Archive for February, 2009

Obama’s deficit plans belong in Never-Never Land

Barely more than one month into its first term, and the administration of President Barack Obama is entering the rarefied world of Never-Never Land — the mythical world of Peter Pan where wishes magically come true and in which the normal laws of nature do not apply. How else, for example, to explain the president’s statements last weekend — delivered apparently with quite a straight face in his weekly radio address — that despite adding probably $1 trillion to the already mushrooming federal deficit and national debt, and on top of an additional $100 billion or so (the actual numbers are impossible to figure at this point) with his just-announced housing-rescue package, he plans to actually cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Only in the magical world into which Peter Pan took Wendy Darling and her siblings, could a government leader actually believe in such nonsense. Whether the president himself has fallen victim to believing the “walk-on-water” rhetoric …

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Baseball inquiry just a power grab

A few years ago, during a summertime business trip to New York City, I was invited to attend a baseball game at the old Yankee Stadium. It was the first time I had visited this venerated sports venue. The weather was stifling hot and the game forgettable, but there was a certain charm to the stadium itself; after all, this was the “house that Babe built.” Little did I know then that now, just a couple of years later, one of the highest-paid stars of that hot summer afternoon — Alex Rodriguez — would be embroiled in a scandal that would make Babe Ruth’s notorious and well-known boozing and womanizing pale in comparison. I have never been — and probably never will be — a fan of the New York Yankees or of their many highly paid prima donnas. Moreover, it is easy to discount Rodriguez’s problems given the circumstances of his lifestyle — multi-million-dollar salary and bonuses, openly dating an aging Madonna while still married, admitting having previously employed …

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Stimulus bill just pork in new disguise

The venerable Oxford English Dictionary defines “stimulus” as “something that promotes activity, interest, or enthusiasm.” If, as appears almost certain, the federal government enacts legislation appropriating more than $800 billion in a so-called “stimulus package, ” the next edition of Oxford might properly include further definitions for the already-overused term: “any massive federal spending program designed to funnel taxpayer monies into pet political projects; a term employed to disguise massive federal spending programs designed to funnel taxpayer monies into pet political projects, but labeled ’stimulus’ in order to secure votes necessary for passage.”

Of course, as is par for the course in proposing and enacting modern federal legislation, congressional leaders have attached a high-sounding and misleading moniker to this latest and largest ever so-called “stimulus package.”

The legislation, which passed the House last week and the “senior” chamber Tuesday, is …

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Octuplets’ mother becomes the latest reality freak show

The case of the 33-year-old California woman still living with her parents, and who just gave birth to eight — count ‘em, eight — babies, has captured the attention of the country, if not the world. As the details of this unusual medical event become known, more and more Americans are expressing surprise if not shock at the manner in which the woman became soooo pregnant, and of her background. They shouldn’t be. The strange case of Nadya Suleman is but the latest example of a society in which the unusual is glorified; the most extreme behavior rewarded; and the most intimate details of human activities plastered all over the Internet, television and tabloids.

Suleman is custom-made to have become the latest pseudo celebrity on the interview-for-pay circuit. She doesn’t work. She lives with her parents even though she is 33 years old. She is unmarried. She already had six — that’s right, six — other young children in addition to the latest litter of eight. And the eight new …

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Senate in Land of Lincoln tosses away basic fairness

A 17th century proverb warns us that “all’s fair in love and war.” Apparently taking this admonition literally, the Illinois Senate — deciding that since an impeachment trial is neither “love” nor “war” — has adopted a set of rules for the impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich that are so patently unfair that his lawyers’ characterization of the proceedings as a “kangaroo court” has more than a ring of truth. Yes, as the senators leading the charge against the governor remind us, the proceedings constituting an impeachment trial are not per se criminal in nature, and therefore the requirements for fundamental fairness in proceedings designed to deprive a citizen of liberty do not necessarily apply. However, should not one also bear in mind that simply because a government body has the power to do something, does not make it right or proper for it to do so?

The state legislature, however, taking the extreme measure of first passing articles of impeachment that consist of a …

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Constancy of government’s intrusion unlikely to change

George W. Bush was president. The federal deficit was under $400 billion; and the national debt was “merely” a little over $9 trillion. Virtually no one outside of Alaska knew who Sarah Palin was. America’s Big Three auto makers were still, well, big. Lehman Brothers remained an American financial icon; and insurance behemoth AIG was riding high on the hog. Housing markets across the country were weak, but still appeared viable. And, the notion of smaller government was still paid lip-service support by the Republican Party.

Man, what a difference nine months can make. My last column for the AJC appeared April 2. At that time, which now seems so very long ago, the political and economic landscape facing us was hugely different than that which presents itself to us today.

Just yesterday, a relatively young and untested Illinois senator who happens to be black was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. The secretary of state will shortly be the new president’s …

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