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What we want to continue doing in some of these Wednesday Updates is begin to look at major events in the news in their larger historical context.... And maybe even how some things will be viewed in 50 years, 100 years or even 500 or 1000 years...
Subject: The Presidentís "Mayors and Governors Plan"
for the cities and states in The Stimulus Plan of 2009
(Wed., March 4, 2009)
(approx. 4425 words, 8 pp.)
"Show me the money! Please!"
Chicago: famous for Pizza and Politics!
Chicago-style politics are not "racial," but they are "normal" these days?
We need to start a new national discussion on the role and function of government?
In the last 2 weeks we have gotten the Presidentís Mayors and Governors Plan to stimulate and bail out the economies of the major cities and states of America. A bold move it was, but for a number of reasons not very well chronicled by our (eagle-eyed) watchdog press, yet again?
"We have met the enemy, and he is us!"
I, personally, frequently make jokes about running for political office, but I have no political ambitions, and the comments on this website are generally aimed at the folly and foolishness of America today because we have lost our original vision and traditional notions of moral virtue, good, and God. It started mostly in the late 19th and then early 20th century and by the 1960s, having sown the wind, we reaped the whirlwind, and we are still reeling from that social-cultural meltdown, and, hence, we are in a moral and spiritual crisis, and this is really the source of all social, political, and economic problems, in my opinion.
I say this because I do not think Obama or Bush, or the Republicans or the Democrats are the problem! The problem is "us"! The old expression being, "We have met the enemy, and he is us!" We have simply lost a consensus on the role and function of government, and things that would never have been considered valid in the past are now standard operating procedure. These criticisms here, indeed more observations, are not aimed at any one person or political party in particular. There is plenty of confusion, blame and scandal to go around for everyone, although the particular problems addressed here today may be pretty much the death knell for the Liberal Democratic Party as we have known it for the last 40 or 50 years?
And, as usual, "All I know is what I read in the newspapers."
President Obama has announced in the last two weeks that he was handing out big money to the nationís mayors and governors to "spend wisely" on projects to stimulate the economies of the cities and states. And when he asked how many mayors could use it, he got a very strong response! One news program I heard said many mayors already have such jobs programs in place, and they can simply and easily be expanded with new millions or billions of dollars. I assume what I read or hear on the news is true, and in this case tragically so? At first this Mayors (and then Governors) Plan (as part of the larger Stimulus Plan) sounds so good, as many things liberals propose, but what is wrong with it?
This Mayors Plan is simply old fashioned Chicago machine politics?
So, Whatís wrong with the Presidentís "Mayors and Governors Plan" for the cities and states? The answer is this "Mayors Plan" looks pretty much like good old-fashioned Chicago machine politics? Chicago is famous for its pizza, of course, and its machine politics and, hence, for its patronage jobs. Whatís new? But this is, apparently, commonplace throughout the country today? In my own cityís last mayoral race one candidate claimed the current mayor has 100s of such patronage job employees, already? Is that true? I have no idea. All I know, again, is what I read in the newspapers. But the problem and point is no one thinks anything of this practice, anymore, one way or another, and especially in the press, where the only One Commandment of good journalism these days seems to be "Thou shalt not criticize a Democrat"?
The mayor or any executive in our system is not authorized to spend any money or hire anybody except as directed by the legislative branch. The only way he can hand out patronage jobs money is if those funds are authorized by the legislative branch as part of his political machine fiefdom! (Not pretty, but true?) In essence, mayor or any executive patronage job money is using the government power of taxation to fund a political party machine or organization. Not exactly what the framers intended? A few decades ago this was almost unheard of except in a few major cities, and probably most famously in Chicago? Today, this is almost standard operating procedure in many cities across America, and even in the White House now?
Chicago is famous for its corrupt politics as much as its pizza!
What does the average city budget have these days? The usual: firefighters, police, teachers, sanitation, and then, of course, the mayorís personal political slush fund (for his patronage jobs)? At least, that is what is on the news, and, again, no one seems to think anything of it! It would certainly appear that the President is giving the mayors (and governors) more millions or billions for their own personal political machine slush funds, except this time instead of corrupt city councils giving money to the mayors to do this, it was Congress giving money to the President to do this. Congress, it seems, has given President Obama a personal political slush fund of billions to hand out in political money to mayors in order, apparently, to build his and their political fiefdoms, Chicago-style?
