From Larry Kudlow at CNBC:
Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s State of the Union speech and his budget.
He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.
That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow.
Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next 10 years.
This is nearly double the government-spending low-point reached during the late 1990s by the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton administration. While not quite as high as spending levels in Western Europe, we regrettably will be gaining on this statist-planning approach.
Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.
And as far as middle-class tax cuts are concerned, Obama’s cap-and-trade program will be a huge across-the-board tax increase on blue-collar workers, including unionized workers. Industrial production is plunging, but new carbon taxes will prevent production from ever recovering. While the country wants more fuel and power, cap-and-trade will deliver less.
The tax hikes will generate lower growth and fewer revenues. Yes, the economy will recover. But Obama’s rosy scenario of 4 percent recovery growth in the out years of his budget is not likely to occur. The combination of easy money from the Fed and below-potential economic growth is a prescription for stagflation. That’s one of the messages of the falling stock market. Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period. House Republicans, fortunately, are 90 days sober, as they are putting up a valiant fight to stop the big-government onslaught and move the GOP back to first principles.
Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.
There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.
Well then, do conservatives dare say: We told you so?
Saturday, February 28, 2009
From Larry Kudlow at CNBC:
From Suzette Parmley in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Wegmans, the high-end grocery chain that has built five markets in the Philadelphia region in six years, said yesterday that it would hire about 600 workers for a store in Collegeville due to open in October.
Hiring for the new 132,000-square-foot store - which will feature what is being billed as the first pub in a Southeastern Pennsylvania supermarket restaurant - will begin this month, with interviews taking place the final week of March, said Blaine Forkell, a 26-year Wegmans veteran who will manage the store. (Application information is at www.wegmans.com.)
In addition, site work has begun on a store in Malvern that is expected to open in the first half of next year, Forkell said.
Wegmans generally hires about 600 workers for each store, compared with 150 to 200 employees at a typical Giant supermarket measuring 50,000 to 100,000 square feet.
The 72-store chain, based in Rochester, N.Y., has been aggressively growing in the Mid-Atlantic region, typically opening two to three new locations each year, said Jo Natale, a company spokeswoman. In addition to its stores in Downingtown, Warrington, Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill, Wegmans operates in upstate Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia, and recently announced sites in the Boston suburbs.
The company's ramp-up in this area comes amid the doom and gloom of announced closings by businesses from retailers to car dealerships.
Encouraged by its local stores' success in bucking the trend, Wegmans decided to capitalize on Philadelphians' appreciation for good food, Forkell said. "We think it's an area where people have a high food interest," he said. "Secondly, the population and demographics fit our model."
We've noted before how mouch we love Wegmnas. They are unequaled for service, selection and total satisfaction. It's great to see them growing!
From Toby Harnden, blogger for the Daily Telegraph
So how much will President Barack Obama’s budget cost us?
The projected 2010 budget of $3.552 trillion can be found on page 114 of the “New Era of Responsibility” budget here.
The US Census bureau estimates that the current US population is 304,059,724. Dividing the $3.552 trillion by that gives us close to the $11,833 that Drudge came up with.
ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that there wil be $989 billion in new taxes over the next decade.
I’m an American taxpayer and the starkest figure is what this could cost me.
The latest figure I could find for the number of US taxpayers is 138,893,908 returns in 2007 here.
By my reckoning, that’s $25, 573.48 each.
From WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.
The tax revolt, partly inspired by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli's rant earlier this week about President Barack Obama's housing rescue plan, resulted in a grassroots effort pushing "tea party" protests Friday in large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston, and small towns like Tulsa, Iowa, and Calera, Ala.
At noon at the Jacksonville Landing, Jim Fallon was among the first of what organizers said were 79 people who showed up to protest.
"We feel we shouldn't be spending money, and chasing good money after bad buying mortgages, buy out banks, buying automobile companies," Fallon said. "It's just tax money that's being thrown away in a very bad manner."
Organizers, some from a group called Freedom Works, said this was not a partisan rally, just people opposed to wasteful spending. The said the turnout was small because the event was thrown together quickly.
The rally ended with the symbolic pouring of tea into the St. Johns River.
"That's about a useless as the guys who are throwing our money away," said one of the protestors.
On The Web: American Tea Party
In New Jersey under wacky Jon Corzine things just get worse and worse.
Now the state with the nation's highest taxes may be facing yet another tax hike and elimination of the property tax rebate program - the last minuscule piece of help in the face of soaring taxes.
Yes -- you heard me right: elimination of the rebate altogether.
Amidst all this the Assembly Budget Chair has gone and made a fool of himself -- vowing to fight to the death for the rebates one day and then completely backing off the next.
This is what wacky Jon does to people, including leaders in his own party. He makes them tongue-tied.
From Angeli Delli Santi of the Associated Press:
On Wednesday, New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald, D-Voorhees, said he would "fight to the death" to avoid eliminating or reducing property tax rebates in New Jersey, where the average homeowner pays $6,800 a year in property taxes. On Thursday, he backed away from that statement, saying the budget debate would continue in the months ahead. "I want to make sure money gets in the people's pockets," Greenwald said after meeting with the governor Thursday. "As much of that as we can preserve through the rebate program, even though I don't like the program in and of itself, it puts money back in people's pockets."
And here's more from Politicker NJ:
"The fact is that Lou Greenwald tried to score cheap political points by coming out in favor of keeping property tax rebates," said Camden County GOP Chairman Richard DeMichele, Jr. "But Greenwald didn't clear his comments with the real boss in town, Jon Corzine, and when Corzine found out, suddenly Greenwald could not be found."
"As Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald has been reckless and irresponsible in making New Jersey unaffordable and unfriendly to small business," DeMichele added. "Lou Greenwald won't stand up to Jon Corzine, and he won't stand up for South Jersey taxpayers."
From Chris Megerian in the Newark Star-Ledger:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie outlined his plan for economic growth . . . promising to cut taxes and fees while playing a hands-on role in attracting new businesses.
Front and center was his proposal to create a "New Jersey Parternship for Action," an umbrella organization to assist companies in the state. Led by the new lieutenant governor, it would interface with business leaders to streamline regulatory and relocation efforts.
"This will give business a seat at the table in my cabinet," Christie said.
The former U.S. attorney also proposed a "Red Tape Review Group" to assess regulations currently in place.Christie downplayed the role of the global economic recession in the state's financial woes, saying problems existed before the current crisis while laying the blame squarely at the feet of Gov. Corzine."The governor is going to say, 'It's not my fault,'" Christie said.
