ in #24?

    Pick a pre-1970 decade – ANY decade before 1970, all the way back to humanity’s first recorded civilizations, and you’ll find that very, very few of them were void of major wars/rebellions/genocides/ethnic cleansing somewhere on the planet. I daresay the only ones you’ll find that seem ‘peaceful’ will be the ones of which we have little recorded history.

    That said, what great wars or humanitarian tragedies are going on right now? There are zero major wars – Afghanistan only counts as a police action/occupation, but not a war – and the only major humanitarian crisis is in Africa.

    And when compared in relative terms to the population, even that is not that bad.

    So I feel quite confident in claiming that humanity has it better right now, that our planet is more peaceful right now, than at any other time in human history.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And troll –

    I checked the page on Eva Braun, and other than a couple rumored dalliances by Hitler within the first two years of their relationship – they were NOT married until just before the end, remember – he seemed to be faithful. Evil, cold, but faithful.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OAR,

    The people who congregate here are already somewhat a cut above. Even though I may disagree with most of them on the issues — for I do seem to be one of the extreme radicals here – I’ve got to grant them this much.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    Great, if I start with above average people and convince them, the spreading-it-to-the-masses should be easier.

  • Igor

    IIRC Hitler regularly had ‘sex’ with his 17 yr. old cousin, but it was kinky (scatological?) and didn’t include normal penetration. IIRC Hitler wasn’t interested in penetration.

    Someone who’s more interested in other peoples sex lives can research it if they want. I think it’s easily available in the literature.

  • John Lake

    Instead of reaching out for your shortsighted version of “the American voter”, try reaching for some hypothetical individual who knows everything the truly interested know, and has real concerns about the future.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve rarely seen you so riled up, John Lake.

    What goes?

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    John,

    I guess that I don’t see much point in trying to convince hypothetical individuals of anything. But let’s say I did, give me some of your real concerns, and I will work on them.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    I was catching up on some other articles here, started down a path that John Lake wrote, and came across a comment by you about Dave Nalle writing on children in workhouses. I would like to read that one – do you remember which article it was?

    Dave Nalle, if I stepped on a topic you were writing about, I apologize. I am working on at least skimming as many articles from the last year as I can.

  • Grunt

    #30 I seem to notice we already tried that, and he’s in office right now. (not that his immediate predecessor was better-imagine the damage Bush could’ve done if he’d been more articulate and convincing?)

    We already have what amounts to a black Ron Burgundy in the Oval Office, how much worse can it get?

  • John Lake

    In an earnest attempt to be fair, I took a look at a few of your previous articles here at BC. First, however, a defining quote from the current piece: “…a few other mostly ceremonial duties. Sure, there is some detail behind this list, and I’m certainly not saying that just anyone could do the job, but no one is forcing it on them either. But let’s assume that a person with above average intelligence and a minimum of organizational capability could do the job. What other characteristics should they have?” Inas you are clearly of the Republican persuasion, you may not be alone in feeling that just about anyone could do the job. That would tend to allow most of the current contenders on the Republican circuit. In previous articles (as I mentioned) you include charisma. So, any charismatic fellow (or lady) would suit you just fine. It’s clear you hold a low regard for the American voter. I note not a word about religiosity the absence of which I attest to your credit.
    So don’t tell me you are less than naive. You aren’t. And if the average American voter shares your view of qualifications, let us be thankful to the media. And we can drink to the future!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    John, give the fellow a break. He’s new to the game.

    OAR, I can’t tell you offhand. Look up Nalle’s writer’s profile for the list of his published articles. Some of the titles may give you a hint.

  • John Lake

    Roger (re:OAR)
    His standards (charisma!) would automatically eliminate the former ambassador to China. But at your request, I may hold my venom for a short honeymoon period.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What I’m trying to say, I guess, a certain naivete is refreshing on this site. It certainly beats dead-set ideological positions on both sides. Both of us may be winners and learn a thing or two, for sure as hell, we’ve all had enough of pundits.

  • John Lake

    I just read OAR’s thoughts on who should be permitted to vote in America. The man may be less naive than I had thought.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, maybe it’s just how come comes across at first.

    Have you ever read the stuff you’ve written when you were twenty? Well, I have, and I can’t help but wonder how could I’ve been so stupid.

    Indeed, even Dreadful comes across at times as one who has never escaped.

    I know he’ll shoot me for it, but fuck it. He’d made enough digs and sanctimonious remarks at my expense, so I surely owe him one, if only for good measure.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    John @49,

    I was pretty sure, but checked again anyway, that I did not use the word charisma anywhere in my article. I am completely against using that as a selection criteria. Perhaps you are reading something into what I write that I did not intend.

    I would have thought by now, it would have been clear, or soon would be, that I am working from silly, whimsical reasons for choosing a candidate, towards better ones, hopefully getting people to understand why they pick who they pick. Your criteria can be whatever makes you happy, so long as you have well thought out reasons.

    NOT just who sounds like the best guy on TV. Hopefully NOT the guy who has your special interests as his sole platform. Surely NOT the guy who’s religion is his only common trait with you.

    Calmly decided, thought through reasoning should be what we want. The less emotion involved, the better.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    OK, thanks for thinking about it. I have been looking through Dave’s writing, but there’s like freaking 800 something articles!!!

