October 15, 2009

The endless campaign

During the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised over and over not to raise taxes on the middle class, which he defined as families making less than $250,000. It was, arguably, a centerpiece of his campaign. A cure all elixir designed to sooth away the compelling conservative argument that the election of Barack Obama would result in an increase in taxes for all Americans. "Look" his supporters said, "...he's promised not to raise taxes on those making under $250 K." That was somehow that. 

Also during the campaign, Obama vociferously attacked first Hillary Clinton and then John McCain for their proposals to tax the most expensive health insurance plans, the gold plated "Cadillac" health care plans, in order to help pay for wider health care reform. 

It seems as if many of the underpinnings of the Obama campaign are becoming well, unpinned. Not that the campaign ever ended of course. 

The monstrosity of Obamacare "legislation" that is attempting to make its way through Congress at the moment represents a massive tax increase on the middle class and it taxes the most expensive health care benefits. These facts are demonstrably true. Obama has therefor begun the process of finding a way to dissatisfy both the fiscally hawkish blue dogs and the far left bastion of the labor unions, each representing a separate wing of the Democratic party. Not that there is anything close to an actual piece of legislation to concretely object to anyway, Obamacare at present is a highly nebulous collection of theoretical rules, regulations, and mandates held together with a liberal dose of fudged numbers. The Max Baucus "bill" is a wizardly crafted collection of cost hiding measures and budget gimmickry. Again, demonstrably true. I especially admire the craftiness of talking in terms of cost over the next ten years when in reality the legislation doesn't actually start taking effect for another two years. Furthermore, the only reason the non partisan Congressional Budget Office was able to somehow, through some sort of tortured logic, predict that it wouldn't add to the deficit is because there is no actual legislative language yet. There are no real numbers behind the pie in the sky numbers. At this very moment, the "bill" is being hammered out in a secretive congressional session of horse trading and influence peddling. The Opacity of Hope at work. Interestingly, there was a time when the Obama Administration promised to showcase a bill on-line for 72 hours before letting it be voted on. That promise went out the window about the the time when the Democratically controlled congress crammed a questionably effective stimulus bill down our throat without even reading it before they voted on it. 

The rubber is finally starting to meet the road for The Bamster. All of the impossible sounding promises are, one by one, crashing to earth and reality.  Even SNL and the other normally left leaning late night comedians are not covering for their boy anymore, and actually generating some decent comedy in the process.

Yet the campaign never ends.

The Obama campaign has declared war on Fox News in an attempt to subvert any arguments it can't win on the merits and they are using tax dollars to travel primarily to the 2012 election battleground states whenever it is that Obama is doing his used car salesman/ snake oil salesman routine for health "insurance" reform.

Cash for Clunkers, it strikes me, is a great way to sum up the Obama presidency so far. He takes our cash and attempts to promulgate clunker after clunker of pieces of legislation on a largely unwilling public.

However, I don't see how he gets there from here on healthcare reform. Even proponents of Obamacare have conceded that we are months away from seeing a final bill. Months away from seeing the final product of something that was supposed to have been signed into law in August. So months from now, even after the Democrats theoretically manage to coalesce around a single piece of legislation only then does the general public get to voice their opinion on Obamacare in earnest. Assuming that is even allowed in this "transparent" era of hope and change. In any event, I see Obama being able to live up to his arbitrary promise of closing Guantanamo Bay before passing health care reform. After all, closing Gitmo doesn't involve the wrangling of untold special interest groups and the remaking 1/6 of the economy while in a recession.

So far, even the far left would concede, Obama has committed the ultimate transgression for a used car salesman to commit. He's over promised and under delivered.

At some point perhaps, the time for campaigning will end and give way to a time for governing. Until that time, the Obama presidency AKA "cash for clunkers" will remain an endless campaign. At a time when we need Ronald Reagan we're getting Billy Mays on an endless sales call.

October 08, 2009

The (anti) Obama Chronicles

BARACK OBAMA ran an impressively disciplined presidential campaign. He has presided over a notably cohesive White House. But in the past fortnight things have started to go wrong. His latest review of strategy in the Afghan war has prompted charges that this president dithers while American soldiers die, and has provoked a rare public quarrel between the politicians and the military men. The timetable for reforming health care slips and slips, as does the effort to get a climate-change bill through Congress. And in the middle of all this Mr Obama and his wife Michelle found time last week to make a quixotic overnight dash to Copenhagen in the hope of winning the 2016 Olympics for his adopted city of Chicago.

What was intended to be another display of star power on a world stage ended in a flop. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) eliminated Chicago in the first round, for some reason rating the delights of Rio over those of the Windy City. Tall and athletic he may be, but in Copenhagen America’s president won nothing and the Olympic gold went to the portlier president of Brazil, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva.

