Saturday, January 31, 2009

Worst of recession is yet to come

"As bad as Friday's grim government report on economic growth was, it points to even worse times ahead.

The collapse of exports, industrial production and the inability of companies to sell their products all portend an even deeper contraction as U.S. and global economies sink further in the weeks and months ahead. . . .

Presuming that it lasts beyond May, which virtually all economists now expect, this recession will be the longest and perhaps deepest period of economic decline in the United States since the Great Depression."

In other words, the $825+ billion stimulus package will have minimal effect and will simply put us deeper in debt.

"Don't just stand there, do something" is not always good advice. We need to sit tight, ride out the storm, and put our financial house in order.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama is rooting for the Steelers . . .

because the Steelers' owners supported Obama in the primary and general elections.

Please tell me again how "post partisan" this White House is behaving.

And North Korea, too

"North Korea said Friday it is ditching a nonaggression pact and all other peace agreements with South Korea, in an apparent attempt to use the threat of an armed clash to press Seoul to give up its "confrontational" stance."

Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, and now, North Korea, too.

There is a crisis developing in every world hot spot. And, the only things we know about our president's plan of action is "withdraw all troops from Iraq in 16 months" and "be willing to negotiate with our enemies".

David Broder lost it

Read Broder's column regarding Rod Blagojevich.

Broder's beef with Blago: "When I was in Springfield almost two years ago for a bipartisan dinner at the Lincoln Library, I was told by prominent Republicans and Democrats that the Blagojevich administration was “the worst ever.”"

Obviously, Broder doesn't realize that being a bad governor is neither a crime nor an impeachable offense. And, that Blago hasn't yet been charged with a crime. Or, that Blago was reelected after that dinner, notwithstanding the insiders' opinions.

And Broder's analysis of the prosecution? "Fitzgerald was already working his way up through Blagojevich’s chain of command, bringing in one official after another, convicting them, then offering some leniency in sentencing in return for their testimony against higher-ups. It was assumed at that dinner that eventually Fitzgerald would have the pieces in place to show that Blagojevich was at the center of this criminal conspiracy."

Broder ignores that Blago was arrested (and now impeached) before the prosecutor had "the pieces in place to show that Blagojevich was at the center of this criminal conspiracy". Shouldn't the prosecutor know (and tell you) which crime you've committed before you're arrested and punished? You know, due process and the right to confront your accusers?

"Surprisingly Partisan"

"President Barack Obama's economic stimulus legislation is headed for the Senate after a surprisingly partisan vote in the House in which Republicans united in opposition and 11 mostly conservative Democrats defected."

Why "surprising"? Because Obama declared the world is post partisan, and his friends in the media agreed?

If they wanted bipartisan support, they needed to let all parties help draft the bill, after negotiation and compromise and consideration of all parties' priorities. A smaller, less pork filled, tightly focused, more modest bill could have received support from at least one quarter of the Republican caucus. Instead, Obama went with a huge, rushed, partisan bill . . . which therefore received only partisan support. No surprise.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Support for the stimulus plan is dropping

Last week, 45% supported the Obama plan and 34% opposed it.

This week , only 42% support the stimulus plan, 38% oppose it, and 19% are undecided.

Of course, that's before a year's gone by, and people realize it didn't work "immediately" (as Pelosi promised).

"Bipartisan" stimulus package?

Ironically, for all the talk of bipartisanship, the stimulus bill failed to get one vote from a House Republican. In fact, it was opposition to the stimulus bill that attracted bipartisan support, from both Republicans and Democrats. That's what happens when you draft an almost trillion dollar package in secret, by a select few, with no bipartisan input.

Having passed the bill, why would Pelosi et al "hail the measure as immediate" and "vow the bill will bring immediate relief"?

They have to know that they're setting expectations too high.

Basic government services

There are certain basic services that the national government was created to provide - - national defense, regulating the monetary supply and the post office come to mind.

With all the frills, pork barrel spending and unnecessary nonsense in the bailout and stimulus bills, they should have found some money for the post office. They could even have justified it as an effort to keep postal workers employed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's the mission in Afghanistan?

"Thousands of U.S. troops originally destined for Iraq have deployed south of Afghanistan's capital in the first illustration of a new military focus on the increasingly difficult fight in the South Asian nation . . . President Barack Obama is expected to double the size of American troops in Afghanistan this year, as the country becomes one of his foreign policy priorities. There are some 70,000 foreign soldiers, including 33,000 U.S. troops . . ."

Of course, everyone agrees that Afghanistan can't be conquered, pacified or taught democracy.

So, why are we sending 60,000+ troops to Afghanistan?

Florida Senate 2010 will be an interesting race

Moderate / centrist African American Democrat U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami was the first to declare for the open Florida U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Meek was a leading Clinton ally, and stuck with Hillary to the end. He's hired Clinton's deputy finance director in Florida, and his first fundraiser will feature Bill Clinton.

