Archive for February, 2009

use it . . . or lose it

February 23, 2009

Certain number of Republican governors are grandstanding with respect to the stimulus, saying they will not receive the money.  Really?  No problem: just redistribute the unused dollars to states who want and need the funds.  I know our state – California – can certainly use any additional dollars, and if we manage to get Louisiana’s unused share, well, we’ll just say, “Thank you Louisiana!”

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kudos to secretary of state clinton

February 20, 2009

Kudos all around to Madame Secretary of State Clinton.  She’s handling the relationship with the Peoples Republic of China as she must, not as activists like Amnesty International would like.  She made her point about what we as Americans value, but was also clear that we must be strategic in pursuing this.  Without a doubt, what China does to throttle peoples’  freedom is reprehensible, and in my estimation will ultimately hurt social and economic progress there.  But, at the end of the day, China is a major power, and, as we expect from them, must be treated as such.  We can’t wish it away, from the global financial markets and trade, competition for scarce resources, Africa, the war on terror, etc.  We will need China in our corner as President Obama reaches out to the muslim world, which might be tested soon somewhere in and around the shared borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  To paraphrase (or mangle) John Lewis Gaddis’ thesis, our means must be in proportion to and ultimately serve our ends.

play with it . . . a la seinfeld

February 10, 2009

Did he bump his head?  Or, did he brush it?  The President and his team should have fun with this.  When queried about this, staff should wave their hands in mock (uber-whiny) indignation a la the Seinfeld show — “That was a brush! A brush, I tell you!  Not a bump!  Not a bump – a brush!  Everybody knows the difference between a bump and a brush and, that, my friend, is a brush.”

. . . turning and turning in the widening gyre . . .

February 9, 2009

Yes, if nothing is done, terrible consequences will in all likelihood ensue, although I would argue that what is at stake is the magnitude of change, not change itself.  Having said that, President Obama should tone down his rhetoric.  The President should never utter “catastrophe” or words that suggest the “center cannot hold” and “all is lost.” We look to our President for steely resolve.  Loose rhetoric not only undermines the urgency of the moment but casts a long shadow of doubt that may prove difficult getting out from underneath.  Let me put it this way: I doubt Lincoln or Roosevelt,  or even Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs chortled “catastrophe.”

the roof . . . the roof . . .

February 9, 2009

I guess the only thing I want to write is that I found this Wall Street Journal column very confusing. The writer (for good or for bad) had the guts to say what he or she thinks about Obama, particularly that sentence he or she emphasized for rhetorical effect (“So there it is: Mr. Obama is now endorsing a sort of reductionist Keynesianism that argues that any government spending is an economic stimulus”). I disagree with the sentiment because I think the President is a pretty level-headed guy, i.e. not someone who, in the least, doesn’t understand the difference between plain old pork-barrel spending and stimulus or, at worst, who maliciously distorts facts to further a political agenda. So, I just can’t agree with that sentence with the emphasis added (“So there it is: Mr. Obama is now endorsing a sort of reductionist Keynesianism that argues that any government spending is an economic stimulus”).

To be sure, the columnist immediately followed-up the emphasis-added sentence with, “This is so manifestly false that we doubt Mr. Obama really believes it.” But this is where I got confused. After slamming the president for either lying to the American people or being a numb-skull, why then does the writer retreat with that coda? To me, the writer is sissy-footing around. If the writer thinks Obama is lying, distorting facts, or not the sharpest blade in the drawer, then just say and stick to that. I might disagree with you but I will appreciate the honesty with which you carry your point.

But that’s the crux of the WSJ column if subtly stated, isn’t it?

From the writer’s viewpoint, the “stimulus tragedy” is that the emerging package is based on a numb-skull, un-nuanced interpretation of stimulus.So, if (a) on stimulus, Obama is a numb-skull or, worse, a liar; and, (b) Obama is President and, as such, makes important decisions; therefore, (c) Obama can’t be trusted to do the right thing.

But notice where all the emphasis is? It’s on Obama . . . not on the fact (and I mean this strictly) of eight years of Bush in the White House, and as fine a fellow as he is (and I do believe GW Bush is a fine fellow who earnestly tried to do his best for our nation), our problems occurred under his watch. I’ll even throw in the fact that the mess happened under the watch of the Democrats – Pelosi and Reid. So, the status quo is culpable.

The point is that Obama is trying his hardest to solve a problem the magnitude of which is growing even more with the passage of time, and above all, he’s not trying to turn back the clock by using plays out of a failed playbook.  Jeesh, WSJ columnist . . . if you want to sit on your hands and pick nits, fine, then go ahead. But at least be straight forward with how you really feel about this guy.  But just remember that, in the mean time, you know . . . the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire . . . and dang it . . . something has got to be done that’s a solution on order (if not in excess of) the magnitude of the damage that has and will occur.

get behind the president’s recovery package

February 4, 2009

It might not be perfect – but then, what is, especially if it involves legislation – but we need to get behind the President’s recovery package. Let’s not dither around.