From James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal:
Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the U.N., is one of President Obama's kindly new foreign-policy faces. Yesterday, the Associated Press reports, she asked Iran really nicely to be nice:
Rice brought up Iran at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on Iraq,She didn't call them evil or anything! But how did they respond? The AP reports Rice's gentle admonition "drew an immediate rebuke from Iran's UN envoy":
saying the long-term US commitment to Iraq and the reduction of the US military
presence in the country had to be understood "in a larger, regional context"
that included Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.
The United States "will
seek an end to Iran's ambition to acquire an illicit nuclear capacity and its
support for terrorism," Rice said. "It will aim to encourage both Iran and Syria
to become constructive regional actors . . ."
Ambassador Mohammad Khazee said Iran has never and will never try to
acquire nuclear weapons and dismissed US Ambassador Susan Rice's allegation that
Iran engages in terrorism as "baseless and absurd." . . .
"It is unfortunate that, yet again, we are hearing the same tired, unwarranted and
groundless allegations that used to be unjustifiably and futilely repeated by
the previous US administration," Khazee said.
Friday, February 27, 2009
From Jennifer Rubin in Commentary:
And as for those friends of Israel on the left who looked Obama in the eye and got a sense of his soul, do they join in on Marty Pertez’s mea culpa? Well, it does appear that Obama appointed someone "who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some [sic] many of his supporters.” Moreover, we have placed someone in a key national security role whose analysis was purchased by the House of Saud and whose contribution to Middle East discourse includes such gems as: “For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel’s American backers as against Israel itself.” (Remarks to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, May 24, 2007)
Some enterprising White House reporter might start asking whether the president had any qualms about Freeman’s views and why his financial relationship with a foreign power shouldn’t raise grave concerns about Freeman’s independence and, in turn, the president’s judgment in selecting him.
Big times are near at the Cherry Hill Mall.
The dream of a totally new, totally re-invented Mall is upon us and the excitement of a new "Main Street" for Cherry Hill is so close we can touch it.
The big new Nordstrom store and Nordstrom wing of the Mall will open on March 27. Nordstrom will launch the store with a benefit gala just prior to the official opening.
We hear that at least ten new stores will probably be ready to open with Nordstrom and these will include J. Crew and Urban Outfitters.
Maggiano's Little Italy will swing open its doors on Monday (3/2) and the new Seasons 52 reataurant will follow close behind on March 23.
The new Capital Grille free-standing, upscale restaurant will open later in the spring and July will bring the opening of California Pizza Kitchen.
Hurry over to the Mall now to check out the new interior environment complete with an all-new bright, airy promenade featuring lovely living-room ensemble sitting areas with new, soft furniture. And, many of the Mall's stores are expanded and/or completely redesigned.
We're not even at the Grand Launch Moment yet and already the place is breathtaking!
Just a few quick facts, folks:
--New Jersey has fallen far behind other states in nearly all economic indicators:
In 2003, New Jersey was ranked 33rd for the business-friendliness of its tax code. Now, New Jersey has the worst. (The Tax Foundation: “Business Tax Climate Index,” 10/30/2008)
--Based on the Business Tax Index 2008, New Jersey is the worst state in which to start a new business. (Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council: “Business Tax Index 2008: Best to Worst State Tax Systems for Entrepreneurships and Small Business,” December 2008)
--New Jersey has the third most oppressive state government to free enterprise and consumer choice. (Pacific Research Institute: “U.S. Economic Freedom Index: 2008 Report,” September 16, 2008)
--In the Northeast, New Jersey ranks last in attracting new businesses and providing an environment for growth to existing firms. (Beacon Hill Institute:“Eighth Annual State Competitiveness Report,” 11/19/2008)
--According to the Business Tax Index 2008, New Jersey has the worst state tax system for entrepreneurs and small businesses. (Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council: “Business Tax Index 2008: Best to Worst State Tax Systems for Entrepreneurships and Small Business,” December 2008)
From Aimee Cirucci:
Almost immediately I was disillusioned. The office politics, power trips of middle managers and emphasis on perks like corporate cell phones and parking spaces made the whole thing feel silly and trivial, hardly worth the expensive suit I bought for it.
So when college graduation came, unlike those who decided to teach English in Bali, bound off for the Peace Corps or pursue acting careers, I chose the least frightening option and got myself a “professional” job. Almost immediately I was disillusioned.
Sphere: Related Content
From Dick Morris at The Hill:
Obama has been instrumental in purveying fear and spreading doubt. It is his pronouncements, reinforced by the developments they kindle and catalyze, that are destroying good businesses, bankrupting responsible people and wiping out even conservative financial institutions. Every time he speaks, he sends the markets down and stocks crashing. He doesn’t seem to realize that the rest of the world takes its cue from him.
He forgets that he stands at the epicenter of power, not on the fringes campaigning for office. This ain’t Iowa.
Why does Obama preach gloom and doom? Because he is so anxious to cram through every last spending bill, tax increase on the so-called rich, new government regulation, and expansion of healthcare entitlement that he must preserve the atmosphere of crisis as a political necessity.
Only by keeping us in a state of panic can he induce us to vote for trillion-dollar deficits and spending packages that send our national debt soaring. . . .
So, having inherited a recession, his words are creating a depression. He entered office amid a disaster and he is transforming it into a catastrophe, all to pass every last bit of government spending and move us a bit further to the left before his political capital dwindles.
But the jig will be up soon. The crash of the stock market in the days since he took power (indeed, from the moment he won the election) can increasingly be attributed to his own failure to lead us in the right direction, his failed policies in addressing the recession and his own spreading of panic and fear.
The market collapse makes it evident that it is Obama who is the problem, where he should, instead, be the solution.
I've always loved the music of Asleep At The Wheel.
From the Courier-Post:
Foxwoods casino officials are eyeing a shuttered department store as another possible location for their downtown Philadelphia slots parlor.
Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen Garrity tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that the casino's investment group is looking at the former Strawbridge & Clothier store at Eighth and Market streets.
The current plan is to convert two floors of a store in the Gallery mall three blocks away into a 3,000-machine slots parlor.
Garrity didn't elaborate on why Foxwoods is looking at alternative space.
Foxwoods had planned to build on the Delaware River waterfront in South Philadelphia but agreed last fall to consider other sites amid outcries from community
From KYW Newsradio:
A Philadelphia police detective is expected to make a full recovery, after being shot in the leg while serving an arrest warrant, Thursday.
