Congress Stuck in Reverse

March 18, 2010

Seems like the only thing Congress is doing is making the economy worse.  At least all they’ve done lately is debate the health insurance bill – which isn’t going anywhere soon – which leaves them less time to mess up other matters of national interest.

Note that this is a bill about insurance.  It’s not health care.  If we wanted improved health care for poor people, we would staff public health clinics better and have them open 24 hours, instead of daytime work hours only.  Or we’d do malpractice reform to drive those costs down and let doctors and hospitals charge less.

Did you notice they’re cutting MedicAid and MediCare to pay for this plan?  Cut funding for the most vulnerable so they can claim this monster “saves” money.  It’s gonna bankrupt us and they know it.  (It’ll just give them something to legislate about later, and that’s why they do it.)

I haven’t had a chance to read the forest-killer of a bill, even if it were posted online in advance (another broken promise).  I know that allowing sales of insurance coverage across state lines would go a long way toward implementing the goals.

Congress is driving the country deeper and deeper in debt, and the country doesn’t trust them to do the right thing.  Gallup today noted the Congressional approval ratings are down to 16% of the people!

And the President thinks if he can give away more perks and bully his party they will roll over.  Meanwhile, he ignores a world falling apart and cancels key diplomatic visits.  If we’re lucky, the country might survive until he’s voted out of office.

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If only Huckabee…

March 10, 2010

I just finished reading Mike Huckabee’s memoir of the campaign trail, called Do the Right Thing.  It is perhaps even more instructive now than a year ago.  How much different the country would have been if he had been allowed to become President!

As he wrote about how much they were able to do on so little money, I was reminded of a letter and a blog post* I wrote as the Texas primary approached.  I noted that both the Texas and Ohio Leagues of Women Voters had excluded Mike Huckabee from their voter’s guide to the candidates simply because he hadn’t raised or spent enough money.  Their standard of viability was how fast the candidate burned through cash.

At the time, I noted that the League of Women Voters prided themselves as a nonpartisan political organization. They claim they have “fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy”.  I called their exclusion of the number 2 candidate – even from a quickly editable website – “an aggregeous act of electioneering, an unconscionable interference with the political process.”

And so, voters in Texas were not given opportunity to weigh the common sense ideas of Mr Huckabee, and America lost.

I found Do the Right Thing at my local library.  I’m sure you can find it there or at the bookstore.  Either way, it’s worth the effort to read.

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* I started this particular blog to be a member of Huck’s Army and one of his unpaid bloggers.  I’ve done quite a bit of blogging since then, but without the inspiration of Arkansas’ former Governor, I’d be talking to myself.


Expectation Management

March 10, 2010

Simon Hefler’s UK Telegraph article titled “The end of the road for Barack Obama?“, he says “the root of the problem seems to be the management of expectations.”

During the campaign,  Mr Obama dazzled audiences with rhetoric.  And the black community was excited at the option of a black president.  The mainstream media also fell for it. As Hefler put it,

“Mr Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated with an astonishing suspension of cynicism.”

On 7 Sep 08, I posted a review about how Mr Obama was all theater, and the image was winning more than Senator McCain’s focus on substance.  I noted that during the campaign, Obama didn’t even travel with a press pool.  “Everything is scripted.”

At the time, I worried that “Obama may try to push us to ‘a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols,’  but if he is elected, he will quickly find out how uncooperative the rest of the world is, at our peril.”

As Hefler put it, “The magnificent campaign created the notion that Mr Obama could walk on water. Oddly enough, he can’t.”

Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern. There is no point a nation’s having the audacity of hope unless it also has the sophistication and the will to turn it into action. As things stand, Barack Obama and America under his leadership do not.


Obama’s Empty Suit

March 9, 2010

In yesterday’s post, I described how American has become “an Economic Wasteland”.  While much of the causes come from a variety of policies of past Presidents (Clinton’s relaxing of home mortgage standards and Bush’s war spending), blame now rests squarely on the shoulders of the free-wheeling spending by the Democrat-controlled Congress.  And sitting on the sidelines, adding nothing to stop the slide, is a President inexperienced at governing.

Three years ago, Barack Obama was a Freshman Senator, elected after only one term in the Illinois House.  He had had no executive experience and very little insider political experience.  Coming from a career as a community organizer, his job had been to act the outsider and stir up enough discontent to get the government to do something.  In other words, he created messes that others cleaned up.

Suddenly, he announced he was going to run for President.  Out of a field of life-long politicians, he was the youngest, and the only Black man in the group, though he had not actually grown up Black in America.  (His mother and grandparents were white, and his dads were generally absent.)  He wasn’t even educated in Western ideas, having spent much of elementry school in Indonesia.  And in college he was unremarkable.  So for a country tired of old white men, there was great excitement of a young black man making it to the White House.

In Hefler’s UK Telegraph article, he notes how excited American blacks were at Mr Obama’s inaguration.  “Weeping men and women celebrated his victory.”  The dreams of Dr King seemed about to be fulfilled.  They had the audacity to hope.

Now that weeping is for different reasons.  And their champion seems incapable to do anything about it.  “The slickness of the campaign … does not inevitable translate into an ability to govern.” He lacks “the sophistication and the will to turn [hope] into action.”  As Hefler describes it:

His lack of experience, his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of Americans all handicap him heavily. … He wasted the first year … The country’s multi-trillion dollar debt is barely being addressed.

Just as Jimmy Carter had lost the right to govern by the end of his second year in office,  Barack Obama seems never to have had the skills.  America elected an idea, but it was a vapor, a slickly packaged but empty suit.


An Economic Wasteland

March 8, 2010

According to an article in todays UK Telegraph, Obama’s legacy is likely not to be change for the better, but long-term economic turmoil. The “audacity” of Obama’s hope is not met with any kind of ability to act on the ideas to create positive results.

Almost 10% of the workforce – 15Million Americans – are unemployed and looking for work.  Perhaps another 10% have given up trying and are not counted in the official numbers.  According to the article, about a quarter of the black people in Chicago are both unemployed and frustrated that their man is not able to solve the problem for “his own people.”

Whole areas of the country, especially the former industrial belt, have become instead ‘industrial wastelands.’  In Newark and Baltimore, drug-dealing is the principal commercial activity.

The much vaunted Stimulus bill has done little to stem the loss of jobs.  Looking closely, we see that most of the jobs went to large companies that had been inefficient spenders in the past.    Most of the cash disbursed went “to further the re-election prospects of many congressmen, not to do good for the country.” In other words, the cash was spent to keep the newly-minted Democrat majority in power.

Hefler says that “For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with one.”

Americans are unhappy with their government and their President.  They are concerned – angry – that so much money was wasted so fast with so little effect.  It’s perhaps what’s wrong with the health care bill – people don’t trust it to do what Congress says it will do, but rather just another opportunity to waste more money by diverting tax revenues to favored contributors, while the multi-trillion dollar debt keeps pilling up.

Without a significant change right away, there is no good end in sight.