Every job created will be one that is owed directly to the mayor, who owes it directly to President Obama, Chicago-style? And letís not introduce "race" into this! President Obama apparently learned all of this from white folks in Chicago or elsewhere, but having said that, Obama has shown that it is not just one race that can be quite good at playing this game, Chicago-style. Any ethnic group can do it! But please note again! This is not an outright corruption, of dishonesty or stealing, etc., but rather a corruption of the American political system in a more general sense, and it seems to be "a game," which we are all now playing apparently and thinking nothing of it?
Some press accounts say 2 billion dollars for Acorn, and also not a "racial" issue...
Some press accounts say The Stimulus Plan has 2 billion dollars for Acorn, the "community action" group, and all that business. In one Presidential debate President Obama indicated that he had had very peripheral contact with this group and only as their hired legal counsel. Apparently, that is not so at all, especially if they are now getting big bucks from The Stimulus Plan or his personal political slush fund established by Congress. This is pure political machine patronage money, for better or worse. Maybe it is a good thing, maybe a bad thing, but it is, nonetheless, pure political machine patronage money. Why?
When the government usually "spends money," it is giving money to people to actually do something, that is, in "goods and services," create a product or perform a service, etc., such as defend the nation, or teach school, or whatever. Not complicated. What does Acorn "do" for us, the American people? The answer is "nothing," seriously. These characters do not even have to put sod in the park to get their millions or billions. They do "nothing" except pretty much register people to vote for Democrats, and "get the vote out" on election day, Chicago-style. And, in fact, in some cases, get them out to vote "dead or alive," quite literally, as the expression goes, again, classic Chicago-style politics? Or sometimes it is just, "Vote early and vote often," as the old Chicago expression goes, as we all know?
And, again, "race" should be kept out of this whole discussion. Most, indeed all, of the people in Acorn I dealt with over the years were "white," and they (that I knew, anyway) were not "bad people," but "activists," for better or worse, (whatever an "activist" or "community organizer" is). And, further, most, indeed the vast majority, of Liberal Democrats are not "black" but "white," so virtually none of this is not a matter of "race," even though the Liberals sometimes attempt to make it so, for their own advantage of course.
What does this mean? All 3 Branches of Government have now bitten the dirt?
Actually, I do not fault President Obama for almost any of this! He did not legislate the massive patronage job slush funds for the mayors, governors, Acorn, or God knows who else! The Liberal Democrat Congress did! If they were foolish or corrupt enough to give him the money to spend on massive patronage job slush funds, then they are not doing the peopleís business, obviously. "But how could this happen?" How could it happen? All 3 branches of government have lost their reason for being! The Courts with unintended, even at times outrageous, judicial activism, the executive in creating personal political fiefdoms at taxpayer expense, and the legislative branch in being executive branch "enablers," once virtually seen only Chicago-style politics (but now, according to the news, seen in almost all cities and now DC)?
We have lost our national vision for the good of the nation, as a whole, and not simply for the good of any given political machine, as such. This is so bad that the "fighting for you" mantra of the Democrats played well in my home town in this past election where the Liberal Democrat Congressman actually ran, openly, no less, on fighting to get more money for people in government loan programs. (I kid you not.) And, again, no one thought anything of it. In fact, he won! Big, no less! Why? The point of politics, today, tends to be to promise the peopleís money to a coalition of various interest groups. Not the founderís vision?
I am an average citizen, "Show me the money! Please!"
Okay, the mayors and governors get their millions or billions or whatever. Fine. What percentage of the millions or billions in the Mayors and Governors Political Slush Funds will go to the average citizen? I do not know, but if I were a betting man, I would bet not one red cent of the millions or billions will be seen by the average citizen, but rather every dollar, every dime, and every penny of the Mayors and Governors Political Slush Funds will go to some form of a new political patronage job, and, furthermore, not even address the primary problem at hand, the mortgage crisis! Look, I am an average citizen, and I say, "Show me the money! Please! Or, at least half of it!" What do I mean by that?
