Sunday, March 29, 2009
But I criticize Rick for being long winded and then turn around and do the same thing here.
Charles Johnson, over at Little Green Footballs, is amazing in his ability to cover topics often in just a dozen words. He never takes 400 words. Entries are brief, frequent and always interesting.
But Twitter take the short entry to an art form. Limited to just 140 characters, including any links you wish to post, brevity is the sole of everything. The twitter greats like Jesse Newhart @JesseNewhart have thousands of followers (27,363 as of 9 am this morning) who read his every word, because everything Jesse says is important.
My blog, which I renamed The Metaverse just this morning because of a twitter by Jesse, gets about 100 readers on a good day. I appreciate very one of you!
The concepts and philosophy of this blog will not change. The Wizard, fkap is actually one of the oldest blogs on the Internet, started years before the term blogger ever existed. The first entry was dated August 11, 1995! And everything I've ever written remains on line to this day for your exploration, review, or source of a few laughs at my expense. It's all linked on the right.
The original blog title, back in 1995, was The Existential Blues. I'll give a huge prize package of Wizard Radio gear to anyone who can give me the source or inspiration for that title.
I'm betting no one can possibly figure it out. So I'll give you a huge hint. Here is the original tag line used at the end of every single blog post: "I'd rather have this bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
Just post your answer in the comments section of send me a twitter @wizardfkap
Friday, March 27, 2009
Rush Limbaugh is simply never an issue. He has opinions and he has a style. You can disagree with one or the other or both, but he simply is never the issue, Not ever. Discussing Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann might be fun, but they are side players. Read them or watch them, agree or disagree with them and then move on.
There are real issues and thanks to Barack Obama's far reaching vision we will need to become educated and well versed on many issues over the next four years. President Obama will drag us forward, even if we are kicking and screaming, toward the goals he has set for America.
If we are open minded and if we are really willing to learn we can contribute to this future. Once we actually focus on Education, the Environment, Government Regulation, and Health Care we can build a better America and, hopefully, a better world.
I often get really furious at Keith Olbermann. I feel he is intellectually dishonest, at best. But he often has learned guests and he represents a point of view that is shared by millions. He is saying important things, even if he says them badly.
I was out a noon time today, a real rarity for me. Naturally, Rush Limbaugh was on the radio and I listened for an extended period. Rush's comments and points were excellent. He can be snide and sarcastic. He is an easy mark for those on the left who love to copy, edit and paste. But, if you actually listen to him, he is extraordinarily bright and has extremely valid points.
Rush and Keith are simply two of many sources of information. They are not the issues, they have opinions.
For reasons I can only guess, some folks want to make them the center of the debate. People who do that have an agenda and it's not good. They want to limit debate. They want to distract. They want to inflame fears and build a mob mentality.
Despots have taken this approach throughout history. Blame the Jews. Blame the Blacks. Blame the Hispanics, the Irish, the Italians. Blame the Rich. Blame the immigrants. Blame the welfare mothers. Blame Rush Limbaugh.
Beware anyone who doesn't want to discuss the issues.
In the interest of learning and exploring the real issues, I want to CHALLENGE my readers to link over to Michelle Malkin's excellent discussion about Canadian health care, Did Canadacare kill Natasha Richardson? Michelle and other conservatives are already being demagogued to death by the powers that want to stifle debate for talking about Natalie Richardson's death.
By falsely claiming the Michelle and others are "exploiting" Natalie Richardson's death, these folks simply want to end the discussion about health care. That is so wrong on so many levels. Malkin's article is well written and excellent. It is thought provoking. It raises issues that simply MUST be discussed as we all work together toward the much need national health care system.
So don't listen to the people who want to somehow make Malkin the issue instead of Health Care. Malkin is not the issue. Read her article. And find others who actually discuss the real issues.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
To meet the greatest challenge of our lifetime, Barack Obama has assembled a team of one single solitary person, Timothy Geithner. And Obama has given him zero support, zero help and placed absolutely no priority on building Geithner's team.
While Barack Obama does the only thing his vast experience as a community organizer has trained him to do, organize block parties in California to support his yet to be defined Health Reform Proposals, Geithner is fighting for all our lives, completely alone.
By every account I've ever read or heard, Geithner is a very bright and very able Treasury Secretary. But it's been 59 days in the midst of Pearl Harbor and Obama can't find the time to put together a team. He can't find the time to nominate a single person. Not one.
The bombs, like the AIG bonuses, are dropping by the tens of thousands. Our entire harbor of economic ships are sinking. The enemy planes own the sky's and bombs drop at will. And no reinforcements are on the way. No troops. No anti-aircraft batteries. No aerial support. Nothing. Geithner is fighting all alone.
