Monday, May 24, 2010
I have to say, at this very moment, I think their administration is failing. The evidence is, sadly, all around us. And it is failing at an alarming rate.
1) Our economy is at a very uncertain crossroads. We have thrown a fiscal hail mary pass. Not only did we pass emergency measures like TARP, but we passed irresponsible measures, like the healthcare reform bill. We can't afford it. We are running $1.5 trillion deficits. We are accumulating crisis levels of debt. And we have a short maturity profile.
If our country's CFO Timothy Geithner knew better, he might be alarmed. Our unemployment levels are mired at high 9s%. Our markets have turned south with Europe's fiscal and currency difficulties. At this moment we have corrected about 10% from the recovery highs, and are down 3.7% year to date.
The rising bond market and the equity markets are signalling a recessionary double dip. M3 monetary statistics are down 5+% in the latest twelve months, signalling deflation. This is urgent stuff.
2) On the domestic front, we have recently been subject to a series of failed, but nonetheless troubling terrorist atatcks. While the attacks themselves were incompetently executed, our intelligence capabilities failed us. If we suffer a significant domestic terror attack, the economic and social consequences will be awful.
3) Louisiana again is ground zero for an environmental disaster, this time of the man made variety. And while my quick study says BP is at fault, our Federal Government has failed to accomplish anything to stop the damage. Every day this disaster goes by, the Administration must assume more responsibility for its spread. Certainly if the prior Administration was held to account for its slow response to a natural disaster, this one should be held to account for its response to a man made one.
4) Oh my goodness, on the foreign policy front, can someone please point me to a success? Not a speech. A success. The Middle East? Nothing. Europe? Russia? North Korea? Iran? Our policy of "engagement," "reset", a "global apology tour" - what have these achieved? If anything, the anxiety level with respect to each of our confrontational adversaries has increased. We have given back some of the Surge's progress in Iraq in our rush to exit. And our mission in Afghanistan is not clear and not yet yielding tangible results.
We should avoid poker games because we have become the mark. We have alienated allies and tried to embrace adversaries, thus far with no concrete (not even wet concrete) achievements.
Of course, what little evidence we have at the polls would suggest voters are uncomfortable with the current Administration's governance, but we will know better in November of course. Heretofore, I had hoped that electoral considerations serve to moderate Obama, Reid and Pelosi. I no longer have this sense of "pragmatic optimism."
I love the summer, but I may never have as much appreciation for November as this particular one.
PS - Previously I left this untitled - I decided to add a title simply because it looked odd. Sorry:)
You shouldn't fail to mention #5, a topic frequently discussed here by you and TH both, the growth of the regulatory state. Examples are legion: the EPA regulating carbon emissions, the Health bill requiring 1099's on what amounts to every single commercial transaction in the United States, the expansion of FDA authority, the FCC trying to regulate political speech on the internet...it goes on and on.
Every new day brings some shocking new intrusion of the federal government into the everyday lives of citizens.
These things really just cannot be tolerated any longer. I've never been much of a Republican, thinking they're often just as bad as the Democrats, but I regret that now. The Democrats are just plain evil and I too cannot wait for November. I'm giving money and I'm giving time to my local candidate, trying to defeat the Democrat Congressman. I've never done that before.
As far as McCain/Palin goes, while we have to live with what is rather than what might have been but it's hard to believe McCain could have come anywhere near the mark Obama/Pelosi are setting-- those two are in a totally different universe.
Cardinalpark, you are spot on.
For a long time, I thought McCain might not do any better on the economy. Never was a strong suit of his. But now, looking at the catastrophe brought by the Obama/Reid/Pelosi fool's errand, I have come to a different point of view.
McCain would have shown far more respect for our nation and our people. There would be no apologies. There would be no encouragement of two bit asshole tyrants. There would be no confusion in Afghanistan. There would be people in charge of our laws and our security who had no illusions about whether Islamic extremists were a danger. There would not have been a government take over of health care.
Now, the spreading realization is that the US has lost its way, has lost it will to stand up for itself, has lost its appreciation for its unique role as a champion of individual liberty and opportunity. It has serious economic consequences. Markets, IMHO, do not like a dour future outlook.
McCain being McCain, there would have for sure been times when he would need a strong wack up side the head. I just can't conceive, however, that the collateral damage would have been like what we see today. I think we picked the wrong guy. What a loser we elected.
I suppose we should note that the political class has put us on notice, repeatedly, that they're calling this sort of speech "close to sedition".
How about that?
In thinking about the difference between a McCain versus a NObama presidency,I am reminded of the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. NOBama's fixes harm more than they help. McCain might not have fixed much, but he wouldn't have royally F#$#%#ed it up the way NObama has.