Detective Albert Ford and his partner went to the one-thousand block of West Indiana Avenue in North Philadelphia to arrest 25-year-old Kevin Robinson. Robinson, a fugitive with eight prior arrests, was wanted in connection with an October shooting.
When the detectives identified themselves, Robinson fought with them, pulled a gun and fired at Ford. Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross says police returned fire, killing Robinson.
He says the entire department is relieved:
"It's just amazing when you look at, first of all, the proximity that they were to this guy, they were right up on top of him, so first and foremost they were lucky that they even saw the weapon. It could have went very differently and we could be standing here talking about another police funeral that we're planning."
Ford is 42 a 20 year veteran assigned to the major crimes unit.
Authorities say the 42-year-old detective from the Major Crimes unit, a 20-year veteran of the force, was shot around noon on Indiana Avenue near 10th Street while trying to serve a warrant. He was rushed to Temple Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia local of the Fraternal Order of Police, said after visiting the wounded officer at bedside that he was alert and talking.
A short time later, the wounded officer was visited in the hospital by mayor Michael Nutter and police commissioner Charles Ramsey. Nutter (right) expressed consternation that so many officers have been shot recently in Philadelphia, but was glad that this incident turned out better than some others.
"Nutter expressed consternation."
He was "glad that this incident turned out better than some others."
There are a lot of things that I could say but I'll just leave it at that - for now.
From Marcia Kramer at CBS News:
In a swift about face from her views as New York's senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now hammering Israel over its treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. As first lady, Clinton raised eyebrows when she kissed Suha Arafat.
Since she was then seeking a Senate seat the resulting brouhaha caused her to "re-think" her positions. "I'm a very strong supporter of Israel," Clinton said on Feb. 17.
On Thursday, as secretary of state she had yet another about face in the form of angry messages demanding Israel speed up aid to Gaza. Jewish leaders are furious. "I am very surprised, frankly, at this statement from the United States government and from the secretary of state," New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman said.
"I liked her a lot more as a senator from New York," Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, said. "Now, I wonder as I used to wonder who the real Hillary Clinton is."
Clinton's decision to hammer Israel comes as the Clintons and President Barack Obama are planning to give the Palestinians $900 million toward the rebuilding of Gaza in the wake of the Israeli offensive that was sparked by Hamas rocket fire.
"We are working across the government to see what our approach will be," Clinton said.
"I don't believe that we should be in a position at this point to do anything to strengthen Hamas," Zuckerman said. "We surely know what Hamas stands for as I say they are the forward battalions of Iran."
For some, Clinton's change of position is upsetting. "I feel it's unfortunate that they don't continue the policy of the Bush administration, which was much more pro-Israel," said Akiva Homnick of Jerusalem. "I happen to have a lot of family who live in Israel and I feel, personally, when you are dealing with people who are very strong against you, you have to stand up to them," said Tami Davudoff of Kew Gardens. "Hillary had Mrs. Arafat here and she invited Mrs. Arafat for lunch when she was the first lady," added Babak Chafe of Great Neck. "She is pro-Palestinian 100 percent, really. Of course, we always knew it."
"The easy way to make a peace agreement is to pressure Israel because you can't pressure the Arabs," said Solomon Loewi of Monsey, N.Y.
All this could lead to a chilly reception when Mrs. Clinton arrives in the Middle East next week. The new U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, arrived in Israel on Thursday with a mission to inject new life into peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
There is only one day left to vote in our latest poll.
We want to know: "When will the recession end?"
Will it end sooner or later?
How much longer will it continue - one, two, three or maybe more years?
Vote in the poll by clicking your choice at the top right corner of the blog.
Hurry, vote now!
We'll post the results this weekend.
From David Seifman at the New York Post:
In a stunning Midtown makeover, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that traffic lanes along Broadway from 42nd to 47th streets and from 33rd to 35th streets will be torn up starting Memorial Day and transformed into pedestrian plazas until at least the end of the year.
PHOTOS: Broadway as a Pedestrian Mall
"By making targeted adjustments at Broadway's two main pinch points, we believe we can ease traffic congestion throughout the Midtown grid," Bloomberg said. "We are going to closely monitor the results to determine if this pilot works and should be extended beyond its trial period."
The $1.5 million pilot program will discontinue vehicular traffic from 47th Street to 42nd Street and from 35th Street to 33rd Street - connecting Seventh Avenue through Times Square, where it is currently bisected by Broadway, and improve traffic flow on Sixth Avenue through Herald Square.
Bloomberg said the result will be simplified traffic patterns, longer green lights and reduced travel times across Midtown.
All car traffic going east and west through Times and Herald Squares will not be impacted and travel times are expected to improve on some of those streets, Bloomberg added.
In addition, the plan is expected to improve bus times on the avenues for the more than 75,000 daily passengers.
Now, it's true that the average worker will get $13 a week this year from the stimulus plan, dropping to $8 next year.
But how does that stack up against the Bush tax relief that Americans are likely to lose? Do the math: This year, the Bush tax cuts should save Americans an estimated $205 billion. Divide that by 142 million workers and it averages $27 a week in every pocket.
Looks like average Joes lose. And that's true, even down the income ladder.
Democrats like to claim that most of the Bush tax relief goes only to the wealthy - implying that scrapping it won't hurt others. But maybe they should ask the breadwinner in an average family of four making about $42,000.
The Treasury Department has estimated that the Bush tax cuts would save such a taxpayer just over $2,300 this year - more than $44 a week. If Obama winds up ditching the cuts for him, he'd be worse off, just like the "wealthy."
Even if Obama works money miracles and doesn't hike taxes on anyone but "the rich," there's still cause for huge concern.
Many of the folks who report $250,000 or more in income are hardly fat cats: They're hard-working small-business owners who pay taxes on their revenues via their personal income-tax returns.
In fact, in the top two income-tax brackets - the ones Obama proposes to squeeze most heavily - a full 80 percent of filers report small-business income.
Over the last 10 years, small businesses created 60 percent to 80 percent of the nation's net new jobs. By socking it to their bottom line, the president's new tax move will dry up the nation's most fertile source of employment - just as more and more Americans are looking for work.
So let's get this straight: Obama's big stimulus is a worse deal for workers than the Bush tax cuts he's sacrificing to pay for it.
The tax hikes will slam small-business owners and discourage the entrepreneurship and risk-taking our economy needs.
And by signaling that Americans can expect tax hikes down the road, Obama encourages sensible people to bank their stimulus checks and save for the leaner days ahead - undermining the whole purpose of the massive spending.