The best Obama can do is send an "attaboy Tim" as he organizes those block parties and prepares for a yuk-a-minute comedy fest on Jay Leno.
As bloggers, especially Republican and conservative bloggers, call for Geithner's head, their anger is aimed at the wrong person. It is Barack Obama who should resign.
If any other President had ever handled a major crisis with the complete disregard for the welfare of the country that Obama has exhibited over the last 59 days, their would be calls for his (or her) head.
When the hell will Obama realize he has become the problem and is doing a whole lot less than nothing to solve the problem? Every day Timothy Geithner goes without the administration nominating his support staff is a battle lost in our greatest war ever. And if we lose the top man because Obama was just too damned distracted to be bothered to help his Treasury Secretary, Obama will get and will deserve all the blame.
Conservative Rick Moran has written a very intelligent defense of the Obama Administration's handling of the AIG crisis. Moran makes some of the same points that I do, but draws some different conclusions. It is well worth reading.
I will be writing more about HR1586, the populist Bonus Tax Act passed today by the House of Representatives, in the next few days. This is a really terrible bill that flies in the face of the rule of law that is the cornerstone of all of American society. Plus it's just plain stupid. Let's hope everyone calms down in the next few days. It is the Obama CYA Act of 2009.
Finally today Day By Day cartoon is really funny. I'm reprinting it here:
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
One Hundred Sixty Five Million Dollars is less than 1/10th of 1% of the money we taxpayers have given to AIG. Actually the Chinese loaned us most of the money, but, hey, we promised to pay them back, didn't we?
When we gave AIG all that money, we actually bought 80% of the company. We own it. As the new owners we fired the CEO, Chairman and the entire Board of Directors. We brought in our own man, Edward Liddy as the new CEO and Chairman of the Board. And we put our own Board of Directors in place. Frankly, we did exactly what we should do as new owners of a company. Liddy is our own man.
We knew about the bonuses. We knew about the contracts. Nobody at AIG hid them. They were not secret. And Edward Liddy, when he took over the company, knew about them. They were part of the package. According to Liddy they were a critical part of the package. As Liddy explained to Congress today, "I am trying desperately to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of that business."
Actually such bonuses are not that unusual in billion dollar businesses. Companies fight to hire the best and brightest. It's not unlike sports teams drafting the best players or movies hiring an "A List" star to insure a big box office run.
So bonuses that were not secret were actually paid last week. And now we are all outraged!
President Barack Obama is outraged. The public is outraged. The Congress is outraged.
Goodness knows the media is outraged! Actually, the media is thrilled beyond belief. Ratings are through the roof. They are all faking the outrage, but I digress.
The trouble is that we are all outraged about the wrong things.
First of all we ought to be outraged that we invested 180 billion dollars in a bankrupt company.
But since we spent our precious borrowed money, we ought to be outraged that the President and Congress are destroying the company we Americans now own. We ought to be outraged that President Obama lacks the courage to back the man he put in the job of saving our $180,000,000,000.00.
We ought to be really outraged at Senator Christopher Dodd, now forever to be known as the Judas of AIG. Stunningly Dodd accepted over $103,0000.00 in campaign donations from AIG just last fall, after AIG had received the bailout money. Today Senator Dodd is "demanding" that all bonuses be returned!
This rather stunning piece of hypocrisy has ABC News wondering out loud, Should Senator Dodd Shouldn't Return His AIG Bonus?
But hold on to your outrage. It gets worse. Dodd realized the bonuses needed to be paid and wrote into law safeguards to insure the bonuses were paid. But now Dodd denies ever writing the "Dodd Amendment" to the stimulus bill. The Dodd Amendment not only allows the bonuses to be paid, but requires it.
Dodd's excuse is that he never read the bill. In other words he failed to do the job for which he was hired. Perhaps AIG paid Dodd a bonus for his incompetence?
Of course this is exactly what we get when NOT ONE SINGLE MEMBER OF CONGRESS BOTHERED TO ACTUALLY READ THE STIMULUS BILL BEFORE PASSING IT INTO LAW!
Of course this is exactly what we get when PRESIDENT OBAMA BETRAYS HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE TO POST ALL BILLS ONLINE FOR 5 FULL DAYS OF PUBLIC REVIEW BEFORE SIGNING. The vast army of bloggers would have actually read the bill, unlike the President or the Congress.
Finally, we ought to be outraged that we allowed our government to purchase a failed business in the first place and set up this stupid Congressional micro-management of employee salaries.
Liddy knows he is in deep trouble now. I don't envy his job and I've personally been in similar situations (albeit on a much smaller scale). He can't win. And, in the public spotlight he won't quit, although he should. He handled himself well in Congressional testimony today.
