BUSH DEFICIT VS. OBAMA DEFICIT IN PICTURES.
The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Enough of this "we inherited" the economy crap; This economy is all on Him now
Cartoon by Michael Ramirez (click to enlarge)
Oh well, at least we made it to 200 years; 300 (1776-2076) might be a bit more difficult. Who knew that "change you can believe in" meant "you are the property of the state"?
Allah had a particularly excellent retort to Obama's lame "it's not our economy" meme, that is if that graph the other day wasn't convincing enough:
“In addition, the bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is ‘unreasonable’ or ‘excessive.’ And it directs the Treasury Department to come up with a method to evaluate ‘the performance of the individual executive or employee to whom the payment relates.’…Not exactly "The Buck Stops Here".
‘This is a growing concern, that the powers of the Treasury in this area, along with what Geithner was looking for last week, are mind boggling,’ Garrett said.”
“‘Is there a heightened risk for the Obama administration’ to remove a banking executive? asked Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist for Financial Services Roundtable. ‘I think you’d have to conclude that the answer is yes.’…
The government is currently stress-testing the nation’s 20 largest banks and ‘maybe three fail the test,’ said an executive at a large bank receiving government funds. Obama ‘could remove the heads of those banks,’ the executive said.”
“He’s realizing, ‘Hey, the economy’s mine now, and I better do it my way…’ So the administration is collaring people and letting them know who’s in charge. The days of saying, ‘It’s not our economy’ have come to an end.”
First the Banks, then the insurance companies and now the auto business. Note to Oil company executives: watch your backs.
UPDATE: More from DrewM over at Ace's HQ:
What could go wrong with having Barney Frank decide how much people should be earning?
But now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.
The purpose of the legislation is to "prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards," according to the bill's language. That includes regular pay, bonuses -- everything -- paid to employees of companies in whom the government has a capital stake, including those that have received funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The measure is not limited just to those firms that received the largest sums of money, or just to the top 25 or 50 executives of those companies. It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.
Timmy Geithner can't even figure out how to pay his own taxes and now he's supposed to be in charge of setting the pay scale of the kid working in the mail room of some bank?
I get, and am sympathetic to, the idea that if you take the government's money, you dance to the government's tune but this is ridiculous. The goal should be to disengage the government as quickly as possible from these companies, not to further intertwine them with the only organization more decrepit than they are, the federal government.
This kind of involvement will only make it more difficult for these firms to get back to self-sufficiency. Of course, some may see that as a feature not a bug.
UPDATE: Larry Kudlow comments:
Team Obama fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner Sunday afternoon, just a short time after Treasury man Tim Geithner told the television talk shows that some banks will need large amounts of new TARP-money government assistance -- even though the bankers don’t want it. Does this smack of big-time government planning and industrial policy? Another lurch to the left for economic policy?Sort of reminds me of a child molester handing out candy.
Corker calls this “a marked departure from the past,” “truly breathtaking,” and something that “should send a chill through all Americans who believe in free enterprise.”
Mr. Corker has hit the nail on the head. And I think his idea of “a truly breathtaking” government departure from American free enterprise -- whether it’s the banks or the bankrupt Detroit carmakers -- is exactly what caused stocks to plunge 250 points on Monday.
Incidentally, most of the big bankers who met with President Obama in the White House last Friday want to pay back their TARP money, not take more of it. But the Treasury is conducting stress tests that could stop the TARP pay-downs and force the banks to take more taxpayer funds in return for even more federal control.
The big bankers say they are profitable. And with an upward-sloping Treasury yield curve and some market-to-market accounting reform coming from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the outlook for banks should be getting better, not worse. So why is the Treasury jamming more TARP money down bankers’ throats, especially after announcing a new plan to use private capital to clean up bank balance sheets and solve the toxic-asset problem?It kinda sounds like the Treasury doesn’t want to let go of its new uber-regulator status. ...
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Even The Economist says He is not who they thought He was...
The Economist is the latest of the smart guys to notice that President Obama is proving strangely unlike the guy they told us he was back in late October:
His performance has been weaker than those who endorsed his candidacy, including this newspaper, had hoped. Many of his strongest supporters—liberal columnists, prominent donors, Democratic Party stalwarts—have started to question him. As for those not so beholden, polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency. Despite his resounding electoral victory, his solid majorities in both chambers of Congress and the obvious goodwill of the bulk of the electorate, Mr Obama has seemed curiously feeble.
The geniuses then go on to explain why this is: first, he hasn't "grappled" with the economy as singlemindedly as he should; second, he hasn't managed his relations with Congress very well. Jennifer Rubin gently explains what the smart guys have missed:
The Economist had Obama pegged wrong. Yes, there is an element of managerial incompetence, but the real issue is that the Right was correct about Obama: he’s an ultra-liberal at least on domestic policy, not a pragmatic centrist either on policy or in style. His mode of governance — denigrate the opposition, engage in ad hominem attacks, refuse to compromise on substantive policy, disguise radical policy intentions with a haze of meaningless rhetoric — bespeaks someone supremely confident in his ideological views...
This is the point: The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist "grappling" with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. ...
Obama YouTube Questioners were campaign workers
Transparently false. No different from any of his other "put up jobs" during the campaign, like the town hall meetings where every question were pre-supplied by the campaign.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Elliot Ness, where are thou? Rahm Emanuel's Freddie Mac "Bonus"
Not so long ago, Rahm Emanuel went to "work" for Freddie Mac--you remember them; they were one of the two organizations which almost single-handedly destroyed our economy by forcing banks to make loans to people who could not possibly pay them back. That is not "free markets". That is abuse of power.
What the media goes out of its way NOT to tell you is that both Fannie and Freddie were run by Democrats who were being payed obscene salaries (funny, no outrage was being expressed in the Congressional witch hunts then...). Then these figurehead "regulators" in turn dutifully contributed heavily to Democrat candidates. In the mob they call this splitting up the loot.
In fact, paying Obama's Chief of Staff $320,000 to do pretty much nothing is a perfect example of the kind of oversight the Democrats had over those agencies, try as the Republicans did to change that dynamic. Remember the name Franklin Raines?
I could go on, but you get the point; it kind of reminds me of the old days when college football players got paid hundreds of dollars by wealthy almuni for a summer job, for example maybe to water one bush in front of the stadium once per week (wink, wink...).
