My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


How To Argue This Point 

In a country of children, the person with the most lollipops is usually the most popular one in the room.

And that is the problem Republicans face in opposing Barack Obama--he has BY A LONG SHOT the most lollipops, and he has no problem with giving them away in the interest of buying some votes.

So how do you counter that?

I would submit, in a reiteration of what I said on the radio tonight, that the only way to argue that is this: whenever you bestow upon someone else the expectation that they will provide something for you, you give to them the power to take not just that, but whatever else you value. The more Obama wants to give to the people, the greater the expectation of govenment dependency, the more power the govenment arrogates to itself to eventually pay for it.

The problem is that it 1.) takes time for the flaws in the socialistic system to have a great impact. I just learned tonight that Canada started to assemble the parts of their health care system in the early 50s; in the 80s, it was a model system for the world to examine; by the late 80s it was starting to show signs of strain; and today it is a joke; and b.) if past is lesson, then the fact that the New Deal was abyssmal economically but still successful electorally should give Republicans pause. The desire to have the politicians "do something" is powerful, and it needs to be countered with solid arguments and reason.

Color Me Unimpressed 

So the President--the "Greatest Orator in a Generation"--gave his first Congressional address tonight.


Seriously, I watched the speech, and I listened for stunning imagery and stirring rhetoric, and was unimpressed. It was rather . . . pedestrian.

Well, except for that line he stole from Morgan Freeman in "Deep Impact."

As with most of his recent speeches, the President stuck to what got him here to begin with: deep on ambiguous principle, very VERY shallow on specifics.

Take for instance the section on education. Please.

The one real specific that he mentioned about education was to ask every American to commit to one year of higher education or vocation training.

Because, really, we all just kinda stumble out of high school, jump, and see which job we land on for the next 50 years.

Of what value at all is that high-minded bit of rhetoric? Who gets to decide what counts for this? When a person apprentices with an electrician for a year, does that count? Do the skills the men and women of the U.S. Military pick up count as "career training?" And is there going to be a timetable for completion of this year, and will there be consequences for those who fail to complete it in time?

It is rhetorical Chinese food: pretty good going down, but leaves you hungry.

And actually not all that great going down.

By the way, "Nobody messes with Joe." Really? You mean, other than Joe himself when he tries to speak extemporaneously?

The big issue, we've already learned I think, is that the President sets out these broad, middling sort of ideas about what he wants, and then turns the sculpting of legislation over to the Pelosi's and the Reid's and the Schumer's, so we get Bills and Laws that reflect very narrow, partisan principles which will march this country directly and irrevocably towards socialism.


Blog Talk Radio--RMA Edition 

Be sure to catch the gang in action tomorrow night, as once again, led by our intrepid host Joshua, we delve into the topics of the day, including Free Speech on Campus with Evan Coyne Maloney, and Single-Payer Health Care with Nadeem Esmail. Also, I'm sure there will be some dissecting of the President's "State of the Union."

Yours truly ios even scheduled to be a part of the discussion this time around.


For Those Keeping Score 

On February 9th, some 5 hours before President Obama gave his prime time press conference to push the "Stimulus Plan," the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the days' trading at 8270.

On February 10th, some 7 hours after Treasury Secretary Geithner outlined his plan for guiding the Obama Administration's recovery efforts, the Dow Jones closed at 7888.

On February 13th, after the House of Representatives had passed the Stimulus and the Senate was deliberating what was to end being a foregone conclusion, the Dow closed at 7850.

On February 17th, by 2 p.m. (roughly the time the President signed the Stimulus Bill into Law) the Dow had fallen to 7587.

On February 18th, by mid-afternoon and after the President had outlined his plan to ease the housing crisis, the Dow was at 7518.

And today, after the President tells the meeting of the Governors that he plans to slash the federal budget deficit in half by 2013, the Dow Jones closes down at 7105, its lowest level since 1997.

So in the two weeks since the President made his case to the American people for his Stimulus Plan, the markets have responded by dropping just over 14% of their value. At this rate, the best thing the President can do tomorrow night in front of Congress is keep it short. Hand them a copy of the Times or the Post, and say "Here's the state of the Union.' Make no promises, tell no lies, hope the markets don't read into it an excuse to plunge below 7000.