None of the outraged viewers noticed, but Liddy tried to let America know they were one the wrong page. From tonight's article by Emily Kaiser and Corbett B. Daly for Reuters:
|Liddy said the payouts were necessary to retain top employees with the specialized knowledge to dispose of $2.7 trillion in complex securities that ended up dragging the insurer to the brink of collapse last year.|
He said the company had whittled down that amount to $1.6 trillion, and he was worried that employees responsible for winding down the rest would return their bonuses "with their letters of resignation," which would make the task tougher.
"It just got harder by many, many multiples," he said.
ADDENDUM: About midnight (Wednesday night/Thursday morning) I got this great tip about FOX's Shepard Smith take on the Congressional hypocrisy Hearings earlier today. This is great stuff and, for all you FOX haters out there, it is 100% correct! I simply had to share it with you. A Tip o' the Wizard's pointy cap to fellow blogger Watcher
Monday, March 16, 2009
But today Barack Obama announced an excellent group of programs and policies that stand a good chance of building a solid base for future economic growth. Obama's Small Business Initiatives will help provide much needed credit for small businesses and provide change the tax laws to help businesses survive the recession/depression. It's no substitute for the stimulus package we still need, but it will save a significant number of jobs and might actually create a few new ones.
|WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama freed billions of dollars to help the nation's small businesses on Monday, hoping to get credit flowing again to Main Street, not just Wall Street. He heaped praise on the little guys of American industry, often overshadowed in the blitz of government bailouts.|
The centerpiece of Obama's latest plan will allow the government to spend up to $15 billion to buy the small-business loans that are now choking community banks and lenders. That, in turn, could allow those banks to start lending money again to small companies to invest, pay bills and stay afloat.
"You deserve a chance. America needs you to have a chance," Obama said in an appeal to all those who run small businesses or hope to one day.
Obama's effort was, at one level, fundamental to helping the economy rebound. Small businesses have created about 70 percent of the new jobs over the past decade, and as their credit lines have dried up, so has their ability to thrive or survive.
Barack Obama has really had a tough start to his presidency. Fortunately the press either hasn't noticed many of the real problems and issues or has purposely chosen to ignore them. And you've got to give credit to the highly coordinated Democrat Demolition Squad that has kept at least the Obama supporters clearly focused on nonsensical non-issues like Rush Limbaugh, James Cramer and Glenn Beck. What a joke. Any Democrat or liberal who has fallen for this misdirection ploy should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
But Barack Obama is genuinely a very smart guy. He is a quick study and he hasn't been "misdirected." While Carvell and company kept the adoring masses entertained, Obama has worked to strengthen his economic proposals and programs. His economic team is still woefully understaffed and Secretary Geithner is still in deep trouble, but each day shows signs of improvement.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Is he President? Did I miss an election?
Is he a Senator? A Congressman? A Governor?
Wait, wait, don't tell me! Is he the Secretary of the Treasury? Is he the President's chief economic advisor? Is he in charge of turning around the economy?
Glenn Beck? Let me think.
Is Beck a respected architect of the President's agenda? Does he make policy? Does he have the President's ear? For god's sake, who is Glenn Beck?
Is Beck's influence so far reaching he actually caused the current economic collapse? Is he the evil genius behind the downfall of the world wide banking system? Does Glenn Beck have that much power and influence?
I know he simply must be one of the single most important people on earth.
If Glenn Beck wasn't one of the most important people on the entire planet (maybe the entire universe) why would The Daily Kos decide today the Glenn Beck was public enemy number one? Today we see a nineteen (19) front page articles (so far) with twenty three (23) articles earlier this week, all dedicated to an in depth study and analysis of the man? "In depth study and analysis of the man" is just my polite way of saying "character assassination." Kos offers hour by hour posts! Literally minute by minute personal attacks.
One short quote form a Kos poster named "Hunter"
|"And what the flying monkey hell is he rebelling against? As far as I can tell, the only thing he actually gives a crap about is that maybe his freakin' taxes will get raised a few percent, back to (shudder) pre-Bush levels, and that's such a f'ing affront to the very republic that it causes him to burst into tears and sob about how we've let all the troops down by "redistributing wealth" from rich assholes like him to a few kids needing free school lunches."|
Now I love intelligent in depth study and analysis as much as the next guy. Although, in this time of great social and economic upheaval, I would rather see the left's single most important and influential blog site devote their time an space to a person who is a policy maker, social architect or a politician with real influence over our future.
If somehow you don't actually know who Glenn Beck really is, he is a former CNN personality who has now joined FOX News and hosts his own one hour show in the late afternoon. Beck is an entertainer and personality.
