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CAPS Advice for Harvard PhDs: Try Starting Your Own Business



March 12, 2009 – Comments (29)

I am not making this up. Recently, Harvard Law School held a conference titled: The Free Market Mindset: History, Psychology, and Consequences. Check out this byline:

"If the current sate of the U.S. economy makes clear that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's faith in free markets was misplaced, the question remains: what was it about free markets that proved -- and stil continues to prove -- so alluring to economists, scholars, and policy-makers alike?"

Now, one would think that a group of intellectual titans like Harvard Law professors would do just a tiny bit of research, and come to the determination that Alan Greenspan was no friend of the free market, that the American economy was not a free market, and that government intervention - particularly Federal Reserve policy - is the root of our current problems. But, hey, why do research when you are getting government money no matter what?

Well, whatever. Here at the CAPS community, a great deal of our Fools have a clear understanding of the real problem and so I thought we should take the opportunity to invite these esteemed intellectuals to our own little conference titled: Starting Your Own Business, Removing Yourself From The Fantasy World Of Harvard Law School.

Here a list of suggested topics and keynote speakers:

Introduction to Entrepreneurship!!!!!!!!! - Alstry

Understanding the Commidity Markets - TMFSinchiruna

Bonds, James Bonds - TMF Deej

Reading Financial Statements - SpecBear

Economics for Dummies - Abitare

Self Respect and Individuality - Mary953

Maintaininy Your Good Humor During A Crisis - DaretothREdux

Understanding The Consumer - TMFLomax

The Secrets Of Tax Avoidance - whereaminow

My list is obviously incomplete, and there are many more topics that need to be covered, and thankfully, plenty of smart Fools that can teach these Law Professors a thing or two. (Got any ideas?) Too bad they don't really want to listen. Just check out the guy running the country. Guess where he went to school?

David in Qatar



29 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM, RHaganC (< 20) wrote:

HAHA!  Give 'em hell david!  Bunch of unseasoned pompus pricks who have no clue how to actually "DO" anything other than run their damn mouths to keep thier jobs.

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#2) On March 12, 2009 at 12:05 PM, MarketBottom (28.59) wrote:

A Rec for you, and wish it could be more than one.

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#3) On March 12, 2009 at 12:26 PM, guiron (37.57) wrote:

Hmmm. So, I wonder what caused bubbles and crashes before the Fed, because they were just as devastating and sometimes lasted a long time.

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#4) On March 12, 2009 at 12:34 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Hi guiron,

Thanks for commenting. Have a flip through this book for free: America's Great Depression by Austrian School economist Murray N. Rothbard. It should clear up any of your misconceptions.

Daid in Qatar

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#5) On March 12, 2009 at 12:51 PM, kaskoosek (30.10) wrote:


Amazon pick should be closed. The stock is not cheap.

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#6) On March 12, 2009 at 12:52 PM, kaskoosek (30.10) wrote:


Amazon pick should be closed. The stock is not cheap.

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#7) On March 12, 2009 at 1:02 PM, Hudarios (< 20) wrote:

The title says it all. Amen!

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#8) On March 12, 2009 at 1:23 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Thanks for the advice kaskookek. I have to admit, I'm not a very good stock picker. Thankfully, the only thing in my real portfolio is gold and defense contractors (they'll be back =D).

David in Qatar

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#9) On March 12, 2009 at 1:26 PM, vtBrunson (29.23) wrote:

Posted this before... in my "the optimists will be the first to die" post but it just never gets old...

Great blog David... Cheers, vt

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#10) On March 12, 2009 at 1:41 PM, outoffocus (23.78) wrote:

You would need a speaker to talk about investing in real estate for income rather than capital gains. I'm not sure who would be the speaker for that.

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#11) On March 12, 2009 at 2:35 PM, guiron (37.57) wrote:

Thanks for commenting. Have a flip through this book for free: America's Great Depression by Austrian School economist Murray N. Rothbard. It should clear up any of your misconceptions.

Ah, yes, the Austrian school. Well, some good insights, but not very realistic, not very good at providing the science to back up their theories, and not very good at looking outside their insular view. The thing about the Austrians is the same thing about Libertarians in general: 'Everyone is stupid and wrong, and why won't the world do as I say?!' I used to buy into it, but then I grew up, learned a few things and realized the world is a lot more complicated (not to mention economics), and that cranks will always be cranky and self-absorbed.

