Friday, January 30, 2009

Stimulus Recovery Pork Bill 

The juggernaut that is the "stimulus" bill is apparently blasting through Congress on its way to the President's desk, notwithstanding the united stand by House Repubs, along with 11 Dems who haven't (apparently) drunk the Kool-Aid.

The Senate being what it is, some Repub Senators will probably sign on--perhaps even Pres. O's erstwhile opponent, John McCain. But I suspect that there won't be enough Republican votes for Pres. O to claim it's a "bipartisan" effort without causing someone in the room to laugh out loud.

As said (many times) in the Star Wars series, I've got a baaad feeling about this.

I have no idea what Pres. O wants to really accomplish with this piece of dreck, but if I had to bet, I'd go with the "change the United States to a socialist society like pre-Thatcher UK" theory. If I'm wrong and he really wants to just get us out of the economic pickle we're in, then Pres. O is about to get rolled by the Pelosi/Reid axis. In that case, I have a suggestion for the Prez.

What he should do, when the bill lands on his desk, is veto it. Yep, I said veto it. He should use the occasion to make the point that the bill spends way too much money that we don't have, doesn't do much to create jobs, won't "jump start" the economy because the vast majority of the money won't hit the streets until halfway through next year, hasn't been debated thoroughly enough and is larded up with every Democratic Congressman's and Senator's pet projects that have been sitting in desk drawers since the beginning of the third year of Clinton's first term. He should tell the Dem Congressional leaders that the bill isn't what he wanted, and as written will harm the economy a lot more than it helps, and that they should try again, focusing on the immediate economic issues and nothing more, irrespective of whether he agrees with any particular provision that doesn't do that. And by the way, he should remind Pelosi and Reid that he made promises to be "post partisan" and they are screwing up his program by freezing out Republican ideas.

Such a veto would make it clear to Pelosi and Reid, not to mention the general population, that he is looking out for the Nation as a whole, and not just the "red" voters. It would also let them know that he cannot be rolled by them, and might just instill a little discipline in the legislative branch. It would also provide political cover for those Dems who might be uncomfortable with the bill, but are unwilling, for whatever reason, to part with the leadership. It wouldn't matter if the veto were overridden, because Obama's stature among the voters, who are now apparently beginning to realize what the bill would do to them, would skyrocket.

Do I think anything like this will happen? Not in a million years. But a guy can dream, can't he?

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Republican Unity? 

Yesterday the House passed the stimulus bill by a vote of 244-188, with all Repubs voting no, and as noted by Michelle Malkin, they "peeled off" 11 Dems to join them. I'm frankly surprised by this show of unity among the Repubs, partly because some of them are definitely more left-leaning than many Dems, and partly because Pres. Obama spent a bit of political capital wooing them, and being regarded well by any President is generally thought to be a good thing by House Members.

I suspect that the vote went the way it did not so much as a dis of Pres. O., but rather as a protest against the heavy-handedness of Speaker Pelosi, whose idea of bipartisanship is very close to "my way or the highway." It was probably talking points, but I heard several Repub Members on TV yesterday making the point that Republican input to the bill was absolutely nil. Frankly, I hope we see more of this kind of thing. Why should Repubs vote for any Dem-sponsored legislation when they are totally frozen out of the legislative process?

If they haven't already done so, Repub leadership should tell Pres. O that if he wants to have any hope whatsoever of Repub support for legislation he wants, he'd better prevail upon Pelosi and Sen. Majority Leader Reid to let the Repubs have an honest (as opposed to just for show) role in crafting the bills. The downside of this tack, of course, is lack of will among Repub Members and Senators who think "go along to get along" is more important than standing up for core beliefs.

I think this is a good political tactic if the Repubs believe that the stimulus package won't work, as they'll be able to say in 2010 and 2012 that however bad things might have been in January 2009, following the Dems' prescription only made the patient worse. If they're wrong about that ... well, people seem to think that "The 300" were heroes, even as they were massacred by the Persians.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Claudia Rosett posted this yesterday. "To chair the 2009 governing board of the U.N.'s flagship agency, the multibillion-dollar globe-girdling United Nations Development Program, dedicated to promoting good governance and ending poverty, the U.N. has now picked--wait for it--the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Criminitleys! Is there no end to stupidity and fecklessness at the UN?

Ms. Rosett asks, "What are Barack Obama and Susan Rice planning to do about this?" Indeed, but I would also ask what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would propose.

I would hope that the United States will immediately announce that it is withholding all funds from the UNDP until such time as Iran is no longer in any position of authority or influence in that agency, but with the new crowd in Washington, I'm pessimistic. I hope they aren't as suicidal as I fear they are.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Harry Reid and the Dangers of Arrogance 

A day or two after Illinois Governor Blagojevich was arrested, Harry Reid announced that nobody appointed by Blago would be permitted to join the Senate.

