Why Obama Will Almost Certainly Lose

And ironically, despite my blog’s focus, to date my US predictions have been more accurate than my Russian ones. Obama to become President? Check. Republicans to win 2010 mid-terms? Check. The emergence of “a new party, a new politics”, with “the feds [facing] challenges from the far-left and the far-right”? Check (Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street). Dammit, even the prediction about falling fertility rates is panning out (to Mark Steyn’s presumed chagrin, it now equals “decadent” France’s) – though that wasn’t a particularly hard one to make, given the recession and looming economic collapse and all. Perhaps I should give up on this Russia-watching thing and just analyze the US? ;)

Anyhow, back to Obama’s impending loss. To be fair, the title is a bit of a misnomer. I’d actually put his odds at 35% (Republicans – 65%). There really isn’t much to explain, is there? The economy sucks and is almost guaranteed to get better than worse. Output remains below peak 2007 levels. The deficit remains stubbornly high and the budget crisis will rear its head again in January 2012. Lord knows what it will become if there is another recession on the scale of the last one. Unemployment remains stuck at over 9%. Obama’s net approval rating is -12%. By the metrics I used to predict McCain’s defeat in 2008, Obama looks like he’s in deep trouble.

For what it’s worth, the InTrade prediction market is coming to the same conclusion. The latest figures created by gamblers who put their money where their mouths are give Obama a 48% chance, but as you can see since the market became high-volume in around April this year he has been trending down. (PS. Note the spike in early May, that was the Osama bin Laden assassination).

obama-bets

Incidentally, it was right around this time that I gambled $10 at Bodog on an Obama loss, immediately after the OBL assassination to take advantage of the cacophony of voices proclaiming Obama’s victory was now sealed. Yes, it would have played a huge rule had it happened a few days before the elections. But in May 2011? A year is an eternity in politics. New issues will cover over any lingering legacy of the OBL assassination. And that is why, with the bookies offering very favorable odds of 17/10 – and at the time, assessing Obama’s chances at only 45% – I made the bet below on Bodog.

obama-will-lose

In retrospect, with Obama’s re-election metrics continuing to decline, this was a very good bet if I say so myself. If things pan out, I will almost make back the $20 I lost betting on Medvedev as Russia’s next President.

Now a few words on the consequences (and refraining from bringing my own ideologies into this). Obama is not going to solve America’s economic problems. Nor is a Republican President. In any possible political configuration arising post-elections, raising taxes is nigh impossible – and that is the only way to alleviate the budget deficit which has been running at banana republic levels of 10% of GDP since 2009. Not cutting spending will lead to default, either outright or as is more likely by inflation (cue Argentina 2002). Both will be deleterious. Cutting spending at a time when the private sector is too over-leveraged to take up the slack will knock the legs out from the economy and likely result in a big collapse in output (cue Latvia 2008).

The fundamental problem is high oil prices, and the fact that any marginal increases in supply of this commodity that underpins all modern economies is being bid away by emerging markets that can make more productive use of them - primarily, China, with its factories and surfeit of cheap, relatively high-skilled labor (what’s the better return for a barrel of oil – the gas tank of an American SUV, or a Guangzhou factory making useful widgets?) - or the oil exporters themselves. To make the best of the current situation, the US needs long-term investments in raising its human capital (which, elite universities aside, is fairly low by developed country standards, as measured by international standardized tests) and raising energy efficiency. But these are only good in the long-term, and even here special interests are doing their best to prevent anything from being accomplished.

That is why the entire debate in the US over austerity vs. stimulus (both are suicide), or “American exceptionalism”, or the Presidential elections (given Obama’s stance on the War on Terror, Wikileaks, interventions, poker, weed, etc., to what extent to they really matter?), are all so tiring and mundane. In the face of uncompromising fiscal and energetic realities, which the US can mitigate to a degree but chooses not to, they are nothing but meaningless distractions.

Comments

  1. I agree your prediction is sound. Based on everything we see now, it seems very likely that Romney will be next Prez of USA, hence that will be America’s first Mormon president. Can I say something nice about Mormons here? They have weird religion, but make good businessmen and good city planners too. Have you ever visited Salt Lake City, Utah? It is very nice city, really clean and beautiful.
    And, BTW, good riddance to Obama. His left-wing, anti-imperialist mom would have been ashamed to see what her son grew up to be. As election approaches, President O’Bombsky may send out more drone attacks to assassinate various bad guys abroad, but even this will not help him. (He should have kept bin Laden on ice and saved him for “October Surprise”!) American public don’t care any more, they are getting as jaded as regular Roman audience at weekly gladiator show. “More blood! More lions!” they feebly chant, but only out of habit.

    • Actually most Americans aren’t interested in blood or lions – they’re too busy trying to get or keep a job, pay the bills, etc. As for Obama, I can’t say I’m disappointed – but that’s because I didn’t expect much from him in the first place.

  2. What would you like to wager? The conservative base loathes Romney, not only because he is a Mormon while a good deal of the conservative base is made up of fundamentalists, but because his RomneyCare healthcare package while he was Governor is virtually identical to Obama’s, he has spoken out in favour of gun control (subsequently flip-flopping to say the opposite), abortion (subsequently flip-flopping to say the opposite) and marriage equality (you see the pattern, I’m sure). Romney is way too moderate to appeal to a radicalized Republican party that would probably reject Reagan as “not conservative enough” if he were to run today using the same core set of values that made him a Republican icon.

    These are the wages of Republican strategists attempting to harness the Tea Party’s nuttiness for Republican gain. The primary concerns of Americans of all affiliations these days are jobs and the economy, and the Republicans not only have no plan at all for either, they jam up legislation that might ease the situation for partisan gain and to preen in front of their nutjob base. A lot of Republicans stayed home last time because John McCain was unelectable according to their values, although his selection of Sarah Palin as running mate gave him a big boost – and John McCain is bedrock conservative compared to French-speaking Mormon former missionary Mitt Romney, the same “clever businessman” who made a fortune by buying up companies, breaking them up and reselling the pieces with consequent major job losses for Americans.

