Proof that the United States is not alone in a struggle for economic leadership was made quite evident today in Japan.
The already unstable government of Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso just took another hit and it is one that does not add to any sense of economic security.
Aso’s Finance Minister, Shoichi Nakagawa resigned today after apologizing for attending a string of seven news conferences while drunk.
A series of scandals and accusations and a plummeting popularity rating ,due to Prime Minister Aso’s mismanagement of the Japanese economy, has brought him and his ruling “Liberal Democratic Party” under fire and to the point of no public confidence.
Oddly, the resignation of Aso’s drunk Finance Minister coincided with a press conference by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has made Japan the first stop on her first foreign mission.
What a welcome that must have been.
According to some insiders, the resignation could be the straw that breaks the back of the LDP and cause it to crumble. That could also give need for Secretary Clinton to do this trip over again, when she can discuss things with Japanese leaders who will be sober and in control of the Japanese government.
In any event, the fate of disgraced Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa is still up in the air. Some have suggested that the drunken antics which have led to his resignation from the Japanese government, might make him a perfectly suitable replacement for ailing Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy when and if he ever retires.
Others have suggested that since he is now available, Nakagawa’s government experience and impeccably clean tax record could make him the perfect person to nominate for the hard to fill, vacant Commerce Secretary spot that still exists in the Obama administration. What a better way to demonstrate our free trade desires than by having an Asian commerce secretary oversee our markets?
However; sources close to WordPress.com believe that although Nakagawa’s future fortune does lie in the United States, it is not in government employment that he will find it.
Apparently, Nakegawa will be signed onto a two year contract with a new American reality television show that will be produced by and aired on C-Span. The show is called Political Rehab and it will feature an array of political leaders, each of which are trying to deal with their political afterlives while coping with various addictions and fetishes.
The show will take place in Washington, D.C.’s trendy Georgetown section where the political rehabilitants will live together for eight weeks in a three story brownstone. Producers of the program say the show will “take us through the lives of everyday politicians who have fallen from grace and out of power and are struggling to find their place in the world while also coping with the problems that brought them down and out of power”
The shows creators promise that Political Rehab will be an emotional journey, jam packed with the intensity and passion of politics along with twists born of the human frailties and addictions that all people bring to the table.
Currently, producers are still negotiating contracts with a list of stars that include former Congresswoman and Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney , impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich, former Senator Larry Craig as well as former Governors Elliot Spitzer of New York and Jim McGreevey of New Jersey. Word is that former President Bill Clinton has already been signed on but arrangements regarding where Cynthia McKinney can safely sleep without fear of Mr. Clinton are still being worked out.
The show’s producers stated that the addition of Nakagawa and his drinking problem is just what they were looking for in order to round out the other addictions being dealt with on the show such as sex and violence.
So it is nice to know that when one door closes another one can in fact open, and after Nakegawa’s resignation in Japan, it is nice to know that not everything applies to the phrase “only in America”.
There remain only a few hours left in the presidency of George W. Bush. For eight years he has given us his best. There were some low points but there were fewer than the media and liberals would have you believe.
Katrina was a low point but even that, President Bush really can’t take all the blame for himself . But for liberals, President Bush was there scapegoat.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged Mississippi every bit as much as it did Louisiana, yet Mississippi, under the leadership of Republican Governor Haley Barbour, did not encounter the same long duration of recovery or mishandled evacuations that Louisiana did.
Mississippi’s local leaders did not decide to park their buses on low lying surfaces as did New Orleans’ Democrat Mayor, Ray Nagin.
No, Mississippi’s first line of defense in natural disasters, their local governments, the governments closest to the people, came through and were every bit as prepared as they told the federal government that they were. Not so in New Orleans though.
But a liberal bias from the media helped to make Hurricane Katrina President Bush’s fault.
Shortly after the events of Hurricane Katrina many left leaning conspiracy theorists also claimed that Hurricane Katrina and a few of its devastating predecessors were the product of Japan where the Japanese government was inventing a new weapon that increased the intensity of tropical storms into category 5 hurricanes and directed them to land masses that they targeted.
Many of the same people who made this claim gave blame to George Bush. That should tell you something.
Although Katrina may not have been Bush’s fault, the recovery effort in Louisiana does get blamed on him and to a degree that is acceptable. But I guess, on the other side of the coin, the successfully rapid recovery in Mississippi warrants some credit for President Bush?
Putting aside the blame game of Hurricane Katrina, there are two things that when grading this presidency, bring his average down.
