Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm beginning to understand liberal anger

I have recently begun to understand the deep, visceral anger liberals held towards George W. Bush for liberating Iraq. They felt that our government was overstepping its authority by toppling a regime as a proactive defensive measure. I can empathize with their beliefs on this question as I too was a fence sitter - my opinion shifted back and forth any number of times. Where I parted with those folks, though, was after the decision was made and they began to actively agitate for surrender, no matter what the cost in lives. I chose the other path: to support our troops, their mission, and their Commander-in-Chief to my fullest. They, on the other hand, developed a burning and vocal anger towards their only recognized enemy: George W. Bush.

The reason I am more in tune with how that anger felt to them is the corrupt "stimulus" bill being ramrodded through a Democratic majority Congress. This bill is jammed full of ridiculous expenditures such as more than $4 billion targeted to liberal get-out-and-steal-the-vote organizations such as ACORN, a partisan group which is already under investigation for rampant election fraud. There's another $600 million for new cars for government employees. There are numerous examples of expenditures (condoms??) that not only don't stimulate anything in the economy, but ought not even be considered to be constitutional. The idea of my tax dollars going to those liberal pet projects offends me. But... I'm sure that's how opponents of the war felt, and I have to respect that this is just a matter of my ox being gored.

Naturally, I'm also concerned about the cost of the bill. I've seen various amounts bandied about, but let's just agree for the sake of argument that it's a cool trillion dollars. The number is simply staggering to me, and I have no idea how we're ever going to pay for it. The fact that Congress seems to think that it's just fine and nothing to worry about, combined with the promise to impose fiscal responsibility by candidate Obama which is clearly going to go unmet, has me quite ticked off.

As of today, there are those that hold out hope that a GOP filibuster in the Senate will halt the bill. I don't think that is what will happen. I predict one of two things will happen in the Senate. First, either John McCain or George Voinovich (or even more likely, both) will vote with the Democrats for cloture. Voinovich, because Ohio would stand to receive billions of dollars and he himself is a RINO. McCain will vote with the Democrats as revenge against the Republicans that stayed home on November 4th rather than vote for a candidate they despised. And, of course, because he is a RINO.

The other thing that could happen is that the Democrats will win over the handful of GOP votes needed by adding tax cuts to the package. The Republicans will, to their ultimate regret, be unable to resist. Why will they regret it? They will regret it because Democrats are better politicians than the Republicans are. The Democrats will run campaign ads next year where they trumpet that their spending was intended to help out the lower and middle classes by directing Federal dollars their way, while the Evil Republicans cravenly increased the cost of the bill by holding out for more tax cuts for the rich.

So, it's a trillion dollars that will go to waste. I try to console myself with the idea that we spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and surely anti-war Democrats believed that that was too expensive. I try to convince myself that this is again just my ox being gored, but it just doesn't work. I can't help comparing what we got for our money before with what we can expect to get now. The billions spent in Afghanistan removed a regime that had directly attacked us, and surely would again. The billions spent in Iraq liberated 25 million people and removed a regime that may not have directly attacked us, but had repeatedly threatened to. And, as I believe, surely would have eventually.

The Democratic stimulus package has the opposite goal: it will spend a trillion dollars to enslave 100,000,000 America taxpayers to decades of debt with no discernible offsetting benefit at all. Yes, I now fully understand the anger one can feel towards their government. Fully.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A letter I sent to our local puppy-training paper

Once again our so-called Republican Senator, George Voinovich, has tossed aside any principles he may have to vote with his friends on the Democratic side of the Senate aisle. Despite almost irrefutable evidence that he cheated on his taxes for at least four years, Timothy Geithner, President Obama's nominee for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, received a vote of approval from Senator Voinovich.