The Democrats are living The Godfather: destroying the economy is nothing personal; it's just "business". After all, if the economy had been allowed to prosper, the Democrats might never have gotten Obama (and Rahm) elected. Their core constituencies (the poor inner city welfare mother, for example) would not need them anymore were those constituencies to suddenly find wealth via initiative and hard work. In other words it can be said that--like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton--Democrats have a Vested Interest in keeping their core constituencies down. Because the minute these people become taxpayers, there would be many reasons to jump ship. The so called governmental "War on Poverty" has been going on since 1965 and LBJ's "Great Society". Don't you think it is time that we bring the troops home; it has been 43 years now and from what I can see, the faster the government grows, the more the "insurgency" is winning.
But I digress. Here is the story of Mr. Emanuel's excellent adventure at Freddie Mac, via the Chicago Tribune:
These are the people we have given the keys to the kingdom; these are the people who are attempting a Presidential power grab unprecedented in American history.
(Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / March 5, 2009)
Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.
One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.
As gatekeeper to Obama, Emanuel now plays a critical role in addressing the nation's mortgage woes and fulfilling the administration's pledge to impose responsibility on the financial world.
Emanuel's Freddie Mac involvement has been a prominent point on his political résumé, and his healthy payday from the firm has been no secret either. What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation's current economic mess.
Read the whole thing.
Funny, I don't see Barney Frank giving out Emanuel's home address so that ACORN can protest and raise hell in his front yard... (Go figure.) But never fear, Rahm: thanks to you and your boss, ACORN will be soon be busy applying its expertise in fraud and "raising the dead", and will soon be applying that expertise to...our upcoming census!
Seriously, these Democrats remind one of LBJ and his cliffhanger Senate election being decided by dead people voting in alphabetical order in Duvall county. Only now they are taking it to a national level.
Speaking of "bonus", Barney Frank is not exactly clean in the meltdown of our economy--his own involvement in the Fannie/Freddie collapse ought to have him in jail instead of lying through his lisping teeth on a daily basis. An example? Well this from the Boston Globe--not exactly a conservative rag.
Unfortunately there do not seem to be many Elliot Nesses in Obama's "Justice" Department; that isn't the "Chicago way"... Meanwhile the mobsters are diligently working to acquire the power to nationalize ANY company which would "adversely impact the economy" (who gets to decide that one?), before they "are about to go broke" (and who would decide when that applies?).
If I am Exxon or any other large conglomerate (especially any who happen to be on the "bad" side of the Democrats' special interests like: trial lawyers, the enviro-Nazis and unions...), I would be seriously be thinking about re-incorporating my business to some nice business-friendly environment like the Bahamas.... which of course will only serve to bring our economy to a terminal point even sooner...
But after all, isn't that what the Democrat mobsters want? Absolute power and for every single American to become dependent on it--instead of on themselves? Personal responsibility in anathema to all that is Democrat.
Consider: if everyone were to become wealthy and abundant, what need would there be for any Democrats to make things "fair" by stealing some people's property and giving it to others? There would be no need. On the other hand, if they can ensure that as many Americans as possible become addicted to the government crack pipe, they ensure their place at the table. Is this what Thomas Jefferson had in mind?
No wonder Barack was laughing at the economy on 60 Minutes while calling it "gallows humor"...
Let us hope that enough of the rest of us wake up to what is being done to our country very, very soon. We need Elliot Ness right now. Desperately. If you recall the scene in the movie where all the mobsters were laughing around the big round table, the American way of life as we have known (and as Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Jay envisioned it) is represented by the fat guy in the scene about to light up his cigar; meanwhile the Statist, power Democrats are represented Al Capone (Robert DeNiro)... and they've just picked up the baseball bat. We may all be that close to being history.
This "plan" by Obama and Geithner to nationalize every enterprise they "deem" to be critical is no different from the goals of a Chavez or a Castro or any other dictator. In fact it is their raison d' etre. (That's right: I said "dictator". So you had better to put one of those ugly O stickers on your vehicle before they come for you.)
Other than that, everything is just hunky-dory.
Seriously Don't you think it is time we got organized and decided to do something about our plight other than watching Oprah and The View or pretending that it could never happen here. That didn't work out too well for Europe.
During the holocaust, Europe's Jews meekly and patiently waited in line as they were herded onto the cattle cars. In a sense there is great power--e.g. a psychological moral superiority--in being "the victim". I am not trying to say that the 6 million murdered caused their own fate, that is obviously not the case; but what I am saying is that it is human nature to be complacent and believe things like "oh, that could never happen to us". But it can.
Not all were complacent; many did take action: many Jews fled Germany before it was too late--THEY were the ones who took responsibility for their own safety and security, rather than to believe in the innate "goodness" of their government or to leave their fate to chance. One of them was Albert Einstein. These people did not sit back meekly and await their fate as determined by another narcissist. No, they saw the signs and they acted on them. The tendency to resignation; to do or say nothing; to go along to get along; to think there is nothing they could do to change their outcomes--and to believe a megalomaniac and his propaganda machine about "unity" (One Reich, one Furher...) or that their country will rise from the ashes and become some sort of utopia--if only we all stand in unity, shoulder to shoulder with our charismatic dear leader--is spreading through our country like the Andromeda Strain. Or at least it was. Fortunately, a lot more of us are starting to wake up.
I'll tell you this: those men freezing their asses off Christmas Eve 1776 on the Delaware River weren't quitting or giving up. The defenders of Bastogne weren't about to give in. The examples of overcoming astounding odds are endless. It is never over until it is over. But sometimes to perservered, it takes people willing to stand up, to speak up, and to fight. Our forefathers struggled, they fought, they gave everything they had and more; they did whatever they had to do to prevail. Why? Because they determined that to continue to allow tyranny was not an option. And the rest is history.
Is it any less of an option now? Haven't we had enough of playing the helpless victims in our country? Notice I did not say their country, I said OUR country. They think it is theirs. They are pulling out all the stops to make it theirs. But--if we decide to stop them from stealing our country out from under our collectively spoiled rotten feet--we can prevail too.
We are not helpless, but we will be victims if we don't get up off our butts and work to defeat the Marxists. This is our time--or else it is the time when American dream ceases to exist. Because if we don't stand up now we may never get another chance at it. If we succeed, WE will be the "Greatest Generation".
Another movie scene comes to mind. Red (Morgan Freeman) in The Shawshank Redemption, as he considers whether or not to end it all at the halfway house: His words in that film struck a chord in me, and they have never been as appropriate as they are today: "get busy living, or get busy dying..."