Most cities have hefty sales taxes and property taxes. In some cases even burdensome on people, generally, and not simply on some special interest group. How many mayors are going to take their Mayors Slush Fund money and give it directly to the people by marking down city property taxes? Probably not one? But lowering property taxes would, in effect, give the money directly to the people, and it would reduce peopleís house notes as well, and, hence, help in the mortgage crisis, and further, it would put more money in most peopleís pockets to spend in the larger economy to "stimulate" it! In fact, one could argue that something as simple as a general increasing of the deduction on home mortgage interest on US taxes could have done more, (and done it more easily and effectively by saving the people on the edge who are save-able in their mortgages?), and at the same cost, than the entire complicated, inefficient mortgage crisis housing bill, which was even said to be directed at the wrong people, by critics. The truth is there are probably many better things President Obama could have done, practically speaking, but not for political power? But, too late now?
On the Stimulus Plan: What Obama should have done... is what Clinton did!
What Obama should have done, if he was in good faith, which I assume he was and is (and not simply seeking a Presidential fiefdom, Chicago-style), is do what President Clinton did! (I never thought I would say that!) When Clinton was elected, he assembled in Arkansas, as I recall, groups of people in various fields to hold open discussions about what policy decisions and directions the country should take. In truth, the whole thing was about the biggest yawn I have ever seen, but the nation was not in serious crisis and in need of a vision and a set of policy decisions to unify the country and move us out of a big mess.
We thought it could not get any worse than Bush, but we may be in for a big surprise? It appears that Obama is going to "crash and burn," so to speak, but for different reasons than Bush did. Bush had too small a circle of personal advisors, who werenít thinking too straight, you might say, to say the least, but that is not exactly Obamaís problem. President Obamaís problem is, I think, the Liberal Democrat Party as a whole has lost the desire and probably even the ability to make good laws, rules, regulations, and policies for what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole, all quite tragically? In any case, a national discussion of several weeks on what the nation needed in a Stimulus Plan could have been had, but that was definitely not what we got in what now could be called "The mere 5 or 6 Hour, Closed-door, After Midnight Stimulus Plan". And the Stimulus Plan reflects it, big time? But, again, too late now? So, where to from here?
On the Stimulus Plan: This clearly ainít another Tarp? So, "Donít mess with Joe"?
Recall the $700 billion Tarp bank bailout was bipartisan, and it was created not for political ends but to bail out the banks after poor Fannie and Freddie management by the Democrats and poor financial instrument regulation by the Republicans. Both political Parties wanted cover and gave complete discretionary power to Paulson to spend the money as necessary, at least so it was widely reported. But The Stimulus Plan is altogether different and unprecedented in the history of America? Close to a trillion in the Stimulus Plan and few hundred billion more for mortgages and it is said half trillion more for some new Omnibus Bill? All while we are supposedly cutting the deficit in half! Give me a break, please!
Of this two trillion or so dollars how much of it is given to President Obama to spend at his personal discretion in handing it out to Governors and Mayors? A third? half? All? With no watchdog press left in America, who knows! But, regardless, the President said in his speech, "Donít mess with Joe," because he is going to spend the 100s of billions in the way I tell him! Clearly, Obama steam-rolled Congress and not the other way around?! Big time? Unprecedented in the history of mankind?
Postscript: Where to from here with the Mayors Slush Fund money? Not to worry...
But not to worry, about any of this. President Obama is going to use "Joe" to "monitor" the Mayors and Governors (personal political) Slush Funds of hundreds of billions in money to make sure it is spent "wisely" for their political fiefdoms! (Very reassuring?) What in the world does that mean or could it possibly mean? I mean think about it. How does one spend political "slush fund" money "wisely"? Hard to say really, but it could be kind of a scary thought? (I guess you make as many people as possible "an offer they canít refuse"?) This is all starting to sound a little bit like The Godfather? Look, in the end, what it comes down to is the President may have been watching too much Marlon Brando? It may not be any more complicated than that? We here, at up to speed go for it, do not usually discuss this stuff openly for obvious security reasons, but we are going to have to take our wiretap off the Presidentís phone and put it on his DVD player! If there is going to be any hope for the nation!
