Top Ten Political Events of 2009

Economic Crisis and Fiscal Incompetence

While it is obvious that the decline in the economy and the rise of unemployment above 10% make one of the most important stories of the year, the government response to this crisis is really an even bigger story. The decision to address the crisis with uncontrolled and poorly directed spending, causing further economic decline and an exploding debt which may be impossible to resolve without defaulting on debt obligations, will have consequences which last for decades. Gross fiscal irresponsibility including bailouts for favored industries, handouts to political allies and the largest budget increase in history while continuing to escalate the war in Afghanistan showed such economic ignorance, greed and irresponsibility that it actually woke the sleeping voters and may lead to one of the greatest political upheavals of our times in 2010. More Coverage.

The Rise of the Liberty Movement

The economic crisis spurred the emergence of a powerful non-partisan movement for smaller government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. The people rose up in the millions and shouted "stop" at a government they view as out of control. This was manifested in the Tea Party protests and a rise in activism from independent voters as well as a pronounced political shift to the right on economic issues in the Republican Party. As the people expressed their displeasure in the streets and in the polls and in raising spokesmen like Glenn Beck to national prominence, Republican legislators actually heard the message and stood firm in opposition to every major spending measure in the Congress in a remarkable show of political resolve. More Coverage.

Climategate

When Russian hackers released a decade worth of emails between top climate scientists it stopped the efforts of global socialists to implement draconian environmental regulation dead in its tracks. The evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate, misrepresent and conceal scientific data was impossible to write off and it eviscerated the Copenhagen Climate Conference and left Al Gore hanging in the wind. More Coverage.

The Health Care Debacle

The health care debate exposed the dark and rotten underbelly of partisan politics to the public in a way which hadn't been seen since the days of Richard Nixon. An awakened electorate got to watch Democrat leaders engaging in every kind of bullying and bribery to pass legislation to which their constituents were overwhelmingly opposed both on the right and left. The issue served as a vehicle for exposing partisan corruption of the media and the disdain of legislators for any interests but those of the political class. As voters watched in horror their eyes were opened to the blatant corporate takeover of the establishment left and the gross corruption of the political process. More Coverage.

Liberty Defiant in Honduras

With international interests including the United States arrayed against them, the people of Honduras defied the world by demanding that the rule of law and the legitimacy of their constitution be recognized in opposition to the attempt of Marxists to subvert their political system. Despite all the forces arrayed against them, the people of Honduras prevailed and remained free. More Coverage.

John Mackey Speaks Out

Everyone is picking Sully Sullenberger as their hero of the year, but his remarkable competence was not expressly political in nature. The real political hero of the year was John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods who defied his own left-leaning customers and risked one of the most successful emerging businesses of the decade by defending his vision of 21st century capitalism and publicly suggesting some rational alternatives to Obamacare based on his successful experiments in his own business. More Coverage.

Unrest in Iran

After a suspect election led to protests, government crackdowns led to further protests and further crackdowns to the point where Iran has developed a serious anti-government movement with the potential for a revolutionary uprising. The heavy handed violence of government forces in attacking protesters and assassinating outspoken opponents has shredded the mask of democracy which had cloaked the harsh rule of the Mullah oligarchy. The combination of middle class discontent, angry and persecuted ethnic minorities and a young population fed up with cultural isolation may be too volatile for the theocratic regime to keep under control. More Coverage.

The UndieBomber

A madman with flaming underpants reminded us at the end of the year that the problems with international terrorism and defending the homeland were far from resolved. The convoluted process by which ample warnings of his intentions were ignored and mishandled showed both problems in our current security apparatus, but also the failures of the administration as they responded with pathetic denials and ridiculous suggestions for impractical responses. It also gave us new heroes in the passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 who took action where the government had failed and saved their own lives on Christmas in the air over Detroit. Read More.