The Olympics, admittedly, are just games; the point, said the White House (afterwards), is that Mr Obama took the time to give Chicago’s bid his best shot. That has not stopped gleeful critics from depicting the failure as a symptom of bigger defects, notably Mr Obama’s overweening self-belief, and the naive trust they say he invests in unreliable foreigners, be they the bureaucrats of the IOC or the nuclear-arming ayatollahs of Iran. Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio broadcaster, gloated that Mr Obama’s bad day in Copenhagen was the worst of his presidency, at least so far. “So much for improving America’s standing in the world, Barry O” sneered Erick Erickson, a blogger who runs the Red State website.

This debacle may not inflict lasting damage on Mr Obama. The delight some Republicans have shown in a setback for an American city could hurt them more than him. But the dash to Copenhagen was plainly under-prepared. It has bashed his reputation for a sure touch in public relations and added to the suspicion that he expects to achieve too much merely by deploying his celebrity power. Valerie Jarrett, a family friend from Chicago and one of the president’s very closest advisers in the White House, gushed before the Copenhagen trip that the Obamas would be a “dynamic duo” in Denmark. David Axelrod, another, complained afterwards of the IOC’s decision that there were “politics inside that room”. Isn’t the president of the United States supposed to know a thing or two about politics?

Nobody, however, can accuse Mr Obama of under-preparing for the far weightier decision he is pondering in Afghanistan. The administration has now spent several weeks conducting a methodical new review of its strategy, prompted by two deeply unwelcome developments: the crude rigging in favour of President Hamid Karzai in August’s flawed election and the leaked report from General Stanley McChrystal, concluding that the West faces certain defeat unless it adopts an ambitious new strategy, backed by a greater commitment of men (said to be 40,000, though the number has not yet been confirmed) and resources.

That General McChrystal’s report has divided the administration is no surprise: the war is now very unpopular among Democrats who have been encouraged by their success in imposing a rigid timetable for a full withdrawal from Iraq. The surprise is that it has prompted an unusually public quarrel. Vice-President Joe Biden rejects the call for an enlarged counter-insurgency campaign against the Taliban. His is said to be one of several voices inside the White House arguing for a smaller war directed mainly against al-Qaeda. But the merits of the case have now become ensnared in a debate about whether General McChrystal was insubordinate when he appeared to disparage the Biden idea in public. “You have to navigate from where you are, not where you wish to be,” the general told a questioner at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in London. “A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a short-sighted strategy.”

The charge of insubordination sizzled rapidly through the media and up the chain of command. Writing in the Washington Post, Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law at Yale University, went so far as to invoke the spectre of Douglas MacArthur facing off against Harry Truman over the Korean war. He accused General McChrystal of “a plain violation of the principle of civilian control”. Jim Jones, the National Security Adviser (and a former general), said a president should be given a range of options, not a fait accompli. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, expressed continuing confidence in General McChrystal, but added that everyone involved in the review of strategy should provide their advice “candidly but privately”.

Mr Obama acted this week to fend off Republican claims that fear of his own wavering allies on Capitol Hill is weakening his commitment to a fight that he has always called vital to America’s security, both during the election campaign and since assuming office. On October 6th he invited 30 congressional leaders from both parties to the White House and told them that although he had not decided whether to send extra troops he was contemplating no “dramatic” reduction. The next day his security team convened again to continue their review, focusing this time on conditions in Pakistan. A final decision, says Harry Reid, the Senate’s majority leader, would probably come in “weeks, not months”.

Whether the right description of this timetable is “leisurely” (Senator John McCain) or “thorough” (the administration), the process has certainly been messy. The spat with General McChrystal, Mr Obama’s own recent choice to command in Afghanistan, invites the charge that he is not giving his generals the resources they need. If he does not send the general his extra troops, senior Republicans who have so far restrained their criticism will charge that the president is appeasing his party by endangering America’s fighting men overseas. Mr McCain has already called on Mr Obama to give “great weight” to his commanders’ views. But wading deeper into a war that this week entered its ninth miserable year will stoke the fears of the Democratic leadership in Congress that Mr Obama is sinking into a new Vietnam.

It is a fateful choice, and history is likelier to remember the decision itself, not the circumstances in which it was made. But Mr Obama’s failure to keep General McChrystal in line has made the politics of it very much harder. From Kandahar and Copenhagen (where Mr Obama faces a second ordeal in December at the climate-change summit) a cold wind is blowing through the White House.
-The Economist 10/8/09

Weak Himself, Obama Draws Strength From Bush
By Michael Barone
In trying to understand what is happening in the nation and world, we all employ narratives -- story lines that indicate where things are going and what is likely to happen next. We can check the validity of these narratives by observing whether events move in the indicated direction. If so, the narrative is confirmed. But if things seem to be moving in an entirely different direction, it's time to discard the narrative and look for another.

When Barack Obama took office, most Americans and certainly most of the press had a narrative in mind. Call it Narrative A. The financial crisis and the ensuing deep recession had removed the blinkers from voters' eyes and moved Americans away from reliance on markets and toward reliance on government.

The new president's call for hope and change would be followed by enactment of big government policies -- a big-spending stimulus package, government-led health care reform, restrictions on carbon emissions and the effective abolition of the secret ballot in unionization elections. The new president's powers of persuasion would sweep Republicans along and make for bipartisan change.

