Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Barack Obama addressed a joint session of congress on Tuesday night to outline more economic proposals and to present an agenda that included cutting the deficit in half in four years, energy initiatives and health care reform. But the first thing that comes to mind is, why another speech?

Obama is now undoubtedly in the Guinness Book of World Records for speeches made by a President in his first 30 days in office. That shouldn't surprise anyone. Based on his previous 12 years in elected office making speeches is the only thing he has shown he knows how to do. Or even likes to do. And as always the media eats it up.Media like the Philadelphia Inquirer whose editorial board called Obama's politically motivated speech on race Lincolnesque and is now filing for bankruptcy. Hopefully there is no symbolism in that.

As has been widely reported, all the initiatives put in place since his election were drawn up by Pelosi and the Democrats in the House with zero input from Obama. He had about as much input into what went into the Stimulus Bill as I did. But what Obama is there for, and probably why Pelosi and many Democrats wanted Obama over Clinton, is,Obama really has no initiatives of his own and is a willing front man for the programs and policies Pelosi wants to sell. Many of the traditional Democratic initiatives are good ones. But so far, Pelosi's hand in the writing of the TARP and the Democratic bailout money for Detroit have been failures. Pelosi's first attempt at the TARP was so bad 95 Democrats voted against it and it had to be redone.And GM laid off 10,000 workers in spite of the billions they received in taxpayer bailout money, have come back for more and might file for bankruptcy anyway.

So when in doubt, give a speech. Afterwards there were the usual loaded questions used by pollsters to get reactions, most notably the stupid question, "did you feel more optimistic or pessimistic after hearing Obama's speech"? Well why would anyone be pessimistic about that speech? You only start feeling pessimistic when you look at Obama's 12 year record and become aware of his history of reneging or not following through on just about every promise he ever made as an elected official or candidate.

Aside from that, like all his speeches it was superficial, trite when trying to sound profound ("we will rebuild") tried to find new ways of saying what everyone already knows, was endlessly repetitive ( "we need to act boldly and swiftly") lacked details, and gave the usual politician's slice of life anecdotes. The speech did get in a few appropriate digs at the Republicans,George Bush and the mess they made of everything. But while David Gergen at CNN ( the people that keep telling us every five minutes they are the best political team on television ) gushed over the speech and how it was the most "ambitious" agenda of any President he can remember, there one very important point everyone missed. How is he going to accomplish all that?

During the primary he promised to vote against the FISA bill if it contained retroactive immunity. Then he voted for it. He promised to filibuster the FISA bill if it looked like it had enough votes to pass. He never did. He told the people of Ohio he was going to get rid of NAFTA if elected and then had an emissary go to the Canadian embassy and tell them to ignore what Obama was saying publicly, it was just politics and he'll never get rid of NAFTA. He promised and actually signed a written pledge to use only public financing in the Presidential election if he were the nominee but as soon as he became the nominee, he tore up the pledge, reneged on his promise, and took as much money as he could from the very lobbyists and corporations he attacked Clinton for taking contributions from. So how do we know this wasn't another shovel ready speech from Obama?

The country surely needs to reverse everything the Republicans did the last 8 years which is really all Obama was talking about. These aren't ideas, this is throwing out the garbage which needs to be done. Getting rid of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income brackets, acknowledging global warming, having energy independence which has been talked about for years, and doing health care reform are all Democratic initiatives that have been proposed for years and ignored by Republicans who don't believe in any of them. But if someone asks how is Obama going to accomplish all these things which were hard enough when the economy was in good shape much less in the crisis it's in now, the answer is, its unrealistic.

Obama has already slipped some sleight of hand into his promise to create 3 1/2 million jobs. Now its create or save 3 1/2 million jobs.But how do you know if you've saved a job? You don't. It can never be accurately measured. But by throwing in the word "save", if the job creation doesn't meet the promise, Obama can always come back and say he might not have created 3 million jobs but he saved them. Except there will be no way anyone will be able to prove that.

Obama's speech, except for giving the news media something to talk about, accomplished nothing. It was, like his renting Invesco Field to give his acceptance speech, totally unnecessary. All that will matter is whether the Democratic proposals Obama is out there selling will work. The country needs health care reform and energy independence. They need to get rid of waste and the no bid contracts that gave Cheney's old company, Haliburton, a windfall. It needs to get rid of the tax breaks from the Bush years. Getting rid of agricultural subsidies to farmers who don't need them is another good thing to do. But how is Obama going to accomplish everything else he promised in his speech? The saving grace is that with Obama, there are really a slew of Co- Presidents behind the scenes with Obama as the front man. Unfortunately Pelosi is one of those Co-Presidents and given that she was instrumental in rigging the Democratic Primary process and convention to get Obama the nomination, she is going to have the kind of influence with Obama she'd never have with Clinton. And so far the legislation she has already pushed through hasn't worked. So as to how Obama will fulfill the promises he made in his speech, the worry is, they will be fulfilled the same way he fullfilled his promises to vote against the FISA bill, get rid of NAFTA, and run his campaign on public financing.

