Monday, March 30, 2009


Five months and $27 billion of taxpayer money down the drain later, President Obama finally announced that he is giving GM and Chrysler 60 and 30 days respectively to do what they should have been doing for the last 5 months. Whether its too little too late remains to be seen. The last 5 months could have been used to much greater advantage and without essentially throwing away $27 billion Congress allocated to the automakers back in November.

So it seemed like a good time to reprint what I wrote on my blog back in November on the issue of the auto bailout:

"Throwing $27 billion at the automakers is nothing more than trickle down economics, the failed Republican economic ideology that has never worked, now being pushed in the hopes that by giving money to the same management teams that screwed up in the first place, it will all trickle down and save jobs and the companies themselves.

"So the Democrats, with Obama and Pelosi leading the way now want to throw $27 billion at the 3 most irresponsible corporations in America, which everyone knows is only a down payment anyway since they will be back for more.

"How about insisting that if they give them the bailout money, that current management step down? How about a provision insisting that any executives at the Big 3 making $500,000 a year or more, work for a salary of $1 a year until the money is paid back?"

"The CEO's of these three companies which lost $70 billion over the last 3 years, make on average $28 million a year. Just to put that in terms people can understand, that is $600,000 a week."

Why it has taken so long for reality to set in for the Obama Administration no one really knows. Common sense has never been one of Washington's greatest assets and Obama has never at any point in his life shown even the slightest talent for problem solving which is what is now needed most.

Obama's announcement that the government will now guarantee new car warranties could have and should be on the table months ago, but better late than never.

This is what I wrote about the warranties in the same article back on November 19, 2008:

"There is only one reason people said they wouldn't consider buying a car from a company that went into bankruptcy and that's the warranty. But the government, for a fraction of what the automakers want in bailout money, can guarantee the warranties on all of GM's cars just like the FDIC guarantees bank deposits. And that money would only be needed if GM actually went out of business which is not likely.But It would take care of people's fears and it would cost the taxpayers a lot less than $27 billion if management couldn't turn it around"

It is now five months and $27 billion of taxpayer money later. Obama is announcing government backed warranties and the CEO of GM has resigned and they are getting another 30-60 days to get their acts together or it will be bankruptcy protection. And bankruptcy which I advocated for GM five months ago does not mean going out of business. Just ask Delta and Continental Airlines. It means restructuring and it was then and still is the solution that makes the most sense.

What Obama announced today, at the very least, should have happened a lot sooner. It would have saved the taxpayers $27 billion. One can only hope that the rest of Obama's overall economic plan is a lot more effective than how the auto industry has been handled or the country is going to have to revoke his learner's permit.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The consensus post mortem verdict on Obama's most recent press conference was, for the most part, that, if nothing else, it could be bottled and sold as a sleep aid. And it's no wonder. Obama, as anyone who has listened closely to his speeches knows, has always been all style and no substance. But Obama may be finding that his style is wearing thin. And evidence of that came in one telling moment.

Last night, while not coming right out and accusing Obama of outright dishonesty, Ed Henry of CNN asked the toughest question of the night -- why Obama had waited 3 days to voice his "outrage" when he had known days before it became public that the bonuses were going to be paid.

This caught Obama completely off guard. Because the question not only called into question his honesty,(something that has already been shown to be anything but Lincoln-esque) but the subtext was that Obama had been engaging in the kind of phony political posturing that supposedly he came to Washington to change. What followed was a moment that showed Obama brought to the brink of losing his temper. With virtual contempt in his voice he answered, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before saying anything:"

It had become clear from information that became public last week ( see the blog post "The President Who Decried Bonus Wolves") that Obama's "outrage" over the AIG bonuses was, in fact, a fake. He not only knew in advance that the bonuses would be paid, he actually gave the go ahead to Treasury to ask Senator Dodd to insert the loophole that allowed them to be paid.Then, after the bonuses were paid and all hell broke loose, Obama expressed his phony public "outrage".

For anyone who has followed Obama's statements and speeches from the primary campaign through the general election, making statements without knowing what he was talking about has never been an obstacle. From taking one position and then completely reversing it concerning the DC gun law struck down by the Supreme Court, or reversing himself on Jerusalem within 24 hours, or a promise to vote against the FISA bill and then voting for it, or a pledge to accept only public campaign financing and then doing the opposite, one cannot exactly take what Obama says to the bank, especially since that bank has a number of toxic assets for quite some time. But what was telling this time was the flash of controlled that anger Obama showed when confronted by Ed Henry who did something no other journalist had attempted -- poke a hole in the Obama facade and challenge his veracity.

Up to now the press had been behaving more like Obama's valet than an adversary, doing everything but pressing his clothes. During the primary and general election campaign the press largely let Obama get away with saying just about anything. Nothing that he had said had been challenged before by a journalist --at least not until he started running for President.

