Friday, January 30, 2009

Stimulus Loonies

One wonders sometimes if the people in Washington have any idea as to the mentality of the citizenry. The solons and the Anointed One have cobbled together a stimulus plan that will cost (as if anyone actually knows) a cool trillion and counting...all that interest, doncha know. Item: Obama and his democrat Congress consider 45 or 50 billion bucks to the auto industry perfectly in order. For a trillion dollars, 40 million cars at $25,000 per car could be bought by the government or the same number effected as down payments on houses. If the money were handed out that way, every auto-worker in the country would go back to work immediately, or every carpenter and illegal immigrant could have a job. Cut each allocation in half and the whole works could be done virtually immediately, the recipients of the largesse required to make payments in line with what they can afford.

Or, a cool trillion big ones could be allocated on a per capita basis for people to buy food. This would amount to a payment of $3,333.33, or some $13,333.33 per household of four or $555.55 per month for two years. With that kind of food-break, folks would be free to go on spending sprees or slap money into savings, thus recapitalizing the banks, especially considering the $350 billion already given them (with nothing to show for it) and another $350 billion in the pipeline. With people working again and paying taxes, the treasury collections would soar even if there were some cheaters such as the current Treasury secretary, a two-bit tax thief, but the Anointed One’s choice.

This is from Fox News, 27 January: “Obama wants ‘an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050,’ according to the White House Web site. That plan would cost at least another $56 billion per year added to an already overwhelmed budget.” The kicker: Mortal man couldn’t change the climate if he tried from now until that well-known place freezes over, to make it either warmer, colder, lukewarm, or raining violets, as the old song goes. The top scientists are trying to tell everyone that climate functions cyclically just like the stock market and that there’s little if anything anyone can do about it. But the Anointed One and others, such as UN members, for some reason insist on penalizing this country over...well, nothing.

The proposed budget currently includes $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects, whatever in the world they are. This is foolishness carried to the highest exponential power possible. Even if man could actually change anything, now is not the time to be obsessed with “going green,” that is, if, as Obamessiah would have it, the nation is rapidly skidding to oblivion just because it’s broke.

To get an idea about what to expect by 2012, one can take a look at January 1980, the last month of the Carter presidency coupled with an overwhelmingly democrat Congress (tax-and-spend, anyone?) The unemployment rate stood at 6.3% and the prime interest was what is now an unbelievable 15.75%. There was no war on. The rate leveled off at about 20% four months later and started down (Reagan had a republican Senate but never a majority in the House) and didn’t get down to just single digits until June of 1985. Obama has a democrat Congress, is determined to print money, eventually making it useless, and apparently hasn’t realized that George Bush was warning about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as far back as 2004 and 2005. His own republicans didn’t pay attention but the problem was reparable in January 2007, when the democrats took over and Grandma Pelosi gathered her grandchildren around her and...well, there you have it.

So...what do we have now? Obama has created the Middle Class Task Force, headed by Vice President Biden...the Middle Class Czar. The great healer, he who would bring everyone together, has decided that a select group is so important that it must have its very own task force (where the most votes are). How much more divisive can he become? What about a Lower Class Czar or (gasp) an Upper Middle Class Czar? One dares not mention a Higher Class Czar, except to tax its members up to their neck-bones. Then, there’s the Homeless Class Czar. Egad!

There’s not much Middle Class left anyway (though no one actually knows what the Middle Class is), since practically all industrial endeavor has been outsourced to places where children work for pennies and older people just grin and bear their barely life-sustainable jobs. The Middle Class workers here once made things that could be eaten, worn, driven, etc. Take a look at the Rust Belt and see what the Middle Class is now. Or try to find some sox or shoes made in this country. The Middle Class left us when management and big-labor decided to take it all, the devil take the hindmost. If Biden wants to help the Middle Class, perhaps he will get money to entrepreneurs who will build facilities to actually make things again and need a Middle Class. Unfortunately, the watchword of the new czar will likely be ENTITLEMENTS, case closed. After all, this is the administration of the Great Giveaways!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Corruption, Competence & Congress

The most defining moment of the last eight years in this country, with the exception of 9/11, occurred in January 2007, when the democrats took over Congress. Since the democrats took over both houses in 2007, the unemployment rate has soared from 4.6% to 7.2%, an increase of an astounding 57%, and millions of people have lost their homes largely because the Congress has totally ignored its oversight responsibilities. In addition, for that same reason, the country is trying to save itself from a banking crisis that has impacted everything from manufacturing to the individual buying of groceries.

The exclamation point was applied to this circumstance when democrat Obama took over the presidency last week, thus making his party directly responsible for correcting the current slide toward deeper recession, a slide over which it has presided for two years already, the main players being the chairmen of the finance committees, Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, the two best arguments possible against the good ol’ boy seniority system. If any sense is to be made of what Obama has laid out as a remedy, however, it is yet to be realized. His suggestion that at least others have said amounts to a cool trillion dollars that must be borrowed (or, actually, printed) just might turn things around is questionable at best, ludicrous at worst.

He’s claimed that this incomprehensible sum will create four million jobs, or $250,000 per job, though how this is broken down is unclear, at least to the layman. It seems terribly high, indeed beyond any consideration. In the meantime, the banks and other financial institutions have received $350 billion just in the last couple of months or so (though no one knows exactly where that money is or how it’s been used), with another $350 billion to be allocated soon, though the auto manufacturers might get a chunk of that instead of an outright “loan” of close to $50 billion.

The objective is to “jumpstart” the economy, making it possible for borrowers to borrow, lenders to lend, and manufacturers to make all the stuff the buyers will buy or governments will fix with the money they’ve borrowed or been given, respectively. Sounds great? Yeah. Is it working so far? Nah. Lenders are hoarding or padding their assets and paying bonuses to incompetent honchos, effectively taking the position that the citizens can “just eat cake.” Result: standstill!

