more on the ground zero imam

Once again, we are dealing with the present, not the past.   It’s becoming more clear every day that this imam is not a bridge-building type, nor is he someone who practices tolerance toward those who are not followers of Islam.

Claudia Rosett says the following about Feisal Abdul Rauf:

If Rauf ever had the smallest intention of promoting harmony, it is past time for him to quit. Instead, having spurned the U.S. debate while spending a secretive summer in Malaysia and the Middle East, Rauf returned to New York on the eve of Sept. 11, to pronounce that unless his mosque gets built near Ground Zero, Americans might expect from the “Muslim world” a new wave of destructive fury.

We used to call this kind of stunt a protection racket. The message here is one of implied violence. Not that Rauf himself would do anything violent, mind you. He’d just like his audience to know that if Americans don’t knuckle under and get with his program for Ground Zero, he can’t be responsible for whatever devastation the “Muslim world” might inflict on his behalf. ”My life has been devoted to peace-making,” he told CNN’s O’Brien.

If a mosque must be built, he can’t be the guy to build it. If he was serious about harmony and making peace, than he should decide on his own to move the mosque, and to practice the tolerance he’s claiming to preach.  Making implied threats against this country is not the best way to sell yourself as someone who desires only to promote tolerance among all the religions.   I cannot say with any certainty that Karen Hughes and President Bush were correct in choosing this guy to be a part of  their outreach to the Muslim world after 9/11.   All I know is what I’m currently seeing.  In this case, I think both of them might have misread this imam’s motives and intentions.  We have a chance here to re-evaluate who this guy is, and make a better choice this time.

not likely

Our lovable Vice President Joe Biden talking to Larry King:

I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.

I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.

I’m obviously blinded by my anti-Obama bias, because it’s not clear to me how this administration gets credit for Iraq.

I would say that the credit for that should go to President Bush, just like the credit / blame for deficits, the stimulus, the bailouts,  and every struggle that our new President has to deal with right now.   Didn’t President Obama run for president as an anti-war candidate?  Why yes.  Didn’t VP Biden propose that Iraq be divided up into three partitions to keep the peace there? Yes again. It takes an incredible amount of nerve for this administration to attempt this argument when President Obama has opposed the war from the beginning.   But it could just be VP Biden talking out of school, as he is often prone to do…

Fair is fair.  If everything previous to the Obama administration is Bush’s fault (and Iraq is part of that), then any success there should be credited not to President Obama, but to his predecessor.

Now, that said — if Iraq becomes a stable ally to the United States, and a useful partner in that dangerous region of the world, ultimately I don’t care who gets the credit.   The end game is far more important to me than political points for Republicans or Democrats.


What Alan Bock said in the OC Register:

It’s not that there isn’t a good deal of truth in such criticisms of the ways of a “Washington” he invoked more as an epithet than a place. But at what point does a president of the United States take responsibility for his part in feeding the atmosphere of distrust?

Barack Obama has been president for a little more than a year, during which time his party has had a theoretically filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (a rare occurrence) and a substantial majority in the House. During that time he has engaged in a goodly share of partisan sniping while making only empty gestures toward the will-o-the-wisp of bipartisan cooperation. He’s the ultimate insider. Yet he took no responsibility for the poisonous atmosphere in Washington, trying to make believe that he is still quite above it all.

Yep.  You can only convincingly run against Washington when you aren’t part of its culture of failure.  That’s part of the reason for Scott Brown’s success in Massachusetts.  At some point  — and God only knows when this will happen — the statute of limitations on blaming Bush will run out and President Obama will have to take responsibility for his own actions.  Until then, we all must suffer through complex explanations of why the consequences of Democrat / Obama policies are all Bush’s fault.  Yay.

It’s going to be a very long three years…

grading on a curve

We certainly can’t say that the President of the United States lacks self-confidence. When asked to grade his performance as President, he gave himself a B+.  Can’t imagine what kind of curve he was using to come up with that grade.   Obviously our citizen king knows better than we do about, well, everything, so his falling ratings have nothing to do with the great job he’s doing.  Got that, fellow citizens?  Also, he has the hardest Presidential job ever of any administration, because President Obama had to follow the flawed administration of George W. Bush.  There’s no question that President Obama has faced tough challenges, but his reaction to them hasn’t even been close to getting these problems fixed.

Forget about grades.  Let’s talk about objectives.

