Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger, Bernanke vs Sanders, Obama and Afghanistan, AARP Backs HCR, GOP Strategy to stall HCR, TARP funds repaid, and the NJ Nets

Quick Hits for December 3, 2009

* At 0-18, I feel for New Jersey Nets fans as their team is now labeled as one of the worst ever. Fortunately, I have never had to feel that kind of pain.

* It is good to know that Bank of America is now healthy enough to repay all of the $45 billion in TARP funds they borrowed. Apparently, the bailout system of loans seems to be working. It is one thing that President Bush appears to have gotten right, one of the very, very few things. Right or wrong, our banking system has long been central to our economic health.

* Democrats need to stand up to Republicans and start treating them as the "opposition" instead of the "minority." The GOP chose the label "opposition" and now they are talking about using every procedural trick possible to delay health care for Americans. Their leadership even issued a letter instructing them to force closure votes on just about everything.

Democrats need to understand that Republicans have viewed this as a "war" since the Bork hearings, not simply politics. They view any and all tactics as "acceptable" and assume Democrats will always back down from a fight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to keep the Senate in session through Christmas to pass health care. Let's see if he has the intestinal fortitude to do it. I hope so. Contact your Senators daily at the least to make sure they hear your voice at 202-224-3121. Americans deserve better than 46 million without health care, demand a public option!

* In a potentially important moment in the health care debate, the AARP has endorsed the Senate Democratic Health Care Reform proposal. The AARP endorsement was a major turning point for President Bush in passing his prescription drug coverage bill because its members tend to vote disproportionally high and the organization is so heavily trusted by seniors. So when the AARP tells seniors that Health Care Reform does NOT hurt their guaranteed Medicare benefits, it influences seniors more than those GOP scare tactics. The Democrats must use it to push forward and pass this now.

* President Obama's critics on the right can find something to criticize the President on no matter what he says. In his speech on Afghanistan, they found reasons to criticize from naming a tentative withdrawal date in an exit strategy, to failing to say the word "win" in the speech, as if it somehow means he intends to lose. Their responses are silly to say the least.

First, if you don't have an exit strategy, you end up with Vietnam, where you have no goals, no aims, just an ambiguous "we must win" which leads to a quagmire that you have no hope of winning because you don't know what winning means. Or worse, you have an absurd goal like President Bush in Iraq, where all terrorists would be sucked in and killed there, as if every single terrorist in the world was an immortal, drawn to a central spot, where in the end, there must be only one, and they all fight it out with swords to cut off each others' heads, indicating the President may have watched Highlander a few too many times, and missed a few too many briefings.

Second, the notion that a withdrawal date is somehow a magical victory for the enemy is laughable at best. To say "we leave when the conditions on the ground merit" is just as flawed. Has anyone ever noticed that a 10 year old can figure out "you can when you are good" only to watch them terrorize others the second you let them off of timeout? Whether time or a conditional statement, the impact is the same. You either got them or you didn't, and you won't know until you leave. Setting a date doesn't change anything. And after 8 years in Afghanistan, if we don't know who the terrorists are by name and picture yet, do you really think another five years instead of two will identify them? Probably not, but it may inspire some more people to join them.

Finally, leaving the nation is a smart move for a few reasons. First, it takes away the number one terrorist argument to join, you have ended the occupation and they can't shout "America is the oppressor and occupier, not a liberator." Second, it sends the clear message to Afghanistan, "this nation is yours not ours, take control of it and make it what you want." That means we won't hold up a corrupt President, the people can take them down. Third, it allows for terrorists to operate more openly. I know, that sounds strange, but keep in mind, those we can't find are because they are well hidden. Bringing them out in the open means they are easier to hit. Taking our forces home does not mean they stay home, we do have special forces and President Obama has shown he isn't afraid to use them. Don't be surprised if more terrorists quietly disappear or die after we leave. Obama isn't a pacifist, he just isn't an arrogant idiot either who shouts "bring it on."

* 111 Republicans opposed a bill to ban importing nuclear waste materials for disposal in America. It might be one thing if it was former Soviet Union bomb making material or something, but it was dealing with energy waste from Italy, Brazil, and Mexico. Why in the world would you want to import nuclear waste to be buried in America? This one makes no sense whatsoever and appears to want to turn America into a third world country where everyone can bury their waste to poison our ground and water.

* Tiger, what were you thinking? I have to say there are far more important things going on today that will impact our lives for the next generation than Tiger Woods' sex life, so I can't wait for this to go away, but I just don't understand what he was thinking. Then again, it is his private life, it isn't for my pleasure. Maybe if we focused on fixing our own lives and our world around us, we wouldn't be so obsessed with the train wrecks of lives that some other people have and that clutters the check stands of grocery stores and gas stations.

* Finally, the nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may be in for a big fight as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders put in a formal "hold" on the nomination. While I disagree with Senator Sanders' notion that Bernanke could have averted the recession since he became chairman in 2006 (it was demographically created, and made worse through political regulation, and banking greed put in place before he took over), Bernanke has done a horrible job of communicating in a way that builds the confidence of Americans that he actually knows what is going on in the economy. Whether you believe in Alan Greenspan's tenure as Fed Chair or not, you can't say Greenspan was bad at communicating as most Americans trusted his every word about what was going to happen in the economy. The Fed needs a change of its Chair, but not because Bernanke was horrible as the Chair, but rather because he simply does not promote confidence in the system due to his communication problems.

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