Meek's first declared Democratic primary opponent is ultra liberal Miami Beach State Sen. Dan Gelber. An ardent Obama primary supporter, Gelber hired Obama's Florida director and two of Obama's top fundraisers.

This will be a battle between Clinton and Obama surrogates. Ironically, the allegedly "racist" Clinton machine (remember?) will be backing the African American candidate. And, the "progressive" seeking netroots support will be trying to keep the Democratic nomination out of the hands of a young African American legislator.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gov. Blagojevich

He's still never been charged with a crime.

Prediction: Blago will be impeached, without being able to call witnesses or subpoena documents. Then, because "he's suffered enough", there will never be a criminal trial. Conveniently, we will never find out which members of the Obama administration negotiated with Blago for the Senate seat, and which members of the Obama administration failed to report Blago to the appropriate authorities.

Federalism? The commerce clause?

By executive order and through the issuance of a Clean Air Act waiver, Obama plans to allow California to enforce its own state vehicle emissions standards, the nation's strictest and most aggressive. In effect, all cars sold in the US will have to comply with rules set by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California legislature.

This is a complete reversal of both traditional concepts developed under the commerce clause (one nation requires one set of uniform economic regulations, as set by the national government) and traditional concepts of federalism (where possible, each state gets to do its own thing). Obama plans to empower one state's government to set emissions standards for all fifty states.

In fact, the California standards are a good idea. But, they should be federalized by the passage of federal legislation, not through a power grab of questionable constitutionality.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stimulus plan corruption

"President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects.

They're just working around it -- and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.
The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could use more sand. A water park in Miami's Grapeland Park.

There are thousands of projects like those that once would have been given money upfront but now are left to scramble for dollars at the back end of the process as ''ready to go'' projects eligible for the stimulus plan."

When the plan doesn't work as promised, and people actually start examining the plan's components, they will be shocked by the corruption and insider dealing.

"Far-right Obama critics get a reply"

"Far-right Obama critics get a reply" By LEONARD PITTS JR.


I guess I'm worthy of a response. Not bad for a new, little blog by a part timer bucking the trend.

Another example of incompetence

by the Bush administration.

If Bush had been a better president, Obama wouldn't be president.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Three would have been enough

Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including

". . . Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. Williamson has also given interviews saying that the U.S. government staged the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan."


False choice on stimulus plan

Obama: "If nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits."

No one's saying "do nothing".

They're saying that more than two people (Obama and Pelosi) should have input into the design of a plan that will ultimately cost almost $1 trillion of borrowed money, to be paid back by future generations, in multiples, with compound interest.

And, they're saying that you need to drop the $200+ billion of pork barrel spending buried in the stimulus package. ($50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts? Nice payback to the arts community for their support, but is a bailout for independent film makers really a national prority at this time?)

Overseas rendition, again?

"President Barack Obama's order to empty the U.S. prison camps in Cuba is designed to avoid a Guantánamo North on American soil by scattering the 245 detainees between federal trials and shipping some overseas by this time next year."

I'm sorry. I thought "overseas rendition" was a bad thing.

In fact, so bad that we opened Guantanamo Bay as a more humane alternative. Remember?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How will troop redeployment save money?

Remember this campaign promise? Obama pledged to withdraw most troops from Iraq within sixteen months, in order to free up billions of dollars to pay for urgent domestic needs.

"The top Marine commander said Friday that his forces already had begun pulling equipment out of Iraq and that nearly all of his troops could be out in as little as six months. . . . There are 22,000 Marines in Iraq . . . Conway said that he didn't want to maintain a large Marine presence in Iraq when the military was expected to send as many as 20,000 more Marines to Afghanistan this spring."

How does transferring troops from Iraq to Afghanistan result in any savings? Yes, we will spend billions less is Iraq. But, we will spend billions more in Afghanistan. Net savings? Nothing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Will she just go away?

Hillary Clinton is a woman. Another woman was appointed to be her successor in the U.S. Senate.

But Caroline Kennedy (with $500+ million in the bank and no experience) is a victim of the "glass ceiling"?

The more you know her, the less you like her.

P.S.: Did you catch the line, "Like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin before her . . . "? I don't remember the Obama crowd, or anyone in the Post, being overly concerned about or supportive of the aspirations of Clinton and Palin, do you?

Geithner cheated on his taxes

Geithner cheated on his taxes. Now, he is set to ultimately be confirmed as Treasury secretary (and in charge of the IRS).

Where are all the people who attributed the failures of the Bush administration to a lack of Congressional oversight by members of his own party?

A "new world order"?

"Obama orders up a new world order"

Sorry, but Hamas and Hezbollah and the rest of them are not going to abandon violence.

Gillibrand is next NY senator

A liberal, downstate, African American male from the Harlem political machine picked a conservative, upstate, white woman from an independent swing district to join his ticket in 2010.

Why are people surprised by classic N.Y. ticket balancing?