A Chicago Tribune reporter wrote about his personal experience he had with Obama a few years ago when he challenged him on the validity of a statement he made during a phone conversation. According to this reporter Obama blew up on the phone, completely lost his temper and, according to the reporter, ranted at him. This is not unusual behavior for someone who carefully crafts a facade that he himself may even come to believe is real. When the self deluded are confronted with a reality that threatens the delusion they become hostile. And that is what happened last night when Ed Henry tried to pull back the curtain attempting to give a glimpse of who the Wizard behind the curtain really was.

Obama was like an undefeated prize fighter who never before had to take a punch because no journalist had ever thrown one. Henry's punch landed and for a brief moment, though it wasn't a knockout blow, dazed him. It was a punch Obama obviously never saw coming because of a mostly compliant news media or, to continue the fight analogy, a news media that could be called a Bum of the Month Club. The only defense Obama had was a snide, clearly contemptuous answer, almost as if to say how dare you even ask the question. Then he did what any fighter who is in momentary trouble does -- retreat and get out of trouble -- and he went on to the next question.

No other reporter followed up on Henry's question. While it did get a mention on CNN during the post mortem, for the most part it was glossed over. But it was a telling moment, both for the press and for Obama. And perhaps a signal that there will be those in the press he can no longer count on to be his personal valets.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Using the Special Olympics as a way of making fun of how poorly and inadequately he was at bowling revealed more about the truth about Obama's character than any of his prefabricated Styrofoam speeches that the mass media tends to fawn over. Despite all his attempts at damage control and all his apologies it revealed what tens of millions saw from day one -- a shallow, self centered candidate with not much talent for anything except self promotion; a candidate who really had no ideas and no direction other than his own personal political ambitions. And it showed that night on Leno.

It wasn't the first time that Obama made comments putting down a group of people he felt superior to. There were his infamous comments about the bitter people in Pennsylvania who turn to guns and religion out of their feelings of bitterness. And there were others. There was his message to the Canadian government telling them to ignore what he tells the people of Ohio about NAFTA, that it's all political posturing, (obviously having no respect for them or their needs), there was his complete disrespect for the voters of Florida and Michigan, making speeches about how "voices must be heard" and then doing everything in his power to keep over one million voters in those states from having their voices heard because they voted against him in a landslide. And then there was the little flap over his referring to a female journalist as "sweetie"( Ed. note: thanks for the correction)

It was painful trying to watch Paul Begala make excuses for Obama the next day. Yes it was a mistake, Begala said, and Obama did the right thing by apologizing quickly. But since it wasn't the first time he has made disparaging off the cuff comments about a particular class of people, it can't be called a mistake. A political mistake yes, but part of a personal pattern.

Even though Obama's comment was carried extensively by the news media, their analysis and comment was itself fairly superficial. Even now the press is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that Obama was obviously lying about his "outrage" over the AIG bonuses when he not only knew about them but on recommendation from Geithner, actually okayed the order to put in the loophole that allowed it. Then was "shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on in the back room".

President of the United States or not, the truth is that based on what we have seen of Obama he will never, on his best day, ever approach the kind of courage, depth of spirit, integrity, or intestinal fortitude and character possessed by the athletes who has participate in the Special Olympics. These are people who just about everyone admires for their qualities of character , courage and determination, what they are able to accomplish and what they have overcome to accomplish it.

There are African Americans in Congress who understand what it takes to acheive something when the deck is stacked against them. For them, to hear the first President with African ancestry make jokes about the abilities of Special Olympic athletes as a symbol of inadequacy and self deprecating humor must have made people like John Lewis, Maxine Waters, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Clarence Thomas cringe. Along with everyone else.

What came out of Obama's mouth would not come out of the mouths of 99% of the people in this country. Comparing his lousy bowling score to Special Olympics athletes would never have occurred to George Bush no matter how incompetent and disastrous he was as a President. The same is true for Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan, Carter, anyone in Congress or anyone at all, except for the most crass, empty and uninspired. It doesn't just reveal a crack in Obama's character it reveals one of the many fissures that are there but was consistently ignored by the press.

But it isn't something that should come as a surprise from someone who, by his own admission, has a history of throwing a lot of balls in the gutter.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As the national outrage over AIG's retention bonuses has grown ( maybe we should call them anal retention bonuses to accurately describe the people who wanted to pay them) Obama, while spending days and weeks expressing his own outrage, repeatedly said the payment of those AIG bonuses were not his or his administrations fault. Now we know they are.

At an impromptu press conference on March 18, when asked about a time line ( what did he know and when did he know it) regarding the payment of those bonuses, his answer was, after again saying how outraged he was over those bonuses , "look, rather than get into any details, I'm the President and the buck stops with me".

