Sunday, 14 November 2010

BARACK OBAMA: CELLOPHANE MAN ON THE WORLD STAGE

Ken Berwitz

Cellophane
Mister cellophane
Should have been my name !!!!
Mister cellophane
'cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there!

Those lyrics are from the great musical Chicago, and obviously are sung by someone who no one is paying attention to.

With that in mind, and with thanks to Ed Morrissey of www.hotair.com, where I saw them, here are excerpts from the Wall Street Journal (on the right) and the San Francisco Chronicle (on the left), about President Obama's futile, useless, humiliating Asian trip:

From the Journal:

Has there ever been a major economic summit where a U.S. President and his Treasury Secretary were as thoroughly rebuffed as they were at this weeks G-20 meeting in Seoul? We cant think of one. President Obama failed to achieve any of his main goals while getting pounded by other world leaders for failing U.S. policies and lagging growth.

 

The root of this embarrassment is political and intellectual: Rather than leading the world from a position of strength, Mr. Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to Seoul blaming the rest of the world for U.S. economic weakness. Americas problem, in their view, is the export and exchange rate policies of the Germans, Chinese or Brazilians. And the U.S. solution is to have the Fed print enough money to devalue the dollar so America can grow by stealing demand from the rest of the world.

 

The world also rejected Mr. Geithners high-profile call for a 4% limit on a nations trade surplus or deficit, which would amount to new political controls on trade and capital flows. This contradicts at least three decades of U.S. policy advice against national barriers to the flow of money and goods. We dont like to see U.S. Treasury Secretaries so completely shot down by the rest of the world, except when they are so clearly misguided.

From the Chronicle:

Shellacked at home, shellacked abroad. President Obamas Asia trip is extending a losing streak with the latest setback a refusal by other major financial powers to follow his lead to revive the global economy.

 

The presidents nostrums, which began with a call for stimulus-style pump priming by other nations, had evolved into a plan to ease wild swings in currency values and overboard trade imbalances. But he got next to nothing in showdown meetings with other leaders of the G-20 nations, or major economic powers. U.S. leadership, once taken for granted, has all but vanished, and no ones in charge.

Do I have to say it again?  This is our fault.  We elected a Chicago machine politician with absolutely no qualifications to be President, and gave him a lopsidedly Democratic congress to second his every mistake.

Now, as we saw in Asia,  he is an international laughingstock to be brushed aside by other world leaders like so much belly button lint.  And when the President is seen in these terms, so is the country.

Last Tuesday we went a good distance toward remedying this awful situation.  I can only hope that we finish the job in 2012. 

Is it asking too much to have a President who is qualified to be President?  One who is not treated on the world stage like a nonentity, a cellophane man?

Not to me it isn't.


WHAT A RE-VOLT-IN' DEVELOPMENT THIS IS

Ken Berwitz

Old timers will remember "What a revoltin' development this is" as the signature line of Chester A. Riley, in early television's "The Life of Riley".

Unfortunately, it has come back to life, in the form of GM's "Volt" - a wildly overpriced car that was supposed to be all electric but is, in reality, little other than the kind of hybrid you can get from just about every other car manufacturer.

George Will has an excellent column on this duplicative and ridiculously overpriced vehicle.  Here are a few excerpts:

General Motors, an appendage of the government, which owns 61 percent of it, is spending some of your money, dear reader, on full-page newspaper ads praising a government brainstorm - the Volt, Chevrolet's highly anticipated and prematurely celebrated (sort of) electric car. Although the situation is murky - GM and its government masters probably prefer it that way - it is unclear in what sense GM has any money that is truly its own. And the Volt is not quite an electric car, or not the sort GM deliberately misled Americans into expecting. 

It is another hybrid.

 

The Volt was conceived to appease the automotive engineers in Congress, which knows that people will have to be bribed, with other people's money, to buy this $41,000 car that seats only four people (the 435-pound battery eats up space).

 

The Volt was conceived to appease the automotive engineers in Congress, which knows that people will have to be bribed, with other people's money, to buy this $41,000 car that seats only four people (the 435-pound battery eats up space).

 

Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said in a letter to the Wall Street Journal: "The early enthusiastic consumer response - more than 120,000 potential Volt customers have already signaled interest in the car, and orders have flowed since the summer - give us confidence that the Volt will succeed on its merits." Disregard the slipperiness ("signaled interest" how?) and telltale reticence (how many orders have "flowed"?). But "on its merits"? Why, then, the tax credits and other subsidies?

 

GM says that, battery-powered, the Volt has a 40-mile range. Popular Mechanics says 33. Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of the electric utility industry, is, understandably, a Volt enthusiast: This supposedly "green" vehicle will store electric energy - 10 to 12 hours of charging on household current - produced by coal- and gas-fired power plants.