Down in flames

Responding to rumors that Caroline Kennedy lost the N.Y. Senate seat due to problems with her taxes and in her marriage, as well as a potential "nannygate" scandal . . .

"Kennedy spokesman Stefan Friedman would not detail her reasons for withdrawing, but complained: "This kind of mudslinging demeans that process and all those involved.""

Actually, this is the process - - candidates for public office are required to submit their personal finances and private life to public scrutiny, in order to determine potential conflicts of interest and their susceptibility to blackmail. If anything, she was treated with kid gloves (and still couldn't make it).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where did you think the prisoners would go?

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius fully supports the plan to close the Guantanamo prison. But . . .

"Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that she opposes any effort to move about 250 suspected terrorists being housed at Guantanamo Bay to Kansas and calls the entire detainee process "a huge black eye" for the United States.

"We've got to discontinue the use of Guantanamo Bay," Sebelius said. ". . . I think it gives the world a real question about how America values our democratic principles. It seems to violate everything our Founding Fathers said in the first place."

Sebelius said that she supports the proposal by President-elect Barack Obama to close the Guantanamo prison and transfer those operations elsewhere. While she does not want the prisoners moved to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, she did not offer a possible alternative."

Governor, if you close Guantanamo, the detainees must either be (1) set free or (2) transferred to domestic military bases (with existing, secure military prison facilities). There's no other choice. And, Leavenworth is synonymous with "military prison". It's too late and too inappropriate to play the "not in my backyard" game.

Black English?

This is nonsense (but it's so silly, it's worth reading the whole thing):

"Barack Obama's inaugural address was the first in a long time to resound powerfully enough to be worthy of marble. However, it was the first in the 220-year history of the custom in another way: its seasoning of black cadence. This was even more exhilarating in that the cadence played an integral part in the power of the oration. Black English is a matter not just of slang, but of sentence structure and sound (why you can tell most black people's race over the phone, which is proven in studies). Some blacks use all three; Obama is one of the many who wields mostly the sound. Listen to the way he often ends sentences on a higher pitch than, say, Tom Brokaw would, with that preacherly hang-in-the-air. Or the way he often pronounces "history" as "historih," "ability" as "abilitih." His rendition of the word responsibility was indicative: with a cadence typical of Black English, capped by a final "ih." No President has ever intoned sentences in this way, because they were not black. Contrary to the fabulistic notion that gets around here and there that Black English is an African grammar with English words, the sentence structure is basically a blend of regional British dialects that slaves heard from their masters and the indentured servants you learned about in grade school. The sound, however, is partly a legacy of the African languages the slaves spoke. Especially, the melodic quality of Black English, heightened in sermons and speeches, is a legacy of the fact that in many African languages, pitch is as important in conveying what words mean as accent. In the way he said responsibility, he was using language in a way that is warp and woof of the grammar of, for example, his father's native language Luo. . . "

Obama grew up in Indonesia (with his white Anglo mom and Indonesian step dad, attending school with native Indonesians) and in Hawaii (among white Anglo, Asian and Pacific Island Hawaiians). He then went to preppy and Ivy League private colleges in California and New England. He never lived in a black community until well in his 20's.

His use of "Black English" is as authentic as the Texas drawls of Connecticut / DC / New England raised and educated George Bush, Jr. and Sr., i.e., not at all.

(And, he barely met his father. He certainly didn't pick up Kenyan Luo cadence from him.)


The promise: Close Guantanamo during his first 100 days in office.

The executive order: "[S]hutdown of the Cuban prison within a year".

The reality: Governing is harder than promising

CKS vs. RFK, Jr. = No winner

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., long active in New York State politics and environmental causes, backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries (as did the rest of his siblings). There was the suspicion of a deal - - he'd get his late father's old Senate seat if Hillary won and left the Senate. As we all know, Hillary lost, but she's leaving the Senate anyway, for the State department.

At the last minute, Caroline (who, along with the Ted Kennedy faction, backed Obama) decided pay back was in order. (But good, progressive pay back, not the dirty Illinois kind of pay back requested by Gov. Blago.)

Next thing you know, RFK, Jr. is elbowed aside, and Caroline is briefly the "sentimental favorite" for the seat of RFK, Jr's father. Until she, uhm, ahh, like, you know, opens her mouth.

The Governor of NY watches Caroline on the road, and realizes (1) she can't campaign (2) she lacks the common touch (with her Long Island lockjaw speech and Jackie-O / Chanel-esque wardrobe) (3) she couldn't hold the seat (4) she's losing support even among Democrats and (5) he doesn't want to run on a ticket with her in two years (at which time he'd own her and all her uhms, ahhs, likes and you knows).

So, now the seat goes to someone who's last name isn't Kennedy. And, the reputation of the Kennedys is further diminished.

Well played, kids.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a bird, it's a plane . . .