Consider that cool trillion bucks (a 1 and 12 zeroes). There are about 300 million people in the country. If the cool trillion were divided among households, it could be computed at $3,333.33 per member of the family. For a family of four, that works out to some $13,333.33, or more than half the price of a mid-sized car or the total price of a two-year-old car that’s still under warranty or a big boost to the house-payment circumstance.

Perhaps a lot of smart folks would plow that money into savings, which would go a long way toward re-capitalizing the financial institutions, which could then start lending money again, taking into consideration that the totally inept Congress-people would by now start doing their job and regulating these institutions instead of drumming up gobs of greenbacks for the next election, translated as selling whatever they have to offer the contributors.

This would leave local entities to carry out the fix-the-infrastructure problem, thus cutting down – okay, hopefully – on the deep, deep corruption that accompanies every government (especially federal) giveaway that comes down the pike and turns the citizens into so many patsies for the crooks...guys like Tim Geithner, tax-cheat whom Obama has selected to be (gasp and three palpitations) the Treasury Secretary, supposedly the job requiring the most honest citizen in the country.

Geithner will oversee the IRS, the very agency from which he was committing theft until he got the nomination and was found out and had to ante up, though he coughed up only two years worth of his thefts, while he actually had been stealing for four years...tens of thousands of dollars. Whereas Bill Richardson threw in the towel for the Commerce job because of alleged PAC peccadilloes (funds used personally instead of politically), Geithner has chosen to brazen it out...disgusting for both him and Obama, who should have axed that nomination the minute Geithner was exposed. At least Richardson didn’t steal from his own government.

In any case, if the scenario above were considered, people would go back to work, pay taxes into a bankrupt government, and just maybe things would start turning around. That will never happen, of course, but it makes at least as much sense as doling out money to cesspools of corruption, another name for most governments, local and national, as well as many financial institutions.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, January 23, 2009

Executive Orders

One has to laugh when noticing the president’s signing of the order on 22 January to shut down the POW facility at Guantanamo. Why, you say? Because he lined up 16 RETIRED generals and admirals to watch his back while he signed the documents. Apparently, Obama feels the need to have more proof than just his own opinion in order to convince the people that he’s right, and these RETIRED guys all said, “Close her down, Commander Prexy, we’re with you all the way, even if you lead us to the gates of hell and back.” Real fighting words, those!

That wasn’t all. They backed him while he said to the whole wide world that this country would NEVER use water-boarding in its interrogation protocols. Actually, they looked aghast at even the mention of water-boarding, these former disciplinarians in the military, the most totally undemocratic agency of this country, where rigorous punishments such as making recruits perform physically debilitating actions such as running extra miles, etc., is just normal procedure...or at least once was.

The irony lies in the fact, of course, that whereas physical punishment for recruits wears them out and can be painful, water-boarding neither injures nor kills and probably involves little pain, if any. It’s a psychologically-oriented tool designed to make talking more pleasurable than worrying about drowning. The U.S. has never drowned anyone and the prisoners know this...but there can be that first time, can’t there? Actually, no one was hurt or killed at Abu Ghraib, either, but the poor Muslim butchers were humiliated...oh dear, dear, tsk, tsk.

So...what would the president and his 16 generals and admirals do if their wives were kidnapped by a Muslim gang, one of whom happened to get captured. To find out where to look for their wives and the other kidnappers, would they gently water-board this sleazebag or consult the army field manual and decide that this poor kidnapper couldn’t be made to talk, even if the method used couldn’t hurt him? Well...of course not. That would be stooping to torture, never mind its safety...the poor wives would just have to understand.

Such is the state of affairs with regard to Gitmo and torture...and the most notable absentee at that memorable signing was Defense Secretary least this observer (TV) didn’t see him. Gates, along with Bush, has wanted to close Gitmo for a long time, held his own news conference at which he said the closing would be a hard task. Apparently, no one has figured out how to do it, even though hundreds have been released and only about 250 remain, but Obama has appointed or will appoint a task force to figure a way to get rid of the neck-slicers, perhaps throw them in some slammer, or well...who knows.

The day was topped off over at State, where Secretary Clinton, no doubt dreaming of all those plush plane-rides here and yon, was established in her post. To help her along the way, she was given former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke to straighten out Afghanistan and Pakistan and former senate majority leader George Mitchell to handle the Middle East, mostly Israel and Gaza for now, who made this statement: “Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings - they can be ended by human beings.” Whew!

When Clinton goes head-to-head with either of these guys, she will need to pack her M-16, since none of the three is about to be turned around. This is from Press TV of 22 January: Holbrooke was the US envoy to [the] UN who brokered the November 3, 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and has been accused of making a promise of immunity from prosecution to Radovan Karadzic, also known as the 'Butcher of Bosnia'. ... On August 1 2008, in an interview with Press TV, the former Bosnian foreign Minster Mohammad Sacirbey confirmed that Karadzic took part in the massacre against Muslim Bosnians following a deal made with then US peace negotiator in Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke.

“They [Holbrook and others] acquiesced, gave the green light to Milosevic, Mladic as well as Karadzic to take over the territory of Srebrenica…,” said Sacirbey. “I do not think anyone in my government knew about it and the result was 8,000 people murdered.” Sacirbey added. Was this true? One hopes not. So much for Holbrooke, who might be just the man in Pakistan, since Obama asserted during the campaign that he would send troops through Pakistan to get bin Laden if the Pakistanis didn’t shape up. Egad!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whites & Right

The most puzzling thing about Obama becoming president has been the near-universal opinion, especially expressed in the mainstream media and the African-American community but obvious in the body politic as well, that his defining qualification for the job is that he’s black. Not that he’s smart or that he’s politically astute or even honest, but that he’s black. This is not to say that he isn’t smart, a good politician, or honest. He seems to be all those things, but public opinion seems anchored in the fact that he’s black, case closed; therefore, he’s qualified for the presidency.

