Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's The Economy, Stupid

I'm going to quote, well, paraphrase actually, a guest I heard on talk radio this morning. I have absolutely no idea who it was; I don't have a name. I was only in my car for five minutes. But is was a fascinating analysis that I thought was insightful and completely correct.

This unknown guest said that President Obama's problems with his Health Care Plan wasn't really caused by the health care proposal. Instead it was caused by the rapidly declining economy and the President's huge over promise when he pushed through Nancy Pelosi's stimulus bill.

President Obama put the maximum pressure on Congress to pass the bill quickly, so quickly that no one actually read the bill. He warned of dire consequences if the bill waited even a day. And he made grandiose predictions of a quick recovery and limited unemployment. Numerous speeches were made and numerous promises were laid out before the American People, including how Joe Biden was going to personally watchdog the spending to make sure it happened quickly and there would be no waste.

Among the many people who never read the bill was President Obama himself.

In effect, Congress and the American People went out on an $800,000,000,000.00 (eight hundred BILLION dollars) limb for the President and he has failed utterly and completely.

In spite of some reporting so stupid it literally defies belief, the economy is not recovering. It is in shambles. Unemployment is skyrocketing. And the stimulus is not working....... at all.

Now, many of us knew the grab bag of political greed, waste, paybacks and payoffs that Nancy Pelosi called a "Stimulus Package" was doomed to failure from the beginning. But we hoped for the best.

But today, faced with misuse of funds,
government lies of epic proportions, waste, fraud and inefficiencies, Obama's credibility is shot. The people no longer believe him. Never has a President spent his political capital so quickly.

The unknown talk radio guest stated that the real problem in Congress wasn't Health Care, it was the economy. If the economy had responded as Obama had so boldly promised, passing Health Care would be a breeze and every other proposal would be a breeze.

But now it's the President himself who is facing hurricane force winds of change. And it's his agenda that needs a stimulus.

The following information was helpful to me in the preparation of today's essay:

Associated Press: 'Help Wanted' counting stimulus jobs

Lee's Tidbits: Oregon Stimulus jobs created? 3,236 in first three months

Gallup Daily Tracking Poll: Obama Hits New Low

Rasmussen Poll: 49% of Americans Say America's Best Days Have Come and Gone. Obama's Approval Falls to Only 48%

Associated Press: May-June joblessness up in 90 pct of metro areas

Fox News: Stimulus Dollars Fund Erotic Film, Stage Show Yes, I know it's Fox News. And yes, I know it's a very tiny part of the stimulus funds, but this is exactly the kind of thing that just kills Obama's credibility. You would think that the Federal Government would have learned that lesson long before this. This was a bone headed, stupid mistake.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Three False Assumptions in the Health Care Debate

Part of the reason we are facing such a nightmare of a health care plan is that the architects in the White House and Congress have defined the need for a new and radical system based on assumptions that simply aren't true. The media has glossed over these assumptions. And Republicans and opponents to the President's plan have concentrated their fire on the plan itself, when they should be attacking the underlying assumptions.

Once the President set up the playing field to his advantage, he thought it would be easy to score the goals. Thankfully, opposition has risen to the plan and much of what Obama and Pelosi designed may never emerge. But, if we were playing on a level field, it is likely an entirely different solution would emerge.

I want to begin by stating clearly that we all share the same goal: Universal Health Care for everyone regardless of income, economic status and health conditions. This essay is not an effort to avoid the goal, but rather to make it much easier to achieve, at a lower cost, and with much less pain.

Three False Assumptions

Number ONE: The Current Health Care System is Broken

This is simply, totally wrong. The current health care system works beautifully. It provides the most choice, the finest doctors and greatest hospitals in the world. It develops 85% of all the new drugs in the world. People live longer and have a much better survival rate in the event of catastrophic illness.

Eighty Five percent of all Americans' get exactly the health care they desire. They have a huge smorgasbord of insurance options along with medical savings accounts and extraordinary cash payment options. Every major city has clinic open at virtually all hours and trauma and emergency rooms for crisis events.