Eugene Robinson:

“Expectations that Obama will be able to solve this daunting array of problems are strikingly high. A new Washington Post poll finds that 61 percent of Americans have a ''good amount'' or ''great deal'' of confidence that Obama will make the right decisions for the country. A remarkable 72 percent are ''fairly'' or ''very'' confident that Obama's economic program - - whatever it ultimately turns out to be - - will improve the economy.

An Associated Press poll reports that 65 percent of Americans believe Obama will be an ''above average'' president, including 28 percent who expect him to be ''outstanding.'' Almost two-thirds of Americans, the AP finds, believe their own financial situation will improve during the Obama administration. . . .

The truth is that no one knows whether Obama will be a good president, much less a great president.”

Actually, with all the hero worship, idolatry and high expectations, the truth is that Obama will be a disappointing president.

Two-thirds of Americans believe their own financial situation will improve during the Obama administration?

In fact, their situation will get worse and then flat line over the next 12 to 18 months, as recession deepens and spreads.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Laugh or cry?

Eric Boehlert in Salon, 1/20/05, on the subject of Bush's inaugural festivities:

"This week's inauguration story came ready with two interesting news angles: the huge cost (in contrast with the dire situation in Iraq) and the unprecedented security. And in both cases, the political press corps, as has been its habit under the Bush administration, showed little interest in prying. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, the press has largely treated inauguration criticism as partisan and silly, making sure to give Bush backers lots of time and room to defend the unmatched pomp and circumstance. . . . For the media, simply reporting on the cost of the inauguration proved to be a challenge. Most major outlets stuck to the lower, albeit still unprecedented, figure of $40 million, which the Presidential Inaugural Committee said it hopes to raise from private donors. But a more accurate figure may be $50 million. That's the amount cited by the Washington Times (which is plugged in to GOP circles). But even that number doesn't take into account the nearly $20 million that's being spent for security, putting the real cost at closer to $70 million, instead of the media's preferred $40 million. . . . Press coverage doesn't get much friendlier than that. Perhaps the White House should consider it an inauguration gift."

Do you think Boehlert is getting all upset about the $160 million Obama just spent?

Actually, no. Boehlert is now changing the subject by questioning the accuracy of the cost estimates, and avoiding any discussion of the appropriateness of the spending (whether "only" $50 milllion or over $500 million) in a time of war and economic crisis.

Frankly, Boehlert was right in 2005. And, he's being a stunning hypocrite in 2009.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tax cuts? Tax increases?

Remember the presidential campaign? Obama's platform contained a "call for repealing president [Bush]'s tax cuts for wealthier individuals . . . [House Speaker] Pelosi said Sunday . . . "We had campaigned in saying what the Republican Congressional Budget Office told us: Nothing contributed more to the budget deficit than the tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America.""

Repeal of the "tax cuts for the wealthy" was a symbol of Obama's commitment to "economic justice", and was supposed to help balance the budget and pay for new spending plans.

Never mind. "Obama has indicated he is not interested in repealing President Bush's tax cuts for wealthy Americans before they expire in two years."

The Cuba embargo

''Most likely there will not be an end to the embargo,'' the aide said. ``But very likely there will be more than what was articulated.''

Translation: We won't get what was implied, but what we do get will be different than what was promised.

Cults of personality

Remember when we used to disparage nations and political movements with personality cults built around their leaders? Russia, China, Germany, Italy, Korea, etc. We thought that was a bad thing, because ambitious leaders supported by blind followers always end up making things worse.

Well, put on your tee shirt and buy some souvenir plates!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Earmarks vs. Logrolling

"In United States politics, earmarks refer to congressional provisions that direct approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that direct specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. . . . Typically, a legislator seeks to insert earmarks that direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his/her home state or district."

"Logrolling is the trading of favors or quid pro quo, such as vote trading by legislative members to obtain passage of actions of interest to each legislative member."

In other words, an "earmark" is "I want mine". "Logrolling" is "If you give me mine, I'll give you yours".

There are no earmarks in the 850 (and growing) billion dollar stimulus package (which follows the 700 billion dollar financial bail out package).

But, there's plenty of logrolling.

(I'm not saying federal aid to local schools is a bad thing. But, pay increases for teachers? smaller class size? increased funding for special ed? All noble objectives, but there are better ways to lower unemployment or increase manufacturing. These provisions (and many others) were put in the stimulus bill as the price of someone's vote, not because they are effective economic stimuli. Don't expect them to work miracles. They won't.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

What will you do with your check?

When Bush gave out his $350 to $500 stimulus checks, they were rightly mocked. (Was it John Stewart who asked, "What are you doing with your check, opening a steel mill?")

Now, Obama's going to give out $500, too. But, in the form of weekly payroll tax withholding decreases, in increments of approximately $10.

That will have less impact than Bush's lump sum checks.

Dumb ideas don't become smart when Democrats adopt them.

What happened to the tax cut for families earning under $250K?