It certainly seemed plausible. New Deal historians had taught us that economic collapse increases support for big government. Opponents of the Obama program seemed incoherent and demoralized.

But Narrative A looks increasingly shaky. The unions' anti-secret ballot bill is going nowhere, and neither, it seems, is carbon emissions legislation. The stimulus package is widely regarded as a failure, and the Democrats' various health care bills are not winning majorities in polls. If anything, Americans are more leery of big government than they were a few years ago.

Moreover, the balance of enthusiasm has shifted. The tea parties and town halls have shown that millions of Americans are strongly opposed to big government measures. The Obama e-mail lists that brought in so much money and so many volunteers in 2008 now seem unable to get a few dozen people to a rally, and Democratic fundraising is alarmingly low for a party in power.

So it may be time to advance a Narrative B. It goes something like this. George W. Bush's inability to produce progress in Baghdad and New Orleans, along with floundering by congressional Republicans, led voters to give Democrats majorities in Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. But the huge flow of dollars designed to staunch the financial crisis (TARP), finance bailouts and fund the stimulus package raised fears that government would crowd out private-sector growth.

In this narrative, Democrats' big congressional majorities owe more to perceived Republican incompetence and to the $400 million that labor unions poured into Democratic campaigns than to any change in fundamental attitudes toward the balance between markets and government.

Narrative B does a better job than Narrative A of explaining the unpopularity of the Democrats' big-government programs and the unwillingness of many Democratic officeholders, especially those facing voters in 2010, to support them. It does a better job of explaining the shift in the balance of enthusiasm from 2008 to 2009.

It still may be possible for Democrats to jam through some of their health care proposals, and tax rates are scheduled to go up when the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010. The Democrats may be able to make basic policy changes because of accidental advantages. In the framework of Narrative B, government-directed health insurance and vastly enhanced union power would be reactions to George W. Bush's inept handling of Iraq before the surge and his hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.

Narrative B doesn't explain all current developments satisfactorily. Voters still have a lingering distaste for Republican politicians and give higher (or less low) ratings to the Democratic than the Republican Party. Republican policy proposals, while not nonexistent as the Democrats charge, have not caught the public's attention and may prove no more popular than the Democrats' health insurance and cap-and-trade proposals. And Democratic proposals may turn out to be more popular than they are today.

But overall Narrative B has done a better job so far of explaining 2009 than Narrative A. Which suggests that it's time that fans of Narrative A who don't like Narrative B to come up with Narrative C.

Obama's Foreign Policy Suspends Disbelief
By George Will
WASHINGTON -- Last Thursday, the president's "engagement" with Iran began. This Wednesday, the U.S. war in Afghanistan will enter its ninth year. And U.S. foreign policy is entering a White Queen phase.

In "Through the Looking Glass," Alice says she is unable to believe the White Queen's claim to be 101. The Queen responds, "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes." Alice: "There's no use trying, one can't believe impossible things." Queen: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Regarding Afghanistan, the president might believe he can effect a Houdini-like escape, uninjured, from the box his words have built. Regarding Iran, he seems to believe its leaders can be talked or coerced (by economic sanctions) out of their long, costly pursuit of nuclear weapons by convincing them that such weapons do not serve Iran's "security."

On March 27, the president announced "a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan." He said his "clear and focused goal" was to prevent the Taliban from toppling Afghanistan's government, and to prevent al-Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan or Pakistan. U.S. forces "will take the fight to the Taliban" in Afghanistan's "south" and "east" but "at the same time, we will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces."

On Aug. 17, the president reiterated his belief that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is "not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity." This was two months after he replaced the U.S. commander there with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, directing him to assess the resources required for the strategy. The general has done that. But the president does not yet want to discuss troop numbers. Why not?

The president's national security adviser, Jim Jones, a former four-star Marine general, told The Washington Post that before deciding on troop levels, the focus must be on strategy: "The bumper sticker here is strategy before resources." So, is the president reassessing his March 27 strategy? If so, why?

Perhaps because fraud devalued Afghanistan's election. But it was not a sunburst of new information that President Hamid Karzai is corrupt. Or did the president believe, as only the White Queen could, that Karzai had reformed?

Granted, counterinsurgency -- especially when it includes the nation-building implicit in McChrystal's assessment -- requires a reliable partner. But, again, Karzai was a known commodity on March 27. Besides, a presidential strategy is half-baked if its author decides it is dubious after its first collision with difficulty.

Regarding Iran, what did we learn when we learned about the secret nuclear facility in the tunnel? That Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons? We knew that. That Iran lies? We knew that, too. We did, however, learn something when the president, at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, went public with his knowledge of the facility.

On one side of the president stood France's president. On the other side stood Britain's prime minister, who said Iran's behavior would "shock and anger the whole international community." Not quite. The leaders of Russia and China were not standing with the president.