Some brief seditious comments:
Re: #1 - The economic bail out packages were little more than political rewards. The assumption of industry and healthcare was ideologic and planned for years. Hopefully, the timing was wrong (at least as evidenced by the Tea party Movement).
Re: # 2 - The surge in domestic terrorism rapidly followed the administration's public disavowal of rigorous anti-terrorist policy. What did they think was going to happen? Again, this is reversible.
Re: #3 - I take issue with the concept that Katrina was a natural disaster. Let us not forget that the hurricane did not hit New Orleans. The disaster was the failure of the levee system. That was a decades-in-the-making political boondoggle brought to the urban dwellers by their own Democrat handlers. Other states that sustained massive direct hurricane damage have basically been forgotten. The recent devastating flood in Nashville hardly made the news. Why? Because the citizens were not "pitiful" and pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. That's not the stuff of mainstream news.
Re: #4 - On the foreign front, Obama merely joins the wave of incompetent politicians seeking the "New World Order"...basically a herd of sheep administering a massive welfare system. The system is currently imploding before it had much of a chance to become irreversible. At least I hope so. Otherwise, it's 1939 again.
Re: McCain - I held my nose and voted for him. He's an honorable but politically flawed man....as opposed to Obama, who is basically dishonorable. I think that matters.
So, I don't begrudge you "rooting" for Obama. But, wasn't the handwriting on the wall before he even got started???
Is there ANYTHING about this that is surprising??
YOU (and I) see it as failure but I don't think that many liberals would agree; i.e. everything is going according to plan...full steam ahead. They have achieved great victories in the expansion of the federal government and it's involvement and control of our lives. From their perspective this will lead to a more socially just and hence respectable United States. On the foreign policy front things are also going according to plan; they truly believe that Iran, as a sovereign state, has just as much right to nuclear weapons as anyone else. Sure they may like the idea of cutting back our arsenal but by golly if Israel has nukes then the arabs and persians should too. The only foreign policy disagreement with liberals might be that they are truly upset he hasn't done enough...Guantanamo is still open and drone attacks have increased.
Obama must be quite pleased.
I've worried for some time that "2008 - 2018" would parallel the 1970s: no growth ... malaise ... even fear ... many millions of good Americans put through wrenching economic pain.
Now -- because of what looms foreign, I fear a parallel more akin to the 1930s. We're walking across a minefield.
This is serious shit ... "what would McCain-Palin have done" is beside the point, but I'll play along because we've already been led down this trail.
McCain would never have done "Stimulus." If we were going to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to spend ... to jump-start things ... McCain would never have done it so as to protect -- nay increase ! -- the position of the fat-assed government sector at the expense of the people who actually pay the bills. Targeted quick business tax cuts in 2009 would have been better. Even air dropping $100 bills would have been better than what we did. What Obama did was worse than doing nothing. It was a big "fuck you" to the true private sector. We got the message.
With McCain, we wouldn't have the overhang of Healthcare and Energy -- and ... if we keep on current course ... the long-tern need to liquidate the kulaks to pay for it all.
The big unspoken is that a lot of young people coming up -- except for those from connected families who go to the right schools -- will be left with no prospects.
Which is why ... on current Obama course ... we'll continue on a death spiral ... as we kill the true private sector.
With McCain, we'd have a President who actually cared that we had double digit unemployment. McCain has the class arrogance of hereditary Navy officer family -- but Navy officers do care about the guys before the mast. Today, Obama may be the most self-absorbed selfish creature on the planet -- as even Kim-Il Jong has to answer calls from Beijing and Moscow.
Were McCain President I'd bet unemployment would be around 8.0% right now -- not 9.9% and "managed." How do I know this -- just use Larry Summers old projections -- which didn't account for the freeze on the private sector.
MSM would give "President McCain" no credit for any of the above. Instead "Double Digit Unemployment" would be a steady drum beat in the current news cycle.
I heard Larry Summers on radio in background today, and saw some Geithner press releases today. They're lying careerist sacks of shit of a phenomenal order. Someday they'll be hunted down with dogs, if the good guys win. I'm not kidding. They're absolutely the worst fucking scumbags on the planet, because they should know better.
I'm amazed that the Olbermann-Maddow crowd aren't outraged. Gitmo is still open for business. We're not out of Iraq. We've actually expanded Afghanistan. Obama has the CIA on orders to shoot to kill American citizens abroad.
Were McCain doing this, Olbermann-Maddow and most of MSM would be in a froth.
Obama is being "tough" on these points purely for domestic political cover. The rest of the World sees through this, We get no credit. They know Obama is uncaring, and the US weak.
Europe is going its own way, and could fragment. If so, that'd be a Holy Shit Moment.
Israel is isolated and provoked.
China's economy could stall.