No offense, though.

But to reiterate the point: the gold standard did not prevent bubbles, depressions, crashes or market manipulation. Keynesian theories are not going away anytime soon. So, you can get off your island and join the rest of the world, or you can keep tilting at windmills, thinking you're part of a select few smart enough to 'get it.' And good luck with that.

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#12) On March 12, 2009 at 2:44 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Well, all I can say guiron is go on your way. If you want to have a discussion then that's fine, but to litter your comments with insults is beneath me. If you actually wished to know a little about me, you'd read my other articles. But you don't. You'd rather come to my blog and insult me.

So please, go on your way. Shoo, Keynesian! Shoo!

David in Qatar


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#13) On March 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM, outoffocus (23.78) wrote:

Condescension and cockiness is running rampid in the Fool blogosphere.  Some people even tote their CAPS scores as an excuse for their arrogance. I understand that we all feel strongly about our opinions regarding the economy.  However, we will not get our points across any clearer by hurling insults and personal attacks at the people who happen to disagree with our views.  I am all for civil debates where we put viewpoint against viewpoint.  A great example of this is TMFSinch's most recent blog about the national debt.  Sinch and GMX provided the best example of how a debate turns into a meeting of the minds rather than wild arena of hurt feelings and inflated egos.

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#14) On March 12, 2009 at 7:47 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Unless any Fool doesn't realize that Motley Fool is nothing more then a Ponzi scheme they should be "educated"? I'm seeing the function of this site as "Ponzi" yet the heart and soul something that so needs to be protected.

 I'm looking for some CalTech here or a MIT play ;) 

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#15) On March 12, 2009 at 8:01 PM, Alex1963 (27.85) wrote:


I agree wholeheartedly with Guiron

And there is a place you can voice your views directly to those who "don't really want to listen" 

Try it. What could be the harm? This has to be my 3rd time asking if you've even bothered to take time out of your wall papering of posts all over MF to do this.

I assume you think this post is humorous. Putting yourself on a panel to advise the President? OK It is funny. HaHa But am I to understand that your point is that since President Obama went to Harvard that disqualifies him from something? Possibly the toughest and most prestigious University in the world? And while he was there to become the 1st African American elected to edit the Harvard Law Review. One of the most contentious, opinionated, competitive and conservative groups imaginable and get high marks from nearly everyone after?  Someone who started from modest childhood with little or no nothing? Someone who walked away from lucrative job offers out of college to try grass roots level work with the poor? And became a proven leader and skilled organizor. Someone who then went on to defy all the odds by taking the campaign of a junior senator from Illinois with almost no big money connections or clout and building into the most awesome political engine in history thru grass roots movement and technological sophistication? With the vast bulk of his money coming from millions of small personal donations? Who then went on to overcome a powerful and politically connected candidate to secure the nomination. Who then went on to trounce another entrenched member of Washington against the backing of big business and the very corporate elite we are bailing out now? Oh wait-we have that. He's your president. As close to a self made, creative, self controlled, charsimatic, mold breaking and unbeholden a man as any political leader you will see in your lifetime.

Despite his handicap of a poor education. 




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#16) On March 12, 2009 at 8:31 PM, Alex1963 (27.85) wrote:

Oh and David your topic might be better titled

"The Secrets Of Facts Avoidance?"

Or "Hits & Mises: The Economics Of Fantasy Island" Opening remarks by Tattoo "De Coupling! De Coupling!"

or "Hazlitt Been Too Long Since I posted About Hazlitt?

