Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Report Card

The big thing in the news right now is to grade Obama's performance during his first 100 days in office, report card style. So I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon too.

Economy: F

I don't think we can spend our way out of debt. It might give us the temporary illusion that our problems have been solved but all we've done is postpone the inevitable. Interest on our national debt is the third largest annual expense for our country...THIRD!!!! That's right, we spend more on interest than we do on Homeland Security, Education, Energy, etc... I thought the bailouts were stupid when Bush proposed them and I continued to disagree with them when Obama passed them. And now Obama has proposed an insane 5 year budget that's only going to take our country more into the hole. Throw on top of that that we gave billions of dollars to GM and Chrysler because supposedly they were "too big to fail" and now the jerk-offs are going to file for bankruptcy anyway. Can someone explain to me why we didn't just let this happen in the first place? You know, before we pumped billions of dollars into these failing companies? And don't even get me started on the fact that China is the one buying up all of our debt and they basically own our country. Or the fact that inflation is going to be so out of control in the next 5-10 years that a loaf of bread is going to end up costing 20 dollars.

War: B+

Although it equates to an empty campaign promise on his behalf, I was happy to see that Obama listened to the people on the front line of the war and realized that he couldn't just withdraw all of the troops overnight. That part of the world is much too unstable and like it not, we are in this for the long haul. I too want our troops out of there and I don't want to contine to spend insane amounts of money over there, but we can't just leave that part of the world in shambles, again. We chose to go in there and topple Sadaam so now we need to be big boys and deal with the consequences.

Foreign Relations: B

I was torn on this one. I don't like Obama going abroad apologizing to everyone on behalf of our country. Not only does it make us appear weak (and make no mistake, strength is the only thing many of the countries respect), but it also validates many countries' claims that we are evil. Our country is not evil nor are we in some quest to take over the rest of the world. We want to live peacefully and do our thing. But if someone threatens our way of life you can be damn sure that we will do what it takes to protect our country. On the flip side, I applaud Obama for defying conventional thinking on his interactions with foreign leaders and other countries. He is thinking outside of the box on this one and only time will tell if his strategy will pay off. I personally hope that it does. This world could use a little less war and a lot more peace. Let's focus on the real problems like world hunger. But the problem in my opinion is that the Middle East Muslim world only sees things in black and white, not shades of grey. They want us to die, we are evil, and our only salvation in their eyes is for us to convert to their religion. How can we ever make progress with people that think like that?


  1. I agree with a lot of this. I do have a hard time giving Obama an F on the economy, unless you give the stipulation that he would be getting an F no matter what. I agree that balancing the budget should be a huge priority of this country going forward, and that you can't spend your way out of debt. But it is a little bit of a catch 22, because if the economy begins to fall really hard and GDP begins to shrink, then debt is almost unavoidable. Remember that the couple of years in recent history where the budget was balanced, it wasn't because of how little our government spent, it was because of how well the economy was doing.

    I also think that Obama is playing catch up on a lot of issues that were just flat out ignored during the Bush administration and he is trying to get the ball rolling in the right direction on a lot of these issues, such as energy. A lot of the money he is spending is on getting the energy situation under control, and he is also spending a lot of money on a war that he has no interest in being in, but can't do anything about.

    Obama has admitted many times himself that he doesn't believe throwing money at a problem is going to be the ultimate solution, and that he has a long term plan to eventually balance the budget. I know talk is cheap, but I just wanted to point out that there is no "easy button" on solving the economic issues that this country and world for that matter are facing. I know that the actions he has taken so far are not your favorite, but you would have a hard time convincing me that there is a solution out there that is just clearly better.

  2. Our GDP is shrinking because too much of our economy is based on consumer spending. When the economy declines, so does consumer spending, which means GDP follows. Let it decline, it needs to decline to be on par with what our country is actually worth. Pumping money into the system is just masking the problem but not actually solving it. We cannot continue to spend more money than what we have, it's simple economics. By continually increasing our nation's debt to income ratio we are building an unsustainable economic house of cards. Our national debt interest payments will soon be the single largest line item in our budget. It's the same as if your single largest monthly expense was the miminum payment on your credit card, not food, not rent, not cable, but interest. It's ridiculous.

  3. One more thing, I agree with you that America as a whole is not evil, but I have my doubts about the Bush administration and many of the political powers that be. I am a believer in the idea that absolute power can corrupt absolutely, and there are some really powerful people in this country.

    I am sure some people reading this are about to roll their eyes, but I also am not entirely convinced that what happened on 9/11 is the story we got. But I roll my eyes at those who can't even accept the idea that it is a possibility that our own country may have played a part in that day.