While Geithner alleges that his underpayment of taxes owed to the IRS was a simple mistake, many less credulous Senators, including some Democrats, felt his explanations were far from honest or even remotely believable. Even when notified that he had failed to pay the correct amount of tax, Geithner only paid for the years that were still within the statute of limitations until, that is, he was nominated for a high-level position in the Obama administration. At that point he felt suddenly compelled to pay the remainder of what he owed.

President Obama promised us the most transparent and least corrupt administration ever, but we are already seeing that he will not even attempt to deliver on that promise. He has nominated, and George Voinovich has approved, a man that cheated on his taxes to a position that oversees the Internal Revenue Service.

Is this really the change we were hoping for?

They won't print it, of course. They haven't even reported on the nomination or the Senate vote. So, so typical.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How long will it sell?

There sure is a lot of "it's Bush's fault" emanating from the nascent Obama administration, most often taking the form of "it's so bollocksed up that it's going to take longer to fix than anticipated." Conveniently, the time period being proffered before we can expect to see the "damage" repaired extends into a second Obama term. Fool me once, shame on you...

This is a very convenient strategy, which explains why it is used so often by first term presidents. But how long can it be used? At some point, when do people start pushing back and say "enough is enough?"  Isn't there a particular risk to Obama that people will start to ask whether they wouldn't have been better off voting for a candidate with more experience? A candidate that wouldn't have been quite so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job? A candidate that knew better than to bite off more than (s)he could chew?

Because, you see, I'm already there. The progression has been accelerated by the complete and total lack of grace on the part of the Neophyte Executive.  He bashed the former president in his inaugural (CHANGE!!) speech, he bashes the former president on, which is ostensibly The Web Site of the People, and he squelches debate on a trillion dollar spending bill by telling GOP legislators that "he won," and by attacking a private citizen that just happens to have a loyal following for his radio program.

I am not impressed.  Oddly enough, I never expected to be, but the pace at which President Obama has descended into the mire of "politics as usual" has surprised even me, despite the low level of expectation I had from the beginning. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's "mandate"

I suppose it's normal for the winning side in a presidential election to feel validated in their choice of candidate, and there are also always those that want more than just the limited powers of the office; they also want their new president to be able to summarily push aside any opposition to his plans because of his "mandate" from the people. Most often, the argument for the existence of this mandate is the magnitude of the victory.

What they fail to realize is that the margin of victory does not indicate a mandate from the people to institute drastic policy changes. Rather, it indicates that the opposition fielded a horrendously bad candidate. This was true with Bush's supposed mandate after his defeat of the eminently unlikeable John Kerry, and it is equally true with Obama's victory over the despicable and duplicitous John McCain.

As an example of the causes for the abject undesirability of John McCain, consider this:

A joke made its way around the Capitol yesterday: How do you know the 2008 election is really over? Because John McCain is causing trouble for Republicans again.

Two and a half months removed from his defeat in the race for the presidency, colleagues say, McCain bears more resemblance to the unpredictable and frequently bipartisan lawmaker they have served with for decades than the man who ran an often scathing campaign against Barack Obama. In some instances, he's even carrying water for his former rival.

"Mac is back!" one of his devoted friends in the Senate declared as McCain walked into the chamber Wednesday to deliver his first speech of the 111th Congress: a blunt admonishment of Republicans delaying Hillary Rodham Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state.

"I remind all my colleagues: We had an election," McCain noted. "I think the message the American people are sending us now is they want us to work together, and get to work."

No, John, that is absolutely not the message the American people are sending. The message from very nearly half of the American people is that the Republican Party has so lost its way that it is firmly in need of a top-to-bottom restructuring. The voters are trying to tell the Republican Party that they have had it with the "go along to get along" policies of the milquetoast Republican leadership.

John McCain may think that 48% voted for him, but he is wrong. A large percentage of those people were, in fact, voting for Sarah Palin, who is by far the most vibrant Republican candidate to emerge in decades. They were voting for the future of the party, a future that does not include tired, ossified relics of the past such as Sen. McCain. The long-term viability of the GOP is dependent on out-of-touch plutocrats like McCain either moving aside of their own accord or being pushed aside by disaffected voters.