Obama is essentially an empty vessel. The easily impressed, which is to say people who spend most of their time around politicians who all sound alike, are impressed with Obama's speeches. Based on the Democratic Primary results about half aren't. Obama as the empty vessel is being filled with Democratic initiatives which he is being sent out to sell, most of which I agree with. But the economic crisis does not call for policy it calls for ideas and solutions. Right now the only thing that matters is whether they will work. And no Obama speech is going to make that happen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Barack Obama has called the passage of the stimulus package a "milestone". That is exactly what a lot of people who opposed the bill,most notably economic conservatives, were afraid of. The fear was that a lot of the spending in this bill wasn't so much stimulus as using the crisis to pass spending bills that are simply designed to become permanent government programs, exploiting the economic crisis to shove legislation through that might not otherwise have support in much the same way Bush used 911 as the excuse to invade in Iraq.

Proof that Pelosi and some Democrats felt they could use the economic crisis as a cover to push through programs that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy was that they tried to push through programs that had nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Some of it was stripped out by the three Republicans who agreed to vote for it. But what would have gotten much more bi-partisan support would have been if McCain's proposal would have been adopted -- that is, install a trigger in the bill that would end the government stimulus spending once the economy turned around and it was no longer necessary. That was rejected.

Obama's referring to it as a "milestone" may have inadvertently betrayed the true intentions of Pelosi et al to make these spending programs permanent since no one could call measures needed to deal with the current economic crisis "milestones" any more than getting food water and shelter into New Orleans after Katrina or invading Afghanistan after 911 could be called "milestones". Both were unfortunate necessities, actions that had to be taken to deal with a crisis no one wanted. That Obama is calling it a "milestone" and literally celebrating the passage of the bill might be indicative of and betray the secret intentions of the bill. It also foreshadows in Obama a complete lack of understanding of what he is doing and what, ostensibly, the purpose of the bill is. Which comes as no surprise to a lot of people.

The stimulus bill is, if anything, a necessary evil needed to ward off the potential for a greater economic evil, at least in theory. And it must be said that so far, what's been done with regards to bailouts and other government action, hasn't worked which makes the stimulus bill even more suspect.

The $27 billion to keep the auto industry afloat supposedly to save auto workers jobs didn't stop GM from recently cutting 10,000 jobs.And if anyone wants to go back a month or so on this blog, you will see that I opposed the $27 billion bailout to the Big Three from day one on the grounds that they should be subjected to free market forces, that they had lost $70 billion in the last 3 years because of their own policies and were using the economic crisis as an excuse for a bailout when it was their own incompetence that created their real problems.

I said then that if they needed to go into bankruptcy or merge, so be it. Now we are learning that GM needs another $4 billion from taxpayers and that they are considering filing for bankruptcy anyway as one of their only real is viable options to stay in business. Except that if Obama, and Democrats like Dodd, Kerry and a bunch of others had had the same foresight they could have seen this coming and saved the taxpayers $27 billion. What is scary is that I spend about 15% of my time thinking about this stuff. They spend all their time thinking about it and still can't get it right.

As for the things in the stimulus that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy, there are a lot of programs in it that are worthwhile, but programs that should have been placed in separate bills, debated, voted on and passed. The fact that Pelosi tried to sneak these things through in a stimulus bill not only hurts the Democrats credibility, but gives reason to question their honesty and Obama's.

This is not to say that there aren't good ideas in the bill that will, have some affect. But it seems that the best ideas never made it into the package. And I hate to say it, but many of those best ideas came from the Republicans and their point that it was the housing crisis that got the country into this mess and it should be addressing the housing crisis first that gets the country of it. The Republicans wanted $50 billion to buy or refinance the mortgages of 1.5 million homes about to go into foreclosure which would keep those people in their homes. They didn't get it.

