Monthly Archives: July 2011

Obama’s Speech: What He Did Say – July 25, 2011

I’ll be a son of a bitch!  President Obama reads TarHeel Red!

In spelling out what Barack Obama SHOULD say I neatly laid out Obama’s speech for him and he delivered what I think was a very strong message; a very good speech.

Obama DID talk about the battle in Washington.  He did bring into play the question that each side would have to give and compromise.  And he did it while sounding Presidential.

Kudos Mr. President, well done.

Further, I predicted that Mr. Obama would bring up the fact that much of the problems we’re faced with today are the result of Dubya and his policies.  I mentioned that he wouldn’t blame Bush directly, but rather use the code phrase “of the last decade”.  Imagine my excitement as I was proven right within the first 90 seconds.  However, much to his credit, he only ever touched on Bush 2 more time, so I fell short of my “at least 4 times” prediction.  Obama took a shot at Bush giving him credit along the lines of Reagan, Clinton and himself; Obama.  Further, there was a shot when Obama listed the troubles that brought us to this position included tax cuts to the wealthy, 2 wars and a Medicare Part D program.

In describing the talks, Obama made the point that it was himself that compromised and agreed to a path forward that was not popular within his party.  And he did call out Republicans for failing to give ground.  So, while he didn’t credit Democrats [that honor was reserved for him] he also didn’t accuse the Republicans of “leaving him at the altar” as I suggested.

Further, I did say that Obama would mention the strategy Republicans have taken in pushing this debate out only 6 months.  And he did.  But I also said that Obama deride this as politics and blast the “two tiered approach”.  And he didn’t.  Rather, he made well-reasoned arguments against such a strategy; arguments that I tend to agree with.

Finally, I had thought Obama would take advantage of the fact that Democrats were willing to stipulate that there would be no tax increases in the plan.  That in exchange for an extension past the election, they were willing to give on those increases.  I was wrong; Obama made it clear he expects the wealthy to “pay their fair share”.

In fact, I thought the constant “we-they” warfare was a touch over the top.  He again brought oil companies, hedge fund managers and jet owners into the conversation.  He mentioned that those who have benefited the most in the past decade [a nifty wink at Dubya that even I didn’t score against him] shouldn’t be exempt from bearing part of the burden.

However underscored the class warfare argument was, it was overshadowed by some pretty strong points made by the President.  I thought his best moment was when he descried the voters who elected both himself and the House Republicans into office.  His comment that:

They’re offended by that.

Was especially on target and scored several points.  Further, Obama was strong when he mentioned that as recently as 2000 we had budget surpluses, that we need to act in a bi-partisan manner and that both parties need to shape up.  People are, after all, bone tired and are fed up with this three-ring circus.

On one hand, I’m excited that our President delivered a strong speech more leader like than I expected.  I’m humbled some that I was so wrong, but that is tempered by the fact that it’s now clear Obama not only reads my little rantings, but takes them to heart!


Obama’s Speech: What He Should Say – July 25, 2011

Tonight President Obama is going to deliver a prime time speech to America tonight at 09:00 PM EDT.

I expect the President to compare and contrast the dueling debt limit bills in front of lawmakers.  On one hand is the Speaker’s plan and on the other is the Senate Majority Leader’s plan.  Obama has already come out in favor of the plan being offerred by Harry Reid; so the suspense of tonight’s address is largely gone.  What remains will be the rhetoric.

The President should stand in front of America and tell us that the leaders we have elected are working around the clock to craft a plan that cares for the future of America while at the same time keeps us in the good graces of our current debt obligations.  All American’s recognize that you can not make promises that you have no intention of keeping.  We borrowed money and entered into agreement with people from all over.  IN some cases this is foreign nations.  In others it’s with our own citizens in the form of our social programs.

We have debts and obligations.  And we mean to honor those obligations.

That being said, the future path of our economy is not an easily planned and established.  Rather, it’s gonna take a lot of work, a lot of courage and a lot of midnight oil.  There are ideological differences to be overcome.  And in today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere.  While it’s unfortunate, it’s reality.  And to ignore that reality is dangerous.  Rather we should let these people work through their challenges and come to a solution that everyone can be satisfied with; or at least one that everyone can admit some compromise on their part.

That is what he SHOULD say.  But he won’t.

President Obama will mention, at LEAST 4 times, that we are suffering through a crisis of some kind that was brought about by the policies of the last decade.  [I suspect polling has determined that people are tired of blaming Dubya, so he’s shifted to policies of the last decade.  Four times, I’m tellin’ ya.  Take it to the bank!] He’ll claim that we need leadership and not politics as usual.  Mr. Obama will make claims that he and the Democrats have been willing to compromise on this deal in order that America can make progress and that it’s the Republicans who have come to the table, worked out a deal only to demand further concessions or change the rules.

