The real record on deficits

February 3, 2010

Dick Morris wrote an interesting article on Feb. 2 on what’s really been happening with the deficit situation. President Obama and the Democrats have been distorting the record to make their own profligate spending look moderate. First, they excused the $1.4 trillion deficit we accrued last year by saying that Obama put the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq “on budget” where Bush had put them “off budget”, but the truth was the war budget was a minority proportion of the deficit. The rest of it was $300 billion of the $787 billion “stimulus” bill, and entitlement programs. In Obama’s recent State of the Union speech he said that he inherited a huge deficit that was just a little smaller than the deficit we had last year, and a bad economy. “Bush made me do it,” is his refrain. Such a leader.

Morris lays out the truth about Bush’s deficit from 2008. It was not $1.3 trillion as Obama claims. It was more like $800 billion, which is still huge by pre-Obama standards. Democrats and Republicans used to complain if deficits were $400 billion or more.

The reason Morris makes his claim is that Obama, in blaming Bush, is including the $700 billion the Bush Administration allocated for TARP. Now, TARP, if you’ll remember, was supposed to be used to prop up our major financial institutions, to save them from collapse. It was money on loan to them. They were supposed to pay it back with interest. Most of this money has been paid back by now, with interest. So why is the Obama Administration counting this money as part of the deficit? First of all, as Morris points out, Obama has an easy excuse. According to budget rules, any loans have to be counted as grants–expenditures in the budget. So officially TARP was counted as part of the deficit for 2008. Any repayment would be counted as a credit in a future budget. If we look at this situation realistically though, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to count a loan as an expenditure if the money was going to be paid back, and be credited towards the public debt. If we’re concerned about the debt, it’s net effect would be to count against the debt in the long term, not increase it, or at the very least be deficit neutral. In that case, this interpretation makes more sense than to make it sound equivalent to an expenditure which will never be repaid. Of course, being a lawyer, Obama has to make his case look as good as possible, and officially he has the facts on his side. He’s just hiding the effect of what he is saying.

There’s a silver lining in the accounting of TARP for Obama. Sen. Judd Gregg complained bitterly yesterday that the Obama Administration wants to use the repaid TARP funds as a credit source for small businesses. Gregg pointed out that there was a provision in the TARP legislation, which he put in, which said that the monies that were to be paid back must be used to pay down the public debt. If the government did that, Gregg said, it would reduce the national debt by $300 billion next year. But no. Obama wants to reuse $30 billion of it, and he’s confident that the Democrats will change the law to allow it. In effect, Obama wants to make it so that this money is not counted as a credit in the budget. Not that small businesses wouldn’t repay their loans, but come on. Look where this is going. Once that money is repaid through their new program, they’ll just find some other use for it. Obama wants the government to become a bank. He is covering for this by once again blaming Bush, making him look like a liberal spender, not unlike himself. The reality is that Obama’s deficit was not merely $100 billion more than Bush’s. He nearly doubled Bush’s 2008 deficit in 2009! This is yet another distraction.

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Haiti: A disaster and a distraction

January 17, 2010

If you’ve been watching any news you’ve seen the wall-to-wall coverage of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, and the humanitarian disaster this has caused. I feel sympathetic to their plight. However, Pat_S over at tammybruce.com has pointed to a disaster in the making that is currently being ignored by our news organs: the fact that Iran is continuing its progress towards a nuclear weapon, and that the Obama Administration’s efforts to stop their progress is failing (continuing President Bush’s failure to do the same). This is something we should be concerned about as well. When Iran gains a nuclear weapon (and it looks like it’s a matter of when, not if) it will change the balance of power in the world, not unlike what happened when the Chinese and the Soviets gained the bomb in the 1950s. We’re looking at a new worldwide conflict arising.

I fear that people are under the mistaken impression that the Iranian leadership, the people who actually run Iran’s government, care about our nuclear deterrent capability. From listening to people who know the Middle East, I’m not so sure. They will be in a position to threaten India, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, not to mention Israel. This has severe implications. Prepare for oil prices to go through the roof. But hey, it will help the Obama Admin. promote wind power and solar, so that’s okay, right? It will promote a new national wartime unity in our country not unlike what FDR enjoyed in WW II. Repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, and we can run that movie all over again. Won’t that be great?