The corollary to this strange phenomenon is that, since blackness is now the qualifier for the job, whiteness is a disqualifier. Has any responsible person ever said about any other president that he was qualified because he was white? These were among the closing words of Rev. Joseph Lowery’s inaugural-ceremony benediction: “help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”

To suggest that this was merely racist is to put it mildly. To suggest that Lowery, a longtime black activist, should be cut some slack is to suggest that he’s been in a cave for the last 50 years. To suggest that he should be cut some slack because he’s old (and therefore “out of it”) is to insult every old person, a patently ageist slur. No, Lowery meant exactly what he said, and, since he was praying, obviously implied that God agreed with him that white folks needed revamping, notwithstanding that he was being a bit presumptuous in informing the Almighty about the sad status of white folks. this sounds like nitpicking!! Words mean something. The president, in a campaign stretching nearly all the way back to his entry into the Senate in 2005, had made much of “healing” the nation, the clear implication being that he would cause all people to like each other and therefore become totally non-partisan...and all the rest of the warm-fuzzy stuff leading to Camelot, actually common fare for every president wannabe, except that he spent well over $700 million in making his point, something no other wannabe, including McCain, has ever remotely approached.

Then, when his man had attained the presidency, Lowery lowered the boom on both God and white folks, respectively, in arrogantly telling God how it is and how it ought to be, namely, that white folks are wicked and need divine unction to embrace the right. Politically, of course, that would be the wrong side, but that off-the-wall fact alone points out the triviality of the prayer itself...trivial because it condemned an entire population of millions while masquerading as a spiritual exercise.

When the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, to whose sermons Obama listened for 20 years or so, castigated white folks, the often expressed opinion was that he was entitled to damn white America because of the era in which he grew up. Indeed, even Obama mentioned that as a qualifier for Wright’s remarks in a Philadelphia speech. This approach doesn’t wash, however, for either Lowery or Wright since, beginning at least as far back as the 1950s, when President Eisenhower sent troops to see that black students entered a segregated school in Little Rock, the attempt has been made by white Americans to afford everyone a level playing field.

In 1948, President Truman by executive order ended segregation in the military, although the Navy had already been desegregating since the end of World War II. In the 1960s and since, civil rights legislation and legal opinions have produced tons of opportunities for blacks to get ahead. Wright and Lowery have watched all of this happen. Yet, they continue to rant. They also have watched as a huge segment of the black community frittered away these opportunities, as most notably remarked in the near-total breakdown of the black family, one of the most egregious results being a horrendous education gap for its children, not to mention that more than 40% of the male prison population is black, though black men make up only a fraction of the 13% of the population that’s African-American.

It’s impossible to legislate “togetherness,” so among many citizens, both black and white, the tension will always be there. It’s traced back to the slave era, many generations ago. Blacks blame today’s whites and what they consider white government. Whites, especially in the South, remember that the Civil War was fought almost entirely in southern states, with incredible devastation and death wreaked there. For many, blacks are a symbol of what happened to their ancestors. The wonder is that the nation has held together, and it ill behooves either group or its leaders to keep the racism alive, especially in the year of Lincoln.

Fifty-five percent of whites voted for Obama last year, according to the exit polls, and actually elected him. That’s at least a mild indication that Lowery might be missing something unless he believes they shouldn’t have and has asked God to fix them, since they didn’t embrace the right.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Invective Rolls On

The inauguration of Barack Obama indicates that an African American can be elected to the highest office in the land, along with multitudes of other blacks who have been elected or become high-profile bureaucrats to/in positions of prominence for decades. While the success of blacks has been increasing in intensity through those years, the constant charge of racism by blacks with respect to whites has never ceased.

In the January 18 issue of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., a black minister is quoted as attributing Obama’s success to a “more informed generation” whatever that means. Another black minister was quoted thusly: “I’m not sure America (would have elected a black president) if it were not for worldwide pressure.” Translation: They’ve run out of reasons for blaming today’s white people for all the woes endemic to the black community and are grasping desperately at straws.

What they hate to admit is that the swing vote in the 2008 election was not the black vote or the homosexual vote or the Latino vote; rather, it was the white vote. Ethnics did not elect Obama. White folks (actually an ethnic group, too, but not so vis-a-vis political correctness) elected Obama. According to the exit polls last November, the percentages of politically correct ethnics voting for Obama were: Blacks, 95; Latino, 67; Asian, 62, and Other, 66, or an average of 72.5%. By contrast, only 55% of whites voted for McCain.

Whites make up 74% of the population, so anyone caring to crunch the numbers will find that McCain would have won the popular vote if 56% of whites had voted for him. Thus, Obama won the popular vote because his white swing vote made the difference. This is not to speak disparagingly of Barack Obama, who ran a great campaign and deserved to win, but to only make the point that he has the white community to thank for his victory. If 72.5% of whites had voted for McCain, not to mention 95% (black voters), his win would have been by an astronomical margin and probably included the entire electoral-college vote.

But what did the minister mean by the “more informed generation?” He obviously was not referring to blacks, 95% of whom were already informed enough to vote correctly. Did he mean that whites have just naturally been ignorant? Did he mean that the generation of the 1950s-60s was dumb when it enacted laws guaranteeing everything from quotas in hiring to school-integration, but that today’s generation is eminently smarter? His “more informed generation” baloney is a racist slur.

One looks for the “worldwide pressure” that the other minister mentioned as a reason for Obama’s success. He would have done well to point it out since one is hard-pressed to find it. How did this awesome pressure affect the average voter? In the democratic primary, a black man with the experience of half-a-Senate term won over a white woman with three times as much Senate experience. How did the worldwide pressure figure in that circumstance?

Did “worldwide pressure” cause enough swing votes to cause Obama to defeat a white man with 22 years as a Naval officer, four years in the House of Representatives and continuous service in the Senate since 1987? Of course not! It’s hard for some blacks, who stick to the old ways, to admit that white people actually elected a black to the presidency, since now it’s necessary to find other people or institutions or “things” to blame for the discrimination, real or imagined. Hanging-chads, maybe?

