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


Signs of The End of America As We Know It 

Several stories from the past week jump out at me tonight.

1. The White House has fired the head of a private U.S. company. Sure, GM was a bit less "private" after taking $16 billion from the federal government back in September, but this is still remarkably dangerous precedent to set. And, in particular, when you consider that both GM AND Chrysler's restructuring plans were rejected, it seems capricious to fire one but not anyone else. And, sure, GM's performance for the last several years has been bad--but so has Ford and Pontiac and everybody else vaguely associated with Detroit. Why Wagoner? why now? But more importantly, since when did the White House arrogate the power to itself to pick and choose who gets to run American corporations?

2. The President of Notre Dame University has invited the single most pro-abortion President in history to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree. I don't even know if this needs comment. But I'll provide it anyway. It seems to me that at the point where even those charged with sheperding the faithful and teaching Truth start to blur the lines of right and wrong in favor of political favor, then those of us in the flock must acknowledge that our leadership is flawed. The Catholic Church in America has been one of the few institutions that has maintained a strong, principled stance on social issues, even in the face of mounting cultural pressure--that stance seems to be crumbling. Speaking as a former Catholic, I have long thought that the Church heirarchy was basically good, however imperfect; the lesson, it would seem, for those of us who are not Catholic, is that even within institutions that are basically good there are those who are completely wrong. And that lesson extends far out of the realm of religion--it applies to every organization in our lives. We have to become far more critical of our "leaders" and hold them accountable (see Bush, George W./Growth of Government and Hastert, Dennis/Earmark Reform and McCain, John/Immigration Reform, Free Speech, and Gang of Twelve).

3. Natasha Richardson died in part because of poor medical care. It would seem the doctors in Canada were simply following the cost-benefit mandate that they operate under when they did not perform a CT scan immediately upon seeing her in the emergency room. That same cost-benefit mandate is built into the . . . wait for it . . . health care package put forward by President Obama as a way to "reduce costs." yippee! Can't wait for this one to bear fruit here in America.

4. Last year was a record year for births in the U.S.--unfortunately, 40% of those born were born to unwed mothers. The statistics here are irrefutable--children born to single mothers are at vastly greater risk of being brought up in poverty; likewise, children of single parents are vastly more likely to be single parents, themselves. The demographic math is disturbingly predictable: we are beginning to bring into the world whole generations destined for poverty. You want class warfare? You want to destroy the middle class? Destroy the family first.

5. Speaking of demographics, our closest ally has its own problem.

The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.

The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.

What implications does this have for the U.S.? Because Britain was likely to be one of our few allies in a treaty battle that is starting to emerge in the U.N. It seems there is an effort to criminalize the criticism of any religion (read: Islam), which could lead to a tacit acceptance of Sharia law, which would become codified by U.N. treaty, which would supercede U.S. Constitution as the source of law.

Just to keep an eye on the big gameboard.

6. Ever hear of a "Bull Rally?" That's when the stock market takes a breather from a major selloff or crash, as small investors think they've hit the bottom and start buying again. After a certain time the big investors, who have been on the sidelines holding on to rapidly devaluing stocks, decide that the market is as good as it's likely to get, and start dumping . . .er, liquidating. . . their holdings, and the market tanks even further. Over the past several weeks, the market has had a very nice run--until today, when all the major indices were down over 3 %. I'm no prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet, but if I had to guess, I'd say today may have been the beginning of the final dump-off.

Nostradamus, the Mayans, all of them . . . they may be on to something. Or maybe we're just running the rather predictable and mundane course that all the other great civilizations have run in their time.

In Preparation for Opening Day 

A viewing recommendation.

Yeah, sure, Opening Day is seven days away--for some reason I just can't credit the Sunday night game--so what better time to start to psyche up for the season than by watching the best baseball movies ever made?

Start with the HBO production of 61*. If you haven't seen it, I'm not surprised--it never got quite the same hoopla as some of HBO's other big shows, but it is just as well made as John Adams or The Sopranos. And as one of the least-told stories of all of baseball's mythology, the home run race between Roger Maris and Micky Mantle makes for compelling watching.