Israel is a huge “ground zero” flashpoint in this scenario. Military analysts have long predicted that if Israel is attacked like this, it will be World War III. Like the Nazis in Germany, Iran might be punchy enough and self-destructive enough to start it with reckless abandon. They could become one giant suicide bomber, destroying themselves and taking the peoples of many other nations down with them.

We also seem to be foolish enough to believe that once they have nuclear capability that we will be out of reach of that weaponry. Au contraire! They may not get a fission bomb over here. Their missile technology can’t make the trip, and making suitcase nukes takes sophisticated engineering. It’s not sufficient to have rudimentary nuclear weapons technology to make one. However dirty bombs delivered by terrorists are not out of the question.

9/11/2001, and our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just the first act. More is yet to come, unfortunately.


Obama makes a decision on Afghanistan

December 4, 2009

Well I’m glad this day has come. Obama announced on Wednesday that he’s sending 30,000 soldiers to back up the forces we have in Afghanistan. I learned yesterday on the O’Reilly Factor that in addition we’re sending in 20,000 Marines, making the total deployment 50,000. And from what I heard in Obama’s speech it sounds like he understands the reasons for this decision, which is gratifying. Stanley McChrystal expressed confidence that he has been given the forces he needs to do the job. So I’m happy to hear that. I’ve heard a little about McChrystal’s resume, and he sounds like someone who is capable of handling this situation. He has studied, and is experienced in counter-insurgency strategy. The only caution I’d give to Obama is to avoid the temptation to micromanage the war. Keep your eyes on the big picture, and “don’t sweat the small stuff”. If he can do that then there’s a good chance we can achieve our goals.

I am cautiously optimistic that we will succeed in Afghanistan, if only because we’ve been tying our hands behind our backs on some things. We’ve revealed our methods of interrogation. The rules of engagement have been changed so that if there are civilians in the vicinity of the enemy we will not attack, and we’re not allowed to enter a town until we have notified the town that we are coming (which will also alert the enemy of our movements). This worries me. This is the one aspect that, I hate to say, sounds like Vietnam. In that conflict the UN had to be notified of any troop movements. The communist North Vietnamese had moles in the UN who would relay this information to them, and they’d know just what we were going to do. I heard the story of one officer who decided to break the rules and make a sneak attack. He won the battle, but was dishonorably discharged for failing to make the proper notification before making his move. It’s stuff like that that’s going to lower morale, and possibly make the war unwinnable. You can’t win a war if you’re disabling yourself to the point that you give the enemy crucial advantages.

I wanted to address a couple things in the speech. The first thing that jumped out at me was Obama claimed that there had been numerous requests for additional forces in Afghanistan, which were denied. This was surprising, since I don’t recall even the media ferreting out such requests. I would think with all of the rancor of opposing forces against the Bush Administration that somebody would’ve leaked that back when it happened. I didn’t hear a peep about this. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came out with a statement yesterday saying that he never received such a request during his years in that post (he was replaced in 2006). I believe the Obama Administration corrected the President’s statement yesterday, saying that there was one request made a year ago for additional forces, just at the end of Bush’s term, which had not yet been fulfilled.

Obama came back to the subject of closing Guantanamo Bay. I’ve written previously about my opposition to that idea. He brought up the issue of “torture” as well. I’m not going to go into another harangue about that, because I’ve already talked about why this is a false charge.

Overall I’m satisfied with Obama’s decision, and I support the fact that he’s not going to run away from this fight, at least for now. I am still skeptical about his commitment. He has a lot of opposition within his party. I understand, but I still wonder if he’s willing to stand alone on this, or at least team up with the Republicans to keep it going until the battle is won. I’ve been nothing but critical of Obama in most of my posts, but I give him praise for this. Thank you for hanging in there, Mr. President.


Cheney prods Obama to make a decision on Afghanistan

October 22, 2009

Cheney at Center for Security Policy dinner

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Obama is amateur in chief, but you knew that, didn’t you?

October 22, 2009

After Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden said in 2008 that Obama was not ready to be president, after Obama’s supporters said again and again and again that they could not name a single accomplishment that Obama had made prior to running for president (but they loved his speeches), the truth is beginning to show, and Obama doesn’t like it. Republicans stated a good point as well during the campaign last year: The presidency is not appropriate for on-the-job training.