China has contracted to provide Iran with gasoline, a commodity that could be central to what Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls "severe" sanctions that he thinks might cause Iran to change course. Russia's real leader, Vladimir Putin, was not even in Pittsburgh. Russia's Potemkin president, Dmitry Medvedev, did say something that only the White Queen could believe means that Russia will participate in serious pressure on Iran: Sanctions are not "the best means of obtaining results" but "if all possibilities" are exhausted, "we could consider international sanctions." Over to you, Queen.

Gates says "the only way" to prevent a nuclear-capable Iran "is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons, as opposed to strengthened." But to accept that formulation requires accepting two propositions that would tax the White Queen's powers of belief.

One is that possession of nuclear weapons would make Iran less secure. Question: If Saddam Hussein had possessed nuclear weapons in March 2003, would the United States have invaded Iraq? Iran's leaders probably think they know the answer.

The other proposition is that Iran's regime seeks nuclear weapons merely to enhance the nation's security and not also for regional hegemony or the enjoyment of the enlarged status that comes from being a nuclear power. To believe that, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.

September 06, 2009

Van crashes, burns

Obama's "green job" Czar, Van Jones, resigned at midnight on a Saturday night during the long labor day weekend. The 9-11 truther and a race-baiter blamed a smear campaign against him rather than his own past comments and actions for his (un)timely demise. Hardcore Liberals are apoplectic about this resignation saying things like, "Whenever I got sick to my stomach at the thought of Obama's Team of Corporate Zombies - people like Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jim Messina - running the show, I was able to at least tell myself that hey, someone like Van Jones is at least in there somewhere fighting the good fight as he always has. "

I guess we'll have to see how it goes with the "corporate zombies".

The timing of the release of this news is about as blatant of an attempt to bury a story that I've ever seen. Another example of what I call 'The Opacity of Hope'. Things are really start to unravel for the Obama Campaign, er... Administration.

August 28, 2009

Things fall apart

Joe Lieberman thinks that now, during a recession, is not the time for a massive overhaul of 1/6th of the economy. He has opened the door for a Democratic retreat on the issue of health care reform.

I think we all realize now that attempting vilify or otherwise dismiss the town hall protesters was a colossal miscalculation. Team Obama found, unlike when they successfully made the Clintons the enemy during the campaign, that making regular American people out to be the enemy and somehow a product of some nefarious zombie influence doesn't work well at all.

At this point many fellow liberals are losing faith in Obama. At the liberal bastion Salon.com, left-leaning pundits are hand wringing and wondering what went wrong and at The New Republic: what could have been done differently.

The Democratic leadership cannot even get their story straight when it comes to whether or not a "public option" is or is not to be included in ObamaCare.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

-William Butler Yeats

Face it, it's time to pull the plug on ObamaCare.

The Opacity of Hope

Comment Buster

This RFL post is going for the comment record.

Comment 90:

The Rube Goldberg approach of creating layers and layers of arbitrary regulatory nonsense and then claiming it will cut costs while at the same time covering millions of more Americans for free is not something people are buying into and therefore it will never work.

Have you dudes on the Left even figured out yet whether or not a "public option" is an essential part of reform?

Let us know when you figure that one out and then ram the legislation through already with no Republican support if its such a swell idea.

I'm happy to hang all these bad policies around Obama's neck. Let's get this era over with, The Opacity of Hope or whatever.

May 17, 2009

Stand up guy

Leon Panetta actually seems to care about the agency he runs. Today he turned on Nancy Pelosi in defense of the integrity of the CIA. Bravo.

Even the Huffington Post seems to have turned on the erstwhile Lefty standard bearer, Ms. Pelosi.

"There are some people who project sincerity and integrity, but Pelosi's just the opposite. She comes across as a duplicitous partisan hack. A Tom Delay with tits, yet lacking the balls and efficiency. Whereas Delay was ruthless and resolute, Pelosi's simply an ineffective trainwreck."

Only the crass delivery gives away the fact that that was a quote from a Lefty Pundit.

April 26, 2009

Hillary jumps the shark

I was actually buying into the new quasi bad-ass Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State until this moment when she devolved into a petty partisan attack as a pathetic attempt to distract from the matter at hand. Hillary appears to wise up and give a serious answer after the follow up question, but there's a shark over there and someone just jumped it.

It's a fascinating clip, I love how the moderator jumps in just in time to prevent us from learning what Hillary's actual position is on the full disclosure of all pertinent documents being discussed.

April 22, 2009

The perpetually angry left

The political left in this country has been angry for so long now that when the term "The Left" is used, it's understood that they're angry. The phrase, 'the angry Left' is redundant.

Just take the Left's childishly angry response to the recent Tea Party protests. The big thing for Lefty bloggers and pundits is to use the gay bashing term "tea baggers" to describe the protesters. Those protests, by the way, were probably some of the least angry protests in human history. The Left's reaction to the protests were far angrier than the actual protests. Lefty thinkers like Jeanie Garafolo's angry charge that every protester is merely a white supremacist had more vitriol and anger in it than the sum total of all the protests themselves. So it's childish gay bashing jokes and cartoon like levels of anger from the Left as usual in response to the Tea Party Protests.