How's Your Bracket? 

Mine's looking good right now.

I have 15 of my 16 "Sweet 16s" in the round, and the missing one is not supposed to get past the 16, so I'm looking pretty good.

That will probably all change tomorrow, but I wanted to make a note of it while it still looked good for me.

How's Your Bracket? 

Story Within a Story 

The lead is interesting enough:

The president of the European Union on Wednesday ripped the Obama administration's economic policies, calling its deficit spending and bank bailouts "a road to hell."

That's a little--no, it's a LOT--like having Jake Cutler criticize you for a public relations screw-up based on your own arrogance and overestimation of your standing in a community.

Oh, did I let my opinion trickle through there?

But that's not the real story here. Look closely at the story, in particular the top part of it.

Yep. Page A12.


Can you, in a million years, imagine a circumstance where a foreign leader described a Bush administration policy as "a road to Hell," and it wouldn't be front page above the fold?!? It would lead every nightly news broadcast, and experts would be brought in to defend the EU Prez's position.

But with Obama as the target of the slam, it gets page A12, and nary a mention on the evening news.

Bias? what bias?


Two Quick Hits 

First, a study in contrasts. Follow this link to see one of the funnier videos I've seen in a while.

And second, be sure to catch the guys talking all things social/political/cultural, with a few references thrown in (I'm just guessing here) to the hapless Detroit Tigers' prospects for this season on Blog Talk Radio RMA, tonight at 8:30.

The Truly Great Ones Retain Their Relevance 

I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis', as long-time readers of this blog know. Not only did he possess an amazing gift for story-telling, but his wit and wisdom in defense of Christianity are remarkable tools that every serious Christian should familiarize themselves with.

In 1941 Lewis wrote a book called The Screwtape Letters, in which he "publishes" a mythical series of correspondences between Screwtape, a master demon, and his nephew Wormwood, who is a demon apprentice assigned to tempt one human into damnation. It is full of Lewis' trademark wit, healthily sprinkled with some remarkably spot-on observations of the human condition.

Tell me, does this excerpt from Letter #23 seem to have some relevance today:

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything--even to social justice. [emphasis mine] The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice.

What was it that Barack Obama, the candidate, said about his church:

. . .you know, I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ. And it is a wonderful church. It's a member of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that dates back to the battles around abolition. It has lived out, I think the, the social gospel by dealing with poverty and providing shelter to the homeless and, and working on critical issues that make me very proud. . . .

But what I think he didn't recognize was that, that the very things that our church has advocated for--social justice, dealing effectively with issues like poverty--that those are the issues that are stake--at stake right now.

And so the gospel of "social justice" supplants the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And, despite Lewis' warning, the American Christian community bought into that message, at least a little bit:

On one key measure that has hurt Democrats before — the God or religion gap — Obama made up ground. He won 43% of weekly churchgoers to McCain's 55%. Not great, but an improvement over John Kerry taking 39% of that vote to George Bush's 61%.

Among voters who attend church more than once a week, Obama narrowed a 29-point Republican advantage in 2004 (64 percent to 35%) to a 12-point Republican advantage edge (55 percent to 43%).

I don't know if this reflects incredible naivete on the part of Americans, or if it is simply an inevitable, cyclical event like global warming and economic downturns. Lewis may have been writing about this because 1941 Britain was going through a cycle just like America is today.

I don't know the answer. What I do know is that, looking at the empty cathedrals all across Europe, it worries me--if we are just beginning a cycle they've already been through, the results could end up the same in America.

Or maybe Wormwood is just doing his job.

And that would bad. We would ALL need Lewis' sense of humor to survive.

But it is funny that Lewis


Just a Question 

Persident Obama made the decision last week to go out and shill for his new $1-trillion-in-new-debt budget by flying to California, holding a few town halls, and going on television. All with full access to Air Force One and its crew, a full Secret Service detail, much advance work by the Secret Service, and the help and cooperation of local law enforcement, and all the resultant disruption to the normal course of businesses around what ever site they finally decided to use.

