Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
First, a reminder:
Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
March 26, 2009
After two months of presidential performance following some two years of “yes we can” promises on the presidential campaign trail, even some liberal left voices are questioning whether President Barack Obama knows where he is going or knows where he should be going.
Among the myriad examples:
Frank Rich of The New York Times, as liberal a columnist as enthusiastically supported Obama’s candidacy, wrote last week: “A charming visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90% tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury) won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, the presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed.”
The lead editorial in Sunday’s liberal Washington Post, another enthusiastic supporter of Obama the candidate, noted that the Congressional Budget Office has projected federal budget deficits far larger than Obama has estimated would result from his 10-year, $3.6 trillion plan to redistribute the wealth and restructure American society.
The Post editorial said it was “scary” that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Federal deficit would not fall below 4.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) and would be stuck at 5.7% of GDP in 2019.
“This is in stark contrast to the president’s projection that his plan would get the deficit down to about 3% or so of GDP by that time.”
The Post editorial concluded that the president has offered no plan as to how he would deliver on his promise to overhaul Medicare and Social Security “and no road map even for achieving a plan…Several members of his own party in the Senate have been expressing doubts about his strategy, and the CBO report will lend credibility to their concerns. He should heed them.”
Warren Buffett, the widely respected “Oracle of Omaha,” was the target of a New York Times column this week written by Jean Strouse, director of the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of The New York Public Library.
Strouse acknowledged Buffett’s public pronouncements to date as being helpful but raised a question as to whether Buffett should be speaking out more loudly.
Strouse acknowledges that Buffett has already stepped up in public on at least three occasions, including last week when he said that to fight the economic war the country has to unite behind President Obama, the government has to deliver “very, very” clear messages and we all have to focus on three jobs:
“Job 1: Win the economic war. Job 2: Win the economic war. Job 3: Win the economic war.”
Sound advice, but there is simply no evidence—in fact, there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary—that President Barack Obama has any plans to focus full attention on “the economic war” rather than spreading his attention across a variety of expensive, controversial issues, as suggested in a recent New York Times headline:
“Obama, Breaking ‘From A Troubled Past,’ Seeks A Budget To Reshape U.S. Priorities.”
A Wall Street Journal columnist noted that Obama’s $3.6 trillion 10-year budget blueprint for redistributing wealth and restructuring American society along the lines which liberals have long advocated would “more than double the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents—from George Washington to George W. Bush—combined.
“It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing non-defense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history.
“And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs.”
And this comment from another Wall Street Journal columnist: “All else—windmills, green technology, remaking health care—is secondary. The economy is a domestic issue now, and for the next three years at least.”
Those words come from conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, but the message seems to me to be much the same as the critical comments coming from voices on the liberal left.
Noonan’s comments, incidentally but significantly, included this observation: “Mr. Obama likes to say presidents can do more than one thing at a time, but in fact modern presidents are lucky to do one thing at a time, never mind two. Great forces are arrayed against them.”
* * *
A major unanswered question hanging over Obama’s plans—or lack of specific plans—to redistribute the wealth as he restructures American society: Where is the $3.6 trillion is coming from?
Obama has said repeatedly that he will increase taxes on persons in the top 5% of annual income bracket while reducing taxes for those with taxable income under $250,000.
More than a few knowledgeable critics have said that it can’t be done. There simply isn’t enough money in the upper 5% income bracket.
I find it somewhat amusing that Obama’s upper-5 percent targets are being variously described as affluent (wealthy, upper income or rich is often the choice of newspaper headline writers).
When the cutoff ceiling for tax reduction is set at incomes below $250,000, I have a problem with the implied suggestion that Americans with taxable income above $250,000 a year assumed to be “wealthy” or “rich.”
* * *
Discourteous? Lack of gratitude? An insult, whether unintentional or not?
Whatever, the largely liberal Washington-based news reporters and commentators had reason to be unhappy with President Obama when he snubbed their invitation to be the featured guest at the Washington news media’s annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner.
Obama thus became the first president since Grover Cleveland more than a century ago to decline to attend the Gridiron Dinner in the first year following his first taking office.
Perhaps Obama wanted to distance himself from association with white tie dinners and the like. Perhaps he felt the image of a “people’s president” could better be projected by being the first president to appear on the Jay Leno show. (And what a classic foot-in-the-mouth example that turned out to be. In this case, of course, the foot was figuratively in a bowling shoe.)
Whatever, the president needed a better explanation than the fact that, after two months in office, he preferred a sort of “mini-family vacation” at Camp David that weekend.
The dinner traditionally closes with remarks by the president following speeches by spokesmen for the Republican and Democratic Parties.
In his remarks as the Republican speaker, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made note of Obama’s absence and the fact that many of the Washington news media assembled for the annual Gridiron Dinner had helped elect him to office. Once you’ve helped elect him, Schwarzenegger told the assembled news media representatives, “it’s ‘hasta la vista.’”
After a number of laughter-provoking one-liners (most of the Gridiron speakers have some professional help with their remarks), Schwarzenegger turned serious. He said he came to America from his native Austria because he knew American to be a land of freedom and opportunity—a land on which “the hopes of the world still depend.” He added that he respects Obama and wishes him success.
Speaking for the Democratic Party, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who was born in Canada, observed that, like Schwarzenegger, she was not born in the United States (and thus is ineligible to serve as president). After a series of humorous zingers, Gov. Granholm also turned serious and observed that while you can’t choose where you are born, you can choose where you live.
She said that both she and Schwarzenegger chose America because of the freedoms to be found here and “that certainly includes freedom of the press.” She thanked the media for telling the story of Americans who are suffering as a result of the economic crisis.
The place of honor as the last speaker, Vice President Joe Biden, joked that President Obama was at Camp David preparing for Easter, adding: “He thinks it’s about him.”
He is concerned about the disappearance of some daily newspapers. The Bidens have a new puppy and “you can’t housebreak a puppy on the internet.”
He can remember when NBC and DNC (the Democratic National Committee) were separate entities.
* * *
Marian and my two-day visit to Washington gave me a chance to read, in great detail, of the “it could happen only in Washington” controversy over whether to give the District of Columbia one vote in the House of Representatives.
Over the years, I have sometimes questioned the judgment of members of the Congress, but I have always assumed that they could at least read and understand the English language. And paragraph I, Section 2, Article 1 of the United States Constitution says:
“The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states.”
It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to understand that the District of Columbia is not a state and thus does not meet constitutional requirements for voting-rights representation in the Congress.
In fact, you could question whether the District of Columbia is constitutionally entitled to even its present non-voting-rights member of the House. Where is this authorized in the constitution? But if there is a constitutional right for such representation, why is the District of Columbia not also entitled to some non-voting representation in the United States Senate?
The Washington Post last Saturday had a major, detailed story of the voting-rights proposal and a “gun lobby” effort to complicate it by insisting on language forbidding the District of Columbia to enact new limits on gun control.
Making the present push for voting-right representation in the House even more bizarre is a political deal—in no way authorized in the Constitution—to make the proposal acceptable to Republicans by giving Utah, generally a safe Republican state, an additional voting seat in the House.
* * *
Flying home from Washington, I was surprised—and amused—by the flight attendants’ pre-takeoff spiel which included word that federal regulations require that passengers be informed that the plane’s “flight deck” is at the front of the plane and passengers must not approach it.
This was the first time that I have been officially informed that the flight deck—where the pilot and co-pilot operate—is at the front of the airplane.
I have never flown on any commercial airplane—or any private plane, for that matter—where the flight deck was located at the back of the plane.
# # #