Monthly Archives: September 2011
Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, has penned an article which can only be described as a nice way to say to Obama, “hey, do us a favor and let someone else take the reins before you totally screw up Democrats chances of ever getting the White House for decades”.
But there is good news for the president. I checked the Constitution, and he is under no compulsion to run for re-election. He can scrap the campaign, bag the fundraising calls and never watch another Republican debate as long as he’s willing to vacate the premises by Jan. 20, 2013.
What is remarkable about this is it is finally being said out loud, and not just whispered in conversations among Democrats. It is starting to emerge as a mainstream idea, Chapman among the first to put it in writing. Obama has become a political liability and most of the rational on the left realize that. All the hype has deflated and all the glitter fallen off. This, it is increasingly apparent, is a failed presidency.
Oh, certainly, the economic circumstances haven’t helped, but neither has the Obama administration. In misstep after misstep they’ve compounded the problem. And, of course, as I’ve been saying for quite some time, Obama’s real problem this election cycle isn’t that he doesn’t have a record to examine. Instead his problem is he does have a record, for the first time, to examine, and it is not a good one.
So Chapman, like the chief of staff who tries to convince his incompetent boss its time to step down, comes up with a list of excuses with a positive spin that make it sound like a good idea:
It’s not as though there is much enticement to stick around. Presidents who win re-election have generally found, wrote John Fortier and Norman Ornstein in their 2007 book, "Second-Term Blues," that "their second terms did not measure up to their first."
Presidential encores are generally a bog of frustration, exhaustion and embarrassment.
They are famous for lowest moments rather than finest hours. Richard Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace, Reagan had the Iran-Contra scandal, and Bill Clinton made the unfortunate acquaintance of Monica Lewinsky.
Administration officials get weary after four years and leave in droves. The junior varsity has to be put into service. New ideas are hard to come by.
And besides – Hillary is ready:
Besides avoiding this indignity, Obama might do his party a big favor. In hard times, voters have a powerful urge to punish incumbents. He could slake this thirst by stepping aside and taking the blame. Then someone less reviled could replace him at the top of the ticket.
The ideal candidate would be a figure of stature and ability who can’t be blamed for the economy. That person should not be a member of Congress, since it has an even lower approval rating than the president’s.
It would also help to be conspicuously associated with prosperity. Given Obama’s reputation for being too quick to compromise, a reputation for toughness would be an asset.
As it happens, there is someone at hand who fits this description: Hillary Clinton. Her husband presided over a boom, she’s been busy deposing dictators instead of destroying jobs, and she’s never been accused of being a pushover.
That’s all true to a point, unless the current foreign policy, like everything else this administration, collapses in the interim. And it is fraying around the edges fairly badly. Arab spring has turned the clock in the Middle East back 40 years, Turkey, a NATO member is rattling its saber at Israel and there seems to be a very good chance that it may go the Islamist extremist route as well.
However, again, this is one of those read between the lines columns that tries, in a nice way, to say “you’re a loser, step aside”. It broadly hints that Obama just isn’t up to the job. It makes the point that there are a growing number on the left who feel that keeping the White House is much more important than who it is actually occupying the Oval Office. Chapman is saying “take one for the team, please” or it is becoming increasingly clear that the team may lose.
I wonder if Obama will actually listen?
In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss Solyndra affair, and some troubling news from Turkey.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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Rex Murphy, in Canada’s National Post, says something out loud in a major media publication that many of us have been saying since before the last presidential election:
As the bad economic news continues to emanate from the United States — with a double-dip recession now all but certain — a reckoning is overdue. American journalism will have to look back at the period starting with Barrack Obama’s rise, his assumption of the presidency and his conduct in it to the present, and ask itself how it came to cast aside so many of its vital functions. In the main, the establishment American media abandoned its critical faculties during the Obama campaign — and it hasn’t reclaimed them since.
Much of the Obama coverage was orchestrated sychophancy. They glided past his pretensions — when did a presidential candidate before “address the world” from the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin? They ignored his arrogance — “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” And they averted their eyes from his every gaffe — such as the admission that he didn’t speak “Austrian.”
The media walked right past the decades-long association of Obama with the weird and racist pastor Jermiah Wright. In the midst of the brief stormlet over the issue, one CNN host — inexplicably — decided that CNN was going to be a “Wright-free zone.” He could have hung out a sign: “No bad news about Obama here.”