  • John Lake

    Re: #53
    Just for the record:
    Outtake from “Who Can be the Next President” article under the pen, One American’s Rant:
    “… That makes me wonder what it takes to be the ultimate American leader; things like charisma and a desire to be raked over the coals by the media are obvious. What other qualities do former presidents have in common? …

  • John Lake

    OAR no es twenty. He boasts 21 years of work in research and development for the government, as an electrical engineer.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    John,

    OK I did say it – damn that search function – I did check and didn’t think I had used that term. I DID mean it in a sarcastic, sardonic manner, not to be taken as a serious characteristic – compare to anyone’s “desire to be raked over the coals”.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    And, for all concerned, I am a little more than 21, about 27 years more.

    I worked for one of the national labs for 15 years followed by another 6+ in private industry.

    Most of my writing to date has been technical, and I’m trying to get used to this style. I think that I’m pretty good at research, and can construct fair arguments, flaming – check, I thought I was OK with sarcasm but I will keep trying, snarky I do OK on. What else do I need?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    I had thought you young before – my mistake – you’re a year younger than I, and you’ve shown yourself a voice to be reckoned with…and, to your credit, you’re significantly less partisan than I am.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @54

    You may want to email Mr. Nally who is one of the editors of the Politics section, and he’ll point you to the right article.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    He’d made enough digs and sanctimonious remarks at my expense, so I surely owe him one, if only for good measure.

    When was the last time you were grateful for constructive criticism that someone’s given you on BC?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Glenn, but I’m very selective about people I listen to — Cindy, Mark Eden, Anarcissie.

    Besides, Dreadful was being sanctimonious on more than one occasion, and any such tone just doesn’t sit well with me, nor do I regard it in any way as being “constructive.” But perhaps the case really is that you fail to recognize this kind of voice because you yourself use it much more often than you should.

    And in any case, what is it really that you’re trying to accomplish now? Start another fire and instigate another fight?

    In any case, don’t be giving me any lectures, Glenn. If and when I’ll want one from you, I will surely ask.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I’m sure.

    Here’s another lecture that you’ll ignore.

    I DO listen to those I don’t like…because just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean they’re always wrong. I don’t like you – but I do consider your words first to see if the nuggets contained therein are really butt nuggets…because sometimes they’re nuggets of gold.

    Sometimes I’ve agreed with Arch, sometimes with troll, and of course sometimes with Dave, with Clavos, and even with Cannonshop (who, by accusing me of lying about my 20 years of service, offended me far more than you ever did).

    Ah, but I forgot! I’m the one who’s blinded by hatred of the other side, and I never, ever, EVER actually listen to the other side!

    Look in the mirror, willya?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Get off your high horse, Glenn. Nothing to do with liking or disliking you — just find you hopeless to have any meaningful exchange with. So unless you want a food fight on your hands, keep on coming, but it’s gonna be nothing but food fight. Comprende?

  • Igor

    Judged by what he says, I’d guess that OAs hero must be Obama.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Igor,

    Are you just stirring the pot with that comment?

    I certainly respect both the office, and more so the man, but wouldn’t go so far as to call him a hero. I agreed with some of Glenn’s statements, that he has done more, with less, than many other recent presidents. Feel free to show how this is untrue, if you will.

    Hell, you have to give him some props just for being the first black president – that certainly could not have helped the situation.

    He is not nearly to the left as some other possible democratic candidates were in ’08, and while I don’t agree with all of his decisions (how could anyone agree with EVERYTHING) I think he has done a pretty good job. Will I vote for him next year – maybe, maybe not, but I will hold my decision until I see who gets close in the GOP lineup.

    If it’s between Obama and Gingrich, then I may have to bite the bullet.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    John,

    I though some more last night on how I felt about presidential charisma. I originally meant it, I think, as more like charm, and in the sense that a candidate uses it to sway people to their point of view. If this were their only quality, then it would be wrong to base a vote on it, but on the other hand, if they are knowledgeable on the issues, and have those other intangible character qualities that I am looking for, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    “Charisma: A special personal quality or power of an individual making him capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people.”
    –World English Dictionary

    The president is supposed to be a leader – of the government certainly, and of the people assuredly. A leader needs to be able to get people to follow him and to do so he would need a certain amount of charisma.

  • Clavos

    True, OAR.

    It’s not a coincidence that most of the world’s leaders (both good and bad) throughout history have been very charismatic.

    Hitler comes to mind as a great example of a bad charismatic leader. Christ on the good side.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    No, I’m not hopeless for having any meaningful exchange – I just won’t let you get away with being needlessly judgmental with a tendency to make frivolous insults. That, sir, is the source of your frustration with me.

    Signed,
    The Greatest Threat to Democracy Who Is Also Blinded by Hatred of the Other Side.

  • troll

    Glenn – imo today’s existing hunger amidst plenty with its attendant rate of death by starvation worldwide is a violent man made human tragedy…hard for me to view the world as increasingly peaceful while it continues

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Do you really think that – again, relatively speaking as a percentage of the world’s population – hunger is greater now than before?

    Here’s a clue – it’s not. Real hunger – the kind that very, very few people in first-world nations have ever experienced – used to be a problem in ALL nations. It’s a problem in quite a few nations even now, but nothing like it was before.