The President will claim that the Republican contingent has been held hostage to the extreme right element of the party, he may even mention the Tea Party by name.  But if he doesn’t, it’ll be clear that it is that group he is referring to.  He will remind America that it has been the Democrats that have agreed to set aside partisan politics to reach a deal based on compromise; even agreeing to virtually every Republican demand.  Only to be left at the alter at least twice.

Obama will mention that the Democrat’s plan contains spending cuts that result in a stronger economic position.  And he’ll mention that the Democrats have agreed that no tax cuts will be implemented; all this at the request of the Republicans.

He won’t mention the fact that the deal pushes the debate out past the next election, but he WILL mention that the Republicans insist on playing politics with the debt by insisting on a “two tier approach”.

I hope I’m wrong.  I bet I’m not.

Back To The 1950’s

It was back in the 50’s that the family was last defined as “traditional”.  The husband went to work.  The wife stayed at home.  The children behaved.

We haven’t seen that kinda life for 50 years now.  The 60’s changed everything and we haven’t looked back since.  And ya know what?  It’s most certainly a good thing.  My wife is better, faster and stronger than I am.  Can you imagine the unfulfilled potential that would have been wasted if her only concern was how to better starch my shirts?  She drives innovation for a massive company supporting other massive companies.  In short, she lets corporations do thing cheaper and more efficiently than they otherwise would have; and she does it better than anyone I know.

So yeah, life is better now.

So why are we trying to go back?

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The Debt Limit, Budget, Deficit and Debt: Framing the Picture

The talk of the town is the debt limit.  Raise it or not raise it; and what it would take TO raise it.

Reasonable people can agree on a couple of things:

  1. We are in debt and it’s getting worse.
  2. To balance the budget, there needs to be a combination of an increase in revenue and a decrease in spending.

I honestly feel that if you were to ask this question, hidden in such a way as to bypass the normal political partisanship, every single American would agree.  If the checking account is overdrawn, a second job becomes something to consider and a review of the household spending becomes a priority.

But, how do we agree on such a combination when the discussion changes from the household budget to the federal budget?  How can we get folks who demand that we raises taxes together with folks who demand we don’t?  How do we get people who refuse to cut spending to shake hands with those who feel we HAVE to cut spending?

I propose that we do it by doing neither.


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Government Shutdown of 1995-1996

I wasn’t paying attention back in 1995-1996.  I was managing a jazz club at the time and national politics couldn’t have been further from my mind.

If I could go back in time I might have been able to tell you that the government shut down, but maybe not.  It certainly didn’t impact my life one iota.

Come to think of it, that simple fact, that I wasn’t impacted in the least, speaks volumes to the import of most of what the Federal Government has become.

I digress.

As it turns out there are some similar themes between then and now:

The United States federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 was the result of a conflict between Democratic President Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress

A majority of Congress members and the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, had promised to slow the rate of government spending; however, this conflicted with the president’s objectives for education, the environment, Medicare, and public health.

Congress had passed a continuing resolution for funding and a bill for debt limit extension, each of which was vetoed by Clinton,who denounced them as “backdoor efforts” to make cuts.

And then this:

The government shutdown took place in two phases. The first lasted five days in November 1995, until the White House agreed to congressional demands to balance the budget within seven years. But talks on implementing that agreement failed, and the second shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6. 1996. (Then a blizzard struck Washington and local federal workers could not get back to work for days after that.)

The sticking point was the GOP demand that Clinton agree to their version of a balanced budget. In months of negotiations, Clinton had actually given a far amount of ground, infuriating Democrats on the left. He agreed to a balanced budget over seven years, to tax cuts, to changes in mandatory spending programs such as Medicare. But the two sides were remained far apart on the pace of spending cuts — and even further apart on the policies behind those cuts.

Two things seem clear:

  1. It was Clinton who shut the government down the first time until finally agreeing to Republican demands.
  2. History is too kind to President Clinton.  He most certainly did not balance the budget.  That honor falls to the Republican held House of Representatives.

We’re seeing the same thing here.

We have a Democrat spender who wants to not only ignore cutting spending but wants to INCREASE spending.  Add to that his incessant “Class Warfare” and you have the perfect villain.  The set up is pretty close.

Then, as now, it’s the conservative movement that is driving the government to a balanced budget.  It’s conservatives who are holding the line on spending and insisting on cuts.  It’s the democrats who are refusing to give in.

