Friday, February 27, 2009


Obama: The CliffsNotes

Decoding the president.

Any high-school kid with a set of CliffsNotes knows Moby Dick is so much more than just a whale. Any American watching the new administration might wish for a similar study guide.

Thirty-nine days, one press conference, one congressional address, and one budget into this presidency, Barack Obama is finding his groove. Out of the early chaos has emerged an administration with a set of talking points. The president is now honing these explanations of what went wrong, and how he will make it right.

Yet, as with any complex character, what Mr. Obama says isn't always what he means. (Even Melville would've found Washington a bit deep.) So here's a handy guide to the larger meaning beneath Mr. Obama's more frequent lines. Hang it on the fridge for easy reference.

- "We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin." Translation: Blame Republicans, and tax cuts.

Mr. Obama inherited a deficit, though it wasn't caused by letting Americans keep more of their paychecks. It was caused by a need to rebuild the military to fight two wars (at least one of which he supported), and by that worn-out old idea known as spending, which lost the GOP its majority, and which Mr. Obama is now touting as economic elixir.

He also inherited a recession, though no economist with an IQ above 60 would suggest tax cuts caused the housing bubble. That came courtesy of easy money and loose lending standards, the latter of which Congress encouraged. Presumably, if tax cuts were responsible for the deficit and the recession, Mr. Obama wouldn't be constantly boasting that he wants tax cuts for 95% of Americans.

The wider goal is to vaguely link everything conservative with everything gone wrong, the better to present liberal ideas as a cure. Besides, it's useful to have a GOP to keep blaming, if the cure doesn't work.

- It's time to "make hard choices to bring our deficit down." Translation: Hello, higher taxes.

The thing about cutting deficits is that there are only two choices, one hard for politicians, the other hard for Americans. Government can reduce spending, or government can raise taxes. Mr. Obama made clear with yesterday's budget he has no intention of cutting back. So the hard part now falls to Americans, who are being told they have a patriotic duty to their children to pay more, and cover Washington's costs.

- "The only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world." Translation: Big government. President Obama loves the word "invest." (He used a form of it 11 times in his congressional address on Tuesday.) It sounds so modern and free market, and, most important, not like what it really is -- "spending." The administration is aware that the deficit is now the story. Thus Mr. Obama's suggestion that blowing out hundreds of billions for health care, energy and education somehow isn't Washington as usual -- but will instead yield American riches down the road.

Of course, no country has ever made good on such a promise. Washington, D.C.'s return on investment for investing $14,000 a year per student is a 40% high-school dropout rate. Government can create industries, though only those, like corn ethanol, that can't cut it without perpetual government aid. We're still waiting for Medicare to turn a profit. Nevertheless, investment is a catchy term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently described her giant $410 billion 2009 omnibus spending bill as a similar "investment." Never mind that it contains 8,500 earmarks and the largest increase in discretionary spending since Jimmy Carter.

- "We need to make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy." Translation: Your utility bills are going up.

Electricity from solar power costs, about, 15 cents per kilowatt hour. Electricity from natural gas costs, about, four cents. The only way to make solar power "profitable" is to further subsidize it down to the price of natural gas, or to make natural gas as expensive as solar. Mr. Obama's cap-and-trade plan does the latter, placing a tax on fossil fuels, which companies pass along to consumers. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) reminded Congress on Wednesday that its most recent climate bill, Lieberman-Warner, would have cost Americans $6.7 trillion. Fortunately for the president, he will not have to include that sum in his new, more transparent, budget.

- "If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime." Translation: For now.

The president's budget proves he intends to tax the top 2% of earners at effective rates much higher than under Bill Clinton. Still, even if he taxed 100% of this group's income, it wouldn't come close to covering his budget costs. Nor will winding down Iraq. If Mr. Obama is committed to his agenda, much less his deficit reduction, the middle class will have to give it up.

At least he didn't say "read my lips."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What do you get when you cross 007 and Maude Adams?

Economy doesn't dampen Mardi Gras festivities
especially since New Orleans' economy is my taxes.

In a recession, watch out for crashes
Look Out Below!

Octomom fell fast from Miracle Mom to punch line
Octomom sounds like a punchline to a James Bond joke.