GOP Too Sanguine 

You read it all over the blogosphere, you see it from the talking heads: "If the economy gets better, the President will get the credit and an easy re-election; if it doesn't, he'll be a one-termer."

Sorry to throw cold water your way, everyone, but history does not support that conclusion.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

While the . . . Dam and other . . . projects were ahead of schedule, the economy was not, at least not in the sense of being where it had been before. The . . . reported in late spring that 780,0000 workers who had been reemployed by the . . . administration in the autumn had been unemployed again by the spring.

Or this:

[He] and others had noticed that the medium . . . really did seem to create a new reality, separate from the reality of old politics. If voters focused on the voice and the message, and not the tardy recovery, that might carry the Democrats forward."

Or this:

We cannot indefinitely support one-sixth of our population on money borrowed against future taxes.

All three of those quotes can very easily be ascribed to some completely foreseeable future in which the President's "stimulus package" has failed to do the trick, and the country is still mired in a deep recession. Sadly for our side, the conclusion to this sequence of thoughts is this:

The days after the election found the Democrats claiming 9 new Senate seats, giving them a 69-seat majority . . . In the House, the early returns showed Democrats holding 318 seats compared with the Republicans 99 . . . Where the New Deal was faltering economically, it was gaining politically. Roosevelt's radio voice was succeeding.

All of these quotes are from the 7th chapter of Amity Shlaes excellent book, The Forgotten Man. "He" is, of course, Roosevelt; the medium was radio; and the year was 1934. The New Deal is not working out economically, but Roosevelt had something that Pres. Obama has at his disposal as well--a friendly press and the mastery of the major media form (Roosevelt/radio; Obama/television). The public back then was willing to be reassured by a President who would talk eloquently right to them; the public of today elected a man whose only credential is his ability to communicate.

It's the last line of the above quote, really, that's so startling. There were businessmen and -women who knew the President's plan wasn't going to work out so good, or who recognized that the program wasn't working; nonetheless, the President was having his way electorally because he could TALK DIRECLY TO THE PEOPLE


History disagrees.


News From Denver's Big Day 

First of all, could you ask for any better irony than the President having to move this big event indoors because it was WAY too windy outside? Who would have guessed that Mother Nature would choose this day in Denver to do her own grand style of bloviating? And isn't it ironic that just as he's pushing his "new energy" program, a cornerpiece of that idea--wind power--asserts itself into the politics of the day. I love it!

By the way, the President reiterated one of my favorite dodges again today: have you noticed how he keeps saying "this bill will create or save 3.5 million jobs." Well, . . . how, exactly, does he propose to measure a job SAVED? Will there be statisticians combing the country asking businesses how many people they haven't laid off? This strikes me as an altogether nimble little piece of politics.

Rocky Mountain Right has pictures from today's event--no the official one, the protest on the steps of the capitol (which, did you notice, the President did not really make much of an effort to "engage" these people. Oh, well.

Mr. Bob has some more pictures and some background info; and Michael has video (ooh, the techies come out to play!)

And if that's not enough, check out Ben, Michael, and Joshua as they cover the days' work down at the capitol on tonight's BlogTalk Radio. program.


Come Protest Comrade President Obama 

Sure, he's wildly popular; and sure he's a great orator; and, yes, fresh off his great legislative victory he was able to take three days off (I guess the "emergency" must have taken three days off, too) before flying into our fair city to do the ceremonial signing (because the "emergency" likes a scenic backdrop, too).

But if you're one of those Paleolithic ideologues clinging to your guns and your Bill of Rights, maybe you can tear yourself away from your Bible study tomorrow to rally with several members of the RMA down at the Capitol tomorrow at noon. There's gonna be roast pig, a banjo player and if we're lucky, Ellie May will recite a little poetry for us.

But seriously, if you have the time, try to make your way downtown for this. Since His Emminence is limiting his actual event to a very select few (because only they are going to pay in the long run, I suppose. . . .HA), and Congress refused to listen to the will of the people, then a very strong, very visible showing is absolutely necessary to send a message to the President and to the "professional journalists."

