Parting shots from a depraved presidency

As we just discussed, we have plenty of reasons to not like or respect President Bush. With that in mind, let us introduce a new image, the duck representing a lame duck presidency.  And here are two more reasons to dislike and disrespect this guy:

This past week the administration indicated that it was likely to auction leases to oil companies for land abutting national parks and monuments, particularly in Utah.  Normally the Department of Interior gives a fairly long lead time for comments, but in this instance it was done at the last possible moment, so as to limit opposition.

Also this past week, President Bush indicated to Congress that he would not be opposed to another bailout bill, this one for the auto industry, if the Senate ratified a free trade agreement for Columbia.  Although all of these bailout bills leave a bad taste in my mouth, it’s not clear we have a choice.  But what really offends me is that President Bush is willing to anchor his negotiating position in a manner that may well be the wrong policy for the economy.  Furthermore, there are policy matters relating to Colombia that need to be addressed, such as whether the government is sufficiently stable, and whether we would be importing goods that were profiting the FARC.  These matters are both complex, but they are not inter-related, and so they should be dealt with separately.

Two more reasons to say good riddons to this president.

“Republican Moderates to Blame” – Now THAT Was Predictable

The rats are out of the ship, now that Senator McCain has lost.  Although they are on all sides of the spectrum, here is an article from CNN that demonstrates just how fast the Family Research Council has started complaining that moderates are to blame, and that Republicans should shift right.  While anyone’s 20/20 hindsight is less than interesting, as we discussed prior to McCain’s loss, his problem was that he tried to advance two separate strategies and alienated both of his bases.  John McCain did not simply run a moderate race.

Arguably, however, the reckoning will go the other way: President Bush’s administration is about as unpopular AND as far to the right as one could possibly get in America, and John McCain could not run farther from it.  As proof, where was President Bush the last month of the campaign?  Answer: he was hiding, keeping a low profile, as we previously discussed.  Elizabeth Dole, a conservative, lost her seat in the Senate, and Virginia has gone blue.

The fight for the soul of the Republican party is on.  Whether they will remain right wing conservative will very much depend not only on how the electorate views the McCain loss, but how President Obama and the economy fares in the first two years.

Please do not applaud

The Three Stooges
The Three Stooges

The market had an “Up” day on Friday, now that Congress and the administration have decided that the crisis is so great that it requires what the Wall Street Journal described on Thursday as the biggest bailout since the 1930s.  We are now seven years and eight months into the Bush administration, and the comparisons to Herbert Hoover seem most apt.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it was clear that the administration and this president lacked credibility to calm markets simply by words.  Opening up the coffers of future tax payers, however, speaks volumes.

While many will applaud the deal that Congress and the administration have put together to stablize the financial industry we have to ask ourselves how we got here in the first place.  While Democrats must take some blame for cowering in the face of anti-government rhetoric, it was the Republicans who clearly controlled the agenda.  And now we have seen the results.

There are no good ways to manage a bailout- only bad and worse ways.  The good way involves not requiring it in the first place.  Oversight of the markets has clearly been lax, as we discussed in the oil and food market.  Here now is the difference between a Republican and a Libertarian: a Libertarian’s principles dictate that he or she let the financial markets fail.  A Republican wants to be re-elected.

So please, no applause for the government’s move.  Our children will pay the bill for us.

Oops! McCain loses one point

He was doing just fine at his lovefest in the Twin Cities, but then Senator John McCain started talking about cutting taxes.   As I wrote earlier, he was palatable because he was talking about the least offensive tax, a corporate tax cut.  As he takes a more offensive position by generalzing cuts, especially in light of news like the Federal Highway Fund running out of money, now I’m giving Obama the win for the economy, and McCain loses personality points for pandering.

The Do Nothing Presidency

Smoke Stack

Yesterday, the Bush Administration released a long awaited report by the Environmental Protection Agency, that says that Carbon Dioxide can and should be regulated.  One would think this a remarkable departure for an administration that has done everything within its power to destroy the environment, through drilling in fragile environmental areas, unmitigated logging, and the failure to protect endangered species.  There’s a catch: the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to develop the report, and in releasing it, in the same breath, the administration argued that regulation by the EPA to protect our children will hurt business and industrial growth.

Let’s review our tally for this administration:

  • Housing —  Failure to properly regulate the housing market has led to a massive series of bank failures.
  • The Energy Market — we are suffering from inflation due to a massive increase in oil prices, which itself is in part due to an inability of Americans to conserve.   The administration has done absolutely nothing to reduce consumption, or for that matter offer fuel alternatives.  Instead, they’ve argued that drilling in wilderness refuges will offer some form of relief, a claim that is disputed by every expert in the field, because it will offer no short term relief, while medium and long term relief are by no means at all assured.
  • Security— having gone to war twice and wasted billions of dollars on meaningless programs, the administration has managed to alienate America from the rest of the world, reducing people’s desires to visit, impacting tourism, and reducing our national credibility.  At the same time the Taliban has rebuilt itself, and we’ve lost our allies in Pakistan and now, seemingly Iraq (not that Prime Minister Maliki was every clearly an ally).
  • Education— No Child Left Behind has meant that our children haven’t gone forward as a group.  Our public education system remains in a shambles due to lack of incentives for good teachers, buildings that are falling apart, and a general willingness by this administration to divert funds to religious programs.
  • Public Transportation— our skies are more dangerous than they have been since the creation of the FAA.  More runway incursions, more close calls in the air, disgruntled workforces, and disgruntled passengers have left our air transportation system in a mess, while we’ve invested nearly nothing in ground public transport.
  • Public Welfare— with a remarkably lame response to Hurricane Katrina, the administration demonstrated that they could not be trusted with emergency crisis management.

In short, they did nothing except collect pay checks.  Perhaps Americans will pay more attention to our civic responsibilities the next time we hand someone the keys.