"House Democrats would fulfill Obama's promise of a tax credit for most Americans. Single filers with adjusted gross income below $75,000 would receive a $500 tax credit, while joint filers with adjusted gross below $150,000 would get back $1,000."

Obama didn't loosely promise "a tax credit for most Americans".

He promised a tax cut for families earning under $250,000. Where is it?

The "stimulus" spending plan

"Much in the package appears unrelated to short-term stimulus or long-term competitiveness. For example, it would give $1 billion to aid states in the collection of child support, another $1 billion toward preparations for the 2010 census, $4 billion to support local law enforcement and $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites."

Buying votes with out of control spending will not fix the economy. In the long term, it will make things worse.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timothy Geithner's tax problems

"The Senate confirmation hearing of Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner was delayed Wednesday until the day after President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, meaning that the nominee's troubled tax history will prevent Obama from having his full economic team in place right away.

The hearing's timing also ensures that controversy over Geithner's income-tax errors could distract media attention from Obama's first full day in office. . . .

He's under fire for underpaying federal taxes from 2001 to 2004. During most of that time, he was an employee of the International Monetary Fund.

When he was made aware of the error, he paid the Internal Revenue Service - - an agency under the Treasury's jurisdiction - - more than $32,000 in back taxes and more than $8,000 in interest.

Blogs written by accountants were abuzz Wednesday over the revelation that Geithner prepared his own taxes at the time, a practice he's since stopped. . . .

Over the past decade, Geithner made other errors on his taxes, some as simple as claiming summer camps for his kids under the dependent child-care tax credit. That credit is reserved for working parents who must put their children in preschool programs or after-school care.

Geithner also failed to pay Social Security and Medicare contributions properly for three domestic workers on his personal payroll.

He's being criticized, too, for saying that he was unaware that he'd kept a housekeeper on his family payroll for three months in 2005 after her immigration documents had expired."

I prepare my own taxes.

The instructions for the child care tax credit form are very, very clear. It's not for day camp, sleep away camp, piano lessons, after school activities and all the other things upper middle class and rich people do with their kids to keep them busy. It's for day care for working parents.

If Geithner is incapable of reading and comprehending the instructions provided by the IRS, he has no business running the IRS.

If Geithner is incapable of following the instructions provided by the IRS, he's a tax cheat.

Or, are these things only wrong when Cheney does them?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


We're ignoring the problem, while anarchy, terrorists and pirates take over a country which controls access to a significant share of the Middle East's oil fields.

But, things will be okay, as long as we stay focused on the important issues!,CST-NWS-sweet12.article

Which Obama was elected?

"A document has emerged suggesting that Obama had taken more public, liberal stands in the past than had been revealed . . . In a 1996 questionnaire . . . Obama came out clearly in favor of same-sex marriage, which he has opposed on the public record throughout his short career in national politics. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” Obama wrote in the typed, signed, statement. . . . On another questionnaire the same year, Obama said he would support a resolution in support of same-sex marriage. . . . Obama now says he opposes same-sex marriage . . ."

Wouldn't it be nice if the press had done their job, treated Obama like any other candidate, and researched / verified his promises and record during primary season, not two months after the election.

After Guantanamo, what?

"The Pentagon says the number of Guantánamo Bay detainees who rejoined terrorist missions after being released is on the rise.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that 61 detainees are believed as of last month to have returned to the fight against the United States since being released. . . .

Morrell said the new numbers showed a "pretty substantial increase'' in detainees returning to terror missions … from 7 percent to 11 percent." "

More than one in ten released Guantanamo detainees returns to active terrorism.

During the campaign, Obama promised to close the Guantanamo prison camp within his first hundred days.

Now, Obama spokespersons promises to start "studying" Guantanamo Bay prison closure "on day one".

But, what do we do with the prisoners? And, if one of the released prisoners strikes on U.S. soil, what happens?

Candidates making empty promises don't worry about this stuff. Presidents need to.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Now that they're done mishandling the Burris appointment . . .

"Regulator: Gov.'s Senate process may break NY law . . . Gov. David Paterson's secretive process to select Hillary Rodham Clinton's successor in the U.S. Senate conflicts with his campaign promises to open up government, and New York's top regulator of open government laws says it appears to violate state law. Just days from announcing his choice, Paterson won't identify "about 10" people who he said are in the running to follow Clinton, President-elect Barack Obama's designated secretary of state. The governor won't release the blank questionnaire he sent to each candidate looking for background information. He won't turn over their completed forms. "The process is confidential," is the stock answer from his office."

Eric Holder

Eric Holder is Obama's nominee for attorney general.

Eric Holder served in the justice department under Bill Clinton.

Senate Republicans are going after Holder with all the old Clinton administration "scandals" (pardons, fundraising, Elian, etc.) . . . which were all revived and renewed by Holder acting on behalf of the Obama campaign in opposing Hillary. Irony? Karma?

When the media likes you . . .

the headline is "Obama's first act: Closing Guantánamo prison?"