There's your mandate, Sen. McCain.

Obama almost-kinda-sorta closing of Gitmo

I have one question that I have not seen adequately answered in my perusal of internet punditry:

If military tribunals are inadequate and unconstitutional for suspected terrorists, why are they sufficient for our fellow citizens that are voluntarily serving us in our military?

Now, I do not believe for one second that Obama's proposed closing of the detention facility colloquially known as "Gitmo" will occur, or if it does it will simply be to a new location with the same net result for the detainees. Obama cannot and will not make the hard decision that he has promised. He simply cannot take the risk of being the one responsible for the release of a prisoner that subsequently plans and/or participates in a terrorist action that costs innocent lives. He cannot return detainees to their country of origin where they will surely be tortured and/or summarily executed. These are, of course, the same impossible choices that president Bush was faced with, and the current situation in Gitmo was the only solution possible. President Bush didn't like it either, I am quite sure.

So, what will he do? He will either do what Bush did, which was to just live with it as it is, or he will re-package the whole thing in liberal niceties and move it to a new venue. No other option exists that does not put him in a position of personal responsibility to the inevitable results. I have seen nothing in his behavior to date that would indicate to me that he is willing to take on the personal risk involved in any other course of action.

The facade is already beginning to slip....

From Politico:

President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.

Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a Deputy Defense Secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face.

"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."

Pressed further by the Politico reporter about his Pentagon nominee, William J. Lynn III, Obama turned more serious, putting his hand on the reporter's shoulder and staring him in the eye.

"Alright, come on" he said, with obvious irritation in his voice. "We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys - that's all I was trying to do."

The president was quickly saved by a cameraman in the room who called out: “I’d like to say it one more time: ‘Mr. President.’ ”

The last sentence says it all. Obsequious subservience in the press - that's the new standard? Well, it is a change, but not the one we've been waiting for.

Media-created Perceptions

Media-created perceptions: they don't work with me. I am immune to the press and their Jedi mind tricks. Despite years of relentless effort to convince me that George W. Bush was an illiterate, genocidal sock puppet under the control of an evil consortium of oil companies, Halliburton, and Vice President Cheney, I never bought into it.

Similarly, the press will not be able to convince me that our new president, with his oratory style of delivering meaningless platitudes and empty promises with the fervor of a southern Baptist minister, is anything more than a small dog that chased a large car, caught it, and now has no idea what to do with it.

Rather, my judgment of President Obama will be based on his actions and their results, not his melodious words. My opinion will also be formulated by watching Obama's reactions to the consequences of his decisions. His predecessor stood by his decisions and never succumbed to the temptation to lay blame on others. In fact, he was so loyal to his people that it was a bit of a weakness. Obama on the other hand seems to always be able to find a staffer or former associate (or former president, for that matter) to take the blame for any adverse events or consequences to his words or (in)actions.

This is not to discount the benefits of being able to rally the public behind your cause. Quite the opposite, in fact. The inability to sell his ideas to the general public over the din of our malicious press was a primary reason for Bush's abysmal approval ratings. That said, words must be backed by actions or they are meaningless. Forceful words must be backed by forceful leadership. Bush had the traits of a strong leader. Only time will tell if Obama is capable of the same.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A trillion dollar stimulus package?

In a nutshell, this is what I think about the bipartisan plans to piss away a trillion dollars on liberal wish-list projects that would never make it through the regular approval channels of even our spend-like-drunken-sailors congress:

"Trying to jump start our over-leveraged economy by throwing a trillion dollars of wasteful spending at it is like trying to jump start a car with an empty gas tank by using a 24V battery: it will go through the motions for awhile, but it will never run on its own."

You may quote me on that.