Sure, every new president has to get up to speed about what the job entails, but most of the presidents we’ve had had some grounding in how to manage their end of the political process, which lowered the slope of the learning curve for them. Obama doesn’t have that. He’s made some mistakes, and he’s continuing to make them, but he doesn’t want to admit it. He wants the public to believe that everything has gone to plan. He’s trying to distract us from the truth by making Fox News the whipping boy. It’s what incompetent bosses do. I know, because I worked under one.

It’s also clear that Obama seeks to “right wrongs”, “to bring justice” to situations he thinks need to be corrected. He sets himself against “foes” that he feels he must defeat, and they come from all corners. He does a poor job of picking his battles in the public’s interest. Before long, if he keeps this up, he will feel beset by enemies, not to mention the American people.

Instead of coming clean, saying he’s made some mistakes and he’ll try to serve us better, he’s picking on an organization that in terms of power is beneath him, Fox News. This speaks to his own internal sense of inadequacy, which must be eating at him. He’s a bully, plain and simple. Obama is clearly worried that he’s losing credibility with the American people, so he’s doing what bullies always do (because they have nothing else): They pick on someone defenseless, who’s an easy mark, to make themselves look more powerful and prestigious to those who will buy the ruse.

Obama began going against Fox in August, at the beginning of the health care debate in the public. Instead of strengthening his position his actions are showing that he’s not up for the job. He’s making political mistakes that past administrations have already made, which he should’ve learned from.

I appreciated O’Reilly’s analysis of the situation. If the Obama Administration believes it’s productive to go to war with Fox News “they are dunderheads,” he says. Well…they’re showing themselves to be just that, unfortunately.

Charles Krauthammer commented on Anita Dunn’s use of Mao Tse Tung in her commencement speech to some high school students in June. His conclusion is the same as mine. Apparently she’s ignorant of who Mao Tse Tung was and what he did, and her subsequent actions vis a vis Fox News have shown her to be an immature fool.

I say these words of criticism in frustration. I’m not saying these things to bring the Obama Administration down. As far as I’m concerned they’re doing that to themselves. I’m just adding an exclamation mark to what they have put out, which speaks for itself.

I would not be the least surprised, based on this obvious attempt to distract, and cover for incompetence, if down the road Obama does something criminal against one of his opponents and attempts to cover it up. Why do I say this? It scares me that Obama is this thin skinned. Think about this. We have another 3 years to go with him, and he’s already paranoid that his incompetence will be revealed for all to see. He has an agenda he wants to carry out and he apparently thinks that Fox News is trying to stop him.

He has already taken actions to intimidate other news organizations, basically suggesting that they continue their adulation of our “dear leader”, as they did during the campaign of 2008, for their own good. Here’s the thing. All of the news networks have a bottom line. If they do as the Obama Administration suggests, they will be committing suicide. Many of them are self-destructing already. Are they really going to deny themselves an audience on purpose, and further sacrifice their credibility? I think this speaks to the Obama Administration’s total lack of understanding of how markets work, and there is a market for credible, reliable information. People will go along with propaganda so long as it doesn’t affect them, but Obama is a fool to believe that people will deny themselves information on things that affect their lives, for his benefit. People in Chicago may be ignorant and co-dependent enough to do that, but America is not Chicago.

I’ll end with Maynard’s take (at tammybruce.com) on the White House’s war on Fox News, because he adds some insights.


Oh. My. God. They really are this crazy — Part 2

September 3, 2009

This is a sequel post to Oh. My God. They really are this crazy.

I just happened to find this from Fox News today, thanks to BreitBart TV:

Say what?? Van Jones signs a petition saying that former president George W. Bush probably knew about the 9/11 attacks and allowed them to happen. For those of you who don’t know, Van Jones is President Obama’s “green jobs” czar. He’s an advisor to the President…and he at the very least entertains conspiracy theories. At worst, he believes them. I think Charles Krauthammer is right. This is a serious matter. This isn’t the first time that a public official in our government has had paranoid delusions. President Nixon believed that the Democratic Party was undermining his administration and therefor the U.S. government (funny how he put those two together, eh?). He used this as justification for the Watergate break-in that he ordered and then tried to cover up, roping the FBI and the CIA into his scheme before it was all over. We should not tolerate this in our government. Granted, Van Jones is not someone with a lot of power, but the President needs people around him who will give him their sound judgment and accurate information. Based on his actions, Jones cannot be counted on to serve the President well in either capacity. He should go, or rather, be replaced.