So what's it gonna be? This is not a drill.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
My own Manifesto: Time to Put up or Shut Up
The cover story in this week's Popular Mechanics had another lovely scenario …
These items do not even begin to delineate the existential threats to our country, from Islamist zealots who would behead not only us, but their own women and children; from rogue states, from former enemies and long-time enemies. And from ourselves--most of all the danger to our way of life comes from our own complacency.
But wait, have not we finally found The One who has filled the entire nation with abundant and overflowing Hope? Is this now the "change" so many of you voted for?
For instance--the evil specter of "climate change" (they used to call it Global Warming, but the thought police have sort of nixed that one because, well, we all seem to be freezing our asses off..) But never fear, The One has now "assured" us that this is the time when the seas will begin to recede (right?).
Now what He didn't say was that we might not be able to afford gas or electricity to heat our home or to drive our car to work anymore--but at we now have the satisfaction now of knowing that the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building won’t be underwater in about 1000 years...Right?
Of course, WE will all be broke in our lifetimes (except for those lucky non-taxpaying elected bastards who we bought this bill of goods from...); yes, there will be more death, disease, malaria, etc., a shorter life span in general; but at least we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing our great great great grandchildren and all those spotted owls and salamanders will still have a place to hang out. And we will all finally be equal--equally mediocre. Welcome to the brain-dead philosophy of the fixed pie and a Least Common Denominator, regardless of intelligence, skill, talent, ambition, persistence, ethics, and vision--they will all be "equal" with the slovenly, lazy, blood-sucking leeches who would rather wallow in their collective victimhood than to better their situations from their own initiative (some recent Southeast Asian immigrants to the contrary). There can be no more winners and losers. Only the maintenance of our collective self-esteem.
We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men, women, animals, plants, and sea creatures are ENTITLED to an equal RESULT.
Good luck with that one.
- He has no CLUE about human nature, and how markets work to create wealth and prosperity to all; or
- He may have some CLUE but in is inexperience, arrogance, deer-in-the-headlights moment, he is allowing himself to be led around by the nose by the most corrupt, destructive Congress in US history; or
- He does understand all of this--but in the name of consolidating power, or his legacy, or even to become something more akin to a Putin or a Mussolini or a Hitler or like his buddy Chavez--grandiose, all powerful, narcissistic--he actually wants to tear DOWN the wealth of this country to create some sort of Weimar Republic II, out of which he can rise up to seize power, become a supreme leader--and then to crush anyone who gets in his way.
Remember that little "show" in Berlin? Or the "stadium nomination" with the Roman columns. Even the ubiquitous "O" logo which has sort of become the American version of the swastika lately? The "Obama Seal"... when he was just a candidate?
Albert Speer would have been SO proud.
In truth, it doesn't matter which of these factors are the primary drivers here; write it all off to hyperbole if you will. But there ARE parallels, even if inexact: when I see Geithner I see Speer. When I seen Emmanuel I see Himmler. And Axelrod? Goering? Beria? Who knows. I am not saying they ARE exactly like these historical monsters from the past--I am just saying that I see many parallels; the whole vibe of this Administration reminds me of all those books I've read as a history minor about the rise of the Nazis and the Fascists--and the Bolsheviks. Party rallies. Narcissism. Supression of dissent.
And many people seem just as hypnotized by these pretenders as the Germans were by Hitler. Mesmerized is a better word. (no, I am not speaking of anyone who dared watch that atrocious presser last night...). But some of this "swarm" of worker bees seem to have such blinders on that they WANT to believe he is The One, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. So they just ignore all of the obvious incompetence playing out daily before their eyes. And there is much to ignore.
This is mass hypnosis on a Hitlerian scale; although fortunately it is only about half of the country (and dropping rapidly) who seem to have bought into the Big Lie. Swallowing all of that empty, vacant campaign rhetoric that meant absolutely nothing--except whatever the mesmerized cultists listening to it wanted it to mean. They had seen the light: HOPE! CHANGE! Finally a candidate who talks and looks so GOOD, so eloquent with those teleprompter-driven slogans; he will TALK to our enemies (that worked so well for Chamberlain, after all); and he is so completely above politics and petty things--like using a slim 52% plurality to blow up the whole social contract that has been in place between We the People and our government since 1789. To smithereens!
What did those guys know? The One wants Change and Hope! He knows what is right for us! And he is creating Jobs!
OR…. Just maybe--he really does know exactly what he’s doing--but not in the way his zombie followers think. For example there are Obama's friends:have you noticed that they ALL seem to be getting rich? And they are not even having to pay taxes. Where to begin
Tim Geithner the rocket scientist/tax cheat, who is just so indispensable!
And then there is Barack himself (that little book deal 10 days before he took the oath for instance... that sweetheart housing deal... his wife's big earmark and raise...)
And yes, even “the Benefactor” himself. Who knew that the very billionaire architect of this whole Democrat revivalfor the last 10 years (MoveOn, CAP, MediaMatters, ACORN funding, etc) has somehow managed to fix it so that he got filthy rich at the very moment of our country's greatest misery. (But I am sure that is only "coincidence"...)
So am I off base; am I missing something? After all, they tell me. Obama means well, right? I'm just thinking back to Joe the Plumber: 95% of us are going to get a stimulus and tax cuts--all but the "rich".... Right?
And most importantly, we just want to be loved by all those wonderful people in Pakistan and Syria and Iran and Russia and China...and Europe. Just like the "good old days"... Right? We can all be Sally Fields: "they like us, they really like us..." Right?
Hmm, funny thing happened to the coronation of Obama as the Savior of the World (and the empathy and cooperation of our European allies): today the President of the EU--a Czech who really has lived under State Socialism and knows first hand what happens when that failed theory is tried--stated the following, and I quote (via the Financial Times):
Not exactly diplomatic-niceties from a European leader who suddenly has a new found love for America since The One's coronation. And Putin and Ahmadinejad and Putin seem to be so enamored of The One too, don't they?
European Union hopes for a new era in relations with the US were thrown into chaos on Wednesday when the holder of the EU presidency condemned American remedies for the global recession as “the road to hell”.
Barely a week before Barack Obama is due to arrive in Europe on his first official visit as US president, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, put the 27-nation EU on a collision course with Washington.
His attack compounded the confusion that has engulfed EU policy after the Czech leader lost a no-confidence vote in the country’s parliament on Tuesday, forcing him to offer his government’s resignation midway through its six-month EU presidency.
Mr Topolanek said EU leaders had been disturbed at a summit in Brussels last week to hear calls from Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, for more aggressive policies to fight the global downturn.