I can only guess Kos got tired of attacking Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bristol Palin and needed to move-on and get fresh meat.
In a quick review I found about a dozen other left leaning and progressive blogs playing dittohead and copying or citing Kos's wealth of anti-Glenn Beck articles. The Conservative blogs I checked haven't noticed the left's new poster boy of political wrongness and/or just don't care about Beck one way of the other.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's easy to fall hopelessly in love with Amy Juergens (played beautifully by Shailene Woodley, pictured to the right), the 14 year old who makes a terrible mistake one night while away at band camp. Through much of the first season Amy kept the secret from her parents and most of her friends and even her new boyfriend Ben (played with a deft romantic touch by Kenny Baumann) who is NOT the father of the baby.
And all America has fallen in love with Amy and Ben and Ricky (the baby's father) and the extremely large cast who cover the very real issues of sex and pregnancy and growing up without ever sugarcoating or holding back on any issue.
As you might suspect, writer and producer Brenda Hampton's Secret Life is a very, very liberal Hollywood values show. Sex is dealt with openly and honestly. The show is a weekly one hour commercial for sex education and then tops that off by providing a great deal of sex education right in the show.
Abortion was covered logically and dispassionately as a real option to be considered by any young girl who finds herself in this situation. Amy, for several weeks, considers having an abortion and visits an abortion clinic. She almost goes ahead with the abortion.
But the "pro-life" position was also handled fairly through a strong Christian character, Grace (played by the very beautiful Megan Park). Grace, who wore a "chastity ring" until recently, is terribly tempted to have sex and is having great difficulty reconciling her emotions, not to mention her hormones, with her Christian teachings. No subject is taboo on this show.
Most importantly the show empowers young women. Amy stays in High School and works to graduate and go on to college. It certainly doesn't romanticize pregnancy, but it never condemns it, nor does it ever condemn Amy who faces some of life's toughest decisions with a realistic mixture of fear, ignorance, bravery and hope. Amy is the hero of her own life.
Even though the show on cable (ABC Family), it has a huge audience (3 million viewers plus) and often actually out performs major network shows in the ratings.
However, back in the real world, the cable and network news today covered with occasional irrational glee, the breakup of 18 year old unmarried Bristol Palin and the father of her baby, Levi Johnston. MSNBC has, frankly, been disgusting in their coverage of a young lady whose only claim to fame is to be the daughter of Alaska Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
But what is truly pathetic is the left wing and progressive blogosphere's treatment of Bristol which has been sexist, vitriolic, hate filled and often just grossly pornographic. It is simply hard to even imagine this much hatred. And it's tough to read this much filth.
When they aren't portraying her as a slut who was begging to be used and abused by a variety of men, they portray her as mindless bimbo completely incapable of controlling her urges and sexual libido. And I'm cleaning most of this up. Every foul word to describe women and every gross misogynistic term used to degrade women can be found on The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post and other bastions of supposed liberal thought.
So as liberal Hollywood producer Brenda Hampton works to bring America into the 21st Century of enlightenment about teenage pregnancy and the innate worth of every woman, the so-called progressive left does their damnedest to treat women much worse than the most horrific fundamentalist Muslim Taliban society or extreme, backwards, fundamentalist Christian sect.
Amy Juergens, American Hero. Brstol Palin, American Whore and Slut.
It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
HINT: The Chinese didn't have Nancy Pelosi write their stimulus bill.
From BLOOMBERG: China February Auto Sales Rise 25% After Tax Cuts
March 10 (Bloomberg) -- China vehicle sales surged 25 percent in February, the first gain in four months, after the government cut taxes on some models, helping the country extend its lead as the world’s largest auto market this year.
China has halved retail taxes on small cars and drawn up plans to give out vehicle subsidies in rural areas to revive demand after auto sales rose at the slowest pace in a decade last year. Combined with the country’s wider 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) economic stimulus package, the policies have caused General Motors Corp. to roughly double its forecast for China’s nationwide auto market growth this year.
Monday, March 09, 2009
The Manchurian Candidate was subsequently made into 1962 blockbuster movie starring Frank Sinatra and then remade again in 2004 starring Denzel Washington.
Back in October 2008 I raised the question. Was Barack Obama a real Manchurian Candidate? Were we about to elect a man who had a very charismatic public persona, but a radically different personality and a radical political agenda we would only discover after he was elected President?
Today Kevin Hassett is asking the same basic questions over on Bloomberg News. You simply must read his chilling ‘Manchurian Candidate’ Starts War on Business.
Hassett dares to ask the unspeakable question: Is President Obama is attempting to destroy the U.S. economy? And he is coming up with some very disturbing answers. Once again I encourage you to read his entire article.