    In fact, the only thing that has pushed Romney to the forefront is his way-more-crazy fellow candidates sandbagging each other. Mitt’s not the popular choice – he’s just the last man standing. I feel comfortable predicting Obama will beat Romney easily, although Republican strategists will make the best of a bad job and try to sell Romney as a great candidate.

    • “A lot of Republicans stayed home last time because John McCain was unelectable according to their values…”

      A lot of Democrats will stay home this time because they’re disappointed with Barry. I have never seen as much enthusiasm for a politician in my life as I had seen for Obama in 2008. All of that’s gone now. Millions of people thought of him as some sort of a messiah, and he turned out to be an astonishingly boring conformist. Nothing interesting about the man at all. He’s super-predictable even by the standards of his profession. I can’t think of a bigger letdown in the entire history of politics or of popular culture.

      At my job everyone was watching his inauguration over the Web in real time. This will not happen next time, no matter who’s elected. I remember walking into a Barnes & Noble and seeing a whole table up front dedicated to Obama. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, Obama. He’d disappointed more supporters than anyone has ever disappointed before him. And he’s managed to do it without winning over any of his opponents.

      “…they jam up legislation that might ease the situation for partisan gain…”

      If you think that more spending might ease the situation, then you really shouldn’t throw around words like “nutty” at others. The problem is debt. More debt cannot be a solution. The same can be said about the Republican passion for tax cuts, but I don’t think that’s what you were implying above. The stuff GOPers are jamming up now is mostly new spending. In other words, they’re trying to ease the situation a little.

      “…and John McCain is bedrock conservative compared to French-speaking Mormon former missionary Mitt Romney…”

      This is not true. Both Romney’s and McCain’s conservative credentials were always low. But so are Obama’s progressive credentials. McCain has an ornery, irascible personality, so his betrayals of his voters sometimes took an openly-hostile, cantankerous form. Romney and Obama are slicker, more evasive, more like the average politician, so their betrayals of their voters are a little more likely to go unnoticed. Only a little though.

      “I feel comfortable predicting Obama will beat Romney easily…”

      I’ve already bet a few hundred dollars on Obama losing.

      • The British government imposed one of the most sweeping austerity budgets on the UK seen since the war. How’s that working?

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15178959

        The problem most certainly is debt, but slashing spending is not going to fix the problem, and it is a reality that the USA must deal with by the best means that are shown to work. The entire Republican “plan”, if there can be said to be such a thing, revolves around slashing spending.

        Don’t even start on how ineffective Obama has been. His big mistake was trying for bipartisanship early on, when he had a majority. By the time he abandoned that it was far too late – Republicans voted along party lines on literally everything, and it is now impossible to get anything done because of Republican obstructionism. And Obama has received zero recognition for the things he has done.

        You might turn out to be right, because they say nobody ever lost money betting on the stubborn pigheadedness of the American voter, but I think you’re going to lose your money. And if Romney actually does make it to the presidency, it’ll be a classic case of an electorate getting the leader it deserves.

  3. Oooooo….Presidential hopeful Mitt unveils his new cabinet. You’ll notice a few former George W. Bush advisers among his think-tank appointees,

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/think-tanked/post/mitt-romney-dips-into-think-tanks-for-foreign-policy-team/2011/10/06/gIQArrQHQL_blog.html

    but the real treat is his choice to head up the Russia working group – none other than Leon Aron, recently excoriated by Mark Adomanis for hyping the “everybody who isn’t stupid is fleeing Russia” meme with statistics he apparently pulled out of someplace tight and pink and about equidistant between his hipbones. Awesome choice, Mitt – you’re bound to get foreign policy advice there that’ll promote good relations with the world’s biggest energy provider. Hello again, $120.00 per barrel crude!! That’ll show those Russkies.

    Hey, speaking of foreign policy: check out his foreign policy adviser.

    http://politics.salon.com/2011/10/07/romneys_scary_middle_east_advisor/

    A Fox News pundit, AND a Zionist activist (former vice chair of the political leadership committee, Guardians of Cedar Militia – catchy slogan, “Kill a Palestinian and you shall enter Heaven”).

    Maybe you’re right; I can’t see how Mitt could lose with people like that in his organization.

  4. Well. I’ve got fifty bucks says Obama pulls it off.

    Bet?

    Doug M.

    • Okay, sure, but I don’t want to bet money with friends. How about drinks on whoever loses when we meet up? (Which will probably happen someday, seeing as the world is pretty small nowadays).

      • I’ll take some of that action, but I’m with Doug. Considering the latent hostility for Mormonism among Evangelical Christians – which form the backbone of the so-called “Values Voters” – hasn’t gone away…

        http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_10/perry_backer_raises_the_cult_i032693.php

        ..Romney (if he even is the nominee; Perry obviously hasn’t given up, and remember when Fred Thompson was the front-runner last time?) will have his work cut out for him simply getting his group all under the same tent. I feel much better about Obama’s chances if Romney is the nominee compared to Perry. Perry would make an absolutely shitty president, but the Right did like him and the crazy Teabaggers loved him. Getting those two groups to come together is going to be difficult no matter who the nominee is; the Teabaggers actually wanted Bachmann or Palin.

        • I really don’t think Romney’s Mormonism will have any major impact whatsoever. Remember that the people nutty enough to actually make an issue of it will see it as a Mormon vs. a Kenyan Muslim socialist contest and will vote for what they see as at least the lesser evil, i.e. the Mormon. US elections are won by capturing the center, not entertaining the fringes.

          Which, incidentally, is exactly why Romney is considered the likeliest Republican candidate. 61% according to Intrade. The bookies agree.

