Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Little Levity

With all the seriousness of the economic news these days, I thought I'd lighten the mood a bit.

Last week saw the passage and signing of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. Although there were some controversial items (like billions of dollars spent on the marsh mouse, whatever that is), some of the proposed spending was cut. Here are some expenditures that didn't make the cut, if you'll pardon the pun.

- $4.5 billion to fight boring soft rock radio stations
- $12.8 billion to figure out how we still know of Tito Jackson
- $8 billion to convert 8 track tapes to high definition 8 track tapes
- $10.2 billion to put smiles on the faces of the Presidents on Mt. Rushmore
- $5.3 billion to fight athlete's foot in Joe Biden's mouth from the times he's put his foot there
- $15 billion to clear the streets of mimes
- $2.4 billion to develop technology where you actually can turn your amps up to 11 because, like, it's one higher
- $5.8 billion to provide Secret Service protection for David Schwimmer
- $8.4 billion to study the effects of going to a Gallagher show, namely why people would want to go to a Gallagher show
- $56.8 billion to study the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow (Don't ask me whether it's African or European.)
- $4.2 billion to make a good version of "Gigli"
- $25 billion to build the Ted Nugent Wildlife Preserve and Hunting Grounds

And finally…

- $150 billion to ensure Christopher Walken gets more cowbell, baby

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Quote to Consider

See if you can guess who wrote this.

"No politico-economic system in history has ever proved its value so eloquently or has benefited mankind so greatly as capitalism --- and none has ever been attacked so savagely, viciously, and blindly. The flood of misinformation, misrepresentation, distortion, and outright falsehood about capitalism is such that the young people of today have no idea (and virtually no way of discovering any idea) of its actual nature.... To obliterate the truth on such a large scale, to hide an open secret from the world, to hide --- without any power of censorship, yet without any significant sound of protest --- the fact that an ideal social system had once been almost within men's reach, cannot be done by any conspiracy of evildoers; it cannot be done except with the tacit compliance of those who know better."

So, who said it? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Glenn Beck? Another right wing talk show host?

Nope. Those words were written by Ayn Rand in July 1966.

And they still ring true, especially today.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Obama Needs the Stimulus Package to Fail

You read that right, folks. Barack Obama needs the "stimulus package" to fail, contrary to what we're seeing and hearing from the media. Here's why.

- Obama is failing in his first big test as President. Joe Biden said Obama would be tested within the first six months of his Presidency, and this is that test. Where Obama was cool and confident for the most part on the campaign trail, he's starting to show signs of ill temper and a lack of confidence when it comes to leading the country. The fact that he's practically begging for its passage makes him look like a completely different person now that he's President: a weaker, desperate man. In order to regain his political footing, he's going to have to do a 180 on the stimulus package so that he looks more like a man of the people. It may cause him some short-term headaches, but if the stimulus package as proposed by Congress passes and gets signed, it will cause him a Presidency of headaches when it fails to deliver what he promised it would. Having the current bill go down in flames would save him having to make the mistake of signing off on that failure.

- Obama is going back on his campaign promises. Remember how Obama was going to change the way politics was done in Washington, DC? Remember how Obama was going to reach across the aisle to Republicans? Remember how Obama was going to bring fiscal responsibility back to the White House? Remember how he was going to trade hope for fear? With what he's done and said to try to get the stimulus package passed, he's showing that his promises were, as he so eloquently put it, "just words." Imagine how many people are going to be disillusioned once they realize Obama just used slick talk to get into power and that he's not really the agent of change he (and his friends in the media) made him out to be. The way to regain that mantle is to tell Congress that he won't support the stimulus package in its current form because it spends more on items that won't impact the economy that much, if at all.

- Obama's favorable ratings are starting to tank. When Obama was in the transition period between being President-Elect and President, his approval ratings were sky high in the 80s. Now, depending on the poll you read, Obama's favorable ratings are in the 60s. When Obama started doing stuff, his popularity started to wane. And with the stimulus package being widely panned by the public, it could become an albatross around his neck. Taking a stand against the stimulus package and having it fail in Congress will help level off the nosedive his favorable ratings have taken since taking the Oath of Office.

- Obama needs to put Congress in its place. This may seem like an unusual move when the same party controls the White House and Congress, but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid aren't necessarily Obama's allies on Capitol Hill. Reid has already said that he doesn't work for Obama, and Pelosi has no problem bucking authority when she thinks it suits her purposes. I see them more as a privy council instead of his eyes and ears in Congress. And considering the two of them aren't always on the best of terms, it's entirely possible that they could try to play Obama against one another, which will further damage his Presidency by marginalizing him from President to Pawn In Chief. Reclaiming his position at the bully pulpit requires Obama to let Pelosi and Reid know in no uncertain terms that he's the President, not them. Smacking down their version of the stimulus package would do that.

- The stimulus package will define his Presidency. There are events that define a Presidency both from a positive and a negative standpoint. The stimulus package is one of those defining moments, and to have it happen so quickly in his Presidency should disturb Obama. Having said that, taking a principled stand will help him shape his future and put him on a path to live up to the image of Abraham Lincoln that the media put on him and that he accepted without a word of dispute. Taking a public stand against his party on this issue will make him look less like a politician and more like the statesman he needs to appear to be. Then, he'll be able to write his Presidential history as he wants it to be written. Having it pass and then fail to produce jobs would take that pen away from him.

Put simply, one of the biggest advocates of the stimulus package needs to see it fail if he wants to get past his first major test as President. The bill as written/proposed won't do what Obama has promised it will do, but it will haunt him if he doesn't put the brakes on it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Damn Good Idea

You may never know it from listening or watching him, but Glenn Beck is a brilliant man. On his radio show today, he advanced an idea that I think will send a serious message to Washington, DC.

It's called WE Surround Them. The details of the idea are on Beck's website here:

If you think you'd like to do it, follow the directions and send Glenn your pictures. If he's doing what I think he's doing with them, WE Surround Them should make our elected officials feel just Custer at Little Big Horn.

I Agree With Obama on One Thing...

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama deflected questions about his lack of executive experience by saying, "It's not about experience; it's about judgment." And for many people, it really was about judgment, and voters seemed to trust Obama's judgment over John McCain's experience.

And now that Obama's in the White House and making appointments, we have a good look at the quality of his judgment.

- Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner was confirmed by the Senate in spite of "forgetting' to pay $34,000 in back taxes, blaming the complexity of TurboTax. But he made up for it by paying his back taxes...only a couple of years after he was supposed to pay them.

- Bill Richardson backed out of the running for the Commerce Secretary nomination due to a grand jury investigation into whether he awarded a government contract to political donors.

- Former South Dakota Senator and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to be Health and Human Services Secretary due to failing to fully pay taxes from 2005 to 2007. To make up for it, he recently made a $128,203 tax payment with $11,964 in interest.

- Nominee for Chief Performance Officer and a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination withdrew her nomination after the Associated Press found that the District of Columbia placed a tax lien on her home in 2005 for failure to pay unemployment compensation for hired help.

- Obama said that his Administration would not be filled with lobbyists...until it came out that some of the people he'd chosen had close ties to lobbyists.

- Obama wrote an Executive Order signalling that he would review the possibility of closing the detention center in Guantanamo Bay next year.

- Obama made good on a campaign promise to sit down with Iran and talk about their nuclear aspirations, which made President Imadinnerjacket mock Obama in the worldwide press after the Obama Administration made some initial inquiries about that possibility.

And all of this within the first two weeks of the Obama Presidency

Barack Obama is right. It's not about experience; it's about judgment. And right now, it's clear Obama lacks the judgment to be President.