It turns out there was good reason to avoid the details. Because the details show that it was Obama and his administration who were responsible for the loophole in the legislation that allowed AIG to give these bonuses. As a matter of fact they were responsible for killing a senate amendment by Wyden and Snow weeks ago that would have prevented the bonuses from being paid.

Originally the legislation drafted by Chris Dodd limiting executive compensation prevented those bonuses from being paid also. Now we learn that it was Obama's decision to send the Treasury Department back to Dodd asking him to rewrite the amendment and insert the loophole so that the bonuses could be paid.

Knowing that it was his decision to allow these bonuses to be paid all along, Obama nevertheless put on this big farcical show feigning righteous indignation and outrage over the bonuses when it was his administration and his decision that allowed the bonuses to be paid in the first place. So it's no wonder that he didn't want to get into "details". He was though, "willing" to take "responsibility".

Its nice to know he was "willing" to take responsibility when in fact it was his responsibility and his order that allowed it to happen.

To be fair, there is no doubt that Obama acted on the advice of others, probably Geithner who people are now calling Jeremiah Geithner and are speculating will end up the same way. The real problem for Obama is not that he made an unpopular decision, a decision that outraged the public but one that he probably made in good faith based on the advice of people who know more about these things than he does. But, like other politically damaging episodes that popped up during both his primary and general campaign, Obama's first impulse is to lie. And so lie he did.

It remains to be seen what the press will do with this revelation. CNN, while specifically saying that Dodd inserted the loophole at the request of the Obama Administration, is spending most of its time patting itself on the back for getting the admission out of Dodd that his previous statements of having nothing to do with the loophole was inaccurate. That is small potatoes. Dodd isn't the story. Obama and the Treasury Department is.

During the primary campaign the press for the most part looked the other way when Obama was caught lying. Its hard to know what they will do now. Especially since there is a national outrage over the AIG bonuses. Certainly Arianna Huffington, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are still proudly displaying the certificates that show their ownership in the pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge Obama sold them during the primaries, so no one expects much out of them. But if Obama's approval ratings continue to slip the media is going to consider it open season because they always go where the money is. And if the money says its ok to go after Obama they will.

If the press pursues Obama over his role in the AIG bonuses it remains to be seen whether he will learn the lessons that other politicians never seem to learn -- to come out and admit the truth, admit his role ( instead of "I take responsibility" which is the politicians way of denying he had anything to do with it, hoping people will think he is just being big about it), get it over with and then get on with it. If he does we may all be better off since it might mark the end of his thinking he can lie his way out of trouble in the future which means more thought will go into the decision making process beforehand since he will know whatever decisions he makes he will be held accountable. But no one knows right now whether the press will let him off the hook, and more importantly, if they do, whether the public will buy it. Especially if the Republicans keep it alive as an issue.

But something worse and more insidious happened regarding Obama and his lie, on the House floor. A bill was introduced by the Democrats regarding the taxation of those bonuses,something everyone supports. Except for one thing. Inserted into the language of the bill is the statement that President Obama did all he could to keep the bonuses from being paid. Which is simply an out and out lie, something the Republicans were repeatedly pointing out during debate.

Many Republicans who supported the idea of getting the bonus money back by taxing it rose in opposition to the language calling it a lie and a cover up. And who can blame them? It was.

The Democrats insertion of that language which is not only completely irrelevant to the purpose of the resolution but a pathetic and dishonest attempt to try and cover for Obama and try and codify his lying about his own role, is one of the lowest, most devious and dishonest political maneuvers ever seen in the House.

In blatantly trying to provide dishonest political cover for Obama who we now know is the one, despite his "outrage" who is responsible for those bonuses being paid, the party of FDR, JFK and RFK have sunk to levels most Democrats would have thought impossible. previously seen only by Republicans like Tom Delay. So now it is the Republicans, whether for partisan gain or not, who have, after 8 years of running from the truth, decided to take a principled stand for the truth. Unfortunately years too late.And not enough of them to get the language removed.

The whole dishonest enterprise, quite frankly reeks of Pelosi. There is little doubt that it's her hand is in the insertion of the language designed to give Obama political cover either at Obama's behest or on her own.

As Speaker of the House, people don't have to be a constituent to let her know what they think of her dishonest meddling and the dishonest language in the bill and the devious way it was inserted to try and cover up for lies and politically disastrous mistakes.

If the Democrats are looking for ways to lose the next election they seem to be quickly finding them. Not only with a President publicly decrying wolves while privately feeding them, but in an entire party willing to put itself at risk in order to cover it up.

NOTE: Last night in Calfornia, at (yet another) town hall meeting, Obama sarcastically dismissed criticism of his impending appearance on Jay Leno by saying that critics seem to think he can't handle the economy and be on Leno at the same time. Given his disparaging remark on Leno regarding the Special Olympics over which he is now trying to do damage control, and the backlash over what we now know was his administration's decision to allow those AIG bonuses to be paid and then trying to cover it up, it looks like he can't handle either.