    There is no doubt that the Bush administration benefited greatly from that day and it gave him the leverage to do a lot of things he could not have done otherwise. Also, things like this have been planned before, there was such a plan offered up to JFK and he rejected it.

    I could go all day on how a lot of things did not add up on 9/11, but I am sure anyone who is interested in that stuff already knows everything I would say, so I will spare you all!

  4. Brett - please share. I am interested in hearing what did not add up.

  5. I agree that spending money is just masking the problem Jake, but if you expect a president to just allow the economy to collapse because it would be better for everyone in the long run, you are dreaming.

    It would also be better if we just executed everyone who is a drag on our society, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. There is know way that our Government is going to knowingly take actions that cause American citizens to lose their jobs and starve to death, especially a democrat. He was voted in by the very people who would struggle because of such actions.

  6. How about the Air Force One flight over the Statue of Library photo op that cost about $330,000? That was pretty cool! I give extra credit for that.

  7. Sorry, I don't buy into the fear mongering by the media, Obama, and the Democrats who scared everyone into thinking that the economy would completely collaspe if we didn't pass their pork bills. There were plenty of experts on the flip side who said that the stimulus bills were only going to make things worse and that we shouldn't do it. I'm on that side. This country needs to tighten its belt, take our medicine, and deal with reality.

    And why should Americans not lose their jobs? If they work for a failing industry or company, should the taxpayer pay to keep that company alive when they will eventually go under anyway? No, those people need to go to technical school or community college, learn a new skill, and get a job in a different field that has a future. When this country went through our industrial revolution thousands of people lost their jobs to machines, but those people learned new skills and adapted. People lose their jobs everyday, it sucks, but it's life.

  8. Air Force One - Obama claims he didn't know about it, I believe him. He's smarter than that. But I don't know which issue I'm more disgusted by, the waste of taxpayer dollars for stupid stuff or that the people who decided to do that not thinking that would cause alarm and panic in NY city, you know, where 9/11 happened.

  9. And let me be fair, I acknowledge that the financial crisis and national debt were not caused by Obama. They have been caused by years of corruption, neglect, irresponsibility, and laziness on both sides of the aisle, by Congress, and by Presidents. But there is no time like the present to fix this problem. We need to balance our budget and start hacking away at the national debt. Look at the chart above to see how much money would be freed up if we could get that monster paid down.

  10. economy-a house of cards has been built over the last couple of decades. In the last decade, the irresponsibility spun out of control. The only thing taking place right now is a clean up job that's been building for far too long. I don't think ANYBODY likes the bailouts, but I like them more than the alternative. I too don't think we can spend our way out of debt. But I think if the house of cards falls completely, there will be no way out at all. I see the bailouts as "shoring" while the real and responsible economic infrastructure will fill itself in naturally. Will it work...I don't know, but I'm willing to give it a chance. That can only happen over time though, so "grading" anyone on effects that can only really be measured in years is absurd to begin with.

    What I struggle most with on this blog and why I typically choose not to comment on anything political here is because of the way ideas, events, and people are grouped and clumped together and are addressed like they're one thing with one voice. Obama, even if he was "apologizing to everyone"...makes us appear weak? Really? Do other countries see "us" as a person? Do you really see other countries as other people who have a very basic one dimensional opinions of "us"? maybe these countries consist of millions of people who's opinions span across the board, like ours. "Strength is the only thing many of these countries respect" No. I think "strength" can be defined in many different ways. I don't think acting like a tough ass is necessarily a sign of strength. If that's the case, most countries must respect Iran and Korea for those reasons. "It validates the claims that we are evil." Aside from my objections to the fox news type generalities that dominates this sentence ...are you suggesting we should continue to be dicks when it comes to diplomacy with other countries? Even if Obama did go around saying "I'm sorry, we kind screwed you pretty bad this last decade," you just wrote in the paragraph above that "we chose to go in there and topple Sadaam so now we need to be big boys and deal with the consequences." Identifying mistakes we've made in the past is not apologizing or an admittance of guilt. It's being a big boy and dealing with the consequences. After 9/11 the entire world was behind us. Just 8 years later nearly the entire world sees us as unchecked power and we are. That's something above and beyond defending our country which mind you, the bush administration was incapable of doing in 2001. Kicking all the ass in the world after the fact doesn't change that.

  11. You consider wasteful spending of billions of dollars that we don't even have "clean-up?" We're only making the problem worse.

    I agree with you that I don't think the US should continue to act like hard-liners. I think we make too many enemies that way as history as proven, not to mention we don't have the clout in the global community that we once had. But I don't think we owe anyone an apology for defending ourselves, including defending our country from pre-emptive action. Certain countries will think we are evil regardless. It has nothing to do with Fox News, dictators and countries all over the world frequently refer to our country as an evil souless monster. we send aid to many of these countries. I never said that we should be 'dicks' to those countries. Actually I said that I applauded Obamam for his fresh approach, maybe you should re-read my original post. But I also don't think we have to get our feelings hurt or bend to the will of these nutty leaders of these tiny countries.