And now the (far) Left is downright hysterical that Obama is hesitant to prosecute former members of the Bush administration for essentially being too successful in thwarting an attack on American soil in the immediate days following 9-11 by using enhanced interrogation techniques that were at the time fully legal. If the angry, backwards looking Left wants to conduct kangaroo courts and show trials like a banana republic regime persecuting those whom with which they disagree politically, I say bring it on. I can't wait to see what happens when the American people see that the Left has now taken to punishing and prosecuting certain public servants in the Bush Administration in order to satisfy a political vendetta. Public servants who were in good faith doing what they could to successfully protect us. The whole thing is pricelessly irrational.

All of this anger and hysteria on the left begs the question, why in victory is the Left still so angry?

To answer that question let's consult an article penned by Byron York, frequent commentator on NPR, the ultra right wing talk radio network that I listen to daily.

These should be happy times for liberals and the Democratic party as a whole. They control the White House and both houses of Congress, while opposition Republicans are leaderless and lost. So why do some Democrats, particularly those farther to the left, appear so angry?

If you doubt it, just watch a few minutes of MSNBC, where the recent nationwide series of "tea parties" to protest federal spending and taxes set off an angry, almost manic response. The most telling came on Keith Olbermann's program, during which the actress Janeane Garofalo, who plays an FBI computer geek on “24,” denounced the tea parties as "racism straight up."

"Let's be very honest about what this is about," Garofalo said. "It's not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes…This is about hating a black man in the White House."

Garofalo linked the tea parties to what she described as a peculiar feature of the conservative brain. "The limbic brain inside a right-winger, or Republican, or conservative, or your average white power activist -- the limbic brain is much larger in their head space than in a reasonable person," she explained. "And it is pushing against the frontal lobe. So their synapses are misfiring." (The limbic brain is the deep portion of the brain that mediates, controls and expresses emotion.)

Now, it's possible Garofalo was joking; she used to do comedy. But she didn't seem to be joking, and her comments were consistent with a long and dishonorable history of attributing political conservatism to mental abnormality. And as she spoke about the alleged anger on the right, Garofalo herself seemed visibly angry. Why were she, and Olbermann, and many others on the left, so apparently troubled by a virtually powerless opposition?

I asked William Anderson, a friend who is a political conservative, a medical doctor, and a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard. "They are angry, but I think they are also scared, and I think it's because they have a sense that their triumph is a precarious one," Anderson told me. Democrats won in 2008 in some part because of the cycles of American politics; Republicans were exhausted and it was the other party's turn. Now, having won, they are unsure of how long victory will last.

"They see that they have a very small window of opportunity to do all the things they want," Anderson continued. "They see the window of opportunity as small because they know in their deepest hearts that the vast majority of the American people wouldn't go for all of the things they want to do." So they are frantic to do as much as possible before the opposition coalesces. And the tea parties might be the beginning of that coalescence.

Then there is the question of self-image. Watching Garofalo and Olbermann discuss the tea parties, it was impossible to avoid the sense that they saw themselves as two good people talking about many bad people. "One of the things about narcissism is that it looks like people who are just proud of themselves and smug, but in fact narcissism is a very brittle and unstable state," Anderson told me. "People who are deeply invested in narcissism spend an awful lot of energy trying to maintain the illusion they have of themselves as being powerful and good, and they are exquisitely sensitive to anything that might prick that balloon."

Again, the tea parties could represent a threat. What if the protesters weren't racists, weren't violent, weren't mentally defective? What if their point was legitimate, or even partly legitimate? Those are questions better batted down than answered.
Finally, there is the sense of anxiety and fragility that stems from the liberals' newly-won power. They control everything in government, and some fear what the responsibility of governing is doing to them.

Their president of hope and change has chosen not to prosecute the authors of the Bush-era "torture memos." He is escalating the war in Afghanistan. He seems determined to bail out the nation's richest bankers. For some on the left, it can be difficult to abide those actions and still maintain the image of one's self atop the moral high ground. So they lash out at the easy target presented by the tea parties.

And that is how political triumph can produce anger and unhappiness. Don't be surprised if there is much more of both in the days to come.

-Byron York Washington Examiner 4/20/09

April 20, 2009

Ideology vs. pragmatism

If the left wants to define slapping someone in the face and putting a caterpillar in close proximity to someone as torture then they are watering down the term torture. If this is to be the new wussified definition of torture then I have no problem advocating torture as newly defined by those who incessantly seek to coddle our sworn enemies.

It's that simple. If these enhanced interrogation techniques are to somehow be considered torture, then I'm for torture.

Oh and newsflash for the zillionth time: The Geneva Conventions do not apply to enemy combatants seeking to kill civilians.

April 07, 2009

New Years Day

It's been a long, cold, and dreary Obama winter. Springtime...when my thoughts move from Obama to baseball, a slightly less controversial topic.

March 20, 2009


Chris Dodd is corrupt. This is not a matter of wild eyed speculation, this is fact, plain and simple. Chris Dodd received tens of thousands dollars of campaign contributions from some of the very AIG executives that are theoretically in line for these controversial bonuses that you may have heard of. Dodd lied about knowing anything about any provisions pertaining to AIG bonuses that were included in the "stimulus" bill on Monday of this week, but by Wednesday he came clean and copped to authoring the amendment in question. So, crazily enough, he's both corrupt and inept.

