January 2010

What Can You Do In Less Than an Hour?

by Bill O'Connell on January 26, 2010

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When you are waiting for someone an hour can seem like a long time, but when you really want to accomplish something an hour is really not that long.  Here are some things you can’t do in an hour:

  1. Run a marathon
  2. Watch a feature length movie
  3. Read a novel
  4. Watch a baseball or football game
  5. Make a good batch of chili

However there are some things that you can accomplish in less than an hour, such as:

  1. Eat a doughnut
  2. Watch a M*A*S*H re-run
  3. Walk a mile
  4. Take a shower
  5. Brush your teeth
  6. Take out the garbage
  7. Change the oil in your car
  8. Order and pick up a pizza
  9. Check your e-mail
  10. Complete the interrogation of someone named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a plane using a bomb in his underwear

That’s right #10 was completed in 50 minutes before the FBI decided to read him his Miranda rights and put him into the criminal justice system.  You will probably not be surprised to find out that he soon had a lawyer who advised him to stop speaking to the FBI.  So now if they want him to divulge any information they will have to go the plea bargain route up to and including setting him free.  Aren’t you glad we got rid of Bush and Cheney?  I mean, seriously, don’t you feel safer?

What Did He Know?

Does anyone believe what the Obama administration is telling us that they got everything they could out of this 23 year old novice in 50 minutes.  The kid was definitely talking, so why stop him?  He just got back from Yemen and probably had a wealth of information to give up.  He belongs in Guantanamo.  Are we not, as Obama finally admitted, at war?  Or are we at war, but just not with this guy?  (And by the way, Obama has been in office a year now so why hasn’t he captured Osama bin Laden?  During the campaign he snorted that McCain wouldn’t even follow him to his cave, as if Obama had the address).

Regardless of your position on “enhanced interrogation techniques” and let’s just say you put those aside.  You want to keep this guy where you can interrogate him again and again.  Where you can work to gain his trust, and where you can corroborate other information you find until he has been in your custody so long his information is stale and no longer of use.  Here’s a little secret for the Obama administration… it takes longer than 50 minutes.

An Embarrassment of Incompetence

Close on the heels of Janet Napolitano’s blundering at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security we have this astonishing exchange between Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, as reported in the Washington Examiner by Byron York:

On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs whether President Obama was informed of the decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights before or after it was done. Gibbs avoided the question, saying, “That decision was made by the Justice Department and the FBI, with experienced FBI interrogators.” Gibbs stressed that “Abdulmutallab was interrogated and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation.”

Wallace pressed. “But we now find out he was interrogated for 50 minutes,” he said to Gibbs. “When they came back, he was read his Miranda rights and he clammed up.”

“No,” Gibbs answered. “Again, he was interrogated. Valuable intelligence was gotten based on those interrogations. And I think the Department of Justice and the — made the right decision, as did those FBI agents.”

“Let me just press one last question,” Wallace said. “You really don’t think that if you’d interrogated him longer that you might have gotten more information, since we now know that Al Qaeda in Yemen — ”

“Well, FBI interrogators believe they got valuable intelligence and were able to get all that they could out of him,” Gibbs said.

“All they could?” Wallace asked.

“Yeah,” Gibbs said.”

Fight, Fight, Fight

In the last few days we’ve been hearing President Obama tell audiences how much he is going to fight for them.  The problem is he is more eager to fight with Republicans than he is with America’s enemies.  Heads should be rolling at Homeland Security and Justice to send a clear message that the incompetence of these appointees will not be tolerated.  But if nothing else, President Obama’s message has been muddled since he took office.  His worldwide apology tour has emboldened our enemies and made us appear weak. If only President Obama had the same focus on our enemies as he has on President Bush we might get somewhere.
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Buck-A-Day Biden Has a Plan for the Middle Class

by Bill O'Connell on January 25, 2010

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The Joke is on You

Joe Biden just held a press event to reveal how he was going to help the middle class.  The man who has a hard time reaching into his own pocket for more than $1 a day in charity to give to his fellow man, has no problem reaching into your pocket and give the fruit of your labor to someone else.  It’s a win-win.  It doesn’t cost Joe Biden and it helps him keep getting elected and drawing a salary that you pay for.

