Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Man in the Mirror

I remember reading somewhere that back in the days when Michael Jackson was working on his follow up to Thriller, he wrote a message to himself on his bathroom mirror: 100 Million!  That was the number he wanted to sell of his new record.  The follow up he finally put out was called Bad, and though it did sell quite well, the sales weren't nearly as good as Michael had hoped for.

Watching President Obama prancing about the world stage in the past few weeks has me wondering if he doesn't have his own message on the mirror, maybe written with one of Michelle's very expensive tubes of lipstick.  What might his message say?  How about 6.1 billion!   If you haven't heard, that is the current estimate of our world's human population.  Obama has at times seemed as if he sees himself more as president of the world than merely of the United States, and I think it's an open question about whose approval he is most interested in receiving--the world's, or his own countrymen's.  However it is he actually regards himself, I doubt there are many in those billions who can clearly explain what exactly he has been up to in the past few weeks.

First there was the rather hollow sounding remarks he finally got around to making about the disasters in Japan--if he'd said something like bummer, dudes it might have come off as more sincere.  Concurrent with this was his swing through some of the countries of South America, including Brazil and Chile.  As we've come to expect, the family had a fine old time bouncing around the southern hemisphere on the taxpayer's dime.  Obama got to make some points with Brazilians by letting them know we're ready, willing and waiting to buy up a bunch of that oil they're going to get from offshore wells. He didn't go into the subject of where we're going to find the money to do that, but hey, he's the President, not an accountant.  In Chile, Michelle got to sip a little of the local wine while showing off her latest gown, but Obama was on the receiving end of a bit of unpleasantness when the Chilean president suggested that if Obama really wanted to help the economies down that way, he could throw his support behind free trade agreements with Columbia and Panama, something his administration and Democrats in Congress have been stalling for years, at the behest of American labor unions.

And while all this was going on the situation in Libya was rapidly spinning out of control.  Obama seemed to show little interest in the matter for weeks, during which time leading female political luminaries (Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton) led the charge along with some European leaders in calling for quick action to prevent M. Quadaffi from carrying out bloody retaliations against the Libyan rebels.  Obama first demanded that Quadaffi should just go away, which Quadaffi less than politely declined to do.  Since then Obama has cobbled together a strangely evolving coalition of United States and NATO forces that seems to be proceeding with little coherent instruction.

Obama's address on the subject earlier this week did little to illuminate his intentions.  The fact that he has essentially ignored the Congress and acted in a unilateral fashion that contradicts his previous opinions on the subject of presidential war powers is alarming and angering members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

I have a nagging fear that as much as Obama's actions about Libya have been confusing so many of us, the person who is most confused about all this is President Obama himself.  And that ain't good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Get On With It

I'm beginning to wonder if John Boehner actually isn't a politician, but instead a sly Zen master whose true purpose is to develop in us the arts of patience and persistence. 

As I see it, he's only been able to blaze his trail of tears as Speaker thanks to last year's voter revolt against the Democrats and Obamacare, yet at nearly every turn he seems by nature to seek out a "bipartisan" approach to settling political conflicts. This might be tolerable if liberals and Democrats were themselves willing to make serious concessions, but unfortunately these are people for whom "bipartisan" means "we get what we want, then you shut up!" Whenever Boehner does this, tea partiers, conservatives and even some libertarians erupt in protest, and then he usually backtracks to a tougher position to calm them down.  He and his House leadership have played this tune so often by now that I think it's a safe bet to say that if they continue this approach, they may well blow the opportunity the elections gave them to begin rolling back the Obama disaster.

The latest example of this has been the Continuing Resolution (CR) saga that's been going on since the majority Democrats in the last Congress refused to pass a full year budget, leaving the problem to the new Republican majority. This has been a nice little game for Obama since it keeps the Congress preoccupied with short term emergencies, stopping the Republicans from working on the big picture, the main part of which is defunding Obamacare and setting the stage for its ultimate repeal.

Today another CR went through that funds the government until April 8, and who knows what will happen after that.  The big fear that is driving Boehner & Associates is that if they pass another budget with spending cuts that Obama and the Democrats in the Senate find unacceptable, the latest resolution will expire with no further funding enacted, causing a "government shutdown." The conventional wisdom is that this same situation is what brought Bill Clinton back from the brink in 1995, and the Republican leadership  fears that replaying the Gingrich strategy will lead to a similar revival in Obama's political fortunes.

So as things stand now, all that Obama and Harry Reid have to do to forestall any serious budget cuts is to hint that the Republicans will only come to disaster if they actually try to do what so many of them were elected to do, cut spending and stop Obamacare. Apparently this is a strategy that takes very little energy, if Obama's social calendar is any indication, and I can imagine them going on this way for the rest of Obama's term if it keeps working.