 

The federal government, although waist-deep in red ink, offers another bribe: Any purchaser can get a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost (up to $2,000) of an extra-powerful (240-volt) charger. California, although so strapped it recently issued IOUs to vendors, offers a $5,000 cash rebate for which Volt buyers are not eligible but purchasers of Nissan's electric Leaf are. Go figure.

 

In April, in a television commercial and a Wall Street Journal column headlined "The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full," GM's then-CEO Ed Whitacre said "we have repaid our government loan, in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule." Rubbish.

 

GM, which has received almost $50 billion in government subventions, repaid a $6.7 billion loan using other federal funds, a TARP-funded escrow account. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) called this a "TARP money shuffle." A commentator compared it to "paying off your Visa credit card with your MasterCard."

Meretricious accounting and deceptive marketing are inevitable when government and its misnamed "private sector" accomplices foist state capitalism on an appalled country. But those who thought the ethanol debacle defined outer limits of government foolishness pertaining to automobiles were, alas, mistaken.

Is this not exactly what you would expect from a government enterprise like GM? 

Overpriced, underperforming and loaded to the gills with tax breaks/subsidies to get sucke...er, informed consumers to buy one. 

Add in the accounting BS, and it is right out of government central casting.

GM could have been allowed to go into bankruptcy, then reorganize in a way that might enable it to operate efficiently and pofitably.

Instead, the Obama administration kissed the auto unions' collective rear ends, and used our tax dollars to keep GM going just as inefficiently and unprofitably as before - but with all those union deals in place; the ones that pay off for Democrats during election campaigns.

2010 was a lesson in how the country is reacting to the Obama administration's performance.  Let's hope that the lesson is even clearer in 2012.


KILLING BUSINESS WITH "FAIRNESS"

Ken Berwitz

Who knows what is fair?  The Obama administration and the currently-but-not-for-long Democratic majority in both houses of congress, that's who.  And they intend to legislate it.

Excerpted from Caroline May's article at the Daily Caller - and please pay special attention to the paragraph I've put in bold print:

As the Obama administration continues to work toward economic recovery, the Senate will be debating the Paycheck Fairness Act next week a bill that the business community says is both unnecessary and sure to hurt job creation, but that others contend is necessary to ensure gender equity in the workplace.

 

According to business groups, on its face the bill seems innocuous enough. After all, who wouldnt be in favor of gender equity in the work place?

 

However, they say, the bill already approved 256-163 in the House last year would try to ensure pay equity by restricting employers salary decisions, making it easier to file suit against employers believed to be engaged in sex-based pay discrimination and requiring businesses to disclose detailed salary information to the government.

 

Many further argue that the legislation is superfluous, as the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act already provide protection against gender-based wage discrimination.

 

Michael Layman, labor and employment manager for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), stressed that, with a membership that is about 70% female, SHRM takes pay discrimination very seriously but that the Paycheck Fairness Act would be excessive and overly burdensome.

 

Whether you are a small business owner or a corporation with an entire human resources department, the business uses their professional judgment in the marketplace to make salary offers and pay decisions, Layman told The Daily Caller. There is no correct wage for any given employee, so the Paycheck Fairness Act touches on the subjective nature of salary to make the employer easier to sue than they are under the existing two federal gender pay discrimination laws.

 

In a letter to then-director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag in June, the Business Roundtable and The Business Council cited the Paycheck Fairness Act as an example of pending legislation that would hurt economic growth and stifle job creation.

 

[Paycheck Fairness] would open companies to potentially crippling employment litigation without adding significant benefit to workers, since current law already addresses the discrimination issue, the letter read.

What a great idea.  Ignore the fact that laws to insure paycheck fairness are already in place

Instead, enforce "fairness" by giving lawyers another avenue of suing everyone and anyone, by requiring businesses to turn over more and more information to the government (isn't that wonderful) and by requiring them to justify their hiring and firing decisions to some government wonk who - if the Obama administration is any indication - knows as much about real-world business as Paris Hilton knows about humility.

In other words, put a few more nails in the coffin of this country's ability to conduct business for absolutely no reason other than giving big government more control over what used to be free enterprise.

Please note the "Paycheck Fairness Act" passed by a vote of 256 - 163 -- in a house that was 255 Democrat and 178 Republican.  Here's a tough one:  can you guess which party favored it and which party opposed it?

In a month and a half the house will have about 190-195 Democrats and 240-245 Republicans.  And the Senate will go from 57-41 Democrat (plus two independents) down to 51-47. 

You don't need me to tell you that the incoming house would yield a very different result on the "Paycheck Fairness Act".  

Maybe what is left of the Democratic house presence, coupled with concern by the Democratic senators up for re-election in 2012, will make it go away.  

I doubt it, but we can always hope.


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