Monday, March 16, 2009


On Sunday John King had an "exclusive" interview with Dick Cheney, an interview CNN promoted relentlessly for days. But before it ever aired anyone who gave it any thought knew it would be another useless soft ball interview by the ever increasing useless breed of intellectually homeless people called journalists.
John King did not disappoint. The interview lived down to everyone's expectations.

Not that there was any reason to expect otherwise. It was obvious before the interview aired that no question would be asked that might embarrass Cheney. Or get to the truth about anything. The name of the game for today's journalists is trying to get political guests that will drive up ratings.

It's all about money. Which ironically, is exactly why so many news outlets are going bankrupt. These are people who know nothing about what it takes to attract an audience, nothing about promotion, nothing about the medium of television, and most unfortunately, nothing about journalism which is the real reason they are losing money.

It still hasn't occurred to them that the best way to make money is to actually perform the service people want, need and expect and maybe do it better than anyone else. Then people would watch or buy their newspaper.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that ground rules were obviously laid out for the Cheney interview and agreed to beforehand, guaranteeing that Cheney would be handled with kid gloves. And he was.

That's how you get other politicians to come on your show. The one thing you don't do is grill them and put them through a grueling truth session. If you did who would come on and schmooze about terrorism? On the other hand, any politician watching the King interview of Cheney would be clamoring to be next.

King as well as other journalists knows that if you ask tough, brutal questions like a good prosecutor who already knows the answers, exposing falsehoods, blatant dishonesty, ineptitude and incompetence which characterized the Bush Administration for eight years, you're not going to be making payments on the beach house.

King's interview also showed why Wolf Blitzer and everyone on CNN is constantly telling us every five minutes they are "the best political team on television". If they didn't say it who would? Obviously if these people were the best political team on television people would just know it. Or someone else would say it. They wouldn't have to shill. But over the last 8 years, CNN has shown that their team has more in common with the 1919 Black Sox than the New York Yankees.

For years CNN has run commercials using the slogan, "the most trusted name in news". At the bottom there is a little disclaimer saying that statement is based on a poll conducted by Pew Research. That is true except for one thing: the Pew Research poll they cite specifically asked respondents if they trusted ( that was the word used -- "trusted") a particular news organization to accurately report the facts and named several news outlets. In the poll, 69% of respondents said they did NOT trust CNN to accurately report the facts.

So how does CNN get away with claiming they are the most trusted name in news? Because in the same poll 70% said they didn't trust Fox News, 71% didn't trust MSNBC and other news organizations also polled worse than CNN. So based on the fact that they were judged slightly less horrific than other news organizations, CNN decided they could truthfully call themselves "the most trusted name in news".

In a business where the only thing you have to sell is credibility, instead of looking at those poll numbers and being horrified, instead of management deciding they have to do a much better job at reporting the news, someone in their promotion department became a hero by looking at the numbers and coming up with the deviously misleading slogan.

Which leads to the question, if a news organization can't tell the truth about itself how can they tell the truth about anything else? Obviously 69% of the people polled feel they can't. And as anyone who has watched CNN as well other news outlets over the 8 to 10 years, its easy to understand why.

Although they were not alone, "the best political team on television" stood around with their hands in their pockets during the Democratic primaries while the purely politically motivated disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan took place, taking away the rights of over one million voters to try and ensure Obama's primary lead. Like others, they also gave Obama a pass when he was caught lying to the people of Ohio about his position on NAFTA sending an emissary to the Canadian government telling them to ignore what he says publicly, that it's only for political consumption. And let's not forget seven consecutive days of lying about Jeremiah Wright until facts made each fabrication impossible to maintain.

Last but not least there was the complete rigging of the Democratic Party roll call vote violating every written rule and procedure in the Democratic Party's nomination process in order to rig it so Obama would get the nomination. And it was done right under the noses of "the best political team on television".

Getting back to Cheney and King, Cheney made the statement that the big thing the Bush Administration did after 911, the big decision they made setting them apart from "previous administrations" ( presumably the Clinton Administration), was that they decided to approach fighting terrorism as war instead of a law enforcement issue.

Cheney said that previous administrations (again, presumably the Clinton Administration) treated terrorism strictly as a law enforcement problem but that they, the Bush Administration, made the "key" decision to change the approach to a military response.

This of course was a total lie and King, conducting the interview in his official CNN dog collar and leash, let him get away with it. Maybe King forgot that Bill Clinton ordered a full scale Tomahawk missile attack from American destroyers into the Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan trying to kill Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda, and for doing so was accused by Cheney's party of a Wag The Dog ploy, launching the missiles to take attention away from his Lewinsky problem. A Tomahawk missile barrage from American destroyers is hardly treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. But King let Cheney say it unchallenged.