There appears to be a growing revulsion among members of the House that their leadership has led them to this state of affairs, and I think that many of them are realizing that they are in serious danger of losing support from the voters who gave them such a whopping majority in the House to begin with. The Republican leadership may be willing to avoid a showdown on spending if they think it will keep them from a Gingrich-style political disaster, but I think if they take this path they will only be courting a much larger disaster by completely alienating most of the same voters who gave them the power they now seem so reticent to use.

Instead, I think they should take heart in how Gov. Walker in Wisconsin has so far been able to win out against extreme opposition in his quest to save his state from bankruptcy.  As has been shown in Wisconsin, even small requests for budgetary savings drive leftists to near savagery in their opposition.  What could they possibly say or do that would be much worse than what we've seen from them already?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing

Earlier on this blog I've stated my Article of Faith regarding Obama: No matter what Obama becomes involved in, he will make it worse. So I do have an idea of the small irony involved in now choosing to discuss the President's seeming detachment from important events and issues. You'd think I'd be glad for any instance where he'd have the grace to leave well enough alone, but somehow I find this aspect of his behavior to be disturbing, if not alarming.

For example, in the past two weeks or so we've had a number of events unfolding, including the budget controversy in Wisconsin; the ongoing battle between Quadaffi's government forces and the rebels in Libya; and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, with the resulting destruction and loss of death.

I think it would be fair to say that of these three situations, the one the White House has been most focused on has been Wisconsin. The President and Sec. of State Clinton have essentially abdicated any leadership role regarding Libya, so on this question we've been witnessing the odd spectacle of the French president leading the charge in finding a way to stop Quadaffi from committing a massacre against his opponents, which clearly is what he will do if he reconsolidates his power. 

Obama did find it necessary to have a useless press conference addressing the problem of rising oil prices, but as far as I know he hasn't made anything more than a perfunctory statement about the disaster in Japan. I think the Japanese deserve better. Is it inconceivable that Obama could have given a short address restating our long and close relationship with Japan as partners in freedom, pledging our government's support, and calling for Americans to support charities that will help in the recovery? Just a thought.

Instead the President spent the best part of a Sunday playing golf, looking happy and unburdened as can be, then spent the evening (behind closed doors) at the annual Gridiron Dinner, where reporters and politicians engage in the fiction that they actually have a sense of humor and that they aren't all in on screwing the rest of us over.

What's been demonstrated here is that of all that has gone on in the world in the last two weeks (quite a lot, really), the event that the White House has found to be most important has been the one that most directly affects Obama's reelection prospects. Not surprising, I suppose, but it would be nice to have a president who doesn't think his main task as President is to get himself reelected.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bully, You Say

Today the White House is hosting a conference on school bullying (they're against it, if you're wondering).  From President Obama's opening remarks:

As parents and students, teachers and communities, we can take steps that will help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe.

Well, sure, we can all agree with that.  Of course the devil is in the details, so who knows if the answers this conference comes up will actually be effective. Persistent problems are always easier to talk about than solve.

Meanwhile, at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, teachers and their supporters have been busy giving us extra-curricular lessons in bullying as they continue their attempts at illegally obstructing the business of the Governor and state legislature, with the assistance (if not direction) of the Obama Administration. Anonymous death threats, property destruction, mob intimidation--they know how to do it all.  Is it going too far to go to a state Senator's residence at 6 am and bang on his windows, demanding he come out?  Apparently not.

I'll bet you a nickel we're not going to hear the President denouncing the bullying aspects we've seen from the demonstrators in Madison.  I'd bet you more, but I'm still paying off bills left over from "Recovery Summer."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Total Repeal: The Movie

There's an old saying that parents have long told their children, probably for centuries: If you can't say anything good about someone, don't say anything at all. 

Unfortunately, if I applied that rule to my thoughts on Obama, I'd be struck dumb. We're now almost 25 months into the Obama presidency, and I'll be damned if I can think of anything this administration and its allies in Congress have done that I can consider to be even remotely a step in the right direction. The Obama foreign policy has been a masterpiece of delusion, emboldening enemies and slighting allies to an extent not seen since Jimmy Carter sat in the big chair. The Obama economic agenda is a sort of Keynsianism on crack, its wrong-headedness exceeded only by the incompetence of its execution. Obamacare, as I see it, is probably the most destructive piece of legislation signed into law since the Civil War. Even the personal conduct of the President and his wife has been less than inspiring to anyone who thinks the antics and excess of ancient Rome might be a bad model for presidential behavior.

At this point, in the rare instance when I hear of something from this administration that actually makes sense, such as Timothy Geitner proposing dismantling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, my reaction is how will they screw this up? and which one of Obama's friends is going to make money off of it?

I think a new concept needs to be introduced into the debate among Obama's opposition:  total repeal.  Two years of Obama have done so much damage to the country and its people that we need to think beyond just stopping his re-election; we need to consider repealing as far as nature allows everything this administration has done, whether it was with the approval of Congress or by executive fiat.  This is a hideous project to contemplate, but the Obama presidency is turning out to be such a disaster that if we want to minimize any future damage Obama's policies might do, we're going to have little choice but to rip the whole thing out by the roots.