I wonder how much THAT little junket cost the U.S. Taxpayer.

Multiply that by all the campaign-style events that THE ONE is holding to justify his programs, and you get some idea where some of this debt is coming from.

But, Democrats, being irony-challenged, rarely notice things like that.

The Audacity of Doubt 

When a media person finally crosses over and expresses some doubt about The One, it really comes across as shocking; all the more so because of how really outlandish the question formulation is to begin with:

His remarks came in a “60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.

“You're sitting here. And you're— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asks at one point.

“Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft says.

Until about 8 years ago, it was impossible to imagine a "professional journalist" posing a question to a sitting President in such a manner. EVEN IF I was cheering that somebody finally pressed the President on the point, the question itself feels to me like it crosses a line.

But that Kroft was asking it of THE ONE . . . . Well, I never! . .

I suppose the President is starting to deal with some of the dividends of cheapening the office by doing things like going on Leno in the middle of a legislative battle.

That just can't be good for the country.


Talking Point 

I have written before about how conservatives have, for all intents and purposes, ceded the moral high ground vis-a-vis charitable behavior to the Democrats. My argument is that the Conservatives have to be able to make the case that government HAS A ROLE in chiritable acts, but that role is neither primary, nor is it coercive; Democrats believe government should be the sole and central source of charity to everybody.

Well, right now conservatives have an unprecedented opportunity to make that argument, and I don't hear a one of them making it.

With the budget the President has proposed, at a time of an ongoing economic downturn, those most able to donate to charities are likely to stop or reduce their giving, because for every dollar they give to charity, the government is going to take an extra chunk out. So even evil, horrible, selfish, greedy arch-neo-conservatives are likely to scale back, simply due to lack of resources.

And the charities will suffer.

Democrats will counter that the government is going to step in where charities fall short. Okay--great. The problem is that government is bad at this, and charities tend to be better.

Just another unintended consequence of liberal policies--a consequence that will lead to more and more government control over our lives.

AND NOBODY IS MAKING THIS ARGUMENT!! Good morning, hello? Republican leadership team? Let's get back on the right side of this issue please.


Governance by Celebrity: A Gordean Knot of Contradictions 

So the President is going on Leno tonight to try to sell his budget. Not Larry King, not CNN, not (God forbid!) a slightly hostile news source like FOX. No, he goes on Leno.


And this just a couple days after the White House press secretary mocked the former Vice President during his daily briefing.

The children are in charge.

At the same time that the President is trying to pass legislation that would dramatically increase both the size and the scope of the government, he is doing it while stuck in campaign mode.

Look, it is NOT possible to simultaneously increase the power of the Presidency while diminishing the stature of the office. Some senior Democrat who still gives a damn about this country and the Presidency ought to mention to this guy and his team that he ought to start acting like a grown up.

Hope and change.

Gimme a damn break. Just, for a minute, give me competent governance. These guys ought to hire David Gergen to come in and consult, just to add a titch of maturity to the proceedings.

We Might Have To Demote These Guys 

The Junior Varsity might be a bit too ambitious for members of this administration.

Tonight's contibutions, though they didn't actually happen today:

But Cowen was 20 seconds into his second address when it dawned on him that he was giving word for word the speech that Obama had just read from the same teleprompter.

Here's the thing: it's not that there was a teleprompter mistake, though that's not supposed to happen; it's not that it took 20 full seconds for the PM to realize he wasn't reading his own speech (there's got to be a joke about Guiness in there somewhere, but I'll let it pass);


Just for grins, I'm going to try to write a little introduction here; I promise I'll do it as stream-of-consciousness as I can.

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Prime Minister of one of America's closest friends and allies, and it is a great honor to continue a long tradition of the White House welcoming the Prime Minister of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day.