The Scozzafava Disaster

The tumult surrounding the candidacy of Dede Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District in New York exposed the weaknesses of both the Republican establishment and the rising far-right opposition. The selection of Scozzafava by the political leadership of the state showed a disregard for the preferences of Republican voters which led to a backlash in support of what turned out to be a very unappealing alternative in the form of inarticulate boob Douglass Hoffman. The far right tried to flex its muscles and managed to force Scozzafava out of the race, but Hoffman was just too weak a candidate and they ended up giving the seat to the Democrats. There is an important lesson about compromise and listening to the people to be learned here, but it remains to be seen whether any of the factions in the GOP will heed it. Read More.

The Return of Sarah Palin

For good or ill, 2009 showed us that Sarah Palin was not just a flash in the pan and was not going to go away. Despite continued derisionm from the media and the left and despite the refusal of blue state bookstores to even stock her campaign memoir, she made the top of the bestseller list and was very well received in her nationwide tour. She continued to demonstrate that whatever her shortcomings, she is unflappable and continues to have a strong national appeal. Read More.

Also Noteworthy

If I were greedy I'd want to pick an 11th and 12th story deserving of recognition for 2009. #11 would be the purge of grassroots activists in the Republican Party of Florida and the backlash which looks likely to unseat State Chair Jim Greer. This struggle is a microcosm of the fight between the GOP grassroots and establishment which is going on nationwide. #12 would be the very conservative Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling granting gay marriage rights in that very red state on firm constitutional grounds, a strong reminder that the defense of individual rights is a conservative position.

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Comments

We should all have such "Fiscal Incompetence"

How is it possible that it has escaped your attention that the Obama Administration inherited a financial shit storm and yet, not even 11 months later every economic indicator is improved?

  • Consumer Confidence Index - Dec 09 =52.9; Dec 08 = 38
  • Leading Economic Indicators - Dec 09 =105; Dec 08 = 99
  • Weekly initial jobless claims, 4 week moving average - Dec 2009 = 460,250; Dec 2008=544,000
  • New car sales  09 = 839,600; Dec 08 697,633
  • Dow (peak) - Dec 2009 = 10,500; Dec 08=9,250
  • GDP, most recently reported quarter - Dec 09 =+2.2%; Dec 2008=-2.7%
  • US rail traffic - Dec 09 vs Dec 08 =+4.8%; Dec 08 vs Dec 07=-39.1%

What a shame that the Bush Administration wasn't this "fiscally incompetent".

Thank God John McCain lost.

You do notice that 3Q GDP got marked-down from 3.5%

Still spiking the ball prior to entering the end zone I see. And hmm, no debt projections. I thought Paul Krugman in '07 was apoleptic about an annual $200B fiscal deficit; we've had months that bad under the new crew.

BTW, didn't a tax break on car sales expire last night?. Let's see what Jan 10 looks like. In any event an annual sales rate of under 10M units is still unmitigated disaster for the domestic auto business.

 

  

You do notice that +2.2% is higher than -2.7%????

You do notice that +2.2% is higher than -2.7%????

BTW, JD Power is predicting growth in 2010 - their forecast is for 11.5 million vehicles.

The Obama Administration will continue to clean up the messes that it inherited.

+2.2% ="jobless recovery"

Let's see what happens when the millions of "discouraged workers" try and re-enter the labor force.

11.5M auto sales is still pretty depressed from a "normal" level of over 15M. At some point the US auto market "has" to come back simply because cars wear out. Problem is I suspect that it will be driven more to low-priced Korean brand models out of the consumer's economic necessity.  Which means we've basically poured tens of billions into GM and Chrsyler to protect the UAW ala "American Leyland"; we'll never see the money again..

And perhaps the clean-up would go faster if the janitor didn't throw his own crap on the floor?

Allow me to repeat

Weekly initial jobless claims, 4 week moving average - Dec 2009 = 460,250; Dec 2008=544,000

We will probably see job growth in January - although inemployment will still be too high throughout 2010 and probably 2011, thanks to the massive whole that George Bush blew in our economy.

How much further are you going to move the goal post - first you said 10 million was a disaster, now you are saying that 11.5 million is a disaster?

Look at this chart:

Photobucket

Sure you want to keep on blaming the situation on Obama? (Actually, you probably do, since factual evidence seems to be utterly meaningless to you.)

