Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 7, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Patrick Ruffini gets it largely right on the intra-conservative wars. Moreover, isn’t there something more important for conservatives to talk about? Priorities, people.

If Tim Geithner is “frightening” TNR, you can imagine how investors and business people feel.

David Paterson endorsing the president’s mortgage bailout scheme isn’t exactly comforting.

If Joe Biden is “Mr. Fix It” in this administration we are in big trouble.

Will card check become an issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race? The Republican candidate hopes so.

And the bullying on card check has begun. Psst: Don’t tell anyone but the Republicans love this issue.

George McGovern is running ads — against card check. “Democracy is something that should never be sacrificed he says.” Well, 60 senators can do just that.

In the real world the stock market crash matters a lot. “So in the midst of horrible downturn, the president seems inept, and perhaps even worse, he seems to neither understand nor care about the real life of real people.The notion that the president and his party are alienated from this mainstream of productive America for whom the stock market is not like a tracking poll but is real life is the kind of realization that shapes political identities.” Wasn’t that Blackberry supposed to keep him from becoming isolated and out of touch?

The AP gives the president a hard time: things are getting worse under his watch. “Obama may have contributed to the national anxiety by first warning of ‘catastrophe’ if his stimulus plan was not passed and in setting high expectations for Geithner. Instead, Geithner’s public performance has been halting and he’s been challenged by lawmakers of both parties.”

Don Luskin observes: “We can’t blame President Obama for the mess he inherited. But we can definitely blame him for making it worse. Stocks are off 28.4% since his election, 15.2% since his inauguration, and 17.2% since his so-called ‘stimulus’ bill was enacted. To say the very least, whatever he’s doing, it ain’t working.” And take a look at that very scary graph.

Politico reports: “After an angry, swearing late night meeting among top Democrats, Congress voted Friday to give itself another five days to try to complete a long-overdue omnibus spending bill that had become a growing embarrassment for party leaders and President Barack Obama.” Where is Dick Cheney when you need him?

Mark Tapscott writes: “But now the mask is off and the disconnect between rhetoric and reality is emerging as the dominant driver of the Obama narrative. The contrast is no longer between the young, personable, historic candidate Obama and a creaky, cranky old Republican White Guy, it’s between what America thought it was getting in a President Obama (cool, reasonable and above partisanship) and what it now sees as the reality of a President Obama (government spending out of control, broken promises, more bureaucrats, etc. etc.).”

Are we stuck with Geithner because no one else is confirmable? Somehow I think Paul Volker could get through. But really, if we admit Geithner is a disaster then we are admitting things won’t significantly improve so long as he’s there. (Conversely, dumping him should be good for a stock market rally.)

Not asking Americans to sacrifice, needlessly divisive, and making a mockery of bipartisanship. George W. Bush? No Obama. And, adds Jackson Diehl: “Just as Bush promoted tax cuts as a remedy for surplus and then later as essential in a time of deficits, so Obama has come up with strained arguments as to why health-care reform, which he supported before the economic collapse, turns out to be essential to recovery. Yet as he convened his ‘health care summit’ at the White House on Thursday, the stock market was hitting another 12-year-low; General Motors was again teetering on the brink of insolvency and the country was still waiting to hear the details of the Treasury’s proposal to bail out banks. George W. Bush might well be asking: Is the president taking his eye off the ball?'”

Joel Kotkin on the Obama strategy: “Right now it seems like Chicago style interest politics with a Moveon.org spin. Money will be there for key what passes for’left’ groups – urban real estate interests, greens, smart growthers, wind/solar lobby and, the shocktroops, the public employee unions. This is not a growth strategy but a politic technique designed to knit together a coalition of poor urbanites, bureaucrats, professors, greens and the Gorite energy speculators. It may work politically but I wonder what it will do longer-term for the economy.”

Patrick Ruffini gets it largely right on the intra-conservative wars. Moreover, isn’t there something more important for conservatives to talk about? Priorities, people.

If Tim Geithner is “frightening” TNR, you can imagine how investors and business people feel.

David Paterson endorsing the president’s mortgage bailout scheme isn’t exactly comforting.

If Joe Biden is “Mr. Fix It” in this administration we are in big trouble.

Will card check become an issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race? The Republican candidate hopes so.

And the bullying on card check has begun. Psst: Don’t tell anyone but the Republicans love this issue.

George McGovern is running ads — against card check. “Democracy is something that should never be sacrificed he says.” Well, 60 senators can do just that.

In the real world the stock market crash matters a lot. “So in the midst of horrible downturn, the president seems inept, and perhaps even worse, he seems to neither understand nor care about the real life of real people.The notion that the president and his party are alienated from this mainstream of productive America for whom the stock market is not like a tracking poll but is real life is the kind of realization that shapes political identities.” Wasn’t that Blackberry supposed to keep him from becoming isolated and out of touch?