        • Perry would just be a rerun of GW Bush. Texan politicians are a disaster for the country as a whole. Here’s an interesting take on them (they are Texas nationalists who hate the USA):

          http://www.inmalafide.com/blog/2011/09/28/why-rick-perry-and-the-texan-plutocracy-hate-america/

          • Yeah, I have mentioned before that I have relatives in Texas, so I am somewhat familiar with their unique culture. Many white Texans do hate federal government, and secessionist sentiment runs high in certain social classes (although dubious they would act on it, because that would mean civil war, athough wimp like Obama would probably just let them go peacefully).
            Differences between Southern Baptists and Mormons? As best I can figure out:
            Baptists believe God and Jesus are one and the same person. Mormons believe they are 2 distinct people (a ruling tandem, if you will), plus there is a third guy flitting around named “Holy Ghost”, not sure exactly what his job is.
            Mormons believe American Indians are descended from Jews who arrived on American continent around time of Assyrian/Babylonian wars to crush Israel/Judah. The fact that this idea can be easily refuted by historical, linguistic, not to mention DNA evidence is an embarrassment to Mormon Church hierarchy, which is actually more enlightened and pro-science than you would think. Romney has stated that he believes in evolution, which is a reflection of most educated Mormon popular opinion. Rick Perry does not believe in evolution, even though he himself is clear reminder of the fact that we are all descended from hairy ignorant apes.

  5. Little to argue with here. Damn, I like arguing.

    “Obama is not going to solve America’s economic problems. Nor is a Republican President.”

    If voting was important, they wouldn’t let us do it. For a short period when some were calling for Obama to get involved in Libya, but he hadn’t yet, I thought “wow, an actual difference – McCain would have gone in.” And then Obama went in. In 2008 Obama’s biggest accusation against Hillary was that she wasn’t anti-war enough. You see, she was against the Iraq war because she had read some polls, but his opposition to it was founded on high principle. It’s exactly like McDonald’s vs. Burger King, Blimpie vs. Subway, Kellog’s vs. Post. Usually there are no substantive differences, but if there are tiny substantive differences somewhere, you still won’t learn about them from their commercials because they are actually bugs. The features are meant to be the same.

    As for the economic future, I agree that the inflation route is the most likely one. The government controls the medium in which it’s expected to pay its obligations. I’ve also heard that the powers that be could crash the stock market so that investors flee to treasury bonds and that the government could order all pension funds to be invested in treasuries by fiat. From what I understand, in the 1930s the US government confiscated most gold from private individuals.

    When Welfare recipients realize that their allowances can only buy half of what they used to, there will be riots and the looting of stores. The effectiveness of the government response will vary by locality, since police forces are local. When you wrote about possible future Caesarism, I think you said that a possible future Caesar may now be serving as an officer in Iraq or Afghanistan. That’s possible, but he could also now serve as a mayor or a police commissioner of a large city. If New York burns, but, say, Dallas doesn’t, then the mayor of Dallas is suddenly going to become very popular nation-wide.

    • There certainly are similarities, but that’s not the whole story. Generally speaking, Democratic administrations have reduced the debt and boosted the standard of living for the middle class. Generally speaking, Republican administrations have run up the debt and boosted the standard of living for the wealthy. If you look at the employment figures for the Bush administration followed by the Obama administration, you’ll see the trend in job losses reduced immediately under Obama and went from losses to gains in a very predictable manner (the graph is almost a sine wave). It’s still not enough: the USA has a hell of a big population, and needs hundreds of thousands of new jobs every month to actually begin chipping away at the unemployment rate. But it’s far, far better than the trend under Bush, which was the downward curve of the sine wave and headed ever further downward.

      And before we get too into tuning up on Obama for being such a crazy spender, let’s recall that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) – all $700 Billion of it, sometimes called the “bail-out-the-banks” plan – was signed into law by President Bush, before Obama ever took office. Those Democrats who voted against it correctly pointed out that banks had plenty of cash, but were hoarding it rather than lending it because they sensed the opportunity to gain even more power.

      http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/03/news/economy/house_friday_bailout/index.htm

      By way of contrast, the $787 Billion Stimulus Package signed into law by Obama went to health care, infrastructure, energy and education as well as job creation…

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123487951033799545.html

      …and the Central Budget Office (CBO, a non-partisan organization) was unambiguous that it worked.

      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/political-economy/2010/08/cbo_says_stimulus_may_have_add.html

      • “Generally speaking, Democratic administrations have reduced the debt and boosted the standard of living for the middle class. ”

        The deficits were eliminated for a few years under Clinton because the economy was booming. When that happens, tax receipts go up. Did he have much to do with that boom? Does any administration have much of an impact on the business cycle? My impression is that they do not.

        “And before we get too into tuning up on Obama for being such a crazy spender, let’s recall that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) – all $700 Billion of it, sometimes called the “bail-out-the-banks” plan – was signed into law by President Bush, before Obama ever took office. ”

        But Obama was for it. I remember him and McCain appearing with Bush and Congressional leaders at the height of the 2008 campaign in order to voice their collective support for it. This was necessary to financial institutions because Republican backbenchers were against the Paulson plan, as it was then called.

        “Those Democrats who voted against it…”

        I don’t remember those. Maybe there were a few. I clearly remember that MOST of the people who were not on board with this plan in the beginning were House Republicans. Obama was on board.

        “By way of contrast, the $787 Billion Stimulus Package signed into law by Obama went to health care, infrastructure, energy and education as well as job creation…”

        By way of contrast to what? To his own enthusiastic support for bailing out the banks? And Republicans like pork spending too. You said that extra spending worked to create more jobs. Perhaps. But an increase in the unemployment rate from roughly 5% to roughly 9% is insignificant compared to the disaster that an eventual debt crisis will bring. This crisis will probably lead to hyperinflation, which will lead to other problems, which will dwarf the current unemployment problem. Trying to bring down the unemployment rate a couple of percentage points now at the cost of exacerbating the debt problem a couple of years down the line – that will only seem smart to a person who severely underestimates the debt problem and its consequences. It’s like giving a fix to a junkie – sure, for a little while that will make him feel better.

        • Or to the person thinking of elections in one year’s time.

          Problem is, both parties are addicted to that drug. That is why I see very little chance (well, to be honest practically zero) that the US will be able to avoid the fiscal abyss ahead.

          • America was placed deep in a debt hole before Obama ever took over, and whether he would have done the same thing if he had been in charge is only speculation, because he was not (although it’s true he not only supported the bailout, but urged others to do so). The point is, as I suggested before, the problem was already present and large when Obama assumed leadership, and now it’s up to him to get America out. You can argue that it’s impossible to spend your way out of a recession or a debt problem (although Reagan thought it was a perfectly valid concept), but the opposite approach – austerity and spending cuts – has already been demonstrably ineffective.