  • troll

    man made hunger – yes I do think that its getting worse even proportionately

    but this is something of a matter of fact and would require some investigation to answer

  • troll

    (btw – if it kills at the rate that it does I’d call it real hunger)

  • Clavos

    man made hunger – yes I do think that its getting worse even proportionately

    I think troll may be right. But even if worldwide hunger has not increased commensurately with the increase in population, the US has certainly not done much to improve the situation in recent years.

    On the contrary, with the adoption of the use of ethanol-degraded gasoline, the US has probably exacerbated the hunger problem by taking millions of acres of arable land out of food production to supply the sugar necessary for the production of ethanol. To make matters worse, the addition of ethanol has had little impact on the country’s rate of oil consumption, but ethanol is ruining our engines.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    “Man-made hunger is getting worse“????

    Based on WHAT? Have any of you ever heard of Stalin’s man-made famines? Or Mao’s during the Great Leap Forward? Millions died in the former, and at least ten million died in the latter. There’s NO famine going on today that compares to either of those. And then there’s the Armenian genocide, the Rwandan genocide (and the earlier genocides in the same region), the Ustase ethnic cleansing, the Indian famine during WWII, Cambodia (post-Vietnam), and of course the Holocaust…

    …famine has always been part and parcel of genocide, a tool of tyrants to weaken those by whom they felt threatened…both of you KNOW this.

    The difference NOW is that – with the exception of some parts of India – very little starvation is occurring in the most powerful nations. Before, starvation occurred in every nation – and now, it occurs in only a MINORITY of the nations.

    Not only that, but because we have this little thing called “the internet”, we are more aware of it than ever before – because with many of the famines and genocides I listed above prior to the age of computers, the American public at large did not know about them while they were occurring.

    AND DID EITHER OF YOU notice something? ALL of the famines I listed above were either enforced by tyrants, or in colonized nations during unrest (India), or as a result of war…and how many wars are going on right now? NONE…because Afghanistan isn’t truly a war – it’s an occupation.

    What’s going on now in the Sudan, as terrible as it is, does NOT match what has happened so often before.

    BUT I’VE GOT A CHALLENGE FOR BOTH OF YOU – pick a decade – ANY decade – prior to, say, 1970…and see if there was less war and famine than there is today (again, in relative terms). Can you?

    No, I really don’t think you can…and I daresay neither of you will even try.

    (and Clavos – that’s a cheap (and inaccurate) shot about ethanol. You and I agree it’s a waste of time, but you know very well that claiming that’s a cause of man-made famine…is pretty cheesy. You can do better than that)

  • troll

    …and I daresay neither of you will even try.

    (edited) – I’ve been keeping an eye on the hunger issue for awhile and already know that a human starves to death every few seconds in this ‘peaceful’ world of yours…in fact more folks starve than die in wars or by violent crime combined these days

    my only question concerns proportionality

    why don’t you do a little research on the topic and get back to us

    or better yet – just forget that I engaged you in conversation as I won’t make the mistake again

  • Jordan Richardson

    Much of this depends on what is meant by “the hunger issue.” It feels weird to draw lines, but are we talking about starvation, malnutrition, undernourishment, etc.?

    Glenn’s right to say that starvation has gotten better. It has. Less people starve now than ever have, thankfully. There is more food security in the world now than there ever was, but there is also more food than there ever was and the volatility of the world’s markets has put that food out of reach.

    According to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011, price volatility is “here to stay.” Issues like climate change, the growing demand for biofuels (yes, Glenn, it’s true), market uncertainty, the food price crisis of 2007-2008, and so on have all impacted the issue now. But, according to the FAO, higher food prices could lead to more food security in the long term as more investments and advances (crop irrigation techniques, seed development, etc.) in agriculture take hold.

    As far as troll’s proportion questions, this site is quite helpful in breaking down where we are and where we’re going.

    Aaaand just as a “fun” aside, this NYT piece explains how Malawi turned from famine to “selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa” by ignoring the free market prophets who ordered them to cut back on or eliminate fertilizer subsidies. As a result of going their own way, Malawi has been able to significantly decrease acute child hunger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I should say, therefore, let’s all pat ourselves on the back. We’re making a helluva progress, gents, and that’s all that matters.

    I see, though, Glenn’s been spared growing pains since #76 was edited. Shoot, it was but an exclamation with an accent, not a barrage.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Erm, no. That’s not “all that matters.” There’s a long road to go. All that’s been said here is that things have gotten better, which can and should be used as motivation to hopefully eradicate world hunger once and for all.

    Not everything has to to be twisted into some “point” for your edification, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I would have thought you’d detect sarcasm, Jordan. And that was for your edification, btw, a failed effort as usual. Next time I’ll try to resort to sign language.

    I’m glad however that you and your liberal establishment take credit for making this a better place.

    Again, in case you miss it too, the tone is no different.

    Just gotta love ‘em liberals — just humanitarians and do-gooders on a global scale.

    Have you done anything on behalf of the Vancouver homeless and the occupiers lately? For surely, I’d be more interested in that rather than in your ideological agenda.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, I’m just off to bed but when I return tomorrow I look forward to learning what you have done to support your rhetoric…

    G’night.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Nothing special, Chris, just my natural antipathy towards, and distrust of, liberals.