“The US Treasury secretary talks about permanent action and we, at our spring council, were quite alarmed at that . . . The US is repeating mistakes from the 1930s, such as wide-ranging stimuluses, protectionist tendencies and appeals, the Buy American campaign, and so on,” he told a European parliament session in Strasbourg. “All these steps, their combination and their permanency, are the road to hell.”
Finally, our staunchest allies have been insulted: handing Gordon Brown the DVD's that play in American DVD players only was a real home run. Offering to abandon our allies in Eastern Europe: the Poles, Czechs, Romanians, and Ukrainians. I'm sure they are ready to fall down at The One's feet right about now.
And then we have Israel. I have to say, I am still stunned that ANY Jew in his or her right mind voted for this Farrakhan-loving, Iran and Syria-coddling, guy who is spending American tax dollars giving money to Hamas! I am sure Bibi is feeling the love too right now.
I think that given a choice, most of our traditional allies in Europe and the Middle East would LOVE to have George W. Bush back right now.
So here we are, about 60 days into the Era of Hope, and Change, and the End of the Old Politics. All Americans working together (that is if you follow a Marxist in lockstep off of the cliff...).
Meanwhile we on the right are deemed "lunatics" and "full of hate" who dare to question ANYTHING about this...icon of intellect, panache and experience.
You know, people sure seem to have pretty short memories as to the kinds of vile venom and hate that the Left has been hurling at Bush for over 8 years now (but as I recall that was just "dissent" from your intellectual superiors...right? I believe they even spent several years calling that dissent "patriotism". Welcome to your own nightmare, hypocrites.)
I have some very dear friends who really came into this thinking that Obama was "the answer". Maybe they still do for all I know. I don't know, because I don't even bring it up whenever I can help it (because I am so "obsessed", don't you know...). They can talk about His Holiness when no one is around to dispute their viewpoint. But the really disheartening thing is that these are highly intelligent people who seem to have completely closed themselves off to any other point of view--the very thing they accuse me of. So be it.
But I'll tell you this--if someone brings up Obama or the cabal in Congress around me, I am through just sitting there and biting my tongue while everyone else in the "in crowd" get to run down everything this country has always stood for--as their man appears to be in a frenzied gotta-have-it-now hurry to blow up the whole thing--and quickly, before anybody catches on to the very far-reaching ramifications to just what it is that they are doing.
Fortunately, I think Obama cannot move quickly enough, because the anger and mistrust is rising faster. These Tea Parties. Protests the media refuses to cover, but which we all know are happening. It is tangible; I can FEEL it out there. Frustration like I have never seen. And every bit of that anger is justified.
If we are going to prevail, it is time we stopped being such cowards and find it within ourselves to speak up for what is right. Yes, we conservatives seem to be the ones who are supposed to fill the role of being more "civil and polite" in mixed company. In a sense that is a good example to set in periods where there is not so much at stake.
But the MoveOn Democrat Underground ideologues on the Left--the kinds that throw molotov cocktails at the Governors mansion or at buses of Senior Citizens on their way to the RNC convention--could care less about civility.
If it is possible to have reasonable dialogue? Well thought out discourse? Fine. Where it is possible I am all for it. But in such cases there has to be some agreement or stipulation on SOME shared core principles or else there is no hope that discourse will go anywhere but south. And it seems to me that the principle of principles in this argument comes down to what Lincoln said in 1864. He was talking about slavery, but he was also talking about those men who risked their lives and families "forescore and seven years" prior. He was talking about what they stood for and what all those souls at Gettysburg died for. For those did not catch my post yesterday, here is the quote once again:
"We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name--liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names--liberty and tyranny."My friends, It is long past time that we got organized, got ACTIVE, and start working NOW to save this thing before it is too late. And if that means a fight--if people can't sit and converse and try to find common ground without getting personal--well I am prepared for that too.
--Abraham Lincoln, 1864
As we have seen for the last 8 years, our "civility" has gotten us precisely nowhere with the partisan Dems in Congress, nor to those who spend their entire lives finding things that are "unfair" and "unequal". But I am beginning to believe that to have reasoned, non-inflammatory discourse with people whose only focus is how much power over your life which they or their central planners want to grab from you; power to confiscate your property (of which YOUR money is certainly part) for their "holier than thou" purposes; the concept that they, not you should have the power over your labor, your sweat, and your moral priorities. In 1864 that was called slavery. But it didn't end there.
- Lenin and (later) Stalin. The purges of the 20's-40's. Millions murdered or starved to death.
- Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo 13 million dead. The death camps.
- Mao and the "Cultural Revolution" -- tens of millions killed by the 'Mobs'
- The Iron Curtain: The Berlin Wall--killing anyone who dares to leave "the State". The Stasi and "The Lives of Others".
- The KGB. Their funding of Palestinian terrorism, beginning with the PFLP and Red Brigades.
- Ho Chi Minh's purges and Cambodia's Killing fields
- The millions crying from Cuba's graves (many thanks to Che himself)
- Nicaragua. Venezuela. Iran, and yes even China.
It never has, because it runs contrary to human nature. It always leads to corruption, loss of productivity, servitude, totalitarianism, corruption, inefficiency, losing ground to those who are not burdened with this pestilence--and then to the Gulags and Concentration Camps for those who can't or refuse to adjust.
We've been here before, and there are well over 100 million souls who have died to date because they called this lie for what it was, and because the Statists could not allow the TRUTH about human freedom to shine through. But eventually it always did.
Now it is in danger of happening here. It IS happening here. And we must expose the lie. Here. Now. Wake up for God's sake!
To defeat this enemy we must be educated in our core beliefs.
Read Shcharansky and Solzhenitsyn, writing from the Labor Camps; read Ayn Rand; read current authors like Mark Levin; read Bill Whittle and Mark Steyn...
But don't stop there--do your homework. Go back even further: to the products of the Enlightenment who gave us this great gift. READ Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke, and Jefferson, Lincoln, and Reagan, and. READ the Federalist Papers and Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics and former Communists David Horowitz tall of their journey from Radical Communist to patriot. READ the magnificant, brilliant Opinions and Dissents of Scalia and Clarence Thomas; Read De Toqueville, read of his sheer wonder --this product of the French Revolution and their own mob "terror"--of how amazed he was at our experiment. Other great minds like Milton Friedman. Freidrich Hayek. Ludwig von Mises. Broaden and deepen your mind. Cleanse your mind from the drivel that your Leftist/Unionist teachers have been trying to force feed you and your children since you were very young. Open your minds. The truth WILL set you free.