“You don’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.” – P.J. O’Rourke

How about fixing the economy?  One way to help with that is to support American businesses by creating conditions that allow American businesses to succeed, prosper, and add critical new jobs for the American people.   What has he done about that?  Nothing.  The stimulus has not gotten the job done, and besides that, I think Bush deserves most of the blame / credit for the end results of the current stimulus package.  Instead of rolling back the Bush spending, and spending less taxpayer money, the Obama administration is spending MORE.  Odd way to prove your differences from the previous President.  While President Bush wasn’t exactly known for his fiscal discipline (which I have pointed out on numerous occasions – look it up), President Obama also knows that there is no money for all of these ambitious programs he plans to implement.  There is no money for health care “reform” as he would like to see it, or for the greenies’ fave – cap and trade.  You don’t fix an economy by raising taxes on the few productive taxpayers who still have jobs and the employers who supply these jobs.  That’s what this administration has in mind.   The common phrase we most hear is “taxing the rich”.  Well, who exactly is rich?  Eventually, the answer will be YOU.


But maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe the reason President Obama was elected had more to do with his foreign policy views than with his ambitious domestic agenda.  Let’s see how he’s progressing with the kinder, gentler America through non-cowboy diplomacy, shall we?

The desirable objective is for our allies to be able to trust us and for our enemies (rogue states, terrorist sympathizers, and similar other bad actors) to fear and respect us.  I don’t think this is the perspective of our current President.  He doesn’t seem to make the distinction between countries who can be legitimate partners in our struggle against the jihadists, and countries who need to be controlled in their quest for world domination through nuclear power.  Without any sticks in sight, the bad actors will continue to be bad actors, because they know the threats of the UN and of the United States are worthless.

The disregard of our allies, especially the Brits, is a glaring mistake when we consider that there are only a few countries left in the the world who share our views on potential nuclear opponents like Iran and North Korea.  We need all the support we can get in trying to keep Iran and North Korea from extending their nuclear capability into dangerous weapons that threaten the security of the United States and our allies.  President Obama, with all his grand rhetoric about America being a friend to the world, needs to spend more time talking to our allies than proposing grand schemes to single-handedly talk rogue states out of their nuclear ambitions.  Right now, our allies don’t trust us.  That has more to do with the fluid foreign policy strategy of President Obama, and not as much to do with Bush and the Iraq war.

How are we doing with stopping the bad guys?  As far as Iran / North Korea is concerned, it’s a push.  But Iran is getting more vocal and belligerent day by day, and at some point, it will be too late to stop them from getting nukes.  It may already be too late.  North Korea is still out there, although we haven’t heard much from them lately.  Afghanistan is still a struggle, and I hope that the additional troops Obama is sending will be enough to get the job done.

Both the left wing and the right wing have reasons to be frustrated with the Obama administration.   I just pray that someday there will be enough Americans who disagree with current administration policies that they will vote out the Democrat Congress  in 2010 and President Obama in 2012.  It can happen.  The Republican Party just needs to get its own house in order first.

what’s different

I don’t like federal interference in private industry.  Have I made that clear enough yet?  That means I would have been opposed to former Treasury Secretary Paulson, acting (I assume) on the orders of President Bush,  putting heavy pressure on the head of AIG to step down after AIG received one of their many sacks of bailout cash.  But somehow it doesn’t register quite the same way with me as President Obama forcing the GM CEO to resign.  Maybe I didn’t pay as much attention to AIG’s internal employee shuffling as I have been to what’s going on with the auto industry.  It’s just that the failure of AIG, while terribly detrimental to the economy (and many 401ks) in the short term, wouldn’t have nearly the impact of GM or another one of the Big Three closing up shop.  The Big Three are American institutions, and it would be harder to imagine an America without them than without one of the many insurance companies we have in this country.  Sentimentality aside, if we continue to interfere with the free market the way former President Bush has done with his bailouts,  and  the way President Obama continues to do with his multi-million dollar taxpayer gifts to various entities,  the economy will not improve.

Neither President had (or has) the expertise to make personnel decisions at insurance companies (Bush) or to make the right choice for the next GM CEO(Obama).  Thank goodness President Obama says he has no intention to run GM, and that he will draw the line at forcing their CEO to step down.  GM and Chrysler owners can also be thankful that their warranties are now guaranteed by the United States Government.   What a slippery slope it is for companies who take their fair share from the federal money tree — now the feds pretend to have the right to exercise direct control over these companies.   It’s a painful lesson to learn — next time the feds come with the offer of cash — the correct answer is: Just Say No.

I rarely link to Wonkette, due to the fact that it’s not exactly (hardly ever, in fact) family-friendly, but this quote is priceless:

Hmm, so this auto bailout problem, is it a good thing or a bad thing? Good, because the government should continue to withhold money from GM and Chrysler until they get their acts together. Bad, because GM and Chrysler cannot get their acts together without money, plus the demise of the manufacturing sector etc. President Obama assures us, however, that no matter what happens “we will not let our auto industry simply vanish.” This is liberal socialist code for “we will raise taxes on the wealthy and give everyone a free Geo Metro.” [Washington Post]

Awesome.   But see, Wonkette’s got it all wrong.  President Obama will give us all free bicycles, since he doesn’t want us using more fossil fuels, even in a tiny car like the Metro.   Just can’t wait for all my free stuff that my taxes are paying for…

very impressive

I’ve had doubts about President Obama since I first took a look at his campaign, but even I didn’t expect this level of confusion.

