...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Top (But Not Necessarily Best) Political News Items of 2009
I write this as the final few minutes of 2009 are ticking away. The year has not been a particularly good one in terms of the American economy and American politics. Rather, it has been a great challenge for many families and individuals, and full of disappointing actions by our federal government. It seems we have been set up for a good deal more suffering in the future in the areas of taxation, inflation, and more importantly, loss of liberty and increased government control over our everyday lives.
Here I am listing, with brief comments, what I consider the top items, organized by category. You can refer to my previous blog posts for comments on most of these items if you are interested.
First, the economy Double-digit unemployment. This has probably been the top news story of the year, and it continues month after month in spite of the stimulus and increased spending in general. Forecasts suggest high unemployment rates will continue through much of 2010. Auto company takeovers and bankruptcies. These were more government takeovers of private-sector industry. GM and Chrysler went through bankruptcies anyway. About $110 billion was spent on these items, with more losses to come. Cash for Clunkers program. This program helped some people get new cars at a substantial cost to taxpayers. It ran out of money at one point and had to have new authorization to continue for a while. Dealers had to wait a long time to get paid by the government. The program was useful in illustrating the fine-tuned efficiency of government management that we can expect in other programs, like health care and cap and trade. $1.42 trillion budget deficit. Annual deficits of over $1 trillion are projected for the next decade. This is not only disappointing and difficult, but actually dangerous to our economy. Largest national debt ever. Currently $12.15 trillion , not including tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. House passes financial regulatory bill. Really a thinly disguised government takeover, as the bill includes authority to seize failing companies, or force them to split up. Maybe the Senate will have better sense than to repeat this nonsense. California faces financial crisis. The liberal welfare state policies of California have naturally led to big deficits and near bankruptcy. Yet these same priorities are being pursued in Washington, where it is thought that the ability to print money will protect us, unlike in California. This, however is not true. A day of reckoning is coming if corrections aren’t made, and sooner than people think.
Second, Health Care House and Senate pass differing health care bills. Harry Reid and friends will work out the differences in conference. Democrats have all the votes they need, and aren’t getting any help from Republicans. This strictly partisan bill is supported by only a minority of American voters. Democrats will see this in the 2010 elections. Swine flu scare. “Pandemic” or not, this issue has been exploited as another “scare” to encourage people to look to government for help. States raise constitutional questions about health care bills. Several state attorneys general are preparing to file lawsuits over various features that might show up in the final health care bill, such as mandates to purchase insurance, and special deals for certain states, that were negotiated to obtain votes enough to get to 60 votes in the Senate. The courts will likely rule on several constitutional issues. I hope they consider the Tenth Amendment. Citizens protest against Obamacare at August town hall meetings. Several members of Congress were startled at the harshness with which many of their constituents received information about Obamacare, and got an earful at their town hall meetings that were supposed to explain the plan to the people and build support. Obama had to call out his SEIU thugs to assault some people.
Third, Climate Change House passes cap and trade. A far-reaching and costly cap and trade bill was passed by the House, which drew ridicule from conservatives. House Minority Leader John Boehner spent an hour reading from the bill on the House floor, pointing out some of its ridiculous provisions. The billed was passed having been read by few or no members. President Barack Obama goes to Copenhagen for climate meeting. The conference resulted in a five-party non-binding “agreement” among large nations, including the U.S., but overall was a major failure. But Obama promised tens of billions in aid to other countries, which is what the meeting was all about anyway. HHS declares carbon dioxide is harmful to health. Thus, if cap and trade does not pass, the government can use HHS regulations to force CO-2 standards on industry and impose draconian regulations. “Climategate” shows dishonesty of so-called climate science. The so-called science of climate change is severely distorted and is questioned by many scientists. It is a fraud and a hoax which serves as an excuse to seek more government control and power.
Fourth, the Tea Party Movement Tea Party rallies draw thousands in various locations, a million or more in Washington; media loath to cover them.
Fifth, Foreign Affairs Obama delays Afghanistan policy decision. Finally, Obama announces a troop increase of about 30,000, but his speech announcing this was halfhearted in tone, with more emphasis on getting out than in fulfilling the mission. Higher rate of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan than in 2008. Obama visits China; talks seem unproductive. No specific agreement announced about China financing U.S. debt, or China’s human rights policies, etc. Talks with Russia seem unproductive. Hillary Clinton and the President have talked to Russian officials at different times. The on-again-off-again missile shield in Eastern Europe is a barrier, in Russia’s view, to the kind of nuclear disarmament Obama wants. In the interest of American security, one may hope it won’t happen soon. North Korea pushes ahead with nuclear program. Iran pushes ahead with nuclear program. Iran experiences substantial internal dissent. Obama has been criticized for not taking a stronger position in support of Iranian dissidents protesting the Iranian presidential election. Obama apologizes for U.S. in Europe and Latin America. Seemingly never wanting to miss an opportunity to criticize and apologize for America, Obama seems to think that before he came along, America was usually the bad guy. Israel invades Gaza in response to attacks. The Democrats’ response? Many billions of dollars in aid to the Gaza regime, i.e., the terrorist organization Hamas. Terrorist airplane bombing averted although security measures failed. According to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the system worked, then it didn’t. Obama characterized the perpetrator as “isolated” despite his contacts with terrorist groups.
Sixth, Obama’s People Obama appoints 30+ “czars.” They supposedly wield power like Cabinet officers are supposed to, but don’t need Senate confirmation and report only to Obama. That’s the Chicago way, I suppose. Ben Bernanke appointed to another term as Fed head, named Time’s Person of the Year. A lot of people are unhappy with these developments. Several of Obama’s appointments shown to be tax cheats, some have had to withdraw, such as Tom Daschle. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, tax cheat, stays on. He’s over IRS and a good many other things. He worked with Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke in the bank bailouts and other Obama moves to take over the financial sector. Rep. Charles Rangel in trouble over taxes. He’s chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes and oversees tax laws Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, who had a significant role in causing the financial crisis, have significant responsibility for dealing with it.
Seventh, the GOP New Jersey and Virginia elect Republican governors. This is said to portend trouble for the Democrats in 2010. The Democrats probably think the voters will have short memories about Obamacare, etc. Are they right? Not if the Tea Party movement can keep going. Sarah Palin publishes autobiography/memoir. This rekindles liberals’ fears of her, which they express through ridicule and abuse.
Eighth, Miscellaneous Obama goes to Copenhagen to promote Chicago for the Olympics. Chicago is then the first city to be rejected by the International Olympic Committee. And after all that trouble. Obama blames Bush Administration at every opportunity. Ho, hum, what else is new? Obama’s talk to school children leads to controversy. Liberals don’t seem to know why. Could it be because now he’s the education Indoctrinator-in-Chief? Obama wants more school days and hours for American students. He wants them to beat these foreign students on math and science tests. Also, he wants the federal government dictating policy to local schools. A better idea is to encourage school districts to expand vocational education.
So that’s briefly how some things happened in 2009. Let’s hope things improve in 2010. Happy New Year, everyone!
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.