This is not just our history--this is inspiring, thought provoking, mind expanding. These are some of the greatest thinkers and communicators who ever lived. Some of them are still living.
The key is that we must prepare ourselves and our mettle and to know the rightness of our cause. Levin's new book is a great place to start.
But here is the thing: we have to FIGHT this time, we have to WORK this time, and we have to be able to articulate the rightness of our defense of Liberty just as those men did so long ago in that Philadelphia hall. Because if we cannot articulate it (with as much civility as our angry opponents will allow) and if we are not willing to fight for it-if we merely are content to sit by and watch it play out like some movie plot without getting ACTIVE, we WILL lose our country to these Statist, totalitarian, tyrants. I know my history, I minored in history--and I have seen all I need to see to know what this is.
If you are feeling me on this; if you are hearing me. Let's email. Let's get organized. Let's do everything in our power to stop the rape of the United States and all it stands for.
We have not chosen to be painted into a corner by greedy, corrupt, overzealous power-hungry politicians. We didn't choose this fate, but it is the hand we have been dealt.
It is time to take our country back.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Liberty and Tyranny: The Difference between the Two
I truly believe that this is a book which could easily become the 00's version of Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, a non-fiction Atlas Shrugged.
And we have never needed it more than we do now.
The Great One celebrated his book release with one of the best shows of his career; the opening monologue is pure gold.
In addition to the excellent quotes in the above review, I think it is important to add the Abraham Lincoln quote on the back cover; it speaks more clearly about the rightness of our cause--and more concisely--than almost anything I have ever read:
"We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name--liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names--liberty and tyranny."
--Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Thomas Lifson has another great review of Levin's book, and so does Dan Riehl--who includes a video of an interview with Levin talking about it. I envy their getting an early copy; I can't wait to read mine.
I get the feeling I might be buying a few more copies for friends...and perhaps even a public library or two.
A Picture is worth Ten
Thousand Trillion ... Words
Not to mention the lying: whopper after whopper, clothed in slick campaign cliches; it is difficult to believe that he even believed half of it.
Exhibit A: It is one thing to claim in a press conference that you are working to reduce the size of the debt; even after you have just acted to quadruple it--all the while continuing to blame the size of that debt on your predecessor (it's easy, you merely repeat: "we interited" over and over again until enough people buy it...).
The truth? Well that's another matter (via Glenn Reynolds):
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Obama's Weekly Address (Subtitled with the Truth)
Obama's Approval Numbers: Dropping like a lead brick
Ruh-Roh... Obama's approval rating continues to slide.
Rasmussen reported:The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 36% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-two percent (32%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of +4 (see trends). The number of Americans who believe government spending will rise during the Obama years has increased significantly in recent months.Going... Going...
Barack Obama's approval rating has even dropped below where President Bush was at this time in 2001.
So much for the "change we've been looking for."
Cartoon by John Cole (click to enlarge)
Are the Democrats transforming the US into a Banana Republic?
Bill of Rights? Yeah right; tell me another one.
Furthermore, if We the People stand by and continue our "don't rock the boat" heads in the sand attitude about going along to get along, even as our country is stolen from out from under our noses, we will deserve what we get.
I can tell you this: I will not be one of those people. This is scary stuff, folks, yet I have lifelong friends that are more worried about whether some AIG policy holder is going to get paid than they are about the destruction of our Constitution and way of life. And that in itself is terrifying. We have been mass-hypnotized into such complacency that there are very few of us left who even deserve liberty. And we are all collectively getting ready to find out that that liberty isn't free, and it never was.
Hinderaker's take is easily the Must read of the week:
I'm stupefied to find that some people are defending the constitutionality of Nancy Pelosi's discriminatory, confiscatory and retroactive tax on people who receive bonus income from companies that got TARP money. I would have considered it a bright line rule that the government can't identify a class of unpopular people and impose a special tax on them. What's next? A 100% income tax on registered Republicans, retroactive to last year? If Pelosi's bill passes muster, why not?
One theory, presumably, is that since the government is contributing TARP money it can put whatever strings it wants on that money. (Including, I guess, strings imposed after the fact that would deprive employees of agreed-upon consideration for work they've already performed.) But that theory has been rejected in a variety of contexts. The government cannot condition its spending on a relinquishment of constitutional rights. Here's a thought experiment: how about putting a condition (retroactively, of course) on TARP money that says no employee of any bank that receives such money (or his spouse) can get an abortion? Would Nancy Pelosi think that's constitutional?
Wells Fargo didn't want any TARP money, but the government forced it to take more than $5 billion worth, so Wells Fargo employees who receive bonuses would be subject to Pelosi's proposed tax. Say you're a teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnesota and you're married to a lawyer who makes $250,000 this year. You get a $10,000 bonus for your good work during 2008. The government steals it all (90 percent federal plus 8.5 percent state plus, unless it's included in the 90 percent, 3 percent Medicare). That is simply insane.
If the Pelosi bill is actually enacted into law (which I still think is doubtful) and upheld by the courts, there is no limit to the arbitrary power of Congress. In that event, we have no property rights and there is no Constitution--no equal protection clause, no due process clause, no impairment of contracts clause, no bill of attainder/ex post facto law clause. Instead, we are living in a majoritarian tyranny. As I explained here, there is nothing wrong with the AIG bonuses and no reason why they should be repaid. But even if you think it was wrong for AIG to pay them, Pelosi's proposed confiscatory tax--total taxes would exceed 100 percent in some jurisdictions--is an outrage. If Congress can appease a howling mob of demagogues by enacting discriminatory tax legislation against a group of people who are, for the moment, politically unpopular, even though the vast majority of them have nothing to do with the supposed problems that have given rise to popular outcry--imagine, say, Congress enacting a surtax on the incomes of all homosexuals in response to a notorious case of homosexual molestation--then the idea that the Constitution affords us any sort of protection against arbitrary government power is an illusion.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The Teleprompter President: Un-Motivational Narcissist
Father Goose-Step reads to the kids: Cartoon by Glenn McCoy (click to enlarge)
John Hawkins has not only put together some very solid reasoning as to why this whole teleprompter business matters, but he has revealed an instant classic of a "motivation poster" to boot:
Poise. Character. Ability to articulate and defend one's beliefs in any circumstance and to persuade without a script. Long press conferences where you respond in detail and with poise to every single question without avoiding or changing the subject-or losing your cool. All these things are qualities of a real, principled leader.
The fact that Barack Obama has trouble speaking without a teleprompter has become a running joke.
But, many people are no doubt wondering why it matters? So what if he can't talk without a teleprompter? What does it prove?