And while Cheney was tooting the Bush Administration's horn about fighting terrorism, King never asked why the Bush Administration ignored 8 months of warnings from the CIA, FBI and Richard Clark that CIA intercepts indicated they were about to hit with a major attack and yet did nothing. He never asked why Richard Clarke couldn't get a meeting with Bush or Rice to discuss the terorrist threat, even though Clarke told them over the summer that the spike in Al-Qaeda chatter was the highest he had seen in 20 years. And he never asked why the Bush Administration did nothing even though, according to Clarke, he and Tenent were running around the White House like " men with their hair on fire" in August of 2001 because the evidence that a serious attack from Al Qaeda was imminent. But then had he asked questions like that he might actually have been a journalist and not gotten the interview.

We are reminded once again, that while Bush and the Republicans hold the primary responsibility for wrecking the country the last 8 years, Bush being directly responsible for the four worst disasters to ever hit the United States -- 911, Iraq (called the worst foreign policy decision in American history by Tom Ricks), the response to Katrina, and the worst economic meltdown since the 1930s' -- the biggest enablers of all this was the press.

If journalists had not been as spineless and cowardly as they were, if they had not been more interested in "access" than in reporting the truth, if they had held Bush responsible for his failures and incompetence in allowing the 911 attacks to occur when the evidence is they could have been prevented, none of what followed ever would happened. There would have either been demands for Bush's resignation over 911 and he would have resigned or he would have been too politically wounded to go into Iraq and would have lost in 2004.

The old complaint by the news media against criticism was that people were trying to kill the messenger. Their defense was that what the news media was just doing their job reporting the news and weren't responsible for the news being bad. But over the last 10 years what the messengers have done is bury the real news, ignore it, hide it, pretend it wasn't there, or fabricate it, lest the messengers fall out of favor with those in high places creating the messages.

Given CNN's sagging ratings, their dishonest ad campaign, the bankruptcy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, the New York Times needing to go to a Mexican financier for a $250 million loan, and the continued decline of news media ratings and circulation, it looks like people have decided there are a lot of good reasons now to kill the messenger. And given the current spate of media bankruptcies, it looks like people have decided they are going to do just that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


As the economy worsens and the indicators keep going down, (todays market rally notwithstanding) all we keep hearing from defenders of the TARP, stimulus, and other bailout and budget actions taken so far by Obama and the Congress is "give it a chance".

On the face of it that might sound like a reasonable request until you start looking closer at what was said about these programs and the need to pass them immediately, and then applying some common sense.

We were told that the TARP, more bailout money and the stimulus package had to be passed immediately because things were so bad, that if these bills weren't passed and passed immediately things would become far worse. Even catastrophic. Fair enough. But since all these bills were passed, things have in fact become worse.

According to defenders of these bills, time is needed for them to work. But if they truly had to be passed immediately to stop the bleeding and keep things from getting worse, this is talking out of both sides of ones mouth because, according to them, the passage of these bills should have stopped the bleeding. Not fix the economy. Not turn it around. Not improve it. Just stop the bleeding.

If the reason the bills had to be passed immediately was because not passing them would result in immediate catastrophic consequences and that things would worsen, it's fair then to expect that passing them would do what immediate passage was intented to do -- stop them from getting worse. Just like a doctor taking steps to immediately stabilize a patient. Doctors expect those immediate steps to work immediately. It doesn't mean the patient is cured. It doesn't mean they are walking out of the hospital tomorrow. It means that the deterioration has stopped. And if those emergency steps don't work a doctor immediately tries something else.

So far, the passage of these bills with respect to stopping the bleeding and stabilizing the patient hasn't worked. But the response from the defenders of the bills has been, "give it a chance".

There are in fact, immediate results that one could reasonably expect if these bills had the effect its defenders claimed they would have. Its called confidence. Consumer spending is 75% of the country's GDP. If consumer confidence is restored it goes a long way to putting the economy on the right track. Nothing that has come out of Washington has so far restored consumer confidence. In anything.

Secondly , though the market is up today, there has been no confidence from the stock market in the first 10 weeks of Obama's presidency and no confidence in any of the economic packages passed by Congress. According to people who study such things, the market rally today (and we will see if it is sustained in the coming days) has something to do with a percentage of the 200 day Moving Average. Things I not only don't understand but don't even want to understand

The market for better or worse, right or wrong, is what investors believe is an indicator of the future. People buy and sell stocks not based on what they think they will be worth today but what they think they will be worth tomorrow. Or a week from now. Or six months from now. Nothing that Congress has passed so far has been met with confidence by anyone that things are going to improve.