And what is that message, you ask? We're watching; we've marked the day and the time that this became YOUR economy; and we're not gonna let you others cover up for him when this doesn't work.

Just Something To Brighten The Mood A Bit 

It seems I've been a bit pessimistic lately. Some would say (especially with last night's post) that I've gone a bit around the bend. So let me leave you with this ray of sunshine to ponder:

A wealthy entrepreneur once said more millionaires were created during the Great Depression than any other period in our nation’s history.

So, those of you with a speculative/entrepreneurial bent, take heart: your heyday is at hand.


Time To Fit Me For A Tin Foil Hat . . . 

. . . I guess.

Way back when, on October 19th, I wondered out loud (in print):

And then, doesn't it seem like strange coincidence that just when oil starts to calm down the rest of the financial markets go down the crapper?

[Mike] Huckabee said these words two or three weeks ago: "economic terrorism."

Now there's this: "Jihadist group claims responsibility for US financial meltdown"

Which is all well and good, and then the whole thing went quietly into that good night, and I didn't think about it much. Until this week, when I hear Glenn Beck run the audio on this (which I understand Rush was also playing):

It was about September 15th. Here's the facts, and we don't even talk about these things. On Thursday at about 11:00 in the morning, the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the United States to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in a matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help. They pumped $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there and that's what actually happened. If they had not done that, their estimation was that by 2:00 that afternoon, $5 1/2 trillion would have been drown off the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed.

The actual date was Thursday, September 18th.

Now, before you do what I was first inclined to do, which is dismiss this guy (who I've never heard of--and I follow this stuff!) as one tooth too long for the job, you need to see this confirmation:

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

How does this kind of a thing happen? $550 BILLION!?!? That seems like an awful lot of money to playing around with, unless there's a very good reason to do so.

So I ask again the question I asked back in October: who benefitted?

--Barack Obama. If you look at the RCP polling data, you see that John McCain held a slim lead (46.3-44.7) on Monday Sept 15th; Shearson-Lehman announced their collapse on Monday and was followed by others on Tuesday, and you see that by Wednesday the 17th the two are tied; by Friday the 19th Obama was ahead 47.3-45.4 and the race was never that close again. Certainly, John McCain's weak response hurt him--probably as much as the crisis itself. But you kind of have to note the coincidence of events, don't you?

--Government in General. First, there's the massive bailout of the financial sector--a bailout that doesn't seem to have had much effect, actually. Then there's the new "Stimulus Bill" which is going to cost our children and their children a substantial part of their fortunes, but which the CEO of Caterpillar said will "likely not save jobs" and which the Congressional Budget Office has admitted "will actually hurt the economy more in the long run" (CBO did project the bill would create jobs, though by 2011 the effects would be minuscule. ) Nonetheless, this massive piece of legislation was slammed through Congress in a couple weeks, with nowhere near enough time for proper debate, and with next to no bipartisan support. In exchange, we get a SecTreas with near supreme power over the economy, a substantial increase in the size of the Federal government, and small tax rebates in each of the next two years.

--And then there's those pesky Jihadists . . . If we should have learned anything over the last twenty years, its that every once in a while when one of these crazy cave-dwellers says something, we ought to take them at their word. So if there seems to be a coordinated run on the banks which throws the economy into "near collapse," and a Jihadist group claims responsibility while most of the public is completely unaware of the scope of the problem, then maybe, JUST MAYBE, there may be something to their claim.

--Variables It's just as likely, I suppose, that there's a shadowy sort of somebody out there (a "hegemon") who has the wherewithal to coordinate something like this attack. Let's see, is there anybody anywhere with a history of manipulating economies who is well known to be sympathetic to big government and/or Barack Obama? Anyone? Anyone?

But none of that is really the point. I think it highly unlikely that any one of these players were able to pull this off.

But doesn't it make you wonder--REAALLYY wonder--why the "professional journalists" haven't done or said anything about this? Because it seems to me that they've benefitted quite a bit from the crisis, as well.


