That’s my initial reaction. Can’t help it. Been there, done this.
Sure, I understand the urge to be something other than the party of “no”. I understand the desire to tell the American people what you stand for, and not necessarily only what you’re against. Ok … got it.
But until and unless substantial change is enabled and accomplished by the GOP, this is just another in a long line of promises that ended up on the ash heap of history.
Oh certainly, much of it sounds wonderful – on the surface. In fact, to the right, this is much like the sounds the left heard from the Obama campaign. The reality, as they learned, isn’t anywhere close to what was promised.
Then there’s the recent GOP history. An all Republican Congress led by a Republican President gave us Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind among many other things which would be directly opposed to what is promised in “A Pledge to America”.
Steven Taylor does a good job of hitting most of my objections to a quick read of the “Pledge”:
I would take the whole affair far more seriously if the Pledge contained even the outline of real plan to deal with the country’s structural fiscal problems. Caps on spending, especially ones that seems to partially exclude security-based spending, always sound good, but aren’t a solution to the problem (not by a long shot). I am willing to accept the notion that one has to start somewhere, but this is nibbling around the edges. This pledge does not seriously address the major issue facing the country.
As Taylor points out, it’s mostly warmed over GOP talking points, which, to this point have mostly remained talking points vs. action. And the “Pledge” does indeed seem vague in a lot of areas. Perhaps instead of calling it a “Pledge” or a “plan” it would be better to call it a “blueprint” or “outline” – detailed plan to follow.
Certainly this will please much of the base – but frankly, they didn’t need much pleasing. They’re already eager to hit the polling booths. What one has to wonder – especially with the obligatory social con stuff thrown in when it wasn’t necessary – is what the independents will think. Certainly they been seen by polling data to at least be abandoning the Democrats – but does that mean they’ll embrace the GOP? The social con inclusion in what should have basically been a small government plan sort of argues against the whole premise, doesn’t it?
It will be interesting to see how indies respond.
I’m going to be reading the “Pledge” more closely and will respond with more detail, but at the moment, those are my thoughts. How about yours?
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Good news or bad news? What do my favorite political junkies think?
President Obama’s inner circle will likely be losing some key players. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that sources say David Axelrod, the president’s closest advisor, will move to Chicago next spring.
Axelrod is expected to reassume his role as campaign manager in Mr. Obama’s 2012 reelection bid. A potential, if not likely, replacement for Axelrod is current White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The dominoes don’t stop there. Rahm Emanuel, the president’s Chief of Staff, may leave the White House as soon as next month.
Part of the problems of this administration –other than the inept leadership provided by the President – can be found in those which Obama has surrounded himself. That’s most true of any administration, but for this one in particular, it’s been particularly evident that many of them haven’t a clue, and they could only buy one with your money.
All kidding aside, while Axelrod may have been a great campaign manager, I’d have to say he’s been a bust as an adviser and spin doctor. He’s out of his depth. He belongs exactly from whence he came, running a campaign. There he has the experience and the knowledge to be successful. But politics and the daily grind of governing aren’t his cup of tea.
As for Emanuel, as much as I don’t care for the man, to me he’s the “reality” anchor there. He knows intimately how the system works and who within the system must be used to accomplish whatever the agenda is. He’s also, based on what I’ve read, been the guy who has tried to keep them more toward the center – not at all very successfully – because he has a good idea of what can and can’t be foisted upon the American people without losing political viability. ObamaCare, again as I understand it, was a battle he lost.
So whether this is good news or bad news depends largely on who will replace each of these people (same with his fleeing economic team). Will a political operative take Axelrod’s place who knows the in’s and out’s of governing and is better able to present the administration’s views? Will the person who replaces Emanuel be more radical and less pragmatic than the present Chief of Staff?
Frankly I don’t care particularly for either of the men filling the posts they have, but the story isn’t in the fact they’re leaving – it will be found in those who replace them and what they will bring to the job and how that will effect the direction of the administration in the future.