            Data averaged over a considerable period and taking into account various presidents – not just recent polarizing figures – suggest growth under Democratic administrations was nearly double that under Republicans, using the period from 1948 to 2007 and 34 years of Republican rule versus 26 years for the Democrats.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/business/31view.html?8dpc

            As the study points out, “That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.” Could you use a nearly 10% boost in your income? Not many would say No.

            Although the size of the debt scares the shit out of most people, the size of American annual GDP is awesome as well, and the USA is quite capable of pulling itself out of the debt hole. You’ll have to box clever, as the Brits say, and it will require a national effort, but America is pretty much all about national effort once everyone is united in common cause.

            That’s the hard part.


    • For a short period when some were calling for Obama to get involved in Libya, but he hadn’t yet, I thought “wow, an actual difference – McCain would have gone in.” And then Obama went in.

      Here’s one plausible theory about why Obama went in: Because Goldman Sachs told him too. Everybody knows that Obama is Goldman’s butt-boy. (Recall that Goldman was Obama’s second biggest campaign contributor in 2008.)
      Anyhow, as you recall, Colonel Gaddafy (or rather, Gaddafy’s incompetent financial advisor) invested over one $ billion bucks of Libyan national currency with Goldman, not long before Goldman almost went belly up. After losing his billion bucks, Gaddafy went ballistic and threatened to sue Goldman. The proposed settlement, which looked like it might actually happen, was this: in lieu of cash settlement, Goldman would sell Libya $5 billion worth of preferred stocks, thus giving Libyan government a fat stake in Goldman.
      However, very shortly, Europe and USA declared Libyan government to be illegitimate and froze its funds. Naturally, the Goldman deal fell through, and it is dubious that the Libyan people will ever see a penny from the proposed settlement.
      On the bright side, Libyans now get to taste the delicious fruits of democracy, as NATO’s freedom-loving bombs rain down upon them. As Obama says, “The Libyan people are better off without Colonel Gaddafy.” And so is Goldman Sachs!

  6. Fleshing that out a little: the offer is to Anatoly, not to random commenters; bet is void in case of presidential death or assassination; loser pays up promptly after the November election next year, either directly to the winner or, if the winner agrees, to a charity of the winner’s choice.

    So: bet?

    Doug M.

  7. sinotibetan says:

    I think Republican(not sure if it will be Romney though) will claim presidency and Obama will lose. Agree with Anatoly that whoever wins would make no significant difference to America’s dire situation.

    yalensis….regarding Mormon beliefs:-

    http://mormon.org/articles-of-faith/

    The Mormons also believe in the Book of Mormon.I met a Mormon missionary in my country(which was a surprise, never thought they came to my part of the world) and he handed me the Book of Mormon. The book had ‘religious creativity’ – in many ways ‘better’ than the Quran. They have totally different theology from Baptists(of which I am one). I am copying these from one of the Mormon websites:-

    1.Mormon doctrine holds that all people have existed eternally as individual “intelligences,” and then that God the Father created us spiritually, before we came to earth.
    2.The Plan of Salvation teaches that God the Father is the literal father of our spirits, and that as spirits, we lived with Him before we were born with physical bodies into mortal life on earth. Christ was the firstborn of the spirit children of God the Father, and was more intelligent and gifted than all.
    (http://www.mormonbeliefs.org/mormon_beliefs/who-is-jesus-christ)
    3. These ‘spirit intelligences’ had the option to ‘accept’ God the Father’s plan to ‘become like God’ by coming to earth and living as mortal men and women – learning to reject wrong from right.
    4. Foremost of these ‘spirit intelligences’ were ‘Jehovah’(Jesus) and Lucifer. They were brothers who ‘competed’ to be saviours. Father Elohim accepted Jehovah’s role as saviour and rejected Lucifer’s starting a war in the Celestial Worlds(‘Heaven’). Lucifer and a third of the rebellious ‘spirit intelligences’ became malevolent spirits to tempt mortals on earth to commit evil.
    5. Father Elohim was once a man too before he ‘spiritually progressed’ and became ‘God the Father’. He is supposedly greater than the ‘Son’, Jehovah.
    6. The ultimate aim, therefore in Mormon belief is for man to ‘spiritually progress’ to be gods and goddesses themselves, just like Father Elohim.

    Completely different from the beliefs of Baptists indeed!

    sinotibetan

    • @Sino-T: Thanks for interesting info about Mormons. I am not surprised that you encountered Mormon missionaries in your country: they go everywhere, all over the world. They always travel in pairs, and they are very pleasant and clean cut. My brother once had missionaries come to his door. He promptly took all his clothes off and got naked; that was the only thing that embarrassed them and made them go away.
      Mormons believe in “baptism for the dead”, which they perform in the baptismal pools at their temples. The way this works is: Any baptised Mormon in good standing can get baptized on behalf of any dead person and thus retroactively convert them into a Mormon. Usually this is reserved for one’s own ancestors, but can be done for any past person whose existence is known. For example, if I were a Mormon, I could get baptized on behalf of Genguis Khan; thanks to my effort, Khan would then become a Mormon in good standing and his spirit would qualify to go to highest level of heaven. (Mormons, like Dante, believe heaven and hell have many rungs. If you are good person but non-Mormon, you can still go to heaven, but not to the highest rung.)
      As I mentioned, this is mostly done on behalf of one’s own ancestors, which is why Mormons are so passionate about genealogy, and have one of the greatest genealogy libraries in the world, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The thought is that you would want to go to heaven and be surrounded by ALL your family members, ancestors, etc. Mormons are HUGE on family values and believe everybody would naturally want to be rejoined with their large families for all eternity. One reason I should not be a Mormon: I am not actually all that fond of certain family members, and would prefer not to be stuck with them for all eternity. (Unless I could have my own apartment in heaven.)

    • Yes, I can so see Conservative Republican Evangelists being okay with that. And time travel and perpetual motion. A Kenyan Muslim who is nonetheless a member in good standing and regular attendant at his Christian church looks like a normal guy standing next to a two-headed calf in that context.