Blog Talk Radio--Rocky Mountain Alliance Radio 

Tonight was another foray into broadcasting for members of the Rocky Mountain Alliance. Tune in to the show, and catch up on the old shows at this site.

Voting With Their Resources 

In the last 24 hours, Barack Obama gave a press conference to press for passage of his stimulus package, Timothy Geithner announced his plans for distributing the rest of the bailout package, and the Senate managed to pass the "Stimulus" bill by 61-38.

Three major economic interventions by the political class in Washington, and how did the markets react?

By selling off nearly 5% of its value.

From this day forward, the economy belongs to President Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi. It is true that they inherited a mess, but they have now implemented a "cure"--they are now the responsible party.

And the financial sector has telegraphed an abundance of confidence . . . not.

The best thing Republicans can do from here on out is to publicly hope that this is the cure, but to do so while constantly saying "the Ried/Pelosi/Obama stimulus/economy."

And then they should remind the country constantly of history and its strange resemblance to the present. Esp. the mistakes.


Free, Unsolicited Advice 

Here's what I would do if I were a wealthy 527 or had a senior GOP staff member lying around:

Dig through the details of this stimulus bill, and identify the parts of the bill that are "payoff" to Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter. Then I would start running ads in those states asking them "Why spending my grandchildren's future out of existence is justified by this-or-that pet project."

It looks like Senate bill may get through tomorrow (thanks to the aforementioned Senators); but the public has yet to come around to it, and I don't think the President likely changed that with his presser tonight (more on that later). So if the House GOP can hold tight when the conference bill comes out, maybe a little outcry in Maine and PA will yank these three back from their stupidity.

By the way, if you're curious, here is a link to Sen. Specter's nearly incoherent floor speech in weak support of the bill.

And here' a link to Sen. Snowe's justification of her support, which includes a pretty big mention of the extra funding Maine will get with this new bill.

And here is a link to Sen. Collins' self-congratulatory explanation of the compromise that she "helped craft."

I have a lot more to say about the President's press conference tomorrow. For now, let me just say a couple things: one, if the problem is such that only the government can solve it, then we must have lost an awful lot of brain power in the rest of the country; and two, the strain of the job seems to be wearing on him already. The eloquent, connected happy candidate has been replaced by a surly, dishonest and insulated President.

And this is just week 3! Wait until after Iran has its elections and their hardliners get rewarded with even more power.

Enjoy the honeymoon, Mr. President.


Not That I Celebrate Such Things . . . 

but has there ever been a worse start to a Presidency than the one we're witnessing right now?

Well, with the exception, perhaps, of William Henry Harrison, whose inauguration address was so long in such bad weather that not only did he catch pheumonia and die, but so did the outgoing First Lady.

Other than that . . . .

First, President Obama's nominee for Commerce, Bill Richardson, has to withdraw because of shady dealings in his "home" state of New Mexico.

Then, President Obama's nominee for Treasury--the "only man smart enough" to handle the job (God help us!!)--gets nailed for not being smart enough to pay his payroll taxes, but somehow manages to be smart enough to get Senate confirmation, anyway.

THEN, President Obama's nominee for "Chief Performance Officer" has to withdraw because of a past failure to pay taxes.

THEN, President Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services has to withdraw because he failed to pay taxes.

And, on top of that, it's now looking more and more likely that Pres. Obama's signature first move--the Giant Supernecessary and Superimportant Stimulus and Lefty Payoff bill--now appears like it might not survive the Senate. And even if it does, the public seems to have turned decidedly against this particular version of the Bill.

Oh, yeah, and then there's the whole possibility that Senator Number 59 may actually lose, like he did on election night, bringing Pres. Obama's net gain in seats since his election at -2.

NOT a good start. There were those of us out here who said he didn't have the experience to run this sort of operation. Based on what we've seen so far, . . .



Lighter Fare 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers, World Champions!

I'm a Steelers fan from waaaay back. In fact, one of my first memories is of Lynn Swann leaping in the air, tipping a ball away from a defender, getting one foot back under himself enough to leap again to catch a ball at midfield in the Rose Bowl against the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. So to find that the MVP of the game was going to be a Steelers reciever seemed to me just the way things ought to be.