It’s axiomatic that black leaders, both locally and nationally, have been and at present are ministers who wield a lot of power and influence, though, hopefully, that may be changing. It ill behooves them to continue the constant drumbeat of oppression, racism, discrimination and the like when even schoolchildren in schools not governed by revisionism are aware of the inordinate effort that’s been made by whites since at least the 1960s to guarantee equal rights to all. Too often, instead of being positive they insist on the “Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright approach,” which is that white people are the worst thing since the Black Plague...and must be informed...okay, reformed, too.

The extreme irony lies in the fact that Barack Obama – okay, as do all presidents-elect – speaks of “healing the nation,” whatever that means. He’s also in “rescue mode,” the saving of the good ship USA, as are all presidents-elect, while the ministers insist divisively that the vast majority of the people who elected him are finally smart but are susceptible to pressures by nations/people, most of whom they notice only cursorily if at all. Sad. Wouldn’t it just be easier to say that the voters – all of them – elected the man they thought could do the job? Well...yes, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Giveaways a la Common Sense

The recent and current government giveaways have been institutionalized so that banks, auto companies, mortgage operations and the like have gotten well at the expense of the ordinary taxpayers who have done nothing to cause the current economic freefall. The financial institutions are supposed to make loans and cause people to start buying, thus causing manufacturers to put workers back on the job making what’s bought, and the cycle is supposed to gain speed and bring success regarding the pursuit of happiness. The manufacturers’ take is designed to simply create cash flow to pay workers until things get better or another giveaway is needed, whichever comes first.

There’s a problem with all of this, namely, that the business people, financial and otherwise, are looking out for themselves...sort of with the attitude of “let them eat cake” with respect to the hoi polloi. Under the auspices of the giveaways, it takes something like $250,000 to create a new job, taking Obama’s figure of three million new jobs combined with his cash outlay as the benchmark, according to the economists.

The problem long in the making has been due to unrealistic/neglectful legislative actions that wrecked the housing market but has been most intensely enhanced since 2007, when the democrats took over Congress. Warnings by President Bush go as far back as 2004 with regard to the most egregious elements – Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae – but were not addressed by congressional heads long buried in the sands of self-interest and/or sheer incompetence.

The damage is done but the correction, i.e., borrowing in order to bring prosperity, is as silly for the government as it is for a household. Giving money to the institutions, translated the fat cats who own enough avarice and know-how to sacrifice the body politic on the altar of greed, is folly. The notion that tens of thousands of people should go to work for the federal government (pick-and-shovel stuff, presumably) is inane with respect to infrastructure, since machines that call for only a handful of people to do what required thousands of people in the 1930s (Great Depression) form the picture today.

If there must be giveaways, make them work, although the giveaways of last year did not induce much spending. The needed deal is to make the incentive to purchase intense enough to cause...well, purchasing. Suppose, instead of giving money to Chrysler, the government offered to pay a third of the difference if an individual would trade in his car for a new one. The stipulation for the dealer would be that he not gouge but use the list price. This would keep his cash flow going, thus his employees on the job, and Chrysler making cars.

The same deal could apply to any appliance, with or without trade-in. It could even be considered for house purchases. In this way, the money would be used to actually induce spending, thus increasing manufacturing and bringing back the jobs. Actually, Obama’s $750 billion, if divided per capita among all the country’s 300 million people, would mean $2500 for each person. Think what that would mean on a per-family basis. There would be spending then.

Or, instead of giving money to banks or other financial institutions that obviously have no interest in solving the problem, why not have the government make loans at one percent with reasonable time periods for repayment. That kind of competition would get the attention of the usury cutthroats and the banks would start lending again at appropriate rates rather than just go out of business, which many of them have done already? A couple months of this, and the government program could be stopped. After all, the government is not in the financial business and shouldn’t be in any kind of commercial undertaking.

The point? Simply that getting the windfalls into the hands of the people, thus giving them incentive enough to spend them is far better than giving money to entities having as their main interest the making of as many big bucks as possible, the devil take the hindmost and the public be damned. The Congress got the country into this mess with the stupid philosophy that people must buy things they can’t afford. It’s made up of millionaires and/or people making hefty wages and is blinded to the fact that the money belongs to the people in the first place and so should be given back to them in the second place.

Is all this too simple? Probably, but it sure makes more sense than spreading money around almost willy- nilly (nobody even knows where the last $350 billion giveaway is) to places where corruption and greed will cause it to literally be thrown away. If the Congress and the president can (gasp) structure the proper regulations to keep everyone honest in the plan mentioned here, happiness might even be caught instead of constantly pursued.

Don’t bet on it, however. An idea of honesty in government can be seen in Obama’s selection of his treasury secretary, a man who consciously and greedily did not pay his income taxes to the tune of some $34,000 a few years ago...but all of a sudden caught his “mistake” when he received the nomination, and paid up. He should be on his way to the cooler; instead, he’s on his way to an office that demands the one thing he doesn’t have – HONESTY!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Stench in Frankfort, Lexington

Kentucky Governor Beshear came into office spouting the usual “clean up the mess in Frankfort” stuff that is the common mantra for all incoming governors. This time, he would correct the shortcomings of the Fletcher administration. Whether he claimed it to be his goal or not, Fletcher was to clean up the mess left by Governor Patton, who disgraced both himself and the office, not only with his state-trooper transportation to various rendezvous sites for his dalliances with a woman not his wife but also his pardons for four men whose testimony in court might have put him in the Big House.

Fletcher was perhaps more a creature of the system, though naivete is a poor argument, and saw fit to pardon a number of folks who were caught up in shenanigans having to do with patronage, though political payback was largely the root of his trouble, him being a republican and all. Beshear is up to his ears with corruption so obvious that he would be better served to not even mention it. His chief-of-staff was in business with one of the highest profile lobbyists in Frankfort but the guv didn’t actually see anything wrong with that. This is the “see no evil, speak no evil” nonsense that permeates the capital.