The media trashed Hillary. They burned Republicans. They ransacked Sarah Palin and her family. But Obama, the cool, the detached, the oracular Obama — he strolled to the presidency.
Note the point here. It isn’t that they didn’t do their job on everyone, it’s that they essentially abrogated their responsibility for only one. His point about Palin, regardless of how you feel about her, is dead on. The difference between the treatment of the two is what proves Murphy’s point and validates what many of us have complained about since then.
Murphy spends some time on the Palin/Obama comparison and clearly he’s hitting the crux of the problem with that comparison. We went from the one side where detrimental news was ignored with Obama to a veritable media feeding frenzy where rumor was as good as fact and everything that might possibly hurt a candidate was published.
As a result, the press gave the great American republic an untried, unknown and, it is becoming more and more frighteningly clear, incompetent figure as President. Under Obama, America’s foreign policies are a mixture of confusion and costly impotence. It is increasingly bypassed or derided; the great approach to the Muslim world, symbolized by the Cairo speech, is in tatters. Its debt and deficits are a weight on the entire global economy. And the office of presidency is less and less a symbol of strength.
To the degree the press neglected its function as watchdog and turned cupbearer to a styrofoam demigod, it is a partner in the flaws and failures of what is turning out to be one of the most miserable performances in the modern history of the American presidency.
Irresponsibility has consequences, and I agree with Murphy, the press shares a great deal of responsibility for the election of Barack Obama and the resulting disaster he is as a president.
The media destroyed itself in that election cycle and has really done nothing to regain what shred of credibility it had previous to that time. It still, in many ways, aids and abets this administration’s incompetence.
I’m not sure how they can win back their tattered credibility and the media certainly has no claim to objectivity after that performance. I have to agree, in terms of the media, that it has to be in at least the top 3 “ most miserable performances” … not of the presidency, this one is in the top spot for miserable performances … but of the media in a campaign. And I’m having trouble thinking of the other two that might outrank the disgraceful 2008 media performance.
The Daily Caller is reporting that Solyndra, famed for going belly up and putting the taxpayers on the hook for half a billion dollars, applied for an additional DOE loan for $469 million.
Failed solar panel maker Solyndra’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that seven months after the Obama administration’s Department of Energy approved a $535 million federal loan guarantee, Solyndra applied for a second one valued at $469 million.
“On September 11, 2009, we applied for a second loan guarantee from the DOE, in the amount of approximately $469 million, to partially fund Phase II,” Solyndra wrote in a report it filed with the SEC on December 18, 2009. “If we are unable to obtain the DOE guaranteed loan in whole or in part, we intend to fund any financing shortfall with some combination of the proceeds of this offering, cash flows from operations, debt financing and additional equity financing.”
This application went in right after it received the original $535 million from the DOE. So, the question is, what happened to that application? Well, so far, it seems that no one can say.
It’s unclear if the now-bankrupt and scandal-embroiled green energy company actually received a second loan. Department of Energy officials did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment, and the company’s SEC filing left the question open.
So, did Solyndra get that second loan or not? Are we on the hook for more than a billion dollars? It seems like if the answer was "no", the DOE or Obama Administration would be fairly keen on letting us know that.
I’m really curious about this now.
This may surprise you, but it is the US. In fact, it probably does surprise you, given all the whining about our dependence on foreign oil. You’d think that we were a poor nation when it comes to petroleum resources and the amount we import.
Quite the contrary. And you’d think that it would be in the best interests of the US to exploit its resources to a) give us a larger percentage of secure oil and b) employ oodles and bunches of Americans in an industry that has some pretty good and high paying jobs.
First the news:
The study released Thursday by the National Petroleum Council, a collection of industry, academic, government and other officials convened by the secretary of energy, touted how advanced technology has unlocked vast formations of natural gas previously deemed uneconomic to tap.
But the report also said the same drilling and production techniques that opened up shale gas – combined with success in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, the Canadian oil sands and even surges in conventional oil onshore – are improving the nation’s potential to be more self-reliant for oil, according to the report.
"Contrary to conventional wisdom the North American oil resource base also could provide substantial supply for decades ahead," the report said.
FYI, this isn’t just some industry group turning out reports that favor drilling.
The National Petroleum Council, a collection of industry, academic, government and other officials, convenes several times a year to gather information, give advice and issue reports on topics for the secretary of energy. The most recent report was a 2007 study on global energy supply and demand.