From The Corner at National Review:

Obama and the Aspirations of Black Kids [Peter Kirsanow]
During the course of the presidential campaign the media sporadically asked young blacks what effect the Obama candidacy had on their aspirations. Similar interviews were broadcast on Inauguration Day.

The responses were fairly uniform: The Obama candidacy/presidency revealed that blacks could achieve anything. New horizons had been opened.

I'm not black, and as such I have no idea whatsoever what living with such a limited view of my prospects would be like. That said, I do not believe the country needed the election of Barack Obama to show black children what they could achieve. What the country needed was a press that celebrated the ascendancy of a black man to a leadership position. Previous examples, such as Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, abound. To the Democrats and the press, however, those examples simply weren't presentable as valid role models because they are (or were, in at least one case) conservative Republicans, and were therefore to be mocked, belittled, and vilified by the Democrats and their fellow travellers in the press. These children could and should have been presented with these role models years ago. It is the party of diversity and tolerance that prevented it from happening.

Now the Democrats have their black hero, a man that they will credit with having shown the light to those behind him. They have a black man that toes their line and shares their beliefs, and therefore can be used as a bright, shining light of an equality that already existed, just not in the flavor that they preferred. I have been saying it for years, and I will say it again: liberal Democrats have no true interest in diversity at all; they instead are in search of multi-hued conformity.

Still, at the end of the day this is a good thing. Perhaps now people will get over their perceptions of limited opportunity and begin to strive for better lives for themselves, rather than become mired in their mistaken belief that they cannot attain greatness in this country. Perhaps.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The false perception of intellect

We've all seen it to some degree or another. Most commonly it appears when some Hollywood star or starlet holds forth on a difficult and important subject, and his or her utterances are treated as some kind of epiphany from a God-like genius. Why is that? Why would a high school dropout's opinion be given any more credence that anyone else's? I hereby postulate a theory: it is easier to act intelligent than it is to be intelligent. A large percentage of our population can't tell the difference between acting intelligent and being intelligent, so those that are very good actors enjoy a level of credibility that they by no means deserve.

Consider this quote from Thomas Sowell (yes, I go to that well quite often):

A sense of logic underlies a sense of humor.

Now, I know I'm going out on a limb when I equate a sense of logic with intelligence, but I don't think it is too much of a stretch to state that a sense of logic is at least a form of intelligence. Work with me on this one, if only for the sake of seeing where I am headed with this.

I watched a documentary about the inner sanctums of the White House last night, and part of it involved interviews with the former tenant, George W. Bush. I was taken aback by the lucidity and humor President Bush wielded in extemporaneous speaking, even more so when I reflected back on his utter inability to correctly read a sentence from a prepared speech. The quickness of his verbal wit reminded me of the Sowell quote above, and it showed me that President Bush, despite years of the incessant media yammering about his stupidity, is actually quite intelligent.

I was also struck by how Bush is the polar opposite of the new tenant. President Obama has a (media created) reputation for being quite intelligent based on his ability to read a prepared speech. Away from the dais, though, he stammers and uh's his way through sentences, and I have yet to hear him say anything even remotely funny. I'm left wondering if my theory holds true and if Obama's owes the credibility he seems to have with a majority of our population simply to the fact that he is a better actor.

Time will tell, I suppose. Really, it's just a theory.

A promise President Obama intends to honor

From Politico:

The new White House website unveiled by President Barack Obama’s team Tuesday includes a shot at former President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Under the “agenda” portion of the site regarding Katrina, it reads: “President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”

Unable or unwilling to keep his own promises, chief amongst them the promise to deliver us from exactly this type of finger pointing and petty snark, Obama is now promising to honor a promise made by the Bush administration.

Personally, this is a promise that I'd prefer be allowed to go unfulfilled. I think it is a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars to rebuild a natural-disaster-in-waiting. The so-called failure of government has already been addressed, of course, with the election of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal to replace the corrupt and incompetent Kathleen Blanco. Unfortunately, they're still stuck with Ray "What Buses?" Nagin; perhaps President Obama can do something about that if he's so interested in the well-being of New Orleans.