Sphere: Related Content
From Jennifer Rubin in Commentary:
This is spot on:
Last night President Obama said, “I asked this Congress to send me a recoveryWhat is most remarkable is that the above comes from Rep. John Shadegg. He is not in the GOP leadership, but his colleagues might take a page from his book.
plan . . . Not because I believe in bigger government — I don’t.” Really? If
that’s true, why was every single policy the President suggested last night…big
government? Mr. President, if you don’t like big government, perhaps you should
consider not making it the centerpiece of your administration. That makes about
as much sense as holding a fiscal responsibility summit days after passing one
of the biggest spending bills in history. Wait. That already happened. Okay, how
about this: saying you don’t like big government while promoting it, would kind
of be like railing against earmarks while getting ready to sign a bill with, oh
say, 9,000 of them. Wait — that’s also really happening, House Democrats passed
When the president says or does outlandish things, it’s a good idea to say so. When the president pronounces as fact something patently false, the Republicans should pipe up.
For some time it was politically possible and convenient to blame Congress for the goofy stimulus plan and the irresponsible pork-a-thon, while politely ignoring Obama’s full acquiescence in the Congressional Democrats’ handiwork. But there’s no pretending any longer. The grandiose plans and the economic sophistry are coming straight from the president. And the Republicans have no choice but to oppose them. If they can do it with humor, all the better
From Ryan Donmoyer and Aliza Marcus at Bloomberg:
President Barack Obama is proposing the first tax increase on high-income earners in 16 years to help pay for sweeping health-care reforms, asking the U.S. Congress to cap the tax deductions for affluent Americans.
The move would reverse a course set by former President George W. Bush of lowering taxes for high-income people, the cornerstone of his administration’s economic program.
“It’s a clear repudiation of Bush’s policy,” said Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “It’s more Obama Robin Hood.” . . .
Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 Republican leader in the House, said Obama can expect a wall of opposition to his proposed tax increase. Roughly half of Americans earning $250,000 are small-business owners, and the proposed increase will stifle the troubled economy, he said.
“There will be overwhelming opposition from the American people and House Republicans to the idea that we should raise taxes during a recession,” Pence said in an interview. “Raising taxes in a recession is not a strategy for recovery.”
Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, said in an e-mail, “You cannot help the job seeker by punishing the job creator. This is exactly the wrong time to be raising taxes on anyone, not the least of which are our small businesses that create new jobs in America.”
The administration also proposes in its budget plan to use revenue from the sale of greenhouse-gas emission permits to help finance a tax credit for some workers and offset higher energy costs for low- and middle-income people.
"Soak the rich" always sounds appealing at first blush.
But the closer you look the worse this idea gets.
Still, I'm sure Obama & Co. will not be disuaded.
And no one should be surprised that Dear Leader is moving in this direction.
The announcement today that the Obama Administration will seek to reinstate the expired federal assault weapons ban shows the first signs of overreaching.
I'm not passing judgment one way or the other on gun control or weapons bans.
I'm talking about overreaching: trying to remake the world in your own image; not being able to pick and choose your battles; not knowing how to pace yourself; not knowing when enough is enough.
This Administration is crafted in the likeness and image of The One (aka Dear Leader).
And The One is a classic overreacher.
A New Economy, Corporate Responsibility, Universal College Education, Government Health Care for Everyone and, yes, weapons bans as well.
It isn't any one thing -- it's all of it.
This is where the wheels may begin to come off the Obama Administration: too many initiatives with no real priorities.
It's tempting for those who are new to Washington and its ways to overreach.
The pattern is familiar. The Presidency is heady stuff. And it can trigger a false sense of omnipotence.
We've been here before folks.
Nothing leads to an early death like overreaching.
And the last ones to realize it are often the overreachers themselves!
From John Hendren at ABC News:
Call it the audacity of informality.
First, GOP firebrand and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lamented the informal rhetoric and body language of President Barack Obama's address Tuesday in an equally informal Twitter message during the speech.
"Nobody messes with joe and the smiles and nancy handshake resembled a democratic pep rally not a state of the union," Gingrich typed in a capital-letter- and punctuation-free "tweet," apparently reacting to Obama's "Nobody messes with [Vice President] Joe" Biden reference, among other things.
"sophomoric and silly," Gingrich wrote.
Then came the tut-tutting from Democrats and Republicans alike over first lady Michelle Obama's sleeveless purple frock.
Hip 26-year-old designer Jason Wu, who fashioned FLOTUS' white, off-the-shoulder inaugural gown, called her "the ultimate muse." But some were murmuring that the first lady revealed not merely bare arms beneath the dome of the nation's shrine to democracy but an unseemly lack of reverence.
"It was an unusual choice," a Democratic Capitol Hill staffer confessed to a male reporter oblivious to the nuances of Capitol garb.
ABC News' Cokie Roberts, author of "Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation," said she fielded an e-mail from a staunch feminist fan of the first lady's who nevertheless added, "but enough with the sleeveless dresses."
"It does raise some hackles. I'm a little curious about it because it's cold in the House gallery," Roberts said. "I suppose that the sense of sleeveless dress being somewhat inappropriate comes from churches. ... There does seem to be some sense of decorum having to do with covering your shoulders."
During the election campaign, the Obamas' celebrated "no-drama" style became a visible asset for the once-working-class Chicago couple. Michelle Obama's J. Crew dress drew applause from an audience on "The View" enduring the closest thing to a depression since the Great Depression.
But in Washington, aptly pegged as a city of "northern charm and southern efficiency" by Mark Twain, breaking with the capital's stodgy sartorial traditions is enough to give the city's pleats-and-gold-buttoned-blazer-crowd the vapors.
Dancing a few steps to pander to the middle-American viewers of "Ellen" during the campaign was one thing, but bare arms and Oprah-esque phrases like "I get it" during a congressional address are quite another.
What's next? White House casual Fridays?
From Robert Bluey at Red State:
The best thing President Barack Obama can do for the economy is keep quiet. A day after delivering an address that won widespread praise from the chattering class, Obama’s big-government policies were rejected by traders on Wall Street.