The difference?  Boehner.  He was there in ’95.  He saw the mistakes Newt made:

  1. Seeming to relish the idea of a shutdown
  2. Allowing himself to be caricatured as a crybaby

The result is that you have a Republican caucus that knows it’s values are supported by America.  They know how the Democrats are going to act and they know that a government shutdown will force those Democrats back to the table.  And America will support the will of the conservatives.

They did in 1995 and 1996.

They did in Minnesota.

They will again in 2011.

The lesson is this:  When the Democrats come back and agree to your deal; TAKE IT!


Boehner and Obama Debt Limit Negotiations

The Hill is reporting that Boehner has ended negotiations with the White House over raising the debt limit ceiling:

House Republican leaders have called off negotiations with the White House over a broad deficit-reduction deal tied to an increase in the federal debt limit and will begin exclusive talks with Senate leaders to avert a government default on Aug. 2, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday.

Boehner told House Republicans in a letter that President Obama is “adamant” about raising taxes and would not agree to “fundamental changes” to entitlement programs.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Obama’s time in the Oval office to date is nothing but speeches that say one thing followed by policy that does another.  To have thought that Obama was serious when he claimed he was willing to cut spending, reform medicare and social security is wishful thinking at best

There isn’t a bone in Barack’s body that’s willing to reduce government spending.  The whole of his life has been spent enlarging government for the benefit of the “less fortunate”.  I’m convinced Obama can’t envision a world where government shrinks.  And reforming the entitlement programs?  HA!  If he speaks about reforming ’em, he isn’t talking about it in the way that you and I would reform ’em.  In his mind those reforms take the shape of ADDING to the revenue side to reduce the deficit of the programs.  Again, there is simply no way this man will shrink that aspect of government either.

There is no way that Obama means “spending cut” in any way that resembles reality as it relates to the common everyday American.

So, the fact that Boehner walked on him is the most positive thing that’s happened in a week.  Or weeks, for that matter.

With only 1 week before the government shuts down, it looks like we’re facing exactly that; a shutdown.  And judging by the reaction in Minnesota, namely — who cares? — and the fact that the Democrat gave in and accepted the Republican’s deal, I say let ‘er go.

America is fed up with the spending and it’s time we address it.

Two For One

I posted on an earlier story about media bias.  However the main point of the story was missed in the bias stuff; the fact that the US government lost $1.3 billion.

THAT is a lot of money.



Never to be seen again.

But the government bailing out the auto industry was a good idea, right?

Two ‘Fer

Media bias.

I don’t like getting caught up in what is and what isn’t “bias”.  For one, I don’t like the partisan sniping.  And two, I think that journalists think they are being honest.  So whatch’a gonna do?

So, I don’t usually put much merit in the idea that Fox is biased right [no shit] or that MSNBC is biased Left [ again, no shit ].  But what I DO find interesting is where news is buried.

Check this out:

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Good Intentions: Where They Lead


Boy, talk about a word that conjurers up a ton of emotions.

On the one hand, we have stories of “Irish Need Not Apply”.  On the other, heroic remembrances of a time gone by when determined folks would walk off a ship with barely a nickel to their name.  And die rich.

And now…well, now we have newscasts of drug runners, cartels and coyotes.  Fences and tunnels, arms deals and drug wars.

Ugly stuff this.  To be sure.

But when the drama and the histrionics have past and we have boiled away all that isn’t really truly important, what are we left with?  To me, in it’s simplest form, we are left with one single human being wanting to make a better life for himself.  His family.

We are left with that most American story of boots and straps and pull.  We cheer for the individualist.  We build a culture that applauds that individual.  And rewards him with adoration and, perhaps, wealth.

To me, that’s the American Dream.

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A Win Win

Geese are dirty animals.  And they breed like rabbits.  And where they intersect with humans, they are a nuisance.

And they are protected by the Federal Government [which means, by the way, that a goose has more federal protection than an unborn child.  But I digress.]  And because they are protected by the Federal Government, you can’t just shoot ’em like you can shoot a raccoon or a skunk or a rabbit.

So, only by complaining to said Federal Government can action be taken:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday euthanized 20 of the approximately 100 animals in the Woodlake subdivision in southwest Durham after residents complained their neighborhood had become overpopulated.

The Canada geese were a nuisance, residents say, leaving feces in yards, walking trails, lakes and other public areas, including the neighborhood pool.

Now, to be sure, we are not talking about threatening the population of the geese:

The USDA says that as of 2006, there were 97,000 Canada geese in the state.

The population has increased exponentially over the past 40 years. In 1970, there were approximately 250,000 resident Canada geese in the U.S. By 2010, that number jumped to 3.5 million.

We’re just talking about too many geese.  Perhaps to the point that the population is a threat to itself.

Anyway, I promised a win win.

How about instead of protecting the geese to the point of over population, we do what other people who are hungry do–and hunt the geese for food?