Here is what he revealed:

  1. Nearly Doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit — in an economy that has over 10% unemployment this administration is focusing on helping those who already have a job and income.  I’m all for tax cuts, but not targeted cuts.  Cut income tax rates and jobs will be created.  I don’t believe this administration knows how to aim anything well enough to hit a target
  2. Limiting a student’s federal loan payments to 10 percent of his/her income above a basic living allowance — the administration is concerned about how much debt students leave college with.  Does it have any concern about how much debt they are piling on everyone, not just college graduates?  Biden pointed to the average indebtedness of around $25,000 for college graduates.  The federal debt is about $35,000 for every man, woman and child in America, not just college graduates and this administration shows no signs of stopping it.
  3. Creating a system of automatic workplace IRAs — government first got involved in retirement with Social Security.  That system is bankrupt and this administration has no interest in fixing it.  When Republicans floated the idea of taking a portion of the Social Security payroll tax and diverting it to higher return private savings, the Democrats savaged them.  So the Democrat solution is to ignore the bankrupt Social Security system and start telling business what to do.
  4. Expanding tax credits to match retirement savings and enacting new safeguards to protect retirement savings — again with Social Security bankrupt, they want to put more tax dollars into retirement.  How different is this than the Republican plan to take what exists and allow it to get better returns than the paltry rate it currently gets within the Social Security system? The difference is that the Republican plan wouldn’t cost anything extra.  The Democrat plan will either increase payroll taxes or increase the deficit.  Surprise!!!
  5. Expanding support for families balancing work with caring for elderly relatives –I thought the Democrats had fixed this with “end of life counseling” in their health care plan, coupled with bringing back the Death Tax next year.

Fumbling and Stumbling

The way to create jobs is to let the job creators keep their money to invest in their business and expand.  Small business owners are stuck waiting to learn how much all of Obama’s social re-engineering is going to cost them and until they know that, hiring is the last thing they will do.  The only thing this administration seems to know how to do is bash business and spend money and the more they spend the longer the recover will take.  They are now planning another stimulus plan to follow the last stimulus plan that didn’t work, and the deficit continues to grow and grow and grow.

President Obama wants to create a bipartisan panel to recommend how to reduce the deficit.  He gives the back of his hand to bipartisanship when it comes to workable solutions to real problems, but he loves bipartisanship when it gives him political cover to make unpopular decisions.  All of his supporters love to say that experience doesn’t matter and that President Obama is the smartest guy in the room.  If that is true, he should not be afraid to propose bold spending cuts and shrinking government and be smart enough to explain it to Congress on his own.  If he does so, I am sure many Republicans would support him and vote for it (and almost all Democrats vote against it).  But he wants it both ways, he wants Republicans to yield to tie spending cuts to tax increases and put the package to an up or down vote.  He will then take that on the campaign trail to tell the world how Republicans voted for tax increases.  If you don’t believe me, look to history.  George Herbert Walker Bush, of the “no new taxes” pledge, got Congress to agree with spending cuts in return for a tax increase.  Bill Clinton clubbed him to death, like a baby seal, with that pledge and then enjoyed Bush’s restraint upon Congress on the spending side to generate budget surpluses.  Let President Obama take the lead.  Wasn’t that why he was elected?  Because he was a different kind of leader?  So, lead away.

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To Protect and Defend

by Bill O'Connell on January 25, 2010

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“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  – Presidential Oath of Office,  Constitution of the United States of America, Article II, Section I

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — Constitution of the United States of America, First Amendment.

“This ruling strikes at our democracy itself,” Mr. Obama said, adding: “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.” — NY Times, January 25, 2010

Last week in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill that prohibited “electioneering communication”, that is, broadcast ads that name a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary election or within 60 days of a general election.  It is what I and many others dub the “Incumbent Protection Act”, because it tips the scales heavily in favor of incumbents who have the name recognition, and the communication power of their office as an advantage in an election.  In addition, the 30 days or 60 days are when many voters really start paying attention.  Our elected representatives love to talk tough about reform, but that reform typically ends up making it harder to replace them.