And all this costs the government NOTHING!!! No taxes, no handouts, no rationing, no boards to oversee doctor and patient relationships.

The problem we face has nothing to do with the system being broken. It is that FIFTEEN PERCENT (15%) of Americans don't have easy or affordable access to the system. The system is absolutely wonderful. We simply need to get the last 15% in the doors!

Number TWO: The Current Health Care System is Bankrupting the Country

Again, this assumption is pure rubbish. The health care options currently used by the vast majority of Americans costs the government NOTHING. The part of our system that works is, in reality, cost neutral.

What doesn't work, at all, is the part that our government mismanages to the point of absurdity: medicare, medicaid and the Veteran's Administration Health System. Medicare is totally out of control, so badly run that is it bleeding both financially and physically. Many doctors and hospitals refuse to take Medicare patients because the government allowances don't begin to cover actual costs.

Meanwhile, because of pathetic oversight and ill defined guidelines, other doctors over order tests and procedures. There is little quality and virtually no oversight. Most seniors have to purchase Medicare Supplement Insurance to get back to the level of excellence enjoyed by younger Americans.

The problem is government run health care. It is not an insurance problem, it is not a health care system problem. It is the same problem that plagues virtually all government run systems in this country, a large, ill trained, poorly supervised bureaucracy.

To keep the country from going into bankruptcy, we must fix or scrap the current Medicare System, not enlarge it to include the entire nation.

Number THREE: The Current Health Care System Can't Cover All Americans

I beginning to wonder where all this bullsh*t comes from. Actually, the current system can easily absorb all Americans and the Insurance Companies have already stepped up to the table and agreed to cover everyone. The three big players, Insurance, Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies are all on board.

There are thorny issues that require new laws and government oversight. But every key factor to achieve Universal Care has already been agreed upon. Insurance must be transportable form state to state and company to company. The Insurance Companies agree and are actually excited about this change as it will increase their potential customer base.

Premium pools must be greatly enlarged and then all people must be insured regardless of prior conditions. Once again, insurance companies are already on board. But there is one more step.

All people must be required, by law, to obtain insurance. And all companies must be required by law to provide insurance plans. Adding the young people who purposefully avoid purchasing insurance will enlarge the premium pools and provide some coverage for the critically ill. There will be costs here, but these are small compared to government run plan projections. And frankly there are some easy ways to reduce costs.

Health insurance should operate just like automobile insurance, with dozens of providers and competition based on coverage and premiums. It can be done and insurance companies are ready to do it.

That leaves one issue, covering the poor who simply cannot afford insurance. This will cost all taxpayers money. It can be done through a voucher system with premiums based on a a sliding scale by income level.

SUMMARY: The Current Health Care System Can Work Wonderfully

I haven't the time right now to go into the amazing cost reductions now available to everyone. MRI's and CAT Scans are available now for a fraction of their costs just two years ago. Doctor's visits are available now for $15.00 to $30.00 to people WITHOUT insurance. And, if we don't screw up the system, prices will begin to drop for everyone. Competition is the solution, it is not the problem.

What is wrong with the entire debate in Washington today, is that we are determined to break the huge part of modern health care that isn't broken without even attempting to fix the small government run parts that are draining our national wealth.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Make Universal Health Care an Overwhelming Success

If ever a national program deserves to succeed, it is Universal Health Care. It is a great goal, worthy of a great nation. Americans, and, indeed, all people deserve Universal Health Care. Even the weakest and poorest among us deserve health care with respect, caring and quality.

A catastrophic health crisis should not drive anyone into bankruptcy. There should never be a choice between a loved one and a mortgage. As a nation we can afford Universal Health Care and now is the time we should gather our brightest and our very best and design a plan that protects and shelters our people and strengthens our nation.

We should gather our best and brightest, our experts in each area of wellness, care and management and we should craft a program that combines our greatest strengths with our capacity for caring for our poor and those currently uninsured, for what ever reason.