A friend of Beshear’s chief-of-staff needed a job so the guv gave him one for which the appointee had no experience at a cool $80 thou a year. The political appointee indicated that he was strapped for cash, so the guv just upped the salary to a cooler $100 thou a year for someone with no experience in the job. After all, the state treasury paid the freight, not the guv, and somebody else most likely would do the work. Actually, that seems to be the case since the appointee VOILA! had a deputy with knowledge of the job at a paltry $63,756 per year, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. This means that the $100,000 was a gift courtesy of the taxpayers. It also means he was never necessary, and that Beshear should repay state government for every day his political appointee was “on the job.”

One other problem: Beshear didn’t have the authority to set the salary either time. He pleaded ignorance of that bothersome detail, of course, surely knowing full well that every citizen would see the whole matter as just another instance of the expected graft found in every administration. He pleaded ignorance in the face of a 25% salary increase overnight at a time when state workers are looking at unpaid days off or something like that? The appointee has resigned, after having fed at the state trough for years in one job or another, but the stench in the governor’s office remains.

The top guys running Bluegrass Airport were woefully underpaid so they used their company credit cards to make up the difference between what they earned and what they thought they should get. The top guy made a paltry $200,000 a year, while his four lieutenants made between $135 thou and $140 thou. They also got free gas and a car to go along with it. That simply wasn’t enough so they turned out to be two-bit crooks. Most have resigned and the rest should. That beats getting fired, maybe, but can they draw unemployment? They were responsible to the Airport Board, which might as well not have existed, and the local government. One wonders how deep the corruption reaches. How much does it take to get the right official to look the other way?

These are just recent examples of a cancer that bedevils every administration and threatens to eat the state alive. There’s little belief here that the appointee resigned on his own...nah, the guv, probably through his squeaky-clean chief-of-staff, gave him the word. The same is true of the inordinately overpaid airport gang...they could either resign or be fired. The tragedy is that their little game had probably been going on for a lot longer than just the recent short timeframe noted by the newspaper, which should be thanked by everyone for blowing the whistle on these tinhorn crooks, including the governor. If the paper hadn’t blown the whistle, that appointee would be set for at least three more years or so, doing nothing and letting the taxpayers keep him up...probably even getting another raise of 25%. Disgusting!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Irony of Disloyalty - Burris, Kerry

Watching the Roland Burris press conference on the twelfth was the best entertainment in town. He of the self-inculcated monument-to-himself-in-the-cemetery went to some length (okay, a wild ‘gushing session’) in thanking Senate Majority Leader Reid and his second-in-command, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, for the opportunity to serve in the Senate. The onlooker in this corner laughed out loud during this bit of fraud while remembering that only last week, these two worthies had flatly stated that Burris would be a Senate no-show, and Reid, besides not allowing him even a look in the Senate chamber on swearing-in day, actually forced him to have his press conference out in the rain.

Prez-elect Obama had already decreed that Burris would not get the job – in fact that nobody appointed by Illinois Governor Blagojevich would – and obviously presumed that his word would be golden in the matter. The delicious element in this affair was that Reid, Durbin and Obama are all lawyers and as such would be expected to understand both the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois statutes, which combined to make the appointment by Blagojevich virtually written in granite, like Burris’s monument-in-the-cemetery.

Instead, they figured to do an end-run around the law (not a surprise in the world of politics) and get the person they wanted. Obviously, they did not want Burris, and that’s not surprising, especially in the case of Durbin and Obama, because Illinois politics is what it is – corrupt, like the politics in most states, meaning that the movers and shakers “use” the political machinery for their own personal desires. This is especially true in the day of the career-politician, something the founding fathers never meant to be a possibility.

The one person Burris not only did not thank but didn’t even mention was the person who made his monument-addition possible – Governor Blagojevich. Indeed, more than once, Burris went out of his way to mention the scandals surrounding the governor. This is the sort of thing that average citizens have come to expect from political opportunists...and it stinks. Disloyalty always stinks. Just as Reid, Durbin and Obama had thrown Burris under the bus, he proceeded to throw his benefactor, the man who made his good fortune possible, to that oily space. Yeah...Burris stinks, just like the other three.

On the thirteenth, the “Hillary Hearing” took place before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by none other than Senator John Kerry. There’s no argument with this appointment. Senator Clinton is bright and will do as well as most anybody in that job, especially since the crucial decisions are always made by the president. The State Secretary does the legwork, such as it is, but the prez calls the shots, as he should. She will travel the world and instigate documents of approval, disapproval, and/or outrage concerning what other countries do, but she will not make policy.

The irony in this affair had to do with Senator Kerry, who actually pointed out that he appeared before the same committee (not the same members, obviously) in 1971. This is from the Boston Globe of March 25, 2004, “In a question-and-answer session before a Senate committee in 1971, John F. Kerry, who was a leading antiwar activist at the time, asserted that 200,000 Vietnamese per year were being ‘murdered by the United States of America’ and said he had gone to Paris and ‘talked with both delegations at the peace talks’ and met with communist representatives.” At the time, Kerry was a Naval Reserve officer committing an act of treason (defined as “the betrayal of a trust: TREACHERY”) with the enemy while Senator McCain and others were caged like dogs and tortured in the Hanoi Hilton.

This means that by the time he made that statement (his exact words, “So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America …”), Kerry’s comrades/nation had murdered [his word] 1.6 million Vietnamese 1964-71 (or almost 4 percent of the population for 1970), mostly civilians – women, children, and old men. He’s never offered a scintilla of proof for that wacky accusation. Regarding morality, he betrayed his country in 1970 in France and lied to Congress in 1971.

It’s a travesty on all this nations stands for that Kerry can chair this committee. It would seem that the last thing he would want brought to the nation’s attention was his perfidy in this matter. For him to do so was either an “in-your-face” to the nation/military or an example of stupidity. Disloyalty always stinks, even when perpetrated by senators or senator-appointees such as Kerry and Burris.