Obama Weighs In

As the above quotes demonstrate, President Obama’s job is to uphold the Constitution.  The Constitution protects free speech.  So why is President Obama attacking a Supreme Court ruling that protects Free Speech?  Is that what he is supposed to be doing?  Instead he says it “strikes at democracy itself.”  He doesn’t mention that it also lifts restrictions on the speech of unions that typically favor the positions of his party.  Perhaps that is because with the Obama administration unions have extraordinary access to the White House. From January to July, White House logs show that Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) visited the White House 22 times, more than anyone else in the visitor logs.

If President Obama is truly concerned about the influence of lobbyists, it does no good to drive them out of advertising on TV into personal visits to the White House.  Of course, the president would be selective in who has an audience with him.  If you really want to reduce the number of lobbyists, then reduce the reasons for them to lobby.  If, for example, you want to reduce the lobbying effort of the giant agricultural corporation Archer Daniels Midland, then get the government out of the business of ethanol subsidies, farm subsidies, and shut down the federal Department of Agriculture.   Lobbyists will call on Washington less, if they have less to call about.  Shrinking the federal government will reduce the number of lobbyists and their influence, reduce the deficit, help balance the budget, and make the government more manageable so that we can reduce or eliminate waste and fraud.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens blasted the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision saying that the ruling is not grounded in the writings of the Founding Fathers.  His argument being that certain groups could have their speech curtailed and only individuals had their speech protected.  Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a separate concurring opinion to address Stevens argument.  In part:

“I write separately to address JUSTICE STEVENS’ discussion of “Original Understandings”… This section of [Stevens'] dissent purports to show that today’s decision is not supported by the original understanding of the First Amendment. The dissent attempts this demonstration, however, in splendid isolation from the text of the First Amendment. It never shows why “the freedom of speech” that was the right of Englishmen did not include the freedom to speak in association with other individuals, including association in the corporate form. To be sure, in 1791 (as now) corporations could pursue only the objectives set forth in their charters; but the dissent provides no evidence that their speech in the pursuit of those objectives could be censored….

The [First] Amendment is written in terms of “speech,” not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals–and the dissent offers no evidence about the original meaning of the text to support any such exclusion. We are therefore simply left with the question whether the speech at issue in this case is “speech” covered by the First Amendment. No one says otherwise.” – Antonin Scalia, concurring opinion in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Newly seated Justice Sonia Sotomayor voted against free speech.  I always marvel when people who succeed against tough odds attack the very principles of this country that allowed them to succeed.  The Bill of Rights was designed to protect against the tyranny of the majority by defining certain rights of every individual that could not be infringed upon.  It is one reason why people around the world fight to come here for a chance to succeed.  Because they know that these principles will allow them to do so if they have the drive to succeed.

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Score One for the First Amendment

by Bill O'Connell on January 22, 2010

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The Incumbent Protection Act, aka McCain-Feingold, took a big hit yesterday from the Supreme Court.  It is particularly timely with so many incumbents nervously eying the exits.  The McCain-Feingold bill prohibited corporations and unions from “electioneering communications” within in 30 days of a primary, or 60 days of a general election.  Those time limits probably match pretty nicely with when most people start paying close attention to elections.  So if this kind of communication is cut off, who is left with the power of name recognition?  That’s right, the incumbent and that is probably why 90% of incumbents are re-elected.

Outrage on the Left

President Obama immediately came out swinging saying it was a victory for “big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, and other special interests.”  He somehow overlooked the SEIU union whose president topped the list of visitors to the White House.  Unions will have unfettered communications as well.  Chuck Schumer promises hearings and the Naderite Public Citizen group is proposing a constitutional amendment banning free speech for “for-profit” corporations.  I’ll give you a moment to ponder that; a constitutional amendment to eviscerate the First Amendment.