In 2009 Energy Secretary Steven Chu asked the group to look at U.S. natural gas and oil resources based on four concepts: economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, energy security and prudent development.
Optimistically, the Council believes that the US and Canada combined could produce 22.5 million barrels a day when the new resources are added in. Secure oil.
And, if we’d just get to work and try to tap these assets, Goldman Sachs believes we’ll surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world by 2017:
And earlier this month, Goldman Sachs said in a note to investors it expects the U.S. – now the No. 3 oil producer behind Saudi Arabia and Russia – to take the top spot by 2017.
This, given the current economic (and political) conditions, should be a no-brainer, shouldn’t it?
Well shouldn’t it?
I know that’s a rather impertinent question to ask, but after reading this, I have to wonder what planet he’s on:
At a campaign fundraiser Thursday night in Washington, D.C., President Obama said he believes his chances of being reelected in 2012 are “much higher” than they were in 2008.
“Over the last couple of months there have been Democrats who voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, isn’t this just — aren’t these just huge headwinds in terms of your reelection?” Obama said.
“And I just have to remind people that, here’s one thing I know for certain: the odds of me being reelected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”
I have no idea how he manages to say that with a straight face or could actually believe that (or is this just “whistling past the graveyard?”). Of course to make the point that he’s completely delusional if he believes this I’d have to lay out a long list of differences between now and then. Such as the fact that Bush had been demonized to such an extent that it was pretty clear that a change was in the air, Obama was considered a great candidate for (pick your reason – a few listed as we go) and the media went all in on him. He wasn’t vetted as most candidates are and conventional wisdom said his thin resume and lack of leadership weren’t significant problems because he was so freakin’ brilliant and awesome, oh, and he was black, which helped assuage the white guilt some seemed to be carrying around. Finally, his campaign was admittedly brilliant, people believed what he said (not yet knowing he was all hat and no cattle in that department) believed he could do all he said and they just felt it was a time for change.
Well, in three years later and times as well as perceptions of the man have changed. And not in a good way for Barack Obama. Democrats have buyers remorse. Key constituencies are deserting him as the election approaches. Independents left him long ago. For the first time he has to actually run on a record – which to this point is abysmal.
Is he really talking odds? Or is he really talking about a fantasy? I’d point out that, in my opinion, the odds of him being elected given the circumstances surrounding the last election were much better for him being elected than they are now. He was the fantasy candidate then for many Americans. Now he’s just in the fantasy, apparently, because most Americans have figured him out by now, and they don’t like what they see.
UPDATE: Apparently David Axlerod shares the delusion (or may be its author):
Despite a growing storm cloud hovering over his presidency and reelection hopes, President Obama is in strong shape and Americans stand by his plan for jobs, Obama’s top campaign adviser said Friday.
In a memo to Sunday news show producers and other reporters, campaign strategist David Axelrod said that Obama is in good shape with his base, strong with Hispanics and in a good position to beat any of his Republican rivals.
See link above about “strong with Hispanics”.
One of the center pieces of the Obama administration’s recovery plan has been its green jobs program. It was touted by the President as an investment in the future. And he even managed to snooker Congress into including $38.6 of your dollars in a federal guaranteed loan program in the Stimulus bill – a version, in this case, of the government going into the venture capitalism business.
The results, as they say, are predictable:
A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.
The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.
Half the money is gone and it has created 3,545 “new, permanent jobs”? You do the math – pretty high cost of job creating wouldn’t you say? Oh, and that number is actually down by 1,100 thanks to Solyndra.
So are green jobs, of the type to be found in alternative energy, the best way to approach easing unemployment? Not really, say some experts:
Obama’s efforts to create green jobs are lagging behind expectations at a time of persistently high unemployment. Many economists say that because alternative-energy projects are so expensive and slow to ramp up, they are not the most efficient way to stimulate the economy.
“There are good reasons to create green jobs, but they have more to do with green than with jobs,” Princeton University economics professor and former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder has said.
Which is a nice way of saying this is more about political agendas than putting Americans to work, and unemployment is an excuse, not a reason, for pursuing this agenda. And the cost of that agenda has been pretty prohibitive with no real worthwhile results in the ostensible problem it was supposed help solve – unemployment.
Another example of government using your money to pick winners and losers and everyone coming out poorer in the bargain.
UPDATE: No, I didn’t see Dale’s post. My bad. I’ll leave mine, but now that Dale’s putting up a lot more stuff, I’m going to have to discipline myself to look first before I go popping something up (I use Live Writer, so unless I specifically look at the blog, I don’t see a list of what is up).