  8. I’d do it just for the “Special Underpants”. According to LDS teachings, members should never remove these undergarments for any activity they could “reasonably do with them on”. It would relieve me of a lot of my daily anxiety over what to wear.

    I’m OK with the members of my immediate family, but I have a lot of cousins and such of whom I’ve lost track over the years, and I now know nothing about them. Add to that the family members I never knew about at all. Sounds a bit risky to me.

    • Still on topic of Mormon family values: Mormon Church technically does not allow divorce. Man + wife are “sealed” in Church ceremony and expected to spend eternity together in heaven (along with mother-in-law). However, like Catholics before them, out of necessity Mormons started down “slippery slope” and began to allow annullments. Most notable case = Marie Osmond. She went through 2 or 3 husbands until she found Mr. Right. Her previous “sealings” were conveniently annulled by Church. Is purely theological matter and has nothing to do with the “tithing” (= 1/10 of income) that Church receives from wealthy Osmond family.

  9. sinotibetan says:

    @Mark:
    “Yes, I can so see Conservative Republican Evangelists being okay with that.”
    I am a social conservative and not belonging to ‘Evangelicals’(‘independent’ Baptists do not consider themselves as belonging to the ‘Evangelicals’) – and if I were American, doubtful that I’d support the Republicans but certainly I cannot support Democrats either. Anyway, the reason why I think Obama most likely won’t win is because of the disappointment of many Americans towards his promise of ‘change’. It’s the American economy and high unemployment rate that’s ultimately more important than religious convictions. “Tea Party’-ers or so-called ‘conservative’ politicians are not Obama’s true challengers. The PERCEPTION(whether one agrees it’s just a perception or it’s closer to reality is immaterial) that Obama failed….that’s the challenger. Even if the next Presidential hopeful has public pretense of upholding ‘conservative Christian values’ but privately bows down to cuckoo birds – even he might be elected as President because of that perception of the failure of Obama to be ‘in charge’ and ‘a good leader’ in the eyes of many Americans – be they “Evangelicals” or not. That’s my opinion.

    @yalensis
    Thanks for your interesting comments about the Mormons. Especially the Genghis Khan part – wow! Anyway, the only Mormon I met was that Mormon missionary(pastor) and 2-3 others. I don’t think the Mormons number even a few hundred in Malaysia(though I could be wrong).Anyhow, I did not consider much about Mormonism in my own (previous) study of ideologies and religions because the claim that Native Americans are related to Semitic Jews is implausible. Also, unlike the Quran which claims the Bible was corrupted by Christians(and thus would have a lot of falsehood), Mormons put the Bible as Holy Scripture together with the Book of Mormon.However, the basic theology from these two books are totally irreconcilable. Another thing – the early Mormons practiced polygamy and like the issue of ‘divorce’, am I right to say that modern Mormons have ‘compromised’ on this issue as well?

    sinotibetan

    • As I’ve said before, Obama has accomplished a great deal that he either never received credit for in the first place, or that Americans in their misery have quickly forgotten. His mistake, also as I’ve said before, was in wasting all the time up to the mid-terms trying to get bipartisanship, perhaps underestimating the depth of Republican hatred. His entire time in office has been lockstep Republican obstruction, making it impossible to get anything done. And this is the entire Republican strategy – make it impossible to get anything done, so the electorate in their fury will change the government. It might work, because the electorate is lazy, poorly-informed and easy to manipulate. But voting records are public information, and if Obama is any kind of leader – or even wants another term, which God knows many wouldn’t; who wants to lead such a thankless freak show – he’ll pique enough curiosity that enough people will check and see every chance to get something positive done was ruined by the Republicans. Likewise, ridiculous claims like, “The stimulus didn’t create one single job” are easily disproved by anyone who wants to do 2 minutes of research.

      Similarly, it’s significant that the Republican field is so pathetic that pizza king Herman Cain is the current front-runner, with his insane 9-9-9 plan that would make the poor pay much more and the rich pay much less. I hope there are a few Americans left who can do basic math. Added to that telltale is the fact that this is the latest in modern history that the endorsement process by Conservative heavyweights has still been below 15%. Most of them are still waiting until there’s absolutely no other choice left before they commit to Romney, because he is still unable to inspire Conservatives. If Obama can’t beat that slate of crackpots – among which Mitt looks like a mix of university professor and philosopher intellectual – he’s not trying.

      Conservatives and Liberals mean different things in different countries. In Canada, although the Conservatives and the Liberals would still equate to the Republicans and the Democrats, Conservative Canadians would look like pipe-smoking, leather-elbow-patch-wearing pinko commie sympathizer hippie enviro-wackos alongside their mostly certifiable American counterparts.

      • sinotibetan says:

        Mark,

        Thanks for your reply. I see your point of view.
        1.)”It might work, because the electorate is lazy, poorly-informed and easy to manipulate…..he’ll pique enough curiosity that enough people will check and see every chance to get something positive done was ruined by the Republicans.”
        plus
        2.)”…it’s significant that the Republican field is so pathetic….this is the latest in modern history that the endorsement process by Conservative heavyweights has still been below 15% …”

        For point #1, I am in the opinion that your suggestion that the electorate is lazy and easy to manipulate might win out over curiosity of what Obama did, did not do or could have done. I used to think that American voters have ‘more political maturity’ but nowadays I am not so sure. Since for the average Joe(and in elections, it is THEIR sentiments that count, not the sentiments of those who really do their research/homework), what they view of the current state of economy(and who is to be ‘responsible’ for the current state) affect their sentiments: I think the situation does not favour Obama.
        Point # 2 – that would then be an advantage for Obama.