"Yes, Daddy. As you say, Daddy."

This is why I think that life under an Obama administration is going to be just like moving back in with your parents:

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

Now, I am assuming that President Obama was not referring to the "petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas" of his own party, although I believe that he should have been. No, what he is doing here is trivializing the beliefs of Conservatives and Republicans. The inevitable policy debates have not yet begun and he has accused those that disagree with him of being whiny, childish infants.

Frankly, I've had quite enough of "Do as I say, not as I do" from Democrats and Republicans alike. If President Obama cannot respect the fact that we are entitled to differences of opinion on major policy decisions, he is starting off on the path of another four years of bitter division and partisanship. I'm pretty sure that this is not the Change we were Hoping for.

"Repairing the damage"

President Obama used a portion of his inaugural speech to back peddle on some of his more lofty campaign promises, which was really just the culmination of a two month long effort to "reduce expectations." Implicit in his speech was the idea that Bush's administration had made such an mess of things that it might take more than one term for Obama to get things right.

That put me in mind of this quote from the venerable Thomas Sowell:

A politician with good rhetorical skills can create a new Garden of Eden in people's minds, though only in their minds. However, that is sufficient, if that vision or illusion can be kept alive until election day, and its failure to materialize afterwards can be explained away by the obstruction of villains.

Do you see the pattern here? Unrealistic promises made during a two year campaign, sold to a credulous populace hungry for a fresh face in Washington with soaring rhetoric and faux passion, but in the end impossible to fulfill. What to do, what to do...

Easy! Preemptively blame the failure to bring about the promised liberal Utopia on Bush. Why not? No one has ever gone wrong in this country by blaming the reviled President Bush.

This is the Change we were looking for?

"Now I have a President"

I've seen a lot of this in Twitter heard it around the office: "Now I finally have a President," or "Obama is my President." The implication here is obvious: the persons involved are saying that they did not recognize George W. Bush as their President.

I responded to one on Twitter: "Obama is my president comments: so was the last guy, and shame on you for not knowing that. I've had 10 of them, if I liked 'em or not."

This was a reply received from a young woman in New York: "we're all entitled to our feelings. mine happen to be that i in no way felt represented by gwb, and i do by obama. don't hate."

I replied, "It's not hate, it's that I have a military background. We didn't pick & choose our C-in-C. All presidents were our president."

It's that last sentence that I think is the most important. People that believe it is the function of the President to represent them as individuals are mistaken, in my opinion. That's (ostensibly, but that's a subject for another posting) the function of the House of Representatives. The President's function is to the represent the interests of the nation as a whole. No one will agree with every decision made by the President, and many will disagree with every decision made by the President. None of that matters at an individual level. Our nation is a consortium of 300,000,000 interests, beliefs, and desires. Our nation is represented as a whole by the individual selected through a free election. Our nation, and every single one of its citizens as a collective, is represented by its President, whether any individual citizen supports him (or her, someday) or not.

This is the strength of our country, and it saddens me to see people refusing to acknowledge the validity of the decision made by the country as a whole. It divides us, and the divided are easily conquered.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The problem with my over active sense of fairness

I've been aware of it for years: I have an over active sense of fair play. I can't tolerate cheaters, liars, self-aggrandizing braggarts, and posers. Naturally, these are the traits that define a politician. It's only normal that I find national politics and the personalities involved to be repellent and obnoxious. It's worse than just politics, though. It pervades both my work and personal lives.

Here's an example: I once worked with a software developer that had a difficult bug to find and requested my assistance. I worked on his problem and eventually resolved it. I later overheard him telling his manager that he had fixed that pesky bug. That happened 20 years ago. He popped up on my LinkedIn the other day, requesting that I approve him as a friend, or whatever they call it. I stewed it over for a few days, then decided to ignore his request. Yes, long time to hold a grudge over something that small, but I just don't want to be associated with someone I have known to be dishonest and unfair.