Wall Street’s negative reaction to Obama is nothing new. Ever since Election Day, Obama’s words have failed to inspire investors. “When the President speaks, the market listens … and crumbles,” said Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins, who outlined the following pattern of the Dow’s drop after notable Obama addresses:
Nov. 5, 2008 (Wednesday after Election Day): -486 (5.0%)
Jan. 9, 2009 (one day after Obama speaks at George Mason University on “need” for $800 billion stimulus package): -143 (1.6%)
Jan. 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day): -332 (4.0%)
Feb. 10, 2009 (one day after Obama declares that without a stimulus, “an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with a catastrophe”): -382 (4.6%)
Feb. 17, 2009 (market opens for the first time after Congress passes $787 billion stimulus on Feb. 13; Obama signs bill into law, declaring, “The stimulus lets Americans claim destiny.”): -298 (3.8%)
Feb. 19, 2009 (one day after Obama announces potential mortgage relief plan): -90 (1.2%)
Feb. 25, 2009 (one day after Obama’s first speech to the full Congress): -80 (1.1%)
*with apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein
From the Catholic News Agency:
Canadians packed St. Basil’s Church in Toronto . . . to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput speak about how Catholics should live out their faith in the public square. He warned that in the U.S., Catholics need to act on their faith and be on guard against "a spirit of adulation bordering on servility" that exists towards the Obama administration.
The public lecture by Archbishop Chaput took place on the campus of the University of Toronto at St. Basil’s Church and was attended by an overflow crowd of more than 700 people.
After giving a sketch of the basic principles in his New York Times Bestseller "Render Unto Caesar," the archbishop offered his insights on the need for an honest assessment of the situation of the Church in the public square.
"I like clarity, and there’s a reason why," began the archbishop. "I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth -- which means candor."
The Denver prelate then provided his critique of President Obama.
"President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire, as we saw from his very popular visit to Canada just this past week. But whatever his strengths, there’s no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change. Of course, that can change. Some things really do change when a person reaches the White House. Power ennobles some men. It diminishes others. Bad policy ideas can be improved. Good policy ideas can find a way to flourish. But as Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with."
Yet this will be "very hard for Catholics in the United States," Chaput warned.
According to the archbishop, the political situation for Catholics is difficult to discern because a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused pro-lifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer." . . .
"All political leaders draw their authority from God. We owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil."
"In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions. The truest respect we can show to civil authority is the witness of our Catholic faith and our moral convictions, without excuses or apologies."
In a reference to the messianic treatment that Barack Obama received from some Americans during the presidential primaries, Archbishop Chaput delivered his second point: "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs."
Noting that Obama actually trailed in the weeks just before the election, the Denver archbishop said that this places some of today’s talk about a "new American mandate" in perspective.
"Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen -- but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it."
President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress was stuffed with signals about the new direction his budget will take and meant-to-be reassuring words about the economy. But it was also peppered with exaggerations and factual misstatements.
He said "we import more oil today than ever before." That's untrue. Imports peaked in 2005 and are substantially lower today.
He claimed his mortgage aid plan would help "responsible" buyers but not those who borrowed beyond their means. But even prominent defenders of the program including Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC chief Bair concede foolish borrowers will be aided, too.
He said the high cost of health care "causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds." That's at least double the true figure.
He flubbed two facts about American history. The U.S. did not invent the automobile, and the transcontinental railroad was not completed until years after the Civil War, not during it.
He claimed that his stimulus plan "prevented the layoffs" of 57 police officers in Minneapolis. In fact, it's far more complicated than that, and other factors are also helping to save police jobs.
One line in Obama’s speech certainly sounded plausible – given the widespread concern about foreign oil – but he got it wrong:
Obama: We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before.
Not true. We’re importing less than we were just a few years ago. This chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that weekly imports of crude oil and petroleum products (in thousands of barrels per day) have been dropping. Imports reached a high point of 15,217,000 barrels per day the week of Nov. 4, 2005. Most recently, they totaled 11,577,000 the week of Feb. 20, 2009. EIA charts on monthly and annual imports show the same trend.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Aunt Blabby (aka Chris Matthews) has gone and done it again!
Blabby's Big Mouth, blatant partisanship, huge ego and bad manners have once again made him the Poster Boy for Out-of-Control Liberalism.
Here's the story from the Associated Press:
MSNBC's Chris Matthews said he was surprised by the "peculiar stagecraft" of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's response to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress, leading him to quietly say "Oh God" as Jindal approached a microphone.
The remark inspired a brief Internet guessing game about who had said it and questions about whether someone at MSNBC was mocking the Republican governor.
Matthews' barely audible "Oh God" appeared to be a classic case of someone talking on TV without realizing their microphone was on, and potentially embarrassing to a network many Republicans already regard with suspicion because of left-leaning talk shows by Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.
"I was taken aback by that peculiar stagecraft, the walking from somewhere in the back of this narrow hall, the winding staircase looming there, the odd antibellum look of the scene," Matthews said in a script for his "Hardball" show on Wednesday. "Was this some mimicking of a president walking along the state floor to the East Room?"
Matthews said he wasn't referring to Jindal himself, or anything he expected the governor to say.
A clip of the "Oh God" remark quickly made the Internet rounds. Before it was known that Matthews had said it, the Huffington Post asked readers to guess who it was and nearly 7,000 people responded: 32 percent had guessed Matthews, 35 percent said it was Olbermann, his co-anchor, 15 percent said it was an MSNBC camera operator and 18 percent thought it was a producer.
It's not the first time Matthews' mouth has gotten him noticed for the wrong reasons. He was ridiculed by some Republicans for saying he "felt this thrill going up my leg" during an Obama speech, but later defended the remark as an objective look at Obama's ability to inspire through his speeches.
After some protests by women's groups, Matthews said he was wrong last year to say that the reason Hillary Clinton was a senator and candidate for president "is that her husband messed around."
So the Blabberino didn't like the "peculiar stagecraft."
But Matthews himself is the living, walking embodiment of "peculiar stagecraft."
He's a rumpled, loud, obnoxious goofy-looking guy who can't seem to keep his mouth shut and can't stop making an ass of himself.
MSNBC and NBC should have canned this clown years ago!
I thought I was the only one who noticed this but here's Nia-Malika Henderson at Politico:
Mrs. Obama’s super-sculpted arms are the result of years of effort. When her children were young, she began working out with a personal trainer, splitting sessions with girlfriends to save money. In recent years, she has exercised several times a week, often rising hours before her daughters to do cardio and lift weights, or spending Saturday sessions with the same personal trainer who guided her husband. At the gym, she is focused and competitive, friends say, counting her reps and teasing when they do not finish theirs.
Now those arms have become Mrs. Obama’s most constant accessory, whether she is wearing a Gap sundress or a designer ballgown. On the Vogue cover, the first lady wears little makeup, subtle jewelry, a simple sheath. It’s her arms that pop out, rippled and gleaming.
From Marina Jimenez in Toronto's Globe and Mail:
It's a moment in history that's being compared to the keynote address a then-unknown Mr. Obama delivered in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
And like Mr. Obama, Mr. Jindal's political star is on the rise — as are the odds of a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. . . .
His parents immigrated from the Punjab to the United States so that his mother, pregnant with him at the time, could continue her graduate work in nuclear physics. His father, an engineer, was one of nine children from a poor rural family in Indian Punjab.
A graduate of Brown University, Mr. Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar and went on to work for the elite consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Born a Hindu, he converted to Roman Catholicism in high school, and also has links to Baptist and Pentecostal congregations. At 25, he was named secretary of Louisiana's department of health. Mr. Jindal ran for governor in 2003 and lost. The following year he was elected to Congress, and in 2007, made a successful bid for governor. He and his wife Supriya Jolly have three young children.
He is widely considered to be an effective leader, his response to last fall's Hurricane Gustav praised for its efficiency. His biggest challenge has been to deal with a legislature that voted to more than double its take-home pay from $16,800 to $37,500.
Aside from their visible minority backgrounds and young families, Mr. Obama and Mr. Jindal differ markedly in style and substance.
While Mr. Obama projects a relaxed demeanour and had an unconventional upbringing, Mr. Jindal is meticulous, and very conservative. His campaign platform centred on a promise to cut taxes, ban abortion and introduce ethics reform. He opposes embryonic stem cell research and same-sex marriage.
Mr. Jindal has travelled quite a bit outside the state raising funds and is routinely named as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. He hasn't officially declared his interest — nor has he ruled it out. His unofficial campaign just received an unprecedented boost, a prime-time television appearance that may catapult him ahead of his rivals.
Seeing the wonderful new production of Pal Joey on Broadway over the weekend made us think once again about Chicago.
From Christina Bellatoni in the Washington Times:
Mr. Clooney told reporters that Mr. Obama said once a foreign policy review is completed, he would appoint a "full-time, high-level envoy" to the region to report directly to the White House. "The administration has assured me that Darfur is one of a small handful of foreign-policy reviews being undertaken at the [most senior] level," Mr. Clooney said.
He said the envoy would be "a huge policy step" since, in many cases, envoys have only been in the region "when the fire starts."
The actor, who made a documentary highlighting the Darfur conflict and has been outspoken on the issue, said it was "nice to hear" that the region is a priority for the Obama White House.
"There was some concern that this could fall off the radar," he said. "There's quite a few other things [the administration is tackling], but they assured me this is high on their agenda."
From Andie Coller at Politico:
When CNBC’s Rick Santelli argued last week that President Barack Obama’s mortgage bailout plan would force hardworking Americans to pay for their neighbors’ mistakes, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed him as a know-nothing derivatives trader out of touch with Main Street.
But if the White House simply dismisses Santelli’s point, it may do so at its peril: A Rasmussen poll released Monday found that 55 percent of those surveyed thought federal mortgage subsidies to those most at risk of losing their homes would be “rewarding bad behavior.” Santelli’s “Network”-style diatribe has already spawned a Facebook group and plans for “tea parties” protesting the bailout in major cities including Chicago and Washington.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s group FreedomWorks has spun off a site called angryrenter.com to organize those who don’t own their homes to oppose the mortgage plan. And it’s not just Republicans who are complaining. . . .
According to the Rasmussen poll, even 49 percent of Democrats oppose mortgage subsidies like the ones Obama has proposed. Among them: Lynn Powers, 39, a Bethesda, Md., resident who describes herself as a “liberal Democrat” who has been hardworking, prudent and responsible — and now feels “like a fool.” “We were in the market,” she says.
“We put out eight bids and got outbid every time. It was very upsetting for us. I want to see some accountability and responsibility across the board. The only way for me to have an affordable home, and I’m not looking for a McMansion at all, is if we let the chips fall, in a sense. This is still the bubble — the prices have to come down. You can’t just subsidize some of the people. I don’t know how you deleverage. It is going to be painful, but this is also hurting the people who behaved responsibly.” What does she mean by “responsibly”?
“People who didn’t overbuy. Who stuck to their guns. Who read their contracts,” she says. She and her husband wound up buying a 600-square-foot studio and moved to a rental when they had their daughter, now 18 months old.
“My husband and I paid for our cars in cash,” she says. “We have no credit card debt. We have no student loans. I don’t buy Starbucks, but that’s because they’re non-fair trade, nonenvironmental.”
When they tried to buy a house, she said, “We just felt outgunned.” And now, she says, “I feel very outgunned as a citizen.”
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
We've extended the time for you to vote in our poll.
We want to know: "When will the recession end?"
Will it end sooner or later?
How much longer will it continue - one, two, three or maybe more years?
Vote in the poll by clicking your choice at the top right corner of the blog.
Lawrence Summers, ex-Harvard president and head of the President Obama's National Economic Counci actually fell asleep at Obama's Economic Summit with the nation's Governors at the White House.
Try this headline: "Economic Czar Sleeps While Market Hits New Lows."
Some startling facts to consider:
--The nation's 100 largest banks are worth about $300 billion yet the federal TARP legislation spends $700 billion to try to "fix" those banks.
--The Obama Stimulus Act will cost America more than the entire federal budget for the year 1982 ( the second year of the Reagan Administration).
--New Jersey has a larger state budget than Pennsylvania even though Pennsylvania is six times bigger and has 40% more people.
Camden County (NJ) GOP Chairman Richard DeMichele, Jr., has announced his endorsement of Chris Christie for Governor in this year’s election, thereby awarding Christie the county line.
“Chris Christie is a candidate who brings real leadership to our party,” DeMichele said. “In Camden County, we have seen first hand the way that corruption and graft dramatically increase the cost of government. We know all too well about no-show jobs and trading taxpayer money for personal gain. And we know that it was Chris Christie who, as U.S. Attorney, convicted Wayne Bryant on two counts of fraud.”
“We in Camden County know what Chris Christie has done as U.S. Attorney, and we know what he will do as Governor,” DeMichele added. “He will stand by his convictions, he will do what is right, and he will put our state back on the right track again. I am proud to endorse him in this year’s race, and I will be proud to call Chris Christie my Governor.”
The Camden County GOP endorsement follows a January 21 straw poll of county committee members in which Christie won 77 percent of the vote.