        Permit me to offer my views as an outsider and non-Westerner and a Christian in faith:
        I myself do not see much difference between Democrat or Republican Presidents in terms of their basic aims in foreign policy. In the recent Libyan war for example, Obama did not dissuade his European allies but instead ‘joined’ them. As I’ve said sometime before in your blog, Democrats and Republicans differ mainly on methods of achieving and sustaining pax Americana. Republicans have the tendency of being cruder in methodology compared to Democrats who use more diplomacy and slyness. But their aims are the same. For the Russian leadership, as an example, the bluntness and crudeness of Republican Presidents might positively make them be wary of American aims whereas Democrat Presidents might be seen as ‘friendlier’ and that’s more dangerous. Perhaps the greatest ‘difference’ between Democrats and Republicans seem to be in domestic policies – Democrats certainly seem tilted towards the ‘left’: pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-multiculturalism, pro-environmentalism, etc. To most Evangelicals(and other ‘conservative’ Christians), some of these things(primarily pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality etc.) are unacceptable. I think those issues make Democrats generally unacceptable to ‘Christian’ social conservatives more than ANY differences in foreign policy, economic policy etc. Whether you think Christianity is some nut religion or not is immaterial. It’s the pro-active nature of Democrats supporting these policies that seem to be an affront to the beliefs of ‘Christian’ ‘social conservatives’ in a FUNDAMENTAL way. There’s no way that any one who truly believes in the Bible as the ‘Word of God’(like myself, for example) will ever accept these policies promulgated by Democrat politicians. The reason why I’ve added ‘Christian’ to the phrase is because fundamentalist Muslims(who are even more hyperconservative than their ‘Christian’ counterparts) usually support Democrats as they are seen to be more ‘pro-multiculturalism’(thus in ‘favour’ of fundamentalist Muslims ‘planting’ their seed in America). Republicans who ‘generally’ seem tilted to the ‘right’ have used this to their advantage. Nothing so surprising….that’s just politics. However, in terms of politics and economic matters GLOBALLY, there are trifling differences between Republicans and Democrats. For that reason, I don’t think Republicans are acceptable to me as well, if I were an American. In the mean time, both Republicans and Democrats will continue dividing voters and provide the ‘illusion’ of a fundamental difference in policies between them with regards to other areas such as international relations and global economic practices when in these areas they tend to converge. If it’s any consolation to many here who are pro-(or at least not against) homosexuality and like-minded policies, I predict the demise of the influence of ‘Christianity’(of the conservative type, I mean) in the USA. If the prophets were right(and if God’s plan is to go ahead as predicted), this must be so on a global scale. I predict the Republicans will shy away from ‘social conservatism’ in the near future as America becomes a predominantly non-Christian and non-socially conservative nation. However, such will not alter American policies in international politics, in my opinion. This ‘social conservatives’ vs ‘non-social conservatives’ political side-show will cease when the former heads to near extinction. Then the Republicans and Democrats will have to think of some ‘differences’ between them to get ‘new hardcore supporters’.

        sinotibetan

        • sinotibetan says:

          Dear Mark,

          Sorry…one last thing. I also believe that not a few of conservative pastors/leaders are politicking FOR Republicans because they are seeing the influence of ‘Christian morality’(which of course Christians think are ‘positive’ to nation and society) waning in the USA. It is a concern that’s also shared by some of the more pious laity. In some way, I understand their concerns(I myself am concerned about them). Some of them are probably genuinely concerned, others are more concerned about loss of power, I am afraid. However, I think for myself(and others), I don’t agree that they should use POLITICS to so-call ‘restore’ such influence, even if we think the influence is good and positive for a society. I think if Christianity indeed has lost its so-called ‘influence’ in the US , it’s partly because Christians generally(and I include myself) have failed to ‘walk the talk’. If indeed the majority of Americans don’t agree nor believe in the ‘morality’ of the Bible, then it is inevitable that laws in US will evolve into those that no longer ‘support’ Biblical morality. To me, so be it. Man has indeed the freedom of choice – and they will ultimately reap the fruits of their choices, whatever they may be. Although I DO believe that societies which have rejected certain moral principles will ultimately pay the price for such a choice, and I admit I feel sad for what the West has become and is evolving to be, God has allowed it and so Christians should not go against what He has allowed. Moreover, no society would be ‘convinced’ of any ethical value if they are not allowed to make choices and see the result of those choices and decide for themselves. I will continue to speak against things like homosexuality etc. even if I am reviled as a homophobe but not to politicize the issue(which both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of). Although I think politics have such a tremendous influence on society, I am persuaded that no politics can create a Utopia or ‘change’ man to good. At most, societies that have ‘conservative’ values spare some people of the pain and misery of indiscretion more out of ‘fear’ rather than true belief in these values….and even this many of you might point to Puritan America of the past and argue against this point.
          Sorry for this rambling. I thought perhaps I should share what one Christian(i.e. myself) think about Republicans vs Democrats with my own beliefs shaping my views, and noting that perhaps my view that Christians should not use politics to ‘influence’ society is indeed a minority view.

          sinotibetan

  10. sinotibetan says:

    @yalensis

    Also forgot to say that modern Mormons might have less problem in accepting Evolutionism because in Mormon religion, matter is not created ex-nihilo and also theirs is a ‘spiritual progression’ (‘spirit intelligence’ – man- a god) : somewhat like a ‘spiritual evolution’ of sorts. Now, if there’s ‘spiritual evolution;, why can there be no ‘material evolution’ or ‘biological evolution’?

    sinotibetan

    • @Sino-T: Thanks for comments. One other tidbit about Mormons. It is not widely known, but they are NOT Biblical literalists. One line in Mormon creed of Joseph Smith says “We believe the Bible is the word of god, insofar as it is TRANSLATED correctly.” This allows them a loophole if there is something in Bible they don’t agree with. Any conflict between Bible and Book of Mormon = preference goes to Book of Mormon.
      On polygamy: this was important part of original Mormon teachings, but when territory of Utah applied for statehood, they had to give it up, as polygamy violates federal laws of USA. In order to change this crucual component of their religion, Mormon hierarchy had to pretend they had a direct revelation from God telling it was time to give up polygamy. After switching to mongamy, Utah was able to become a state. However, many Mormons, especially in southern counties of Utah, rebelled against this change and broke away from official Church, into separate sects, still practicing polygamy to this day, even though it is illegal. Official Mormon Church is embarrassed by these sects and persecutes them vigorously, along with police and secular authorities.