But Obama parties on.
Hmmmpf...why give Obama such credit?
He's a populist hack. His job is to read teleprompters, not allow questions and sign the legislation.
Do you honestly think he's the "brains" behind all this?
I suspect Mr. Soros is holding the puppet strings.
I agree with ck. The admin is succeeding at its socialist agenda.
Obama is not likely the "brains" behind the movement, but he certainly is the enabler.
Do not be mistaken -- this is deliberate. November is looming EVER MORE IMPORTANT EACH DAY!
Many posts on many blogs have wondered how Mr Obama can do such things, how he can be so stupid/incompetent/etc (the present post by Cardinalpark is in this vein, albeit he does not wonder at his stupidity/incompetence/etc).
I wonder though: take as underlying assumptions that Mr Obama is a very smart man, he knows exactly what he is doing, and he's doing them anyway. Observe, for instance, his open disdain, if not outright contempt, for all things American.
I suggest that the post-American President is so anxious to get to a world where The United States has no importance and no impact, that he spends _all_ of his time America-bashing and no time at all actually defending America.
He's deliberately doing nothing about threats from without or from within. Northern Korea's misbehavior? "I'll shake my finger very firmly at you!" Iran? "I'll shake my finger very firmly at you!" Terrorism? What's that? Through his cabinet, he has actively proselitized the equation of a bridge collapse in Minnesota with the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center--they're both just manmade disasters. His view of his erstwhile bosses, the American people? Through his spokesmen, any who disagree with him are racists, slavers, right-wing ideologues, unAmerican, unpatriotic, swastika-carriers, and on. The economy? The attack is in full swing: profligate spending that will bankrupt us, the assault on individual freedoms in individual's commerce, the assault on the free market economy itself, the nationalization of so many sectors of the economy, and so on.
Can the United States survive two more years of this assault from within?
The McCain question is a good one. I think it would have been a vastly different presidency abroad and at home.
I won't spend much time on the foreign policy piece. That's incredibly obvious.
On the domestic front, my greatest concern about McCain was economic incompetence. this was really buttressed by the stupidities he uttered, albeit briefly, during the Goldman hearings.
How he would have fared on that front would have been veyr much a function of his appoitnemtn decisions. I dont have a compelling answer there.
I do know he would have "Stood athart" the Pelosi Reid cabal and said "No." Our deficits would certainly be lower. I'm not sure he would have been terribly wise on taxes though. He's an economic populist and I suspect he would have been dumping on banks and Wall Street and raising taxes too.
Actually I'm a long-run optimist, and bullish on America. The country has come through worse.
The electorate is waking up. My over/under is still Republicans +55 in the House, come November. As House Speaker, Boehner will be an effective anti-Obama. It's a start.
Our problems are mostly fiscal and demographic and political. These can be addressed, although it won't be easy. We'll have the example of Europe before us, which will be a sobering wake-up call. Bad as things are, we're in a better position than almost any other country in the World.
I don't expect a repeat of 20th century big wars. I do worry about regional conflicts breaking out. The US going isolationist isn't helpful.
Israel-Iran worries me in the near-term. My paranoid side sees Putin playing Goldfinger here -- the value of his personal energy holdings goes up ... and he has even more leverage over the Germans -- if Israel and Iran go at it.
Obama should be out by 2012. If he goes full retard in his last two years -- as I expect he will -- he'll hand the Republicans total control in 2012.
Obama is still an enigma to me. Is he The Manchurian Candidate? I actually think he's Bubble Boy.
Although I held my nose and voted for McVain I believe that the only marked difference would have been better foreign policy and perhaps more qualified candidates for Supreme Court justices. On the domestic side I believe that at best he would have accepted slightly watered-down versions of most of the major Dem policy initiatives (because being a MAVERICK! means sticking one's thumb in the eye of one's allies to win temporary acclaim from the press) and take all of the blame along with the rest of the Republicans for their inevitable failure. Sometimes worse really is better...
Anon attorney here.
1. In fairness, TARP was a Bush administration initiative passed with bipartisan support by Congress. TARP can't be pinned on Obama. Republicans have more than their share of blame for this mess. Republicans are supposed to be the fiscal adults in our two-party system. They failed.
2. The issues in our financial system are now beyond partisan politics. We are in a textbook, classic depression caused by the bursting of a credit bubble. This is a deflationary environment.
3. Our policy choices are now essentially limited to either allowing deflation to occur, which will cause a wave of insolvency to sweep across the economy, or to try to reflate the bubble by devaluing the dollar.
4. We have chosen to devalue. Hence, we're now stuck in a Keynesian nightmare of perpetual government deficit spending. Look for another trillion dollar spending package immediately after the election.