Hassett makes a compelling case that, either intentionally or by astonishingly bad management and logic, President Obama is implementing a series of carefully crafted policies that will destroy the American economy for many years to come, perhaps forever!
Obama is working to discourage private capital from entering the financial sector. Obama's policies are designed to discourage all innovation. In effect, Obama is stifling the development of any idea or product that might fuel a stock market rebound.
Hassett provides a chilling blueprint for destruction:
|Another diabolical idea would be to significantly increase taxes on whatever firms are still standing. That would require subterfuge, since increasing tax rates would be too obvious. Our Manchurian Candidate would have plenty of sophisticated ideas on changing the rules to get more revenue without increasing rates, such as auctioning off “permits.”|
These steps would create near-term distress. If our Manchurian Candidate leader really wanted to knock the country down for good, he would have to provide insurance against any long-run recovery.
In the end Hassett believes that Obama is not attempting the destroy America on purpose. But his final sentence is still very cautionary:
|It’s clear that President Obama wants the best for our country. That makes it all the more puzzling that he would legislate like a Manchurian Candidate.|
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Class warfare was at the very heart of the French Revolution! In 1789 and for ten horrific years, the country of France imploded. Millions of people died. The government was overthrown and virtually the entire upper class of French society was executed, including King Louis XVI and the legendary Marie-Antoinette. It's the stuff of legend, including many great (if highly romanticized) movies.
While I don't think for even one second our country runs the risk of revolution, many of the factors that led up to the French Revolution are identical to the situation in the United States today.
Economists tell us that recessions and depressions are cyclical. In the late 1780's France was in the midst of a major depression. But here is where the parallels get much more interesting. France was saddled with a massive National Debt. Fighting two wars had caused King Louis XV to borrow huge sums of money. Keep on mind one of those wars was the American Revolution. France had sided with and aided the colonists against England.
But the huge National Debt was way too much for the government to handle. Faced with this crushing debt, the government instituted massive tax increases on every part of society, including and especially the rich. The gigantic tax burden brought the French economy to a complete standstill. The very financial backbone of the country was broken in a manner not unlike today's banking crisis! The movement of goods and services came to a halt!
Unemployment exploded! People were unable to find work. The French monetary system stopped working and massive inflation robbed the poor from even the most basic necessities. People literally people could not afford bread.
Meanwhile King Louis and his advisers were unable to cope with the rapidly deterioration of the country's economy. Ultimately the entire country collapsed under the weight of an unrepayable National Debt.
The people of France blamed the rich! They felt, however incorrectly, that the rich were causing the problems as a ruse just to rob the poor and enslave them. This was, of course, untrue and the rich, the aristocracy, were also suffering from the complete breakdown of society. None-the less, massive protests occurred that deteriorated into riots and, ultimately, into revolution.
The goals of the revolution were noble, at least in theory. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity! The rich were forced to pay the ultimate price with the invention of the guillotine.
George Mason University has built a magnificent on-line library and resource center to study the French Revolution with hundreds of essays, text documents, images and even songs. I continue to be amazed with the sheer power of the Internet.
In another interesting parallel, it was King Louis XIV who began a centralization of power that led to the very downfall of France. Prior to that, France was a very model of decentralized capitalism. Only when Louis XIV centralized power to the Monarchy was it even possible to build the huge National debt that led the country to its downfall. But Louis XIV and Louis VX felt the government could run society better than the free market!
The sections of the George Mason University Website that discuss the monarchy are especially interesting.
|Other eighteenth-century descriptions of monarchy advocated centralizing power in the hands of the King. When the Franks first decided to establish their own government to replace the fading Roman Empire, argued Jacob-Nicolas Moreau, they entrusted the King with all authority.|
To spread ideas such as Moreau's, French monarchs published newspapers supporting their actions. In one such periodical, the Gazette of France, the crown took a subtle rather than a propagandistic approach: it never mentioned its opponents and treated royalty with total reverence—even though the news being reported was not necessarily the most important events of the day.
Can anybody say "Rush Limbaugh?" But I digress.
|The conflicts of 1787 to 1789 over the monarchy's financial problems led to a major shift in the way France was governed. In part because of the long drawn-out wars of the eighteenth century, the French government had for some time been spending much more than its annual revenue. Usually this money was borrowed. However, for reasons that historians still argue about, this source of funds dried up in the 1780s. Mounting debt and a continuing high level of expenses then forced the monarchy to seek fundamental financial change to put the state on a secure fiscal foundation.|
Like Louis XVI, our President is failing to focus on the rapid deterioration of the economy or on the National debt. Instead, like the French monarchy, he is centralizing authority and control of society. We defend Obama because he wants to help the poor and improve their life. But, keep in mind, so did King Louis the XVI.