So goes the government (or governmental comedy/tragedy) these days. The perpetrator of this corner is in the process of watching via DVD the docudrama John Adams and is reading Jon Meacham's American Gospel. One wonders what that founding father would have thought of today’s inheritors of the responsibility of seeing to the nation’s well-being.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Political Turpitude

The quality of leadership in this nation, within the memory of this observer, is at its lowest point ever and that goes back a lot of decades. To the rest of the world's leaders, this must seem like the very best time to take exponential advantage of the U.S., since never have the elements of corruption and incompetence combined so forcefully to render the country susceptible to anything from gross trade imbalances (already a huge problem) to outright military/violent actions, for whatever reason.

Item: Since the democrats took over Congress (both houses) in 2007, the unemployment rate has soared from 4.6% to 7.2%, an increase of an astounding 57%, and millions of people have lost their homes largely because the Congress has totally ignored its oversight responsibilities. The incoming president speaks of spending $775 billion to rescue the nation, when any decent economist knows that this is folly, and the appropriate congressional committees have no clue as to the whereabouts of the $350 billion or so that has already been given away in the last few months, mostly to banks or mortgage outfits to help people who couldn't afford them in the first place save their home-investments.

The "Burris Affair" provides the latest example of political turpitude so disgusting that one feels unclean just reading about it. Senate Majority Leader Reid phones Illinois Governor Blagojevich to tell him who's acceptable for Obama's vacated position. Reid's been around long enough to know that his meddling puts him in "quid pro quo country" when he does that. This is the corrupt method used in governance in the appointment process and Blagojevich has a prize he figures is worth a lot and has already been considering – or will consider – a half-million-dollar offer from Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s people.

Federal prosecutor Fitzgerald, claiming to know that Blagojevich is a crook, is determined to stop him from making the appointment and blows the whistle, giving the guv's crookedness as his reason, in a press conference, besides arresting the governor, though charges have yet to be filed, not to mention an indictment accomplished. Question: Who gave Fitzpatrick either the power or the knowledge to know when a governor may or may not fulfill his duties under both the U.S Constitution and Illinois law with respect to filling a vacancy? The law is quite clear and says nothing about the fitness of a governor to obey it. Blagojevich obviously had a warm forehead, which is all that's required. Brains would be nice, but not necessary in politics.

Enter Illinois Attorney General Madigan, who has some hope of getting Obama's Senate seat, to apply to the Court to stop Blagojevich from making an appointment account his being a crook and therefore unfit, using Fitzgerald's actions as proof. She apparently knows that the governor will not appoint her, but that some governor might, especially since Reid approves of her. Enter the Illinois legislature in special session to consider changing the law so the governor can't appoint, but, fearing a republican might take the seat in a special election or in 2010 on the basis of such democrat skullduggery, decides not to change the law. Back to Square One, and the governor appoints Roland Burris, whose sterling credentials are already ensconced by himself in granite in the local cemetery.

Blown off by Blagojevich, Reid has already said that the congressional democrats will not seat anyone appointed by him, notwithstanding what the republicans might think (as they laugh themselves silly watching all of this). Enter Illinois State Secretary Jesse White to refuse to certify the appointment, thus nullifying it, whereupon Reid grabs this as his reason for not seating Burris when the new Congress convenes, thus making White the scapegoat. Out surfing in Hawaii, president-elect Obama has already made it clear publicly that anyone appointed by the governor must not be seated, since the guv is one bad dude and should not go around appointing people Obama doesn't want.

Re-enter the Illinois legislature, this time to impeach the governor, and in record time at that, not that this action affects the "Burris Affair," since it only leads to a trial in the Illinois Senate. Enter Burris to apply to the Court to force White to sign the certification only to have the Court rule that his signature was never necessary in the first place, thus leaving Reid and his deputy, Illinois Senator "Gitmo Dick" Durbin, with their chins on the floor, and egg on the rest of their dual face. So, unless these worthies can prove Burris has robbed a bank or something – and with little time to do it – old Roland can chisel U.S. Senator on his monument, perhaps with a caption such as "May a two-ton canary fly up your nose!"

In the economic mix are the two suspects chairing the main financial (especially oversight) committees in Congress, Representative Barney Frank, whose playmate once ran a pimp operation out of "their" apartment, and Senator Dodd, already besmirched by the largesse (ah...that VIP-discounted loan) gained from the now failed and disgraced Countrywide mortgage operation. It seems that neither is capable of more than the blather and bluster they've mounted up to this point. Lost balls in the tall weeds...and the nation suffers! And Dodd actually ran for the presidency last year! Egad!

The nation is enduring a low comedy possibly leading to tragedy in Washington. Its leaders fiddle while the flames leap. The incoming president has already set up office and started to run the country well ahead of when he actually can, making cabinet appointments, constantly making meaningless speeches, demanding that his legislation (whatever it is) be enacted upon arrival in Congress, and looking for a replacement for a cabinet appointee already lost account criminal investigations of his stewardship. the mighty have fallen! Sad!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Politics as Venality

It's the best entertainment anywhere in the country these days – the saga played out on even the mainline TV networks and coastal newspapers (otherwise known as the Democrat Party propaganda machine) of "Senators Reid and Durbin vs. Roland Burris of Illinois." It's an on-again-off-again affair fit to outdo anything any soap opera or dime-novel has to offer.

Caught on the horns of their own dilemma, Reid and Durbin – or at least Reid – have decided to throw the Illinois state secretary, Jesse White, under the bus, blaming him for the fact that Burris, who has already built a monument to himself ( a cemetery), can't be seated in the august Senate because White has usurped the power of the Illinois governor by nay-saying both Burris and Governor Blagojevich through not signing the proper document required by both the U.S. Constitution and Illinois law. Of course, White should be thrown under the bus – if not in the big house – for attempting to give his office the privilege of vetoing any appointment any governor might make and thus breaking the law he has sworn to uphold.

