Real questions for Obama & Clinton

#744, January 27, 2013

COLUMBUS: This was quite a week for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. The Inauguration was Monday, the Congressional investigation of Hillary Clinton was Wednesday, and their 60 Minutes interview was Sunday.

A highlight for the president was during the parade when NBC weatherman Al Roker shouted a question, “How do you like the weather?”  That question was tougher than 90 percent of the ones Steve Croft asked Sunday. Do you remember Secretary Clinton’s defiant response to a Senator’s question about Benghazi when her answer included,  “What difference does it make?” You may recall it took two weeks for her or anyone in the Obama administration to recognize that it was an organized terrorist attack on Sept. 11, and not triggered by a video, that resulted in four deaths, making it the worst diplomatic death toll in about 50 years.

Well, after showing the video of that defiant reply, Croft followed with a question that might earn him an Emmy, “How’s your health?”

Maybe that was a better question than I give him credit for. After all, when she went to testify to those Republicans she forgot to wear her football helmet. But even the Republicans only asked a couple of tough questions. Most of them made speeches and forgot to ask her anything. And the Democrats on the panel, they praised her for visiting 120 countries in 4 years, and finished by nominating her for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why, my old newspaper friends, H. L. Mencken and Walter Lippman, would have dug into both of them. They would have asked, “Were you not informed about terror attacks in Benghazi several months before Sept. 11? If not, did you fire the person who should have kept you up to date? On Sept. 11, what actions did you take in the seven hours between the beginning and the end of the attack? ”

Then they would have zeroed in on the President. “In your Inaugural speech you hit on at least twenty different things –  gay marriage, illegal immigrants, climate change –  but you hardly mentioned the top issues for most Americans: jobs and the economy. What is your plan to tap our vast gas and oil resources, put Americans back to work, and reduce the $16 Trillion debt? Will you propose raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare? If not, what new taxes will you suggest that everyone pay to cover that growing expense?”

Well, if you feel I’ve been mean or nasty or downright dirty, let me close with a clean story. It seems that several hundred cases of Tide detergent have been stolen in Colorado. No kidding. The surprise is that with marijuana now legal, there’s no need to launder drug money. Police are looking for likely thieves wearing sparkly clean clothes with no ring around the collar.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Got a thrill this morning. Walter Lippman, a grand writer that I would no more miss reading than miss breakfast… Well, he had actually read something I had written about the debts. Course he didn’t agree with me. But just to be disagreed with by a man like him is a thrill.”
 DT #1966, Nov. 22, 1932

Prohibition of guns

President Obama is determined to cut down on school shootings by restricting (prohibiting?) gun sales and large ammunition clips. Now, just for a moment let’s ignore the Second Amendment to the Constitution and look back at 1920. The 18th Amendment was passed to prohibit alcoholic beverages. How did that work out?

Here’s Will Rogers’ take on it, from a little book called, The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition: “Maine and Kansas were the first Prohibition states, now look at them. Maine was noted for two things, one was drinking awful whiskey and the other was shooting another hunter. If it had not been for the hunting season in Maine and the early deaths from bad whiskey, Maine would have had a population now almost equal to Rhode Island.
“The principal industry of Kansas was bootlegging. The only way you could tell a Citizen from a Bootlegger in Kansas was the bootlegger would be sober. The Booze they sold was so strong they had to dilute it with alcohol.
“The minute Prohibition goes in, I can see Cincinnati seceding from the Union. Ohio was voted Wet by the people and Dry by their mis-representatives. Pretty tough on the Columbus, Ohio, saloon men; they have to close just when that big Methodist Conference meets there.
But the minute they get Prohibition they will hop on to something else. I see where they propose to stop Cigarettes first and then Profanity. They are going to have a tough time with that profanity, cause as long as there is a Prohibitionist living there will be profanity.”

Prohibition lasted until 1933 when the new president, Franklin Roosevelt, said, “Let ‘em drink.” Later that year the 21st Amendment was ratified to officially cancel out the 18th. During the intervening years, crime soared, Al Capone and other gangsters got rich from selling illegal liquor, and people that wanted to drink still did. Prohibiting guns would be equally successful.

My son was watching the Inauguration events this weekend and asked me, “Isn’t it ironic that the First Lady waited until the debate on guns to wear BANGS?”

