A few facts to peruse.

Obama Continues To Set Records For Incompetence

The Advocate By Herb Denenberg, The Bulletin Monday, March 23, 2009

There are growing indications that the Obama administration is melting down, unraveling and falling apart. The clearest indication is Barack Obama and his treasury secretary failing to come up with a plan to fix the bank/credit crisis. He is proposing solutions for every social problem ever identified by liberal Democrats, but doesn’t seem to be dealing with what should be his No. 1 priority. The bank fix is supposed to be announced by Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, during this week.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but the early days of the Obama administration will be remembered for his picking NCAA basketball tournament winners, appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and making fun of special needs children — while the American economy is burning.

If the public fully understood President Obama and the Obama administration, there would be endless calls for his impeachment. Of course, the U.S. Constitution does not make incompetence, radicalism, socialism, the abandonment of American values and world-class lies and hypocrisy impeachable offenses. So all of these disillusioned Americans will have to satisfy themselves with calling for his resignation. Mr. Obama has done the impossible — proven he is a worse president than even his vice president, Joe Biden, would be.

During the election, this column stressed then-Sen. Obama was a world-class phony, hypocrite, liar and a few other choice descriptions. Then we added incompetence to our long and growing list. I’m afraid my opinion has not only been vindicated since the election, but more and more pundits are finally taking the same tack.

Consider the charge of incompetence. **** Morris now says our president is not only a socialist, but also an incompetent socialist. Howard Fineman, of Newsweek, one of the bastions of Obamania, now says the establishment now thinks Obama isn’t up to the job. This is of special significance as it suggests even people at Newsweek, almost a campaign adjunct of the Obama headquarters, are finally seeing the light. You’ll remember Newsweek was being called Obamaweek and had a picture of Mr. Obama on front-page cover after cover. It treated him as a Messiah, not an inexperienced, untested, unvetted, radical with a parade of questionable associates and all kinds of unknowns in his biography.

On March 10, Mr. Fineman wrote, “But in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.”

Mr. Fineman cataloged a long list of criticism coming from the establishment. Here is some of that criticism:

•    “The president gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the “stim” [stimulus law] but the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks.”

Mr. Fineman is a bit too kind. First what he calls the stim is also loaded with pork and involved him breaking a whole series of his campaign promises. Mr. Obama not only gave up the moral high ground, but also showed his most important promises are broken and broken in a hurry. Why should anyone trust him again? He showed he was not a new kind of politician, but one just as bad or worse than the old kind, what you might expect from someone who rises from the sewer and slime that is the Chicago Democratic machine. All the perfume of pretty speeches will not ride Mr. Obama’s breaking of campaign promise after campaign promise in record speed.

• “The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to ‘give up’ something.”

This is just typical Obama, with rhetoric never matching reality. He says one thing (I’ll be bipartisan) and does the opposite (hyper-partisan ship led by Dead Fish Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, who earned that title when he sent a dead fish to a political adversary).

• “A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to ‘reform’ medical care without stating what costs could be cut.”

As usual, Mr. Fineman and Newsweek are slowly catching on, but are still soft-pedaling Mr. Obama’s fundamental failures. For example, on the stimulus bill, he turned the whole thing over to those out-of-control liberals in Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid. This was not “willingness to give too much leeway.” This was total abdication of his responsibility to craft the first major piece of legislation of his administration and perhaps one of the most important.

Our presidents do not turn over the responsibility of drafting the most important legislation of their term to Congress — except for Obama. He is not paying attention to basics and seems more interested in flying around the country to give speeches in front of cheering audiences and participating in ceremonies. Even a basketball coach at Duke had to tell him to fix the economy before he worries about his NCAA basketball brackets.

After all, at this writing, he still has not come up with the final proposal for fixing the banking/credit crisis and his Treasury Department, the key spot in government at this moment, is in total disarray. Yet he has time to fly out to Los Angeles to be interviewed by comic Jay Leno and come up with a presentation for ESPN on his basketball picks. As one Congressman put it, it’s fitting he’s on Leno at this time, as the previous weeks have been like a comedy show.

• “A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and compared to Doogie Howser, M.D., Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in ‘Home Alone’ — and those are the nice ones.”

Here again, the criticism is devastating, but all too kind. This was, perhaps, his most important appointment at a time he claimed we were in our worst crisis since the great depression and he comes up with a total incompetent and tax-cheat.

The man who is supposed to inspire confidence in the business community and the rest of America is inspiring exactly the opposite. As Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., pointed out, everything this man has done has failed (even before he was appointed, as he was involved in the bailout as head of the Federal Reserve of New York) and everyone has lost confidence in him. He is considered a joke on Wall Street where he is referred to as Tiny Tim.