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Here is an amazing letter to the editor at a college newspaper from a person who gives himself the title of "academic professional". I’ve looked at it off and on for a couple of days trying to figure out how to excerpt it and talk about this, well, fool. As it turns out, the best way to present it is to present it whole since excerpting it only takes away from the totality of the nonsense this "academic professional" is spouting.
In fact, as I read it, I have to tell you that it immediately reminded me of another “academic professional” that visits the comment section of our blog fairly regularly. The only difference I can see is the “academic professional” I quote below actually is a part of a major university instead of some backwoods school. Other than that, either could have written this:
The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.
The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.
The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.
University Academic Professional
You can dissect that to your heart’s content, and it is still, on whole, some of the most misguided stupidity you’re likely to see this side of Maine.
Of course 9.11 observances aren’t politically neutral. That neutrality died the day we lost 3,000 people to Islamic jihadist extremists who had been at war with us for years. How did this yahoo get stuck in time on September 10th, 2001 for heaven sake?
That sort of absurdly out-of-touch idiocy permeates the entire little screed. And if you want to see the definition of “non neutrality” at work, read this “academic professional’s” denigration of his student’s nationalism, patriotism and – yes, wait for it – color.
And then there’s the “stereotypes-r-us” portion. “Overwhelmingly white, privileged … students”. Wars fought by “poverty-drafted members of their cohort”. “Illegal” (authorized by Congress per the Constitution) and “immoral” (yeah, can’t hit back when smacked in the face with a sledge hammer – that’s immoral) and all for oil.
All the leftist canards rolled into one can be found in it – yeah, be ashamed of your country, your military, your patriotism and yourselves you bastards because it makes “David Green, academic professional” uneasy.
How freakin’ ‘60s of the dope.
Tell you what, David Green, academic professional – instead of you telling everyone what they’ve done to offend you, why don’t I tell you what about you offends me.
Your very existence offends me. Your smug but ignorant arrogance offends me. The fact that you don’t know the difference between grassroots patriotism and “nativism” offends me. The fact that you have no idea of who makes up our military (although it comes as no surprise, really) offends me. The fact that you clearly don’t know what the words “illegal” or “immoral” mean, but have no problem throwing them around like you do offends me.
But what offends me most is what you must be doing to the young minds which come under your power while attending your university. If what you’ve written is any indication of how you teach, then your students or their parents ought to demand an immediate refund. Because it is not only fact free, but shows absolutely no evidence of critical thinking.
One of the great things about America is everyone is free to express their opinion. However, doing so is not without consequence, because then those who don’t agree get to express theirs. My opinion of you, David Green, academic professional, is below that of the Congressional Democratic leadership. And I provide the bottom side of their 8% popularity rating.
The good news for you is you are precisely where you belong. Outside the academic ivory tower, facing the reality anyone else does, it’s my guess surviving for 15 minutes would be the high side of an estimate of how long you’d last.
Now, crawl back under your academic rock, where you belong, and hush.
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The new Bob Woodward book – or at least leaked parts of it – is causing a bit of a stir in the blogosphere today.
One of the versions I read was Steve Luxenberg’s piece in the Washington Post. The book, entitled “Obama’s Wars” is, per Luxenberg, not about the wars (plural) in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead the war in Afghanistan (the supposed “good war” that we had to fight) and the war within the administration.
However, the whole of the debate – i.e. the parameters in which it was conducted – was pretty much dictated by Obama’s desire to get the heck out of there:
"This needs to be a plan about how we’re going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama is quoted as telling White House aides as he laid out his reasons for adding 30,000 troops in a short-term escalation. "Everything we’re doing has to be focused on how we’re going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint. It’s in our national security interest. There cannot be any wiggle room."
Obama rejected the military’s request for 40,000 troops as part of an expansive mission that had no foreseeable end. "I’m not doing 10 years," he told Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a meeting on Oct. 26, 2009. "I’m not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars."
Now I have some sympathy for the "I’m not doing long-term nation-building". And I have even more for "I am not spending a trillion dollars".
However it should be noted that he’s not necessarily averse to spending a trillion dollars so much as he is to spending it on "the good war". And I’d also bet, given "long term" for any politician is "how long until the next election", that "long term nation building" means after November 2012.