Well, here's why it matters.
Most people make a fallacious assumption: that eloquent, witty, speakers are also great thinkers. Now, sometimes that assumption turns out to be true and the silver tongued devil is also brilliant.
However, just as often, some of the most articulate, forceful speakers you will ever run across can't think their way out of a paper bag. This country is full-to-bursting with seductive speakers promoting tragically bad ideas.
That brings us to Barack Obama.
There are undoubtedly millions of Americans who voted for him because he gave a good speech and they believed that anyone capable of sounding that good, also must be really competent and smart.
If those same people conclude that Obama can't talk off the cuff and only sounds good because he's reading a script, they may lose confidence in him and his plans. Given that he's a radically liberal incompetent who is hellbent on methodically wrecking this country's future with agenda, the more people who question whether he can really talk -- and therefore, to their way of thinking, must be really smart -- the better.
It speaks volumes that so far--when it comes to such non-scripted communications and or his responses to the hostile or unexpected questions he has had to deal with so far--President Obama has been shown to be a "none of the above" President; and a very narcissistic one at that (watch the video!).
UPDATE: More fun from Rick Moran.
Day by Day by Chris Muir (click to enlarge)
Dumb and Dumber
Once upon a time, my sister had a leading role in the Office of Protocol for a former President. A key State Department role, it is all about creating impressions for visiting dignitaries, and above all NOT creating shame and insult. It involves researching cultural customs, and when it comes to gift giving--being actually thoughtful.
This is absolutely unbelievable. You recall the embarrassment over the Obama administration's incompetent treatment of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his state visit to the U.S. The last link in that chain of ineptitude was Obama's parting gift to Brown, a box of 25 Hollywood CDs. Hey, when Sarkozy comes to town, maybe we can get him a Netflix subscription.
At the time, some wondered whether North American DVDs will even play in European machines. But that seemed too wacky to be true. As Mark Steyn says, "at the back of my mind, I didn't quite believe that even the Obamateur Hour crowd at the White House could be that clueless."
Only--oops--it turns out they could be:
While not exactly a film buff, Gordon Brown was touched when Barack Obama gave him a set of 25 classic American movies - including Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins on his recent visit to Washington. Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.
The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words "wrong region" came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship - or "special partnership", as we are now supposed to call it - by registering a complaint.
Well, one good thing--thank goodness we have smart, sophisticated Democrats on the White House staff now, instead of those yahoo Republicans. Then again, maybe not:
A White House spokesman sniggered when I put the story to him and he was still looking into the matter when my deadline came last night.
By the way, when Obama's unlikely gift was disclosed, a reader emailed me to ask if Clueless was among the films. Funnily enough, it was not.
The Obama administration is rapidly earning a reputation for incompetence. We'll leave the last word to Mark Steyn:
But don't forget, folks: Somewhere in Texas a village has been reunited with its idiot, and we now have the whip-smartest administration of David Brooks' lifetime.
ONE MORE THING: Can you imagine the Democrats' reaction if the Bush White House had given a European head of state a set of DVDs that can only be played on North American machines? It would have been conclusive proof of Bush's provincialism, lack of sensitivity to our allies' sensibilities, ignorance of the wider world, techno incompetence, failure to appreciate the superiority of European civilization, blah blah blah. That's how it would have been reported and editorialized on in every newspaper. So let's check tomorrow's papers and see whether that's how Obama's gaffe is covered. Or whether it's covered at all.
I admit, I am no big fan of Gordon Brown--he is basically another Marxist that the Brits will replace at their earliest opportunity, because they are on to him now. Regardless, the UK has long been a friend and one of our staunchest allies; and for the President to blow his first state visit this badly speaks volumes. It was beyond an insult; it was offensive.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Round Up the Usual Suspects...
Continuing last night's 'Casablanca' theme...
Cartoon by Michael Ramirez (click to enlarge)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Animal Farm II: The Pigs Strike Back
Surprise! Dodd Lies while Congress Burns and Geithner Fiddles
--King Richard III
Behold the vain man, and observe the arrogant; he clotheth himself in rich attire, he walketh in the public street, he casteth round his eyes, and courteth observation. He tosseth up his head, and overlooketh the poor; he treateth his inferiors with insolence, his superiors in return look down on his pride and folly with laughter.
You know, you just can't make this stuff up: they are so shocked, shocked!! (except for one thing: these hypocrites created the whole enchilada...) I cannot remember when I have seen so much feigned outrage and mass hysteria.
Given the opportunity to turn a contractual legal obligation into a populist strawman--which seems to be designed specifically to inflame the "proletariat" into breaking out the guillotines--the flames have now jumped the "barrier" and threaten the very Democrat Party that created this tidal wave. Things have gotten so out of hand with the "unintended consequences" of the (colossally stupid) AIG bailout, that the firestorm now threatens to engulf not just the House and Senate, but may also take down the (tax cheat) Treasury Secretary, dramatically deepen the public's waning confidence in the Obama Presidency, and will make it much, much more difficult to get any more Pelosi/Obama spending monstrosities past a wary public. Not bad for four days work.
Not that it is any big surprise that Chris Dodd has lied his ass off yet again; Dodd has made a career of lies, deception and corruption. Neither is it headline material that--given even the tiniest opening for bloviation and ridiculous hyperbole--Barney Frank will take that bait every time:
What makes this especially galling, of course, is not only Frank’s own culpability in the financial crisis — which he’s now going to “fix,” you’ll be glad to know — but the imperiousness he displays here and in his statements about asserting the feds’ “ownership rights” over AIG. What a wretch.
And so now what? Storm the Bastille? Bills of Attainder? Extort any executive who makes more than the minimum wage? Hell, what's next: Mob Rule? Public hangings? Or...maybe we will just send the Brownshirts door to door so we will know who to round up later. Or (more aptly), the Red Guards. Yeah, that's the ticket. Barack's own personal STASI. Change you can believe in.
But wait...they knew about it all along. And Geithner was the architect. No matter...it is just. so. damned. UNFAIR, don't you know.
Rarely have I witnessed one 96 hour period where one political party has inflicted so much damage upon itself as the Democrats have done since Sunday. It is a real shame that many Republicans also seem to be more interested in the populist angle themselves than to stand on principle and call out the hypocrisy of their opposition--i.e. the fact that they should have just let AIG go bankrupt; it is doubtful a bankruptcy judge would have paid out all those millions. But if they had done that someone might have scared up all those huge donations that these crooks have been taking from AIG for years (via Pat Dollard):
Obama Received a $101,332 Bonus from AIG
Senator Barack Obama received a $101,332 bonus from American International Group in the form of political contributions according to Opensecrets.org. The two biggest Congressional recipients of bonuses from the A.I.G. are - Senators Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama.
