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Our post-partisan president, Barack Obama, has continued to reward Democratic constituencies (as he did in his stimulus bill), this time by reversing executive orders issued by ex-president Bush that organized labor didn't like.To read more or comment...
"More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today." --two hundred economists in an open letter disseminated by the Cato InstituteTo read more or comment...
As I watch embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich make the media rounds proclaiming his innocence, even though he's on tape trying to get quid pro quo for President Obama's vacant Senate seat, and also on tape trying to trade political favors for campaign contributions, I think to myself.....this guy is a talented politician and really knows how the political game works. His ability to lie with a straight face, to flat-out deny the words anybody can hear for themselves on those tapes, to claim his enemies are out to get him because they don't like his tax cuts, to even have the unbelievable gall to say he was taken out of context......simply marvelous. Blago's machinations give us a rare behind-the-scenes look at how things are really done in the political world.
Kudos to you, Governor Blago. Rather than being ostracized from the Democratic Party, I think they should make you the head of the Democratic National Committee, at the very least. It's so unfair. I mean, look at Hillary Clinton. As Senator, she gave a $5 million earmark to a New York developer who donated $100,000 to hubby Bill's foundation, and they made her Secretary Of State ! No wonder Blago feels put upon. Bill Richardson was offered the Secretary of Commerce job by Obama even though he was under federal investigation for pay-to-play at the time. When he was Governor of New Mexico, Richardson handed out a $1.5 million contract to CDR Financials after CDR's head honcho contributed $100,000 to Richardson's political action committee. (I guess $100,000 is the current ticket price for the Democrats). Senators like Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel, and many, many others regularly direct money to their contributors, and nobody is bothering them. Smilin' Chucky Schumer is on television all the time, lying about one thing or another, and I've never even heard anybody ask him about his pay-to-play deals. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has directed millions of dollars to his own family members, and nobody is grumbling about that either. Heck, our new Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, didn't even pay his own taxes, and he was being reimbursed for the taxes he didn't pay. That's a crime (more than one), and he was easily confirmed by the Senate. If I tried to cite all the examples of shady behavior by Democrats in D.C., I'd have to write a book instead of a post. A very long book. Suffice it so say, there aren't any actual moral standards that come into play here. Blago really did only ONE thing wrong.To read more or comment...
On the front page of friday's Akron Beacon Journal, there was a story under the headline "Bush's policies reversed," about President Obama issuing executive orders reversing President Bush's foreign policies regarding terrorism (and I predict there won't be even one charge from the media that Obama is acting as a "unitary executive.").
The Beacon Journal triumphantly relays the story like this:To read more or comment...
In case you missed it yesterday, here is the entire text of president Barack Obama's inaugural speech, with my helpful comments mixed in, for purposes of forward-looking, bipartisan unity, of course. The parts enclosed in brackets are mine. Sorry if they break up the flow. Before I get started, I have to say - pretty good speech by Mr. Obama. Without further ado, here's your 44th President, America !
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition [unlike the shoddy way the Clinton administration treated the Bushies, providing little cooperation and even trashing the White House, removing the 'W's from computer keyboards, gluing desk drawers shut, etc, the classless turds].
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms [and sometimes the oath is taken with liberals flipping the bird to the incoming president, as they did with George W. Bush]. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office [usually in spite of it], but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents [Uh, no. We are drifting ever further away from the founding principles].
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred [liberals think it's all America' fault. Thanks for setting them straight, Mr. President]. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our healthcare is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet [I don't know about that 'threaten the planet' stuff, but the rest of it - yes sir].
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights [the next generation will most definitely have to lower it's sights if we continue to greedily spend them into massive debt before they are even born].
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord [say what ? You lost me]. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics [boy, you really are new to the the beltway, aren't you ?]. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things [like gimme, gimme, gimme, class warfare, and race-based politics ? That would be nice]. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness [absolutely].
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned [then take back that 'redistribution of wealth' stuff]. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction [now you're talking].