The first is his delay in approving the surge that his own Secretary of State urged for a year before he finally accepted it.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been advocating for more troops in Iraq. It was a strategy called “clear, hold and build”. It was also the same strategy that Senator John McCain called for.
Clear, hold and build was successfully used by Col. H.R. McMaster in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar. The strategy called for door to door operations that cleared insurgents from the city along with an ongoing troop presence in each neighborhood that was cleared. Once this was achieved residents felt secure, and U.S. troops were able to begin rebuilding there. Wherever this strategy was conducted, it worked. The resurgents were gone and our continued presence there, prevented them from returning. As a result, citizens no longer lived in fear and life began to flow unimpeded by terror and violence. To carry out clear, hold and build, more troops were required. But increasing the number of troops was not something the administration wanted to advocate for. Although it was required in order to successfully carry out clear, hold, build the administration was afraid of the reaction to such a call.
The President flinched in this area. It was one of the few instances where he allowed public perception to make him second guess his policy judgment. After Viet Nam, we should have learned that if you are going to enter into a fight, throw everything you have into it from the onset. Otherwise don’t get into the fight.
In the case of Iraq, we held back. Had we went along with the surge from the beginning, we would have avoided the upsurge in violence that led to the waning of support for the war effort.
The other area of deep negative impact on this administration was the financial collapse that brought on the current economic crisis.
President Bush does not get blamed for causing the collapse, but it happened under his watch and it should not have.
The President, through his advisers, should have seen this coming and helped to avoid it.
He should have aggressively turned back some of the policies which led to the overextended loan practices which ultimately tied up loans and the markets.
Many of the policies that brought us to this point were from Bill Clinton’s administration.
Clinton‘s National Homeowners Strategy was a financial scheme that promoted insanely low down payments and coerced lenders into giving mortgage loans to first-time buyers with unstable financing and incomes.
It was a way to increase home ownership. That is an admirable motive but as usual, the liberal mentality, forced government to do that which it should not have done. Essentially, the Clinton era initiatives that forced government action on private sector interests led to the need for government to take over FannieMae and FreddieMac. This is not to say that private sector greed and bad business practices did not add to the wrong minded government policy, it did, but what happened here is that government solutions to one problem, created another . Now, ironically, the government which helped to create this problem is having to solve it
As for George Bush, this all came to a head under his watch. For that he must be blamed.
So we have the recovery effort in Louisiana, delaying the surge in Iraq and not avoiding the economic crises that we are in, all helping to lower the average of this administrations grade.
I have two more things to add though.
One is immigration.
On immigration President Bush was most inept. On this issue his positions were no where near appropriate for the leader of a sovereign nation.
The Presidents refusal to accept that illegal immigrants are participating in illegal conduct that needs to be prosecuted was a horribly blundered policy and it is one that has not helped to solve our border security problem or alleviate the continued problem of illegal immigration.
The other issue I hold against President Bush is his administrations inability to articulate their cause in a way that appealed to the people convincingly.
The administration had been doing quite well in it’s first two years when the voice of the President came from then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Once Ari Fleischer left and Scott McClellan entered the picture, the White House lost any sway with the press or the public.
This President was great with messages when we were in crisis and he had the people’s attention, but in between crisis his message was jumbled and unconvincing. That, for this administration, was half of the battle and after Fleischer left they lost it.
On the upside President Bush has many, much wrongly maligned, initiatives to help bring his grade up.
Their was his “Faith Based Initiative” which allowed government to accept the involvement of religious institutions in helping out. Faith based initiatives were no longer penalized or denied by the federal government because of religion. It was something long over due in America, especially in an America where religion is not to persecuted against.
There was “No Child Left Behind”.
This policy was one which had universal support except for some extremist fringe players and teachers union.. But not willing to give credit where credit was due, liberals charged that President Bush backed out of his No Child Left Behind policy by under funding it.
Truth be told, federal education spending is at record levels so that argument doesn’t swim.
There are many other policies such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It triggered competition between drug companies and wound up costing less than expected.
The Bush tax policy is also to his credit. He didn’t ask for lips to read on this issue, he simply created no new taxes and when he did not reduce them he held the line on them. I only wish he could have added drastic spending cuts to that.
Another high point in this administration was the appointment of two supreme court justices, one being the chief justice.
The appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito were remarkably good choices. Neither had any judicial or personal blemishes and neither see the role of the judiciary to be one that makes law but rather interprets it. Add to that their relative youthful ages and the Roberts and Alito appointments to the bench will have a profound on our great nation for decades to come.
The next greatest achievement of the administration was twofold. It involves The War On Terror and Iraq.
Despite charges that Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, the two are entwined together as violent threats.