To the UK, I apologize

March 8, 2009

I feel I must apologize for our president. I’ve been hearing press coverage of PM Brown’s visit to the U.S. and it’s discouraging. I finally heard about the visit through the UK Telegraph, and now I’m embarrassed. Granted, from all accounts the “meat” of the reason for Brown’s visit was accomplished, but diplomacy is communication by various means including the use of words, decorum, and going through rituals of tradition, which indicate the state of our relationship with another nation. One of Barack Obama’s promises was to rebuild foreign relationships which had been “so badly damaged” by the Bush Administration. He’s getting off to a bad start (h/t to ArmyWife).

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”.

A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. “I think it’s right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn’t quite understand the British concerns and didn’t get what that was all about.”

Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade – a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama’s Oval Office desk. Mr Obama’s gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

How is this a way to treat our closest ally? Obama was much more deferential to the nations of the Middle East than this. I don’t recall the U.S. being this ham-handed with any foreign dignitary during the Clinton presidency, or that of George W. Bush.

Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.

I was aghast at the following:

The real views of many in Obama administration (sic) were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.

After all we’ve been through!!…Again, I must apologize. The UK has stuck with us arm in arm, more than many other nations have, in the War on Terror (as we call it here), and this is the kind of regard we have for them. Shameful. Well at least Obama had kind words to say about Canada, which has helped us out in Afghanistan. Of all the nations I can think of who have been our friends, I feel as though the UK has done the most heavy lifting for us. We should express our gratitude at every opportunity.

Why the slights? It’s being explained here that PM Brown is not popular in the UK. His power is declining, and Obama is not interested in weak leaders. I even heard it’s likely the conservatives will take over Parliament soon. This may be true, but I’ve never heard that excuse before with regard to state visits. When PM Blair was at his lowest popularity the White House still held joint press conferences with him, and the president still talked about our “special relationship” with the UK. When PM John Major’s popularity was only so-so, the White House showed him no less deference, as I recall. I think this reveals a certain arrogance on Obama’s part. What’s striking to me is how liberals are apparently blowing off these slights like it’s no big deal.

Actually, this is not the first time Democrats have put domestic concerns over diplomacy. I can remember not too long ago when they wanted to pass a formal resolution in congress condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide. What they apparently weren’t aware of was that Turkey was helping us out in critical ways with the operation of the war in Iraq. Maybe they didn’t care. Once the Iraq war turned into a “fiasco” Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. As a result the Democrats were tone deaf on this issue. This is a sore point with Turkey, and at the time it was unwise to anger them.

Over the past few years Democrats have trumpeted how incompetent the Bush Administration was at diplomacy and foreign policy, as if they knew better. Incompetent compared to this?? You must be joking! Obama chided Americans during his campaign for our lack of knowledge about the world, and that the only foreign words we knew were the French “merci beaucoup”. PM Brown offered Obama a gift that had cultural and historical significance, showing that he and his crew had thought a lot about it. Obama offered Brown a set of DVDs. How quaint. I would be embarrassed and profusely apologetic if I were him.

I can’t help but think this latest incident has to do with our nation’s current view of the Iraq war, that it was a colossal foreign policy blunder. For those who have been paying attention it’s known that the UK didn’t just follow our lead into Iraq. PM Blair believed as we did that Saddam Hussein needed to be toppled. Now that we “know better” perhaps there are many in the powers that be who believe our relationship with the UK had something to do with this “colossal blunder”. After all, Bush uttered his famous words about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, based on British intelligence. The threat of Iraq building nuclear weapons was the primary reason that most Americans think we invaded. I get a sense that there’s a desire to wash our hands of the whole affair, and everyone who was involved in it. It’s similar to the way in which people don’t want to relive the horror of 9/11. I can remember when the movie United 93 came out a few years ago people said they thought it was “too soon” to tell the story. The truth was a lot of us wanted to put 9/11 behind us, in a dark corner where we could ignore it. This sort of denial is never healthy.

Well at least for this American the UK holds special stature. I hope that in the future we will be able to make it up to you.

Edit 3/8/2009: Well this explains a lot. Morris Reid, former Clinton advisor, says “The special relationship (with the UK) is over and dead. It’s a different day.” Gee, I hadn’t gotten the memo.

I’ve been reading some more articles about Brown’s visit and it seems everyone thinks the DVDs were an odd “quickie” or “cheap” gift. A few sharp people made the point, “Better hope the DVDs were Region 2 encoded (European), not Region 1 (American) or else they won’t play.” D’oh!