As this cart proves, if you are not happy with the level of auto sales, you can blame George Bush.

"whole"?

Looks like the "improvement" stalled.  Fine, you want to define 450K weekly claims is good. Go ahead.

As for the diff between 10M and 11.5M car sales, if you want to say waterboarding is better than drowning go right ahead. 

What I define as good is job growth, which we will see

in January. Possibly as soon as the next report.

In the meantime, as I said in my top comment, economic indicator have improved. And yes, Ironman - a smaller bad number is better than a bigger bad number. I have heard it said that most lawyers went into the trade because they were too bad at math to make it as accountants. You seem determined to prove this point.

Look at that chart above - who was President when car sales started their precipitous decline, and why are you blaming Obama for it?

Incidentally, you are the one who argues that waterboarding is perfectly OK and is in no way like drowning - not me.

Re: Sarah Palin

 

"She continued to demonstrate that whatever her shortcomings, she is unflappable and continues to have a strong national appeal."

At the Gaurdian, Hadley Freeman wrote a brilliant column, The noughties are defined by fakery. It ties together Avatar, fake science, and Palin in an end-of-the-decade tribute.... It's such a good read it's quite hard to excerpt:

 

The noughties are defined by fakery

And the most embarrassing example has been the rise of 'fake science', which values naivety over facts – a bit like Sarah Palin

Much criticism – positive and negative – has already been ladled on Ego "James" Cameron's latest film, Dancing with Smurfs, aka Avatar. But one point that has not been discussed is how much Sarah Palin would enjoy it.

On the one hand, considering that this movie features the most simplistic racial stereotypes since Star Wars' Jar Jar Binks did his best Butterfly McQueen impression for George Lucas, Avatar is an obvious winner for Palin. After all, she is the woman who, according to her father, left Hawaii University because there were too many Asians there for her liking: "They were a minority-type thing and it wasn't glamorous, so she came home," said Chuck Heath.

On the other hand, as Avatar comes weighed down with anti-war sentiments, topped with some environmental awareness waffle (if discussions about trees having "energy" count as environmental awareness, as opposed to cod-spiritual ethno-tourism you might expect from Sting and Trudie Styler), this may not be the obvious festive outing for la famille Palin. Sarah, of course, doesn't really believe in silly-billy man-made "climate change", describing it instead as "doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood". Doomsday? Priesthood? Has someone been reading Dan Brown?

All of this dovetails with the most ­ important issue of the week: how to define the past decade. After all, the 80s had bling (according to Jay McInerney), the 90s had grunge (according to Winona Ryder). The noughties, or whatever we end up calling them, were surely defined by fakery: fake celebrities (anyone who came from reality TV); fake "reality" (see previous); faked news stories (Balloon Boy, which has since been compared to Orson Welles's War of the Worlds stunt – although, as far as I know, Orson wasn't trying to regain the power he had when he appeared on Wife Swap, as Balloon Boy's father, Richard Heene, was); fake fashion designers (any celebrity who sewed their name into the back of a badly made dress); fake friends (Facebook); and fake communication ("social" networking sites which tend to involve people sitting at home, alone, and not speaking). Sure, some of these things were around before Millennium New Year. But it was only afterwards that they became so ubiquitous and were given so much leeway.

That this decade should be summed up with the epithet of Fake is not so surprising, though, considering that we entered it with a fake – or "New" – Labour government, and then followed this with the fake election of a fake American president in 2000.

Yet perhaps the most embarrassing, not to mention damaging, fakery has been the rise of "fake science", which stems entirely from a fear of science and leads inexorably to no science at all. We saw this on a terrifying scale when George W Bush banned federal funding for stem cell research, and we see it on a pathetically comical scale with Prince Charles selling Duchy Herbals Detox Tincture. Sales of these kinds of supplements rise exponentially every year, just as stories about acai berries/pomegranates/whatever-the-trendy-fruit-is-this-week curing diseases continue to make headlines in respectable and unrespectable papers every week.