Pre-Saddam Hussein Iraq did not send to us the pilots that took nearly 3,000 Americans in one day but it had intentions just as dire.
Saddam did not have any tangible links to 9/11 but he did have links to terrorist, including several who dabbled with Al Quaeda and he did continuously break and defy the cease fire agreement that he signed after the first Gulf War. Combine that with the fact that everyone from Bill Clinton and Al Gore to John Kerry and Ted Kennedy swore that Saddam was a threat and you had every reason in the world to eliminate Saddam Hussein.
After 9/11 George W. Bush realized that we must eliminate threats before they eliminate us and so he took out the threat known as Saddam Hussein. In doing so not is democracy being brought to the Middle East but the power and richness of freedom is being delivered to a people that have long since forgotten what independence offers.
Add to that that you can say what you want, but we no longer have to worry about any threat Saddam intended, and for that I thank the President.
I also Thank him for the second part of this War On Terror effort. Under his watch not another single attack occurred on mainland territory since 9/11.
Now if you want to blame Katrina on Bush because it happened during his watch you must also credit him for there being no more attacks under his watch. And when you think about, more attacks occurred under Bill Clinton then George Bush, so I thank President Bush for that as well.
The final most valuable thing brought to life under President Bush goes back to exactly four years ago.
In his inaugural address , after being sworn in for the second time, President Bush stated:
“America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home – the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.”
He went on to articulate a policy that directed the United States to end tyranny in the world as we know it.
Now some may have seen that as a declaration of war by him but most read it the right way.
He went on to say………“We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.”
“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.:”
The speech has since been forgotten by most but it has not been forgotten by me and hopefully President Barack Obama will also remember it..
In its entirety, the address presented the essence of what it means to be an American and it captured the most important role that America must play in this world as its current, last remaining superpower.
For me it Bush’s second inaugural address was the foundation for our greatest doctrine ever, the doctrine to achieve and true freedom and peace.
When you have the time, click here and read the speech. You will be moved and you will understand our place in this world.
The bottom line…….
President Bush is a good man and was a good President. He will not go down in history ranked along side of Washington or Lincoln nor will he be lumped together with Franklin Pierce or Jimmy Carter.
Ultimately, I believe George W. Bush warrants a B-.
Many on the left will now assault me for giving that grade but I base George Bush’s presidency on the truth of reality not on the lies and distortions that they have spent the last eight years perpetuating and when you add that to the retrospect of history, I believe George W. Bush’s name will slowly rise to its proper placement among American presidents.
That is something that will take time.
As President Bush recently put it, “they’re still debating and writing about how good or bad George Washington was, so I assume the same will happen to me”.
Once upon a time, in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers…
… that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.
The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest, and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.
He further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms.
The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on behalf of him.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. ‘Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.’
The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys.
Then they never saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere!
Now you have a better understanding of how the stock market works.
With the new year here, we have the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and to thank the passage of time for resolving some situations. While some happenings in 2008 came and went, other events of 2008 still require time, time that will absorb much of 2009 and even beyond.
So today, before we forge ahead with the rest of this new year, we reflect on the events that shaped politics and the politics that shaped events, by presenting to you the 10 most significant political stories of the year that helped to get us where we are today.
10. – THE DEATHS OF TIM RUSSERT and TONY SNOW
Both of these men loved politics. For a time they were both involved in politics on different sides of the aisle and during a different time they covered both sides of the aisle in politics . Tony Snow started in print and broadcast journalism delivering political news and commentary and ended his career in politics as the Press Secretary for President Bush. Tim Russert began in politics working for a political legend, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and ended covering politics on NBC. As host of Meet The Press, Tim became a part of every American household and despite his personal left leaning tendencies Tim Russert was respected for probing questions that were leveled at liberals and conservatives alike. Tony Snow was also a partisan. For decades he was a favorite in conservative circles, yet when delivering a news story people of every party carefully listened to the insightful delivery of facts that he presented. His last major endeavor was one that helped provide the White House with the ability to properly convey the right messages. Tony served as Press Secretary for 17 months. Probably the most understandable 17 months of the Presidents two terms in office. Tim Russert died after suffering a massive heart attack on Jun 13th at the age of 58 and Tony Snow died after battling colon cancer on July 12th at the age of 53. In life they shaped politics and political opinion. In death, they left us a legacy of lessons and examples to follow.
FORMER NY GOVERNOR ELLIOT SPITZER
9 . – IS THAT CAMPAIGN MONEY IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?