  11. sinotibetan says:

    Dear yalensis,

    Thanks for your interesting info. Certainly you know more about Mormonism than I do.

    Anyway, what’s your take on Obama? His chance of winning/reclaiming the American presidency?

    sinotibetan

  12. Dear Sino-T: My take on Obama: I agree with Anatoly that he will most likely lose election. My crystal ball mutters the following:

    Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
    Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf
    Liver of blaspheming Jew,
    Gall of goat, and slips of yew
    Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
    Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,
    Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
    For the ingredients of our caldron.

    Double, double, toil and trouble;
    Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

    And when brew has cooled and sit,
    Looke therein, and I see…. MITT!

    In other words, Mitt Romney will be next Prez of USA. (Ha ha! that’s why we got on topic of Mormonism, I almost forgot why…)
    Of course a lot of things could happen between now and then. Most disturbing is this recent “plot” uncovered last week. Supposedly Iranian elite secret service hired some idiot Mexican drug lord to blow up an entire restaurant in Washington DC in which Saudi ambassador often dines. Talk about using a sledgehammer to kill a flea!
    Now, I do not believe this plot for one second, it is obviously a pretext for President “Oh, bomb ‘em” to declare war against Iran. I can’t believe this is happening, looks like there really is going to be another big war in Middle East. Internet blogs are lit up like Xmas trees with people in the know claiming bunker-busting bombs are already on their way to Israel, in preparation for first strike.
    Obviously, if USA is at war with Iran one year from now, that might affect election results. But probably not. Americans will still go to polls and vote out Mr. Obama. IMHO.

    • sinotibetan says:

      Dear yalensis,

      Thanks for your comments. Hmmm…..I think Macbeth(or the three witches?), or rather Shakespeare will not be too happy with that crystal ball rhyme….hahahaha.

      If I’m not mistaken, you are alluding that President Obama is purposely trying to ‘appear tough’(a ‘Republicanesque’ ploy, sorry for the neologism) to win more votes? I am not so sure if it will be Mitt though.

      Anyway, want your input also on my reply to Mark just a few comments above this comment. BTW, you CAN call me a Christian religious nut in your reply …but hope you’ll be ‘slightly’ less sarcastic….hahaha. I mean more on my views that the Republicans and Democrats are not so different as many think and that sentiments on certain social issues have been used to ‘divide’ voters among themselves, perhaps that even seems to mean ‘an illusion of wide difference in political choices’.

      sinotibetan

      • Dear Sino-T: I do not actually believe that Obama is “playing” tough war-halk to win votes. It’s hard to read the guy, he’s a strange duck, but it looks like these are his real policies, his real views. Even during his election campaign he promised to step up Afghanistan war and send drones to bomb Pakistan. His adoring followers blocked out that part of his speech and were surprised later to learn that their Nobel-peace-prize-winning hero is quite a war-mongerer.
        Like most American establishment Liberals, Obama seems to sincerely believe in Pax Americana and roots for all NATO neo-colonial conquests. His policies have been devastating for the continent of Africa, leading some to pundits to psychoanalyze him in a Freudian manner (his poor relationship with his Kenyan father, feelings of abandonment toward his pro-Third World hippie mom, etc.), but I would reject these analyses as un-useful. Everybody who ascends to White House follows the same policies. The position makes the man, not vice versa.
        In summary, I do not believe that Obama is war-mongering in order to monger votes. I believe he is war-mongering in order to monger wars. Some Republican conspiracy nuts believe that “Oh, bomb ‘em” will unleash a huge war right (for example, Iran) just before election, then declare martial law, cancel election, etc. I do not believe this for one second. Whether or not there is a war, I do believe Obama will be voted out of office and will step down, in orderly transition of power to the next guy. Hence, Obama knows he may only have one magical year left in office, so he will make good use of that time blowing up the Middle East. If and when Mitt wins presidency, he will continue Obama’s foreign policy, just as Obama continued Bush Jr.’s.
        The “circle of life”, imperialist-style.

        • To both (huge posts that I could never cover in detail in a single day), there is much in what Yalensis says, that the position makes the man. The first thing any leader in his first term thinks about is a second term, if one is permitted in accordance with national law, and sooner or later everything he or she does is subordinate to that. That’s the attraction of a monarchy. You don’t have to worry about term limits, and everything rides on your opposition offering a better plan for the country. When they do, shout that it was your plan and they stole it, and implement some of the platforms that keep people happy and won’t cost too much.

          If you look at Obama in the first half of his first year, there’s considerable suggestion that he wanted to mend America’s fences with a lot of the world that viewed it as a nation of conquest and war criminals. His reward for that was shrieks in the press about “Obama’s Apology Tour”, and to this day Republicans struggling to grab the brass ring of the presidency routinely include “I will never apologize for America” right along with “I support Israel unconditionally”. Then the midterms came along, and the Republicans were successful in convincing Americans that Obama was a meek, apologetic weasel who was sending all the wrong messages to a world that wanted nothing more than to kill them all in their beds. The democrats lost the majority that would have let them ram through many, many good initiatives if only they’d had the nerve, and Obama was forced to take his eye off the ball (the economy) and concentrate on buffing his image as a tough guy.

          There’s no real democracy in America any more, because the will of the majority no longer prevails. That is to say, the majority will not take the trouble to educate itself to the point it can make rational decisions, and is instead guided into one maddened stampede after another, like cattle that smell smoke, by a very small cadre of unscrupulous manipulators who control it with fear. The majority is unable to exercise free will because it doesn’t have all the information, and won’t look. Herman Cain’s tax plan is a wonderful example. It would increase taxes on the poor, many of whom presently pay no income tax at all (which is not the same as paying no taxes, and don’t let anyone tell you it is; they still pay all other applicable taxes such as sales tax, it’s just that their gross income is below the cutoff for income tax) and substantially reduce taxes on the rich. Needless to say, the rich love it. But poor Republicans seem to love it, too – either that, or there are no poor Republicans. Most importantly, it would do absolutely nothing to get the debt under control in the short term and over the long term would increase it. More pain immediately for poor people, more gain immediately for rich people who already have more money than they know what to do with, and more debt over the long term. The response? Hurray for Herman Cain!!!