That's not an easy combo to pull off. He's uniquely un-qualified to hold any position where he and the phrase "public trust" are to be mentioned in the same sentence.

If he and those like him are re-elected in 2010, our Republic is truly in danger.

The New York Times is even turning on him.

March 10, 2009


"It wasn't under me that we started buying a whole bunch of shares of banks. It wasn't on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement prescription drug plan without a source of funding."

That's his argument? Obama is using as evidence that he's isn't a socialist that the previous administration was? In a vacuum, Obama's policies and those he intends to implement either are or are not socialist. Why is this concept so difficult to understand? If someone asks me if I'm a Red Sox fan, I don't start talking about other people I believe to be Red Sox fans. I either am or I am not a Red Sox fan.

Liberals are such relativists. They can't just answer the question based on the facts.

It's always, "Well I may be guilty of X, but what about this person over here?"

So lame. Obama and his followers are way too overly sensitive about this question of Obama being a socialist. If he can save the country's banking system, I think it's worth allowing some pundits to be able to call Obama a socialist. But Noooo, it's all about how Obama appears above all else. Can someone please remind Obama that the campaign is over? It's time govern, not whine about your predecessor.

Obama's gonna have to choose between ego and saving the country on this question of nationalizing the banks.

March 08, 2009

American Zombie

Maybe you didn't catch the news but three major financial institutions were renamed recently, or at least they should have been. From now on, until the administration comes up with a real solution for the banking crisis, the new names of these institutions will be:

Citi Zombie Group
American International Zombie Group
Zombie Bank of America

The banking crisis is the circumstance that is the cause and in fact the crux of this entire problem, but almost every other ancillary subject is being addressed first by team Obama. Somehow we have time to address the funding of manure odor control but haven't yet lifted a finger to arrest the free fall of the stock market. As a leading indicator of where the economy is heading, the stock market at this moment sees no upside in the policies that team Obama has promulgated thus far.

Starting with President Bush and now continuing with Obama, the government has been pursuing an ad hock, piece meal solution to the banking crisis. Drips and drabs of government bailouts going in every direction with seemingly little to no rhyme or reason. Bush didn't have a choice really, he had to at least hand Obama a banking industry on life support rather than handing him a dead banking system. But at this point the government is simply propping up these institutions that have long since stopped being viable as money making businesses. Welcome to the world of zombie banks. Remember Japan in the nineties? Well, we're basically there now. No use in denying it.

Another fact that there is no use in denying is that we have now advanced into the territory of socialism. This country has been slowly marching towards European style democratic socialism for a while. Now Obama is sprinting towards it with all this spending and proposed wealth redistribution. But for political reasons, Obama and his supporters have to deny that their policies even vaguely resemble socialism. I'm not sure what the big deal is, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

It's socialism, so what. Maybe in this time of crisis we don't have a choice when it comes to resolving the problems caused in the banking sector because these institutions were allowed to become 'too big to fail'. So while Obama figures out a way to solve the banking crisis while not appearing to be socialist because he's afraid to be called that, I have the solution. Since I'm not a self-hating self denying socialist like Obama, I don't care if you call the plan I'm advocating socialist.

The only remaining solution to the banking crisis is temporary nationalization of the biggest most troubled banks. The share holders won't like it, but right now the entire market is in a free fall because there is no clear policy emanating from the White House. Is there any disputing that the lack of clarity is causing massive uncertainty in the markets? This should be elementary, but because team Obama has to play political games, they haven't embraced this obvious strategy yet.

This is what they will eventually do of course, just as soon as they devise a clever way of not letting it be called socialism somehow. So while America collectively watches their retirement funds evaporate into the ether, team Obama is busy calculating their own political appearance and concocting childish controversies about Rush Limbaugh.

Until Obama gets over his fears regarding what his detractors will be able to say about him, we will live in this new American Zombie economy.

February 27, 2009

Imperial IPA

As I write this I am enjoying quite possibly the best, most complex beer that I've ever had.

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA. A whole new level.

At 12 bucks a 4 pack a whole new level of price too. But none of that matters now.

Here's a description of the taste from Beeradvocate.com:

Pours brassy in color, with bright golden hues and a thin, creamy lacing that sticks just a bit. Massive fruity esters in the nose, with strong notes of overripe pineapple and suggestions of something sweet and syrupy. Strong hop resins. Bread and caramel, too. Harsh fusel alcohols. Thick, viscous and chewy in the mouth with some smoothness and creaminess. Really fruity and sweet up front with more overripe pineapple and stone fruits. Smacking of citrus rinds. Drop of caramel in the malt sweetness. Hops are intense, coating the palate with resins, leaf and pine, and are a bit roasty and ashy around the edges with a deep, earthy flavor. The alcohol is quite noticeable: abrasive, spicy, warming and solvent-like. Some gummy flavors as things warm. The palate dries up with a raw, leafy, earthy and resiny linger that doesn't fade anytime soon.