The Empire State helped to set a tone for 2008 when early in the year, New York’s Governor, Elliot Spitzer got caught up in scandal. After serving only 14 months in office the rising Democrat star found himself standing next to his wife announcing his resignation. Suspicious transfers of money in and out of Spitzer’s bank account led federal investigators to believe that he might be taking bribes. However their probe discovered that for over several years Spitzer wasn’t taking bribes, he was paying out at least $80,000 for prostitutes. The period covered his tenure as New York’s Attorney General as well as his brief time as Governor. The happiest people of all in this episode were David Paterson and New Jersey. As Spitzer’s Lieutenant Governor, Paterson, became New York’s first African American Governor, and the nation’s first legally blind one. New Jersey was just happy to know that they were no longer the only state in the region to lose a governor because of sexual scandals and illegal conduct.
8. – WEEKEND AT KIM’S
NOT WANTED but is he dead or alive?
Around August rumors began to circulate that North Korea’s obscure and, to put it kindly, eccentric leader, Kim Jong-Il, was dead. Since then no reputable sources have either seen him or heard from him. Not that that is unusual, few people have ever heard or seen Kim Jong-Il, but what is unusual are recent decisions that Kim Jong-Il supposedly made to eliminate efforts to develop nuclear power. Did Kim make that decision? Is North Korea really abandoning nuclear ambitions? Or is North Korea propping up Kim Jong-Il, like a bad, out of sync, Korean version of “Weekend At Bernie’s” while a different, unknown, brain dead ruler is pulling the strings and, at the same time, trying to pull the wool over our eyes? All jokes aside, the sensitivity of the situation is a dire one. Chaos on the Korean Peninsula could create a ripple effect that no one can afford. Dramatic events could alter sensitive relations with South Korea and negotiations with the United States. All of which could result in tensions throughout the world including those involving hard feelings between North Korea and Japan. And let us not forget North Korea’s greatest ally, China. With their booming economy, the Chinese are ambitious. Knowing who is in charge of things could be helpful in 2009.
BID WELL TO FIDEL?
7. – BID WELL FIDEL?
In 1959 Cuba took on the face of Fidel Castro. Just 90 miles off of our shores, Cuban communism and Castro were too close for comfort. As much as we didn’t like it, invasions, coups and even assassination attempts did not eliminate Castro’s hold on power. However, time did reduce Castro’s influence. As time changed most of the world, Castro and Cuba didn’t but the logistics which helped to make him a thorn in our side did change. The, once feared communist Soviet-Cuban relationship lost it’s potency as the Soviet Union lost it’s hammer and sickle. As time went by, our concerns with Cuba focused more on human rights for Cubans than defense from Cuba. So it was still welcome news when, in February, we discovered that an ailing Fidel Castro was resigning from office. Not that it mattered much. Before stepping down, Fidel told the Cuban Communist Party that they were too elect his brother Raul to be the new Commander in Chief. The event did not change things very much but after almost 50 years in power, and events such as the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elian Gonzales and other disconcerting situations, as minor as the effects of this change may be, Fidel’s painstakingly slow departure from the world stage is welcomed and ranks as the seventh most dramatic political occurrence of 2008.
6. – THE GEOGIAN-RUSSIAN WAR
It was not a battle that reshaped Europe again but the surprising developments that caused the Russian Army to invade a neighboring, breakaway Republic with internationally recognized sovereignty, gave us all a glimpse of reality. It may not be the Soviet Union anymore but a bear by any other name is still a bear and the vulnerabilities of newly formed and reformed European nations and those with relatively new freedoms still offer some new Russian leaders the same old reasons for wanting control. The incident helped to demonstrate that freedom in parts of Europe is still a fragile concept.
ROD "How much do 'ya want" BLAGOJEVICH
5. – THE EBAY APPOINTMENT
2008 ended with a story that will carry well into the first months of 2009. As President-Elect Obama vacated his seat in the U.S. Senate, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began a private auction process to determine who will fill the vacancy. As investigators, under the direction of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, investigated Blagojevich for numerous improprieties, they discovered that he was basing his appointment to the senate seat on who could give him the most for it. Blago wanted either a “cushy union” job, a high paying cabinet position or at the very least an enormous financial campaign contribution. After being arrested the Illinois state legislature began impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich and he began digging in his heals refusing to resign. The events have the potential for drawing in some big name co-conspirators and participants. From Rep. Jesse Jackson, jr. to President -Elect Obama’s incoming Chief of Staff, Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuelle, many reputations may yet be questioned in this scandal. And to make things even more interesting, Blagojevich took the opportunity to raise the stakes and named Roland Burris, a long time, old line, liberal Chicago Democrat party machine hack to replace Barack Obama. Not at all concerned with peoples faith in government, or the integrity of the process, Burriss accepted the tainted appointment and in doing so, puts the United States and it’s Democrat leader, Harry Reid in the position of denying to seat someone that would be the only African American in the United States Senate. So coming in as the fifth top political occurrence in 2008 is the story that will keep on bleeding and keep us reading…..the process to replace a Barack Obama in the senate.