Further, there are almost no grand projects in all of this. No Grand Coulee Dam, no Hoover Dam, no TVA, no Space Program, etc. No larger vision for national pride and purpose, just a larger and larger government. Government is becoming a Leviathan that is eating all our money? The Stimulus Plan is not going to fix this, in my opinion, and further, the role of President as personal "sugar daddy," if not "Godfather," is, also in my opinion, not going to play well in the long run, especially if the Stimulus Plan does not "stimulate," and at that point it is too late to continue to blame Bush for the failures of this administration?
Unprecedented middle class revolt in the works in the coming months?
Mr. President, please, you wanted the job, and you got it, and you promised to fix our economic problems with an unprecedented personal political Slush Fund of a trillion and half dollars or some percentage thereof, which we may never know because there is no press left in America to tell us? Mr. President, respectfully, everyone knows that you inherited this current economic mess from the last administration and even that you started to run for President 2 years ago before there was a mess. Having said that you ran with the promise to fix our current mess, and now we hear of the government doing consumer loans for new cars because poor people have to drive used cars? Please.
There was genuine debate on whether we needed a Stimulus Plan, but even conceding we do, virtually no one but those directly receiving dollars thought this was a good one. Propping up failing state budgets, "education," bad mortgages, and public health costs will in all likelihood not stimulate the economy, and the average person will see almost nothing from these plans and bills passed in the middle of the night? The political backlash that could occur could be enormous in this country especially among the vast majority of middle class citizens, who apparently are going to get hardly a penny of this money but are paying for it all to Stimulate things by summer? Who will get the blame? The Democrats, no doubt, and maybe even Obama, but hopefully things will get significantly better by summer, and the trillion dollar personal political Slush Funds for the President, Governors and Mayors will do the trick?
Do the math, or maybe not! "The only thing we have to fear is ..."
Look, I am not an economist, and I do not play one on TV, but none of this stuff makes any sense to me. When "Joe" was asked how the money in The Stimulus Plan might help small business or average Americans, he said it could be used to build bridges across "creeks" to help people get around! Could I make that up? This is crazy? Do the math, $2,000,000,000,000 (for The Stimulus Plan and its attendant bills) divided by 300,000,000 people is roughly (if my math is correct) $6500 per person or $26,000 for the average family of four over the next three years or "only" about $8500 a year per family, from which the average American will, it appears, barely see a penny, but most Americans are on board for it, apparently, if this is what is necessary to "stimulate" the economy.
In any case, the money is to be borrowed and most of the money is to go to poverty programs and "education"? How many people think this $26,000 "investment" per American family in education and poverty programs will solve education and poverty problems for "the next generation"? Please, raise your hand. A significant number of hands are going up. There is Nancyís hand, Harryís hand, "Joeís" hand, and the Presidentís, and almost all of the news media, of course, and all the Democrat politicians in DC and around the country. Unfortunately, few others are on board for this? Or, did most Americans vote for this? I think not?
Now, how many people think their $26,000 "investment" will pull us out of the economic downturn in the coming months this year, as promised? Not too many hands, again? Same group of folks? And those who believe in the tooth fairy, please, raise your hand. Same group of folks? In the last Depression there was probably its most famous line by FDR, himself: "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." And the most famous line in this Depression might easily become: "The only thing we have to fear, is what the Federal government might do next?"
Postscript, bottom-line: Clinton and Rush may both be wrong?
Both Clinton and Rush agree, a rare occurrence, and blame the Democrats for the mortgage crisis, pretty much correctly? But on another matter they agree and may both be wrong, not a common occurrence on the rare occasions they agree? I think Obama was right in telling us it may get worse in the first few months of his administration before things bottom out, and his Stimulus Plan kicks in this summer and puts us back into high gear again!