Missing Mass. teacher, teen student found in W.Va.
It's OK, the teacher is a woman.

Drive to enfranchise DC clears Senate hurdle
I think Memphis should get its own Senators too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumblog Trillionaire

Major stock market indexes fall to 1997 levels
But in 1997, when Bill Clinton was President, these numbers were a fantastic display of his eminent brilliance!

US Airways won't charge for sodas after all
Ice, on the other hand...

Obama declares plan to halve deficit in 4 years
Obama opens summit, pledges $15B for Medicaid
Uh oh. Did Obama forget to tell Obama?

Mass. health system is being tested by recession
"Um, we didn't factor in economic fluctuations."

Ginsburg in court after surgery
If it was for a face-lift there should be punitive damages.

Wall Street financier to advise auto task force
just as soon as he gets out of jail.

Growing HIV rates among gay, bisexual men in Asia
Speaking of Fluctuations, don't do it!

Official: Pentagon report says Gitmo is humane
Of course it is. Obama is President after all!

Food poisoning strikes 1 in 4 Americans each year
Sounds like something the democrats should ban.

Iran Has More Enriched Uranium Than Thought
That just blows my mind!

Raise the price of gas to $4 – before the next oil crunch
OK, but only if you charge $100,000 for abortions too.

Indians Celebrate ‘Slumdog’ Oscar Success

I think this one has his reservations.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Return of the Blog!

Obama names urban affairs director
If this job doesn't scream "Bill Clinton", I don't know what does.

US fears North Korea power struggle
Breaking News from 1950.

Report: Fetal stem cells trigger tumors in ill boy
I hope they don't become Fatal stem cells.

Fashion sector seeks aid as crisis bites
"Give us billions or people will stop looking Fierce!"

Holder: US a nation of cowards on racial matters
It's true...however, speaking the truth is also considered a hate crime.

You Tell Us: Have you ever been paid off the books?
It looks like Yahoo and the IRS are finally working together!

Killer to be executed in June, court decides
Why put off till tomorrow what can be done today?

Cache of Ice Age fossils found in Los Angeles
and they are known as Nick Nolte & Ed Asner.

Wall Street falls amid ongoing economic concerns
it's not economic concerns, it's 'change'.

Huge gamma-ray blast spotted 12.2 bln light-years from earth

Black ministers may rethink backing Sen. Burris
Isn't that profiling?

Today's Highlight in History:
In 1959, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 600 for the first time, at 602.21. The stock market isn't dumping, it's just Obama trying to celebrate a 50th anniversary. Way to go Mr. President!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Womyn are people too!

Last week the National Organization for Women issued a press release on an important topic:

The recent arrest of R&B star Chris Brown, who reportedly assaulted and threatened singer Rihanna, preventing her participation in the Grammys, has brought the ever-present issue of violence against women into the public spotlight once again.
"Everyone is talking about this case because it involves two popular recording artists, but the sad reality is that domestic violence and dating violence happen every day, even among young teens, and the impact is both far-reaching and under-reported," said Gandy.

We actually had not heard of Chris Brown or Rihanna, but we're willing to take NOW's word for it that they're popular. Gandy certainly has a point, though: Domestic violence is a big problem, and one that affects not only celebrity-Americans. Just surveying recent news articles, one can find lots of shocking cases involving the less well known.

Here's an example from suburban Buffalo, N.Y., reported in the Buffalo News:

Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband--an influential member of the local Muslim community--reported her death to police Thursday.
Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder.
"He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said late this morning. . . .
"Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said today.

CNN reported yesterday that police say Mr. Hassan has confessed.

NOW's statement on Mrs. Hassan's beheading was short and to the point: .

There is an irony to this story that goes unremarked by NOW: As the Buffalo News explains, "Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light."

Those who portray Muslims in a negative light often point out that Islamic culture tends to treat women unfairly, even brutally. If Mr. Hassan beheaded his wife, it may have the effect of perpetuating the very stereotypes he hoped to combat.