Obama’s entire focus was on "getting out" of Afghanistan. I can’t help but believe the reason for that isn’t just a campaign promise – as I recall, Iraq was the war he promised to end – as the fact that Afghanistan is a distraction for a president who’d much rather focus on domestic problems.
And, with the recession, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, given the fact that his entire focus was on passing health care by hook or crook, you can’t even rationalize his domestic focus. It certainly hasn’t been the economy or jobs he’s made a priority (unless you believe the old Dem principle "if we throw enough money at it, it will take care of itself" was considered "addressing the problem").
Another thing that struck me:
Obama told Woodward in the July interview that he didn’t think about the Afghan war in the "classic" terms of the United States winning or losing. "I think about it more in terms of: Do you successfully prosecute a strategy that results in the country being stronger rather than weaker at the end?" he said.
This is pure, metered politics. This is a man carefully avoiding anything that can come back on him. Obviously a “country being stronger rather than weaker at the end” is the difference between victory and defeat. His equivocation is simply to cover his rear end so if, when he hastily pulls out before the 2012 election, the country falls to the Taliban he has some wiggle room.
I assume learning the CIA is running a 3000-man paramilitary counterterrorism force made up of local Afghans is gong to cause the left some heartburn. But it isn’t the disclosure that should have the Glenn Greenwalds of the left upset. How about these:
–Obama has kept in place or expanded 14 intelligence orders, known as findings, issued by his predecessor, George W. Bush. The orders provide the legal basis for the CIA’s worldwide covert operations.
— A new capability developed by the National Security Agency has dramatically increased the speed at which intercepted communications can be turned around into useful information for intelligence analysts and covert operators. "They talk, we listen. They move, we observe. Given the opportunity, we react operationally," then-Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell explained to Obama at a briefing two days after he was elected president.
After all the caterwauling by the left about the Bush administration this is interesting. I wonder when they’ll start referring to him as “W Jr.”?
Finally, the surge decision – it was, per Woodward – exactly what many of us feared. An attempt to please competing sides and, in the end, pleasing no one.
In the end, Obama essentially designed his own strategy for the 30,000 troops, which some aides considered a compromise between the military command’s request for 40,000 and Biden’s relentless efforts to limit the escalation to 20,000 as part of a "hybrid option" that he had developed with Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The 40,000 figure was McChrystal’s minimum figure. Instead of listening to the commander on the ground, he included "General Biden’s" desires. Result – more than Biden wanted (not pleased, or was he – see below) and less than the generals wanted (not pleased). Additionally Obama added the June 2011 withdrawal date which essentially negated anything positive about the plan – it essentially told the Afghans, “we’re going to go through the motions for a year, but you’re really not worth the effort.”
The Afghans have responded accordingly.
But one thing that can and will be said of the strategy, given the Woodward disclosures, is no matter how it turns out (and my bet is on poorly) there’s no doubt now whose strategy it is. And “General Biden’s” role?
Well according to the NY Times account, he was just part of the plan to lower the number of troops the military would get by providing an alternative, no matter how absurd, that the President could trade off of:
I want an exit strategy,” [Obama] implored at one meeting. Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”
Or said another way – “my mind’s made up, I don’t really care what the military says or wants, I just have to find a plausible way to seem like I’m being responsive when I’m really not because, you see “the whole Democratic Party” is much more important than prosecuting a war I said was important”. Or words to that effect.
Obama also laid out his strategy objectives in a 6 page memo, but, per the WaPo article, “took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy’s objectives, what the military was not supposed to do.” Apparently the memo is reproduced in the book and Luxenberg claims the “don’ts” were mostly aimed at preventing “mission creep”. I’d guess it involved more than just that.
As for the rest of the article it details some of the politics and pettiness among the administration staff. Nothing new there – administrations have always been the parking place for massive egos and such egos are constantly bumping into and bruising each other.
What a wonderful world.
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In a few words it can be summed up by "deny funding".