“Chris Christie’s overwhelming support in our straw poll was no surprise to me, because Camden County Republicans know that we need a leader who will bring fiscal responsibility to Trenton,” DeMichele said. “Camden County has the highest property taxes in the state as a percentage of home value, and the tenth highest in the entire United States. We know that Chris Christie is exactly the kind of Governor we need to restore fiscal sanity and create meaningful tax relief for South Jersey.”
From Adam Smeltz at the Courier-Post:
Fleisher, 39, was a council member for nine years through 2005, when he chose not to run again.
Fleisher, a former council president, said he wanted to rejoin the council because "these are challenging times."
"There's a strong foundation in the township, but I believe we're entering a new era of citizen involvement," said Fleisher, whose family moved to Cherry Hill when he was 5.
"And I hope to commit a good portion of my time -- and hopefully inspire others to be involved."
Dozens of South Jerseyans filled the council meeting room Monday night before council Vice President John Amato moved to appoint Fleisher, one of three nominees of the township Democratic committee.
Councilman Frank Falcone seconded the motion. There was no dissent on the all-Democratic body.
Addressing the crowd, Fleisher, a financial planner, touted the township's quality of life but said the prosperous community "is not immune to the challenges" of the economic downturn.
Other speakers lauded his financial expertise and public-service background, including his two-year stint as a member of the state Government Records Council. It's the body that resolves disputes over open-records requests.
Fleisher said he "believes in open government."
An editorial from Investor's Business Daily:
In confirming that he will let the Bush tax cuts expire, President Obama is discarding proven economic medicine. He is also bringing the discredited welfare state back to life, bigger than ever.
Obama's certainly is a new kind of presidency. Gone are the days when a president could look Congress and the American people in the eye and make a declaration like this: "We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means. The era of big government is over."
But whoever said Barack Obama was Ronald Reagan? In fact, those were the words of one William Jefferson Clinton during his State of the Union address of 1996.
At the time, Clinton was preparing for a re-election campaign that would rely heavily on reform of one of the most unpopular federal government programs ever devised: welfare. He would claim in that re-election campaign that his first term as president proved him to be that rare thing: a Democrat with fiscal sanity. And in November of that year, the voters would believe him.
Now we are faced with a new president whose mission seems to be to prove that Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both wrong. Reaganesque across-the-board tax cuts on income and investment, as this thinking goes, have only gotten us into an unprecedented global financial crisis (begging the question of how they did so much good for so long before finally making the sky fall).
Yet faced with this, the supposed risk of global depression, the federal government should go full steam astern, back to the wasteful, corrupt — and corrupting — practices that Democrat Bill Clinton got re-elected helping to end.
Heritage Foundation senior domestic policy analyst Robert Rector recently noted that the stimulus "will overturn the fiscal foundation of welfare reform . . . . For the first time since 1996, the federal government would begin paying states bonuses to increase their welfare caseloads."
Rector added that the new welfare system Obama would establish "is actually worse than the old AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) program because it rewards the states more heavily to increase their caseloads."
According to Rector, "Under the stimulus bills, the federal government will pay 80% of cost for each new family that a state enrolls in welfare . . . the original goal of helping families move to employment and self-sufficiency and off long-term dependence on government assistance has instead been replaced with the perverse incentive of adding more families to the welfare rolls."
Uncle Sam would actually pay the states many billions of dollars to increase their welfare caseloads. Rector sees welfare spending increases nearing $800 billion over a decade, with more than $1.3 trillion added to the national debt by the stimulus.
Yet amidst all this, the president promises to cut the budget deficit in half by the end of his first term — a promise Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, appearing on CNN, disparaged as "wildly optimistic," especially since the massive, ever-expanding Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs are left unaddressed.
An economic rescue entailing ratcheting up income taxes and ballooning the government runs counter to Reagan's, Clinton's and even John F. Kennedy's governing philosophy. Does President Obama really think his 65-bucks-a-month tax cut will make up for it all?
From Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune:
CNBC's Rick Santelli's self-described rant on TV last week, bemoaning that "the government is promoting bad behavior" with Presideent Obama's mortgage bailout plan, clearly resonated with many Americans, made him a viral video star and drew a White House rebuke. . . .
With an allusion to communist Cuba and traders around him voicing their support, Santelli said from the Chicago Board of Trade floor early Thursday on CNBC: "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? ... President Obama, are you listening?"
Someone at the White House was. At his briefing Friday, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs shot back—hard—likely out of concern for the traction the so-called Rick's Revolt could gain. "I feel assured that Mr. Santelli doesn't know what he's talking about," Gibbs said.
Yet Santelli's rant, the points he raised and the White House response were the talk of the Sunday-morning TV roundtables, an acknowledgment that he had given voice to many unhappy with where the bailout seems headed."About this populist backlash, I think they're worried [at the White House], and rightly so," National Public Radio's Mara Liasson said on Fox Broadcasting's " Fox News Sunday."
"In this kind of a situation, you want to be dishing out the populism if you're the president. You don't want to be on the receiving end."
Santelli said the issue, in his view, isn't political. It's philosophical. . . .
"I understand what derivatives and toxic assets are. I was in that business. These things are complicated, and I don't know that the taxpayers should own them."His goal, he said, was to spark a debate.
From Robert Samuelson in Newsweek:
Judged by his own standards, President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus program is deeply disappointing. For weeks, Obama has described the economy in grim terms. "This is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill recession," he said at his Feb. 9 news conference. It's "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." Given these dire warnings, you'd expect the stimulus package to focus almost exclusively on reviving the economy. It doesn't, and for that, Obama bears much of the blame. . . .
If the economic outlook is as bleak as Obama says, there's no reason to dilute the upfront power of the stimulus. But that's what he's done.
His politics compromise the program's economics. Look at the numbers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that about $200 billion will be spent in 2011 or later -- after it would do the most good. For starters, there's $8 billion for high-speed rail. "Everyone is saying this is (for) high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas -- I don't know," says Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association. Whatever's done, the design and construction will occupy many years. It's not a quick stimulus. . . .
Big projects take time. They're included in the stimulus because Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are using the legislation to advance many political priorities instead of just spurring the economy. . . .
Obama's political strategy stunts the impact from what it might have been. By using the stimulus for unrelated policy goals, spending will be delayed and diluted. There's another downside: "Temporary" spending increases for specific programs, as opposed to block grants, will be harder to undo, worsening the long-term budget outlook.
Politics cannot be removed from the political process. But here, partisan politics ran roughshod over pragmatic economic policy. Token concessions (including the AMT provision) to some Republicans weakened the package. Obama is gambling that his flawed stimulus will seem to work well enough that he'll receive credit for restarting the economy -- and not blamed for engineering a colossal waste.