Beyond our obvious similarities in governance and values, the long influence and great affinity of America and Ireland upon each other is worthy of such a celebration. Besides a great Irish playwrite, there is a long tradition of Irish American civil servants in some of our greatest cities, manning the Blue Line in Chicago or rushing into burning buildings in New York.

"And so, on this St. Patrick's Day, it is a distinct pleasure to introduce a great civil servant and friend of America, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr. Brian Cowen."

Not that hard.

And the second one is just the continuation of and earlier screw-up:

Remember about five weeks ago when President Obama said this:

"Yesterday, Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off," Obama said today in Peoria.

And then remember how, about a minute and a half later "Jim" said this:

"The honest reality is we're probably going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again."

Well, a little better staff work might have prevented this story:

Caterpillar Inc., gearing down production further in response to eroding global demand, disclosed plans Tuesday to idle more than 2,200 U.S. workers, including 1,526 in Illinois.

So, um . . . . maybe that whole stimulus thingy might just, I don't know, um . . . WORK.

The combination of arrogance and incompetence reminds me of this guy I used to play basketball with. You know the type: talks a great game, has all the gear, walks on the court like he owns it, and then dribbles the ball off his own knee or throws a screaming pass into the third row of the bleachers, and then blames his teammates for it.

At some point, he stopped being annoying and just became a bad joke.

The President of the United States can ill afford to become a bad joke. Obama should ask his predecessor what that does for an administration . . . . or for the country.


The Junior Varsity Strikes Again 

Y'know, when I started this series, I thought there would be a lot of material, but I had no idea we were looking at a nightly thing.

Anyway . . .

Tonight's entries . . . aw, hell. They come without comment.

Democratic sources say that H. Rodgin Cohen, a partner in the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and the leading candidate for Deputy Treasury Secretary, has withdrawn from consideration.

It's the third withdrawal of a top Treasury Department staff pick in less than a week.

and . . . .

An aide to President Barack Obama is on leave from his White House job after the FBI raided his old District of Columbia government office Thursday, arresting a city employee and a technology consultant on corruption charges, a White House official said.

The charges were lodged against the two men at a federal court hearing as the FBI finished searching the city's technology office, which was led until recently by Obama's new computer chief, Vivek Kundra.

Okay, I lied. I have to comment.

So far in this series we've covered the Commerce Department, the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and multiple foreign policy screw-ups.

And in this day and age do you think . . .DO YOU THINK. . . that maybe, just a little bit, the person in charge of the White House computers might want to be, oh I don't know, NOT SUBJECT TO CORRUPTION PROBLEMS?!?!?!

"No, sir, I have no idea how the Chinese hacked into our national security database and found all our high-level NOCs in the PRC. Maybe they bought off all the people I was in debt to and then leveraged that with a little . . .

Honestly, and we're still talking high-level appointments here. Who do think is gonna slip past the vetting process to be Junior Assistant Undersecretary for Diplomatic Gift-Giving?

Oh, wait! . . .they apparently already filled that post.

By the way, have you noticed how the stock market has rallied in the last few days? And have you simultaneously noticed how President Obama hasn't had any major speeches in the last couple days?

Probably just coincidence.


Once Again, With Complete Ignorance of Irony 

There's a gathering going on in New York right now--the 2009 International Conference on Climate change. This group, however, is 800 or so scientists who DOUBT that humans are to blame for climate change.

When asked for comment on this group, Al Gore's spokesperson replied: "Climate deniers fall into the same camp as people who still don't believe we landed on the moon,"

Guess who's speaking at this conference? Harrison "Jack" Schmitt. Who was he? Mission specialist on the Apollo 17 Mission . . . wait for it . . .the last mission to land on the moon.

Heh heh heh.

The Junior Varsity Strikes Again 

Today's entry involves two nominees, and the ridiculousness of their nominations.