I say this because it seems each day brings us bleaker and bleaker economic reports and has for a year or more now, and there was nothing more irritating than hearing Bush tell us everything was really fine and dandy as the entire economy was seemingly collapsing around us! Everything was supposedly "fundamentally sound"! If there was anything the economy was not, it was not "fundamentally sound" in that last year or so of Bush in office, and everybody but the Republicans knew it! But the good news is at last things have bottomed out, or so the President now thinks!
Latest news: Stock market at "bottom"? But will it "bounce"? How high?
Yesterday, Tuesday, March 3, 2009 the President said correctly, I think, that he cannot be bothered by the day to day gyrations of the stock market. But he went on to say that now is potentially a good time for a buying opportunity for the individual investor in the big picture! Apparently, the worst is over! I hope he is right!!! (I may start buying, again, big time on his advice?) But if he is not right, his legacy is probably over from what may prove to be this new day of political and economic irresponsibility if not infamy? I sure hope this is the worst and the bottom he has told us over and over to brace for! (I, personally, would have waited a few more months before declaring "the bottom," but what do I know? I have not even won a state senate seat with no opponents?)
In truth, though the Dow may drift a few hundred points lower, according to one prominent liberal economist I just read, the worst is probably over, he said, and the time is almost here for a full fledged investment back into the market!!! We are almost out of the woods, he said!!! The market is over sold!!! Praise God!!! And in just a few months The Stimulus Plan and the Omnibus Bill and other attendant spending will kick us back into high economic gear, just as the President has promised and predicted!!! Mr. President, you have inspired America and the world, with your rhetoric! And, I sure hope for the good of the nation and the economy, you are not just in a permanent phony campaign mode!!! Many "moderates" are said to be becoming disillusioned, and many people are in fear?
Would someone in the mainstream media in New York City or DC...
Would someone in the mainstream media in New York City or in DC, please think once, just once before speaking!!! Please, for us peons out here in America!!! It would appear the wheels have come off this economy and this administration, by its own prognostications, but who cares anymore what comes out of DC by Republicans or Democrats, or out of New York City by Republicans or Democrats, whether by the (mere tax cut and deregulate) Wall Street Journal or by the (total government control) New York Times, both seemingly useless, if not currently worthless, news and economic prediction organizations? Do the nation a favor? Don't go out of business, just shut up for awhile, or at least think before speaking? Let the nation get a good nightís sleep for a few days, for just once in the past year or two?
I do not claim to have all the answers, but if I were President Obama I would have tried to have a serious national debate and reach a national policy consensus as much as could have been done before launching my major programs. But more than that we need fundamental change in the culture and society. In the big picture that is the larger issue, in my opinion, and our only hope.
"A moral and religious people": The only chance of pulling out of this current crisis?
In truth, the people in both political Parties, in DC and apparently around the country, are, it seems, completely out of touch not only with the people but with reality itself? We need big, big changes in both political Parties, the likes of which we have not seen in at least 40 or 50 years!
And we can start with open, good faith, discussion about what the proper role and function of government is in a free and prosperous nation, and how as the founders said "a moral and religious people" must be the foundation of our nation if we are to survive and thrive as a people, and as a nation. And, for us today, we can also say being "a moral and religious people" is crucial, if we are to have any chance of pulling out of this current economic, social, cultural, moral, and spiritual crisis we are now in.
All history Bottom-line: There is hope in the big picture!
I am firmly convinced that we in America will rediscover our roots and founding vision and overcome all our current problems in a brighter day ahead, indeed much brighter day, in all the coming years and even generations. However, realistically, I do not think it will be done in a few weeks or even a couple of months, as some in high places see to be the case at this time. But in the words of the old Negro spiritual, we, as a nation and as a people, "shall overcome," we shall overcome our current difficulties "some day," and we will re-establish our land as a city of righteousness on a hill, with liberty and justice for all.
This is not a mission impossible, and hopefully all ethnic groups will want to engage this new task with equal enthusiasm, even in this our seemingly darkest hour, as even the President himself has said. It can be done, and we are going to do it, as a nation and as a people, I sincerely believe, so help us God!