Other panels

"I Told You Years Ago We're Going To Deflate Any Minute. But Luckily Our Egos will Not Be Affected" Co Presented by Misch "you stole the last part of my name and Schiff "No you took the 1st part of my name" with the bonus break out session "Why His Portfolio Is A Loser! Though We Both Advocate The Same Strategies" 

Feature Presenter Ron Paul "I Took The Nation's Pulse -Because I Needed It" (I do like him, No offense, Paul) 


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#17) On March 12, 2009 at 9:29 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


I don't know if you've been to in a while, but it's not there anymore. You get directed to the White House website. I prefer to call my Congressman anyway. I even get to talk to him once in a while. In fact, I'll call any Congressman. I called Congressman Grayson (a Democrat) a couple of weeks ago to congratulate him on his work at the Fed hearings. I called to say thank you. You make way too many assumptions about me that are unfair, unfounded, ignorant, and baseless. It's poor etiquette but I understand it's your writing style. You also spend a lot of time attacking my positions, but present none of your own except that you don't like mine. Fair enough. That was a nice presentation you pulled from Obama's campaign literature though.

Now, we're just having a little fun here. I've spent more than my fair share of time on this site defending my positions against the eloquent and the not-so-eloquent. Read the comments on any of my serious posts and you'll see just that. Libertarians make up less than 3% of the electorate, so I'm normally outnumbered around 30-1. It's no sweat off my back.

I think, however, your complaint should be directed against the CAPS community. I'm one of the 5 or 6 most recommended bloggers on this site by average rec per post. That is despite the fact that I am the only Anarcho Capitalist here. The only one that I'm aware of, though I do appreciate the handful of Libertarians that offer support to me now and then. So you may want to ask the CAPS community why they think I add to the discussion around here. Then you can ask yourself if you do.

I don't hate Obama, though I don't have much use for him. But I didn't have much use for the last guy either. It's nice to see Obama continuing all of Bush's foreign and domestic policies though, and promoting the same old politicians and government bankers to the same old posts. So far, I don't see any change, but I'm probably just blind. I'm not the only one though. doesn't see any change, and neither does Democratic hero Jon Stewart. So we must all just be crazy I guess.

I'm also glad that America is capable of electing an African-American president. I'm also aware that there are many great African-American Libertarians as well. Maybe we can elect them too. We'll see.

Btw, my sister is a lawyer. Graduated from Cardozo. Very good school. I know how hard it is.

At last, here's a little more about me, so you can sharpen your criticisms and avoid the standard "what do you know" routine and the baseless assumptions:

I've owned my own business and I plan to do it again when the environment is right. 

Lived in Islamabad, Pakistan when Musharraf came to power in a military coup d'etat.

Have lived and travelled throughout the Middle East. Currently live in Qatar, as my signature indicates.

I have had my residence attacked by terrorists twice. Once in Kuwait and once in Pakistan.

I'm a computer systems engineer by trade. I do some programming on my own, but the bulk of my experience is in network security / design, systems integration, and systems administration.

In my younger days, I was a bit of a soldier. I was an Embassy Guard in the Marines, and from that, have met and chatted with Presidents, Ambassadors, diplomats, CIA types, and all sorts of characters. In my later travels throughout the ME, Europe, and Africa, I've met a whole another set of characters as well from mercenaries to businessman to loners and crazies.

So maybe this past experience is the reason I have something to ad here. Again, that's something that the consumer decides. If CAPS members didn't find my thoughts interesting, they wouldn't rec my posts.

David in Qatar




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#18) On March 12, 2009 at 9:48 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Is it art and soul of innovation? I only see grant chat in this.

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#19) On March 12, 2009 at 9:57 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:


CAPS Advice for Harvard PhDs: Try Starting Your Own Business

I just thought it was a great idea until you proved you're incapable of pitching a great USP. 

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#20) On March 12, 2009 at 10:05 PM, TMFLomax (89.25) wrote:

David, your posts are awesome. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a suggested keynote speaker. ;)

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#21) On March 12, 2009 at 10:11 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Fools have a clear understanding of the real problem or are we fools?

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#22) On March 12, 2009 at 11:05 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Thanks for the props! (and thanks for being a keynote speaker =D) You get a tough ride on the front page sometimes. You've got some guts and I have a lot of respect for you. 


Yeah, my presentation blows. I admit it. Not to mention the mispellings, typos, and obvious oversights. Guess I shouldn't blog on my lunch break.

David in Qatar

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#23) On March 12, 2009 at 11:59 PM, DaretothREdux (59.21) wrote:


I am honored to have made such a weighty list.