While the President has zeroed in on gun control, the really big problems are debt and the economy. People are more scared of losing a job (or not getting one) than of getting shot. The General Accounting Office is the CPA for the country (when they aren’t throwing extravagant parties for themselves) and they came out with a dire warning, “Absent policy changes, the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.” What that means is: We are spending too much, we have promised to spend more in the future, and there won’t be enough money in the whole country to pay the bills unless we cut our spending.

Football has boiled down to two teams in the Super Bowl. San Francisco vs. Baltimore, with two brothers facing each other as head coaches. That’ll give us something to talk about other than Lance Armstrong and that Notre Dame player and his imaginary girlfriend.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“(President) Hoover hadn’t been sworn in three minutes before he waded into a topic that Mr. Coolidge had never mentioned in six years. That was Prohibition.”
 DT #812, March 4, 1929

Is 2013 the Year of the Skunk?

Congress is back at work. If they don’t get any more accomplished in 2013 than in 2012, it seems like they ought to give their salaries to charity. And I can’t think of a charity more deserving than the American taxpayers. Of course it wouldn’t amount to more than a nickel a piece for the poor taxpayer, but the gesture might be enough to raise the stature of Congress. According to the latest poll, compared to suffering through two more years of this Washington mud wrestling, Americans would rather have a colonoscopy, gall stones surgically removed, and sprayed by a skunk.

The so-called Debt Limit is the next thing to get all riled up about. Republicans say they just raised it 17 months ago, and already the President has exceeded it. Instead of fighting over another Trillion dollar extension, I suggest the President should sit down with his Treasurer, calculate how much they will have to borrow to get through the next four years, and have the House Democrats propose it and vote for it. At the rate they’re spending, it would probably be for about $8 Trillion on top of the $16 Trillion we’re already in the hole. The President already requested an unlimited amount, so anything less than that should be a victory for Republicans.

Racking up all this debt has quite a few people concerned. But President Obama says the debt is nothing to worry over because we’re better off than Spain or Italy or Portugal or Greece.  But as Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles said, “Our predicament is like being the healthiest horse in the glue factory.”

Several top people in the Obama administration have resigned, including Sheila Jackson. She’s the head of the EPA, where she put in 6000 new regulations in the last few months. No wonder she is resigning; she’s exhausted.

There’s nothing unusual about Cabinet-level folks quitting after four years. And the president is busy rounding up the best men he can find to replace ‘em.

On the other hand, the Senate put in a new Chairman of the Budget Committee because the old one never did anything. Since they never passed a budget in three years, why not disband the committee. Send those Senators and the staff home and look at all the money we would save.

A friend of mine posted this lovely thought on Facebook: “Your worth consists of what you are, not in what you have.” My first reaction was, “What a wonderful philosophy.” Then the humorist in me kicked in, “Let’s hope so, because in four years we may not have much.”

Maybe we should just hunker down till Washington decides how bad off we’ll be.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.” 
DT #1038, Nov. 22, 1929

President, Congress off to a rocky start

By now, most of you folks have returned home from your long vacation trips to Hawaii or other lovely tourist destination. While you were away, Congress managed to stop the bus just before it careened over the fiscal cliff. They glued a patch on a flat tire, hoping it will hold air for a couple months till they can borrow enough dough for a new one.

Republicans want to cut spending. They are divided on raising taxes on the rich, but they are one hundred percent in agreement on cuts. But they want the Democrats to say which cuts they will accept so they don’t get all the blame. President Obama never learned how to subtract, but looking at the House Republicans you can tell he’s real good at dividing.

They will be arguing for two months over the debt ceiling; that’s the next crisis. President Obama made it clear he is opposed to anything even resembling a cut. He announced, flat out, “I will not negotiate,” and headed back to the golf course. That leaves it up to the Vice-President to do the horse trading with Republicans.

Bumping up against the debt limit is not as bad as it seems because we still collect enough taxes to cover 60% of our expenses. So the Treasury Secretary can pay the interest on the debt and paychecks for essential employees and let the rest slide.

Well, how do you know which ones are essential? They could try this idea. Have all the weather forecasters in Washington announce that a three-foot snow will hit tomorrow morning. The President would send an email to government employees informing them that only essential ones need to come to work; the rest have the week off.  Right there’s your 40 percent.

