I’m not really in the mood to go off on a political rant, but I will say that these First 100 Day grade reports on the Obama Presidency strike me as utterly ridiculous.  FDR did all Presidents a disservice by introducing the notion of the “First 100  Days” into the political lexicon.  Yes, Roosevelt accomplished a tremendous amount in the first three months of his Presidency.  He also had won an overwhelming election majority and carried with him huge majorities in both the House and Senate.  He didn’t have to deal with the world of 24 hour news channels, and early on he didn’t have to deal with idiots like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (though he did eventually have to cope with Huey Long and Father Coughlin).  And though he did face opposition to some of his programs, the sense of crisis in the nation at that time was so great that he had as much of a legislative free hand as any President in modern history.  No President since has accomplished nearly as much in his first 100 days, and no matter how much Obama has gotten done (and I’d argue that he’s done quite a bit) it will pale in comparison.

That said, the benchmark itself is worthless.  The problems he has faced since taking office were years in the making.  Expecting him to have solved them in three months isn’t realistic.  Yet I heard someone on CNN today lamenting that stimulus spending had yet to pull the nation out of its economic troubles.  It was all I could do to keep from throwing my glass through the screen.

You disagree with his policies?  Fine.  I can understand that.  You don’t expect them to work?   That’s fine, too.  Time will tell.  But declaring his Presidency a failure after 100 days is ludicrous, and judging his Presidency in historical terms when he’s less than a tenth of the way through his first term is a waste of time.

I’m torn, because I have a friend who has been heavily involved in the “Tea Party” protest that took place in Chattanooga near my home town, and I don’t want to denigrate his hard work. There are legitimate concerns about the growing national debt and I respect those who are willing to get out and express those concerns publicly.

That said, a few points that I just have to make. 1) Americans are not overtaxed. Not at all. Compared with the taxes paid by citizens of other free market economies, we pay relatively little. 2) I will state once again (as I did during the 2008 campaign, after Joe Biden made his statement to this effect) my belief that paying taxes is, indeed, an act of patriotism. We live in a wonderful country. We enjoy a standard of living that remains the envy of much of the world. We have well-maintained roads; an air traffic control system that it is remarkably effective given the amount of air traffic our airports see on a daily basis; a well-trained, well-armed military. These things cost money. We have social security, which isn’t perfect, but which has served our seniors well for nearly eight decades. We have Medicare and Medicaid, without which millions more in our country would be without any viable health care. We have an educational system that is good but could be better; a food safety system that is flawed but better than nothing; and a host of other government programs that serve us with varying degrees of competence. Are they perfect? Not at all. But take away public education or food inspections or law enforcement and we’d be far worse off than we are. All of these things cost money, money that is collected in the form of taxes at the Federal, state, or local level. No one likes paying taxes, but living in this country is a privilege, and it doesn’t come free of cost. 3) For all the complaining about Barack Obama being a “socialist” and raising taxes, his plan calls for returning the upper income tax rates to the levels they were at after passage of Ronald Reagan’s tax legislation. If Obama is a socialist, then so is Ronald Reagan. 4) When Fox News sponsors a protest, when it creates a movement so that it can then cover the movement in its newscasts, that’s not grassroots activism. That’s political theater with a corporate sponsor. 5) If you’re going to create this kind of political stunt, don’t call what you’re doing “teabagging”. For that matter, don’t call it anything that will invite comparisons to any sort of sexual behavior. That’s just not smart.

Yeah, okay.  It seems that the BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award’s hiatus was shorter than I said it might be last week.  Thing is, when there is this much idiocy flying around, I can’t simply ignore it, can I?  Of course, most of you told me this would happen.  You were right.

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Let’s begin this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award entry with a hypothetical.  Say you live in a Congressional district in a large swing state, one in the south, perhaps one with a history of complicated and contentious elections.  Say you’re a Democrat, but the district is heavily Republican and so you’ve really never even considered a political career.  You’re a successful businessman, and really that’s just fine with you.

But then fate intervenes.  Read the rest of this entry »

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of the financial meltdown, it was revealed that the lobbying firm of Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, had been receiving monthly consulting fees of $15,000.00 from Fannie Mae right up through August of this year, though Davis had claimed that his firm stopped being on the Fannie payroll long ago.  The press largely ignored the story.

On Friday of last week, a bipartisan committee in Alaska (ten Republicans and four Democrats) unanimously approved a report from a special investigator who had been looking into Sarah Palin’s firing of Walter Monegan.  The report concluded that Palin abused power and violated state ethics laws.  It stated these things explicitly.  Yesterday Sarah Palin blatently lied about this, saying that the report had concluded that she didn’t abuse power or violate any laws.  The press has had little to say about the report or Palin’s mischaracterization of its findings.