We should bring our very best and brightest to the table. But we're not. Instead we've gathered a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats and partisan hacks who have virtually no real world experience and no health care expertise. What they do know how to do is raise money for their re-election. They do know how to demonize their opposition. The do know how to pad the wallets of their patrons. They do know how to fill reams and reams of paper with bizarre and convoluted legal jargon.

The one thing that is emerging from their efforts at Universal Health Care is the virtual destruction of our current system which works so very well for the vast majority of Americans to be replaced by a bureaucratic nightmare of forms, quotas, rationing and, well, more bureaucracy.

Both the House and Senate have now got drafts of programs that exceed 2,000 pages each! And the Congressional Budget Office has reviewed these plan and certified that they will not work. Taxes and health care costs will skyrocket to the point they will bankrupt our nation in just a few short years.

What doctors and health care experts are pointing out is that these few short years will be miserable. Delays in service. Loss of your personal physician. And doctors who will be unable to use their best judgement in treating your ailments.

How did this happen? Nancy Pelosi, the most incompetent, partisan hack to ever fill the seat of Speaker of the House, has DEMANDED that only far left liberal members even be allowed to work on the House proposal. Absolutely NO REPUBLICANS and no MODERATE DEMOCRATS were allowed to raise a single objection and add a single idea to the bloated give-away to party loyalists. As a result, great ideas that would have reduced red tape, lowered costs, increased competition and improve care were left out.

Harry Reid has done essentially the same thing in the Senate, although rules there will eventually demand more thoughtful input.

But, for reasons no one will ever understand, President Obama is attempting to rush the program through the Congress without review, input, ideas, study or analysis. It is impossible for anyone to guess why. It is, most assuredly, a betrayal of the American people.

Can this be fixed. Of course it can. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE has signed on to the goal of Universal Health Care! Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, virtually all Republicans and all Democrats. The team is here and ready to work.

It can be fixed. But it won't be unless Barack Obama wakes up and realizes that the Democratically controlled Congress is the problem. It won't be fixed unless Obama uses this recess to gather a true bi-partisan team at the White House and works them day and night to really compromise and to build the best possible plan. Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and Liberals, all at one table, all with their eyes focused on the ball.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has submitted an excellent compromise plan. It's a hell of a good place to start. You can all read it here:
How to Make Health-Care Reform Bipartisan

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who is President Barack Obama?

The Barack Obama we have as President today is not the Barack Obama we elected. I strongly believe Americans overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama because he promised massive reform in Federal Government. He promised honesty. He promised transparency. He promised the strict rule of law. He promised to keep his promises.

My fellow Democrats and I were sick and disgusted at what we felt was the "Imperial Presidency" of George Bush. Especially galling were the "signing statements" that President Bush claimed allowed him and the Executive Office to ignore the law. Barack Obama made this a centerpiece of his campaign against the Republicans.

And Barack Obama promised a new era in Washington, an era of bipartisanship. Republicans would have a place at the table and all bills would have input from all parties. All ideas would be welcome and we would have compromise instead of gridlock.

Barack Obama made more promises for transparency including posting all bills on line for at least 5 days before signing, no current lobbyists in his cabinet and more. Barack Obama is a great orator and we really did understand his message. He won the election by a modern day landslide.

I'm having a great deal of trouble today finding a single promise Barack Obama has made that he hasn't broken. Not just broken but flaunted. In six short months Barack Obama has made George Bush look like Honest Abe.

The Barack Obama we elected is not the man who is President today.

Immediately abandoned was the promise to post bills on line. In fact, in what has turned out to be the biggest lie in legislative history, Obama demanded Congress quickly pass and he quickly sign the Economic Stimulus Act, a pork barrel filled gift to lobbyists and supporters that has put the country deeply in debt. Now, six months later there is no stimulus and only a scant 10% of the money has been spent. There most certainly were five days available to post that turkey on line! As it turns out almost no bills have been posted on line for taxpayer review.