You're a funny guy, and I enjoy anyone who challenges anyone. It's my nature, I guess. I do have one of my old blogs to direct you to. It was one of my first introductions to David...needless to say it's a long way thru all the comments, but well worth reading the majority of them.

And feel free to chime in. It's old but I'm sure many ppl still have it on follow.

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#24) On March 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM, aquilesba (< 20) wrote:

Hmmm, let me guess, another frustrated student that got dinged from the most prestiguos universtity in the world and ended up in a mediocre school?

Or perhaps you are another one of the bunch of C students (Dubbya's buddies) with an MBA, perhaps even from HBS, and "really" know how to run companies (into the ground)?  And most likely suffer from an inferiority complex when faced with the "99th percentile students" that make up most of HU's PhDs?

Or maybe you do not even understand what a percentile is and did not consider grad school, recognizing your limited intellect and instead decided to run (down) daddys' fortune?

No matter in which of these 3 categories you (and your followers that recommended your nonesense) are, you all probably think that Dubbya was a great president and his idiotic policies to favor the few did not create this crisis.  That's not surprising given your lack of intellect and lack of respect and appreciation of individuals with superior knowledge that your little mind cannot even comprehend.

Cheers and keep throwing stones at the intellectual elites together with the bunch of acdemic losers that simpathise with your BS that does not add any value.  You all know who you are, even though you may not have a clue where you are.

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#25) On March 13, 2009 at 12:35 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


That was possibly the most insulting comment anyone has ever directed towards me. Not only did you not take the time to read anything I had to say, any of my comments, any of my other posts - showing that you could care less what my real position is - but you associated my beliefs with people I don't care to be associated with.

If you had hoped to be a representative of Obama, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a disgrace to Obama and everything he stands for.

David in Qatar

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#26) On March 13, 2009 at 4:19 AM, AnomaLee (28.77) wrote:

I think this is kind of an unfair attack against HLS. I have a couple of friends who graduated from HLS. I'm not saying that I'm offended. It's not really a matter of concern to me.

However, you did fail to include the context of the discussion and created a slanted topic(obvious by the title and poor wording):

"THE FREE MARKET MINDSET: History, Psychology, and Consequences, the March 7 conference to take place at Harvard Law School, brings together leading scholars in law, economics, social psychology, and social cognition to present and discuss their research regarding the historical origins, psychological antecedents, and policy consequences of the free market mindset. Their work illustrates that the magic of the marketplace is partially an illusion based on faulty assumptions and outmoded approaches."

It would make more sense if you were criticizing Harvard Business School. I've personally told a group of Harvard attendees that if they were going to go to HBS it'd be an epic waste of time.

Other than that I'll leave it alone... I'm surprised this has gotten so much attention.

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#27) On March 13, 2009 at 9:15 AM, russiangambit (28.88) wrote:

Education is what you make out of it, no matter what school you attend.

The valid point in this blog is that academics usually do have very little knowledge of the real world. Still, they are better than politicans, who pretend that the real world operates on different principals and can defy physics.

It would be good for academics to have to "practice" in a real world, like work in a small business for 3 months, then work at a corporatio for 3 months next year , then 3 months at a non-profit before they get their phD. And some actually do.

As for starting your own business, the hard part is coming up with a workable idea, actually starting it is not that hard. You can register a corporation online these days in a couple of days and the amount of tax breaks for small businesses is unbelievable.

Arguably, if any of the academics or any of CAPS players had a workable idea, we would already have had a business. But not everybody is cut out to be a businessman, the same as not evrybody is cut out to be a college professor.

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#28) On March 13, 2009 at 4:10 PM, Alex1963 (27.85) wrote:


This reply is for you, not an audience. And it's probably too long for either. I'm not going to cherry pick thru your points either

My points on Obama are my own from memory and on the fly . Formulated from extensive reading from many partisan & non -partisan sources (and critics) over years. Nothing cut or pasted if that's your implication. I think it is all nonpartisan public record-basically factual and light on opinion except the last sentence .