That may be silly, but here’s something serious we can agree on: we need to cut spending on entitlements and other government services, grow the economy, and generate more revenue to balance the budget. So you gather Congress, the President, leaders from both political parties, all the big donors, big companies, labor unions, TV and radio commentators, and news media. You tell ‘em, “We’re gonna solve this problem to save the country. Ninety percent won’t like it, but like castor oil, it’s for their own good.” And here’s the clincher: once the deal is struck, no one can complain about it. No future candidate can blame an officeholder for voting for it, and if he did, they would get no financial support and no help rounding up votes. No one can run on a platform opposed to any part of the deal.

Yes, we have freedom of speech. Anyone can holler all they want to. But if none of the individuals or organizations listed above pay any attention to ‘em, they won’t get far.

The Senate passed a $60 Billion relief bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. But the House got to reading it and was shocked to find out the hurricane had blown all the way to Alaska, and a bunch of states in between. When those Congressmen started stripping out the everything that some Senator had tacked onto the bill, it got down to about $15 Billion. Now that right there tells you why we have a budget problem; every spending bill that goes through Congress is weighted down with about three-fourths excess spending that has nothing to do with the announced purpose of the bill. It’s like these telephone solicitors for obscure charities; if a fourth of the money goes for the intended purpose, you’re lucky.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Politics is the best show in America. I love animals and I love politicians, and I like to watch both of ’em at play, either back home in their native state, or after they’ve been captured and sent to a zoo, or to Washington.”

#785 Jan 5, 2013

I read where Mr. Bernanke is optimistic that the economy will continue improving in 2014. But he’s leaving the Federal Reserve, so I doubt anyone will listen to him. Janet Yellen will replace him, and she says she is going to attack global warming and, I guess, let the economy take care of itself.
Dr. Yellen might change her tune when she hears about the ship loaded with global warming scientists that went to Antarctica to show the world how warm it has gotten. Instead of basking in the warm ocean waters, the boat got blocked in by solid ice. They called in icebreakers, three of ‘em, and two of them got stuck, too. Finally a helicopter went in and hauled out the scientists. But their boat and the icebreakers are locked in there, maybe until Yellen and the scientists figure out how to melt the ice.
We’ve had two or three trains that derailed carrying crude oil from Canada, resulting in fires and several deaths. I saw a television news broadcaster kinda pleading, “Why can’t we come up with another way to transport oil?”
The New York Times announced two major findings. First, the killing of our Ambassador and three others in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, was because an anti-Muslim video really upset a handful of peace-loving Libyans. (They did not indicate whether President Obama or Secretary Clinton should have removed all personnel from Benghazi weeks before the spontaneous attack.)  Second, Eric Snowden’s leaks should go unpunished, even though they cost us a hundred million dollars and set back our national security twenty years. Snowden claims he is a whistleblower, but a true whistleblower is one who sees that something is wrong and notifies his superiors, not a traitor who shares a whole boatload of national secrets with an enemy.
I’ll have to dig up some old issues of the New York Times to see if they supported the humanitarian efforts of John Dillinger, Al Capone and the Dalton Gang.
President Obama returned to Washington with his two daughters. I read that he let the First Lady stay another week or two as a special birthday present. I’ve got to wonder how much his ‘gift’ will cost the rest of us. But I bet she’ll order up an immediate first class return trip on Air Force One if she gets wind that a surprise trip to D.C. is planned by a certain Danish Prime Minister. Actually I hope she enjoys celebrating her 50th birthday in Hawaii. There’s about a hundred million of us in frigid sections of the mainland that would love to go help her blow out the candles.
New York City elected a new mayor, Bill DeBlasio. He says he wants to get rid of income inequality. He didn’t say precisely whether he wants the rich to move out of town, or for poor immigrants to go away. Either way would do it. Look at Detroit.
DeBlasio also wants to rid the city of horses. The horse-drawn carriages that tourists love to ride in Central Park will be replaced by electric carts. Yep, that’s sure to attract more tourists.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“With New Year’s comes predictions of our leading men. This year they will read as follows, all of them: ‘I am an optimist, and always have been, but we must be assured of no inflation and a fair return on our investment. If the government will just lay off us everything will be fine.’ Now watch and see how far this misses it.”
 DT #2618, Dec. 26, 1934
  “A man that don’t love a horse, there’s something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love horses then there is something worse the matter with him.”