    I think the real question here is are you able to look at Obama with a critical eye? You accuse Fox News of bias, but every other single network is in line for an autographed copy of his book. Maybe Fox News stands out because they actually say something different than the rest. I personnally watch CNN and Fox. I happen to like both. I don't want my news anchors interjecting their personal opinions into my news and I believe news should be fact-based. Do not confuse commentary shows with news reporting. You can't compare Bill O'Reily or Hannity's show (who I can't stand) with Headline News on CNN. Because one is a commentary show, the other is news. And that's part fo the problem is that people perpetuate this lie that Fox is so bias to the right. What? Are you crazy? Have you ever watched Fox news? The actual news, not a commentary show? They make more of a fair shot at the news than networks like MSNBC, CBS, or NBC. During the election was the worst, normal reporters on some of these networks swooning over Obama and the election hadn't even happend yet.

  12. Time will tell if it's wasteful. You mention "nutty leaders." I've seen no leader in world history more nutty that George W. Bush. Can I look at obama with a critical eye? My comments didn't glorify him or trash him. Am I crazy? possibly. Have I ever watched fox news? yes. But my comments weren't about fox news, they were about your comments.

  13. You saying that you've never seen a nuttier leader in world history than Bush is a very telling statement. Congratulations for discrediting any future comments based on the merits of that single comment. There is no point in even arguing that. If you truly believe that then yes, you are crazy.

    You brought up Fox News, not me. And I responded to your criticism of my comments, which I did not get from Fox News or any other news source for that matter. I generated them on my own, with my brain.

  14. The one point I couldn't agree with you more on, is that time will tell. I am able to consider the possibility, however unlikely I think it is, that somehow Obama and Congress, who have spent more money in the first 100 days than any administration in history, will somehow still be able to live up to Obama's promise to cut the national debt in half. And if they are able to do that I will eat my hat. Unfortunately, I think the opposite will be true. I think all we've done is create an even larger burden for the next generation to deal with. I think the administration is using Enron type accounting. They are spending X amount of dollars but are still coming up with a net savings because they are factoring in unrealistic GDP growth numbers. Speaking of GDP, the latest release said that we are now shrinking by 6%, which was higher than original estimates thought. Unlike Rush I actually do want the President and Congress to succeed, but given what I know I don't see how it's possible.

  15. It took me several readings of your last entry to determine that you are in fact serious. First, please if you were a Bush supporter, one that stood by his side in those eight years...Please, tell me, in your humble opinion, what he did that benefited our country most. Secondly, I said your remark was "fox news-like." If you call that bringing fox news in to this...alight, you win big guy. Well done.

    Additionally, I don't remember this country ever being so divided and spit before Bush's presidency. I've never seen political opinions or objections, taken so personally, even in an open discussion you just demonstrated. Some people just KNOW how it's supposed to be! Jake for President!

  16. matt- I think Bush did some things good and bad things. I don't think anyone makes the right decision 100% of the time. I think at the time, going into Iraq was the right decision. I watched Colin Powell's speech to the UN along with the rest of the world, and like Congress I thought it was the right decision. After 9/11 I think he gave hope to many Americans who thought the sky was falling and to the best of his ability he made his mission to prevent that from happening again, which he succeeded in doing. I think he made big mistakes in handling the Katrina situation, as did the local and state governments. But all in all, I think calling him the most nutty leader the world has ever seen is ludicrous. Have you ever listened to the leader of Iran speak? Hitler? Castro? Chavez? Kim Jong Il?

    And give me a break, this country has always been divided. The middle section is conservative and the two coasts are liberal. Obama did not win in a landslide and neither did Bush. Our country does best when we make decisions based on input from both sides. Our country is so great because we have both sides.

    I do not take you opinions personally, but I'm also not afraid to disagree. People in this country need to stop rolling over and voice their opinions more. One of the biggest problems in this country is apathy, not dissention.

  17. "Our country is so great because we have both sides", I've always wondered what the reason was.

    "And give me a break, this country has always been divided"...always, just like it is now.

    "I do not take you opinions personally"...thank god.

  18. Ok, here is my personal report card:
    Economy: D
    War: A-
    Foreign Relations: B+
    Photo Opt of Air Force One: F-

  19. Matt - I am not attacking you, but more just asking a question. Do you truly believe in the statement you made, "I've seen no leader in world history more nutty then George W. Bush"? Again, I am not attacking you....I more just want to know if you do believe this and why? I am also not saying he is the best or worst leader out there...I am only asking a question.