This personal viewpoint is why I have such a problem with the way we're taxed by our government. Unfairness abounds in the entire process. I have to spend hours and hours every year stressing over the complexity of accounting for every penny earned, saved, or lost to an organization that has not been able to balance their own books. At the end of the process, I'm rewarded with the knowledge that I have paid more tax than 95% of the country. Is it any wonder that I become livid with rage when I hear some politician telling me that I am not paying my fair share because, you see, I think I am already paying far more than my fair share.

All of this is to say that I find myself in an uncomfortable position with regards to President Obama. On the one hand, every single promise he made during his campaign was repulsive to me. Ever-larger handouts to the hands-out crowd, surrender in Iraq while on the cusp of victory, elevating the postures of vile dictators by giving them the unjustified attention that they crave, and every other far-left idea his base was clamoring for. He deliberately misrepresented statements from his competition, he gracelessly tossed aside former compatriots in the interest of political expediency, and he not only reneged one his promise to fore go campaign spending limits but exacerbated that reversal by collecting millions of dollars without any fraud controls in place whatsoever.

On the other hand, now that the election is won he is softening his stance on some of his more onerous stances. Gitmo may take awhile to close down, ostensibly because an absentee Senator could not possibly have known what he knows now. The same 16 month retreat from Iraq two years ago is still 16 months, but the thing is just about done now so that should be painless. He's extending a hand to McCain, no doubt in the hopes of The Maverick giving Harry Reid his filibuster-proof majority. So, in effect, he has moved close enough to the center to be wildly annoying to me, but not dangerous.

Here's the crux of the problem: he can't win with me. If he delivers on his campaign promises, I will be opposed to him because he is dangerously naive. But if he basically runs the same administration McCain would have and retains some decent portion of the more successful Bush policies, I will despise him as a lying cheater that succeeded by running a do-anything, say-anything campaign. In other words, for being a cheater, liar, self-aggrandizing braggart, and a poser.

That's just politics, as they say, despite Obama's promise to bring us a new kind of politics. Just another broken promise, I say. No matter what he does as President, I won't be accepting him as a friend on my LinkedIn account.

Democrats: The Party of Leading by Example

The crowd packed on the west side of the Capitol grounds serenaded President Bush in mocking fashion when he took to the inaugural stage alongside Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Nah nah nah nah, hey hey, good-bye," a section of the crowd chanted.

The crowd packed immediately below the podium received Bush in stony silence when he took his seat on the stage surrounding the podium where Barack Obama was scheduled to take the oath office to become the 44th president of the United States.

The jeers are among the final public feedback Bush will receive as president.

With 11 million Americans out of work and trillions of dollars lost in the stock market's tumble, Obama emphasized that his biggest challenge is to repair the tattered economy left behind by outgoing President George W. Bush.
"Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed," Obama said in an undisguised shot at Bush administration policies. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America."

Obama called for a political truce in Washington to end "the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Way to show your class, Obama and followers. You've spent eight years tearing down an American President, you've finally got the most liberal president in the history of our country, a man so liberal that he couldn't even wait to be sworn in before throwing a trillion dollars at every liberal's pet causes, all in the name of stimulating an economy being ruined by decades of liberal policies, and you can't even be good sports about it. You mock the departing president, Obama continues to point his naive finger-of-blame at the wrong man.

Yet... he has the nerve to ask that all of these sins be forgiven now in the interest of "Change" and "Patriotism", as long as he gets the last punch in. It wasn't risky or difficult, of course, since the outgoing president has been exemplary in his refusal to react in kind. For eight long years of being vilified, mocked, denigrated, and called every despicable name under the sun, he still takes the high road. This is leading by example, a concept apparently completely foreign to our new president and our existing congress. Really, don't get me started on congress!