The Momentum is Building

On April 15 it will be the first anniversary of the Tea Parties that were held across the country.  Let’s raise a cup of tea, that the Ship of Liberty that was foundering on the rocks may at last be turning it’s guns on the enemy and turning the tide of battle.  Virginia, New Jersey, a close loss in NY23, Massachusetts, the First Amendment, the momentum is building.  But let’s not forget the words of Churchill:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. — Winston Churchill

Don’t let up until we have our country back.

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Dazed and Confused

by Bill O'Connell on January 21, 2010

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Has President Obama lost the one skill he has relied upon so heavily?  Has the magic oratory suddenly gone leaden as indicated by his campaign speech for Martha Coakley?

“Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts but the mood around the country — the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” Mr. Obama said. “People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.” — New York Times, “Obama Trying to Turn Around his Presidency.” – 1/21/2010

Really?  “…what’s happened over the last eight years.”  Is he kidding me?  Does he not remember that Bush was reelected four years ago.  Is this just one more elitist swipe at the “stupid” American people who are so dumb that they don’t even know things are bad for four years such that they reelect their president? When is he going to get off the campaign trail and start governing?  When, with one-fourth of his term over, is he going  to realize this is his gig now, and stop crying about Bush?  The anti-Bush attacks against Scott Brown by Coakley in the closing days of the campaign fell flat.  That doesn’t work anymore.  This isn’t about the last eight years, but about the last twelve months.  The American people are sick of the Democrats trying to spend us into oblivion.

It seems that he may be betting the ranch on the State of the Union address, which runs the risk of Obama fatigue.  President Obama seems to confuse speeches with leadership.  Coming into office with zero executive experience, he let the inmates (Pelosi and Reid) run the asylum.  With the election of Scott Brown, Reid just lost his iron grip and Pelosi may not be far behind.  So what does Obama do?  Give another speech?  He has given more speeches than any president in memory, but there is time for talk and time for action.  But he seems to avoid holding another press conference as the fawning press may be finding its backbone and he doesn’t have an answer for his C-Span promises on the health care debate.

Boxed In

Reid is losing control of the Senate.  He no longer has  a filibuster proof majority and he will probably not get reelected.  He is one very lame duck.  Many of Pelosi’s party in the House see Brown’s stunning victory as a major wake up call.  Any Democrat in the House who is not planning on retiring, will not be eager to sign on to any more far left government takeovers.  So without Reid and Pelosi setting his agenda, and him still stuck in the anti-Bush mode, what can he do?  As charming as he may be, he promised bipartisanship but really wasn’t serious about it, he hasn’t cultivated any  relationships with conservatives.  As Dennis Miller put it on O’Reilly last night, “I hope he’s an ideologue.  If not, it means we have a dolt in the White House.”

President Obama has to realize that the job entails more than him just strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage, and get down to work and that means following Clinton’s lead and working with the Republicans.  There are a lot of ways to improve Health Care without spending  a trillion dollars (e.g., tort reform), stop bashing business when you need business to create jobs, drop cap and trade to fix global warming when oranges are freezing in Florida.

His inexperience continues to glow brightly.  He better figure out what the job entails, quickly, and get busy with it.  The referee just fired the gun signaling the end of the first quarter and Team Obama looks dazed and confused.  Not a good sign, sports fans.

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Too Big To Succeed

by Bill O'Connell on January 21, 2010

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In the midst of the financial meltdown the government and financial pundits argued that they had to rescue the big banks because they were too big to fail.  If we don’t save them, they could bring down the entire U.S. economy and in  turn the economy of the entire world.  Ignoring the history and responsibility for how they got there, that could be a true statement that the government had to do something to avoid a worldwide panic.

The panic averted, many banks paid the money back with interest, are in the process of paying out massive bonuses and the Obama administration is twisting itself in self-righteous knots to tax them into humility.  Good luck with that.  While they target the banks, they are hands off on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, GM and Chrysler because to tax those basket cases would just be taking money from the left taxpayer pocket and moving it to the right taxpayer pocket.  If you look to the root of the problems of the fiscal meltdown you will find the government’s hand in almost every corner, but don’t expect this administration to try to get to the bottom of it.