The waves of booze wash over you after a few sips sink in and begin their magic. It's more refreshing that Harpoon IPA, yet almost infinitely more complex. And as I take another swig I conclude that this is probably the best beverage ever created as far as I'm concerned.

February 26, 2009

Manny being... stingy

Manny Ramirez today was offered his third deal of the off season for an eye-popping $45 million for a two year contract. It's the same money he was offered in the first place months ago, when maybe the economy wasn't as bad as it is now.

He should take this money and be happy. If he doesn't take this most recent offer, he's out of his mind.

Especially when you consider that no other team has made an offer yet.

February 14, 2009

In the dark of night

In the stimulus bill debacle, we've come a long way away from any notion of "transparency", that buzz word team Obama has thrown around ad nauseam.

We are at the point where we're borrowing a trillion dollars from China and spending it on things that our government doesn't imagine the American people deserve to know.

What sort of banana republic crap is this?

Let the tax payer know what we're being asked to pay for, for god's sake!

February 10, 2009

Please Listen!

I hereby demand that some kind of real middle class tax relief be included in this stimulus bill.

A one time payout, a "rebate check" is not a tax cut!

Cut the actual rate of taxation! The percentage has to go down!

A temporary payroll tax "holiday" is a good idea, summarily rejected by lady and lord Pelosi and Reid.

Barack Obama's first move as President was to let those two hardcore leftists author his first signature legislative proposal? Fire the person who allowed that to happen.

Where is Rahm Emmanual? Isn't he supposed to be the hard nosed politician who values winning over ideology? What was he smoking when he allowed Nancy Pelosi to have sole proprietorship of this bill from the get go?

What a botched job debacle this stimulus bill is.

Stagflation here we come.

February 07, 2009

A Bitter Pill

Because of the tireless and unending Bush Bashing of the last eight years I was hoping that we could have at least a month or two where the president wasn't a primary source of the nation's ire. A honeymoon would have been nice, a respite from the ever present trashing of the commander in chief.

But the way Barack Obama has been acting the last couple of days is making that impossible.

And I was someone willing to give Obama a chance. Like an arranged marriage, I was willing to try to make the best of it. I had hoped that Obama's pragmatism and penchant for political expediency would win out over his left leaning ideology.

If Obama turned out to be a Ronald Reagan, great. Unfortunately, at this point he's looking more like a cross between LBJ and Jimmy Carter.

Hope and change?

More like fear and same. Within a week or so of the inaugural address the hopeful tone has all but evaporated into the frosty Washington DC air. In its place arguably the same kind of fear mongering that the Left endlessly accused the Bush administration of perpetrating to get things done. The difference of course being that the threat of terrorism is very real and the need for a pork laden spending bill to beat back "The worst financial crisis since the great depression", much less evident. (The stagflation of Jimmy Carter's early eighties was worse).

If Bush had done what Obama is trying to do he would have shoe-horned every Republican pet project into the Patriot Act. That is the equivalent. It's using an emergency to reward the special interests of your political party! With this so-called stimulus bill, the Democrats are doing an end run around the normal budget appropriation process in order to foist upon us their usual political agenda. They are using a financial crisis to lavish their supporters with billions of dollars of federal cash. They can't stuff the bales of cash out the door fast enough, it seems. We're told that it's such an emergency that we don't even have time to think it through really, just sign it. Hurry, hurry, hurry, it doesn't matter what we do, we have to do something, anything! This stimulus bill debacle is madness.

And it could be Obama's political death. He's been trying to scare us that "we will never recover" if we don't pass this bill. I'm afraid that Obama's political career will never recover if this thing passes and then fails to deliver as it will inevitably do according to any economist who understands the basic principle that we will have to raise taxes down the road to pay this thing off. And we'll have to pay this off right around the time that the inflation caused by this will be kicking in according to every economist who's name isn't Paul Krugman.

In one of Obama's recent partisan fear mongering speeches he proclaimed that, "somewhere a business is closing its doors". He has yet to explain how rewarding Democratic special interest groups and simply stuffing cash out of the doors will have a tangible effect on the businesses in danger of closing. A temporary payroll tax suspension will have a tangible effect on businesses and employees, irreversibly increasing the size of government and causing inflation down the road can only harm, not help the private sector economy Obama claims to be interested in helping.

A now we're told by Obama that tax cuts are "the failed policies of the past".

Really? That's interesting considering that Obama actually campaigned on tax cuts. How many times were we told that there would be tax cuts for 95% of Americans? Yet in place of tax cuts were getting the largest increase in the size of government since the New Deal.

Obama promised over and over in the campaign to go through the federal budget "line by line" and eliminate wasteful programs. Well, here's his chance to live up to one of his hollow promises. Don't hold your breath. Like the promise that he wouldn't appoint lobbyists and the promise that he would bring a new tone to Washington. So much for the new tone, in Washington DC it's business as usual as Obama is now digging in his heels in a one-sided partisan defense of Nancy Pelosi's Democratic spending extravaganza.