It gets better. This is from Reuters of 30 December 2008: "KAILUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said on Tuesday he agreed that Senate Democrats 'cannot accept' any move by Illinois' scandal-tarred governor to name a replacement for Obama's Senate seat." So...he who would hold the highest office in the land and has sworn to uphold the Constitution as a senator and will so swear again as president has decided that there are exceptions to the law, namely him and the U.S. Senate. Of course, the messiah didn't mention the republicans in the Senate, thus throwing them under the bus even before the inauguration balls that promise to consume at least two months of revelry. Nor did he, as an officer of the court and former law professor, insist that the laws of the land be upheld.

The sweetest irony in this circus applies to Senator Durbin, who has attempted to deep-six both Burris and White. Why? Senator Durbin is the guy who compared American GIs to the keepers of Stalin's gulags, the nazi SS troops of Adolph Hitler, and the sword-swingers of Pol Pot (2 million dead in Cambodia). Now, Durbin has done just what he accused those people or their regimes of doing – taking the law into his own hands but actually making a laughingstock of himself in the process.

This is from Progress Illinois of 07 January: "Sen. Dick Durbin said at the press conference that he expects the court to weigh in on the matter this week. This afternoon, however, White and [Illinois] Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a counter motion calling on the high court to reject Burris' appeal (to the Illinois Supreme Court). They argue that White fulfilled his obligations under Illinois law by registering the appointment and is not required -- by the state or the U.S. Senate -- to sign the certificate."

So...White and Madigan, who had also tried to void the appointment earlier by claiming that Blagojevich was unfit to act as governor (thus making appointments) and was rebuffed by the court, are trying to throw Durbin under the bus. Go ahead and laugh! If the Burris suit goes through, Madigan will have to represent the state in turning down the appointment she has already asserted was valid through White's registering of the appointment. Hilarious!

The saga gets better. It turns out that Reid, certainly not realizing that Fed Prosecutor Fitzgerald was taping Blagojevich's phone calls, called the governor just over a month ago to inform him that three black men would not be welcome in the Senate as appointees, two of them in Congress already and the other the president of the Illinois Senate. Instead, Reid suggested two white women, one of them the current Illinois attorney general (Madigan – imagine that!) and the other recently defeated in a Congressional race (Tammy Duckworth). White women over a black guy! What was Reid thinking?

This is from Chicago's WLS-TV of 07 January: "Reid also says even if White signs the certificate, Reid would be [sic] possibly be willing to seat Burris, but he doesn't think that will happen without a full vote of every member of the United States Senate." What kind of nonsense is that? Does this mean that a certified (okay, registered – who knows) appointee against whom no one has filed a complaint or bill of particulars, at least yet, is still at the mercy of the Senate? Egad!

This saga is demonstrative of the dirty side of politics and gives one pause as to whether or not people this venal or starkly incompetent can actually govern. The notion that the crystal-clear requirements of the law can be ignored by the lawmakers at their whim/chicanery bespeaks the route to some sort of anarchy. The nation deserves better, and, without question, when the dust settles every bad actor in this monumental mess should have to answer to some sort of ethical inquiry or perhaps even to a criminal proceeding. Heading that list should be Obama, Reid, Durbin and White. They make Blagojevich look like a saint.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, January 05, 2009

Transition as Soap Opera

Though not altogether unusual as new administrations prepare to take office, the soap opera accompanying the entry of the Obama outfit is inordinately delicious to republicans and a thorny mess to the democrats, who have hailed Obama as the messiah, come to save the nation. This is reminiscent of the Carter attack on Washington back in 1977, bringing in the Georgia ringers to straighten out the governmental mess. By the time Carter left office, the nation was in about the same throes of discomfiture as obtains now, except that he had to face nothing like 9/11, though he had the help of a Congress far more overwhelmingly democrat than is the case currently to help him, as now, sink the country. In the mix, he had allowed some 52 American civilians to be held prisoner in a foreign nation for 14 months.

The "Burris affair" has provided the most delicious comedy. Roland Burris, former Illinois comptroller and attorney general, provides some of the best stuff himself, found by anyone trucking on over to the cemetery in Chicago to observe the fortress-like burial monument/mausoleum he has erected to himself, on which is set in concrete the information making him the greatest thing since peanut butter...with enough room left to chisel-in SENATOR. There's even concrete protection-space for his wife and two children, Roland II and – get this for humility – Rolanda, his daughter.

Not at all timid about public office, Burris also ran for the Senate once, Chicago mayor once, and governor three times – all unsuccessfully. As fellow Chicagoan Father Pfleger of Hillary fame might put it if in Jeremiah (God damn America) Wright's church, "He's entitled." But fellow African American Jesse White, Illinois state secretary, has refused to certify his appointment to the Senate by Governor Blagojevich, not that it matters, though Senate Majority Leader Reid seems to believe that it does. According to both the U.S. Constitution and Illinois law, White has no standing in the matter and Reid is blowing smoke.

The soap gets better. It turns out that Reid, certainly not realizing that Fed Prosecutor Fitzgerald was taping Blagojevich's phone calls, called the governor about a month ago to inform him that three black men would not be welcome in the Senate as appointees, two of them in Congress already and the other the president of the Illinois Senate. Instead, Reid suggested two white women, one of them the current attorney general and the other recently defeated in a Congressional race. The consensus of the politicos: the men might be defeated in 2010, while the women would waltz into reelection, ergo, Reid's "suggestions." Conclusion of a cynic: RACISM, stupid! Egad!

More soap! All of a sudden, Governor Bill Richardson, recently tapped to be Commerce Secretary, has – on his own, according to the Obama people – decided that...well...since he'd be a drag on the confirmation proceedings, seeing as how he is under investigation for the "selling" of a contract(s) for (gasp) campaign contributions of significant proportions, he would just demur and deliver a break to the transition. On his own??? Good grief! Do these people believe everyone out in the boonies is an idiot? One of the PACs receiving a "payoff" was set up to pay expenses for Richardson and his staff vis-a-vis the democrat convention, according to Karl Rove on Fox on 05 January.