Michael Specter writes about the rise of fake science in his gripping new book, Denialism. Although Specter generally keeps his palpable anger at bay, it breaks through in his chapter about the MMR jab furore, with particular ire reserved for certain well-known names connected to it; namely, the actors Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, and Tony Blair. Yes, Blair is grouped with Ace Ventura and his girlfriend, the latter of whom has insisted that she knows the MMR jab causes autism because "there is an angry mob on my side". Specter writes (to Britain's shame): "What does it say about the relative roles that denialism and reason play in a society when a man like Blair, one of the democratic world's best-known and most enlightened leaders, refused at first to speak in favour of the MMR vaccine?"

That the MMR jab does not cause autism has been definitively proven by now, despite what McCarthy's angry mob maintains (she is said to be getting her own talk show, produced by that unfortunately frequent promoter of fake science, Oprah Winfrey). But fear of the jab has led to the rise of another illness: there were more cases of measles in 2006 and 2007 in England and Wales than in the previous 10 years combined.

Fake science values naivety over knowledge, as it harks back to a non-existent age of innocence before the so-called corrupting influence of modern medicine. Palin, too, has used this modus operandi: she is qualified to speak precisely because she is unqualified. She is untainted by biased things such as facts and experience. And that is why she would like Avatar: its depiction of "the noble savages" is, no doubt, a well-intended argument against the destruction of rainforests, but add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you have a Gauguin painting. It is patronising, simplistic and offensive, like Palin and fake science.

Last year, incidentally, Palin sneered at the allocation of federal funds to projects such as "fruit fly research". Unfortunately for her these silly fruit fly studies have led to a greater understanding of diseases such as, um, autism. Isn't science annoying?

 

Republicans looking to Democrats to fix everything, Why

Why are the republicans expecting the democrats to fix the mess that started underneath their watch, within months of taking office?  When they didn't do anything?  Well, the only thing I can think of is that they can't think of anything.  Tax cuts didn't work.  If they did, then why did we quickly implode in 2007?   Ultimately the tax cuts led to the explosion of the deficit, that plus financing a trillion dollar war off the books and adding a HUGE unfunded expansion of benefits (prescription drug).  By 2006-7, you'ld have expected that these tax cuts have kicked in as thousands of businesses reaped the benefits of lower taxes and took those savings and invested them into hiring and expanding their operations?  Let's see maybe all that tax cut leads to growth is just nonsense and they only lead to higher deficits?  Is there any other recent time period where tax cuts were immediately followed by high deficits that were immediately followed by a bad recession?  Oh yeah the Reagan years that led to a recession in 1990 (Stock Market Collapse in 1987).  When did we get out of that mess? Oh yeah when a Democrat took the Presidency.  Surprise! No wonder conservatives think that Democrats will save the country and do it quick quick.  That's what we do!

It took 8 years to get into this mess, but for some reason Republicans expect Democrats to have a magic wand that can be waved and within days return to Sunrise in America.  I think that just demonstrates the trust that republicans have deep down in their black little hearts that Democrats will save the day.  You don't hear them wondering why Cantor and his ilk aren't producing more 18 page budget plans.  That would work!

So if you're really serious about solving this.

1. Go ahead produce a plan to reduce taxes to the level that you think will jumpstart the economy. I dare you!

2. Go ahead and produce a plan that would reduce government spending to where the budget is balanced. I double dog dare you!  (Note: you're going to need to start by cutting over 1 trillion + the cost of the tax cuts from the $3.5 trillion. That's at least over 25% for those of you who can't figure it out.  Here's a great link of how we're spending stuff to get you started.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget 

You'll note that 15% goes to defense department which I'll assume you won't touch since we're at war with people who won't sign a peace treaty with us even if we win.  Expect these expedintures to increase as we continue to play wackamole around the world.  Next stop: Yemen!  Next stop: Nigeria! (HEY THERE"S OIL THERE GUYS! We can pay for the whole invasion off the royalties (Remember that lie?) )  And 15% goes to Social Security which I'll assume you won't touch. So you have to figure out how to cut from the remaining 70%.  I'm including social security because I'm assuming that you'll cut payroll taxes.  Please also remember that if you cut taxes, by say, 50% this is another say .5 trillion -1 trillion you'll need to come up with.  For a few years at least until the tax cut unicorn arrives carrying the virgin of economic la-la land to deliver the nirvana of economic paradise.

