Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Thoughts

Three weeks?  Only Three Weeks?

That's all?  It seems that President Obama's been around so much longer.

I guess it's a result of the interminable 2006 through 2008 campaign, and the fact that he's still operating in campaign mode.  It's been difficult to notice any difference in his actions and the press.  He's still employing hyperbolic rhetoric and they're still fawning and making references to similarities with President Lincoln.

Here's this week's observations and thought:
  • The 'Stimulus Bill' passed on a partisan vote divide.  It didn't have to be that way; there could have been a very bi-partisan vote if the Bill had been drawn up to actually generate a stimulus.  Instead, it was the product of the mindset that Rahm Emanuel extolled of not letting a crisis go to waste.  As a result, the hack Democrats in Congress, led by Pellosi and Reid, loaded the bill with pure pork and paybacks to their union and community organizer minions.  They didn't need any earmarks tagged on after it was approved - they were already loaded in there, such as Reid's Mag-Lev rail line from Disney World to Las Vegas, and Pellosi's endangered mouse.  The fact that the CBO repeatedly warned of the non-stimulus effect of the Bill, it's ultimate huge cost of over Three Trillion Dollars and lost jobs and lost GDP, had no effect on the Democrats. The question remains as to whether Obama was an active participant in shaping this Bill, or just an observer, displaying his seemingly usual style of just voting "Present".

    As far as the Republicans go, they evidenced a not -recently-seen ability to effectively hold together as a block, but still haven't demonstrated the ability to effectively articulate a passionate enough counter-proposal that galvanizes the citizenry to their issue.  Although Michael Steele was just elected head of the RNC, that election came to late to position him as a spokesperson for the Republicans, and despite my personal high opinion of Michael Steele, we don't know how he will perform in that role.  The net result is that despite John Boehner and Mitch McConnell's efforts to manage the troops in the House and Senate, the Republican Party is effectively leaderless and voiceless at this time.

  • Despite their win in getting the Democrat Stimulus Package passed, Obama and his aids continue to warn of economic doom and gloom.  Add to that element the fact that his 'had-to-have-guy' Tim Geithner bombed out on detailing his financial plan, and sent the market crashing another couple of hundred points, Obama's not exactly the same person preaching hope and audacity as he was in the campaign, and he's definity not the Cheerleader-in-Chief.  But there's a price to be paid for being the boy who cries wolf, and he may ultimately have to pay it.

  • On foreign affairs, Obama's been somewhat detached as well as seemingly letting go of the reins.  It's not apparent who's in charge of foreign policy; Richard Holbrooke, Jim Jones, Hillary Clinton, or yes, Joe Biden. There seem to be a lot of mixed signals coming out of White House.  We won't even mention the little problem of a Democrat Senator leaking super secret information regarding our drones being based in Pakistan.

  • The fact that Welfare Reform was one of the key elements that persuaded many moderates to trust Democrats running government again, seems to have been forgotten.  The provisions in the Stimulus Bill that Obama will sign on Tuesday, reinstating the potential for unlimited welfare dependency, may have a significant impact on Obama's ability to pass health care and other social legislation.

  • Stephen Chu, Obama's Energy Secretary seems to be following in Obama's footsteps in preaching doom and gloom.  In fact, he's gone further predicting that global warming might melt California's snowpack, resulting in "no more agriculture in California", the nations leading food producing state.  He also proclaimed :I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going."

    Well, aside from the potential of alleviating some of the illegal immigration issues, that's an extremely catastrophic prediction.  It would seem difficult to take this man and his apocalyptic perspective seriously.  But then again, the Democrats are in the majority and this guy may well be able to push through and implement some catastrophic policies for the rest of us.

  • Other observation on the Stimulus Bill:
    -The final bill, approved by Congress on Friday, includes $8 billion in unplanned spending specifically requested by President Obama for regional high-speed rail projects (see Reid above), according to administration officials.
    -New language sought by General Motors will save Detroit automaker from paying up to $10 billion in taxes related to its acceptance of federal bailout funds.
    -Democratic lawmakers from Wisconsin and Indiana helped make buyers of motorcycles and recreational vehicles eligible for a tax credit aimed primarily at automobile and truck purchasers. Officials said the measure will primarily benefit Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson and RV manufacturers in Elkhart, Ind., where Obama held a town hall meeting last week as part of his campaign to push the stimulus.
    -Democrats removed GOP language added in the Senate that would have barred the use of stimulus funds for stadiums, community parks, art centers, museums and highway beautification. The bill does forbid localities from using stimulus funds for casinos, aquariums, zoos, golf courses and swimming pools, but the federal government is not bound by the rule.

    -Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, railed against a provision that he said would undermine the independence of watchdog agencies within the government. The bill sets up a new panel, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which has the authority to request "that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation."  "Any new limitation on the independence of inspectors general is dangerous," Grassley said.
    Given the Stimulus Bill's gargantuan size, most have not been able to even read through it yet, let alone understand it's provisions and implications.  Over the next few weeks I'm sure that more egregious details will emerge.  Something to look forward to.....


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