Back Up, Go Ahead

There was an old Abbot and Costello routine where Abbot was guiding Costello in parking a car.

Costello asked what he should do and Abbot said, “Back up.”

Costello confirmed, “Back Up?”

To which Abbot replied, “Yeah, go ahead.”

“Go ahead?”

“No. back up.”

“Back up?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

I don’t know if the Obama administration is Abbot or Costello, but they are telling banks, “Lend more money.”  Then they tell the banks, we are going to raise taxes and take your money away.  Then they ask the bank, “Why aren’t you lending more money?”

Programs You Can Believe In


It is estimated that Medicare loses about $60 Billion ANNUALLY in fraud.  That’s right about $60 billion of your tax dollars are stolen every year from this program.

“If you want to find Medicare fraud, the first place you should look is South Florida, where 60 Minutes and correspondent Steve Kroft were told it has pushed aside cocaine as the major criminal enterprise.” 60 Minutes – Medicare Fraud: A $60 Billion Crime

While the Obama Administration pushes their health care program one of the ways of funding the program is through savings in Medicare fraud.  However, no one has been able to stop it.  Not Republicans.  Not Democrats.

First Time Home Buyer Credit

This wonderful new program was designed to help first time home buyers achieve the American Dream.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a genius to also achieve that criminal American Dream, fleecing the government.

It’s hard not to laugh when viewing the results of the federal first-time home-buyer tax credit. The credit, worth up to $8,000 for the purchase of a home, has only been available since April of last year. Yet news of the latest taxpayer-funded mortgage scam has traveled fast. The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, recently told Congress that at least 19,000 filers hadn’t purchased a home when they claimed the credit. For another 74,000 filers, claiming a total of $500 million in credits, evidence suggests that they weren’t first-time buyers. – WSJ – First Time Fraudsters, 10/29/2009

The  IRS even had to admit that in an investigation they found 53 cases where IRS employees filed “illegal or inappropriate” claims for the credit.

Too Big To Govern

A new president is elected once every four years, but the vast government bureaucracy remains.  It is said that a president will only be able to address 3-4 top priorities in their term.  By the time they appoint executive department heads and the Senate approves them and they set about to figure out the departments they are in charge of, it is an enormous undertaking to try to make significant changes.  To try to curb fraud, to overcome the inertia of the entrenched bureaucrats who know they will outlast the appointee, and their friends in Congress who will probably be there as long, is just too tall an order to accomplish in a four year cycle.  Every time a new liberal takes over, their first order of business is to make the bureaucracy larger.  It does not work.  It will not work.

The Only Solution

The only solution is to make the federal government smaller.  It must be bold.  It must be dramatic.  Tweaking it at the margins will fail.  Entire departments must be shut down.  The Constitution should be the blueprint for this.  If the power is not explicit in the Constitution, shut it down and allow the states or local governments to take it up if they choose.  Then drastically cut taxes accordingly.  Let people keep their money and decide at the local level if they want that service or not.  Let every state try their own solution and each state can learn what works and what doesn’t from each other.  But this idea of pushing every solution up to the federal and let one size fits all be forced on everyone is, quite simply, madness.  We need less government and more liberty.

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Terrorism Follies

by Bill O'Connell on January 10, 2010

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Do you remember the scene in the movie “Saving Private Ryan” where after storming a machine gun nest and losing their medic, the Americans have to deal with how to handle a prisoner they captured?  Some say shoot him on the spot others disagree.  They know they can’t take him with them as he will slow them down.  After much vigorous debate Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) decides to untie him, point him toward the American line and tell him to keep walking, with the hope that he will be captured by the advancing American forces. 

Later in the movie as Miller’s unit is in a pitched battle to the last man, the released German prisoner is among those killing Miller’s men.  After reinforcements arrive to turn the battle in the Americans favor and the remaining Germans surrender, the former prisoner smiles and nods to the soldier in Miller’s unit that acted as translator and argued for sparing him as if to say, “Hey, how’s it goin’ pal?”  The soldier lowers his rifle and kills the German.