This is not to defend the market as being an indicator of being right or wrong about anything. If these people were so smart the country wouldn't be in the mess its in now. But it is an indicator of what investors at least think what the near future will be.

This is a bad sign because one would think that as evidence that the Administrations strategy is working we would see an immediate response in the form of public confidence that their strategy will in fact work. The opposite has been true.

Since all these bills,bailouts and budgets were partly designed to stop the bleeding and stabilize the patient, its fair to make the point again that so far they haven't worked. The patient has gotten worse. Jobs losses are worse. The stock market is substantially down from where it was when Obama took office.

Its not helping that Obama's Really Great Adventure in picking Cabinet members has slowed things down considerably. Tim Geithner is walking around Treasury with no deputies, and no one to implement and carry out policy. So far, all of the nominated deputies have had to withdraw their names because of tax or other problems and not one deputy position has been filled.

Obama's reaction to all this seems to be, when in doubt make a speech.He's already set a world record for speeches in the first 30 days of a Presidency. Unfortunately making speeches hasn't worked either. When you decide to go to Ohio to give a speech that claims proof that a $767 billion stimulus bill is working is because it saved 25 jobs on the Columbus Ohio police force you are not going to inspire confidence.

Obama would do much better to stop making speeches since they haven't had any positive affect on anyone or anything. Or if he is going to make a speech, stop telling us how bad things are, that they are going to get worse, and stop spending the first 10 minutes of every speech telling people what they already know and then saying its not your fault. We know. We know.

There are still things that can be done that could and would have an immediate effect. Bernake and others say ( and I think they are right) that the economy cant turn around until the banking system is stabilized. People are rightly outraged at the behavior of the banks and their executives for being at the center of this mess. Politically, helping the banks won't score any points or be politically popular and asking Obama to do something that isn't politically popular or score any political points would be like asking Charles Barkley to keep quiet. It's not in Obama's nature.

But the smartest thing that can be done right now to help the banks is for the government to take over the toxic assets of these banks at a price most favorable to the government, say 10-20c on the dollar. The banks will take a big hit but they deserve to. But then those assets can be off their books and they can get back to the business of trying to make money which they do mostly through fees and lending. The assets can turn out to be worthless, but if they are it wont be the first time the government threw money down the drain. They were doing it for years being overcharged by Halliburton during the Bush Administration. And there is always the possibility that some of these assets might produce something and repay the taxpayer at least something. In the meantime it gets the banking business back on its feet.

The other thing Obama could do is, while taking the toxic assets off the books of these big banks, is aggressively prosecute people both on Wall Street and in the banking business who abused the system, and broke the rules and/or laws. For example, Lehman Brothers sold default investment swaps against the mortgage bundles they were selling knowing that if they all went bad they didn't have the cash to pay off on them. They all went bad, they didn't have the cash to pay off and went out of business. But this had to be against the law. Making these people pay with jail time would give the taxpayers some sense of justice being done and make the whole process easier to swallow . And it would do one other thing that the economy needs right now and doesn't have. It would instill confidence in the Obama Administration.

Obama has to do something more than make speeches and send out strategists to say "give it a chance". And since he made a point of saying he pays no attention to what happens on Wall Street on a day to day basis, today's rally should not be anything that he or his administration should point to as an example of those programs "working". Because it's not.

In terms of stabilizing the patient, nothing his administration has done up to now has worked. While we still don't know if it will work long term, there is every reason to expect that these actions should have stopped the deterioration and restored some confidence and they haven't.

Obama also needs to find something positive to say that will give people confidence instead of reminding people of how bad things are. And he has to stop telling us that this mess isn't his fault. Everyone knows it's not his fault. But one thing he can be sure of. If things don't get better, it will be.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


A little cat fight broke out in the Republican party the last two days between Rush Limbaugh and Robert Steele the new Chairman of the Republican Party and Steele gave every indication that his name bears no resemblance to his spine.

At first Steele criticized Limbaugh for much of what he said in his bizarre speech, making clear that Limbaugh didn't speak for the party. Limbaugh took exception and fired back at Steele who a day later, showing what the future holds for the Republican Party, backed down and apologized.

When you feel you have to apologize to a Rush Limbaugh for criticizing the kind of comments he made, you've given up any claim to being a leader and instead have become a stooge.

Steele was right to criticize Limbaugh but bowing to the systemic problem of being a Republican, caved in to conservative pressure. Once again Reagan's Rule, the rule which not only contributed to the continuing multiple disasters of the last eight years, but the destruction of the Republican Party as a political influence -- thou shall not criticize a fellow Republican -- prevailed.

The biggest problem with Limbaugh as already noted is, he is either a congenital liar, is seriously out of touch with reality, or has a self serving agenda that has nothing to do with the well being of the country. That agenda might possibly be that he is simply an entertainer and he knows it, the NotoriousBIG of conservatives.