  • troll

    …actually Jordan according to the 2011 FAO report on hunger we’ve lost ground since 1990 in terms of total numbers but have gained ground in terms of % of total population

    as for Glenn – he can still shove it with his snide bullshit despite the editing…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    When I read your last line, I smiled. Why? Because I just spent the last day helping my in-law family to hopefully grow closer together, and teaching my son that such is the right path. You can call it ‘snide bovine excrement’ all you want, but I’ve got a family that appreciates my help – not in monetary terms, but more especially in terms of understanding and forgiveness.

    And as long as I draw breath, I will always be there for them.

    With the long view of history in mind, life is better now than ever before for the majority of humankind. Yes, there is tragedy, and yes, there is monstrous injustice, but at least now we can expose such to the light of common knowledge…and as with the pen, ‘common knowledge’ is usually stronger than any sword.

    BTW, troll, I never insulted you. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders…but there’s nothing wrong with admitting the other guy’s right. In fact, it’s a sign not only of true humility, but of maturity. Don’t stop posting – you’ve got good, strong opinions, and better yet, you’ve got the courage to accept that you can be wrong about some things. Stick around – I look forward to your opinions.

  • troll

    in what way were you ‘right’ with your …and I daresay neither of you will even try.

    again – shove it

    I’ll stick with my petty immaturity thanks

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    You asked in what way was I ‘right’ with my question:

    BUT I’VE GOT A CHALLENGE FOR BOTH OF YOU – pick a decade – ANY decade – prior to, say, 1970…and see if there was less war and famine than there is today (again, in relative terms). Can you?

    And I didn’t say that I was right with my question – I said that none of you will try. and I was right.

    If you can’t come with provable fact to back up what you think, then maybe you should either stay away…or maybe admit there’s something you have left to learn….

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Roger,

    Remember to use the [SARCASM] switch. I’m going to use switches until I learn how to write stuff like that better, or until people here learn me well enough to tell without them.

  • troll

    I’d think that it would be pretty clear to you that I am and have been looking into the question from the perspective of hunger…but you’d prefer to be insulting – a quality of your dealings that I’m fed up with

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @87

    I wouldn’t count on that, OAR, Most of the libs here are unusually slow learners, or rather, even though they damn right know it’s sarcasm, they can’t help but putting on airs.

    (Edited)

    But you’ll learn. Except you’re still off on that mental illness stuff. On your account, since it’s all a matter of degree, then the very notion loses currency. Think on that.

  • Clavos

    Glenn,

    Substantial numbers of acres have been removed from growing food and turned over to growing sugar-producing plants to make ethanol with. That;s a fact. It is also a fact that adding 10% ethanol to the gasoline hasn’t even made a dent in fossil fuel consumption. Not only that, but it’s also a fact that ethanol is rough on engines, causing accelerated wear on them, due to accelerated corrosion. Again, a fact.

    And those were the only facts (or claims) I made. I made no comparison to historical famines so I shouldn’t have aroused your hysterical ire.

    Troll, since you’ve been studying hunger, do you have a figure for how many acres of food-producing land were turned over to the ethanol boondoggle? I’ve been unable to find a number, but I did find the following in Wikipedia:

    Corn is used to make ethanol and prices went up by a factor of three in less than 3 years (measured in US dollars).[28] Reports in 2007 linked stories as diverse as food riots in Mexico due to rising prices of corn for tortillas,[29] and reduced profits at Heineken the large international brewer, to the increasing use of corn (maize) grown in the US Midwest for ethanol production…As corn is commonly used as feed for livestock, higher corn prices lead to higher prices in animal source foods. Vegetable oil is used to make biodiesel and has about doubled in price in the last couple years. The price is roughly tracking crude oil prices.[35][36][37] The 2007/2008 world food price crisis is blamed partly on the increased demand for biofuels.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Roger, thought you’ve “always been a unifyier if and when possible, never the divider.” Guess #89 proves your statement incorrect and it appears to strike closer to home than you realize.

  • Jordan Richardson

    …actually Jordan according to the 2011 FAO report on hunger we’ve lost ground since 1990 in terms of total numbers but have gained ground in terms of % of total population

    Is this not attributable to population growth in general, troll, or are we actually doing worse in food distribution?

    Obviously issues like price volatility remain as obstacles to feeding more and getting in front of this thing, but I do think Glenn is right when he suggests that “starvation has gotten better.” The thing is that I don’t think he’s saying what you think he’s saying.

    I’m also not so sure why you can’t produce any data or why that seems to be such a problem. You read Glenn as “snide,” which is fine, but I don’t think he’s being unreasonable. All you appear to have to add is “I’ve been looking into it.” I don’t doubt it nor do I doubt your passion, but wouldn’t something more concrete aid the discussion?

    Or is that not what this is really about?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Roger, I’m well aware of your idiotic attempt at sarcasm. That’s why I responded as I did.

    Please don’t ever attempt to feed me bullshit about posting for “my” edification (or the edification of anyone else). Your drivel only suits your own purposes now. You’ve alienated almost everyone with your blather and insensitivity. One minute you’ve learned a lesson, the next minute you’re back on the horse like a liquor-filled loser all over again.