I am reminded of this by the current situation with Yemen.  Started under President Bush was the insane idea of releasing enemy combatants where they can find their way back to the battlefield.  This stupid policy was, until recently, going to be accelerated under President Obama.  Either we are at war or we are not.  You can’t fight a war with half measures.  Either you fight it to win or let the enemy have their way.  If we are in a war and we capture the enemy they stay captured until the war is over.  We don’t need a bunch of lawyers standing on the sidelines tapping their foot and their watches and saying, “how much longer are you going to hold these people without charging them?”  Answer: until the war ends or hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

 Is It a War Yet Mr. President?

 Backed into a corner, on his fifth (?) try to explain what his administration is doing on the War on Terror (am I allowed to call it that?), he actually called it a war, at least against Al Qaida.  He has spent the better part of his first year in office giving the back of his hand to the Bush administration.  But after seven years of Bush keeping us safe and two terrorist attacks on our soil this year with Obama at the helm and his poll numbers sinking, he has come to the realization that he owns this now.

The tough Harry Truman talk is nice (“The Buck Stops Here”), but it is just words until you actually do something with the buck that just stopped on your desk.  Why is the spectacularly incompetent Janet Napolitano still drawing a salary?  In Obama’s world it seems to be that what he means when he says the buck stops here is that he is the only one subject to firing and since we can’t fire him, everyone under him keeps on keeping on.  But who appointed these people?  It was Obama.  So he should recognize that he blundered and if the underlings don’t have enough sense to fall on their swords and resign, he should flat out fire them.

 Vacations are Important.  Anti-terrorism, Not So Much

 After the terror attack at Fort Hood, you would think that perhaps President Obama would be a little more responsive to another attempted attack, but hey, he was on an Hawaiian vacation.  Nobel Prize?  Chicago trying to win a bid for the Olympics?  President Obama will travel across the sea for that.  But an attempted attack on America?  Chill, baby, chill.  How about his director of National Counterterrorism, Michael Leiter, taking a ski vacation?  Just because stopping such an attack might be considered counterterrorism and just because that organization just failed miserably at stopping such an attack, and just because we didn’t know why it failed or if another attack might be on the way, why interrupt time with the family over that?  Family time is important, so said his boss. Don’t worry, Mike, we’ll wait.

Behind the Curve

It seems that with each attempt the enemy is one step ahead of us.  So discussions heated up about these new body scanners that can find anything, so it is claimed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big advocate of technology, but I guess the real problem is best summed up by one pundit comparing our methods to the Israelis:

“The Israelis look for terrorists, we look for tweezers.”

Instead of reading body scanners, perhaps we should be training the TSA agents in reading body language.  That’s what the Israelis do.  If you are a Palestinian, sorry, but you go in a different line and you get more closely screened and questioned.  You may pass, but you are going to be thoroughly checked out. We should do the same.  Where is your passport from?  What visa stamps do you have in your passport indicating where you have been?  Why don’t you have any luggage Mr. Abdulmutallab?  Why did you buy a one way ticket?  Who are you staying with in Detroit?  I see you paid cash for your ticket, how much cash do you have left for your trip after you land in Detroit?  Do you have a credit card?  No?  Hmmm…maybe you should wait over there, while we check further.

 No technology is foolproof.  Having worked in technology for over thirty years I can say that with some degree of confidence.  It only takes one failure of the technology for a disaster to strike.  But if we spend less time trying to find that box cutter, shampoo bottle, tweezers, jar of honey, etc., and spend more time spotting someone who doesn’t look like they are on a nice business trip or a visit to relatives or who otherwise fit the profile of a terrorist, that’s right I said it: profile, we could probably become a lot safer without having to lock the bathrooms for the last hour of the flight.  If we had pulled the young Abdulmutallab aside and questioned him, he probably would have cracked like an egg.  Does anyone think for a minute that this kid would have given off no body language signals if questioned by a trained professional?  The right combination of skilled human observers and questioners along with technology, is what we need to be safer.   Rather than this:  We”re the TSA and You Can Count on Us!