That said, I couldn't help but pull for the Cardinals in the 4th. I know there's real character on that team, and I like Kurt Warner--both as a player and what I know of him as a person. And I did get very excited about Larry Fitzgerald's sprint to the end zone with 2:30 left in the game. Too bad it turned out to be too much time for the Steelers.

In the end, in the biggest game, a quarterback made a perfect throw when he needed to, and a reciever made a spectacular catch. You can't fault the Cards for that--that's just the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes the bug, sometimes the windshield.

But most importantly, this was a very entertaining gamd to watch. Hats off the NFL for finding at least a whiff of parity in this process.


A Fool's Tale 

Enter Chief, room attended by several doctors and bystanders already present around one patient

Dr. C: Well, folks, what have we here? I have just a moment to look in before dealing with a pressing case next door.

Dr. Hansen: We have a patient in the throes of a rapidly increasing fever, which is likely to cause massive systemic failure at any moment.

patient: I'm getting better. . . .

Dr. Hansen: No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a minute.

Dr. Christie: I tend to actually agree with the patient here, Chief. There's very little actual evidence that he's getting warmer at all.

bystander: LIAR!!!

Dr. Chief: And who are you?

bystander: Me? You don't know me? My last movie made $270 million, and I've listened to Dr. Hansen--he's actually a doctor, and he thinks the patient is in grave danger. I'm willing to stake my considerable resources behind supporting that assessment. By the way, it's a little chilly in here--could someone please turn up the heat?

Dr. Hansen: And I have dozens of people--actors, politicians, bureaucrats, and even other doctors--who also believe the way I do about the patient. He must get on a cart and have his entire circulation system overhauled. Sure, it might be painful and very damaging, but he HAS to cool off!

patient: I don't want to go on the cart.

Dr. Hansen: Oh, don't be such a baby.

Dr. Chief: That's pretty impressive. Can somebody show me that actual chart?

Dr. Christie: Certainly. Here it is.

Dr. Chief: [thinking and reading] Hmm. Uh-huh. Very interesting. Dr. Hansen, can you show me why this chart seems to show that the patient's temperature actually has been coming down for several readings now?

"Dr." Albert: If I may, Chief. If you look further into the chart, you'll see that the patient's blood gasses are all wrong, and have been for some time. Such a deviation can only lead to catastrophic temperature increases.

Dr. Chief: But do we have any evidence that that deviation DOES lead to temperature increases?

patient: I think I'll go for a walk.

Albert, bystander and Hansen: You're not fooling anyone, you know.

bystander: We have to ACT! The patient cannot afford to wait!

Dr. Chief: What I'm asking is: have there been previous cases where the gasses and the temperature rise coincided in catastrophic ways?

[all look around sheepishly]

Dr. Christie: There have been such temperature deviations before, but the gasses follow the temperature, not lead it; and we've always survived the warming.

Dr. Hansen: Oh, shut up, Christie. You just don't know anything!

"Dr." Albert: The science has actually been settled on this for like, decades. You're just a stubborn, backwards heretic.

bystander: You have to imagine just how bad it could get for the patient. Boils, rashes . . . body odor. We have to DO something!

Dr. Chief: Christie, do you have anybody else backing you up on this . . .this, "theory" of yours?

Dr. Christie: Yes, as a matter of fact. A list of over 3,000 doctors, specialists, general practitioners . . .all who think the question is, at best, unsettled.

Dr. Chief: But, if we force a treatment on this patient, we could use it to affect every patient everywhere, right?

patient: I feel happy!

Dr. Hansen: Chief, we have to act before the patient--who is clearly delusional already--slips beyond the point of no return.

Dr. Chief: I see your point, Dr. Hansen. And, while I'm open to every argument, I was about to appoint Hansen here to Department Chair and elevate Dr Albert to public relations executive, so I really have to put my faith in them.

Chief, glances around the room furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club.

Dr. Chief: gentleman--I must away. The patient next door is resisting infusions, it's sliding away--I have to go make sure he'll take 3 or 4 units right away.

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