As everyone knows, an incoming prexy must appoint an incoming CIA director to run the most comprehensive intelligence agency in the country (all those spies, donchaknow), whether or not the current director is up to the job and has the experience. So...the new prez has tapped former congressman and Clinton apparatchik (chief of staff) Leon Panetta, whose intel experience adds up to...zilch...nada. This is "tragic" soap opera.

Current director, Michael Hayden, by contrast, was in the intel pipeline in the USAF as early as 1980 and was deputy director of National Intelligence (umbrella intel agency enacted after 9/11) before taking the CIA post in 2006. Perhaps this is the prelude to the – at least indirect – dismantling of the Patriot Act, something that will make incoming vice prexy Biden happy. Appointing a novice as director is to trivialize perhaps the most important agency in the country. One wonders what will happen to the absolutely vital military, something with which neither Biden nor Obama has any experience and probably not much affection, a la Clinton, who, by his own admission, "loathed" the military. Evisceration, anyone?

The soap opera goes too far when the bureaucrats leap before they look. The recent $700 billion, or whatever it was, giveaway to "save" various institutions and thus save the nation and everyone's mortgage, was a done deal with virtually no hearings to vet it. So far, billions have been spent but the situation worsens and home mortgage-holders continue to lose out. Now, the congressional democrats and the messiah – also with no room for meaningful investigation – are preparing a similar giveaway, claiming the creation of three million jobs, 20% (or 600,000) in government. There are about 2.7 million federal civilian job-holders, so this is a whopping increase of 22% added to the national civilian payroll. One's eyes glaze over when contemplating the graft connected to this kind of hasty and probably unnecessary, at least for the most part, gift to the fat cats, the "smart" people who know how to work the system.

This is just the beginning of the quadrennial soap opera. Soon, the bought-and-paid-for plums such as ambassadorships and government business will be in process as the fat cats get what they purchased (pay to play)...and the beat goes on. Most of these awards will bring guffaws, but isn't that what it's all about – a huge joke on the public?

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Loony-tunes Politics

Sometimes it's hard to decide whether or not public figures – especially the elected ones – have enough sense to get in out of the rain or enough skill to open an umbrella. One thing is certain, to wit, that many if not most of them release the clutch on their collective tongues before they get their brains in gear. The Senate democrats made it clear a while back that they would see to it that anyone appointed to the "Obama seat" by Illinois Governor Blagojevich would not be seated, as if they had the power to bring that off. They don't. This is a case of "running off at the mouth" before running the brain through the thought process.

This is from the Chicago Tribune of 30 December: "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) said in a statement this afternoon the Senate will not seat anyone Gov. Rod Blagojevich chooses to fill Illinois' vacant Senate post, amid word that the governor is set to name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. The statement also is signed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has repeatedly urged Blagojevich not to name a replacement for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The statement specifically names Burris, but applies to any choice the governor might make."

In the first place, Reid and his gang, already expressing an opinion days ago, judged any appointee before the appointee's identity was known. That's called bigotry, bias, whatever...even potential racism. Mostly, though, that was just plain dumb. Reid is best-known for his whining obstructionism and Durbin for his infamous comparing of U.S. GIs to the keepers of Russia's Gulags, Hitler's nazi SS troops, and Pol Pot's operators of the Cambodian "Kmer Rouge killing fields." Reid and Durbin are candidates for enrolling in a school teaching that silence is golden or simply for a procedure in having their tongues excised, whichever guarantees more credibility.

The U.S. Constitution is quite plain in Amendment 17, leaving it up to the governor of a state to inculcate an election to fill a vacated U.S. Senate seat or, if so provided by the state legislature, to simply appoint a replacement. In Illinois, the legislature has enacted a statute requiring the governor to make an appointment, thus avoiding a costly statewide election, complete with the usual corrupt campaigning. The Illinois legislature met after the Blagojevich indictment to see if it wanted to change the law and require an election. It didn't, so the governor was required by the extant law to make an appointment, which he has done. That's all perfectly legal.

So...the hue and cry becomes a matter of expelling (and thus not seating, as if that made any sense) the appointee, Roland Burris, a longtime political apparatchik, serving as both the Illinois comptroller and attorney general and, of course, a significant contributor to Blagojevich campaign chests. Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member." Obviously, Burris would have to be seated before he could be expelled, so that argument is shot out of the water, even if the two thirds could be accomplished, and the republicans would likely see to it that that didn't happen. This is just too much fun...meaning discomfiture for the democrats.

Okay...Burris is seated and right away the effort is made to expel him because a governor nobody likes appointed him. Okay...go ahead and laugh your head off. The deliberations would never involve the governor because he hasn't been seated. His name wouldn't even be allowed to be mentioned, at the insistence of the republicans. Burris is as clean as Illinois politicians can be (judgment left up to reader), so there would be no grounds to unseat him. Voila! Case closed. Burris is the new senator unless Reid can uncover a wrongdoing serious enough to disqualify him, but that might mean someone's insistence that a hard look be taken at every democrat senator. That would be a gigantic taboo.

As if all this is not enough, Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush of Black Panther fame mounted the podium at the Burris announcement and turned the whole shooting match into a race matter. Can any senator, as he put it, afford to block the appointment of a black to Obama's seat, automatically calling for another black in this era of political correctness as paramount? Of course not! Reid and his gang have been backed into a corner by Blagojevich/Burris, from which they cannot extricate themselves...and all because they should have kept their mouths shut.

Chase it all back to U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald of "Plame fame." He blew the whistle on Blagojevich, figuring that the governor would be forced out of office at best or impeached at worst or not make an appointment anyway at worse worst. That wasn't his job. His job is to bring charges, get indictments, and prosecute, not act as the keeper of the state conscience, assuming such a thing in Illinois government, or, in any state government. He and the other self-righteous paragons of virtue in the Congress have overstepped this time, but that's no surprise...just bring out the umbrellas.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark