April 29, 2009

100 Days from Hell

We get caught up in the day-to-day issues and sometimes overlook the bigger picture. At the ephemeral demarcation point of 100 days into the Obama Presidency, we are granted an opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture, by the mere passage of a standard time period for measurement.

Obama's first 100 days have not been complacent. He's been very busy. Whether his efforts have been in the best interest of America or have been effective are another story. Certainly he merits an A for effort.

But...The title of the post isn't 100 Days from Hell for nothing.

What does the big picture look like? Partly like this.

Graph from WaPo.

But for Obama, the picture is more a melange of things. It's difficult because it doesn't fit into buckets, try as we might. There are, as with any President, ramification political, ideological, national, and otherwise. Much of the impact has temporal components that cannot be realized in 100 days (for good or bad). Still, we should try to quantify it in any case, since believing the impacts will be either bad or good will vigilant require monitoring of the effort.

On Education - Obama has provided more money, massive amounts in fact. The budget increase is from $89 Billion in 2007/2008 to $174 billion in 2009/2010. What are you getting for the doubling of the spend? What measurable objective are tied to the extra funding? What is the money going to - teacher pay? New schools? School improvements? How much will be wasted? The agonizing thing is that there is little transparency because the money has been committed and not spent. But what will it get spent on is the real concern. My fear is that there will be no opportunity to call it a failure if there's no idea what it's supposed to do. There is, if you will, no strategy for victory, and no exit strategy should it be a dismal failure. In that case the money will be wasted.

Deficit spending - Trillions of dollars have been thrown at the recession. Not only are they shooting in the dark about what the outcome of the massive spending will be, they are betting the farm to do it. The President has left himself no room to maneuver if the stimulus doesn't work and more is needed or a different approach is needed. The President has in fact boxed himself in for the rest of his term if things don't go perfectly smoothly. He's focused so much into the first 100 days, he may be forced to coast the rest of the way. Sure, he can steer the direction because the hard work of getting the money is out of the way.

This is the real victory Obama has won. The money is already committed, the budget is passed. Now he can direct where it goes and how it is used. These are smaller fights. The real fight for liberal Democrats has always been getting the money. Whether the economy struggles or recovers like gangbusters, Obama now has money to spend. Your money, your children's money, but money to spend. And regardless of what the economic landscape looks like in 2009-2012, spend it he will. Be prepared for some crazy spending ideas. When it comes down to spending the future in a few quick years, the money will be wasted on the most inane things because spending that fast is going to be tough, even for Democrats.

That doesn't mean he scores high grades for getting the money. Quite the contrary. This is theft of the highest order.

Cabinet postings - Poor vetting - 5 tax cheats and assorted other misfiring. Plenty of empty slots still available if you want to be in the Obama administration. Prior proper planning, people...

Green energy - A Saudi royal says energy independence is impossible for the U.S. He may be right, short term. But not long term. America is the land of dreaming and achieving the impossible. But O is betting on heavily green. Not on black, where there's a nearly a 50/50 shot (in roulette as in oil). The odds are long on green paying off any time soon. Speeding the greening process isn't even possible to achieve by throwing money at the issue. It'll work to eradicate CO2 even less than throwing money eradicated welfare. Wait, what?

Meanwhile he's ignoring the low hanging fruit of American energy independence. Oil, coal, and nuclear power. Thankfully, it appears cap and trade might be dead, though Obama deserves no credit on that.

Moreover, one of the big left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing instances in this administration has been Cap and Trade and raising CAFE standards fly in the face of both the economic recession and the auto bailouts as well as Democratic UAW supporters.

Swine flu - lackadaisical. If this were Bush they'd be screaming he didn't learn from Katrina. But since it isn't he's getting a pass. And he's using it. Lazy response to the flu, lazy to abuse the free pass from the press.

War on Terror - They changed the name (overseas contingency operations), changed the course of operations in Iraq, released torture memos (selectively) because, that'll work;

On Tuesday, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview that he had been continued to be mistreated since Obama came to power.

Mohammad al-Qurani told Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj, a journalist and former detainee, in a phone call from the facility that he had been beaten and tear gassed by guards and had been subjected to ill treatment "almost every day".

He met and shook hands with enemies of the state. He cut defense projects like the F22. Clearly the President is trying to show a difference between Obama and Bush. It's worked. They are different. However, the quote above, taken from Al Jazeera, will outshine any Obama goodwill in the Muslim world, so way to leverage a national interest into a partisan political attempted gain. Hopefully that backfires on the administration rather than on the nation.

Foreign relations - Weak on dealing Iran and N Korea problems. Weak on capitulating to the Castros in Cuba. Soft on the Chinese ships that interfered with Naval vessels. Absorbed a tongue-lashing from the Sandinista that Reagan helped drive into the wilderness, Daniel Ortega. No real direction on Pakistan.

The philosophy is classic Neville Chamberlain, we'll capitulate, we're nice - leave us alone please (so we can focus on my domestic agenda).

Transparency - I won, no need to read the stimulus package before passing it. Forget about any debate. The vote on health care we'll use the reconciliation process to bypass a filibuster. Because, you know, something as massive as that doesn't really need any debate either.

Transparency is more than just showing what it is you are doing. It's explaining it. It's debating it. It's not misleading the population with smoke and mirrors. Pretend transparency is not real transparency. Unfortunately it's working for them.

Socialism Firing the CEO of GM, clawing back 90% of bonuses in taxes, demanding conditions of recipients of the bailout money that exceed the authority of government. It's more than just socialism. It's a power grab of epic proportions. It's spawned Tea Parties and it will likely spawn resentment in parts of the Democratic party. But can it be stopped?

Overall - long on ideas short on specifics. That's the real problem. Dogmatic and not pragmatic. This administration hopefully has done most of it's damage already and more importantly it won't be forgotten com November 2010.

I for one, am wholly unimpressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This