Another reason to question Obama's and the Democrats honesty with this bill, is why is Obama going to Denver to sign it when he can just as easily sign it in the White House? Why the dog and pony show? I think the answer is that a dog and pony show is the only thing Obama and Axelrod know how to do. This smacks of a Republican Presidential dog and pony show that backfired called "Mission Accomplished" and there is the danger it will have the same results.

Obama's clamoring that this bill had to passed and signed before Feb 16th or catastrophe would strike also smacked of Bush's warnings of imminent danger from Iraq and why we had to invade immediately. Bush said there was no time to let the weapons inspectors do their jobs. There was no time to wait, probably because he knew they would find nothing and the ruse being used to invade Iraq would be history.

The same might have been true of Obama's clamoring for immediate passage of the bill to fend off "catastrophe". He promised the bill would be posted for 5 days on a government web site so people could read it before a vote. Didn't happen.

The reason for a stimulus is for immediate results. Immediate meaning the economy turns around within two years and clear signs of that happening should be apparent in less than one. If it works, everyone will know it pretty soon. If it doesn't, the stimulus bill will end up not as a milestone, but a millstone, around Obama's neck as well as the Democrats who created it.

NOTE: We now know courtesy of Obama's press secretary, as to why the bill signing is in Denver. Obama is signing the bill in Denver to commemorate his nominaton for President at the Democratic National Convention. As symbolism this is bad news considering that the Democratic Convention and the roll call vote in Denver which secured Obama's nomination was rigged. It violated every rule and procedure put in place by the Democratic Call to the Convention governing how a Presidential nomination is secured and was, quite simply, completely phony. So as symbolism, it's possible that signing this bill at the site of the Democration National Convention might prove to be more appropriate than anyone actually thought. And again, like with Obama's use of the word "milestone", we may be finding that Obama's subconcious and that of Pelosi and other prominent members of the DNC who engineered the signing in Denver, coming clean and telling us the truth without realizing it.

By the way, the eight American flags Axelrod wants onstage with Obama were prominently on display at the signing ceremony. And while there wasn't any Magic Mountain to go with the eight flags, the signing did have a mountain that went along with it. A mountain of debt.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


There is an amusement park in New Jersey called Six Flags Magic Mountain which is a theme park with all kinds of rides and attractions. But recently we have seen a new amusement park open in Washington D.C. It used to be called the White House. It might now be aptly called Eight Flags, No Magic Mountain. And it has rides that are making a lot of people scream.

It's called Eight Flags No Magic Mountain because, and I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but when appearing at a venue onstage, outside the White House, Obama has consistently appeared with no less than eight American flags on the stage behind him. Eight. For past presidents one was enough. Once in awhile you might even see two. But eight?

The speculation is that Axelrod wanted 8 American flags on stage to remind Obama exactly what country he's been elected President of, since the belief is that Obama, who has been driven purely by personal ambition, just wanted to be President and it didn't really matter for which country.

But its going to take more than a reminder to straighten out what has to be the rockiest sloppiest most amateurish start to an administration anyone has ever seen. And now with Judd Gregg deciding to remove himself from nomination as Commerce Secretary only days after being named, the Obama administration has turned into not just a farce but an amusement park ride that, as every day goes by, more and more people are wanting to get off.

Three weeks into the Obama Administration, its time to remember every Democrat and every newspaper who endorsed Obama, led by Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Senator Pay Leahy, the Chicago Tribune, LA Times and NY Times, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and many others, who did so by saying Obama was the candidate who had the judgement to be President from day one.

Of course there were enough warnings that this wasn't the case, that this was part of the snake oil he, the DNC and the press were selling since he not only had no experience, and no vision (other than "change") , he had accomplished absolutely nothing in 12 years as an elected official, and has never showed any of the things the country needed in a President, especially after 8 years of Bush, not to mention his problems with ethics and truth telling.

Instead, Democrats like Dean, Pelosi, John Kerry, Jesse Jackson Jr, and many others in the DNC and the press, decided to make Obama's race the issue, the guiding light behind why he should be elected while those who had no issues with race, who never thought race should matter one way or the other in the first place had to watch as a fiasco of a primary unfolded. So why would anyone think anything good would come of such a dishonest process?

Now with Judd Gregg deciding to withdraw his name from nomination because he can't support Obama's economic polices and was nominated in the first place because Bill Richardson had to withdraw his name from nomination because he is under investigation by the FBI, the fiasco continues.

Yes, the argument can be made that a Democratic fiasco will still produce better results than the Republican fiasco of the last 8 years and that's true, but why are we having any fiasco at all?

You can blame the DNC and the press for this and for the eight year fiasco of the Bush Administration. They are the ones who punched everyone's ticket. They are the ones abdicated their responsibilites to be honest and objective and report the truth.