Now-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner –  isn’t too keen on paying taxes, even when it’s clearly explained to him how to do it.  It inspires such confidence knowing that our Treasury Secretary can’t handle his own taxes or even manage to find himself a decent accountant to keep track of those things for him.  This is the only guy who can solve the economy?  If so, we are in deep trouble.  Shame on the Republicans who voted to confirm him.

Former HHS nominee – Senator Daschle – married to a super-lobbyist,  didn’t consider the tax implications of having his own personal limo driver “kindly lent to him” by a friend with absolutely no strings attached. Is he the only one capable of forcing through universal health care?   That’s doubtful.

Watch as the former senator rails against tax cheats.  Good stuff.  Wish I could embed this video.

Former Chief Performance Officer nominee – Nancy Killefer, felled by nanny issues and tax issues.

Then there’s the botched handling of General Anthony Zinni.  He was reportedly offered the job of ambassador to Iraq by Secretary of State Clinton, then President Obama changed his mind and withdrew the offer.   Can’t say I understand the President’s reasoning here, especially when they have apparently decided to give the job to Bush’s assistant secretary of State for East Asia, Chris Hill. Is there something else we don’t know about him that’s fatally damaging?  Kind of makes you wonder, based on the current pattern of Obama nominees.

There’s more Cabinet members worthy of skepticism, including AG Eric Holder, but I think these are enough examples of the flaws in President Obama’s vetting process.  This is truly ethics and competence we can believe in.  Not to mention that great judgment Obama was always bragging about…

President Obama says “I screwed up” when talking about some of these picks.  Good for him.  He doesn’t get extra credit for taking responsibility for his mistakes.  I just hope that he’s a quick study on how to deal with our allies and our enemies.  Foreign policy is an area where a simple “Oops” or “I screwed up” may not be sufficient to obtain forgiveness from the American people.

for entertainment purposes only

Oh no… Obama is so much like Bush!!! This link to similarities between President Bush and Barack Obama’s rhetoric / record is posted merely for the expected leftist meltdown it would cause.  Of course, the writer also notes when Obama has changed his position to mirror that of the Bush administration.  Good stuff.  For the record, I do not expect a third Bush term from Barack Obama.   That’s much less likely than getting some policy mind melds from fierce opponents President Bush and Senator McCain.

Happy Election Eve, everyone.  Go vote for McCain tomorrow.

more on the “rescue plan”

One day after the House Republicans, with the help of a significant number of Democrats, stopped this disaster of a federal bailout, the world hasn’t collapsed.  The Dow rebounded a little today after its terrible day yesterday.  I still think those who voted against this bill did the right thing.  I am, however, unsympathetic to the Republicans complaining about Pelosi’s partisan speech, and making that a reason to oppose the bailout.  The bailout should be opposed on its lack of merit, and its expansion of government welfare to those who acted irresponsibly.  Republicans haven’t been making this case, and that’s why Democrats could still win the PR war.

Some of my fellow conservatives are trying to tell us the sky is falling and that we must pass Bush’s plan NOW.  Not so fast.  A federal takeover of this kind must be carefully studied and discussed, and alternatives must be presented.  Any acceptable plan must attempt to correct past errors as well as to hold those responsible for this mess accountable for their actions.  We aren’t there yet.

To the Democrats still willing to support their Speaker, I would ask them: Doesn’t it concern you that the Bush administration wants to expand the reach of the federal government to take over a large section of our economy?  I thought you all were against more power for the federal government under George Bush.  Why all of a sudden do you believe the Bush administration and Secretary Paulson when they insist that the only way to save the economy is through a federal takeover?  If this bill passes in its current form, then Democrats will share the blame with our President when it fails to achieve its objectives.  Hope you all are ok with that.  Looks like a no-win to me.

There are a few economists who are opposed to this bailout, and I would take their opinions over those of some of the know-nothings in Congress.

Here’s part of what one of them, Jeffrey Miron (day job- Harvard), had to say:

So what should the government do? Eliminate those policies that generated the current mess. This means, at a general level, abandoning the goal of home ownership independent of ability to pay. This means, in particular, getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with policies like the Community Reinvestment Act that pressure banks into subprime lending.

The right view of the financial mess is that an enormous fraction of subprime lending should never have occurred in the first place. Someone has to pay for that. That someone should not be, and does not need to be, the U.S. taxpayer.