Monday, February 23, 2009
New Jersey's super-savvy State Senator Jennifer Beck (pictured) on the re-appointment of Jeanne Fox to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU):
“President Fox opened a secret $83 million bank account that was accessible only to her and one other employee. The account collected millions of dollars from New Jersey energy consumers and then distributed the monies to former BPU employees for clean energy programs.
A state audit conducted by the Department of the Treasury found that Jeanne Fox exercised ‘no oversight of how the BPU ratepayer money was spent and that BPU kept poor records of the secret account.’ Another state audit conducted by the non-partisan State Auditor found that the BPU kept no records of: ‘how the BPU evaluated $2.7 million worth of grants given out in 2003 when documentation must be retained for seven years, inadequate controls for giving grants to former BPU employees, insufficient records to justify Payments to vendors including for hours worked and travel expenses and no tax forms issued to 17 vendors in 2004 and 2005 who were paid more than $600, according to Internal Revenue Service requirements.’
“When initially asked about the secret $83 million bank account Jeanne Fox stated that an Assistant Attorney General had signed off on the creation of the account. Later she had to issue a retraction stating that she had ‘misspoke.’ ”
“The secret account was opened in Wachovia bank. A bank in which, coincidentally, one BPU commissioner owned hundreds of thousands of dollars of stock.”
This is exactly the type of abuse that the Governor promised to end during his inaugural address. Yesterday, the Governor of New Jersey stood before the people of New Jersey and stated that ‘I call on each of you, Republicans and Democrats alike; to recognize that today a turning point is at hand. We must turn away from the era of spending and borrowing beyond our means … once and for all.’ Yet here he is re-appointing the poster child for government waste, fraud and abuse. I am convinced based on her record of a secret account, politically motivated policies, patronage hires and poor administration that Jeanne Fox is exactly the wrong person for to be determining New Jersey energy policy and setting rates for New Jersey taxpayers.”
Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal on how we will come out of the economic mess:
Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.
More from that revealing Detroit News story about high-level federal officials who purport to preach the gospel of a American jobs and who say they support American companies but don't practice what they preach. And this is Obama's team to revitalize the American auto industry?!?:
• Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag owns a 2008 Honda Odyssey and a 2004 Volvo S60. He previously owned a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 1982 Datsun.
• Carol Browner, the White House climate czar, said earlier this month at the Washington Auto Show that she doesn't own an automobile. Public records show she once owned a 1999 Saab 9-5 SE.
• Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson owns a 2008 Toyota Prius and a Honda Odyssey minivan, she said Sunday. "It's great," she said of her Prius.
(Go ahead, Lisa - boast about it. Laugh about it. You're from Joisey. You dont' have to be accountable!)
• Austan Goolsbee, staff director and chief economist for the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board, owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander.
• Joan DeBoer, the chief of staff to LaHood, said in an interview Sunday she drives a 2008 Lexus RX 350. She doesn't consider herself "a car buff" and views her car as a way to get around town.
• Heather Zichal, deputy director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change, owns a Volvo C30, according to public records and officials.
• Lisa Heinzerling, senior climate policy counsel to the head of the EPA, owns a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback station wagon, according to her husband.
• Diana Farrell, the deputy National Economic Council director, doesn't own a vehicle. Her husband, Scott Pearson, owns a 1985 Peugeot 505 S.
• Dan Utech, senior adviser to the Energy Secretary, owns a 2003 Mini Cooper S two-door hatchback.
• Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist, owns a 2005 Honda Odyssey.
The White House declined to comment.
From David Shepardson at the Detroit News:
The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.
Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.
The Detroit News reviewed public records to discover what many of the task force and staff members drove, but information was not available on all of the officials, and records for some states were not complete.
At least two task force members don't own a car, and there are still two open slots on the 10-member panel that will be filled by the secretaries of labor and commerce, who have not yet been appointed.
The co-chairs of the task force -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers -- both own foreign automobiles.
Geithner owns a 2008 Acura TSX, registered in New York. He once owned a 1999 Honda Accord and a 2002 Acura MDX, according to public records.
Geithner is the president's designee for purposes of enforcing loan agreements with GM and Chrysler and must approve or reject any proposed transactions by either company that would cost $100 million or more.
Let's face it: Geithner and his pals are proving to be inarticulate, insensitive, abysmal failures.
There used to be a time when these words were the words you heard before the envelope was opened at the Oscars:
"And the winner is . . . "
But now all that has changed.
There are no winners anymore.
No winners. No winners because there are no losers.
No losers because it's politically incorrect for someone to "lose" or be a "loser." It just ain't fair - not by today's compassion-soaked definition of "fairness."
So, no winners and no losers.
Just someone who happens to receive the Oscar.
And now it's announced like this:
"And the Oscar goes to . . . "
From the Associated Press:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has agreed to a three-book deal with Crown Publishers, starting with a memoir about her years in the administration of President George W. Bush.
"Rice will combine candid narrative and acute analysis to tell the story of her time in the White House and as America's top diplomat, and her role in protecting American security and shaping foreign policy during the extraordinary period from 2001-2009," according to a statement issued Sunday by Crown, a division of Random House Inc. Crown also published then-Sen. Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope."
Rice's book is planned for 2011.
Rice, 54, also will write a memoir about her family, scheduled for 2012, and a young-adult edition of her family book that will come out at the same time. None of the planned works are currently titled.
From Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times:
Pork is back on the menu and the appetite is growing on Capitol Hill, where the number of lawmakers voluntarily swearing off earmarks for pet projects has fallen by nearly half compared with last year.
Just 17 of the 41 House members who promised not to request earmarks last year have made the same pledge this year, according to a survey of all congressional offices by the fiscal conservative action group Club for Growth. The holdouts include some top Republican leaders and all five House Democrats who had forsworn earmarks last year.
Just as telling, only six new lawmakers out of 63 that took office this year have said they will forgo earmarks, despite many of those freshmen having run on promises of restoring fiscal responsibility.
Despite expressing disgust for earmarks and pledging not to request them last year, Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, is going her own direction this year.
“She has formed a Citizens Oversight Panel made up of people from across the 12th District and representing different political views to review appropriations requests in public forums and pass their recommendations on to her,” said her spokesman, Mike Larsen. “It is her hope to expand this process to all congressional districts to provide accountability to the appropriations process.”
Other House members said they're not sure whether they'll sign again this year.