Compare the above to this:

Bush — following tradition — left a note for Obama in the top drawer of his desk in the Oval Office.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the theme of the message — which Bush wrote on Monday — was similar to what he has said since election night: that Obama is about to begin a "fabulous new chapter" in the United States, and that he wishes him well.

All reports indicate that the departing White House staff left all of the 'O' keys on the keyboards too.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat, but when forced to choose between the two, I will nearly always side with the Republicans. The Democratic Party is the party of intolerance of any views but their own, a party that defines "freedom" as the freedom to make others follow their Democratic liberal ideals. The Democrats are the party of re-defining words to suit their purposes: "Hero," used to describe a malingerer like John Kerry; "Choice" to mean mandatory abortion, "Ethics" to mean facing no consequences when caught with their hands in the public cookie jar; "Patriotism" to mean treasonous activities used to destroy the credibility of our nation; and "Partisanship" to mean capitulating to their demands.

Obama and the Democratic party need to reacquaint themselves with the Golden Rule: Treat Presidents of the other party as you would have a President from your party treated. Failing that, at least have the grace to comport yourselves as adults at your victory party.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meet the New Double Standard, Same as the old Clintonian Double Standard

In the interest of fairness, I've been trying to hold off on formulating an initial opinion on the Obama presidency until such time as he is actually, well, President. I'd say today is close enough to the end of the transition period that I can reflect back on it and share a few personal observations. First and foremost, it appears that any hopes that I had been harboring that Obama would be held to the same standards that Bush was are going to go unfulfilled. The evidence of an extreme double standard is already stacking up.

I first became aware of this as Obama was selecting candidates for his cabinet and associated positions. Promises of a break from the old K-Street to 1200 PennAve casting model which brought professional lobbyists into positions of more direct influence died without much of a whimper, the press reporting in more of an "Oh, isn't that cute" manner.

Other examples are not the least bit hard to come by. "I will close Gitmo on the first day" has become "Hey, this is really rather complicated - I might need some more time." Now don't get me wrong: I've never bought into the press hype about Gitmo being no better than Saddam's torture rooms. I've read articles penned by people that actually went to Gitmo and provided more truthful and rational descriptions than the "run with the pack" press. I think it's perfectly fine to hold the current tenants until such time as they are no longer a threat as long as they are provided form of judiciary hearing. The fact that it is a military hearing does not bother me in the least; it's the same judicial process our soldiers would go through, or near enough to it to suit me.

My problem is not with Obama's new ostensible recognition that perhaps Gitmo is the best solution to a difficult issue. No, I welcome that. My problem is the duplicity. Obama spent two years decrying our efforts there, not to mention his efforts to force us into an ignominious surrender and ensuing defeat in Iraq. As a Senator, had he ever attempted to, you know, act in that capacity, he would have had access to every bit of data needed to fully understand why Gitmo is what it is. In fact, he could have gone there, at no cost to himself. He had to know that things there were not as described by the Bush-hating press. Yet he still used Gitmo as an issue with which to bludgeon our president and, more importantly, demean our military.

Sure, that's just politics as usual. But you see, there was one promise made by candidate Obama that he could have fulfilled without depending on a recalcitrant Congress: a change to the way we do political campaigning. Instead, he followed the same tired path, and along the way set new low standards for corruption in campaign contributions (lax or non-existent verification of credit card contributions), cherry-picking and decontextualization of statements (we'll be fighting a war in Iraq for 100 years), and slimy tactics (ask Hillary). The double standard applied by the press swept all of this under the rug and they now proclaim in their reporting that the Obama Campaign was the cleanest ever.

Still, that's water under the bridge. We will turn the page tomorrow and let bygones be bygones. Perhaps the press and blogosphere will take a fresher and more critical look at the actions of President Obama. Or, perhaps not. They sure don't seem to be nearly as upset with a $100 million plus inauguration (with $15 million being plundered from FEMA emergency funds) as they were with Bush's $40 million soirée just four short years ago.