Notorious Rush's statement that the Democratic Party is all about "destroying lives" brought cheers from the hip hop CPAC crowd. Steele was right to criticize Limbaugh for that and other equally Notorious statements but,as everyone saw, backed down and virtually recanted the criticism( while Republicans whine about a lack of bi-partisanship).

To make his point about the Democratic Party "being all about" destroying lives, Limbaugh said, "Ask Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas".

Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas? While it's true that in both cases the Democrats went down into the political gutter to try and stop a Supreme Court nominee, the last time I looked Thomas was an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, and Bork has been a highly paid Washington lawyer for the last 20 years. I suppose that is a Notorious conservatives view of two "destroyed lives". Which is not to say the confirmation hearings didn't get ugly and the Democrats didn't play dirty. They did. But Thomas and Bork didn't exactly have to line up for unemployment or lose their health insurance.

Of course,being a conservative mouthpiece with an agenda instead of principles, Limbaugh never mentions the lives destroyed by Bush -- 3000 killed on 911 because Bush ignored every national security warning regarding terrorism to pursue a conservative agenda involving restarting Star Wars. Or the 4000 soldiers killed in Iraq, most of whom were killed post invasion because Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, all conservatives, were inept and incompetent in managing the war. Or the 1500 who died in New Orleans because Bush couldn't get food water and medicine into that city for 5 days following Katrina even though he had a 2 day advance warning that it was going to hit. And now of course the lives affected by the worst economic meltdown since the 1930's -- the tens of millions who have lost their homes, jobs, and life savings thanks to a conservative President and a conservative congress with a conservative economic agenda.

If Limbaugh wants to count Thomas and Bork as being victims of the Democratic Party, then he should be willing to keep score, because right now when it comes to lives disrupted or destroyed, it's Democrats 2, Conservatives 200 million. Which is why Steele is going to need someone to lullabye him to sleep at night. But maybe with a slight change in lyrics.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


If I had three wishes there is a good chance I would use one of them to get Rush Limbaugh and Nancy Pelosi stuck in an elevator together for 24 hours. They deserve each other.

I didn't listen long to Limbaugh's speech. I didn't have to. After about 1 minute, it was clear that he was either going to knowingly and willfully lie through his teeth or was so out of touch with reality that it didn't matter what he was going to say

This is what Limbaugh said at the beginning.

"Conservatives believe in the individual. They don't lump people together in groups".

Then without even taking a breath, he accused liberals of ruining the country and The Democratic Party of wanting to destroy lives.Presumably he meant everyone in the Democratic Party including its voters, and everyone who can be described as a liberal, the people conservatives don't lump people together in a group.

The farcical nature of his first minute was all I really needed to realize that anything, from cleaning the bathtub to taking out the garbage would be more productive than listening to this buffoon who is the hero of the Republican Right. Of course the crowd of conservatives who believe in this hypocrisy, dishonesty, and buffoonery and probably practice it themselves, cheered and ate it up without noticing that lumping people all Democrats and all liberals together in one lumpy group is the thing that Limbaugh said conservatives never do 30 seconds before he did it. But then conservatives like Limbaugh can rail about drug addicts while scoring illegal Viagra or Oxycontin and then give us excuses as to why it was different for him. In fact the supposed party of Personal Responsibility always seems to have excuses for their own failings whether its Limbaugh and drugs or Senators getting caught in airport restrooms trying to pick up an undercover cop.

There was another telling statement that was prominently displayed (though I didn't hear it for myself) and probably another reason why conservatism is dead as a political force, and that was Limbaugh saying that conservatives should "take back America". That also brought the house down. The problem is,the last time I looked America didn't belong to conservatives or anyone else and never did. Its supposed to belong to everyone which is why there is a Constitution and why this is a Republic and not strictly a Democracy where majority always rules. But the terminally hypocritical like Limbaugh believe America does belong to them.
That's why it was Democratic Conservatives in Alabama in the Sixties blocking the schoolhouse door to prevent blacks from going to the schools they were entitled to, so that the America that belonged to "them" would be preserved.

Limbaugh said he longed for the America he grew up in.Presumably that means an America when the idea of an African American President, or secretary of state, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was a joke. But of course if confronted with this he would say that's not what he meant. And he probably isn't. It probably never even occurred to him. Which is just as bad as not meaning it. That's the problem with conservatives like Limbaugh. they are oblivious to the needs of people who aren't like they are.

I'm well aware that there are black Republicans and black conservatives in this country but these are fiscal conservatives not social conservatives. When it comes to Limbaugh;'s kind of conservatism you have what consistently has been a destructive force. This is not to say that conservatives like Lindsay Graham or Richard Lugar aren't good for the country or don't have the country's best interest at heart. They do. And neither is an ideologue. They have principles but not ideology. And there is a difference.