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth [and the nation most deeply in debt]. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began [our workers are the backbone of society]. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year [but we don't produce as many goods these days, it's mostly service and money-shuffling instead of wealth-building]. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America [rather condescending, don't you think ? We always work hard. But maybe some need to hear it].
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth [uh-oh. He's pimping his $825 billion stimulus boondoggle in the middle of a recession. Warning, danger Will Robinson !]. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories [you forgot to mention domestic fossil fuels, nuclear power, and hydrogen. Must have been an oversight]. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans [anyone against a $2 trillion deficit for 2009 is a sissy fearmongerer]. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done [$11 trillion in debt]; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply [resistance is futile]. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big [it is] or too small [if only], but whether it works [it doesn't]— whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage [nope], care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified [double nope]. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end [I'll believe this when I see it]. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government [if you're trying to suck up to me now, it's working].
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good [I'm definitely on board with that, but I'm concerned that our methods for getting there are very different].
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more [definitely, but what do you mean by 'lead once more' ? We never stopped].
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions [but mostly with missiles and tanks. The crazies don't respond to 'please']. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us [like hell], nor does it entitle us to do as we please [true that]. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people [thanks, but we're already doing that], and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan [I wish you luck. You'll need it]. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat [that's where our missiles and tanks prove quite useful, even if we don't use them], and roll back the specter of a warming planet [which planet is that ? I'm freezing]. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you [booya !].
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass [if your left-wing constituency ever lets them]; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect [they were burning your picture on the streets of Iran yesterday, Mr. President]. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy [great line]. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent [he must be talking about the majority leaders in both houses of Congress here], know that you are on the wrong side of history [fer sure, dude]; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist [really great line].
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds [we always have]. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all [you're rolling now, Mr. President]. For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies [say it loud !]. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old [I'm feeling that tingle now]. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task [this guy's a liberal ? I think he's channeling JFK, so I'm going to shut up for a bit. It really gets good from here].This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive … that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations [wow].
Reputed conservative president George W. Bush walks off into the sunset with a 34% approval rating. That's the same approval rating Jimmy Carter, the Plague From Plains, left with 28 years ago. Carter brought us a new word - 'stagflation.' They haven't invented a word yet for what Bush has brought. If they do invent a new word for him, I doubt it will be kind.To read more or comment...
Our esteemed Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), made an appearance on Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace yesterday. It's always interesting to listen to a Pelosi interview, for the same reason it's interesting to listen to an interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) -- they both spin, tell half-truths, and deceive to beat the band. As a public service, I'll try to translate some of what Pelosi said during yesterday's fabrication-fest with Wallace.To read more or comment...
This post is not a commentary on the overall stimulus package being planned by president-elect Obama. That will come later. I'm only talking here about the additions that were offered up by the House of Representatives on thursday.
House Democrats have unveiled their changes to Obama's stimulus package. Included is spending for the following:
- $79 billion for states to fund schools and other education programs.
- $18.5 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency research, programs and improvements to buildings.
- $6 billion in federal money for mass transit systems improvements and expansions.
- $5 billion for public housing construction and improvements.
- $16 billion in extra college financial aid for needy and other students as well as higher student loan limits.
- $13 billion in new K-12 education spending for disadvantaged students.
- $1 billion to renovate and build new public health centers.
- $3 billion in construction grants for airports.
- $4 billion for governments and housing agencies to deal with foreclosed and abandoned homes.
- $1.2 billion for state and local summer jobs programs for youth.
- $1 billion extra for Head Start, preschools.
- $8.4 billion for various water grants related to drinking water.
- $4.5 billion for defense construction projects.
- $1.5 billion for worker retraining programs.
- $1.5 billion in extra federal money for services and shelters for the homeless.
- $3.8 billion to build new military and veterans hospitals.
- $300 million in grants for railroad improvements.
Here's something I don't remember hearing about on the Barack Obama 'Yes We Can' campaign tour...