As the economy falters, President Obama is determined to implement a wide array of social programs and isn't letting the economic situation distract him from his predetermined agenda.
Don't think for even a minute that the United States can't fail under the weight of massive national debt. It can, and if the problem isn't addressed quickly, it will.
Again, revolution isn't going to happen, but a peaceful mini-revolt in Congress and on Wall Street is well underway. While Obama has failed to notice the revolt so far, it will soon slam him into with the force of a Hurricane. He will lose the support of his party and he will lose the support of the public.
We are in a full blown Depression. The stock market has crashed. People's entire life savings have been wiped out. President Obama is spending hundreds of billions of dollars completely without regard to the widespread damage the non-stop borrowing and spending is causing.
We are a peaceful and enlightened country. The lofty goals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity born in the French Revolution have taken root and grown here in the United States.
Revolution will not happen in the United States. The guillotine will not return. But the collapse of our modern day Camelot is not an impossibility. We are in a full blown Depression, just like France in the 1790's.
POST SCRIPT: Two very interesting things struck me as I read about the French Revolution. First, King Louis XVI was enormously popular throughout the revolution. He had very broad support of the people right up to, and even after, his execution!!
Second, the relative democracy of King Louis XVI's France (there was an elected Parliament with three houses of government (nobles, commoners and clergy) and an independent court system) was replaced with an absolute dictatorship of Napoleon.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
It is a shame that President Obama has failed so miserably to appoint a strong and seasoned economic team to take on the biggest problem our nation (and the entire world) faces today - The 2nd Great Depression.
In fact it's a damned shame he hasn't appointed any economic team at all. He chose his general in Tim Geithner. And for the last five weeks, Geithner has fought the war for our future entirely alone
The Associated Press has a detailed analysis out today:
|For five weeks, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has battled the worst economic crisis in generations with no key deputies in place. That's made for a rocky debut for the man President Barack Obama put in charge of addressing the financial crisis.|
With an awkward first television appearance, a bank rescue plan that lacked promised specifics and two restructured bailouts that raised taxpayer risk, Geithner has failed to calm financial markets desperate for answers.
Critics say part of the problem is that Geithner is flying solo: Not one of his top 17 deputies has been named, let alone confirmed. And without senior leadership, lower-level Treasury employees can't make decisions or represent the government in crucial conversations with banks and others.
"Everyone would think it's a travesty if the Defense Department didn't have a lot of their people in place, because you're in a crisis fighting a couple of wars," said Tony Fratto, who was a Treasury spokesman under President George W. Bush. "But Tim Geithner is fighting wars on a few fronts himself, and he doesn't have the generals there to help him."
Treasury's staff problems apparently have affected its ability to report to Congress on the massive bailouts it has been doling out.
At a Senate hearing Thursday about failed insurance giant American International Group Inc. — which has received four separate bailouts totaling more than $170 billion — Sen. Chris Dodd said he had asked Treasury for someone to appear, but that no one was available.
"I am not pleased that we don't have someone here from Treasury to explain what their role in this is," Dodd said.
Until Treasury gets some Senate-confirmed leaders, these people can't sign documents or make policy decisions. They can't even sit in their future offices.
Among the harshest critics of Treasury's leadership vacuum is Paul Volcker, an Obama economic adviser and former Federal Reserve chairman who last week called the situation "shameful."
"The secretary of the treasury is sitting there without a deputy, without any undersecretaries, without any, as far as I know, assistant secretaries responsible in substantive areas at a time of very severe crisis," Volcker said. "He shouldn't be sitting there alone."
It's not looking any better. Today alone two key nominees withdrew their names from consideration for Treasury posts. And Geithner himself has lost the confidence of Wall Street. Serious financial experts do not want to be associated with this disaster.
But the real problem is that a completely distracted President Obama has left Geithner hung out to dry.
TO MY FELLOW BLOGGERS OVER AT THE HUFFINGTON POST and DAILY KOS: One general with no army is marching into the biggest economic battle in over two hundred years and you "progressive" bloggers and pundits think the biggest problem facing America is Rush Limbaugh?
Feingold is a man of principle and deep convictions. He always (and I do mean always) puts principles above partisanship or personality. He is one of a few rare Senators who will consistently reach across the aisle and forge partnerships to achieve goals. He does not ever play games, but uses his political talent to achieve real results for the American people.
Feingold and I agree about 90% of the time on all issues, but when we disagree I always respect his opinion and position and especially respect his willingness to put it all on the line to advance his argument.