    And there you go again about my “liberal establishment.” Whatever you say. Are you that lost without zingzing around that you’re just punching at air now?

    As for the rest, “for surely” I don’t care to sift through it. My tolerance for you is at an all-time low. Still, I hope it was interesting for you, you pseudo-intellectual windbag.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    It matters not one whit what the prices of corn are due to corn-based ethanol. Why? Because it wasn’t until the 20th century that there was ANY overseas trade in grain in volume enough to make a difference…and I really don’t think you’re so ignorant to think that we’re more violent now than at any point in the 20th century before 1970.

    My challenge stands – point out any decade before 1970 – scratch that – any decade before 2000 – that is less violent than today. Point out any decade before 2000 where famine was less of a problem than today (relatively speaking). And you won’t. Why? Because you can’t.

    The human race has it better RIGHT NOW than ever before…and the only reason you might think otherwise is because of the MSM that makes money off of reporting every bad thing that happens in the world.

  • Jordan Richardson

    What Glenn said was that there are no modern famines that compare to those of decades ago. He’s right and it’s not exactly controversial to say so. To suggest that “man-made hunger” is on the rise is accurate only if you ignore percentage and focus on population data.

    This main page even shows the population numbers of the undernourished. You can see the percentages slipping steadily but the numbers fluctuate based on population growth. You can also click on the various tabs on the interactive map and see the percentages for undernourishment slip through time. It has gotten better.

    As anyone who’s taking even the most cursory of looks at population data can discover, population growth has been considerable. The CIA World Factbook states that world population increased by 203,800 in the mid-2000s. By 2009, that number was 220,980.

    So when you factor in our enormous population growth with the hunger data and the dropping percentages, you start to get more complete picture. Starvation is far from being a thing of the past, but the situation is thankfully improving for many around the world.

    There is little doubt that hunger is almost entirely a man-made disaster to begin with. We have enough food to feed the world, but opposition to things like the “right to food” continue to stop it from being a reality – for now.

    Glenn, here’s an article about man-made hunger (is there any other kind?) that backs Clavos’ assertions about ethanol’s role. It’s a wee bit dated, but still pertinent:

    “Of those, perhaps the most wrongheaded are the tangle of subsidies, mandates and tariffs to encourage the production of biofuels from crops in the United States and the European Union. According to the World Bank, almost all of the growth in global corn production from 2004 to 2007 was devoted to American ethanol production — pushing up corn and animal feed prices and prompting farmers to switch from other crops to corn.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    It doesn’t matter how much corn there is or how cheap it is if it can’t be delivered to those who need it most. The biggest single obstacle in Africa is delivering it to the refugees because the local warlords take it (often by force) and sell it instead…

    …and I know you’re well-read enough to know this already.

    The only way that the situation will be corrected is when the famine-stricken areas are under control of one person or party that actually wants to make the refugees’ lives better…but until then it’s just a mishmash of local warlords who see incoming food aid as an opportunity to make more money.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, in many ways you are a classic liberal, so you may want to reconsider your feelings towards them…

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think it’s a little simplistic to say that it “doesn’t matter” how much corn there is or what it costs, Glenn. Everything is intertwined, especially in Africa, and lower prices and availability would open up more resources.

    Much of the aid that comes into Africa either gets trapped in the cities or ends up in the hands of governments and armies, true. This is touted by nearly everyone who is against sending aid and assistance to Africa in general: It is THE excuse to not help and just look the other way, the reason to wonder why we should bother helping those who won’t/can’t/don’t help themselves.

    It is estimated that food aid from various humanitarian organizations reaches about one-fifth or so of the people it needs to reach.

    But some countries, like Botswana with its representative democracy, have dealt with the threat of hunger, famine and drought better than others, so there is progress being made in some pockets. There is a Famine Early Warning Systems Network now and some nations now have storage for emergencies. With a good harvest, they can replenish the supplies regularly. With recent droughts (and more droughts to come thanks to climate change), replenishing those food stores is a tough climb. This is where bringing in other food supplies, like corn, can help.

    There’s also the matter of aid in agriculture and livestock, along with better water conservation techniques and improved species of grasses to help prevent over-grazing.

    Because of these signs of progress (warlords and corrupt governments are less prevalent, governments are taking more and more responsibility, food storage is considered seriously, economies are slowly improving, people are taking power back, etc.), it’s more necessary than ever that we don’t turn our backs on Africa. It really is true that every little bit helps, even if it doesn’t seem like it to our jaded eyes.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Specifically with regard to biofuels, one-quarter of the US corn harvest in 2007 was diverted to biofuel production. What do you figure this did to the price of cereals, Glenn?

    Hint: Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on The Right to Food, called the conversion of food crops to fuel a “crime against humanity” and called for a moratorium of five years on the production of biofuel.

    In 2007, environmental analyst Lester R. Brown went before the US Senate Committee Environment and Public Works and said:

    “The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying nearly 70 percent of the world’s corn imports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some 55 million tons account for nearly one fourth of world grain exports. The corn harvest of Iowa alone exceeds the entire grain harvest of Canada. Substantially reducing this export flow would send shock waves throughout the world economy.”

