29 April, 2009

The Obligatory “100 Days” Under Obama Post

First, I’ll give my honest opinion, and it’s quite different from what you’re likely to see on CNN. Obama’s first 100 days have been a disaster. I’ll go even farther. You’d have to either really not be paying attention, or a complete Obama partisan to think otherwise.

Let’s go to the tape:

  • He campaigned on bringing change to Washington, avoiding “politics as usual”, but…
    • His stimulus bill was passed with no real bipartisan support.
    • He campaigned on transparency in government. He has none.
    • His Cabinet appointments have been laughable. Apparently, all you have to do to get a Cabinet appointment from Obama is to not pay your taxes
    • He continues to attack the previous administration, for no apparent reason other than to distract us from the failures of his own.
    • Earmarks were supposed to be a thing of the past. So much for that.
    • Ditto on allowing lobbyists positions inside his administration.
  • Foreign Policy?
    • Well, know about “the bow” and “the handshake” and “the iPod” , “the DVD’s”, and “the reset button”. Really, none of these are big deals. But they do paint an overall picture of amateurishness on the part of the Obama administration and State department. Do these people know nothing of protocol? How stupid are they?
    • What’s worse is that his overseas trip was a complete failure. He pleaded for help in Afghanistan. He got none. The North Koreans were so impressed by him that they launched a missile as he was calling for nuclear disarmament. He claimed U.S. responsibility for the global economic downturn, which is odd since it started earlier elsewhere and has been deeper felt elsewhere as well.
    • He hasn’t yet screwed things up in Iraq, so I guess that’s a plus.
    • We haven’t yet had another 9/11, so that’s a plus too.
  • Economic policy?
    • The Dow was at roughly 8,000 when he took office, and still is, although it dropped to the 6,500 level in mid March. On the whole, not as bad as it could be.
    • The state of economy is still worsening.
    • He’s nationalizing the banks. Which, by the way, is a bad idea.
    • He’s nationalizing GM.
    • Before the nationalizations, the administration decided it had a) the knowledge, b) the power to fire CEOs of businesses.
    • Housing prices are in freefall.
  • Fiscal Policy?
    • He recently asked his Cabinet to find $100 million in cuts over the next 90 days. Let’s put this in perspective. If your family is making $100,000 a year, and you did the equivalent, you’d budget to spend $150,000 this year, and then you’d cut out roughly $5 in spending. Yeah, that’s a big help.
    • From the “a picture paints a trillion words department”:
    • He wants to reinstitute Pay As You Go (to avoid pictures like the one above).  Now, let’s be honest here.  He just got a huge spending increase passed….so, do you really think he’s changed his mind and wants to cut all that back? Or is he going to raise taxes?
  • General foolishness:

The successes here are very small and few and far between. Good news, though. There’s only 1287 days until the 2012 general election.

More here.

Why All the Sudden Interest In Interrogations and Torture?

First, President Barack Obama (D-USA) stated that there would be no prosecutions of CIA officials for using “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Of course, the then changed his mind. Then the administration released the Office of Legal Counsel’s (from the Bush administration) memos on the interrogations. Except they released versions turned out to be edited, and missing the information saying that valuable information was received during these interrogations. Finally, the administration will now release more pictures of apparent prisoner abuse.

So, a couple of missteps here. First, the flip-flop, then the disingenuous release of the memos.

Of course, if there are investigations, one reasonable question is how far will they spread? We know Congressional Democrats were briefed on the methods and the results. So, Obama can’t use this as an indictment against the previous administration without tarring his own party, can he?

Yes, he can. And that’s exactly what he intends (or more likely, the DNC intends to do).

The Democrats have been running against George W. Bush (R-USA) since 1999. Around the beginning of 2005, they finally figured out how to do it correctly, and won elections in 2006 and 2008. They’re going to keep running against him until they start losing elections again. The point of this whole mess is to keep bringing up real or imagined failures or mistakes by the Bush administration. This will not be the last event like this we see. In fact, I expect to see many many more.

But won’t the splatter hit people like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)? Yes, but it won’t be a big deal. First, the Democrats will make sure that there are no actual criminal proceedings, just endless investigations. A criminal proceeding would hurt Pelosi, but not an investigation. She’s the representative of a carefully gerrymandered Democratic district in California. Unless it’s proven that she attached electrodes to the testicles of prisoners herself, she’s safe as long as it stays out of criminal prosecutions. She might lose a few votes for an election cycle or two, but she’s not going to lose her seat. But the news will be national and will further impugn the reputation of George W. Bush, and by association, the Republican party. So, it won’t hurt Pelosi, but might hurt a Republican in a more purple or even blue district. That’s the plan by the DNC, and the Obama administration is just doing all it can to help.

