Monthly Archives: February 2009

We’re America! We Built the Pyramids!

President Obama wasn’t actually mistaken about who built the Pyramids last night, but his inaccuracies call into question his ability and his staff’s. When the President, addressing a joint session of Congress can’t get simple historical facts straight, isn’t it possible he’s making other errors as well?

Many observers believe his errors in reciting his policies or budget projections are rhetoric or partisanship, but there is a mounting case to be made that those errors reflect simple incompetence and not grand strategy.

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Who’s Counting? (updated 2-25-09)

Who’s counting the budget deficit? Well the news media might be, but the way they’re keeping it secret, one might believe it’s their PIN. From the AP by way of Drudge

“By the president’s account, the administration inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year from the Bush administration – that’s the figure Obama says he’ll cut in half – and the stimulus law, coupled with rescue efforts for ailing automakers, the financial industry and beleaguered homeowners will raise this year’s red ink to $1.5 trillion.”

Well, thank goodness, the President is keeping an account, because apparently no one in the news media has Internet access and they aren’t aware that President Bush’s last budget, passed by the 110th Congress, and Senator Obama’s caucus ( I have not confirmed his vote – he was probably too busy to vote), had a $407 billion deficit (based on contemporaneous revenue assumptions, obviously).

How did President Obama get to $1.3 trillion? Well he added in his mis-named ARRA of 2009 which consists of $787 billion in deficit spending, and some revenue reduction from the scared populace, and VOILA – $1.3 trillion. Except President Obama apparently forgot that he signed the ARRA and not President Bush.

Updated 2-25-09

How did President Obama get to his $1.3 trillion number? I’ve done some research and I still don’t know. There’s certainly a number for 2009 in the CBO data that matches it, more or less, but I haven’t been able to divine how the CBO reaches it. I do know that the $1.3 Trillion does included $184 Billion of the ARRA that actually gets spent this year, but it’s really not clear (to me) how the TARP money is accounted for or some of the other recent financial rescues.  And there is $150 billion or so of reduced revenue that got added in, which would have made the origianl Bush defict in the $550 billion range, 

Whatever the full explanation, I’m sure  that much like Timothy Geithner, the President made a “simple mistake” adding in $184 Billion and whatever else he’s authorized to his ‘inherited deficit”.

Tour de Farce

Is there a group of people more out of touch with reality than the political press corps? Examples: On my MSN homepage is a MSNBC headline “Gloom persists despite audacious Obma plans”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29307065

The link goes to a an AP story that includes the quote “Winning approval was a political tour-de-force for the new administration.”

Who ARE these people? Spring semester interns? Obama has substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, the House wrote the bill with literally no input from the opposition and almosts no input from the Administration.

THIS is a “tour-de-force”? Can the bar be set any lower?

The Problem with Round Tables

Most television news/opinion shows include a “round-table” segment. And usually, seated ’round the table, are journalists. The problem? Journalists’ opinions are only as good as their sources, generally speaking.

Frequently, the table is beset with journalists who have merely read the democrat/special interest talking points, or at best, asked questions of the press liaison to clarify those talking points.

Today’s example is Michelle (MEE-shell) Norris of NPR on Meet the Press. Ms. Norris fluently explained that undeserving homeowners (speculators, bad credit, etc, [Obama Adm. Off’s]) needed to be given taxpayer money because “if your neighbor’s house is foreclosed upon the value of your house will go down”.

In the words of former Vice President Cheney: So?

Did Ms. Norris bother to ask the so? question? Typically the answer is something along the lines of that it will affect your proceeds from a sale or your ability to refinance.

Again, so?

The proper question would be to ask what is the magnitude of the impact of some people not being able to refinance or having reduced sale proceeds? What sort of impact is there? And keep following up as the answers get vaguer and vaguer. As a percentage of households the sale/refinance set is very small. The subset of that group that has to sell or refinance is smaller still.

The Meet the Press round-table was so uniformly uninformed, that not member could contemplate “doing nothing” when it came  to the housing market.

The only options ’round the table seemed to be how much to support the President.

Journalist, Entertainer or Opinionmaker?

I believe that Jon Stewart still claims to be an entertainer and does not intend to present serious opinions. Nonetheless, people with influential opinions continue to appear on his show, and legitimize Stewart’s asinine questions.

Recently, Stewart had John Sununu on and Stewart made the statement he didn’t care if the government was paying people to dig holes and fill them up as long as they were getting money.

I would assume that Mr. Sununu thought he had an opportunity to reach a broader audience than he usually reaches and that he would take this opportunity to provide a alternate opinion to the insular group the makes up Stewart’s audience.

Maybe that’s the case. More likely, he is doing harm to his cause by elevating Stewart’s opinion to legitimacy.

President Obama’s Market Economics

There are a lot of commentators accusing the President of not believing in the use of markets to distribute goods and services. This is completely wrong. President Obama has taken the initiative to create a market for incompetence. Nearly $200 billion of his War on Prosperity bill will spent on rewarding state and local governments for mismanagement of the public trust and today (Wednesday), the President has announced a $275 billion  reward for consumers who have made bad mortgage decisions.

Creating a nearly $500 billion market for ignorance must be historic by some standard.

Explain the Link

Sunday’s Washington Post included an editorial (I know – nobody reads them, except staff and cranks) ((I’m not staff)) supporting some sort of tax on carbon. I believe the editor’s have identified carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and that they believe generating more would have a deleterious effect on something.

My explanation of the ediotr’s implied beliefs is necessarily vague because it’s pretty obvious they don’t understand how the tax they are advocating is going to have any influence on the outcome they desire.

I constantly try to think of analogies for carbon based man made global warming and here’s the latest. The carbon tax is like taxing sandy feet to prevent beach erosion. It’s just the wrong problem by several orders of magnitude.

Whatever the skill set is necessary to become an editor at the WP, it must not include scientific understanding.