The AP gives the president a hard time: things are getting worse under his watch. “Obama may have contributed to the national anxiety by first warning of ‘catastrophe’ if his stimulus plan was not passed and in setting high expectations for Geithner. Instead, Geithner’s public performance has been halting and he’s been challenged by lawmakers of both parties.”

Don Luskin observes: “We can’t blame President Obama for the mess he inherited. But we can definitely blame him for making it worse. Stocks are off 28.4% since his election, 15.2% since his inauguration, and 17.2% since his so-called ‘stimulus’ bill was enacted. To say the very least, whatever he’s doing, it ain’t working.” And take a look at that very scary graph.

Politico reports: “After an angry, swearing late night meeting among top Democrats, Congress voted Friday to give itself another five days to try to complete a long-overdue omnibus spending bill that had become a growing embarrassment for party leaders and President Barack Obama.” Where is Dick Cheney when you need him?

Mark Tapscott writes: “But now the mask is off and the disconnect between rhetoric and reality is emerging as the dominant driver of the Obama narrative. The contrast is no longer between the young, personable, historic candidate Obama and a creaky, cranky old Republican White Guy, it’s between what America thought it was getting in a President Obama (cool, reasonable and above partisanship) and what it now sees as the reality of a President Obama (government spending out of control, broken promises, more bureaucrats, etc. etc.).”

Are we stuck with Geithner because no one else is confirmable? Somehow I think Paul Volker could get through. But really, if we admit Geithner is a disaster then we are admitting things won’t significantly improve so long as he’s there. (Conversely, dumping him should be good for a stock market rally.)

Not asking Americans to sacrifice, needlessly divisive, and making a mockery of bipartisanship. George W. Bush? No Obama. And, adds Jackson Diehl: “Just as Bush promoted tax cuts as a remedy for surplus and then later as essential in a time of deficits, so Obama has come up with strained arguments as to why health-care reform, which he supported before the economic collapse, turns out to be essential to recovery. Yet as he convened his ‘health care summit’ at the White House on Thursday, the stock market was hitting another 12-year-low; General Motors was again teetering on the brink of insolvency and the country was still waiting to hear the details of the Treasury’s proposal to bail out banks. George W. Bush might well be asking: Is the president taking his eye off the ball?'”

Joel Kotkin on the Obama strategy: “Right now it seems like Chicago style interest politics with a Moveon.org spin. Money will be there for key what passes for’left’ groups – urban real estate interests, greens, smart growthers, wind/solar lobby and, the shocktroops, the public employee unions. This is not a growth strategy but a politic technique designed to knit together a coalition of poor urbanites, bureaucrats, professors, greens and the Gorite energy speculators. It may work politically but I wonder what it will do longer-term for the economy.”

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Chas Freeman and 9/11

Martin Kramer is very worth reading.

Martin Kramer is very worth reading.

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Not Where They Want to Go

President Obama’s political spinners didn’t much like it when David Brooks cried foul and proceeded to call out the radicalism of the candidate for whom he had held such fond hopes. In fact, they essentially commandeered his next column to assure New York Times readers that the president was really moderate in outlook and not extreme in policies. Righhhht.

Michael Barone has a different take on what’s afoot:

The Obama tax plan, combined with major state tax plans, puts not a three in front of the high earners’ tax rate as the Clinton plan did, it puts a four or a five in front of it. And at that point, I fear, the animal spirits of high earners are going to be directed away from productive investment and toward tax avoidance and tax shelters. Away from creating new enterprises that can provide avenues upward for any and all, and toward gaming the system for the well-connected and shrewd insiders. Away from an economy that grows more than anyone imagined and toward an economy where system-gamers take shares of a static pie away from the rest of us. Is that where we really want to go?

Aside from the taxes there is cap-and-trade. And nationalized industries. Plus a mammoth healthcare plan.

If he gets his way, the cumulative impact of Obama’s policies will be earth-shaking. But isn’t that what the very same spinners declare when they label his agenda “bold” and “groundbreaking”? While a New York Times columnist might be chased off the scent or momentarily dazzled by their “sophisticated” case, people who have money at stake can see what’s going on. The investors, employers, and economic analysts don’t much care about the “tone of friendly cooperation.” They, like Barone, see the dynamic energy and capital being sucked out of the private sector. And they answer Barone: “No, that is not really where we want to go.”

President Obama’s political spinners didn’t much like it when David Brooks cried foul and proceeded to call out the radicalism of the candidate for whom he had held such fond hopes. In fact, they essentially commandeered his next column to assure New York Times readers that the president was really moderate in outlook and not extreme in policies. Righhhht.

Michael Barone has a different take on what’s afoot:

The Obama tax plan, combined with major state tax plans, puts not a three in front of the high earners’ tax rate as the Clinton plan did, it puts a four or a five in front of it. And at that point, I fear, the animal spirits of high earners are going to be directed away from productive investment and toward tax avoidance and tax shelters. Away from creating new enterprises that can provide avenues upward for any and all, and toward gaming the system for the well-connected and shrewd insiders. Away from an economy that grows more than anyone imagined and toward an economy where system-gamers take shares of a static pie away from the rest of us. Is that where we really want to go?

