Monthly Archives: March 2009

Wait. I thought Cheney was no longer our VP.

In the midst of being described a criminal by U.N. experts last month, and the attempts of recovery from his appallingly disliked administration, ex-V.P. Dick Cheney still offers his advice to the United States. Between his Politico interview and CNN’s State of the Union interview two weeks ago, he has tried to promote the policies that got us into the current situations that the world faces.

So, despite fairly unified criticism of his remarks, Cheney seems to have nothing else to do.

The tone is the same as it has been since the attacks of September 11, 2001. This gave the Bush administration a central focus for its time in office. It worked for the first few years. But now, with an entirely different tone from the Obama administration, and more direct issues that face Americans, the politics of Bush and Cheney are no longer accepted by the general public. Continue reading

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Filed under Government, International, Jack Dodson, Media, Obama

Let’s Get This Straight.

A note to Nick Ochsner.

Party politics are an ephemeral idea. The sole purpose of a political party is to ensure democracy, to allow for groups that debate and battle until a consensus that is most likely the right one—the most middle ground solution—can be compromised on.

Here’s my issue with the Republican party’s reaction to their minimal numbers in the 111th Congress: they are using the role as the minority group too offensively, and it ends up splitting opinions and halting progress, rather than adding to the debate constructively.

It’s true that Democrats have been guilty of this. If they hadn’t been to some degree, they wouldn’t have won so many seats in 2006. However, they also had the weight of six years of a disliked presidency to back them up. Obama’s slow start doesn’t equal that (it is in large part due to the shape of the nation when he came into office).

Your article in The Pendulum a couple weeks ago suggested that I had the definitions of obstructionist and bipartisan wrong. Here was what I said to you in an email response to you:

“Also, the idea behind obstructionism is to deliberately interfere with legislation. Although they knew they would not have enough votes, this is what the House Republicans did. Also, yes, I was making the point that the GOP is promoting partisanship in a time when that is the least effective practice. I’ll include what was in my opinion the most important sentence in my article, though it was taken out:

“‘The greatest achievements of the U.S. Federal government, from the writing of the Constitution to the ending of the Civil War to the New Deal that saved the country from the Depression, have all been cooperative efforts that prevailed out of unity. If there’s ever been a time where Americans need to embody this idea again, it is now.’

“I think the one thing that made me more upset about this was the GOP response to Collins, Snowe, and Specter aiding in the writing of the bill. They did, in fact, cut it back by about $200 billion. And they were the only ones who took part in the actual negotiation of it, rather than just generic criticism.”

Only recently has this been acknowledged, with Cantor and the GOP’s budget proposal. The best way to improve a bill is to aid in its writing. Simple as that. I made this point in my email over a month ago.

I’d love to get a response from you sometime.

So the question here is what the role of the two parties play with each other. When do Republicans and Democrats need to be forceful to keep each other in line? And when do they need to put aside egos, acknowledge their role as representation, and carve out progress together?

The line between these two is one of the largest grey areas in politics—and there are a lot. But, as it goes, nothing easy was ever worth doing, and the biggest accomplishments of the U.S. have come out of cooperation and sacrifice.

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Filed under Elon, Government, Jack Dodson, Media, Pendulum

A bridge to somewhere

At least it looks like a fancy bridge...

At least it looks like a fancy bridge...

The haggling over the stimulus package started up again with a bridge to Microsoft parking lot. The $36 million project connecting two wings of Microsoft’s headquarters will be the lucky recipient of $11 million in federal aid, because Microsoft’s cash reserves are, of course, historically minute. The construction will create just under 400 jobs for 18 months, which is always much appreciated, but once again, it’s the whole principle of the deal.

Is it the government’s place to lend a helping hand to a massive corporation for the purpose of marginally increasing the convenience of Microsoft employees? The point of the stimulus is to shove money on the economy’s plate until it finally, begrudgingly, decides to bullishly consume once again, so what does it matter where the money goes, as long as it flows through the economy effectively? There the public relations standpoint to worry about, since Microsoft isn’t the first company that comes to mind when thinking of those needing Mama Washington’s teat, or a bridge of convenience. But when a stimulus is as large as Obama’s is, there are going to be stupid, unwieldy decisions made. Let’s just hope that I get approval on my “Hursey’s Gate Bridge” connecting my bedroom to the barbecue restaurant.