So in summary: Deficit balancing: 1.5 trillion + tax cuts say (1 trillion or 50% of tax revenue) = 2.5 trillion (out of a 3.5 trillion budget) (Can't touch millitary and social security (Combined 1.25 trillion) 

So we need to come up with a total of 2.5 trillion in  cost savings.  How do we do that?

So it looks like we shut the entire government down under your plan. No education funding, no road maintenance, no science funding, no homeland security (underware bombers will be very happy), no federal courts, no veterans affairs no NASA, no medicare, no earmarks, shut down all the federal prisons and let them out.  Brilliant.

Good luck and keep up the great work! You're doing a hecka job!

Or just wave your arms and gnash your teeth bemoaning the democrats until suckers like you vote your "leadership" into office.  You're obviously good at that.

 

 

Well

Barack Obama was sold as the messiah who would fix everything. It's the country & those who voted for him who are looking for him to at least try to fix the problems that are out there, instead of making them worse.

Yes, exactly,

<i>So it looks like we shut the entire government down under your plan. No education funding, no road maintenance, no science funding, no homeland security (underware bombers will be very happy), no federal courts, no veterans affairs no NASA, no medicare, no earmarks, shut down all the federal prisons and let them out.  Brilliant.</i>

Works for me. 

Actually, we do get to take into account increases in GDP just as Obama does (super optimistically) in his projections.

There actually ARE solutions to all the problems you raise. 

First off, we privatize social security, completely.  Second, we actually solve the health care mess by going to a single-payer voucher system which includes medicaid and is funded by a flat tax of 10% on all incomes.  Getting rid of those two entitlements is half the battle.

We increase the gas tax by at least $1.00 per gallon to apply directly to road and trasnportation infrastructure to make that a revenue neutral item in the budget.  We solve the cost and overcrowding problem in the prisons by ending the war on drugs, legalizing and taxing marijuana and freeing all non-violent drug offenders.

Then we end all of our overseas wars and other commitments and  stop spending that money.  No rational justification for it anyway.  Then we DO cut all those departmnets you mentioned and more.  Cut all the subsidies, all the earmarks, all the pork. 

And while we're at it we eliminate all double taxatiion, including the corporate tax and the estate tax and the capital gains tax.

We put the federal government back to a role as regulator and provider of only essential services.  Leave the rest to the states.

This won't solve all our problems in a year, or even in 10.  The hole we're in from Bush and Obama is too large for that.  But it will put us back on a sound financial basis and produce budget surrplusses to pay down the debt, as well as encouraging substantial economic growth.

 

Dave

 

 I went to the RLC site and

 I went to the RLC site and being from the Midwest with so many jobs lost, I see you are for free trade, but I wonder what you would do for lost jobs? Without doing anything, then you are asking for more welfare. And that is the situation today.

Creating jobs

We're for free trade, not state subsidized trade.  The midwest has been the victim of major structural changes in our economy and the only way to address that is to make sure that the economy becomes strong again so that new jobs are created.  The problem is that they may not be the same jobs or in the same places, and that means that people who have lost their jobs need to be prepared to adapt, retrain and even relocate.  This was common practice in the 60s and 70s when people followed the jobs to get better opportunities and it's characteristic of a dynamic economy.  If we make the economy dynamic again by ending state-sponsored monopolies like you see in all these bailouts and subsidies then opportunities will be created in a real free market.

Dave

 The economy was supposedly

 The economy was supposedly dynamic under Bush, but even then we lost the jobs as the president said "free trade is good." China is manipulating its currency, so we don't have free trade.

Since we saw 8 years of our jobs going overseas, our money going to Iraq, and the neglect of our country, we are where we are. Along with deficits and debt, we will suffer many years of higher unemployment. History repeats itself and as LBj did "guns and butter" economics and we suffered many years of inflation/stagflation, Bush did the same "guns and butter." So we will see many years of higher unemployment.