The Democrats in Congress have proposed a 61 cent increase to the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The measure has already passed the House Of Representatives by a vote of 289-139, with 40 Republicans joining the Dems in voting for it (in other words, most Republicans voted against it). The purpose of the cigarette tax increase is to expand the SCHIP program, which was originally created (by Republicans) to provide health care coverage for children whose families were poor, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. About 7 million children currently get health care coverage through the SCHIP program. The expansion sought by Obama and the Democrats would add another 4 million children to SCHIP. President-elect Obama is asking for quick passage of the expansion, which was proposed before and vetoed by George W. Bush in 2007.To read more or comment...
That's the standard line about our current recession. The story goes "Bush's failed policies and deregulation of the last 8 years caused the financial meltdown."
Sounds good, doesn't it ? Obama repeated it endlessly on the campaign trail.To read more or comment...
I know I'm pumped up. Our new president-elect, Barack Obama, will take office in eight short days, and CHANGE will come to America. Yeah, CHANGE, baby ! Woo-hoo ! Hope will be coming as well, and who doesn't like hope, especially when it's combined with CHANGE ? Count me in !
As his first CHANGE, Obama will try to pass the largest economic stimulus package in history, larger than the previous largest economic stimulus package passed by George W. Bush. See, a Bush stimulus package isn't CHANGE. An Obama stimulus package is CHANGE. Obama said Congress needs to act fast to implement his $1 trillion stimulus package, and that the consequences to our economy will be dire if Congress doesn't act immediately. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said nearly the exact same words about the $800 billion financial bailout, but clearly, Obama is for CHANGE, while Paulson definitely isn't for CHANGE. Obama's stimulus package is quite short on specifics about how the money will be spent, just as Paulson's bailout was, but don't let that confuse you about who the CHANGE guy is either. Have a nice glass of Kool-Aid instead, and don't worry your pretty little heads.To read more or comment...
President-elect Barack Obama introduced his economic plan during a short speech yesterday.
Well, not really. What Obama actually introduced was the NAME of the plan, and some broad principles. He provided little in the way of details on what the plan will entail. The plan will be called either the American Recovery And Reinvestment Plan, or the Economic Recovery And Reinvestment Plan. Obama referred to it by both names during his news conference. Either way, it's an impressive sounding name for a plan. I bet the New York Times endorses it already.To read more or comment...
I've barely written a word about any of Barack Obama's political appointees. Most of them have been alright. Rahm Emanuel as Obama's Chief of Staff - okay by me. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State - I actually think she could be pretty good. Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce - the Obama team didn't do their due diligence on that one. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair as National Intelligence Director - fine. Obama has appointed lots of former Clinton people. Okay. That was to be expected.
But Leon Panetta as head of the CIA ? C'mon now. That doesn't make any sense at all. Panetta doesn't have any intelligence experience. There must be literally hundreds, if not thousands of people who are more qualified for that job. Here's a thumbnail sketch of Panetta's political career from the time he first entered Congress.To read more or comment...
I have to say up front that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is one of my least favorite politicians. I find him to be dishonest, ultra-partisan, and corrupt. Having said that, Reid did make a few points during his Meet The Press interview yesterday that I agreed with. Not many, but a few. Because I'm such a non-partisan person, :) I'm not afraid to agree with Reid when he gets something right.
On the Israel-Hamas conflict:To read more or comment...
My next door neighbors hate me. We have had an ongoing dispute over where my property ends and their property starts. They claim they own all of my property, and I claim they own none of it. When I point out that I have dwelt on my current land for 60 years, and my ancestors have dwelt on the land for thousands of years, my neighbors are unmoved. When I point out that my neighbors land is much larger than my own, and that we can both live in peace and coexist in harmony, my neighbors are unmoved. They have threatened to destroy me, and have acted on those threats, shooting over 4000 bullets at my house since 2005. When I call the police, the police do not respond. A couple years ago, I gave up a portion of my land to my neighbors in the hope it would defuse the tension, but all they did was use that nearer land to shoot at me more often, from a closer vantage point. When you are shot at over 4000 times, it begins to get on your nerves, to say the least. I finally decided I couldn't take it any more, so I bought an Uzi and fired back at my hateful neighbors, killing several of them. Now the community is condemning me. I am afraid for my family, and I don't know what to do. Any advice would be extremely helpful.To read more or comment...