5. We can finance this Keynesian spending orgy only by going to the short end of the curve and maintaining our zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). With $13 trillion in debt and annual deficits of $1.5 trillion we are stuck with ZIRP until we lose control of the short end, at which point government finances collapse. This is the doomsday scenario--silver, gold, guns, ammo, food will be all that matters.
6. Even if Republicans retake control of the federal government, I do not believe they will have the testicular fortitude to change course. Changing course means allowing the widespread failure of banks, pension funds, insurance companies, and 401(k)s. This is politically unacceptable.
7. I am sticking with my thesis that Republicans will not gain as many seats as the current buzz predicts. If we're lucky we'll take the House, but my gut tells me that Democrats keep both houses.
8. Under the guise of "retirement security" the Democrats will steal your 401(k) in 2011. It will be "invested" in treasuries.
9. Obama will be the best investment Soros ever made.
10. The people who say this time is different are correct.We've never blown a government credit bubble like this.
Anon Atty -
there is much in your post with which to agree.
one place where we can disagree is the quantum of fiscal stimulus. TARP was a Paulson construct, was used to support the financial system and has in may respects been withdrawn. however, the current admin and congress chose to pass a massive healthcare spending and restructuring orgy. That is profliancy of the first order against our fiscal situation.
As to ZIRP and the short end, Geithner should work hard and soon to extend maturities. Otherwise we could wind up with a Greek problem of our own.
I think your observation about soros is a good one. During Obama's tenure, he has done exceptionally well. In fact, Soros historically has made his fortune almost exclusively in currencies and fixed income because of unique information access from treasury secretaries and central bankers with whom he talks directly. With the current alignments in Europe and the US, he is in as well placed a position as ever to both influence policy, get information feedback and trade on it. and since he's generally not trading securities, it's not illegal.
What's been saving our ass is that rates are low, because we've seen inflows to the dollar, because of flight to relative safety. I don't see this changing in the near-term.
This gives the US some room to maneuver. How we use it is another thing.
Obama is going to look quite small very soon. In the Rasmussen poll he's now at 44% "strongly disapprove." Look for this to be over 50% in a month. MSM is starting to turn on him. It'll be petty stuff to start -- the Deepwater oil leak, Air Force One frolics.
24% "strongly support" Obama. That won't go down much, but by November that's all he'll have.
As of today, Republicans win Rasmussen's generic congressional ballot by 44% to 36%. That's a big spread, actually. 63% want to repeal Healthcare.
The Congressional Democrats had a chance to break from Obama over Healthcare. They didn't. They drank the Kool-Aid. Dead Men Walking, many of them.
It's a simple meme: Obama wanted to make us more European. We'll be in open revolt over this by the summer.
Bubble Boy Obama won't take this well. Pelosi is hated by most Americans. Reid's an idiot. Who do the Democrats turn to for elder statesman -- Chuck Schumer? Developing ...
Back in late 2008, the US invested in our big banks to improve their capital ratios, and thus to signal that the US would backstop these banks, thus damping down fears that might have led to a self-fulfilling liquidity crisis. Through the FDIC, the US was already on the hook for most of these banks had they failed -- so in concept this was a sensible investment at the time. Back in late 2008, you could have expected that in all but worst-case scenarios, the US would get paid back and even book a profit on most of these investments, which is what happened. Paulson's TARP was thus really nothing more than a few journal entries at 20 banks, later unwound.
Goldman and Morgan Stanley were special cases. By including them, Paulson may have thought he was acting in our collective best interest -- but he was conflicted.
TARP got perverted by Obama when it was extended to GM and Chrysler. These have already proven financial sinkholes -- should we be surprised? Don't be misled by statements that they're now making money. How could they not? They have use of like $100 billion in plant paid for by debt that's now been extinguished.
Don't get me going on Fannie and Freddie.
"One of my key points is going to be that if you create an unsafe community with very high regulations, very high taxes, a political class that is totally unreliable, a union movement that is anti-work and anti-business, don’t be surprised if business leaves."
There are some things about Newt Gingrich that I really love. One of those things is his willingness to walk into the lions den of a lefty website (well, mildly lefty anyway)and engage in a vigorous exchange.
Much of Tom Schaller's interview touches on subjects also discussed in the CP post and the comments, so enjoy.
MTF, thanks for the reference to Newt.
Re Goldman Sachs and "crony capitalism", Newt and I appear fellow travellers:
"Newt: I said at that time that I thought Henry Paulson should not have been Treasury Secretary. I thought it was totally wrong for the former chairman of Goldman Sachs to be funneling billions of dollars from the taxpayers to Goldman Sachs. And I have said over and over, you can’t have capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down because you get socialism both ways."
On this topic, I may be an outlier on this blogsite ... but not so much elsewhere.