    There’s also this PDF that, starting in Section III, describes how biofuel production relates to food prices around the world. The report essentially concludes that biofuels account for about a 30 to 60 percent increase in global food prices.

  • troll

    Jordan #92 – it’s difficult to come up with a clear statistical picture of the problem…but compare figure 1 in this FAO release (pdf) to what FAO reports about undernourishment here

    further I’ve read that undernourishment will end up having affected over a billion people in 2011 (on sites that I will dig up for you if you want – these were not FAO reports so I can’t tell if they were based on similar methods of counting the hungry)

    and here’s a link to links for more stats on the situation

    so the picture that I come up with is that the problem worsens in terms of total numbers but not proportionately

    (I’ve never been able to find actual historical mortality due to starvation stats for the world or even well founded guesstimates – and not for lack of searching…maybe you could help here)

    projections for the future that assume that fuel for food production will decrease and that climate change will impact production negatively speculate that undernourishment numbers worldwide are on the brink of exploding – another challenge to the rosy picture of progress

    I never said that Glenn was being ‘unreasonable’…what’s ‘this is really about’? – my objection was and remains to his snide insinuation that I (and Clavos) would be intellectually lazy and not try to respond to his so-called challenge…as tangential to the topic of hunger worldwide as it might be – I’m sick of this kind of interaction here

    perhaps I should have simply issued a counter challenge for him to come up with the figures on what the background hunger situation was worldwide at the times that the specific famines that he mentioned occurred to clarify the situation…’I daresay he wouldn’t even try’ – /snide insinuation

    finally – I’ve got to agree with roger nowosielski that arguments hung up on the improvement that might exist miss the main point – which is that there is no sound excuse for an ongoing hunger problem at all

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    troll, there is no sound excuse for any of the world’s major problems so I would have to disagree that that particular observation is anything like the main point.

    Surely the main point about any problem is what are people actually going to do about it?

  • troll

    point taken Chris

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    I’m not against sending food aid where it’s needed, including to Africa. I’m against corn-based ethanol. More so than at any time in human history, hunger and starvation are easily preventable. I think you and I agree on all those points.

    All I was saying is that as a while, humankind has it better right now than at any time since we stopped using our knuckles to walk. Clavos and troll disagree, and troll’s apparently offended that I challenged him to show me a more peaceful decade in all our history.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And for troll –

    perhaps I should have simply issued a counter challenge for him to come up with the figures on what the background hunger situation was worldwide at the times that the specific famines that he mentioned occurred to clarify the situation…’I daresay he wouldn’t even try’ – /snide insinuation

    you think I’m wrong, so show me the proof that I’m wrong…and if you can’t, then all you have is your opinion. That’s not a snide remark, much less an insult. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with asking someone who disagrees with you to show you “where’s the beef”, as it were.

    And you wanted numbers? Okay, here. If you don’t like that site, then try necrometrics.com.

    And you know what? There’s something else that none of us have discussed yet – disease. I think you would have to agree wholeheartedly that preventable disease and pandemic are FAR less of a problem than ever before. I will say, however, that the greatest threat (other than nuclear war, asteroids, and the like) that faces mankind is a pandemic of H5N1 or one of its close cousins. The H1N1 pandemic of 1918 killed as many as 50 million worldwide in a matter of four months, give or take a few weeks…and it only had a mortality rate of between 1-2%. The observed mortality rate of H5N1 is about 50%…and if it became as virulent as H1N1 has been, well, you get my point.

    But back to war and starvation – even with the hundred thousand (and probably more) dead in our illegal and unprovoked invasion of Iraq, the last decade has still been the most peaceful in human history (relatively speaking, as always)…

    …and it’s nice to know we’re almost totally out of Iraq! Now, if Obama would have the courage to allow the Hague to prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes….

  • troll

    Glenn continues to miss to the point of my objection – surprise surprise

    and how one can call a time when a billion people are underfed and someone dies of starvation every few seconds peaceful remains beyond my comprehension

  • troll

    and Glenn – much as I don’t want to continue interacting with you – note that I’ve already acknowledged that you are correct on the numbers proportionately speaking from what I’ve been able to glean

    but peaceful?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Does the phrase ‘relatively speaking’ mean anything to you? I’ve used it (and similar phrases) as qualification almost every time I’ve made the claims that the world is more peaceful now than at any other time in human history.

    You say I missed your point – it seems you never got mine to begin with.

  • troll

    yup – compared to yellow red is relatively blue

    I got your point from the start Glenn but find the language of your presentation something of a ‘cover-up’ for a world with major problems

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    It’s not a cover-up, nor is it a case of ‘rose-tinted glasses’. What it is, is just me counting my blessings that I’m alive today and not a century or so ago…because even if I avoided war and/or starvation, I never would have survived some of the medical problems I’ve had.

    Yes, the world has major problems – I never said it didn’t! Have you not read my articles and my many comments about third-world hardship here in the Philippines? If you think I’m unaware of the problems this world faces, try reading my article, So Why Would I Want to Move to a Third World Country? and then judge if I’m as blind to the world’s problems as you think.

