(COMMENTARY)—Even before the 2008 presidential election, conservatives bemoaned the state of the Grand Old Party. Many never warmed up to Sen. John McCain and conservatives also split over a number of social issues. Considering the Democratic sweep of two government branches (and a possible complete future sweep as Supreme Court seats come up vacant), it’s obvious the GOP has some serious soul searching ahead. A number of Republicans I’ve spoken to have yielded to the ‘blame Bush’ mantra Democrats are so fond of. Whatever goes wrong—if your toast burns because you set the dial wrong—it’s Bush’s fault. Whatever the reasons, the party must restore itself. And six candidates want the honor of leading the GOP as Republican National Committee chair.
At Change.Gov Americans can keep up with what’s on our soon-to-be Commander in Chief’s agenda, and top of the list is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. President-Elect Barack Obama said in his weekly address delivered Saturday, “We need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term.” So far so good. Obama said he doesn’t want the plan to just throw money at the problem. Rather, “We must make strategic investments that will serve as a down payment on our long-term economic future. We must demand vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results. And we must restore fiscal responsibility and make the tough choices so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down.”
The cloud for fiscal conservatives comes in the form of a plan to create jobs. Obama wants to create a blizzard of jobs—more than 3 million —“more than eighty percent of them in the private sector.” Doing some basic math, consider the 20 percent or so that aren’t created by the private sector. Will the administration add 600,000 new government jobs to the taxpayer burden? Will those new jobs get the federal benefits package most government employees receive?
Bloggers and pundits are analyzing the plight of a Muslim family booted from an AirTran flight headed to Orlando. Family members were allegedly overheard discussing the safest places to sit in an airplane. One thing led to another and the FBI investigated, ultimately deciding the passengers posed no danger. The family ended up booking flights on another airline. One family member says he may sue.
Oregon’s governor wants to tax mileage by using satellite technology and New York is going after sugar-filled sodas now that the state's cigarette tax can go no higher. Florida, Colorado and South Carolina have fiscal woes. It’s possible 2009 might in the U.S. eventually become known as the ‘taxberg’ year. States and local governments face dwindling revenues—they feel the pinch in a manner similar to Main Street. That's because we're all in the same boat. The federal government controls the lion's share of tax revenues and tax opportunities. Truth is the federal government has grown the taxberg so successfully, the states will likely be reduced to the desperation moves of union officials—a visit to Washington to ask for a bailout. I already own (theoretically) a share in auto manufacturers and lending, so owning a share of Colorado or New York may not be such a bad deal.
As usual, media is dogging the latest conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with American media doing its best to highlight Israel’s role and refrain from telling the whole story. The latest sound bite of the week stems from efforts by former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and some like-minded activists who decided to take relief supplies directly to the center of the battle. McKinney and company sailed on the Gibraltar-based ‘Dignity, ‘ described by various media as a pleasure boat.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, “The boat, which set off from Cyprus Monday wanted to make a statement and deliver medical supplies to embattled Gaza.” Predictably, the Israeli military wasn't happy to see the Dignity.
(COMMENTARY)—Media outlets and blogs have had a field day with Russian analyst Igor Panarin’s bleak forecast for the United States—a disintegration of the union into sections that may be controlled by foreign countries.
Pravda reported Panarin believes the U.S. will split into six parts as follows: “The first part is the US Pacific Coast. Here is an example. The Chinese make about 53 percent of San Francisco’s population. An ethnic Chinese used to be the governor of the State of Washington, whereas its capital, Seattle, is dubbed as the gateway for Chinese emigration to the USA. The Pacific Coast gradually falls under the influence of China. The second part is the south and the Mexicans. The Spanish language is widely spread there, it has almost become a state language of the territory. Texas openly fights for its independence. The Atlantic Coast represents a different ethnos and a different mindset, which may split into two. Central depressive regions make the final group. I have to remind here that five central states of the USA, where Indians live, declared their independence. It was considered a joke, a political show, but it’s a fact. Canada’s influence is strong in the north. We can claim Alaska after all, it was granted on a lease…”
I don’t know what the final retail reports will say about this Christmas season. But everywhere I’ve gone the stores have been packed. My husband and I tried to shop at the new Whole Foods Market last weekend. He ended up ushering me to the exit after bargain happy shoppers almost ran us down with carts. The crowd was elbow to elbow. We should’ve turned around when we first arrived and learned the store was having a Grand Opening Day. We remembered that after an SUV driver almost mowed us down in the parking lot. I figure there’s a Christmas angel on every corner this time of year.