Yesterday it came out that William Timmons, the head of John McCain’s Presidential transition team, has ties to two men who were convicted of illegally lobbying on behalf of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War, and may have acted on behalf of the Iraqi government himself.  So far the mainstream press is largely ignoring this story.

Conservatives and members of the McCain campaign have been claiming in recent days that Barack Obama was given “a free pass” on his links to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and more recently on allegations that he “pals around” with 1960s radical William Ayers.  I don’t know what world they’re living in, but we’ve been hearing about Ayers every day for the past two weeks, and the Reverend Wright story dominated the news cycle for weeks during the primaries.

If Barack Obama’s campaign manager were a lobbyist and if his lobbying firm had been paid $15,000.00 per month by Fannie Mae right up through the end of the summer; if Joe Biden had been found to have abused his power as Senator and violated ethics laws; if the head of Obama’s transition team had ties of any sort to Saddam Hussein; if any of these things were true, Republicans would be in a frenzy and these stories would be all over the place, in newspapers, on the web sites of the major news outlets, on the evening news.  And rightfully so.  These are stories, and the news media should be following them.  But they’re not. 

Don’t talk to me about liberal bias in the press.  It doesn’t exist.  It’s a myth used by the right to cow the press into leaving their candidates alone and going after candidates on the left.  The press cares only about the next story, about how to fill up time in the 24 hour news cycle and how to sell advertising.  The dominant storyline recently has been the economy and how that has helped Barack Obama’s standing in the election.  But that story is growing stale, and the next narrative is going to be that John McCain is making a comeback.  He’s not yet, at least not in any meaningful way.  But they’ll start talking about it and the story will drive the news and the news will drive the polls. 

The Liberal Media.  It’s like the punchline of a bad joke:  It should make me laugh, but it’s really not funny.

BOW Award

October 12, 2008

How do I give out a BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award this time around?  There have been so many acts of idiocy out there this week that I don’t even know where to begin.  And I’m so fed up, so angry, so offended, that I can’t find any way to make this post fun — which is something I shoot for when I write these things every week. 

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My two cents on last night’s snoozer at Ole Miss:  Judging it simply on the basis of their debate performances, I have to say that I thought Obama and McCain were pretty even.  Obama did well on certain questions — those relating to the economy, those relating to Iraq, and the exchange on striking at militants in Pakistan.  McCain also had several good moments, most impressively his discussion of issues relating to Russia. 
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Another Long BOW Award

September 21, 2008

BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award time again, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are definitely making it hard for me to spread the love with this thing.  They’re like a sports team that can’t be stopped — the Big Red Machine, if you will (the name used to describe the awesome Cincinnati Reds baseball teams of the 1970s).  Every week I think they’ve outdome themselves with their buffoonery, and then the next week comes along and they prove me wrong.
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BOW Award Time

September 13, 2008

About midway through this week I received a nomination for this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award from a friend of mine.  The nomination was for Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden, who was at a rally (I’m not sure where) and he introduced a state senator by the name of Chuck Grahm and told the guy to stand up so that he could be acknowledged by the crowd.  Problem was, Chuck Grahm is in a wheelchair.  Clearly Biden didn’t know this and when he realized it he was suitably embarrassed (Google Joe Biden and Chuck Grahm and you can see video of the whole thing, and also read a bunch of comments from wingnutters calling Biden awful things).  Clearly Biden’s advance staff screwed up, and clearly Biden should have done his homework on the guy.  but he recovers well in the video and pokes fun at himself.  Yes it was stupid, which is why it’s a nominee.  But it doesn’t come close to winning.  Why?  Because as this week’s BOW Award will show, it’s more than just stupidity that I’m trying to get at with these awards.  It’s stupidity combined with malice or prejudice.  It’s out-and-out lies.  It’s all the stuff that makes politics in America these days so infuriating.  Maybe buffoon isn’t quite the right word.  Yeah, Biden’s a bit of a buffoon in this instance.  Maybe the right word is shithead.  But this is a family blog, and I really don’t want to be giving away SOW Awards every week….

So this week I’m giving the BOW Award to John McCain and Sarah Palin.  Yep.  Just gave away the punch line didn’t I?  Well, not entirely.  Because I really don’t know what to give it to them for.  They did so much this week that was worthy of the award.  It seemed like everything they did and said was so egregious, I just don’t know which act of buffoonery to recognize.

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A Very Long BOW Award Post

September 6, 2008

What a week!  In all the time I’ve been giving away the BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award, I don’t think I’ve ever had more deserving nominees.  Idiocy, it seems, was in the air, helped no doubt by the fact that the Republican Party was holding it’s quadrennial hate-fest (also known as the Republican National Convention) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  So, without further ado….

  Read the rest of this entry »