  • troll

    your self-centered pov doesn’t appeal to me…in the time that it took me to write this response a few dozen more starved to death…how lucky were they to live in this age?

    gak – kicking a dead horse

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Glenn, Jordan, troll,

    I have always wondered at the amount of food wasted when some African warlord steals, sells, or burns food rather than giving it to his people as was intended. I have not studied the data, but in general this sounds like article material – full research, graphs and charts, links to important data.

    @99 – Jordan, I’m not convinced that bio fuel is wasting that much of our grain resources. Don’t we (the U.S.) still pay farmers not to grow their crops? Sound like another article.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Which is better – a million starving to death, or a hundred thousand starving to death? Of course one is not ‘better’ than the other – one is only less tragic than the other. So would it better suit your mindset to say that – relatively speaking – humanity today suffers a lesser amount of tragedy than ever before?

    I never said this world is perfect. I never said we should stop striving to feed the destitute. I’m only saying that as a whole, humanity’s better off now than ever before…and somehow you got offended at the notion.

    Either that, or you’re just *trolling* for a reaction.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    A lot of it depends on how much “blood and treasure” we’re willing to spend.

    As we are finding out (and as Alexander, England, and the USSR had already found out) the people of Afghanistan will not unite by the force of a foreign nation – their tribal mindset is simply too strong. I suspect that such would also be the case in the Sudan, Somalia, and in some of the other African nations where the authority of the government really only extends a few miles from the capital…and sometimes not even that far.

    We cannot force such places to unite and organize to the point where we can safely and effectively help them. Sadly, in almost every such case it takes a bloodbath and a tyrant willing to force his people to unite. It’s not always the case – America’s one such exception to the rule (but we had the tradition of the Magna Carta to draw upon) – but in areas like these, it’s likely that only a tyrant can unite it…and if he lives long enough, organize it into a nation that might survive his downfall.

  • http://oneamericansrant.blogspot.com/ One American’s Rant

    Glenn,

    I know that I have read somewhere, but can’t recall where, that the best possible form of government is a benevolent dictatorship, a kindly king if you will. Of course this could likely only last one generation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Your #93 Jordan, speaks for itself. I do manage, how shall I say it? to get the best of you. Which, lest you didn’t know, was precisely my intention. A couple of responses, however:

    (1) My “idiotic attempt at sarcasm” — your phrase, by the way, not mine — apparently did work, for it did succeed in generating a substantial sequence of comments, hopefully clarifying the issues rather than obfuscating them. So in the first place, it wasn’t so “idiotic,” as you say; and in the second, it wasn’t just an attempt but an attempt with tangible and beneficial results. You really ought to think before you put things down in words if you care about your credibility, rather than be responding like a twelve-year old.

    (2) And then you speak of my “insensitivity.” (Naturally, you’re going to regard what I say as “blather” since it’s my “insensitivity” that hurts you and makes your speak — so we don’t have to go there, do we?)

    Well, Jordan, what is it, exactly, that I’m supposed to be sensitive about — your feelings? And at what expense, shall I ask? How far do you want me to go in order for you not to feel the way you do? Ignore what I see as trouble spots in your arguments — not necessarily with your presentation of facts but your entire stance? Were I to do that, Jordan, I would be doing you greater disservice, for you’re certainly not going to be grilled about those things by those who share the same stance, are you now? So yes, that’s where your truly comes in, trying to make you think about the things apparently you don’t want to think about, pointing to a possible disconnect of sorts between your “global views” on things and Jordan, the person. The fact that my efforts, rather than producing the desirable results, are met instead by your hostility — well, this is something I can do nothing about, only Jordan can. Yet, try sometimes I must, because if not I, who then? It’s only because I still care that I do that, for I care more for Jordan the human being than for Jordan’s ideological positions.

    So let’s face it, Jordan, when you speak of “insensitivity” in this context, what you’re really talking about is having been put in situations in which you might possibly lose face — since it is a public forum, after all. (I’m certain your hostility would be nowhere near to what it is now were we to discuss these things in person and in private.) I perfectly understand why you don’t like it, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    (3) And now you bring up “the liberal establishment” thing. Well, Jordan, whether you realize it or not, you are defending the liberal establishment, however indirectly. After all, we’re not talking anymore about the era of direct colonialism but of colonialism by proxy. There may be some truth to the fact that the dictators of this world contribute to the overall picture of the world’s hunger, but surely none other than our modern, developed nation-states bear the greatest blame — because it’s in the nature of the beast that capitalism manufactures scarcity, and the world’s food supply and food-related resources certainly are no exception. (And I don’t believe I need to provide you with examples of how the “industrialization,” by the West, of previously self-sustaining agricultural communities in the far reaches of the world had manufactured hunger in those very places. If you have any doubts, I recommend an excellent bit of filmmaking, Calcutta, available on Hulu Plus.) And since the Western powers we speak of are liberal democracies as well, all you have to do is connect the dots.

    So yes, Jordan, with or without you realizing it , in your eloquent defense of a rather technical and minor point, arguing as you have on behalf of however slight improvement as compared with the past, you were in effect defending status quo and liberal establishments, and expressing faith as well, faith in progress under the existing conditions.

    Well, it’s precisely this what I find incongruous, this gap between real-life concerns of Jordan the person and the ideological position of Jordan the debater. For in point of fact, you can’t separate liberal democracies from capitalism as their main engine: to condone the one, at this historical moment, is to condone the other.