Oh, and do you remember how Bush was going to create a fascist, dictator state? How he wouldn't relinquish control at the end of his term(s)? About how the evil Republicans would rule us all, forever and ever, Amen? How about this, then:



1st Session

H. J. RES. 5

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.


January 6, 2009

Mr. SERRANO introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:


‘The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.’.

You will no doubt be shocked, shocked to learn that the sponsor of this bill is Rep. Jose Serrano, Democratic Representative from the 16th NY district.

I simply cannot wait to hear the press reporting on this bill, but for what should be obvious reasons I suspect that it might be a good idea to not hold my breath. It will surely be drowned out by the cacophonic screams over any pardons the departing president has the temerity to make. Puerto Rican terrorists? Sure! On-the-lam felon? Why not! Scooter Libby? TRAVESTY!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A change I wish I could believe in

The NYTimes reports:

We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisers to identify problems early and make sure we're doing all that we can to solve it. We will put information about where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.

Sounds good, right? While I believe that there is a place in congressional spending for the expediency of earmarks, the process as it exists today is nothing more than a trough from which the corruptocrats feed themselves and their campaign donation sugar daddies. The total dollars improperly spent via the untraceable and often unjustifiable earmark process may ultimately be merely a blip on the astronomical dollars normally burned through by our spendaholic congress, but that's not the point. Even .0000001% of a trillion dollar budget is what, a million bucks? I'd take it, if I could.

Here's the problem, though. First of all, Obama has absolutely no authority to dictate policy and process to congress. None. And given the rapidly deteriorating relationship between him and Ms. Pelosi, herself being quite the crook herself, Obama will not be able to coerce or convince her to turn off the spigot. Things don't appear to be much better with Sen. Reid:

"I don't believe in the executive power trumping everything... I believe in our Constitution, three separate but equal branches of government. If Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. … I do not work for Barack Obama."

Sen. Reid is, of course, just as addicted to using other people's money for his self-aggrandizing and sinecure-protecting pet projects as any of the others, so Obama should not be expecting much help from him either.

But just for the sake of argument, let's assume that Obama is capable of everything he promises. I've already learned that when it comes to an Obama promise, it is beneficial to look at the fine print:

Let me repeat what I said about that ... We will ban all earmarks in the recovery package. And I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. So what I'm saying is, we're not having earmarks in the recovery package, period.

Ah, there it is: this is a limited time offer! One bill only. Then, back to business as usual, the very business of organized and endemic corruption that got us where we are in the first place. Now don't get me wrong, I was livid over the earmarks that were included in both Bush's stimulus handout and the $700b "bailout" package. Emergency spending bills should be treated exactly as described: emergency spending only. They should not be used as a magic shopping cart for congressional pet projects.

But at the end of the day, even if Obama is able to deliver on this promise (and it would be the first time he has done so), it doesn't go far enough. Obama is promising to make hard decisions to cut spending:

We'll have to make tough choices, and we're going to have to break old habits. We're going to have to eliminate outmoded programs and make the ones that we do need work better.

Again, I heartily agree in principle, but I shudder at the thought of what Obama will define as outmoded programs. I'm willing to bet that our massive entitlement spending and income redistribution schemes will not be considered outmoded. No, I suspect that 'outmoded' programs will be things like military spending, infrastructure maintenance and repair, government services like air traffic control, and the few other remaining expenditures that are actually defined as legitimate government activities in the constitution.

What will remain, and more than likely grow even further, are the welfare programs (sorry, 'entitlement') that have redefined the purpose of taxation from "for the common welfare" to "for the welfare of the common." It seems a subtle distinction, but it is not. It is this fundamental shift in governmental purpose that will ultimately bankrupt us, and keeping earmarks out of a single spending package will do nothing to slow our inevitable decline.