The first was President Obama's second most-visible outreach to Republicans: the appointment of Sen. Judd Gregg (R) as Commerce Secretary. Gregg withdrew his name from consideration shortly thereafter during the political kerfuffle of the Stimulus Bill. Today, we learn just how bad a fit he would have been in the Obama administration:

(from Budget Committee Hearing via Powerline) I appreciate the chairman saying that, in the second five years of this budget, the debt levels are unsustainable, because they are.
And the cost of this budget is unsustainable. And the tax burden is unsustainable. The chairman didn't say that. I added the second two categories. ...

The problem is that that effort to try to stabilize the economy has been used as a straw dog for the purposes of expanding the size of government in the out years exponentially, moving it to the left in a way that has never been projected or seen before, should it be successful.

The budget proposes about $1.4 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years, about $725 billion in new discretionary spending, about $1.2 trillion in new mandatory spending. And virtually no savings. ...

All the presidents -- including George Bush -- since the beginning of our republic, will not have run up as much debt as this budget will run up in the first period of its term.

Gee, he would have been loads of fun at the Cabinet basketball game, dontcha think? "I'm sorry, Mr. President, but there is no such thing as a seven-point shot!" Funny how that little splash of reality wouldn't have fit in in the administration.

The second is, perhaps, even more important (again, via Powerline, which has been ALL OVER this story), is the withdrawal today from consideration for Chairman of the National Intelligence Council of Charles Freeman. To make easy sport, here's part of what Freemen said in his statement today:

I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States . . .

But here's Freeman in his own words from 2002:

I'm a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them--to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad.

THIS guy was going to be the person responsible for making sure Obama got the good information he needed to "decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States?"?!?! Something tells me the President might have been missing a few pieces of the puzzle along the way.

But, then again, the President hasn't exactly shown much loyalty to America's traditional closest allies.

You have to wonder who is in charge of vetting nominees in this administration. They seem to be missing a few things along the way.


The Junior Varsity Strikes Again 

I always wondered if it wasn't President Obama that we had to worry about so much as the type of people that his administration would attract. It would seem I was right.

You've probably heard the stories by now: it starts with Obama forcefully sending the bust of Churchill back to England, even though it was a gift to us representing their solidarity in the wake of 9/11. Then, Gordon Brown, PM of our oldest and closest ally, comes to visit. Obama snubs the traditional joint press conference, eschews a state dinner, and the gift exchange is a shambles: Brown gives a pen set made from wood from the Resolute, along with a 1st edition bio of Churchill; Obama gives Brown a 25-movie DVD collection. Mrs. Brown brings very nice clothing for the Obama children; Mrs. Obama presents a couple models of Marine One that were in the residence.

Now, in week #4 can the Obamas be forgiven for not knowing all the traditional protocol for a state visit? Sure. Why not? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

But what about all the "professional" diplomats and protocol aides whose job it is to know this stuff, and who are supposed to prevent the President from doing stupid and insulting things like this.

OOPS. My bad. Missed that one . . .

Again, 28 out of 800.

Apparently, the State Dept is one of those places running short on competent staff right now.

Just for grins, let's all keep a close eye out for how this administration treats the eventual visit of the head of Hamas or Hezbollah. Just for grins.


The Junior Varsity Strikes Again 

This is too easy not to make it a regular series.

Today's contribution: in over six weeks of work, the Obama administration has managed to get 28 Senate-confirmable posts filled. That's out of about 800 that they have to fill.

28 out of 800.

At this rate, they might have a fully staffed government by the time of the next election.

And we were worried that a lack of administrative experience would prove to be a handicap . . .

By the way, if you missed it, the new administration is already starting to inspire the derision of the comedic Left. Even though I never watch Saturday Night Live any more, it just happened to be on in the room on Saturday night, and the opening skit was a blistering attack on the administration and, in particular, Tim Geithner. Pretty funny stuff.

Annual Education Colonoscopy 

That is, I believe, how I referred to the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) a couple nights ago.

Why did I refer to it that way? I don't know--maybe it's because I just turned 40 and I'm really looking forward to that next physical. Or it could be because the impending administration of the CSAP elicits nearly the same reaction from educators as that oh-so-pleasant procedure.

And with good reason.