    In any case, Jordan, for you to have zeroed-in on a lengthy rebuttal of “troll’s” point, rather than on the real problems we’re facing, the common humanity is facing, is, to say the least insensitive — my choice of words — not to mention petty. Perhaps you’re a petty person in real-life, petty about all kinds of things. I wouldn’t know, of course, since I don’t know you; and I’m certainly not going to paint you one way or another in the absence of personal knowledge. So your pettiness in this particular instance I must therefore ascribe not to your personal characteristics, real or imagined, but to something much more specific and telling: the very disconnect I alluded to between Jordan the person and Jordan the ideologue. How so?

    It’s precisely this kind of disconnect which makes people petty. On the one hand, people do have real-life, genuine concerns on the immediate level (I’d never accuse liberals of not sharing those concerns); on the other, they can’t see their way past the existing social-economic configurations, regard them perhaps as the best of all possible worlds, and having resigned themselves to them, have no (intellectual?) choice but to defend the status quo and whatever modicum of “progress” may be associated therewith.

    A kind of catch-22, I’d say, and it’s one of the defining characteristics, in my judgment, of the liberal mindset. Hence the penchant for global, grandiose causes, the penchant for crusades — AGW being one example — and the more abstract the cause, the more removed from the personal, the better, for only thus can our crusader live in a state of cognitive and emotional dissonance, of not having to face the conflict between the emotional and the intellectual, and the sense of possible guilt for not having resolved that conflict to his or her satisfation. (I may be reaching here, but it seems like the reverse of sublimation.)

    So perhaps now you can better understand the context for my posing the question: Have you done anything lately for Vancouver’s homeless?

    (4) You say I “alienated” a whole bunch of people here. Well, it’s their problem, not mine. I don’t feel alienated from anyone here, not even from Glenn — which isn’t to say I haven’t come to regard engaging certain people as futile (for the time being at least). So perhaps you ought to rethink the merit of your criticism: does it reflect worse on those I’ve “alienated” or on me?

    (5) “You pseudo-intellectual windbag.”

    Really, Jordan? Do you really think I want to impress you? It’d appear that precisely the opposite is the case. And you’re just being pissed to no end because I’m not impressed by you and put questions to your highness. In any case, your name-calling does come across as an act of desperation.

    You remarked once how proud you were of the fact that at the young age of 35 you know so much. Whether you meant in jest or in all seriousness, I don’t know and I don’t care. But in terms of emotional maturity, Jordan, you’ve certainly got a long way to go.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @97

    Chris, if you’d provide me with a source as to the classical liberal, I’ll make certain to respond in the best way I can.

    On a minor note, I notice my mild “invective” vs. liberals was deleted while Jordan’s use of words such as “idiotic” or “pseudo-intellectual windbag” (“duchebag” might have carried a greater sting) were allowed to stand. I’m not complaining, BTW, because as I said, Jordan’s words speak more of Jordan than of anyone else, so please leave his comment intact), just directing attention to what may be a discrepancy when it comes to uneven application of the comments’ policy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @91

    To the extent possible, El Bicho, only to the extent possible. For I’m certainly not going to contribute to another person’s delinquency by encouraging their state of willful or unwitting self-deception.

    One has got to draw a line somewhere, and that’s where I draw it. As far as I’m concerned, common ground can be found but only if both parties are committed to the practice of authentic speech. In the absence of this condition, any common ground they may or may not be reached is but an illusion.

  • Clavos

    Glenn @#103:
    You say,

    All I was saying is that as a while, humankind has it better right now than at any time since we stopped using our knuckles to walk. Clavos and troll disagree…

    Wrong. We were both making separate points and didn’t even address your comparison. I can’t speak for troll, but my only point was that it seems a shame, in a world where a substasntial number of people ARE hungry, that we devote significant amounts of arable land to grow fuel for cryin’ out loud; especially since the project hasn’t even made a dent in the worldwide consumption of fossil fuels AND the fuel thus produced is detrimental to our cars!!

    Colossal stupidity, say I.

  • Jordan Richardson

    troll, thanks for the data in #100. Gonna have to dig through it later on, but just wanted to let you know I appreciate it.

    Roger, thanks for whatever that’s supposed to be in #115. Gonna have to dig through it…never, but just wanted to let you know that I don’t care.

  • Jordan Richardson

    that there is no sound excuse for an ongoing hunger problem at all

    Agreed but also agree with Chris in the following comment. I think the improvements made in how we handle hunger, malnourishment and undernourishment prove that we can continue to do better in tackling this man-made problem.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s always been your prerogative, Jordan. I posted for no other reason than to keep the record straight.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Jordan, I’m not convinced that bio fuel is wasting that much of our grain resources. Don’t we (the U.S.) still pay farmers not to grow their crops?

    The data is right in the comment, I think. I’m not sure if you’re paying farmers not to grow crops, however.

    It sure does sound like another article, though.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Sure ya did, Rog, sure ya did.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    An absolute must see for those who entertain the illusion that our liberal democracies, as presently defined, can be thought of as separate from and independent of the throes imposed by capitalism.

    And there, too, go all the prospects of progress in the present historical moment.