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Filed under Business, Government, Morgan

Baseball and symbols

Today, while carefully splitting my time between the Pendulum and ESPN, I was excitedly sitting through Baseball Tonight’s analysis of the American League East. Buster Olney examined the Yankees spending spree, the depth of the Red Sox’s pitching staff, the immense talent of the Rays and the sudden downward spiral of the Blue Jay’s rotation. Then the Orioles came on and garnered around thirty seconds of completely negative coverage.

Immediately, I was mildly offended for absolutely no good reason. The Orioles will be a horrendous team this year, no amount of offense will make up for their two starting pitchers and lack of any middle relief whatsoever. They won’t make a run at the playoffs, and the most exciting element of their team, catcher Matt Wieters, is starting the season in AAA.

Yet there I was, the stereotypical guy miffed about his team receiving a snub. But if people are going to do anything consistently, they’ll attach themselves to symbols. Continue reading

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Filed under Government, Morgan, Religion, Sports

If you break it, the fed will come…

I had a printer that broke...hopefully Western Digital will fall into dire straights so the government will ensure me a warranty...

I had a hard drive that broke...hopefully Western Digital will fall into dire straights so the government will ensure me a warranty.

“But just in case there are still nagging doubts, let me say it as plainly as I can — if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warrantee will be safe.

In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warrantee.”

Those were President Obama’s words today as he rolled out his new plan for helping General Motors and Chrysler slow down their inevitable slides into bankruptcy. Criticized by many as being overly harsh, probably by the same amount as would be chastising him had he been generous in his proposals, the plan in in all fairness, the most practical approach to the failing companies.

The interesting part of this is the bizarre guarantee of car warranties by the federal government. It seems like a bit of a stretch for Washington to reach into such a sector of private industry, although at this point, everyone will eventually either have a federal gremlin in their gears or be Wal-Mart.

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Filed under Business, Morgan, Obama

Brazil’s performance of “The Wall”

Rio de Janeiro, where Jesus looks over everyone. Except for the poor, he can't see them because there are walls in the way.

Rio de Janeiro, where Jesus looks over everyone. Except for the poor, he can't see them because there are walls in the way.

Rio de Janeiro, seeking to curb its growing poverty problem, has come to an interesting conclusion. Since slums and shantytowns are often unattractive, why not build a wall around them?

“The objective is to contain the spread of the communities and protect the forest, there are many houses in high risk areas,” said Tania Lazzoli, spokeswoman for the secretary of public works at the state government, in an interview with Reuters. (My contacts in Brazil were all silent, of course.)

It makes sense, after all, if the poor communities are increasing, that means that the population of poor folks is increasing as well. The best way to curb this increase is, rationally, an effort to constrain the areas they can live in. I mean, what sense would it make if the city tried to lessen the population of impoverished residents?

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Filed under Government, Morgan

GM redesigns its 2009 CEO model

Wagoner displaying the number of GM cars sold last year.

Wagoner displaying the number of GM cars sold last year.

Rick Wagoner, the former CEO of General Motors, is on the outs. This should come to little surprise, given his general ineptitude and the general failure of GM to do much of anything successful. The company’s market share has been dwindling for years, and there was little indication, given Wagoner’s track record from his previous nine years as CEO, that he would be able to change this.

This comes as a shock for two reasons. One being that someone high up in the hierarchy of a multinational corporation is facing such an inglorious end as a result of failure (the indignity!) and the other being that he was fired by President Obama.

Sure, Obama won’t be handing Wagoner the pink slip, he’s far too busy preparing for his appearance on “Ellen” or something. But his administration has effectively pressured and apparently blatantly requested Wagoner’s departure.

Tomorrow, Obama will be announcing his plans for the auto industry, which hopefully won’t include a series of bailouts similar to the banking industry. Then on Tuesday, GM and Chrysler are scheduled to prove to the government that they can be eventually profitable, and if not, the $13.4 and $4 billion already respectively loaned to them will be retracted.

Right now, big government fanboys and Ayn Rand acolytes should be chomping at their bits. Dreams of government involvement in or dismissal of the auto industry will be flourishing during their sleep tonight. Whichever wins will signal a huge shift in U.S. policy, one that will shape the relationship between private industry and governmental policy for years to come.

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Filed under Business, Morgan, Obama