William Katz / Urgent Agenda
FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2009
COMMENT: What a sleazy affair. I don't doubt that the court is correct on the law, but the symbolism is awful. America's first black president will have his Senate seat filled by a man appointed by a just-impeached governor, with the race card played all the way. The president-elect's silence is disappointing. Another great moment in history.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impeach Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday morning on the grounds of abuse of power as the state’s chief executive. He is the first governor in Illinois’s history to be impeached, and his case now goes to the state Senate for trial.
COMMENT: Somewhat ironic that he's the first to be impeached, since others have gone to jail, including Hot Rod's immediate predecessor. But why add insult to injury?
Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks declined, extending the market’s worst weekly slump since November, on concern an increase in the unemployment rate to an almost 16-year high signals the global recession is worsening.
COMMENT: Final figures - Dow down 143 to 8599.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces almost certain impeachment by the Illinois House, a historic step that would trigger a trial to determine whether the Democratic governor should be tossed out of office. A simple majority vote will be enough to impeach. With Blagojevich defenders almost impossible to find, the outcome appears set.
COMMENT: He would be tried by the Illinois Senate. As of now, Hot Rod doesn't seem inclined to resign. The key element of an impeachment trial wouldn't be his fate. No one outside Illinois cares. It would be the possibility of damaging information coming out about the president-elect or his staff.
COMMENT: We should take two lessons from the Depression here. One is the importance of speed. Two is the importance of actually solving problems, not doing things that satisfy influential congressmen or just make us feel good about ourselves.
COMMENT: But it's the tax cuts that provide the greatest and most immediate stimulus. The other items can take years to work, and we haven't got years. We get the feeling that we're looking at an expensive failure here.
COMMENT: Holder's nomination does not appear to be in trouble, but it represents an Obama blunder. If there's one official you want to be pristine, it's attorney general. But Holder comes into his confirmation hearings with heavy, roll-on baggage. He was involved in the infamous Marc Rich pardon, his attitude toward confronting terrorism appears vague at best, and now this. Couldn't Obama have found someone else? His choice for solicitor general, Dean Elena Kagan of the Harvard Law School, would have been much better.
COMMENT: Not exactly an endorsement. Maybe Caroline should cancel the moving van.
11 DAYS TO THE AGE OF OBAMIUS
In only 11 days the Age of Obamius begins. Oprah will be slim, The New York Times will be renamed The New Bama Testamant, no team in professional football will be permitted to lose.
We can report the following developments:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2009
Lesson of the week: In Washington, all business is business as usual. President-elect Obama is running into trouble in his own party over his stimulus package. Some objections may be valid. Others seem to be the same old story - put my pet project first, or else. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Obama magic wand isn't having much effect on Congress.
He might have a point on amount. But putting any money in peoples' pockets can help...rather than earmarking it for federal spending programs.
Dud. Infrastructure spending takes too long to work because projects have to be planned, approved and contracted. Tax cuts work because the money quickly goes to the people.
How long have they had to plan this?
Again, the way you win over deficit hawks is with tax cuts. Tax cuts stimulate the economy, and, in the end, that adds to federal revenue, reducing the deficit. But members of Congress want stuff for their districts and states, which is a big part of the budget problem.
But now we're into governing. Fading away are the mass Obama rallies - the last one will be the inaugural bash - and a week from Tuesday Mr. Obama will have to earn his paycheck. He'll find that the "historic moment" of his election will live on only in the smitten media and among the party-line multiculturalists in academia. For the rest of us, he must produce.
January 8, 2009. Permalink
A high-profile Norwegian doctor who has said the September 11 terrorists were justified in their attack is now treating patients in Gaza and is being accused of presenting "hard-core propaganda" to TV interviewers in his telling of the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Dr. Mads Gilbert has become an unofficial advocate of the Palestinian cause, his critics say.
International media reports, including those from the BBC, CBS, CNN and FOX’s sister station Sky News, present Gilbert as an ordinary doctor. But a look at his record shows that Gilbert, 61, is a political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist "Red" party, and he has been involved in solidarity work for the Palestinians since the 1970s. He has criticized the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders for refusing to take sides in conflicts.
COMMENT: It's utterly typical of today's journalism. People are featured in stories, and we're given only a sliver of information about them. It would be like having Adolf Hitler interviewed, describing him as a German politician, and leaving it at that. But I've noticed that the problem exists almost exclusively when leftists are featured. If someone on the right is the subject, we get details about that person. If the person is on the left, the background is kept vague.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday urged Congress to act quickly to pass sweeping economic stimulus measures, including a tax cut and an infusion of as much as $800 billion, or face the likelihood that “this recession could linger for years.”
COMMENT: Perfectly proper to warn about the economy, which continues downward. But news reports say that even Democrats on Capitol Hill are having trouble figuring out exactly how the money will be spent. Obama must refine his program, make it completely clear. I wouldn't be surprised, by the way, if he reinstitutes FDR's practice of evening, "fireside chats," on TV.
WASHINGTON -- William Perry, who headed the Pentagon during a 1994 nuclear standoff with North Korea, predicted on Thursday that President-elect Barack Obama will soon face a nuclear crisis with Iran. Iran is "moving inexorably toward becoming a nuclear power," with ominous implications for the Middle East, Perry said.
COMMENT: Sooner, rather than later. With the American economy in turmoil, it's logical for Iran to assume we'll be focusing on that. I doubt that the free fall in the price of oil will deter Iran. Even economically challenged countries can develop the bomb if they focus their resources.
Professor Steven E. Schier of Carleton College has a remarkable take on the U.S. Senate election, recount, and upcoming court challenge in Minnesota. The race has incumbent Republican Norm Coleman challenged by rarely funny comedian Al Franken. Published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, this will not increase your reverence for democracy:
Nothing like laying it on the line.
Well, Franken has waited in the wings before. It won't hurt him.
We have lived with the legacy of elections so close that we can never be sure of the outcome.
I recall walking with friends through the streets of Chicago at 5 a.m., the day after the 1960 election. The Chicago Sun-Times came out with a headline:
An hour later the paper came out with a new headline:
IS IT KENNEDY?
And that's the way it's been left for almost half a century.
Professor Schier makes good sense.
January 8, 2009. Permalink
COMMENT: We're free marketers here, but I can't deny that Wall Street brought this on itself. There is simply a limit to the abuse people are willing to take. My great fear is that the creeps who created a lot of these problems will, with their army of lawyers, figure out a way around the new rules, and that the average guy who puts some of his savings in the market will again be left holding the bag. That's not free enterprise.
COMMENT: A great loss to the nation. How will we survive without his calm reasoning and exquisite statesmanship.
COMMENT: Now watch the usual suspects come out of the journalistic woodwork to say, "But no Israelis were killed, right? Why should Israel be angry?"
12 DAYS TO THE AGE OF OBAMIUS
We begin a new feature - the countdown to the new age, when peace will cover the Earth, the oceans will recede, and Chryslers will sell again. This is the coming of the age of Obamius.
With 12 days to go, we can report the following developments:
More bulletins coming each day 'til January 20th, the day of Obamius.
January 8, 2009. Permalink
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
THE ANGEL'S CORNER*
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