Exemption after exemption allowed lobbyists to fill the Cabinet. But what is much, much worse is the thirty plus CZARS who are actually responsible for everything from soup to nuts. None need be approved by Congress and several are radical zealots who aren't remotely qualified for the positions they hold. Some are downright scary characters. For example, consider Van Jones, the newest Environmental Jobs Czar, a religious and social fanatic.

Even more tragic is Obama's immediate implementation of "signing statements," which has really earned the ire of Democrats in Congress. The
Associate Press reports:

President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same.

House Democrats on Tuesday said they were "surprised" and "chagrined" by Obama's declaration in June that he doesn't have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Earlier in his six-month-old administration, Obama issued a similar statement regarding provisions in a $410 billion omnibus spending bill. He also included qualifying remarks when signing legislation that established commissions to govern public lands in New York, investigate the financial crisis and celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday.

"During the previous administration, all of us were critical of (Bush's) assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of congressional statutes he was required to enforce," the Democrats wrote in their letter to Obama. "We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude."

If Congress can't place conditions on the money, "it will make it virtually impossible to provide further allocations for these institutions," they wrote.

While these are troubling signs, what has concerned me the most is his virtually total failure to even attempt to work on legislation in anything remotely resembling a bipartisan way. Instead the leadership in the House and Senate have completely shut out all Republican and even moderate Democrats from the legislative process. Bills are crafted in secret. Republicans are not allow to attend these sessions. Then Pelosi and Reid decry the lack of Republican support even though they are the total cause of the Republican alienation.

Barack Obama could put a stop to this with one single phone call. It's a call he has not made.

The tragedy is the proposed Health Care Reform Legislation. With the Insurance Companies and most Republicans FIRMLY on board for reform, this could have been Obama's finest moment. He is allowing EXTREME PARTISANSHIP to potentially scuttle the potential cornerstone of his young administration.

Later today or tomorrow I will post a special entry on the blueprint for real Bipartisan Health Care Reform that is already on the table from Republicans AND the Insurance Companies.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Political Health Care Battle

This is a very short entry.

First we do need and must have universal health care. It might not need to be in the form of traditional "insurance," but today's Emergency Room approach to health care for the poor and uninsured is unacceptable. Every person must have access to primary care that is affordable and crisis care that will not leave them in bankruptcy.

Second the current Democrat Plan being rushed through Congress at a breakneck speed is horribly bad. If you haven't actually dug into the nuts and bolts, you can't imagine just how bad it is. While Republicans are exaggerating the potential results in terms of human suffering, the bill is a disaster that will, in fact, destroy the American Health Care System as we have known it, forever.

I am deeply disappointed with President Obama.

I thought the mangled wreck of a stimulus plan could be laid entirely at Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's feet. President Obama took a hands off approach and the entire nation is paying the price. Obama was new at his job and Pelosi sold him down the river. At least that's what I thought.

But now President Obama is taking a virtually identical approach on Health Care and the result is terrifying. Even as the non-partisan but liberal leaning Congressional Budget Office tries valiantly to sound the alarm, President Obama absolutely refuses to listen. This Health Plan will not work and it will cost billions more than today's system. There is no money to pay for this program as designed. And cuts in Medicare and Medicaid alone will destroy health care for Seniors.

Yet the demand for quick passage mounts. Do not read the bill. Do not post the bill for taxpayers to read. Do not ever allow a single Republican is a single planning meeting. Do not allow amendments. Do not listen to taxpayers. Pass it now.

We need Universal Health Care. We need to manage costs and put the individual back in charge of his or her personal health. Insurance must be transportable and it must be universal.

I'm ready and willing to support a strong plan that will actually cover all Americans without dismantling the current system that works so amazingly well for the vast majority of Americans.

President Obama could have accomplished this. So far he has chosen not to.

Here are two different but informative views:


SHOOS BLOG: Health Care Costs

Saturday, July 18, 2009

That's The Way It Is

Today the cable news networks, the big three broadcast networks, virtually every major newspaper and thousands of blogs are all remembering and honoring the legendary CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite. Cronkite passed away last night at the age of 92.