Intelligence Sprawl

We also need to collapse the intelligence arms of our government back into one and shut the others down.  Roll back Homeland Security into the Department of Defense, put the myriad intelligence gathering arms back into the CIA, make people accountable and lessen the need for a coordinating center to gather intelligence from a dozen agencies correlate it and send it back out to the dozen agencies.  All that does is create more fiefdoms that don’t want to talk to the dummies in that other agency who aren’t as smart as we are.  As the old saying goes, “When everyone’s responsible, no one is responsible.”  Government is neither nimble nor overly cooperative.  The fewer handoffs between agencies necessary to connect the dots, the better off we will all be.

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If Bush Lied, Did Obama?

by Bill O'Connell on January 9, 2010

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We all must have heard it a thousand times or more “Bush Lied!”   The reality is that Bush made a judgment based on information that he received and that many Democrats agreed with that ultimately turned out to be wrong.  Somehow that is lying.  In my lexicon, lying is when you say something is true when you know it to be false.  It’s not when you honestly think it is true and you find out later that you were wrong.

We’re Gonna Debate This on C-Span

There is no lack of video clips where Obama spoke to the voters and told them straight up that if he is elected the debate on health care would be open.  So open, it would be carried on C-Span.  I have not heard the speech from Obama where he says that he has demanded others in his party (Reid and Pelosi) to put this on C-Span but they flat out refused.  If you can say that Bush lied, certainly what Obama did is a whopper of a lie.  So where is the vanguard of veracity, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews of the leg tingle, Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, the Daily Kos, et al?  Can anyone say, fair and balanced?

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The Uncertainty Millstone Around the Neck of Jobs Growth

by Bill O'Connell on January 9, 2010

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The December jobs report was a disappointment for this Administration.  They expected a mere decline of 10,000 jobs and were hit with an 85,000 loss.  They will, of course, downplay the numbers and say how many jobs they “saved” even though that is a statistic no one can measure.  But what are this administration’s priorities?

Upside Down Priorities

Let’s look at the priorities of this administration:

  1. Bailouts
  2. Health care
  3. Cap and Trade
  4. Jobs
  5. National Security

Leaving aside that the top three are questionable as being within the constitutional authority of the president, what does it mean to job growth? 

The Little Engine That Can’t

The engines of job growth in this country are small businesses.  If you run a small business and you don’t know what your expenses are going to be, you will be very cautious about hiring.  In the list of items above, the first four have this administration on a spending binge that can only result in higher taxes because despite the rhetoric, that’s what statists do.  They will claim they only tax the rich, but many small business owners will fit into that definition of rich without having the cash to pay the taxes because their income is plowed back into their businesses.  So until they know how big the tax bill will be, they cannot afford to commit any cash to increased payroll.  They are more likely to use overtime rather than hiring to tide them over because they can just as quickly turn off that spigot.  While that might mean more economic activity, it doesn’t translate into new jobs.

Health Care is another looming question mark.  Since no one in the administration nor Congress seems to care about reading the bills they are voting on, it carries enormous risks to small businesses when the bureaucrats start crafting regulations based on any approved regulations.  If a small businesswoman doesn’t know what the impact will be on the cost of her existing workforce, she is certainly not going to hire new workers until she knows if the impact on her bottom line will be positive or negative.

Cap and trade is another potential whack to the small business bottom line.  Either through new taxes or carbon credits, who can tell a small businessman what this is going to cost?  When in doubt, stand pat.

Righting the Ship

Until this administration jettison’s the useless cargo that is sinking this administration, their new top priority should be ”man the lifeboats!”  If this administration hopes to avoid being a lame duck for two years, they need to come forward and say health care is dead, cap and trade is dead, bailouts are over.  Don’t even say that they will take them up again when the economy recovers.  Throw them over the side and start the pumps to empty the Treasury of IOUs.  If they don’t do this, any recovery in the jobs area will be slow indeed. 