Expect more of the same from President Hope and Change over the next 2 years at least, probably the next 4.

More on Arlen Specter

I heard both John Zogby and Scott Rasmussen claim yesterday that Arlen Specter (D-PA) will now easily win re-election in 2010. These are people who are paid to analyze these things, and have been doing it for years. They know a lot more than me. So, you should listen to them.

However, in my opinion, they’re wrong. Of course, I thought that Barack Obama (D-USA) could not win his party nomination or the presidency. Shows what I know.

I’ll be blunt. For Specter to win in 2010, he has to move to the left. Hard left. And fast. For those of you keeping score, that would be a disaster for the GOP (and for America, in my opinion, but that’s another topic). Anyone who is claiming that this is good for the GOP is fooling themselves.

Let's be honest with ourselves. He made this switch out of concern for his own political future. He wants to be re-elected in 2010. Period. There's no other reason behind it. He can claim that the Republicans went to the right during his tenure, but that’s nonsense and he knows it.

Ok, let’s look at history. In 2004, his Democrat opponent got 43% of the vote. These 43% aren't likely to be very enthusiastic about Specter. Let's say the teacher's union was against him in '04 (I don't know if they were). They're unlikely to change their position in '10. Without a movement to the left, his support from the left is going to be tepid at best.

Also, he needs to generate money, and fast. Toomey's bringing in lots of cash. Specter's already in a hole because he's going to actually have to give back some of what he's taken in. And who's going to donate to him? Campaign contributors tend to be among your most partisan constituents. Is he going to get much money from his former contributors? Unlikely. How about from the left? Again, unlikely, unless he moves to the left.

Yes, the DSCC will pump some money into this campaign, probably quite a bit of it. They would have in any case, to defeat Toomey. But, so will the NRSC, so that's unlikely to help much.

Prediction? Toomey outspends Specter by a hefty margin and this election is much closer than our so called experts are predicting at the moment.

If re-elected, Specter probably moves back towards the center, but until next November, he’s going to move left and stay there.

28 April, 2009

Specter Makes It Official – He’s a Democrat

Read his statement here.

Let’s parse some of it, briefly:

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right.

Hmm. Certainly this statement is not true of his fellow Senators, and he knows it. Is it true of the Republican citizenry? Hard to tell, but I’d say “no”. I’m calling B.S. on this one, and Arlen Specter (D-PA) knows it.

Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats.

Ah ha! This is the most important sentence in his entire statement. This is a political move, pure and simple. Specter doesn’t care about party affiliation. He cares about being re-elected in 2010.

And he knows he wasn’t going to win the Republican primary against Toomey. Recent polls have had him 20 points down.

Or, as he puts it:

Since then, I have traveled the state, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable.

On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my 29-year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

So he had to do this. He couldn't run as an independent. Beyond the legal primary issues involved, the politics were against him. This isn't like Connecticut and Lieberman where Lieberman won because of Republican votes. Republicans voted for him over their own candidate because their own candidate was so awful. Specter would have been trounced as an independent from both the left and the right.

Short term, this is a PR disaster for the Republican party. No doubt. Particularly on the 99th day of the Obama administration. I'm sure this will be hyped as part of the 100 day celebration.

Long term, hard to tell, but it may be better for the Republicans. Depends on whether Specter stays somewhat in the middle or really does move to the left between now and November 2010. Also, depends on how deep the short term effects are, and how lasting.

Until today, it appeared a near certainty that a) Toomey would defeat Specter in a Republican primary, and b) some Democrat would defeat Toomey in the general.

Toomey will now likely coast to an easy win in the Republican primary, and have a nice little war chest available for the general, which he would not have had otherwise. He'll also have a motivated base behind him.

And, instead of facing "a real Democrat", he's going to be facing Specter. Unless Specter moves to the left, it's hard to see how liberals are going to be all that excited about voting for him. The Democrat in 2004 picked up 43% of the vote. Hard to believe those 43% are suddenly going to become Specter supporters. Without a high turnout, it would seem unlikely for him to be able to hold his seat.