Read the whole thing.

more reservations

There’s now a possibility that our Congress may pass a slightly modified version of Bush’s socialist bailout.  I guess we should be grateful that the House Republicans were allowed some input in the current draft, because it could be much worse than it is.  However, it’s not clear that the House Republicans got enough of what they wanted in this bill.  Mike Pence is still opposed to it, which prompts serious doubt in my mind that this is the best compromise we can come up with to “save” the economy.  Minority Leader Boehner calls this plan a “crap sandwich” but still plans to vote for it.  What awesome leadership by our minority leader.   Really inspires confidence in the folks we put in charge of the Washington Republicans.

Freedom Works has also weighed in with their opposition to the current bailout legislation (h/t: Michelle Malkin).  Here’s what they had to say:

Ten Reasons to Oppose the Wall Street Bailout

1. NO REFORM: The plan attempts to mask, rather than reform, imbalances in credit markets and in U.S. economic public policy. The plan props up reckless and failed banks by buying “troubled assets” instead of focusing on real reforms that go after government sponsored culprits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and sustainable policies that will increase the availability of private capital and expanded economic growth.

2. TREASURY POWER GRAB: The plan raises Constitutional concerns by dramatically expanding the power of the current and future Treasury Secretaries, giving the government agency power to directly purchase assets from for-profit financial and non-financial firms.

3. STUNNING PRICE TAG: The $700 billion bailout figure is as much money as the combined annual budgets of the Departments of Defense, Education and Health and Human Services. It amounts to $2,300 for every man, woman, and child in America.

4. INCREASES NATIONAL DEBT: Instead of cutting spending elsewhere, Congress will borrow all $700 billion on global capital markets, and the bill raises the national debt ceiling to a staggering $11.3 trillion.

5. GLOBAL BAILOUT: The plan includes taxpayer purchases of distressed assets from foreign banks.

6. HURTS RESPONSIBLE AMERICAN BANKS: The plan punishes responsible U.S. banks by keeping reckless, insolvent investment banks in business. As BB&T CEO John Allison wrote in a letter to Congress on Sept. 23rd, “….this is primarily a bailout of poorly run financial institutions…. Corrections are not all bad. The market correction process eliminates irrational competitors.”

7. FLAWED PROCESS: Members of Congress and the public will have less than 24 hours and no hearings to discuss and understand the impact of this sweeping plan. This rush to pass a wildly unpopular plan without benefit of significant public debate and input will also undermine its legitimacy and effectiveness.

8. BY WALL STREET, FOR WALL STREET: Treasury Secretary Paulson, the architect of the plan, was formerly the head of Goldman Sachs, one of the firms responsible for the mess and a direct beneficiary of the bailout. Further, the advisers managing the bailout auctions and assets will be Wall Street firms and will likely receive billions of tax dollars in fees.

9. OTHER OPTIONS NOT EXHAUSTED: The idea that taxpayers will make money on the bailout is not credible. There are ready buyers for these “troubled assets” — Merrill Lynch sold its entire portfolio of mortgage backed securities in July– provided the price is low enough. If a profit was possible, private speculators would readily buy these troubled assets.

10. MORALLY OFFENSIVE: The plan violates basic principles of American capitalism and honest governance by creating a system of “private profits, socialized losses” that transfers money from taxpayers directly to Wall Street investment banks. Free market capitalism only functions if individuals and firms are held accountable and are allowed to both succeed and profit, and also to sustain losses and even fail.

I echo these sentiments.  This current bailout bill (pdf here) isn’t good enough.  Go back to the drawing board and fix some of these flaws before the vote if we absolutely must have a government intervention of this type.  I’m not convinced that we need something this massive.  We can do better than this, and we must.   Like the Freedom Works quote says, “Free market capitalism only functions if individuals and firms are held accountable and are allowed to both succeed and profit, and also to sustain losses and fail.”   The solutions we are seeing from this Congress don’t solve the problem and could add trillions to the national debt.  There’s nothing fiscally conservative about that.

If we don’t come up with a more responsible solution to our economic problems, then President Bush becomes the new FDR.  Well-intentioned socialism is still socialism.  In the beginning, our president seemed to be supportive of free markets and capitalism, as well as those popular tax cuts, but we didn’t elect him because we thought he had a strong fiscally conservative record.  It was because of national security and judges.  That doesn’t keep me from being disappointed that he feels he needs to support something like this.  While I realize that many of the root causes of this current crisis lie with our friends on the other side of the aisle, a large chunk of the blame for the current mismanagement of it should be with Paulson and the Bush administration.

I’m not sure if there is anything we can do to stop the worst from happening if Minority Leader Boehner has already caved and is trying to convince others to go along with the Democrats on this bailout plan.  I just hope that when this process is over, there will have been enough Republicans with the guts to say —  if this is what we must do,  let’s get this right before voting on it.