Of course, a more accurate headline would be, "Obama breaks pledge to close Guantanamo in first 100 days".


Roland Burris will be seated in Obama's place as U.S. Senator.

Notwithstanding their prior pledges, Obama and Reid were defeated by the impeached governor of Illinois.

How humiliating.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Obama's first deficit will be bigger than Bill Clinton's last budget!

Obama's Gaza plan

1 - Ignore the issue

2 - Refuse to comment

3 - Hope the war's over before he's inaugurated

Who's more disappointed?

Obama's pro Israel backers, or Obama's pro Palestine backers?

Guantánamo promise to be broken

"President-elect Barack Obama warned Sunday - - on the seventh anniversary of the opening of the war-on-terrorism prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba - - that he likely would not make good on his campaign pledge to close it during his first 100 days in office. . . .

Obama warned that closing the prison camps is 'more difficult than I think a lot of people realize. Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication.'"

Obama now thinks "closing the prison camps is 'more difficult than I think a lot of people realize'"?

Tell him it's not "a lot of people" who think it's easy. It's Barack Obama. Obama is the one who promised to close Guantánamo Bay prison camp during his first 100 days in office.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Economic reality

Most tax cuts have little economic impact for at least 6 months to one year.

Most spending plans have little economic impact until the completion of the bid and design process (after which construction and most expenditures begin) and thus little economic impact for at least 6 months to one year. (Unless you go the Bush/Cheney route, and dispense with usual bidding procedures, thereby allowing corruption and cronyism to flourish.)

Economic reality is that we are at the mercy of the business cycle, which in the usual course of things will begin to lift us out of recession in late 2009 or early 2010.

The "economic recovery plans" being designed in Washington are mostly excuses and vehicles for passage of long held dreams and schemes, including tax cuts and excessive spending that couldn't be passed in ordinary times, but which will be passed with little concern for debts or deficits. In fact, annual trillion dollar deficits could make some things worse.

If only we had instruments of change willing to say this, and willing to change the usual way Washington does business. Because recent American economic history proves one thing - - balanced federal budgets (only accomplished under a Democratic president) are the best way to encourage and assist the upturn of the usual business cycle.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We're going to increase our troops in Afghanistan

Do we think we're going to convince them to embrace modernity and democracy?

"Family of Afghan rape victim, 14, carry out forced 'honour' abortion with razor blade and no anaesthetic - - The mother and brother of a 14-year-old Afghan rape victim hacked her stomach open with a razor before removing her unborn baby, it emerged today. After the forced abortion, which was carried out without anaesthetic, the girl stitched up while the five-month-old foetus was taken away and buried. The barbaric surgery took place in a stable. It has been claimed the family wanted to avenge their honour after the girl was assaulted."

If this opinion is widely held . . .

there is a chance for a peaceful two state solution.

"Since the war in Gaza began two weeks ago, Rami Hamdan has oscillated between two emotions: sadness at the deaths of Palestinian civilians and anger, not only at Israel but also at its Palestinian foe, the militant Islamist group Hamas.

"Of course I am unhappy about the killings," said Hamdan, a 30-year-old building inspector in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the West Bank. "But Hamas is also responsible. They breached the truce. Israel is an aggressive entity at the end of the day, and Hamas knew this could happen.""

Obama selects torturer

John Brennan, Obama's initial pick for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was forced to withdraw from consideration because of his past support for the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation techniques".

Brennan previously served as head of Bush's "National Counterterrorism Center, an interagency headquarters for intelligence sharing and analysis created three years after the Sept. 11 attacks". Additionally, "he was deputy executive director of the CIA from 2001 to 2003, as the Bush administration's controversial interrogation and secret rendition program was created."

If you oppose what Bush did with counterterrorism and intelligence, you should oppose Brennan. Of course, during his campaign, Obama opposed what Bush did with counterterrorism and intelligence

Now, Obama has selected Brennan to be his top advisor on counterterrorism.

Obama selects lobbyist

Obama selected defense contractor Raytheon Co.'s chief lobbyist and senior vice president William J. Lynn III to be his No. 2 at the Defense Department.

Of course, Obama promised to keep lobbyists out of his administration.

But, he already broke that promise many times.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Paterson: Kennedy lacks some experience

Why would N.Y. Gov. Paterson want to take the risk of running for reelection on a ticket with uhm, like, you know, Caroline Kennedy? If Paterson appoints Kennedy, her failure would be his failure, and as she sunk, he'd sink.

Tom Daschle, health care hero?

Tom Daschle, incoming secretary of health and human services:

"“When health care reform collapsed in 1994,” Mr. Daschle said, “I remember all the criticisms people had after the fact. They said it took too long, they said the process was too opaque, they said the plan was too hard to understand and they said the changes felt too dramatic.""