Republicans will try to block money requested by the Obama administration to implement Democrats’ signature Wall Street and healthcare reforms in a stopgap spending measure expected to clear Congress next week. The GOP is seizing on the administration’s funding request as an opportunity to send a message to voters that it wants to reduce government spending and provide a check on President Obama.
Given they don’t have the votes to repeal it and override the presidential veto which is sure to follow any such attempt, this is about their only choice. How effective it would be – both politically and in reality – remain unknown. As one might imagine, the blowback potential is significant.
The first test – since Democrats haven’t passed a budget – is a continuing resolution (CR) necessary to keep government funded beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. It is needed to prevent a government shutdown. Republicans are planning to target those parts of the spending request which apply to funding parts of the new legislation:
The Obama administration has asked appropriators crafting the CR to include roughly $20 billion in new spending, according to GOP appropriators.
That request includes $250 million for doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other primary-care health workers. In asking appropriators for the money, the administration said the increase in health workforce funding is needed to meet the demands of the newly insured under the Democrats’ healthcare act.
The administration also requested $14 million for the Treasury Department so it can carry out the new Wall Street reforms.
Says Sen. Lamar Alexander:
“If the question is whether to approve money to fund certain parts of the healthcare law, that’s certainly one way to try to limit its impact,” he said.
Indeed, without majorities or the White House, this is the only avenue that’s really open to the GOP.
Of course that’s brought the usual obstructionist charges from Democrats:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) blamed Republicans for the need to resort to a stopgap spending measure in the first place.
“I’d much prefer doing individual bills, but with the Republicans blocking everything, that’s hard to do,” Leahy said.
Yeah, bi-partisanship is a bitch, huh Senator – especially when you can’t just ram things through with an filibuster proof majority as you once could. Someone get him a little cheese for that whine.
In the meantime this is the best way for the GOP to lessen the impact of the bad legislation this administration has passed, until they can gain the majorities and the White House and work toward repeal.
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It’s a pretty long line. Or at least it ought to be. Given that even the Castro brothers have come clean about what a hellhole Cuba is, it is to be hoped that silly celebrity and religious types that served as Castro’s useful idiots will recognize their foolishness and apologize for it.
To help prod them along, I’ve developed a little standardized form we can use.
You are hereby invited to apologize for your unsupported and ill considered remarks about Cuba in ______, which were that:
Cuba is great because it has free health care
Cuba is great because it has free housing
Cuba is great because jobs are guaranteed
Castro is a genius
Castro is the kind of leader you wish you had in the US
Cuba shows that socialism works
Cuba’s economic problems all stem from the US trade blockade
It’s too bad that the brilliant, dynamic Che Guevara died young
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We know how much you value honest, open discourse in the political sphere, and how eager you must be to set the record straight on your own misapprehensions.
Any enthusiastic volunteers are encouraged to complete the invitation and send it to appropriate recipients. Any list of invitees should at a minimum include:
Leaders of the Methodist Church, headed by Rev. Larry Pickens
Sidney Pollack (deceased)
Pastors for Peace
Additions suggested by commenters:
Michael Moore (how could I have forgotten him!)
The Congressional Black Caucus, highlighted by Diane Watson
Commenters are welcome to add to the list of invitees, and to suggest additional items for the checklist of things to apologize for.
(For those who are about to comment that these fools will never apologize, I know that. The left didn’t apologize for their useful idiocy to the Soviet Union, and Cuba is small potatoes next to that.)
**** Update 1:00 PM CST ****
In re-reading this, I just remembered that Sidney Pollack is dead. I guess he’s off the hook for any apologies.
That’s what the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), our official arbiter of when we’re in a recession and when we aren’t, says the recession ended.
The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months.
So all those who essentially said leave it alone and the economy will pull itself out of the recession were correct. Remember, June of 2009 was approximately 6 months after the administration took office and 5 months after the stimulus package had been approved by Congress. Or said another way, well before any of the money it has squandered had yet been dumped into the economy.
Also note the beginning date. The recession began in December of 2007. By the time the Obama administration got to it, it had pretty much bottomed out and was beginning to recover. The stimulus plan was signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009. The recession officially ended in June of 2009 per NBER. That’s not to say, however, that “things are better” necessarily:
In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month. A recession is a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. The trough marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle. Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.