It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid

Until the uncertainty is lifted, unemployment will remain stubbornly high.  When Reagan came into office and boldly stated his goal to shrink government and cut taxes, small businesses could see immediately that the effect on them would only be positive.  Less government and lower taxes meant more money on the bottom line and with more money on the bottom line they could start hiring and they did.  The result?  Twenty-five years of economic growth.  Obama is following the Franklin Roosevelt model of spend, spend, spend.  It didn’t work then.  It’s not working now.

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Trapped by His Own Gift

by Bill O'Connell on January 3, 2010

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Daniel Henninger wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tells of congratulating freshman Sen. Obama on a phenomenal speech. Without a hint of conceit, Mr. Obama replied, “Harry, I have a gift.”

In the article he also describes this observation:

Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree told how Mr. Obama spoke on one contentious issue at the law school, and each side thought he was endorsing their view. Mr. Ogletree said: “Everyone was nodding, Oh, he agrees with me.”

That’s essentially how he got elected.  With a heaping helping hand from the popular media, many people saw Obama as a blank screen upon which they could project their own views and see those as Obama’s own.  He’s our man!  He listens.  He cares deeply.  For a politician it is a phenomenal gift.  For a legislator it is an extremely valuable gift.  For an executive it is poison.

Pulling the Trigger

As a politician or a legislator you are in the role of persuader; somebody else makes the decision to vote for you or vote with you, respectively.  As an executive you are in the role of the decider.  You must make a decision and every decision, especially the tough ones are going to make a good many people unhappy.  Perhaps that explains why, in the Illinois Senate, Obama voted “Present” so many times.  Voting “Present” rather than “Yea” or “Nay” allowed him to hold that special place where everyone felt he agreed with them.  Too many decisions one way or another would have tarnished “the gift”.  So why is “the gift” poison for an executive?  If you don’t have “the gift” and you make a decision your opponents may disagree with you, but they are not surprised.  If you have “the gift” and you make a decision, those on the short side feel betrayed and angry, because they thought you agreed with them and then “sold out” and decided the other way.

Obama is in a tight spot where he has to make decisions and decisions have consequences.  When you make a decision it is very hard to make it seem like everyone got their way.  His complete lack of executive experience is telling.  If he had some executive experience, such as a mayor or a governor, he might have had enough practice learning how to make his decisions appear to satisfy everyone, as his campaign speeches did.  But that’s the thing about decisions.  If everyone supports them, they’re not much of a decision, like deciding to pardon a turkey on Thanksgiving.  Everyone enjoys the decision, but it’s really not what we elect presidents for.

I’ll Have the Waffles, Please

If you watch closely, you can see that Obama is struggling to preserve “the gift”.  He said he is for closing Guantanamo, but not yet.  He is for pulling out of Iraq, but no timetable.  The general he put in charge of Afghanistan, McChrystal, said he needed 40,000 more troops, but Obama could not bring himself to say yes or no.  He had to ponder, think, consult, weigh alternatives, and three months later, he gave McChrystal what he asked for.  Those on the left complained that he was not pulling out.  Those on the right complained that he wasted precious time while our troops were on the battlefield.  His backers tried to give him the fig leaf of showing gravitas.   He can’t seem to find the magic formula where everyone applauds him.  From “the gift” he has gone to “the anti-gift”.  Instead of satisfying everyone, he is finding that he is satisfying no one.

Move On

It’s time for Obama to “Move On”.  He should put “the gift” in his trophy case right next to his Nobel Peace Prize.  It got him to the White House.  How much more can he ask of such a thing?  So drop the pretense.  We all know he is a hard left guy, so he should just be who he is.  He may suddenly face a more hostile press, or they may love him more, although that would be hard to believe.  But when he makes a decision he will at least please his base, and then his opponents can fight his statist goals without being branded as racists.  As a hard left guy he will probably not get re-elected because America is not a hard left country, on the contrary the majority of Americans describe themselves as conservative.  But by choosing he can try to do what he can within one term.  It will be a battle. Obama’s poll ratings have dropped steadily since his inauguration and the Democrats are likely to lose seats in Congress this fall.  As an old acquaintance once said to me, “It’s like standing in the middle of the road.  Choose left or choose right, but choose; otherwise you get hit by traffic coming in both directions.”

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