Didn't they also say that the senate Democratic leadership - - Tom Daschle, Ted Kennedy, etc. - - were too weak to get the reform plan through the Senate?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kennedy falling flat

Polls show Caroline Kennedy is no longer the favorite among Democrats for appointment to the New York Senate seat. Further, polls show her in a statistical tie with the likely 2010 Republican senate nominee, Rep. Peter King. (Andrew Cuomo would beat King by almost 20%.)

I predict Caroline Kennedy will be remembered as one of those candidates whose campaign peaked on the day it was announced.

P.S. - And, with friends like this . . .

Does Dowd think that:

(1) putting down other senators ("People are suddenly awfully choosy about who gets to go to the former home of Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Robert Torricelli");

(2) pointing out the dynastic excess in our politics ("Two Udalls were being sworn in, under the watchful eye of Stewart Udall. Mark Begich, the new senator from Alaska, is the son of a former Alaska congressman. The classy Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, son of the late Gov. Robert Casey, was there in a festive pink tie. John McCain, whose wife’s money and Arizona pull made his Senate election possible, looked on with a smile. Hillary, whose husband paved the way for her to join this club and run for president, chatted with colleagues. Jay Rockefeller wandered about, as did Chris Dodd, son of Senator Thomas Dodd. And Teddy Kennedy, walking with a cane, worked the room with his old brio"); and,

(3) setting this up as a Kennedy v. Cuomo and Clinton feud ("the camps of the other two New York dynasties — the Clintons (still bitter about Caroline’s endorsement of Obama) and the Cuomos (who’d like that Senate seat for Andrew) — have certainly done their best to undermine Caroline")

in any way HELPS Caroline?

Why did they pick this battle?

The Senate Democratic caucus pledged not to seat Illinois Governor Blago's appointment to replace Obama. Further, they insisted the governor resign.

Why? Because a prosecutor arrested the Illinois governor.

However, there has been no indictment. No information was filed. In fact, Blago has not yet been charged with any crime. Remember, he was arrested to stop him from committing a crime, not because he committed one.

Is this the precedent the Senate wants to set? That any elected official must resign upon arrest, regardless of innocence or guilt, regardless of whether and what charges are pending, and with no respect for due process? Let's see what they do when a senator or Obama appointee gets arrested.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Plenty to say

Obama "said he'll have 'plenty to say' about the Israel-Gaza fighting after he takes office in two weeks."

Unfortunately, no one has the slightest idea what that will be.

Budget nonsense

"Huddling with his budget team, Obama told reporters he would ban pork barrel spending projects known as earmarks from his proposal to stimulate the economy. He also vowed to make the difficult choices necessary to curb runaway deficits and debt.

He said, however, that he would not propose his first federal budget until after the stimulus proposal - - which itself could cost about $800 billion. And he cautioned that staggering annual deficits would continue even after that.

'At the current course and speed, a trillion-dollar deficit will be here before we even start the next budget,' Obama said at his Washington transition office."

Isn't this the McCain deficit reduction plan that was mocked as too little and too late (cut waste and pork barrel spending)?

And, do these statements make any sense whatsoever when read together? Obama pledges to "curb runaway deficits and debt" but predicts a "trillion-dollar deficit" in his first budget. Which is it - - are we to curb deficits or run record deficits?

Obama is set to break Bush's record for crazy, out of control, reckless deficit spending.

Irresponsible vs. hopeful?

"President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday ripped outgoing President George W. Bush for 'irresponsibly' doubling the federal debt, then warned that he could preside over trillion-dollar-a-year deficits for 'years to come.'"

Let's be clear - - according to Obama, Bush's 500+ billion dollar deficits were "irresponsible", but Obama's trillion dollar yearly deficits for "years to come" are signs of change and hope.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama on Gaza

"President-elect Barack Obama has so far said nothing about the war raging between Israel and Hamas in Gaza because he has nothing to gain and much to lose by making his position clear. His silence, which he defends deferring to President Bush - - ''We have only one president at a time'' - - is not exactly a shining example of courage and leadership. Instead, it reveals once again a man defined more by caution than boldness. And one who knows just how much is at stake for the Middle East and for his own administration. . . . An Israeli victory could give a big boost to the peace process and to Obama's chances of shining as a peacemaker. Still, this scenario is far from assured. In the meantime, a tragedy is unfolding. Events can easily spin out of control. Obama the prudent is quietly watching and waiting. His ability to remain silent, however, will soon come to an end."

In other words, Obama's concern is not the Israelis. Obama's concern is not the Arabs. It's not even the United States. His concern is Obama.

The Obama stimulus plan

$400 billion in traditional Republican tax cuts +
$400 billion in traditional Democratic spending plans =
more of the same - - something for everyone and new record deficits down the road.

Change? Not much. It's all been tried before. I guess they just want to look busy until the business cycle corrects itself.

But, it is amazingly similar to the plan BUSH would have fashioned - - cut taxes, increase spending, and ignore deficits.

Monday, January 5, 2009


"Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to head the Democratic National Committee, a Democratic official said."