Or, an easier way to say it is that we experienced and are experiencing now what is normal to experience in a recession, but, as usual, the business cycle turns and we begin an expansion. Note the last line – “Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.”
So again, I stress, any claim that the “stimulus” was the reason for our beginning to recover has a bunch of inconvenient determinations by NBER to overcome. And anyone who thinks the government can get out of its way in approximately 4 months time to have any real effect (mid Feb to June) on the economy – regardless of the size of the spending it has planned to inject – simply doesn’t have a clear understanding of how this government operates.
That said, I hope NBER is correct and that we are indeed expanding. As it stands now, though, most of the unemployed out there looking for scarce jobs most likely don’t give a rip what NBER says. Until they’re again employed, they’re still suffering from a recession. And that doesn’t bode well for Democrats at all in November.
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She was probably not what the President wanted at one of his staged “town hall” meetings – but apparently they had to recruit people to fill the audience and this was one of the recruits:
"I’m one of your middle class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for," a woman told President Obama at a town hall.
"My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives, but, quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we’re headed again, and, quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly. Is this my new reality?," she added.
This is probably one of the most obvious of the problems Obama and the Democrats face. Note there’s not a word of “blame Bush” in this Obama supporters words – those quoted or unquoted. She essentially says, “hey, you’ve sold me a bill of goods, or so it seems after 2 years”. In fact, she also said she was “deeply disappointed with where we are right now”.
This disappointment is likely to translate into non-votes for Democrats. Not necessarily votes for the GOP, but lack of votes for Democrats as the “deeply disappointed” and “exhausted” supporters (or former supporters) stay home.
The problem – as we’ve noted many times – is enthusiasm. Relative to the right, there is none on the left, or certainly not as much or enough to get people to the polls. In two short years, Obama and the Democrats have gone from owning significant and filibuster proof margins that seemed safe for quite some time to a vulnerable status that may see them in the minority in at least one chamber of Congress and with enough gains in the other to stall the president’s agenda.
Many of us, of course, see that as a feature, not a bug.
But again, I think this woman very articulately and succinctly puts the frustrations of not only the average American, but the average Obama supporter in focus. She is the face of defeat and she tells them precisely why that’s so.
Very interesting. The answer Obama gives is just as telling. Make sure you listen to it as well.
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In our apparent rush to be just like Europe, I wonder if our leaders would think this was a good idea:
The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.
You know, George Orwell was an Englishman and, it seems, knowing their proclivities, he was right on target with "1984". Not the year, the outcome.
Besides the practical reasons for not doing this, the premise under which it operates is horrifying. It says, "the government has first claim on all money earned in this nation." That may indeed by true by law, but this would make it true in fact. It would essentially turn the government into your paymaster.
Never mind the huge and assuredly bloated and inefficient bureaucracy that would grow up around this, or the cost to taxpayers (who ironically, would then get less in their pay check than previously because of it), just what in the world would cause anyone to offer such a suggestion except the belief that government owns all the money anyway?
The proposal by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.
You see, per the suggestion, it would be better for the government if this was implemented. Not you, government. You would pay for it of course and it would most likely cost you a pretty penny, but then you’re there to support government and make things easier for the bureaucrats – don’t you see?
Move a long citizen, nothing to see here. Just report to work early or we’ll dock you paycheck.
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But, I would guess, a pretty typical story:
"I’m disappointed that we’ve only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," said Wendy Greuel, the city’s controller. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work." According to the audit, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works spent $70 million in stimulus funds — in return, it created seven private sector jobs and saved seven workers from layoffs. Taxpayer cost per job: $1.5 million.
Anyone – tell me again how efficiently government does things and how we should "trust" it with our money because it will always spend it wisely? This, as we’ve seen, isn’t the only wasteful spending of taxed and borrowed money under the supposed stimulus. We also have funded such things as a study (for $823,000) by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.
Certainly "shovel ready" wouldn’t you say?
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