So I was not even a tiny bit surprised to watch Senator Feingold's press conference yesterday where he announced he could not and would not support the insane Pelosi pork filled spending bill now being debated in the Senate. Feingold joins fellow Democrat Senator Evan Bayh in advising President Obama to veto the bill and demand Congress send him a responsible appropriations bill. Feingold and Bayh and a few other principled Democrats may join Republicans and actually defeat this bill in the Senate.
But Senator Feingold is carrying the fight one critical step further. Reaching across the aisle once again, Feingold is joining forces with Republican Senator John McCain in introducing legislation to give President Obama the line item veto and the ability to eliminate waste from spending bills.
Feingold is leading the fight for the American people on several other key fronts. He has also introduced Constitutional amendment that would prevent Governors from appointing replacements for Senators or Representatives who leave office mid term (for any reason) and force states to hold elections to replace the absent officials. This takes the risk of "pay-for-play" appointments off the table and insures representatives are actually responsible to the people they represent.
At the same time Senator Feingold is working closely with House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) in sponsoring the Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights to over 4 million people, the vast majority African Americans, who have convictions but have paid their debt to society and are out of prison and living in the community.
Some of these efforts might fail, at least today, as they face huge opposition, primarily from Democrats. His opposition to earmarks has earned him the ire of several prominent Democrats. And some see his opposition to the budget appropriations bill as an attack on President Obama. This is completely untrue. Feingold is exactly the type of leader Obama needs if he is to enact the change he promised in his election campaign.
And Feingold is exactly the type of Senator America needs.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
I've been saying for some time it must be the Democrats who reign in Barack Obama who is showing all the restraint and maturity of a college freshman turned loose with daddy's credit card on a distant campus.
As it turns out a good number of Democrats have become quite alarmed at Obama's largess and are ready to cancel the credit card. POLITCO reports this morning: Moderates uneasy with Obama plan
|Moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are starting to choke over the massive spending and tax increases in President Barack Obama’s budget plans and have begun plotting to increase their influence over the agenda of a president who is turning out to be much more liberal than they are.|
A group of 14 Senate Democrats and one independent huddled behind closed doors on Tuesday, discussing how centrists in that chamber can assert more leverage on the major policy debates that will dominate this Congress.
Afterward, some in attendance made plain that they are getting jitters over the cost and expansive reach of Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal.
Asked when he’d reach his breaking point, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, said: “Right now. I’m concerned about the amount that’s being offered in [Obama’s] budget.”
Another attendee, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), said she expected the newly formed caucus to shape Obama’s budget proposal as it moves through Congress.
Sen. Evan Bayh, the Indiana Democrat who assembled Tuesday’s skull session, added that he was “very concerned” about Washington’s level of spending, especially in a $410 billion “omnibus” spending bill to fund the government until the start of a new fiscal year in October.
As for the tax increases on high-income earners called for in Obama’s plan, Bayh said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.”
“The American people and businesses are tightening their belts,” Bayh added. “I think we need to show that the government can economize as well.”
If the moderate Democrats in the Senate are willing to work with moderate Republicans — as Bayh said they are eager to do — they will negate the White House’s ability to portray opposition to Obama’s spending as partisan obstructionism.
This is genuine bipartisanship at work. A welcome development.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The world is trying so very hard to awaken our partisan political leaders from their slumber. These aren't Republicans slamming the new President. These are real experts trying hard to get through the wall partisan rhetoric. Please turn off the politics long enough to listen.
1. The Wall Street Journal: The Obama Economy - "Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth."
"What is new is the unveiling of Mr. Obama's agenda and his approach to governance. Every new President has a finite stock of capital -- financial and political -- to deploy, and amid recession Mr. Obama has more than most. But one negative revelation has been the way he has chosen to spend his scarce resources on income transfers rather than growth promotion. Most of his "stimulus" spending was devoted to social programs, rather than public works, and nearly all of the tax cuts were devoted to income maintenance rather than to improving incentives to work or invest."
The entire article is so very important. Click over and read it all.
2. James Cramer on CNBC: It’s Amateur Hour at Our Darkest Moment - “Until the Obama administration starts listening, until they start paying attention to what you’re watching – to the stock market, until they realize that their agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans – then all I can give you is caution."
3. I spent the morning watching U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the Senate broadcast live by both CNBC and FBN. It was riveting. Bernanke does support the Obama stimulus plan but simply couldn't warn Congress often enough that the deficit must be reigned in and quickly.
One very sad and telling moment was when a Democrat made a labored effort to place the deficit blame on President Bush. Bernanke was calm and patient and respectful, but made it very clear the Bush deficits were minor in terms of economics and in relationship to the GDP and income tax revenue. The Obama deficit is an entirely different matter.