Gov. Blagojevich thereupon nominated Roland Burris, former Secretary of State of Illinois, to fill the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. This put Mr. Reid in the unenviable position of either blocking Mr. Burris' (thereby preventing the only African-American in the Senate from taking his seat) or backing down from his very vehement and absolutist statement regarding Mr. Blagojevich's appointment and embarrassing himself, the Democratic Party and the entire Senate.

Harry Reid has become the poster child for the proposition that the problem with drawing a line in the sand is, if someone crosses it you have to do something, or you'll look like an idiot, a wuss, or both. Watching Mr. Reid over the last two days, my vote is for both.

Seemingly within hours after Mr. Reid's contentious statement, pundits were expressing doubt that the Senate had the constitutional power to determine who would or would not be seated. Everyone agreed that the Senate has the power to dismiss one of its members under Art. I, Sec. 5 of the Constitution, but that same Section's provision that "Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members" doesn't seem to apply to a senator who is appointed by the governor of his or her State to fill a vacancy under Art. I, Sec. 3 and Amendment XVII.

Notwithstanding the pundits, Mr. Reid reaffirmed that the Senate had absolute control over who shall be admitted to membership, and refused to seat Mr. Burris when he presented himself yesterday. The grounds for denying Mr. Burris were that his credentials were not in order, because the certification of the Illinois Secretary of State required by Senate rules was not presented. Jesse White, the Illinois SoS, now says his signature is not required under Illinois law and the Illinois Attorney General says that in any event it is merely ceremonial.

Today, it seems that some sort of compromise has been reached regarding Mr. Burris. Mr. Reid is still insisting that Mr. White provide a certificate, but has backed off a significant distance from his adamant position of a few days ago.

From where I sit, it looks like Mr. Reid has been whipped, knows he's been whipped, and is now trying to save face and preserve the respect of his peers, or at least some of it.

Heck of a beginning for a Congressional session in which the Dems hold almost a 2 to 1 majority in both houses and perhaps a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, don'tcha think?

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Perspective on Gaza From San Diego County 

Just for kicks and grins, I got out an atlas and traced the borders of Israel and the Gaza strip, then overlaid the tracing on a map of Southern California in the same scale. To quote Arte Johnson, "Verrry interesting."

I aligned the coastline of Israel with the coastline of San Diego County, and the southern border of Gaza with Egypt with the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro/Tijuana. That pretty much overlays Gaza City onto downtown San Diego, with Tel Aviv falling around Oceanside/Camp Pendleton, and Haifa in the vicinity of Long Beach. Jerusalem coincides with a point approximately 10 miles north of Mt. Palomar.

Ashkelon is roughly equivalent to Solana Beach, and Sederot to Rancho Bernardo. Netivot is matched with El Cajon, and Kiryat Gat with Escondido, more or less.

You can see a rocket range map here, to get an idea of how vulnerable the outlying towns would be if we had a bunch of terrorist rocket launchers in, say, Balboa Park.

I wish some enterprising person at one of the news networks would do this with flashy graphics so the average American could get an idea of the the scale of the conflict.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

California Will Be Bankrupt Before General Motors 

The following was posted as a comment to Ronnie Schreiber's piece at Pajamas Media.

I like Fighterdoc's analysis. As one who lives in California but who has old onnections with, if not roots in Michigan, I agree that both states (to follow Fighterdoc's analogy) should be in the ICU, but Michigan just might follow doctor's orders, while California is still in denial.

There are actually a lot of similarities between the two states, chiefly the dichotomy of the urban industrial and the rural agricultural, with the latter actually producing more value. I have long said that Los Angeles is Detroit with palm trees, and I believe that California is headed for a "payless payday" as happened in Michigan in 1959, and which led directly to the revised state Constitution in 1963 that Ronnie refers to.

The real problem in California is due to gerrymandered safe seats in the legislature, which has allowed the development of a political class that is anything but answerable to the voters, and instead is beholden to special interests such as the teachers' union and the prison guards' union. California has been an eager participant in the Nation's credit binge which led to the economic collapse of last fall, but unlike most of us, the state of California continues to live beyond its means. Even now, with the fiscal crisis in the state coming rapidly to a head, the legislature will not consider reducing spending or laying off a single state employee. Term limits didn't help, because each legislator leaving office due to term limits is replaced by a clone who is owned by the same special interests and holds the same political philosophy.

I believe that raising taxes in an already high-tax state is not the answer, because in response companies and people will relocate to more economically friendly states like next-door Nevada and Arizona, and even Texas and Idaho. Cutting spending and removing restrictions on how existing funds are spent is the only answer, and the people of California will have to get by with fewer State services. Unfortunately, the politicians' mindset is to extort higher taxes from the populace by first cutting things like police and fire protection rather than paring back unnecessary pet projects and easing stifling regulation.

Just watch folks -- in a couple years California will no longer be known as the Golden State, but rather as the New Jersey of the West. Or maybe the Mexico of the North. (Cross posted to my blog.)

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