The end of 2009 had to be the most dispiriting time ever for those who follow politics and economics. After hundreds of billions in bailouts, the financial industry pranced off with billions in bonuses and no regulatory reform - protected by tax-cheat Tim Geithner, Fannie/Freddie overseer Barney Frank, and the discredited Chris Dodd. And a year of health care debate has shown an indifference to public opinion, escalating deficits, and unbounded Congressional corruption. And that's before the airline security fiasco. About a third of the public thinks that the country is on the "right track". Oy vey.
Some of the dejection comes from the demeaning of icons - the Nobel Peace Prize transformed from recognition of such leaders as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa to a statement of encouragement for the liberal policies of Barack Obama; and the entire concept of empirical science easily put aside to serve the politics of global warming. At least baseball didn't have another gambler Peter Rose or a new steroids scandal.
Then the Senate health care corruption. A colleague and I frequently debated whether legislators should be guided by the wishes of their constituents, their consciences, or their party. At least in the halls of the US Senate, with a majority of Americans opposing Harry Reid's stealth bill, not a single vote was controlled by constituents or by conscience. And the public was shown the greatest orgy of bribery and vote buying in a lifetime. And as for the Obama and Pelosi promises of transparency - forget it, this is too important for the citizens to see the sausage made.
And Copenhagen - which the head of Greenpeace called a "crime scene". The major unreported headline is not that Hugo Chavez received a rousing ovation from the 193 participating nations for his oration on the demise of capitalism, Hillary's specifically unauthorized commitment for the US to lead a $100 billion per year slush fund for underprivileged nations, or the snowball fight among the outside protesters. No, the big news is that Chinese President Wen Jiabao refused to meet with Obama on at least two occasions, and that Obama was upset, sarcastically asking "Are you ready now?", when he arrived uninvited at the unscheduled working group meeting of India, China, Brazil, and South Africa which actually developed the later-accepted "accord". So much for the liberal elites of the western world.
But the biggest loss is Obama's credibility with the American public and world leaders. The Cuban delegation's "Obama lies" press conference in Copenhagen mirrors Joe Wilson's September outburst, and states the obvious. Perhaps the claim that we could pay for 30 million uninsured without raising middle class taxes or costs, or that we could take $400 billion out of Medicare without reducing services could be accepted by the American media as high-end political hyperbole. But as he gets down to specifics - "the Reid bill includes all of the ideas on cost reduction" (except tort reform, negotiations with pharma companies, selling health insurance across state lines); this bill (adding apples and oranges) "won't add one dime to the deficit" - it smells more and more like deliberate knowing falsehoods. Those who voted for Abe Lincoln got the Daly machine. Even the New York Times is now recognizing that Obama's promises of reduced deficits and huge expansion of federal health care spending with no tax impact on the middle class is nonsense.
Then, at the nadir, enter the people of Nebraska. When Ben Nelson sold his 60th vote for a bag of silver for Nebraska, his popularity plunged among his constituents to a 61%-30% deficit. What many on the coasts don't understand is that the people of Nebraska want fairness, limited government, respect for religion, and self-reliance, not to be associated with the corruption of Louisiana. Fortunately, the people of Kansas City get it, as do those in Evansville, Modesto, Colorado Springs, Buffalo, Panama City, and a thousand other places where they are organizing tea parties and preparing for a political revolution.
Thanks this week go to Scott Bowen who forwarded this video by John Coleman, the founder of the weather channel, who presents a persuasive argument to go slow in destroying our economy to prevent global warming.
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bill bowen - 1/8/2010