But my point here is that after watching the testimony I switched back to MSNBC where the headline and virtually every story was the "Rush Limbaugh battles Michael Steele for the soul of the Republican Party" story worthy only of Entertainment Tonight and not a major news network. I watched for 30 minutes and the story was repeated SEVEN TIMES!!! No joke. Bernanke's testimony was never mentioned.
I couldn't believe me ears. To give some credit to MSNBC, Pat Buchanan tried to simply dismiss the "controversy" for the complete non-story it is and tried his best to spread the warning of the coming economic disaster.
But I then had to check the other two cable news networks. I dutifully watched FOX for 30 minutes and heard a great interview with Gov. Tim Kaine, the Chairman of the DNC. Kaine's honesty and candor were refreshing. The interview was intelligent and timely. And neither Michael Steele nor Rush Limbaugh were mentioned even once. And Rush was never mentioned during the entire 30 minute break.
Then I switched to CNN. CNN was covering the Bernanke testimony and the economic situation. They also covered several other news stories, most importantly a building collapse in Cologne with devastating images. But Rush Limbaugh never got a single mention.
I have often criticized FOX NEWS as being a Republican outlet. But, at its very worst, FOX has never come close to the complete journalistic sellout of MSNBC. They are doing a grave disservice to their viewers.
Barack Obama and a blind, deaf and dumb Democrat Congress have sown the seeds of the destruction of the United States and they are waiting for those seeds to germinate.
Lots and lots of folks are aware of this and they are all screaming at the top of their lungs. The Congressional Budget Office. Wall Street. The nation's leading and most respected economists. Historians. And a few politicians. And even a few in the media, mostly the financial media.
Make no mistake about it. The sky is falling. You are making the most important financial decisions of your entire life right now... whether you know it or not. The Dow dropped below 7,000 today and it will go much lower, possibly as low as 2,500. Unemployment will reach 15%. And the federal government will become technically insolvent, unable to meet its obligations or pay it's debt.
Three things will happen. First, taxes will rise on every single American, including those well below the poverty level to totally oppressive rates. Second, federal services will be cut to the bone, including medicare and social security. Finally, the government will forced to take extraordinary financial measures, either printing money without financial backing, reducing the dollar to a third world currency, or by simply defaulting on the debt, using our military power to demand restructure of debt from our creditors.
Can this be avoided? Only if the nation is totally committed to bringing our best minds and our unified political forces into solving this crisis. It will take the Democrats who control the government to actually take responsibility for their actions and bring back the fiscal responsibility they demanded, but never quite accomplished, during the Bush administration.
What is happening today is the equivalent of a thousand Hurricane Katrinas. The American people are trapped on the roves for their houses and the flood waters are rising. And the federal government's response is worse than anything during Katrina. Far from sending in troops or FEMA, the Obama/Reid/Pelosi team is pumping in more water and demanding no boats enter the rising flood. Help is not on the way.
First I believe President Obama wants to do the right things. He is not a bad man. He is naive and incompetent. He has no idea a crisis looms. He wants to reinvent America and wants to have a clear path to complete his social agenda. That would be all good, I would be the leader of his team, except there is a crisis. There are a hundred Hurricane Katrinas. The flood waters are rising. People are going to die.
So I watched MSNBC tonight and marvelled at Chris Matthews, Rachael Maddow and Keith Olbermann who decided in some sort of Machiavellian unison that the lead story on earth was Rush Limbaugh. Yep. Rush Limbaugh.
Aided by President Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, presumably with Barack Obama's approval, they made a radio talk show host the number one issue in America. The Dow has now robbed Americans of 60% of their life's savings and is crashing to deep depression levels and the most important thing on earth is Rush Limbaugh?
I feel like I'm watching Joseph Goebbels ramping up the crowds for Kristallnacht. And while Olbermann is deranged, he is no Geobbels, so a sort of an apology is in order. Demonizing Limbaugh is not the equivalent of demonizing the Jews. Olbermann isn't trying to start a race war or promote violence against conservative commentators. Well, except maybe Bill O'Reilly, but that's a whole 'nother story.
Still, you do have the leaders of the Democrat Party, many liberals (and progressives, what ever the hell they are), attempting, apparently successfully, to turn Limbaugh, rather than our failing economy, into the enemy. Since the Democrats are the ones actually destroying the economy, they really need this misdirection, this new enemy and the highly visible Limbaugh fits the bill. He's an easy target. And he is huge, in every sense of the word.
How long will this strategy work? Let's pray not long. Everyday that passes without real economic stimulus and every day that passes without real fiscal responsibility, the closer our nation moves toward the real Armageddon.
Rush Limbaugh? Are all Americans that stupid? I know for sure that Chris Matthews, Rachael Maddow and Keith Olbermann are. Robert Gibbs has played them like a fine violin. Otherwise they would cover the real news.