Mr. Fineman still thinks Mr. Obama has the support of the American people, but warns he better be careful “that the gathering judgment of the Bigs doesn’t trickle down to the rest of us.” It will trickle down and it would do so a lot faster if the mainstream media wasn’t running interference for him.

If that doesn’t show you the drift of how Mr. Obama is being perceived as incompetent, even Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., one of the most liberal members of Congress, has started criticizing him for not knowing what is going on with the bonuses.  And she is one of the most liberal members of Congress. Of the AIG bonuses, she said, “Maybe the president is not up to speed …” This bonus scandal is a major issue according to Mr. Obama, yet he doesn’t know about what’s going on in his own administration.

The evidence is stacking up even if it always doesn’t get into mainstream media reporting. We’ve already seen the parade of high-level appointments that turned out to be tax cheats or to be carrying other disqualifying baggage (such as being under investigation for corruption a la Gov. Bill Richardson or virtually being an agent for China and Saudi Arabia a la Charles Freeman. This inability to get first-rate appointments is best symbolized at Treasury, where it appears an incompetent has appointed another incompetent, and a tax cheat at that, to head the IRS. And don’t forget he still doesn’t have even one of the 17 top political Treasury appointments lined up. That’s no wonder. Perhaps as Groucho Marx said in another context, anyone who would accept an appointment to serve under Mr. Geithner isn’t fit to be in government.

There are already calls for his resignation. It is clear no one has confidence in him. Rep. Mack is at the head of the line for those calling for his resignation and that line is growing. Mr. Geithner was involved in the AIG retention bonuses almost from the beginning in his capacity as head of the New York Federal Reserve, that the Obama administration is now condemning. This suggests high levels of incompetence on the part of the Secretary of the Treasury, the President and his staff. 

The level of hypocrisy here is beyond unbearable. The right to the bonuses was in the bonus bill engineered by the White House. The stimulus package permitted the bonuses at the request of the Secretary of Treasury himself. It is also clear the Secretary of the Treasury knew about the bonuses last year in his capacity as head of the Federal Reserve of New York. The bonuses have Mr. Obama written all over them, but he complains loudly about them as do the rest of his top lieutenants. This, in one grand story, shows Mr. Obama and his team are incompetent liars, hypocrites of the first order, and phony as a $3 bill.

The latest twist in the AIG bonus fiasco comes with the discovery that 13 of the companies owe about $220 million in federal taxes. This came out in hearings before Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Now to try to cover-up their mistakes in legislation and leadership, the Democrats in Congress are trying to pass legislation to subject the bonuses to a 90 percent federal income tax. Of course, this kind of tax provision may be an unconstitutional bill of attainder, prohibited by Article 1, section 9, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution.

It is a form of legislative punishment directed at one person or a small group. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., has already condemned the bill as unconstitutional. David Boies, the famed attorney that represented Al Gore in the election case before the U.S. Supreme Court, disagrees but says the matter could have been handled by a conventional lawsuit for violation of fiduciary duties.

The whole flap about the bonuses is a diversion from much larger issues. But it does serve to reinforce some important lessons. When you rush a bill and pass it without reading it (as was also the case with the stimulus bill and the 90 percent tax bill), you are courting disaster. It is clear those who passed the stimulus bill and advocated it, including the President, didn’t bother to read it and that’s why a provision permitting the bonuses became law.

Bankers have criticized this punitive tax as another move that will hurt America’s position as a leader in the financial world. One Wall Street executive said, “There are three big industries where the U.S. has global leadership: financial services, media and technology. Introducing this 90 percent tax is like taking one of those  industries out the back and shooting it.”

If Congress wants to use the taxing power to punish, it ought to start by a 90 percent tax on all those who voted for the stimulus package. Then they should vote a 90 percent tax on people like Rep. Barney Frank,D-Mass., and Sen. Chris Dodd,D-Conn., for defending Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and resisting efforts of reform that might have avoided the great financial crisis. And they should put a 90 percent tax on the big recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie. That would include Sen. Dodd and President Obama at the top of the list.

There is another disgraceful aspect of the AIG bonus fiasco. Congress passed the new tax provision despite its likely unconstitutionality. What’s worse, this kind of behavior is designed to impair a contract entered into legally by AIG and even sanctioned by Congressional legislation. At a time when there is already a loss of confidence in the financial system, the last thing you want to do is shake confidence further by putting into doubt the validity of contracts.  And to further rattle the system, warnings are going out to banks to watch their compensation arrangements. Again, at a time like this, we should not start to paralyze management by all kinds of new warnings and regulations.