For Barack Obama the more things change, the more things stay the same.

I really am fairly surprised that Obama is behaving with such a tin ear. The people are starting to turn against this bill, so to entrench yourself in defense of it in its current form strikes me as politically tone deaf. And I've always known Obama to do what is politically expedient, just ask Reverend Wright.

I have been avoiding directly criticizing the President for about as long as I can on this blog. The issues are too important and Obama is acting far too partisan for me to keep that up anymore. For Barack Obama the honeymoon is over and the bloom is off the rose. Any notion of Obama as a transformational or transformative leader has been swept aside.

And unless a serious overhaul takes place, this bill that is being stuffed down our throat will be a bitter pill indeed.

January 29, 2009


The massive spending bill being debated this week on Capitol Hill is not a stimulus bill. The $819 billion pork laden bill passed the House of Representatives yesterday and is now going to the Senate. Despite the fact the Barack Obama went and visited House Republicans in an effort to get them on board, the only thing bi-partisan about the bill was that both Democrats and Republicans voted agaisnt it.

Eleven blue dog Democrats and each and every Republican in the House voted against consigning future generations to pay for the subsidization of liberal special interest groups like ACORN and pet projects like global warming research.

Perhaps some of the items in the bill are worthy, but apparently not many can be accurately argued to be stimulative to the economy. So what we have then is a massive Democratic pet project spending bill not too convincingly masquerading as an emergency economic stimulus bill. Thank god no Republican voted for this thing (John McCain hasn't voted yet). The Republicans might actually be becoming a viable party again that stands for something.

Sadly, it is the Republican alternative proposal (which was voted down) that stood a chance of actually stimulating the economy. Cutting taxes allows the private sector a better chance to begin to dig our way out of the recession rather than relying on government make-work projects and theoretical R & D type projects to somehow lift us out of the doldrums. By cutting the corporate tax businesses will be able to plow some more money back into their own business and eventually begin hiring rather than firing. And cutting the income tax understands that the people know better how to spend their own money than the state does.

Spending 2.4 billion dollars on "carbon-capture demonstration projects" won't do much to stimulate the economy. Cutting certain taxes will have an immediate effect.

If Barack Obama is truly a transformative and transformational leader, he will listen to the Republicans and in the 'stimulus' bill include some more serious tax cuts and dramatically less Democratic pie-in-the-sky pet projects.

It's that simple. Barack Obama's legacy and the future of this country are at stake.

January 25, 2009

a gaffe a minute 2

The campaign is over but apparently the Biden gaffe festival has only just begun.

January 13, 2009


Please read this brilliant article by conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. To my liberal friends, if you disagree with Krauthammer's observations and/or conclusions please tell me where you feel he's going wrong. To those who feel that The Palestinians are the aggrieved party in this conflict, please do the same.

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year?

Some thoughts on the coming year.

It's all about the economy. By now, my following of the day to day ebb and flow of the daily machinations of the economy has nearly supplanted my following of the day to day political discussion and storyline. With an economy collapsing around us it's hard to take Rod Blagojevich, for example, seriously enough to require my full attention. On the other hand, the car wreck that is the economy is fascinating.

But because everything is everything, the economic discussion is the political discussion. Blago be damned. (or indicted, whatever works.)

While all of the conventional economic prognostications for the upcoming year range from dire to grim mainly because of job losses, I have what is ultimately an alternative point of view:

Everyone who has been coasting and/or gaming the system for the last ten years is in for a rough time. If you find yourself to be unnecessary to the functioning of your company or government agency then you should prepare now to be 'made redundant', as the say in England. In the upcoming pull back, people will have to re-invent themselves in order to continue bring home the bacon. Businesses will have to become lean and mean. People will have to take pay cuts, essentially, to remain employed. This will result in further diminishment of the profit margins of retailers and related businesses which will result is still more lay offs. But at some point, the descent in the amount of total jobs will become an ascent. It's then just a matter of holding on until that begins to happen. Also, there is only so much the government can do to artificially prop up an economy in descent.

The key to recovery will be found in the very DNA of us as Americans. Call it sunny Reaganism, but I happen to be of the belief that Americans are enterprising enough to find a source of income somewhere, in some corner of the vast economy should they find themselves to be laid off. Because, as in the real estate market, we have to find the bottom of this overall financial mess. We have to flush out all the Bernie Madoff's and people who at the end of the day don't work hard enough to deserve being employed or who have been otherwise dogging it. Those employees who have already been operating with a fire in the belly and the essential understanding that they're only as good as their last performance will, in all likelihood, be safe. Everyone else, I'm sorry to have to report, is on notice.

So while 2009 will be a painful year for many, the only way out is through. Ultimately, businesses that are not viable and employees who have been phoning it in for years deserve to and should be allowed to fail. Ridding ourselves of this dead weight will ultimately be to the benefit of our economy moving forward. So take heart, for as our old pal John McCain used to like to quote Chairman Mao, "It's always darkest before the dawn.".