The A.I.G. Financial Products affiliate of A.I.G. gave out $136,928, the most of any AIG affiliate, in the 2008 cycle. I would note that A.I.G.’s financial products division is the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps and “misjudged” the risk.
The Washington Post reports a “mob effect” at A.I.G financial products division:
“A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn’t show up at all.”
With the anger and rage that is being exhibited against A.I.G., perhaps the bonuses Obama received from A.I.G. explain Obama’s A.I.G crocodile tears.
Now that the Wall street Journal has revealed that A.I.G. paid bonuses of $1 million or more to 73 employees, it’s time to ask if recipients of A.I.G. “bonuses,” including President Obama, will give what now ought to be taxpayer money back?
And all that some so-called "Republicans" can do is feign the very same "outrage"?
What a bunch of gutless wonders.
We are in trouble folks; if we cannot find our principles and stand by them in unity, we could very quickly descend into an abyss the likes of which we could never have dreamed. This isn't about populism; it is about remembering who we have always been--and then to prevent the Democrats from erasing that memory. They are trying mightily to do just that.
Our time is running out. We had better get our act together fast or it will all be gone.
Thank God Mark Levin's book is coming out soon.
Without Shame: Obama enlists ACORN to "help" with Census
In all my life I never dreamed I would see a day like this; will someone please wake me up when this nightmare is over:
What could possibly go wrong with a criminal enterprise involved in the 2010 census?The U.S. Census is supposed to be free of politics, but one group with a history of voter fraud, ACORN, is participating in next year's count, raising concerns about the politicization of the decennial survey.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States -- currently believed to be more than 306 million people.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Where the Lefty Media Goes to Coordinate "Staying on Message" against the Rest of Us
When the US goes to war against a foreign power, what does the military inevitably take out first? A: Command and control. And, after some of the seditious-bordering-on-treasonous behavior of the lefty media over the past several years, one could see where more than one of the more cyber-savvy ex-military types might actually feel justified in taking the words "against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." to heart when it comes to sites like this.
Monday, March 16, 2009
AIG Bailouts, Bonuses and the BIG LIE
Impressive and somewhat justified outrage about the AIG bonuses swirled through the news and blogs this weekend. The story that no one is noticing is that Federal support for the AIG security lending business is much greater than the Federal support for the credit derivatives business. Who broke AIG? Regulators and those who love them will prefer to tell a story about mysterious, unchecked credit derivatives, but the truth seems to be a bit more complicated and prosaic.
Let me start on a positive note by lauding Josh Marshall, who nicely captures the current disillusionment accompanying the discovery that he who pays the piper does not, in fact, call the tune:We're collectively taking our country's future in our hands, spending vast sums of money to keep these companies from suffering the consequences of their own folly and (in many cases) criminality. And in return we're receiving cavalier dictates about pay-outs and bonuses from executives who by any reasonable measure work for us -- dictates we promptly accede to. There's a beggars can't be choosers problem there. And the disconnect is so mighty that it fuels the impression that the whole enterprise is not what it seems, not what we've been told, that in addition to picking up the tab we're being played for fools.
Hilzoy sneaks a peek at the truth of the situation but quickly backs away:As far as I can tell from reading this explanation from AIG, and this letter from its CEO to Sec. Geithner, there are two issues. One is contractual: they promised their employees all this money back in the spring of 2008. To which I can only say: what sort of idiot would commit a company to paying a bonus to an employee even if that employee took down the company?Well, well. Who indeed would retain the idiots who "took down" the company?
...The second, which is much harder to accept, is that no one but the idiots who put these trades together understands them well enough to unwind them. (See pp. 3-4 here.)
There is more here than meets the eye. Read the whole thing.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Brokest Generation
Read the whole thing.
Just between you, me, and the old, the late middle-aged and the early middle-aged: Isn't it terrific to be able to stick it to the young? I mean, imagine how bad all this economic-type stuff would be if our kids and grandkids hadn't offered to pick up the tab.
Well, OK, they didn't exactly "offer" but they did stand around behind Barack Obama at all those campaign rallies helping him look dynamic and telegenic and earnestly chanting hopey-hopey-changey-changey. And "Yes, we can!"
Which is a pretty open-ended commitment.
Are you sure you young folks will be able to pay off this massive Mount Spendmore of multitrillion-dollar debts we've piled up on you?
"Yes, we can!"
We thought you'd say that! God bless the youth of America! We of the Greatest Generation, the Boomers and Generation X salute you, the plucky members of the Brokest Generation, the Gloomers and Generation Y, as in "Why the hell did you old coots do this to us?"
Because, as politicians like to say, it's about "the future of all our children." And the future of all our children is that they'll be paying off the past of all their grandparents. At 12 percent of GDP, this year's deficit is the highest since the Second World War, and prioritizes not economic vitality but massive expansion of government. But hey, it's not our problem. As Lord Keynes observed, "In the long run we're all dead." Well, most of us will be. But not you youngsters, not for a while. So we've figured it out: You're the ultimate credit market, and the rest of us are all preapproved!
N. Korea Missile "Flight Plan" Indicates Hawaii Trajectory; Meanwhile Chinese not happy about Obamanomics
Which is precisely why it is not going to happen with our current "leadership". In fact, if I am wrong about this; if Obama actually does have the cojones to do take this missile down, I will send $50 bucks to the first person who scoreboards me on my skepticism after the fact in the comments section of this post.
Or--maybe he will just have his boy Geithner print up another trillion dollars and pay off the Koreans not to fire the thing. But I doubt the ChiComms would be very happy about that remedy.
Note to self: It has gotten pretty bad when the Chinese arguably will have more influence over the actions of our own President than the taxpayers of his own country.
Maybe it is time to tell the people in Washington who really runs this country. Fortunately, enough of us are starting to figure out the obvious.
Thou shalt not make wrongful use ofCorollary: this Commandment does not apply to Bush, Nixon, nor any other previous (Republican) President. Comrades.
the name of the Lord your Godthe likeness of Obama thy President and "Savior", for the Lordhypocrites on the Left who spent 8 years vilifying the previous President will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Obama-DNC Corruption A-List grows almost as fast as the Debt
More from Michelle; be sure and watch the video.
Most corrupt US Government...ever?