If you read my posts like you want me to read yours you would know my positions are pretty available. I have read your posts. Many, many of them. The reason I "attack" yours I have told you directly many times. I do not see how this is "ignorant, unfounded or baseless". I respond to your writing and tone and ideas which are readily available. Whether you are supported by others does not mean diddly to me. I make up my own mind and if I were the only one who felt this way I'd still post. Just as you do despite being in an admittedly minority of opinion. I strive to answer every point you make to me precisely and carefully even it it takes time. That I think is excellent etiquette. Early on I was quite polite with you but now I frankly I've run out of ways to say WhereamInow's wrtings are pompous, rife with poor logical, un-unprovable, and often based on opinion but carefully disguised as facts etc. My specific counter arguments and positions are all through our exchanges as you well know and in the main you simply ignore them. 

I make "assumptions" based on our exchanges partly. Partly on reading between the lines of your many posts. You have quite a bit of available material and I have been able to get a feel for the personailty and attitudes threaded within them. (Since we're disclosing personal info) I'm good at that and an excellent judge of character and sensing peoples motivations. My gut feelings in RL are rarely wrong. Whoop de do. Now we have disclosed stuff about ourselves which may or may not be true. And David, I have replied to you at least 3 times asking if you have taken advantage of the unique ways we now have to give feedback directly to this Admin. This is the 1st time you've answered that to me. Kudos if it's true and though I don't agree with your positions hardly ever I think it's great if you have reached out. I still maintain you do a screaming at the rain and very little building here on Caps. You have a slew of things you are against but I have seen nothing remotely practical or constructive that you are for. If you posted infrequently,  or less "authoritatively" I'd likely ignore you altogether. This post though is just unfair, and a cheap way to get recs. Bashing Obama and Harvard (2 cliched themes) & stroking other players in the process. You had to know some of us would be offended and vocal.

Further, I couldn't possibly read all your stuff and don't think I should have to. I answered you on this before. You can post 99 great things but if one is way off base or inexcusably sloppy you're going to hear it from me and likely more than players than just me. Especially since you post often and along the same lines constantly. Again you can't really be surprised some of us get offended. These are not innocent little platforms you advocate. Some are radical and extrreme and sometimes deeply offensive to some of us. Of course some of get hot tempered. If you advocate to eat the poor you are going to get passionate dissent, and resorting to the defense that people shouldn't get upset because you advocated politely and calmly is another weak and frankly ignorant defense. Telling people to then go back and read the previous 50 posts where you didn't is a very weak position to take IMO. Why couldn't you just be precise in each post? Further still, you can't simultaneously claim to have this airtight lengthy premise beautifully concieved and presented and then wriggle out when it starts unravels under critical scrutiny by referring to some mythical post where you did get it right. And if you said it better somewhere else then why why are you revising it later? Refer to your own posts for the material. Again, in fact, your tone invites it because you have affect a professarial, rather pompous and superior presentation so often. Telling me to wade through your entire blog and post history is ridiculous. I've told you this before. But I actually have done quite a lot of research on your writings (and some others here I particularly disagree with) to get a comprehensive picture. I've read extensively at Suffered through Hazlitt's writings and more (at your urging I'd like to remind you) just to better understand why the ideas seem so fundamentally flawed to me and why I see the same flaws so often in your writing and underlying assumptions. I have spent a ton of time researching the very sources you find so compelling and I believe them to be dangerously out of touch, unrealistic, illogical, inherently unprovable and lacking in basic common sense. Since you claim them as your inspiration and the font of all economic knowlege for the intelligent, I think I am highly qualified in fact to comment on your posts. 

I could trade personal stories with you-big deal. You have had an interesting unique life. So have I. But what you have experienced is secondary to what you actually DO with those experiences. I react to what you are doing here in CAPS. I am as convinced about the destructive and wrong headedness of many of your posts as you are in clearly being convinced you are right. You have every right to post them but I reserve my right to point out what I see are their many flaws. That's the free speech under which you may operate freely as an "Anarcho Capitalist" and I may as a liberal, a Democrat & an Obama supporter.

I did tell you once that if you ever made the minimum picks I would give you some credit. It's nice to see you backing up your economic acumen with picks so people can get a feel for your ability to put your expertise on display. Kudo's and I do mean it. No sarcasm. I don't judge players on the success of their picks at a glance. I would never heckle someone for their picks or score. One day (or month or year) you're up the next you're down. But if you style yourself a economics expert and student of finance not having picks is a little glaring. As I said, good for you for sticking your neck out a little.