Kaine is pro life and anti abortion.

What does Obama believe in? He gives no indication of any consistent values.


"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama's choice for commerce secretary, withdrawing under pressure of a federal investigation into how his political donors landed a lucrative transportation contract. . . . A senior Obama adviser said Richardson gave assurances before he was nominated last month he would come out fine in the investigation. But as the grand jury pursued the case, it became clear that confirmation hearings would be delayed at least six weeks until the investigation was complete, said the adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity about the discussions because they were private. Aides to both men insisted Richardson made the decision to withdraw and was not pushed out by Obama. But one Democrat involved in discussions over the matter said transition officials became increasingly nervous during the last couple of weeks that the investigation could become an embarrassment to Obama, who ran on a clean government pledge."

Richardson accepted high level appointments and campaign assistance from Bill Clinton. Then, he refused to endorse, and ran against, Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Next, he lied to Bill Clinton about his intent to endorse in the primary race. Finally, he lobbied against Hillary Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State (he wanted the job). Ultimately, he was appointed Secretary of Commerce after giving assurances that he was clean.

This is what happens when you trust an ingrate and a backstabber.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The foreign press has . . .

higher expectations for Obama than the American press.

"President-elect Barack Obama plays a little golf during his vacation last week in Hawaii. Al Jazeera contrasted footage of Obama on vacation with scenes of the carnage in Gaza, noting what it called "the deafening silence of the Obama team."",0,3493387.story

Is it asking too much to expect the president-elect to opine on the top international issue of the day?

Travolta's son

"Preston and Travolta have said that Jett became very sick when he was 2 years old and was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, an illness that leads to inflamed blood vessels in young children. Preston blamed household cleaners and fertilizers, and said that a detoxification program based on teachings from the Church of Scientology helped improve his health, according to People magazine. . . . It is unclear whether Jett was taking any medications for his seizures."

Believe what you want.

Pray how you want.

But, go to the doctor, too.

"President-elect Barack Obama took no position"

Regarding the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, "President-elect Barack Obama took no position. While Obama was ''closely monitoring'' the situation in Gaza,'' said chief national security spokeswoman Brooke Anderson, ``there is one president at a time and we intend to respect that.''"

Okay, how about as a private citizen? U.S. Senator? head of the Democratic party? president-elect?

Obama's supporters said he was the biggest booster of Israel in the Senate. Where is he on this crisis?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Has Obama said ANYTHING about . . .

The imminent re occupation of Gaza by Israel?

U.S. participation in an international peacekeeping force in Gaza?

International refusal to accept Guantanamo prisoner tranfers (a precondition to closure of the prison in Guantanamo)?

The uptick in U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan?

Al Qaeda's imminent take over of Somalia?

Wasn't it two months ago that people (starting with the New York Times) were demanding Obama's immediate inauguration, because he has all the answers?

Friday, January 2, 2009

A test for socialism

Soft left, labor left or social democratic, whichever words you use to describe it, the Obama / Pelosi recipe for fixing our ailing economy is socialist, i.e., "making needed investments in infrastructure, alternative energy, science and other emerging sectors and providing middle-class tax cuts to help make work pay."

I use the word "socialist" not as a pejorative, but accurately. The Obama / Pelosi plan calls for Keynesian redistributive economic policy combined with record setting federal involvement in the economy.

And, it's also currently very popular. ("In a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month, 65 percent of those surveyed said they support new federal spending of as much as $700 billion on construction projects and other programs to try to stimulate the economy. In the same poll, 69 percent of those who supported the plan (47 percent of all adults) said they would still back the spending even if it increased the size of the federal deficit.")

But, be aware of the risk. “It’s all Bush’s fault” will work as well for Obama as “It’s all Clinton’s fault” worked for Bush. Any plan will have 18 months to start showing significant positive impact on economy, or it will be "proof socialism doesn't work" in 2010. Reaganomics (and Republicans in Congress) could be back with a vengeance.

Which is more disheartening?

The complete collapse of morale on the right ( or the triumphalism on the left (

Both are equally unrealistic.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Does Gov. Paterson read my blog?

Of course not.

But, he may be following my advice, and appointing a caretaker to Hillary's senate seat.

Someone should have told Caroline that it wasn't smart for her supporters to go on TV and say "he has no choice but to appoint her".

Governor (if you read this), do you want more advice? There's a huge talent pool in New York of over 65 retired and semi retired political, academic and media figures. Civil rights activists. Women's rights activists. Peace activists. Faculty from NYU, Cornell and Columbia. Appointing any one of dozens of them to be caretaker would earn you applause from Democratic primary voters. Pick a Walter Cronkite or Jimmy Breslin-type from outside politics (Tom Brokaw? Harry Belafonte? Gloria Steinem?), not a retread. Certainly not the current senator's spouse, or the guy who's father of one potential candidate and the leading candidate's cousin's ex husband, i.e., not a Clinton or Cuomo).