Sunday, February 7, 2010

Notes and Asides: The Week That Was, And The Week To Come

We're entering a precarious time as we prepare to go into the next week. The European Union is about to be stripped bare by speculators seeking to raid Greece, Spain, Portugal, and various others yet to be revealed. You can expect extreme volatility in the markets over the next week, as we prepare for a repeat of history. The same thing that happened in Asia back in the late 90s is about to happen again, only this time in Europe. One can only wonder how long it will be before the speculators turn their attention to the debt of the United States and the bubble that is the Chinese economy.

The Tea Party's for profit wing had its convention in Nashville this past week, and Sarah Palin delivered the keynote speech. Palin has appointed herself as the chief policewoman when it comes to speech, given her criticism of Rahm Emanuel's use of "fucking retard" to refer to liberal groups like MoveOn who were preparing to run negative ads attacking Blue Dog Democrats. Palin demanded Emanuel's head on a platter, saying that the White House should fire him for the insensitivity he displayed in using the term retarded.

Later on, as it became apparent that Rush Limbaugh had used the same pejorative, Palin excused Limbaugh's language as "satirical" while continuing to condemn Rahm Emanuel for using the same term with an additional expletive in front. It appears that Sarah Palin will stop at nothing to make controversy where this in none, even at the risk of being seen as a mother willing to exploit her infant son's Down Syndrome in order to cut her enemies. Lest we forget, there was the revelatory claim a while back by Levi Johnston that Sarah Palin had referred to Trigg as her "retarded baby." That claim was first aired back in late October 2009 on the Early Show.

The Obama Administration continued its fine progress towards absolutely nothing at all. In over a year of effort and deliberation, the Administration has absolutely nothing to point as a substantive accomplishment when it comes to legislation. No financial reform, no healthcare reform, no cap and trade or environmental reform, nothing, zilch.

Over at the Huffington Post, the bloggers made the claim that Obama was ahead of George W. Bush when it came to adding jobs to the economy at this point in his term. What a fine baseline to start from. George W. Bush was horrible, but our guy isn't as bad! This came on the heels of the news that the U.S. unemployment had dropped to 9.7% even as the economy continued to drop jobs to the tune 20,000. Further down in the news release was the news that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had undercounted the number of jobs lost in 2009 by some 600,000!

Predictably enough, the tough and inquisitive news media failed to glean this information or to give it due credence. If you watched the news, all you heard was that the unemployment rate had dropped. The simple truth is and has always been that the unemployment rate is fatally flawed for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it doesn't count those unemployed individuals who have given up on the search for employment.

Many of those individuals have been unemployed for the better part of a year or more. Our economy has no jobs for them. Between their qualifications and education level, they can't get hired to do menial jobs, and the jobs that they might get are no more. We've got a government of the best and the brightest, and aside from statistical two steps and mathematical miscalculation, there isn't much they've been able to do to improve the economy.

Obama is now talking up a jobs bill, after fourteen months in which he didn't do a whole lot and could have done something. If Obama were a fireman, he'd show up to a conflagration after the fire had burned down nearly the entire city block and then he would demonstrate the temerity to claim that he had put the fire out and saved a portion of the city block in question. God save us all. We've an incompetent academic in the White House, a motley crew of idiots assembling to run in 2012, and an economy that is teetering on the brink of a second collapse.

Our Congress seems unable to get much of anything done whatsoever. Senator Richard Shelby decided to place a personal hold on all of the President's nominees, effectively paralyzing the Administration's ability to place nominees in positions at various departments. Shelby's reasoning? The Administration isn't playing ball with him over earmarks. In the case of one of the earmarks, the Senator is angry that the Air Force tanker which Northrop Grumman originally won the bidding process on is now set to go to Boeing after the Pentagon changed the bidding process to favor a smaller tanker. It should be noted that Boeing's corporate headquarters are in Illinois, which is where the President and his foulmouthed chief of staff are from.

Forget, for a moment, that Shelby has a reason to be angry about the tanker and the obvious effort by various individuals in Congress and the Obama Administration to tilt the field in Boeing's favor. The fact that one Senator can effectively put a stop to the nation's business with a personal hold more or less shows how dysfunctional our government has become. These sorts of shenanigans have always happened in Congress, but never with such severity or with such frequency. We've had holds and filibuster threats at virtually every juncture of the past year. Whether cap and trade, where the Republicans on the committee in question stayed out of the meeting to deny the committee the ability to move forward, or healthcare, where the threat of the filibuster effectively killed a public option and a cooperative, we are reaching a state of paralysis in government.

What, exactly, has Congress accomplished over the past year? What might they accomplish between now and the midterm elections? Will their accomplishments have any real meaning or significance? I doubt it. The week that was is a continuation of the futility that has defined the past year. The week to come will likely reveal the total inanity of our leadership to deal with the real world problems facing our nation and our world. With Europe on the verge of implosion, and the United States effectively bankrupt after expending $10 trillion in banking bailouts and halving the value of its money supply by doubling it, we're facing another financial crisis with leaders whose defining trait is their inability to get anything done.

Get ready. Next week is going to be eventful.