The Associated Press reports from Murietta, Calif., on another shocking domestic-violence case:

A self-proclaimed polygamist was sentenced Friday to seven consecutive life prison terms for torturing seven of his 19 children, abusing four others and imprisoning two of his three wives.
Mansa Musa Muhummed, 55, also was sentenced to additional terms totaling 16 years and eight months by Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III, who said Muhummed's treatment of his family amounted to "a reign of terror over defenseless children."

This report from New York's Daily News is appalling too:

Mohammed Fagirad, 30, a vice consul at the Afghanistan Consulate, brutalized his wife inside their Flushing home from about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday until nearly midnight, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
During the attack, Fagirad bit, slapped, choked and beat the 22-year-old woman with a belt, pushed her down a flight of stairs and sat on her chest, prosecutors said.
At one point, prosecutors said, Fagirad threw his wife up against a wall, held her there by the neck and then let her drop to the floor, where he beat her with a belt.
Fagirad told police his "wife was a dog and he was going to treat her like a dog," prosecutors said.

Here are NOW's statements on the Muhummed and Fagirad cases, in their entirety and edited only for spelling and punctuation: .

Hey, come to think of it, when Gandy complains that people don't care about domestic violence when it doesn't involve celebrities, she speaks from direct knowledge.

*Hat tip to WSJ Online

Friday, February 13, 2009

Best Cartoon Ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trillion Schmillion

Iranian president says talks with US possible
"especially if Obama gives us a Trillion dollars."

Study: Birds shifting north; global warming cited
I've always thought 'Spring' was a prettier name for it.

Octuplet mom says she's done having babies
Probably because her vagina fell off.

United Airlines to unplug number for complaints
A brilliant strategy for approval ratings.

Medical society probes octuplet fertility doctor
I hope they wear a condom.

2.10.09 So, Let Me Get This Straight...

A-Rod was taking steroids and all the while the Senate & the House were lollygagging around trying to fix the economy?
Where have our priorities gone America?

Just so you know...*

*courtesy of Columbus Dispatch

Monday, February 9, 2009

2/9/09 - So, Let Me Get This Straight...

Mr. Obama mentions, ad infinitum, that he inherited a current financial situation he did not want. If that is the case, why in the hell did he run?

Nonetheless, he has it and apparently he and his cronies have plans to stimulate the economy. Mathematically speaking, a $900 billion dollar stimulus package to create 3 million jobs would equate to $300,000.00 per job. Would not a real stimulus package extend a $20,000.00 tax credit to businesses for every job created in 2009? A package like that would only cost $60 billion fully realized and, I predict, it would generate immediate activity.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Charges dropped against suspect in USS Cole blast
Clinton didn't pursue him & Obama won't press charges. Hope, Change, Apathy.

So, Let Me Get This Straight...

A new and occasional post called 'So, Let Me Get This Straight...' will appear on NicFitz until someone convinces me otherwise or comes up with a better name for it. (Acronyms are encouraged!)

Until further notice:
The 'So, Let Me Get This Straight...'mascot will be this guy -

2/6/09 - So, Let Me Get This Straight...Obama is demanding that republicans vote to pass his Stimulus Package even though he has enough votes from the democrats, who control both the Senate and the House?

What is this "Taxes" you speak of?

Obama to name advisers to help right the economy
"I'll name them right after they pay their taxes."

Senate panel vote delayed for Labor Dept. nominee
"Sheesh! Let the guy pay his taxes first, before you vote."

Pilot: `Sickening' feeling before NY river landing
"Dude, do you know what they've put into the Hudson?"

Democrats defeat GOP plan on mortgage rates
Yeah, who wants lower interest rates anyway?

Rental car slowdown hurts automakers
I think it might mess with traffic too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's a good day to turn 14.

Meals sent to Ky., Ark. had recalled peanut butter
KY ARK would be a good nickname for Rosie O'Donnell's cruise line.

Congress postpones digital TV transition to June
This will help the people who don't watch TV get better TV reception.

US Airways to charge $7 for pillows and blankets
Flotation Devices are still on the house.

Obama says time for action on recovery plan is now
"Quick, before everybody reads it!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taxes, Schmaxes!

The tide shifting against the death penalty
Before or After Birth?

Looking down the barrel of an argument over guns
Fortunately, I am on the right end of the barrel.

Doctors test latest attempt at artificial liver
But will it go well with a light chanti and fava beans?