The first sign of structural changes in the Midwest comes from the guru's on Wall Street and Washington who said we were going to be an information society and our manufacturing was targeted to go to other countries. We cannot compete with 2 to 3 billion cheap laborers in the world. States are grasping for cash for clunkers, extension of unemployment benefits, and casinos for every state. 

In my town of 16,000 people we lost 3 factories and we are not talking of the whole area of dozens of lost factories and thousands of jobs. We can see the states cannot compete as Washington continues with failed policies. There are no new jobs to go to. The democrats wrongly protect and republicans ignore, or as they say "laissez-faire."

 The problem is that they may not be the same jobs or in the same places, and that means that people who have lost their jobs need to be prepared to adapt, retrain and even relocate.  

And here is my answer on that.

 

1. Invest in your country: That is energy independence. You do everything from drilling to nuclear plants, to alternative energy for security and for jobs. A new air traffic control system would give airlines to fly more direct routes, which means fuel savings. The money saved would go for new aircraft and that would create jobs. 

2. Invest in your people: Mandatory vocational training. Everyone should have a skill by the time he graduates. Or at least have a consoler direct the student to the right direction. You will need an educated society to deal with globalization.

Hudson Institute > Promoting U.S. Worker Competitiveness in a Globalized Economy

3. Invest in the future. That is in all sciences and stop using religion to stop embryonic stem cell research. You do all the innovation you can. You also can maximize federal research grants and invest money into universities and businesses to create new researches and jobs. Right now there is no "new" jobs to go to.

Is America Losing Its Mojo? | Print Article | Newsweek.com

 

Most of what I see from the republican party is failed ideology. And it only takes management. And certainly I have been told that this would resemble socialism or some planned economy and nothing could be further from the truth. We used to do great things. Eisenhower built the interstate and we put men on the moon. Today, it is failed ideology and stay the course. The state sponsored monopolies are after the fact. The policies or no policies failed long before that.

Ohio and rest of U.S. not creating jobs in economic sectors with import competition - Reader comments at The New York Sun

http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/pdf/TO51488727.PDF

These are old articles during the Bush administration. So, you can guess, I am bitter. You cannot run a country with neoconism, militarism, laissez-faire, the neglect of the country, or with religionism. And we saw it all in 8 years. So we know that democrats don't have the right policies and republicans have shown failed ideologies. Mostly it is the same o same o banter on these boards and I see nothing from both parties. 

 

 

Why is this front-paged?

"Climategate"? Palin? Pantswetting terror about pants?

Keep this stuff in the peanut gallery with Skip's blogspam.

They're big stories

Perhaps not for those who worship "El Uno," but they are big stories for most everyone out in the real world.

The "real" world?

Would that be "real" America, or would that be the America that voted for---

You know what? Never you mind. Keep banging on "Climategate" and... huh, Nalle didn't mention ACORN, but you know what? That was probably the liberal conspiracy keeping him from doing so. You keep up the attack, pal -- keep the real world aware of what's going on.

(I'm not going to get to go back to voting Libertarian, am I...)

Because every good site needs

Because every good site needs a year-end top ten and I was the only person who bothered to submit one.  If you don't like it, write your own and do better.

Dave

The Bush Excuse

No longer effective - it all belongs to Obama & the congressional Democrat leadership. We don't see a real attempt to fix the problems out there, what's being proposed & enacted is making it worse instead of better. It's time for Obama & the Dems to "man up" & take responsibility for the country - because they asked for that responsibility & now have it.

Well, the Good News on the "Blame Bush excuse"

Well, the good news on the Blame Bush excuse is that the Democrats kept using it beyond  its expiration date, which was about 3 months ago. 

Using it NOW, means it is beginning to smell when used.  

At one time after a year after 911, the Democrats were complaining that Bush's 2 million new jobs that were generated was anemic, and we should be creating MORE jobs than a measly 2 Mill.  Oh, would that those wonderful years were here again....but all we have is a Harvard Graduate who can't read "History of Recessions and how they were solved".

Our President isn't smarter than a 5th Grader.

What is the correct number of months to allocate for recovery

from the worst economic crisis in 75 years?