Even Vicki McKenna calls me "irascible." Is anyone actually "rascible?"
Speaking of David Obey, the best thing that Frank Rich in Sunday's New York Times can say about the Obey stimulus bill is that it's "an inevitably imperfect hodgepodge-in-progress." So, who does he blame? Not the Chairman of the House spanferkel. Oh, no! This is Frank Rich in the New York (Obama Walks on Water) Times. No, it's the hopelessly outnumbered Republican minority in Congress that gets the blame. Honestly.
"The current GOP acts as if it - and we - have all the time in the world."
But so does the stimulus package. A total of $290 billion of the $819 billion package - about a third - doesn't hit the street until 2011 or later. Comparatively little is spent on infrastructure. Eisenhower's investment in the Interstate highway system is still paying financial dividends. So is Kennedy-Johnson's space program. So, for that matter, did FDR's war effort. Where's the comparable boost here?
Instead, eight years of pent-up Democrat(ic) wet dreams is disgorged into this Frankenstein of a bill. As David Brooks notes, they rushed through permanent projects paid for with borrowed money.
Can anyone remember the term "ear marks?" How about $150 million for beekeepers' insurance? (Talk about a taxpayer sting!) And, as the State Journal notes, $54 billion to expand programs that government auditors say aren't working. Didn't The New President vow to kill such programs?
So, huzzah to the Wisconsin State Journal for portraying on its Sunday Opinion Page cover the ill-tempered Obey (I can vouch firsthand for that) as the most unsavory of waiters serving the fatted pig. (In fact, cartoonist Phil Hands has him looking like an even more dissolute version of Iran's I'm a Dinner Jacket.)
The editorial writer (I'm guessing Chuck Martin, who specializes in the economy) gets off a good line:
The mistake the House made was to adopt a "ready, fire" attitude without aiming. That resulted in money being doled out willy-nilly to all sorts of programs favored by interest groups, regardless of whether the impact on the economy justified the cost.
Ronald Reagan's first lesson of public policy is as true as ever: when in doubt, don't just do something. Stand there!
Senators Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are working to scrub the bill of its waste. Let's hope The New President steps up to encourage that kind of bipartisanship.
BTW: Even The New York Times acknowledges that FDR's pump priming did nothing to stop the Great Depression - although it now alleges that Roosevelt was "too timid" and that he should have spent even more. We'll never know.
Throughout the 1930s, economic recovery remained frustratingly elusive and arrived only with the buildup for World War II in the 1940s.
The shorthand verdict on Roosevelt, economists and historians say, is that … while brilliant in many ways, did not have a sure grasp of how to guide the economy as a whole. [New York Times]
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker caught some hell when he early-on opposed ginning up the Treasury's printing presses. But now public opinion is going his way. He supports tax cuts for the middle class. Here's his take.
Please do not resuscitate
Remember Willie Nelson's "Farm Aid" concerts of the early 1980s? A few years later the Onion presented a farm kid worn down by hard work dusk to dawn as being secretly elated at the latest flood/dust storm/locust plague/economic depression that would get him off that damned farm only to have some meddling fund raisers return him to bondage.
Quit trying to rescue homeowners who are in over their heads, sayeth The Wall Street Journal. Let foreclosure do what it is supposed to do.
"Household balance sheets have been destroyed by taking on too much debt via the purchase of inflated assets. With so little savings, a household with negative equity almost implies negative net worth. Walking away from the mortgage immediately repairs the balance sheet. … Loan modification is not iny ineffective, it is evil. Coercing borrowers to continue paying a mortgage on a home tht is hopelessly overvalued … is predatory lending." [Why be a nation of mortgage slaves?]
A week or so after I criticize the Wisconsin State Journal's editorial page it reformats. They're still wasting too much valuable newsprint. The photograph of the two Supreme Court candidates on page 3 is way bigger than need be. And there's no excuse for blowing up the breathalyzer gadget to life size on page 2.
But the afore-mentioned Obey political cartoon is a hoot and the editorial had some bite to it. And maybe posting John Nichols alongside Scott Milfred on page three, where the editorials used to reside, will put some lead in Mr. Milfred's pencil. (BTW: Nichols is still beating that tired drum of waging trade protectionist wars that will surely turn this bad recession into a real 1930s-style depression.)
To Brenda, with Love
Maybe we need Brenda Konkel just to remind everyone of what insanity in public policy looks like. Now the embattled alderoid is saying that Mayor Cieslewicz does not "respect" the citizen committee system.
Well, neither do I. Who elected, as one example, the city's Transit and Parking Commission? Where do these appointees get off frustrating our elected aldermen and mayor?
Whether Parks, Equal Opportunity or Transportation, none of these committees is democratically elected. Progressive Dane learned long ago to flood the zone with applicants to dominate the committees. That is why the TPC could hold out against the overwhelming vote of the elected common council against bus fare increases and, in effect, in favor of service cuts.
Brenda cites her hagiographer on the Progressive Dane newspaper, Pat Schneider. But our Patricia is no help when she writes:
Back in June, 2003, Cieslewicz walked into the meeting of the steering committee for Study Circles on Race at the Downtown MATC and told them their work was done.
That night at MATC, I remember thinking that maybe Cieslewicz was right, maybe the Study Circles steering committee needed to be disbanded.
I thought that the day Sue Bauman created it.
On the Forum, Radboy has it right:
Most Madisonians would like to think that the officials they elect at the ballot box are making and enforcing city policy. It is frustrating for many average Madisonians to see that the democratic process is being ignored in order for these elites to exert their power in an undemocratic way.
It seems that what certain elites can not do by the ballot box they are willing to do through "process". Why do we even bother to elect a mayor and alder persons when decisions are being usurped by these committees?
I notice that the impeach Bush-Cheney crowd now deludes itself with the idea that they will haul the dynamic duo plus Karl Rove to The Hague for war crime trials. Cheech and Chong must have put something in their granola.
A Super Bowl
Really didn't intend to watch the Super Bowl in its entirety. Glad I did. What a thrill ride! This one had it all. A 100-yard interception and return for a touchdown by James Harrison of the Steelers. A safety by the Cardinal defense. Kurt Warner is a gunslinger, throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, who seems to have has rubber arms with suction cups, to finally give the Cardinals the lead late in the game. Then Santonio Holmes makes a tippy-toe catch of Ben Roethlisberger's throw at the corner of the end zone to win the game.
I liked the commercial with the three wise guys planning a hit when they're interrupted by the waitress pouring a whip cream smiley face on the capo's pancakes. But couldn't tell you the sponsor.
Favorite: The CareerBuilder "I hate my job" ad. "If you hate going to work. Your co-workers don't respect you (Hey dummy.) You wish you were somewhere else. You cry constantly. And you daydream of punching small animals and you sit next to this guy (Hahahahaha) it may be time to quit your job."
Not in this economy.