          Warren Buffett, who has been very rich for more than half his adult life and mind-bogglingly stinking rich for at least a quarter of it, admitted the current (which is easier on the poor and harder on the rich than Cain’s plan) taxation plan is ridiculous, and that he as a multibillionaire pays less taxes than Berkshire Hathaway’s cleaning lady. He said it was time the rich started paying their share. The Republicans didn’t insult him – they didn’t dare – but they plainly didn’t like it, plainly thought he was lying through his teeth, and challenged him to publicize his tax return for last year. He did; Warren Buffett, who made $62 Million last year

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2011/08/17/how-buffett-saves-billions-on-his-tax-return/

          paid $15,300.00 in payroll taxes. He paid more than that, of course; he paid over $6 Million in taxes, but that was on various investments and transactions common to his overall fortune. Looking just at his income for the year, $62 Million, he paid only $15,300.00.

          http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/187075-buffett-partially-reveals-his-tax-information

          Let me close for now with a joke: A union organizer, a bank CEO and a Tea Party leader are having lunch at a restaurant. The waitress brings a plate of a dozen cookies after their meal. The CEO takes 11 cookies, turns to the Tea Party leader and says, “watch that Union guy – he wants your cookie”.

          • Hi, Mark. I don’t think Herman Cain can win Republican primary, because he does not have a grassroots “get out the vote” type organization. Successful candidates must have cadres who go door to door and drive or bus people to the polls. These organizations generally take 3-4 years to build, and Cain is too recent to the political scene.

  13. In other breaking Obama-related news:
    Obama admin. recently signed contract with Blackwater Security (now renamed “Xe”) to setup ops in Libya. Blackwater has already setup office in Tripoli.
    I never saw that one coming a mile away!

  14. sinotibetan says:

    Dear yalensis and Mark,

    Thanks for the comments.
    A lot of salient points. I’d like to say that the comments do fit what I think:-
    1.) Differences between Democrats and Republicans are more on domestic issues than international ones. Mark mentioned mostly differences in taxation policies of Republicans vs Democrats which is a domestic issue. Yalensis mentioned the war policies of Bush Jr vs Obama – in terms of similarities and that’s an international issue. Hence can we conclude that Republicans and Democrats tend to diverge in domestic issues but seem to converge(differences in method or trifling details rather) in international issues? I think both are ‘Russia-unfriendly’ only the Republicans do it with a snarl and a gun while Democrats do so with a grin and a pen(to use ‘international laws’ to ‘punish’ Russia perhaps?).
    2.)What is ‘real democracy’? Can it be defined?
    “There’s no real democracy in America any more, because the will of the majority no longer prevails.”
    America is still a democratic country, in my opinion. However, it’s not an exemplary model of democracy to be emulated by every nation(as American politicians always proclaim). In some cases, the will of the majority does not prevail. More important, I think, is the will and opinion of the majority is MODULATED by political(and financial) elites via the kind of things published in the mass media(controlled by powerful and rich media moghuls – of course connected to political elites as well). I think I’ve said somewhere that the difference between a nascent democracy like Russia and an ‘established’ democracy like the USA is the sophistication in manipulating the will of the majority. People are of varying aptitudes and intellectual capabilities. For example, my interest and aptitude probably veers towards science, philosophy and religion whereas some would be better at business, others at politics etc. I’d probably be not as insightful on politics compared to both of you. Some have difficulties in analyzing events whereas others have such penetrating insights. I’d say the majority of people cannot know as much about Russia like most of you do…neither do most actually care enough to read more about these things. Etc. This is an innate and inherent weakness of democracy itself. The possibility of the will of the majority be ACTUALLY harmful to itself. Even if the majority ARE interested to look for all the information and make a rational decision – i.)It’s irrational to expect humans to be rational all the time. ii.) with Democrats and Republicans dominating the political scene, their choices are limited indeed.
    3.)I doubt increasing the tax of the rich can solve America’s economic and debt woes. Not that I can offer any solutions(as I’m very weak in economics and the like) nor do I have any bright ideas about the economy. This is NOT to say that the rich in the USA should NOT be taxed more – they should : but such a measure will not solve the crisis. And another question is what is the threshold of ‘being rich’ in the USA and how would one formulate the taxation? In my view the Republicans and Democrats are arguing about antagonizing methods that don’t actually work to resolve the crisis in the long term. Many theories and hypotheses are out there proclaiming they have the ‘truth’ as to why America is in such deep trouble. Probably the ‘reasons’ are multifactorial. I don’t think that ‘capitalism’(the type practiced in the USA) is solely to be blamed per se but such did contribute to America’s situation. Both Democrats and Republicans are locked in a fight in their respective ‘ideals’ instead of cooperating to look into the economic crisis without biases. I perceive Mark is partial towards Obama and Democrats and though I do agree that Republicans are guilty of abusing the ideological divides, I cannot agree that Obama and the Democrats are innocent of the same thing or even ‘less guilty’. Many a times Obama and the Democrats allowed themselves to be ‘targets’ of the Republicans because of their obstinate nature of refusing to ‘compromise’ or ‘budge’ on certain (in my view, controversial) ideals and these issue are, in my view, not as ACUTE as America’s economic woes and deserve less priority. Examples include the building of the ‘largest mosque in New York at Ground Zero’(in my view, a very distasteful thing considering the fact that Muslim extremists were the reason why there is Ground Zero in the first place)- http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/07/ground-zero-mosque-islam-opinions-columnists-abigail-esman.html ; Obama flip-flopping on the gay marriage issue [although I think he actually supports gay marrige] – http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1917735,00.html etc. These things need to take a back seat but neither the Democrats or Republicans will do so because they rely on these things to divide voters among themselves.

    I’ve always thought of Obama being a ‘hero’ for Liberals and Leftists but interestingly I see yalensis not in favour of Obama and this website reveals that he’s not alone among those politically to the left: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/mar2010/pers-m09.shtml
    Interestingly, those to the right in the USA sees Obama as a leftist monster whereas some leftist see him as a right-wing ‘leftist imposter’.

    sinotibetan

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