First of all, the obvious: is testing good? yes, though not as good as some people believe. Do schools need to be held accountable? yes. Do students need to be held accountable? absolutely, though, sadly, this test does not accomplish that. Does there need to be some accounting of the effectiveness of our tax dollars at work? YES.

Unfortunately, the CSAP is a terrible test. Here's what some schools in my district do.

I teach at a number of elementary schools. For all of last week and all of this week, the students have their day divided into testing blocks. Their usual schedule of lunch and specials classes are intact, but the bulk of the rest of their day is spent testing. Yes, that means between 75 and 180 minutes of every day for two weeks is spent testing (third grade gets a third week). In most elementary schools, there is also an additional 15 minutes spent before the test giving the students a special snack (brain food, I guess) and getting them calm and ready for the test. In effect, every student in Colorado will spend about 20 hours of valuable education time taking a test. A test which is designed to assess if the student has assimilated the expected skills and knowledge from the previous year. From one year. 20 hours.

For comparison, the American College Test (ACT) is designed to, in effect, test the skills and knowledge from eleven years worth of education. It takes 3 hours.

And what happens if they fail this particular test? Nothing. Maybe the school gets a little closer scrutiny, and certainly the teacher will be held responsible, but the student suffers no consequence at all.

Maybe that's just the elementary schools, you say. Wrong.

My daughter is in middle school. Her particular middle school, which is NOT unique, alters their schedule rather dramatically for the CSAP. School, which normally starts at 7:35, doesn't start until 9:45; they have one testing block, then they take a one-hour lunch, then they have another testing block.

And that's it for the day. And that's three days a week for two weeks. No education at all.

This is our student assessment program, as brought to you by--you guessed it--the Republicans in the state legislature 15 years ago and signed into law by then-Governor Roy Romer (D).

This is low-hanging fruit. You want education reform? Fix this test. Make it shorter, more pointed, with accountability for students and parents alike (matriculation should, at some point, HAVE to be a consequence of this test), have it measure useful information like how much progress the STUDENT makes in a year (like they do in Tennessee), and use technology to make this less onerous (like they do in Oregon) and give schools less excuse to take a couple weeks off.

The fact that the wholly-owned subsidiary of the teachers unions known as the Colorado Legislature--now fully under Democratic control--hasn't made any effort to change this test in four years tells me a very important thing: this test is more useful as a political football than it is as a school assessment. Republicans are stupid to not get out in front of this issue and make it the centerpiece of their education platform.

But then, we're getting used to that.


Excellent Timing for an Education FUBAR 

As Colorado students manage to slog through the dreaded annual colonoscopy that is known as the CSAP (more on this in a weekend post), I wonder if the state Board of Education really wanted THIS to be a story:

The state Board of Education is holding a reception at 11 a.m. Friday in its lobby to thank Mexican Consul General Eduardo Arnal for donating 500 boxes of books to Colorado students. The books are published for use in schools in Mexico, and distributed to Spanish-speaking students in Colorado to help them learn English.

Wow. How cool that the Mexican education system is normed to the same rigorous testing and developmental strategies that our own educations system is normed to. That's really cool that we can use the same . . . What's that?. . . Oh, they're, they're not? . . . Not even a little bit?

Oh. So the State BOE is having a reception celebrating the donation of textbooks that DO NOTHING to further the education progress of our students. What? You think an immigrant is going to get roughly the same information from a Mexican textbook on the American Revolution?

But let's be happy, I suppose, that they'll be learning English. Not within the context of the classroom, but learning English.

The Junior Varsity Strikes Again 

I think any objective observer would have to conclude that the Obama Presidency is off to a VERY shaky start. There's the inability to properly vett a Commerce Secretary, a Treasury Secretary whose understanding of taxes is so sketchy that he didn't bother to pay them, a "critical" Bill that the President wanted bipartisanship on received exactly 3 GOP votes (1.5% bipartisan), and his plan to rescue the economy has sent the stock market down 20% and brought some of the previously rescued back to the trough.