  20. The real reason we have to pay such a huge amount of interest on our national debt is that we allow a privately owned bank to print our currency (out of thin air) and charge us interest for it. When the department of the treasury needs money, the Federal Reserve writes them a check and we pay interest on what our Congress has the constitutional right to print on it's own (interest free). The problem with that is the Fed is a private company and it is in their best interest to continue earning as much interest as possible off their clients(us). Now, that said, who did Obama name Secretary of the Treasury but Timothy F. Geithner, former president of the Federal Reserve. If that's not a conflict of interest, I don't know what is. Geithner's number one job as Secretary of the Treasury thus far, as we all know, has been doling out billions upon billions of dollars in federal bailouts. He has effectively done what any good banker would do. He has issued massive loans to a customer that will never pay the principle but always pay the interest. That's the heart of the matter as I see it. And it's just gonna keep happening unless, by some miracle, the Fed can be nationalized or abolished. It seems to me the president and his cabinet are mostly interested in building their mountains with the dirt from our hole. F.

  21. Sarah-of course there have been mad men and tyrants as leaders, my statement was an exaggeration. But in terms of "sane" American leaders he's at the bottom of the barrel. One thing I could never accuse the man of is not loving his country. That said, I could go out in my back yard, saw a limb off a tree, paint a face on it with lipstick and put it in the oval office, and it would have been a far superior replacement.

  22. "I think the real question here is are you able to look at Obama with a critical eye?"

    Jake, if anyone on this blog is guilty of only being able to see one side of an argument it is you my friend. And I am not going to call anybody out but I know "conservatives" who read this blog and agree with me. A huge percentage of this blog is devoted towards Obama bashing even though most can agree that we just had one of the worst presidents in our country's history leave the White House. I agree with a lot of your thoughts but your stance is so strong I almost feel it necessary to defend the other side. If I could do things my way I would be with you on spending less and balancing the budget and taking the hit that goes along with it, but I also don't think bread is going to cost twenty dollars in five years because of the terrible job THIS administration is doing.

    There are plenty of economists out there who fundamentally agree with the idea of spending money in a situation like this, just as there are those who fundamentally disagree. No one has ever been proven completely right or wrong. You can find examples both ways when they have worked and when they haven't. I understand that you don't agree with what is going on, but the fact remains that most of this country supports what Obama is doing. I don't know what that really means because most people are idiots, but all the same he has the countries support behind what he is doing.

  23. What about grading Obama on the little stuff?

    Torture: A+
    Waterboarding is not cool (Cheney automatically gets an F for this). Let's get that Truth Commission started.

    Stem Cell Research: A-
    He's on the right track. At least science is no longer an enemy of the Executive Branch of our government.

    March Madness Predictions: A
    Barack Obama is a genius. Enough said.

  24. Entertainment: A
    60 Minutes and Jay Leno

  25. Jimmy- I couldn't agree more, 'A' for stem cell research

    Sarah- I couldn't agree more. 'A' for entertainment. There is no reason our President has to be a stuffy suit. Although I think the timing might have been a little off, I like the move.

  26. Brett- I think this administration is doing what they think is right. I don't think they are mailicious or have some evil secret plan to screw me. But I think they are wrong. I think the recent actions and strategy Congress and the President have employed as it relates to the economy are wrong. That doesn't make me an Obama basher, I think he has done some things well as I have continued to point out on this blog. But the economy is one of my hot buttons and I think both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of being irresponsible when it comes to our nation's finances. Obama and the Democrats just happen to be in the line of fire because they are in office and have the majority. I can say with 100% certainty that I would be criticizing Bush and the Republicans if they were still in charge right now. As a matter of fact, I believe that I have pointed out multiple times that Bush was the first to approve the bailouts and he was wrong then just like Obama is wrong now.

    And no, actually most of the people in this country do not agree with Congress and the President. They have horrible approval numbers relating to the bail-outs and the handling of the economy. Obama himself has good approval ratings, they are about the same as what Bush had at 100 days into office.

    And to your point that multiple conservatives read this blog and agree with you that I am one-sided on arguments, what the hell does that even mean? I don't base my opinions on what other people think, especially not the majority. I take in all of the information and form an opinion. Because I have an opinion and express it, that makes me one-sided? I base my opinions on my principles, values, and life experiences. I have no doubt that some may disagree with me and I am fine with that. My goal here is not to sell people on an idea or call someone stupid for having a different opinion. That's the point of a debate. But I'm also not going to water down my ideas just because they aren't PC. If you don't like my opinion or stance then debate the other side, but telling me that my viewpoint is wrong because it's too extreme is absurd. Friend.