Today he is remembered as, perhaps, the last and greatest honest, trusted and impartial news reporter. Almost every story, blog, commentary and tweet says, "He will be missed."

The truth is that he has already been missed. Cronkite's last broadcast was in 1981 and I daresay 95% of those writing, blogging and reporting today never actually saw Cronkite at the anchor's desk. It's been 28 years since Cronkite set a standard that, today, absolutely no one attempts to live up to.

If anything it is a shame that Cronkite outlived journalism, the profession he so loved.

Scott Simon, this morning on National Public Radio, presented a thoughtful tribute to the man who was the face of news in America for over 20 years. You can and should listen to Simon's entire essay here. In his essay Simon made an astonishing honest observation (the editing and emphasis are mine, please listen to Simon's entire tribute):

Millions of people wouldn't believe that President Kennedy had been shot, or men were on the moon, until they heard it from Walter Cronkite.

No one person in news will probably have that kind of audience and authority again. There are almost a dozen different national TV news operations now, plus radio, Internet sites and citizen journalists who blog and tweet in real time, and often with real attitude.

Today, so much media doesn't try to reach a mass audience, with all its unpredictable diversity and variations. They look for like-minded people who want a view of the news that will reassure them that they're right.

If the moon landing happened in today's media landscape, you might have one network trumpet the accomplishment as a triumph for the American way of life. Another might say: impressive, yes, but a victory for the crew-cut military-industrial complex that sucks money for shock-and-awe adventures from social welfare programs.

And bloggers might bleat: It was all staged on a set in Roswell, New Mexico.

So today, tonight and tomorrow, as you watch newscaster after newscaster, pundit after pundit, and blogger after blogger, pay loving tribute to a man they never actually saw practicing his craft, ask yourself why no one is attempting to emulate him.

That's the way it is.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's The End of the World as We Know It

Well, faithful readers, it is time for the very lengthy third part of my trilogy. Parts one and two below were necessary to provide context for this third and most important discussion. Below is my analysis of the current economic crisis in the United States and, ultimately, the world. As my title above suggests, it is not a pleasant prognostication.

Long time readers know that I have been sounding the alarm siren for the last six months. As soon as it became obvious that our Congress and President were on the wrong track in handling the economic downturn, I've done my best to bring the keys issues to the forefront. This link here will take you to a dozen or more past blog entries where I've outlined the coming problems and condemned in no uncertain terms
the horrific Economic Stimulus Package.

Sadly, a quick review of comments from many readers proved two tragic facts. First, most people simply want to "play politics" and never, under any circumstances, read legislation or consider alternative solutions. If our fellow Democrats did it, it must be good. If Republicans proposed it, it's stupid, lame, old school and wrong.

Second, all too many people are just here for the free lunch. As long as some other "rich guys" pay the bills and they believe they'll eat for free, then they'll line up at the trough. Every day is a holiday and every meal is a banquet.

So just how bad is it? It's very, very bad. And you're going to feel the pain as early as tomorrow.

Borrow and Spend Democrats

I am a rather proud "tax and spend" Democrat. There are many things I genuinely believe the government can do better than the private sector and many others that the government must do because the majority of people simply will not do them. The beauty of being a "tax and spend" Democrat is there was a natural barrier that prevented us from going overboard: TAXES. If taxes got too high, the electorate would reign us in. And, as long as we worked with a nearly balanced budget, this system was nearly prefect.

Plus, by answering to the actual tax payers, we were forced to be honest, efficient and logical. We were forced to prioritize.

Today, under the vacuum of leadership from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the naivete of President Obama, none of that is happening. Instead of tax and spend, the new priority is borrow and spend without restraint. There are literally no priorities. There is no restraint. Pork barrel spending abounds, in fact it has become the coin of the realm. Payoffs are common place, corruption is rampant and institutionalized.

Barack Obama was and is totally unprepared for his job as President. He is no more than the band leader on the Titanic. The ship is sinking and it will take him down.