It was clear to 18 million Democratic primary voters from day one that Obama didn't have the judgement to be President and now it looks like it's finally sinking in for everyone else. The magic that everyone was hallucinating about is clearly gone. Chris Matthews doesn't have goose bumps going up his legs anymore. And Axelrod's free food and a rock concert strategy won't work this time. The Magic Mountain doesn't exist. And never did.

So we are left with the eight flags. The amusement park at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will no doubt continue, and Eight Flags No Magic Mountain will be open for the next four years. Either that or we are witnessing the start of a new TV series called "Eight Isn't Enough".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Obama: The credit crisis is real.

I for one thought this was a very important and informative moment because up until now, I thought everyone was just kidding.

Obama: I don't have a crystal ball.

So where is it? He never did say.

Obama: Having said that...

Having said what?

Obama: I don't plan on letting Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden plan attacks against America with impunity.

I happen to think this is a really good idea.

Obama: We are in the winter of our hardship.

The sheer poetry is staggering. So we received a weather report too though we have yet to get a forecast as to whether this will be the spring of our hardship and the summer of our hardship.

One thing he did say, which he did say forcefully and it needed saying, was to remind the Republicans that it was their ineptitude, incompetence and idiotic policies that created this gross financial mess in the first place and they are hardly the ones to get us out of it, though Pelosi did no one any favors with the way she padded the stimulus bill the first time around with programs that are worthwhile but should have been voted on separately in other bills. How well this stimulus will work no one can say. It has to have some positive effect and still makes more sense than the policies that created this mess.

Further note: I was against the Democratic bailout of the Big Three auto makers from the very beginning but all we heard from Pelosi and people like Chris Dodd and other Dems was that the the money was needed to save jobs and how much worse the unemployment picture would be without it. The Governor of Michigan also screamed for the bailout money saying that it was needed to save jobs in her state. The car makers got their $27 billion. Today GM announced they are cutting 10,000 jobs.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Barack Obama has said that the the stimulus package must be passed by Feb. 16. Why Feb 16th he has never specifically said. What he has said is that the bill must be passed and passed now because if it isnt, the country faces an economic disaster from which the country may well never recover. According to Obama we face this impending disaster now and so action must be taken now, by Feb.16th.

The last time a President told the country we faced an imminent threat of disaster and that action had to be taken now, and then successfully pushed the Senate into taking that action because a threat was imminent, we ended up invading Iraq. The more Obama talks, the more one listens to the debate, the more you hear him being assertive one day, then backtracking the next, then sounding conciliatory, then fear mongering, the stimulus bill is starting to sound more and more like Obama's and the Democrats Iraq.

If time is of the essence with respect to passing this bill, then the bill Nancy Pelosi pushed through the House under her "leadership" was a waste of that time. A stimulus bill designed to create jobs, save homeowners from foreclosure,and free up the credit markets had no business having provisions for birth control and family planning, money for the National Endowment for the Arts,and a variety of other projects, many of which are worthy and deserve being funded but had no place in the stimulus bill.

The arrogance and stupidity of Pelosi to think, if she did, that she could stuff this bill with provisions on spending that should be voted on separately in separate appropriations bills and get away with it, is extraordinary. And if time does become a factor, the blame rests squarely on Pelosi, not the objections of most Republicans and some Democrats to things that don't belong in the bill and seem not to do enough where the most help is needed.

But not only did Pelosi wrongly think that Republicans would just roll over and go along with anything that was in the bill, she wrongly misjudged many Democrats who also support some of those added on provisions but who rightly believe they don't belong in the economic stimulus bill.

What Pelosi did with the current bill is waste people's time since most of the debate in the Senate over getting rid of those provisions could have been spent on other aspects of the bill.

It was also politically stupid to put those non stimulus provisions in the bill, because it has turned the majority of Americans against it as it stands now and further undermined Obama's credibility which is shrinking so fast Bed Bath and Beyond is now offering the Obama "Historic Moment" commemorative plate at 50% off (I'm not kidding). And he's only been in office 2 weeks. The value of that plate has detriorated faster than Citi Group stock and at about the same percentage.