Statements like these are exactly what I keep taking exception to."it's nice to see Obama continuing all of Bush's foreign and domestic policies though, and promoting the same old politicians and government bankers to the same old posts. So far, I don't see any change," 

"All of Bushes.. " No. Wrong. You could say "many" or "some" and I have no problem. For a guy who seems to try for precision in his writing you make many statement like this; broad, black & white and inherently flawed. You see "No change" then I have to say you are then actually blind. (Stem Cells, abortion, transparency of budget accounting-10 yr projections with all funded and unfunded & contingency programs included vs Bushes 5yr projections and many accounting ommissions-, trickle up vs trickle down economic policy and programs, commitment to major health care reform, enviromental commitment, Major infrastructure investment, robust & proactive global diplomacy. I could go on and on. That is exactly the type of statement I find very suspect in your posts and which inform my opinion of your actual ability to be objective. I have said it several times before - if premise A is weak then B C and D are weakened or invalid as a result. And your continued practice of arguing B followed A therefore A caused B is rampant though your posts. You have never addressed this any of the times I've pointed it out. Even here I could almost say you're argument or joke or whatever is as follows A: Obama doesn't know what he's doing B: Obama went to Harvard. conclusion: People who went to Harvard don't know what they're doing. Hilarious, but not in the way you meant. You do this constantly! And all through your "serious" posts, too. I seriously don't think you understand why this process doesn't make sense. 

T address your point: I have posted often here and elsewhere my positions on many topics. For instance to be topical here; that I have many specific criticisms of some of Obams cabinet picks, disappointment over policy choices he seems to be making or continuing etc. Just recently the earmarks in the Omnibus-though I blame Congress more than he they all should have done better. But overall I think he is fundamentally a complete different president and personailty. His reasons for his actions I feel are vastly different than Bushes in most cases even if the actions appear identical on the surface IMHO. Calling himself "boneheaded" for an early cabinet pick fiasco. Stating weeks ago that the economy was ultimately his responsibility and failure would rightly be on his head-inconcievable actions from Bush. This is brave and mature and statesman like IMO. I have also stated here and elsewhere that I consider a good sign when both sides are not completely happy. To lead in this polarized environment this is inevitable and as a salesman by profession I know it to be a good indicator of compromise. This is called objectivity, flexiblilty, and perspective and you might want look into it. 

I think there are simply a fair number of very harsh Obama critics who may never bring themselves to like him, his presidency or his policies not matter how successful they are or may turn out to be. I feel these people can often be incredibly and unfairly partisan, refusing to give credit in the least even where it is clearly due and they are therefore a real drag on a constructive, meaningful political process. Like many Obama supporters I, at the heart, am asking critics to try to be a little more patient, fair minded and less incendiary. You included. Not just in this post but many others of yours I've read. Like you I believe Caps is a great place to influence and to learn. If I see someone advocating something I find deeply flawed I will damn well say so.

Whatever David. I'll try to tone done my visible irritation at your posts. I can understand how you might feel. You as a person I could probably sit down with and enjoying agreeing to disagree. You know what I wish WhereamInow would work on but since he rarely responds to even the mildest suggestions except in general to complain about being picked on or the tone, and frequently opts to disengage when his specific arguments are challenged, I find myself escalating. Outright dodging of specific and legitimate criticism is hugely annoying and I think speaks volumes about WhereamInow as a blogger. Some of what you write is simply indefensible and you know it.

I'll own up to going back on a statement I made to you months ago about not getting into long and time consuming jousts with you or others. I should have reserved my judgment to see what I would see. I was new and didn't realize the extent to which you keep posting and how offensive many would be to me. 




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#29) On March 13, 2009 at 4:45 PM, Alex1963 (27.85) wrote:


Thank you. I did read that blog top to bottom several times. It was one of the 1st things WhereamInow urged me to read by way of a point I made in one of our earliest exchanges. Good discussion but a premise I disagree with vehemently and have written on extensively (for me at least) here and elsewhere. I think other members communicated points I would have made very well, so I didn't. Thank you for the invite. I do appreciate it.


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