Aside from the taxes there is cap-and-trade. And nationalized industries. Plus a mammoth healthcare plan.

If he gets his way, the cumulative impact of Obama’s policies will be earth-shaking. But isn’t that what the very same spinners declare when they label his agenda “bold” and “groundbreaking”? While a New York Times columnist might be chased off the scent or momentarily dazzled by their “sophisticated” case, people who have money at stake can see what’s going on. The investors, employers, and economic analysts don’t much care about the “tone of friendly cooperation.” They, like Barone, see the dynamic energy and capital being sucked out of the private sector. And they answer Barone: “No, that is not really where we want to go.”

Read Less

He’s Just Not that into Governing

Mickey Kaus asks:

So it was Begala and Carville’s idea for the White House to go after Rush Limbaugh? Hmm. No one can read Bob Woodward’s The Agenda and go away impressed with Begala’s judgment. He’s overcombative and underadaptive. And weren’t he and Carville Hillary people? So why is Obama letting these underemployed publicity-craving operatives mess around with his administration?

Well, it’s becoming obvious he’s not really much of a manager, decider, legislation-craftsman, or supervisor. His vetting process is in shambles and key Treasury slots are still vacant. His Treasury Secretary is a classic under-performer and Obama encourages that tendency by talking about everything other than our immediate recovery needs. He lets Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do the legislating — and they’ve come up with an embarrassing stimulus and an omnibus spending-bill even Democrats aren’t swallowing.

What does he like to do? Summits. These are in essence campaign events — faux town-halls where nary a discouraging word is heard and no real work is done. And he loves those campaign rallies around the country.

So if the report is accurate that others are crafting his political strategy (just like the Pelosi-Reid machine is drafting his legislation), it should should come as no surprise. George W. Bush was lambasted for poor management skills and excessive delegation. But that was nothing — Obama has delegated the entire task of governing. He will keep the campaigning for himself.

Mickey Kaus asks:

So it was Begala and Carville’s idea for the White House to go after Rush Limbaugh? Hmm. No one can read Bob Woodward’s The Agenda and go away impressed with Begala’s judgment. He’s overcombative and underadaptive. And weren’t he and Carville Hillary people? So why is Obama letting these underemployed publicity-craving operatives mess around with his administration?

Well, it’s becoming obvious he’s not really much of a manager, decider, legislation-craftsman, or supervisor. His vetting process is in shambles and key Treasury slots are still vacant. His Treasury Secretary is a classic under-performer and Obama encourages that tendency by talking about everything other than our immediate recovery needs. He lets Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do the legislating — and they’ve come up with an embarrassing stimulus and an omnibus spending-bill even Democrats aren’t swallowing.

What does he like to do? Summits. These are in essence campaign events — faux town-halls where nary a discouraging word is heard and no real work is done. And he loves those campaign rallies around the country.

So if the report is accurate that others are crafting his political strategy (just like the Pelosi-Reid machine is drafting his legislation), it should should come as no surprise. George W. Bush was lambasted for poor management skills and excessive delegation. But that was nothing — Obama has delegated the entire task of governing. He will keep the campaigning for himself.

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Freeman — Could This Get Any More Painful?

Representatives from both sides of the aisle are making their objections to Chas Freeman clear. Contrary to the Freeman apologists, the objections are not all about Israel and they come from a wide-range of politicians. Rep. Frank Wolf focuses on China and Saudi Arabia. And then eighty-seven Chinese dissidents sent a letter to the president. ( I’m sure Stephen Walt will conclude this is evidence of one heck of a neocon Zionist conspiracy.) More and more hair-brained quotes are popping up — suggesting Freeman is utterly uniformed on matter supposedly within his area of expertise.

The question remains: why is the White House dragging this out? It is inexplicable that the administration, a supposedly sophisticated political operation, would not only allow Freeman to slip in, but then prolong the agony as more and more politicians, Democrats included, step forward to raise objections. Perhaps they are trying to soothe some constituency or resist the appearance of caving into pressure. But, on a decision this horrible, it is better to cut your losses quickly.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle are making their objections to Chas Freeman clear. Contrary to the Freeman apologists, the objections are not all about Israel and they come from a wide-range of politicians. Rep. Frank Wolf focuses on China and Saudi Arabia. And then eighty-seven Chinese dissidents sent a letter to the president. ( I’m sure Stephen Walt will conclude this is evidence of one heck of a neocon Zionist conspiracy.) More and more hair-brained quotes are popping up — suggesting Freeman is utterly uniformed on matter supposedly within his area of expertise.

The question remains: why is the White House dragging this out? It is inexplicable that the administration, a supposedly sophisticated political operation, would not only allow Freeman to slip in, but then prolong the agony as more and more politicians, Democrats included, step forward to raise objections. Perhaps they are trying to soothe some constituency or resist the appearance of caving into pressure. But, on a decision this horrible, it is better to cut your losses quickly.

Read Less




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