Monday, March 09, 2009
Day by Day by Chris Muir (click to enlarge)
Via Iowahawk: Gift Giving Advice from the President
But I see the reproduction of such art as more of a public service: in these challenging times, when you are going crazy trying to come up with that special gift that gift that really speaks "thougtfulness" despite your destitute condition, then one must lend an ear to timeless advice from the man who knows all, and sees all; the man who has organized the communitey, and who will now take care of all of us from cradle to grave (so what if the latter comes a bit sooner... won't it be worth it to have all that free medical care, even if you do have to wait a year for that bypass surgery?)--yes, I am talking about the man, the "O" himself (or is it the "0")--none other than our President, Barack H. Obama:
(Seriously: is there anyone better at this stuff than Iowahawk? I'm just asking... I know this; If I lived near Chicago, I sure as hell would go have a beer with the guy):
I've had a bit of a bad luck patch over the last month (losing my job, watching my 401k completely disintegrate, etc., etc.) and ended up relocating from a high rise in Lincoln Park to a new neighborhood along the Fullerton underpass on the Kennedy Expressway. I was a bit worried about the move at first, but my new neighbors have been great. In fact on move-in day they greeted me with a grocery cart "welcome wagon" containing with some lovely and practical gifts like cans of Sterno, cardboard, fortified wine, and a hypo-allergenic harmonica. I would like to show my appreciation with thoughtful "thank you" gifts. Can you recommend something nice that won't break my budget ($3.00 total for 6 gifts)? Please help!
Barbara in Chicago
With my busy schedule of entertaining foreign dignitaries and celebrities at the White House, I know how important a well chosen gift can be. Two weeks ago, for example, we received a visit from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister brought a few housewarming gag gifts including a pen set made from a boat, a framed paper thing from another boat, and some old books by Churchill (not Ward, but that English guy). Obviously we wanted to return the nice gesture so I sent my interns out on a scavenger hunt for an appropriate present. They couldn't find anything in the West Wing, but luckily Costco was open and was running a 25-for-the-price-of-10 clearance sale in the DVD department. You should have seen Mr. Brown light up when he opened that sack of classic titles like "Wizard of Oz" and "Baby Geniuses 2." I like to think those DVDs helped cement our Anglo-American "special relationship" even if, as he mentioned to me, they probably wouldn't work in his European player. Thinking quickly, I told the PM I would send him an American DVD player as soon as I earned enough cash-back points on my Costco card. Crisis averted, but that episode taught me a valuable lesson: always keep a stock of gifts handy in case some foreign poobah or supreme religious figure or failing industry leader pops by for coffee. As a result, I make sure the Oval Office closet is filled with pre-wrapped Sham-Wows and Snuggle blankets and trillion dollar bailout packages for whatever gift emergency might arise.
Sometimes, though, the occasion calls for a gift with the warm "personal touch" that reflects the personality and tastes of the recipient. For example, my wife Michelle is very involved with fashion, fitness, and beauty, so for our 10th anniversary I gave her a Norelco heavy duty personal ear and nose hair groomer. Sure, it was expensive, but that glare of delight in her eyes was more than enough payback for the $89.95 price plus $20 for shipping and monogramming. When I sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with a Russian delegation last week, she brought along a cute novelty "panic button" from Spencer Gifts that my staff relabeled with the Russian word for "Reset" as a humorous token of America's new gentler approach to diplomacy. Even though they pointed out the word actually translates as "Vaporize," the Russians still had a good laugh because I think they understood where we were coming from. It was such a hit that later this year when we meet with the Iranians we are planning to bring along a Big Mouth Billy Bass that sings "Don't Worry Be Happy" in Farsi. If there's anything I've learned about international relations, it is to bring a fun gift and leave the attitude and preconditions behind.
But let's get back to your situation. At $0.50 per gift I'm afraid there aren't a lot of good shopping options. You might think about buying your neighbors a couple shares of GM, Citicorp or the New York Times Company, but even if you could afford the transaction fees the shares would probably continue to deteriorate out there in the elements. The Dollar General nearby on Belmont stocks a big selection of weather-proof plastic utensils and sponges, but at $1 each you will probably have to pare back your gift list. My advice is to focus your generosity on those underpass neighbors who control the biggest voting blocs. Happy gifting!
The Final word on Rush and "I Hope He Fails"
As I alluded to the other day, I think Rush is technically telling the truth and the media does not seem to to be able to handle the truth when it comes to what this guy wants to do to the rest of us; and if the public had a clue as to what that is, Rush would have lots of company rooting for that to fail; with that said while I will defend the right of Rush to say it (and it was true..), but like Ace says it doesn't necessarily help the cause because it is a distraction; and right now the media will take any distraction it can get to keep the public focused on anything besides what a colossal failure this President already is.
In a comment, I wrote [some edits):
Well, we have some really big fights here ahead of us and all people seem to have the passion for arguing about is whether "I hope he fails" is now core conservative doctrine.
We have more important fights.
I don't want to criticize rush for it. To the extent I'm forced to -- I say it's a remark which hurts us, which is why, get this, the media won't stop talking about it.
See? The media have blacked out coverage of Obama's snub of Gordon Brown. Because that hurts the Democrats.
This, they want to talk about.
And when it is suggested to you that
1) This is not an important hill
2) This is a hill which is difficult to defend
3) We should move on to more important hills,
the "cocktail party elitist" crap starts.
This is fundamentally an unserious and unimportant issue. And those who keep fighting it are apparently happy to dwell on the trivialities and distractions that Obama has admitted he's cooked up for precisely the purpose of distracting you.
My take? It's simple. It was not a helpful comment. I will not defend it because I do not have the time or inclination to waste my time on trivialities. So let's turn the page and move on.
Like -- how about we fucking talk about the stuff Obama does not wanting us talking about?
This is the silly shit Emmanuel, Carville, and Begala came up for us to talk about. Is that what we're doing now?
Why are you guys so jazzed to do precisely what Obama wants you to do? The White House has admitted it cooked this up as a distraction, and i'm trying to tell you fuck the distraction, make a decision either way and let it go and move on, and all I get is this nonsense that I'm not fighting Obama enough by concentrating on the little trivial distraction he constructed for me.
I don't want to fight on this issue, because I could not win even if I tried -- trust me, the average distressed voter is going to be turned off by one party's spokesman rooting against his family's prosperity, or sounding like he's doing so -- and on top of that it's Obama's preferred issue.
You guys say you want to oppose everything Obama does -- how about starting by opposing the menu of conversation topics he's cooked up for you?
So let's take Ace's advice. Let's move on to the stuff that matters.