In trying to rally their conservative base which consists of conservative people, not politicians, conservative horn blowers like Limbaugh do the thing that Communists, Nazis, racists and fascists have done forever. Make people who aren't like them the enemy.

When Limbaugh talks about "taking back America", he makes the assumption that conservatives are the true Americans ( never mind that Thomas Jefferson referred to America as a liberal democracy). But what he and other conservatives really want is for their ideology to succeed. Their ideology comes first and foremost.

The only political movements in the last 100 years that put ideology ahead of country and the true well being of its people,were Marxism. Communism, Nazism and fascism.

There is ample proof that conservative ideology doesn't work and hasn't. Limbaugh of course said the opposite in spite of the evidence to the contrary. That's because proof doesn't matter to an ideologue. Its the ideology they want to succeed.

The country is in the shape it is now because of conservatives in the white house and in the congress. And when it came to 911 and Bush's gross negligence and incompetence that allowed the 911 attacks to succeed when they could have been prevented, none of the chest thumping national security drum beating Republicans said a word. They kept their mouths shut and followed Reagan's dictum, "thou shall not criticize another Republican". That is putting a party and ideology first and the country and its people second. And it was the one thing that probably brought down Republicans and conservatism more than anything else.

Had they stood up to Bush's incompetence and gross negligence in the 911 attacks not only would the country not be in the shape it is now, neither would the Republicans.The same was true when Bush totally botched post invasion Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the great majority of our own 4,000 plus soldiers were killed because of their gross mismanagement. And as everyone knows it was conservative ideology that brought us the economic disaster we have today though I'm no fan of the way Pelosi and Obama are trying to get us out of it. Even so, there is no doubt that what they are doing is still going to be an improvement over the Republicans though how you cut the deficit in half when you keep passing bills that add to it is beyond me.

Conservative ideology and incompetence in the last 8 years resulted in 911,the disaster that was post invasion Iraq, the disastrous government response to Katrina and the worst economic disaster since the 1930's. In other words Bush's polices actually killed people -- at least 9,000 who would be alive today if someone other than Bush had been President.

As for the principles upon which the country was founded, we know that many conservatives would change substantial portions of the Constitution in a minute if they could. How many conservatives including Limbaugh really believe that it' better for 10 guilty people to go free rather than have one innocent person go to prison? Anyone who hasn't been in a coma the last 50 years knows most conservatives believe in exactly the opposite. They would gladly send one innocent person to prison if it meant 10 guilty people were convicted. In fact many of them would send 10 innocent people to prison if it meant one guilty person were convicted.

The problem that conservatives have is that the entire system of jurisprudence in America and in the Constitution is predicated on the principle that it is better for 10 guilty people to go free rather than have one innocent person go to prison So when Limbaugh and conservatives try to sell the idea that THEY are the true Americans and THEY are the ones who represent true American values, well lets just say, that Anne Coulter, the Eva Braun of American politics didn't represent American values when she suggested someone should assassinate Justice Stevens..

There are two kinds of conservatives in America. People who are conservative in values, dress, behavior, and beliefs. These people are genuine, have their own core set of beliefs but don't seem to think that the Constitution and being an American means they have to force these ideas down the throats of people who don't believe in them.Then there are the political conservatives who think they have the right and the mission to do just that. These are the people Limbaugh appeals to and they cheer the cheer of the buffoon.

Its true that the Democrats have their buffoons also, led by Pelosi and others, like MSNBC with their buffoons like "Chill Up My Leg" Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann ( it should be noted that the previous time Matthews admitted he had chills happened when he and Mike Barnicle were covering Bush's "Mission Accomplished" dog and pony show and were both swept away and just knocked out by it all and by how good Bush looked in his flight suit.) But anything the Democrats do will be a huge improvement over anything the Republicans and Conservatives did the last 8 years. In fact, if I were advising Obama I would simply tell him to simply reverse every policy instituted by the Republicans in the last eight years and let nature takes it course. That would be enough to improve things just by itself. Instead we are getting the kind of over reaction one would expect from someone like Pelosi who had a lower job approval rating than Bush, and Obama, who truthfully doesn't have a clue as to what he's doing and is relying on listening to everyone around him while he plays President.

But getting back to Limbaugh, no matter what side of the political spectrum someone may be on, there is no getting away from one thing. Limbaugh himself ,two years ago, admitted he is nothing but a shill and a water boy for conservatives. When the Democrats took control of congress Limbaugh said he was glad because, " now I wont have to carry water for the Republicans anymore". Which means he didn't believe in a thing he was saying defending or promoting for eight years. He kept his mouth shut about all the things he thought were wrong in order to support an ideology And that is who the conservatives in the room were cheering. If that doesn't sound like a minister of propaganda for a lost cause I don't know what does.