Where We Stand

About 500,000 new people apply for unemployment each week. Over 9 million new unemployed have been added to the dole since the pathetic non-Stimulus Bill passed. Unemployment has reached a 30 year high at 9.5% and virtually every economist predicts is will be over 10% by August.

Because the non-Stimulus Bill was nothing more that a massive pork barrel spending give-away three horrible things have happened. First, only about 7% of the money has actually been spent. Only 11% will be spent by year's end. Did Barack Obama lie? No, I don't think so. He simply had no idea what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were doing. Again, Barack Obama was (and still is) woefully unprepared to play at this level.

Second, the stimulus money turns out to be primarily rewards for contributors and patrons. I know this comes as a total surprise to everyone, but the vast majority of the money seems to be headed to
states that supported and voted for Democrats! WOW! Who knew?

Third, and perhaps most tragic, the paltry sums of money that are flowing out as being pirated away for bankrupt
states and used to pay bills or lower debt, not for any stimulus at all. The report issued today by the General Accounting Office paints a tragic picture of misuse of funds.

But the surprises hardly end there. It turns out there actually were (and are) shovel ready projects needing funding and ready to hire people. Are they getting the money? Nope. Not according to an
analysis by The New York Times.

In short, not one single job has been created and only a handful of jobs have been saved. This could have all been avoided. A stimulus package costing 1/3rd less was proposed and on the table from Republicans. Every single penny would have been spent to hire people for permanent, full time, high paying jobs. But, of course, none of it would have gone to pay off contributors. None would have been wasted. And it would be working hard today, not on hold until 2010 and 2011.

Where Are We Headed?

By borrowing insane amounts of money and not taxing anyone for anything yet, Democrats have appealed successfully to both the party partisans and the pigs down at the trough. But that's all about to end.

Interest rates are about to skyrocket. I know of no economist who predicts less than a doubling of interest rates in the next few months. While that assures there will be absolutely no recovery in the economy, it is actually much worse.
As interest rates eclipse 7% the government will be totally unable to service the huge deficits. One hundred million dollars a day in interest!

Because of the inevitable collapse of the US economy, tax increases will move from counterproductive to impossible. My essay back on March 7th was tragically accurate, we are on the same economic policy path that led to
The French Revolution. Let them eat cake!

President Obama's current drive for universal health care, a laudable goal, is moot. No matter what bill passes, the program will collapse, along with Social Security and the current Medicare/Medicaid in the next few years. We cannot borrow ourselves out of debt. We cannot service the debt. We cannot tax our way out of debt. Like a chess player who has been out maneuvered, we have no moves remaining. Checkmate.

Is there a way out? Like the immortal line from the movie War Games, the only way to win is not to play. Because of the non-Stimulus Bill and the pork filled Budget recently passed, it may already be too late. Inflation is coming. And the deficit is unsustainable. And Democrats are sadly still playing politics.

The public is about to explode. They are already feeling the pain. Even after siphoning off stimulus money, states are making critical cuts in goods and services. California, Illinois and New York are about to undertake massive layoffs that will further balloon stressed out welfare rolls. California is issuing virtually worthless IOU's to taxpayers and creditors as their bonds are being lowered to near junk status.
Illinois is about to release 10,000 prisoners because they simply cannot pay the guards.

You are about to feel serious pain and it's just the beginning. We are entering The Greatest Depression.

It is likely Obama will end his single term as a badly failed President in spite of his many great talents. While Republicans are unprepared to regain control of both houses next election, they will make serious gains. And real, thinking Democrats will quickly break with Pelosi and Reid and Obama, if necessary, to demand repeal of most spending plans and reduced borrowing.

I'm not at all certain that is will be anywhere enough.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

President Obama's Tour de Force

In the second of my three articles I want to discuss the continued foreign policy success Barack Obama is having so very early in his presidency. His polished interpersonal communication skills and his willingness to underplay America's traditional strengths have disarmed his friends and foes alike.

In going to Russia he publicized that he wanted to "hit the reset button" on the US / Russian relationship and he most certainly has done that.