The president’s Green Jobs loan guarantee program, which we’re hearing a lot about, thanks to the Solyndra fiasco, does not appear to be a complete bust. In all fairness, it has to be said that this program has been instrumental in directly creating jobs. Indeed, the Washington Post reports that, after having spent $17.2 billion of the original $38.6 billion appropriated for the green jobs program, the Administration can now claim the creation of 3,545 permanent new jobs as a direct result. That’s 3,545 of our fellow Americans who now have gainful employment, thanks to the Obama Administration’s Green Jobs program. I’m sure they, and their families, are grateful.
Of course, if you do the math, that comes out to a cost of $4,851,904.09 per job. That seems…inefficient. I’m pretty sure that if the government gave me $4.8 million, I could at least double that rate of job creation.
At this rate, once the entire $36.8 billion is spent, we may employ 7,000 people via the Green Jobs program. Or to put it in other terms, 4,000 fewer people than the increase in those who claimed unemployment compensation for the first time this past week.
The plan, one supposes, was to play some politics with a speech and put the GOP on the defensive. Then, submit the job’s package and finally get what the President has been after for three years. A tax increase on the rich. In fact, as it turns out, that is the entire funding mechanism for his $400 billion spending spree – to be collected later, of course. No reason to change the modus operandi of this administration and actually pay for a spending program now with cuts in other areas.
But it appears his plan hit an unexpected problem. Instead of being able to lay his blame at the doorstep of the Republican House and point at them on the campaign trail as the people who’ve caused all this misery and turmoil (yeah, I know, I’m just thinking about how he’d present it … and I’m being a bit sarcastic to boot), he’ll have to include his own party in the mix. Seems they’re no more happy about the proposal than the Republicans:
President Obama anticipated Republican resistance to his jobs program, but he is now meeting increasing pushback from his own party. Many Congressional Democrats, smarting from the fallout over the 2009 stimulus bill, say there is little chance they will be able to support the bill as a single entity, citing an array of elements they cannot abide. ‘I think the American people are very skeptical of big pieces of legislation,’ Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said in an interview Wednesday, joining a growing chorus of Democrats who prefer an à la carte version of the bill despite White House resistance to that approach. ‘For that reason alone I think we should break it up.’”
Harry Truman he ain’t. So there goes the claim from Obama that the Republicans are nasty old obstructionists who are only interested in protecting the “rich”(all those “rich” folks who make $200,000 to $250,000 a year. Obama has decided that’s enough). He’ll now have to include Democrats:
Republicans have focused their attack on the tax increases that would help pay for the spending components of the bill. But Democrats, as is their wont, are divided over their objections, which stem from Mr. Obama’s sinking popularity in polls, parochial concerns and the party’s chronic inability to unite around a legislative initiative, even in the face of Republican opposition. Some are unhappy about the specific types of companies, particularly the oil industry, that would lose tax benefits. . . . A small but vocal group dislikes the payroll tax cuts for employees and small businesses. . . . There are also Democrats, some of them senators up for election in 2012, who oppose the bill simply for its mental connection to the stimulus bill, which laid at least part of the foundation for the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.”
It’s that bad taste in their mouth that just won’t go away and they’re not at all inclined to refresh it. After all, they have an election to wage next year and things aren’t looking so hot right now. Nails, coffin, some assembly required.
It is also telling that the Presidential ploy is so obvious while also being so out of step with the political reality of the situation. Is Obama playing X-box at night instead of keeping abreast of the political situation in the country? Or does he really think everyone else is so stupid they just won’t pick up on these rather amateurish ploys of his?
Not just the NY Times has picked up on this:
Speaking to NBC’s Chuck Todd on MSNBC this morning, Joe Scarborough observed, “Their problem is though of course, Chuck, this morning, the Democrats are the ones that are in open revolt . . . .” Todd replied, “That’s right. It’s the Democrats.”
It’s open season on President Barack Obama — and that’s just from members of his own party.
President Barack Obama’s plans to pay for his jobs legislation are facing a cool reception from some House Democrats…
I have serious questions about the level of spending that President Obama has proposed, as well as the actual effectiveness some of these policies will have when it comes to creating jobs.
That would be newly elected WV Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
Yes, the attempt to channel Harry Truman has turned into a channeling of Jimmy Carter. And even a step down like that is a step up for Barack Obama.