But the most important recent development involves President Obama’s proposal to have veterans wounded in combat pay with their own health insurance for their own medical care received at VA facilities. Anyone with even one-half of a non-functioning brain would know this proposal would never fly and it would be rejected almost universally by Congress, veterans’ groups and the public. When a president even proposes this kind of a dagger-in-the-back of battle-wounded veterans, the proposal should have a P.S. reading “I’m incompetent as demonstrated by this asinine proposal.”

Yet, Mr. Obama and his people were so incompetent as to propose this betrayal of our veterans. He not only proposed it, but also kept pushing it. For example, he had a meeting last Monday, with the national commander of the American Legion, who said, after the meeting, the President “intended to move forward” with the proposal. Finally, on Wednesday, his press secretary announced, “The president has instructed that its consideration be dropped.”

The outrage at the proposal should have been easily predicted. For example, here are some of the comments found in published reports:

• Eleven veterans’ organizations, in a letter to the president, wrote the proposal is “a total abrogation of our government’s moral and legal responsibility” to treat service-connected medical problems.

•    An Amvets spokesman said the proposal “flew in the face of the government’s covenant to care for all service-connected needs of our veterans.”

•    A Congressman said, “Our budget cannot be balanced on the backs of our nation’s combat-wounded heroes.”

As far as I’m concerned, this proposal, backed personally and advocated personally by Mr. Obama, shows the incompetence of the White House from Mr. Obama on down.

And we had another demonstration of that on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Thursday, when in discussing his bowling score, President Obama said his 129 had been “like the Special Olympics or something.” This was interpreted as a disparagement of the kids who take part in the Special Olympics. Later, his press secretary apologized for the insult, telling reporters the president “made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics.” He also called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to apologize for his comment, even before it aired.

Everyone can make a stupid mistake, but this one is especially instructive: Now you know why he has to be on teleprompter whenever possible. That’s because, with all due respect to his supporters who think he is the smartest man on the planet, when he is off the teleprompter he is as gaffe-prone as Vice President Joe Biden. That led to a cartoonist putting Mr. Obama in bed with his wife and his teleprompter, with the caption of Mrs. Obama saying the president should put his teleprompter away and go to bed.

Incidentally, if he is really so brilliant why can’t he talk without a teleprompter? When criticized for taking time off from the White House to be on the Jay Leno show he tried to defend his trip to California by saying critics are wrong who say that “I can handle that [appearance on Leno show] and the economy at the same time.”

I’m afraid, Mr. President, any observer who is not afflicted with Obamamania, will conclude you can’t handle either one of those, together or separately. And he knows little about presidential history, so he doesn’t know that even competent presidents have trouble handling more than one major issue at a time.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the Obama administration is its willingness to pass any law and utilize any procedure even if it seems to violate our most important Democratic values and our usual governmental processes. For example, the Democrats are backing the card check bill, officially called the Employee Free Choice Act, which for all intents and purposes abandons the secret ballot in union election.

They are also flirting the Fairness Doctrine to kill conservative talk radio. And now they are considering the reconciliation process for passing such legislation as health-care reform. That would essentially freeze the Democrats out of the legislative process and severely limit debate. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee described the reconciliation route as “very dangerous.” This all suggests the Obama administration has lost its fundamental bearings and is willing to put political power ahead of its principles.

Beware when an apparent incompetent radical, both inexperienced and untested, starts to implement the greatest governmental transformation in history within his first two months in office. But you need not wait for the results. Just observe what is going on now.

This is especially disturbing, as it is coming from a president whose background and record are little known and understood. As Judicial Watch has pointed out, “No president in modern times has received as little scrutiny on matters of ethics and corruption as Barack Obama. ... But because of our dogged tenacity in asking ‘Just who is Barack Obama?’ his ethical lapses and links to possible corruption are still very much in play.”

Too many questions remain unanswered and what we know by itself is very bad enough.

Americans better be prepared to fight the Obama proposals if we want America to look like America four years hence, or for that matter, if we want America even to survive.

Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and  consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at

Josie06 Josie06
56-60, F
4 Responses Mar 24, 2009

I feel another diversionary conflict in the middle east coming to take our minds off the bozoes in Washington. I'm sure the Washington crowd is feeling pretty naked right now. Watch out Iran!


1984? Atlas Shrugged?<br />
<br />
Oh, The United Socialist States of America.<br />
<br />
Or, UN Department of North America.

inexperience in full light. just think we have another 3 years 9 months for sure to go. Can you even wrap your mind around what else we have to look forward to?