A great many of his actual accomplishments were actually negotiated months in advance by experienced negotiators, as has always been done in every administration. That we started new nuclear disarmament discussions was expected and not surprising. Although we should all be relieved.

No, what impressed me were the little cues that actually set the tone for future relationships, and in this arena Obama is the master.

Here is some key observations form the
AFP Press Report:

"The second day of Obama's visit, like the first, proved that Russian-US relations have genuinely begun changing for the better," wrote official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

"In the voice of the US guests, no longer is there is a tone of mentoring, nor is there a desire to talk down to their Russian colleagues," said the newspaper, commenting on Obama's speech.

In his address, which was billed as a major foreign policy address building upon previous speeches in Cairo and Prague, Obama reached out to Russians distrustful of the United States.

"America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia," Obama told an audience of graduating students from an elite Moscow economics school.

He acknowledged the difficulties in forming a lasting partnership between the two former Cold War enemies, but said Russia and the United States now shared common interests on the main issues of the 21st century.

But Obama also praised democratic freedoms -- a sensitive topic for Putin and Medvedev, who have been criticised for being undemocratic -- and said that Russia had to respect the sovereignty of its neighbours Georgia and Ukraine.

I think that President Obama is handling nearly all of these relationships perfectly. Only the rogue state of North Korea remains an enigma. Now it is being widely reported that President Kim is ill and that will likely complicate the matters further. But if Obama strengthens his personal relationships with Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev in Russia it could go a long way in solving that crisis also.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Disorganized, Dispondent Republicans Are Not Ready for Victory

I really regret that I haven't had the time to address many of the important issues swirling around our nation over these last few weeks. I appreciate all of you who stop by here daily only to find the nest empty. I am humbled by your loyalty.

There are three points that deserve to be discussed and I've decided to cover them in three separate blog entries over the next three days.

First, in what will be the shortest entry, I'm going to take just a couple of paragraphs to discuss the sorry state of the Republican Party. This ought to be really short.

Al Gore wrote to me today (along with about ten million other Democrats and liberal leaning folks). What former Vice President Gore wanted, of course, was money for the Democrat Party. But he did make a really important observation.

Dear Robert, (Good old Al always calls me Robert)

I've seen it happen. In 1992, Democrats had finally regained the White House and had control of Congress. Everything was in place to bring about historic change.

But in 1994 - just two years later - the Republicans surged back, capturing the Senate and the House. As a result, every bit of progress was a struggle, and Republicans blocked many important initiatives entirely.

We can't let it happen again, but history is not on our side. In all but three midterm elections since the Civil War, the president's party has lost seats.

Good old Al is right. If one party controls both Houses of Congress and the Presidency it is likely the opposing party will take some of that power back. It happens for a variety of reasons: buyer's remorse, desire for a balance of power, and a re-energized opposition.

This year, for reasons I will discuss thoroughly in my third blog entry, Republicans should really gain ground. The mistakes President Obama and the Democrats are making are huge and potentially devastating to the country. But the Republicans may not be able to pick up the pieces.

In 1994 Republicans had a secret weapon: Newt Gingrich. Gingrich was probably the brightest and most able member of the House of Representatives in our generation. And he was organized and had a superb marketing plan. He capitalized on Clinton's mistakes and energized the party and, ultimately, the nation.

Today there is no Newt Gingrich, not even the badly tarnished and out of power Gingrich himself.

Although we Democrats are wasting our time, energy, intelligence and credibility attacking Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, neither of these people, nor any of the other talking heads are leading the Republican party or speaking for the Republican party. And potential leaders like Governor Mark Sanford are self destructing.

In the House and Senate there is literally no leadership with even marginal credibility. A few are captive of far right Christian groups bent on repealing the laws of Evolution, others lack the charisma to capture the imagination of the populace.

So while my close personal buddy Al is right, history favors the Republicans, there is no cohesive group able to capitalize on this historic opportunity.

That is a shame and I'll explain why in part three.