Obama is insisting this massive bill has to be passed by the 16th allowing for only 5 days of conference once the Senate version passes when, as one journalist pointed out, bills involving one tenth of this amount of money have been in conference, at times up to a year, but more routinely weeks or even months. Obama's most recent assertions that the bill has to be passed now to avert an impending disaster sounds more and more like Bush's fear mongering on Iraq's impending nuclear threat and how if we waited for the weapons inspectors to find a smoking gun, the smoking gun could be in the form of a mushroom cloud (everyone remember that one?)
It seems that Obama is now trying to get his stimulus package through the Senate by trying to use the same tactics. He still has not said why this bill has to be signed into law by the 16th.

During the Presidential campaign I created a commercial which pointed out that Obama had spent more than $3 million just so he could give his acceptance speech in the Denver Bronco's football stadium instead of the Pepsi Center. And he did it at a time when the severity of the economic crisis was becoming apparent and people were losing their homes. The commercial asked if someone who would waste $3 million on giving a speech in a football stadium just as the country was slipping into a severe economic crisis could have the judgment to handle such a crisis as President or whether he would simply turn it into a political football.

Based on the same kind of "imminent threat" fear mongering we heard from Bush on Iraq being used by Obama to get a bill passed that most people think needs more time and work, it looks like football season isn't over but may just be beginning.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Back in June, when Barack Obama chose the man he wanted to vette his potential candidates for vice president, his choice had to quit within days over his involvment in a scandal involving improper loans from Countrywide at a time when the mortgage crisis was just becoming apparent. Since then Bill Richardson had to withdraw as the nominee for Commerce Secretary over an FBI investigation into improper use of PAC contributions, Geithner had to ride out the revelations that he hadn't paid $36,000 in back taxes (not a good thing for a Secretary of the Treasury), and now Tom Daschle has to deal with a tax issue before his own confirmation hearings.

None of this bodes well for Obama or the country or the Democrats since it reveals a pattern of, not just sloppiness which is bad enough, but in keeping with the entire conduct of the Democratic primaries and convention, it reveals an arrogance and willingness among certain people to disregard not just rules of conduct but laws.

The latest embarrassment has come today now that Nancy Killefer, another Obama appointee who was introduced with much fanfare whose job was going to be scrub the federal budget line by line to get rid of waste has withdrawn her name from consideration with no reason given.

It is probably not going to stop.It is this pattern of sloppiness, and a not ready for prime time candidate that has been apparent with Obama from the beginning. And now that the New York Times editorial board is calling for Daschle to withdraw as one problematic cabinet choice too many, the bloom may be off the rose for those, the New York Times included, who blathered about Obama during the primaries about the change and high standards he supposedly represented.

The second pattern that has become apparent is that Obama has been, at least so far, and I expect this to continue, nothing more than what he has always been, a speech maker, not a policy maker, and for many not even a very good speech maker at that, though certainly many people who supported him did so as a result of his speeches,( including the New York Times) that many others considered silly and nonsensical.

It was reported last night on CNN that the current stimulus package has been forged by Democrats in the congress with virtually zero input from Obama. In other words he has absolutely nothing to with what's in it and a spokesman for Obama acknowledged that. This might the reason we see Obama shuttling back and forth from meetings with Democrats to meetings with Republicans where he comes out and says the thinks the Republicans have some good ideas ( I for one agree -- I've heard a lot more good ideas and ideas that make sense coming from the Republicans than I do the Democrats).and then has to go back and try to get the Democrats to drop aspects of the bill the Republicans won't support, then go back to the Republicans with the new version.

In other words, everything is off to a bad start for Obama and the Democrats. Yes Obama signed an order to close Guantanamo within a year, and reversed some Bush Administration abuses by Executive Order but it should be pointed out that Obama has so far ducked the single most important Executive Order he could issue -- reversing Bush's ban on stem cell research and his comment that he wants to leave it to Congress is pure Obama -- if its controversial why stick his political neck out? Let the Congress pass a law and he'll sign it when he could simply reverse the Bush ban himself with the stroke of a pen.

With all of the cabinet level embarrassments in the vetting process occurring on a daily basis and Republican rejection of the stimulus bill ( and for some very good reasons). Obama has lost all traction and if it continues, Obama's statement the other day that if the stimulus doesn't work his will be a one term presidency could be Obama laying the groundwork for yet another pattern fulfilling itself - the one where once elected, Obama doesn't get much done and is on to the next thing.

NOTE: Since the posting this morning, Daschle has withdrawn his name as HHS Secretary, the third Obama nominee to have to withdraw their name and the fourth high ranking Obama appointment to have had questionable tax, ethical or legal problems to answer for in the first two weeks of his administration.

And this from the candidate both he and his supporters said was ready to be President on day one. Maybe he was ready on day one. But what about the other 1,459 days?