4. – BRINGING OUTSIDERS IN
GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN
One of the most important political decisions made in 2008 was John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President on the Republican ticket. It was a controversial choice for some and one of the only right decisions made in the opinions of others. No matter how you see it, it remains one of the most spoken about political stories of the year. Beyond the newsworthiness are the implications. For many it was a sign of the fact that government needs thinking that is as far removed from the Washington D.C. mentality as Alaska is from Washington D.C itself. Many Americans are tired of Washington politics and want common sense as opposed to the one hand washes the other, old boys bureaucracy that we perceive as screwing us more than helping us. Sarah Palin embodied, and still does embody, that thinking. She is a political outsider who became a Governor by opposing the political class while representing the working class. Without abandoning conservative Republican principles, Sarah Palin fought against corrupt Republican and liberal politicians. Although picking Sarah Palin for Vice President may have been the right decision for John McCain, trying to restrict and control her wasn’t. By trying to script Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign lost out on the greatest advantageous quality Palin brought to the ticket…….her anti-establishment, outsider qualities. As McCain lost the election for President, Sarh Palin won exposure. Exposure that has made her a person who conservatives look forward to advancing the cause and for Americans to have to consider for national leadership in the future. So at number four in 2008 is the selection of Sarah Palin for Vice President. Thank you senator McCain!
3. – “OILS WELL” IN THE ECONOMY?
The price of oil ranks third on our list of top stories. As prices for a barrel of oil soared to heights in excess of 150 dollars a barrel , gas prices flew up to over 4 dollars a gallon and the ripple effects raise the cost of everything from milk, eggs and bread to lumber, air fares, and life in general. The high cost of energy generated heated debates over domestic oil drilling, and pushed issues like immigration and terrorism off of the front burners in the race for President. Based upon the duration of the immediate negative effects of the price of oil combined with its ripple effects on the economy, its control of the political agenda and the long term policy initiatives that it created, oil prices is number 3 in ‘08. It is also likely to become a top story again, at least around August of ‘09, when the now delightfully low prices we see rise back up.
2. – THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA
Putting all political opinion aside, Barack Obama ran a long hard campaign, that Republican strategists are dissecting in order to reproduce in elections of their own. The Obama campaign not only effectively tapped into voter dissatisfaction, they organized it and organized it well. Their utilization of the internet was exemplary and their ability to win favor through eloquence and style over substance and fact was done to political perfection. Despite some pitfalls such as Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rev. Wright, admitting a desire akin to socialism by stating that he wanted to spread the wealth, Barack Obama won big. To do so his campaign raised historic amounts of money and more than just raising that money, they spent it right and put it to good use. A use that mobilized the forces well enough to produce his substantial victory. The election of President-Elect Barack Obama comes in second not only because of how he won but because he did win. His victory marked the election of America’s first African American President. Like any other first, it is notable and in this case it is profoundly notable. It demonstrates an undeniable ability for our nation to overcome racial differences and the evidence of decency overcoming prejudice is promising. The effects of President-Elect Obama’s leadership are yet to be seen but the lessons learned and points made by his election are unquestionable.
1 . – BAIL OUT MANIA
POLITICS 24/7 considers the 700 billion dollar bailout that the federal government approved to be the most profound and important story of 2009. Not only was the suggested need for this bailout indicative of our wrong ways of the past, it signaled a continuation of wrong ways in the future. Our promotion of spending as the answer to all of our problems has created generations ands a government that spend beyond our means. The 700 billion dollar bailout meant to solve our problems didn’t solve our anything, it just provided a quick fix. It did however, create more problems. It has called upon more people and more industries to put their own hands out. The bailout set in motion a sense of government control that has taken freedom, with all of it’s risks and promises, out of the free market and it has helped to move America closer to the socialism that we have fought against in the past. Many major events come and go in politics. What we once saw as earth shattering developments often become something that we later laugh about but we fear that bailout trend established in 2008 is no laughing matter for any time.
2008 was an intense year. There were many events and some of the most dramatic ones did not involve politics. Human nature played a role in all of them though and hopefully our better instincts will drive the events and politics of 2009.
With that in mind we wish everyone a happy new year and hope that our better instincts help to make each and every day better than the last.
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