Other than that, it's been great . . .

You had to wonder when this level of incompetence would start to manifest itself on the world stage. I believe we have our first entrant into that particular contest:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the Islamic republic should be invited to a high-level conference on Afghanistan later this month being organized under U.S. auspices....

...U.S. officials said the conclave is intended both to help implement a U.S. strategic review, which will be completed mid-month, and to set the stage for a NATO summit in early April. ...

...Clinton said the meeting would bring together the foreign ministers of a broad selection of nations, including NATO countries, non-NATO countries contributing troops to Afghanistan, financial contributors, international organizations and "key regional and strategic countries" such as Pakistan and Iran.

And what, exactly, makes Iran a "key regional country?"

"Iran borders Afghanistan,"

Hmmmm. Okay, encouraging that our SecState knows a little geography.

Here's the problem: Iranian weaponry and soldiers are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq. If we then invite the same people to the table to help with Afghanistan, we look like impotent feckless fools. At what point is Sec. Clinton going to press the Iranians to close down the mountain passages from Iran to Afghanistan?

And are we going to invite Iran into NATO? If this is a NATO conclave . . . I'm just asking.

Or is it just me. Yeah, I thought so. I'm alone.


Did You Ever Have One of Those Dreams of Falling? 

That must be what it feels like to have your livelihood depend on the performance of the stock market right now.

In case you've been in a cave all day, the Dow plunged another 300 points on Monday to finish below 7000 for the first time in 12 years. It's now down 23% since the beginning of the year--18% since President Obama made his prime-time pitch for the "Stimulus Package."

How's that working out for you?

Part of the problem today was the news that AIG posted a $61 billion dollar loss in the 4th quarter (is that calculated with or without the $85 billion the government bought it for in September?), and would require another $30 billion in bailout money.

Here's my question: has anybody taken note of the fact--THE FACT--that the bailout hasn't helped, and the stimulus hasn't helped, and the new omnibus spending bill is so heavily laden with pork that it actually woke up John McCain from his hangover today?

So when is the next bank going to come begging for more?

And who's after them?

And isn't this the point on the slippery slope when we begin noticing how much speed we've gained and "damn, don't those trees look like they're getting close?"

John McCain had one--ONE--opportunity to stop this whole thing from doing this, and instead he went back to Washington to interrupt his campaign to look completely useless to lose an election so he could throw his support behind something the rest of the country hated.

Really, what were the odds that the People actually knew what was best?

Here's my theory: the country at large, according to polls, was 70% against the bailout, but the wise old Congress passed it anyway. At that point, the country at large threw up its collective hands and said "if we're going there anyway, let's go fast," so they went ahead and elected an inexperienced radical of little achievement to drive the ship straight off the cliff.

Here's my greatest fear: it's taken 70 years for somebody (Amity Schlaes) to write an accurate history of FDR's Presidency, noting the ineffectiveness of the New Deal; Nadeem Esmael of the Fraser Institute told our RMA radio audience last week that the Canadian socialized medicine plan was good at first, great by about age 25, then slowly collapsed under its own weight, until now at age 50 everybody recognizes (everybody but American Democrats, that is) that it doesn't work.

My great fear is that this country will buy Obama's Socialist/Fascist governing model until the Federal government is the only effective employer in the entire country.

And when my children are 50 years old, they will have never known a time that they got paid for the work they did, or had the option to better their condition through hard work and talent. And then they're going to ask "Who did this?" And I have to say "we did, and I'm sorry."

America has chosen to be soft, as my brother has noted. I only hope there are enough of us who are terrified of this development to turn the tide back.

If you would like to join in pushing back the tide, note the links and pictures from the Liberty Rallies last week, and then consider joining other movements like this one to unite around ideas and principles (parties be DAMNED!) to take back this country . . . just a little bit.

I'm serious, folks. The Dow has not found it's bottom yet; the banks aren't done needing bailouts; and Obama is FAR from done redistributing the wealth. And we can't afford 50 years to find out how bad it can get.

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