Monthly Archives: March 2010

Obama Approves Limited Offshore Drilling by Gregory Hilton

President Obama today agreed to open parts of the Atlantic coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the north shore of Alaska to offshore oil exploration. exploration. Offshore drilling could provide enough oil to replace Middle East oil imports for 35 years, and it would also yield an 18-year supply of natural gas. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the former Chairman of the Resources Committee, responded immediately by criticizing the Obama plan:

The President is essentially placing a moratorium on the Pacific Coast, delaying planned lease sales in Alaska, and subjecting previously studied areas to even more study , which is a waste of taxpayer time and dollars. Additionally, anything open to leasing will also be open to the inevitable lawsuits that will follow today’s announcement, so essentially we are back where we started. Sixty-eight percent of the American people support expanded offshore drilling, and yet not one lease sale in an area previously under moratorium will occur during President Obama’s term. This plan closes more than it opens, and is a complete farce. There is no question that this ‘Obama Moratorium’ will have dire impacts on the economic future of our country.

That was then, this is now
In 2008, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) said offshore drilling was “a political stunt.” Speaker Pelosi called Bush “the oilman in the White House,” and said offshore drilling was “a hoax.” At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said off shore drilling was a give away to big oil. She was adamantly opposed to offshore drilling “because I’m trying to save the planet,” and “my flagship issue” is global warming.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called it “a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.” Reid described offshore drilling as “the same old ideas meant to pad the pockets of Big Oil. . . Bush-McCain Republicans just don’t get it. . . They want to feed our addiction to oil.” All of that is forgotten now with President Obama’s announcement today. In addition to blocking off shore drilling, Democrats in the past have also blocked drilling in ANWR, building oil refineries, nuclear energy production and clean coal production.
Offshore drilling would have to be approved by Congress, and some prominent Democrats have today come out in opposition. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) both said they would oppose the Obama plan, and they are quoting the President.
In June 2008 the President said “Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or this year or even the next few years, I would consider it. But, it won’t.”
In a related development, the Department of Energy is saying world oil production could decline from 2011 to 2015 “if the investment is not there.” The decline would be due to the lack of investment in oil production capacity, which is another serious energy security issue.

Thank You President Bush: Iraq Is The Change We Can Believe In by Gregory Hilton

The election in Iraq is a very important vindication of George W. Bush’s vision that the way to correct a lot of the instability in the Middle East is to bring democracy to countries that haven’t experienced it. American policy before that was set in effect by FDR in World War II—the view that we had a greater interest in stability in the Arab world than in change. Bush’s understanding was that this was NOT the best way to secure U.S. interests in the long run.
It’s amazing! There was an election in the Arab world in which no one knew what the outcome would be. This has never happened before. And next, they have to negotiate to form a coalition. Representative government is possible in the Arab world.
Also note that Iraq’s Shiites have taken to democracy in a vibrant way. People need to focus on what this means for a Shiite democracy across the border in Iran.
President Obama is a bit of a mix. He’s cut back on the democracy-building budget in the region. And I’ve been disappointed, to be honest, that the administration has not been as outspoken about promoting democracy in the region as Bush was.
– Ambassador Paul Bremer, Chief Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, 2003 and 2004.

Iraq has now completed its fifth election since 2005 and there will once again be a peaceful transfer of power to the opposition. Over 13 million people went to the polls and the turnout was 62%, which is better than the 52% average of Americans who participated in presidential elections over the past century.

  • The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post notes “Iraq held a competitive election that puts most of its neighbors to shame. On Iraq’s borders are, among others, a despotic theocracy in Iran, a despotic monarchy in Saudia Arabia and a despotic hereditary fiefdom in Syria. In Iraq, more than 6,000 candidates vied for 325 legislative seats. They represented parties of wide ideological range. Turnout was higher, proportionately, than for U.S. presidential elections. The voting and counting, according to international observers, were generally free and fair.”
  • From a U.S. viewpoint, the election was a huge success because Americans want a broadly based Iraqi government. The outcome is still not certain, but Iraqi’s are showing a willingness to compromise and the new government will be secular and it will not be based on sectarian or geographical considerations. It could well be a coalition which includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
  • The top two vote-getters were coalitions which rejected ethnic and sectarian politics in favor of a national, multi-sectarian vision.
  • A significant difference between the 2005 and 2010 election is that this time there was no Sunni boycott. In 2010, there was a very high turnout in the Sunni provinces (Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin). The Sunni’s ran Iraq under Saddam Hussein by now they have adapted to the new system.
  • Iran was the big loser. As the Washington Post notes, the “results are a defeat for Iran’s efforts to unify Iraq’s Shiites into one bloc and then control Iraq through that bloc. The vote is at least potentially a victory for an Iraq in which members of all sects believe their voices can be heard.” The Iraqi National Alliance (which included Muqtada al-Sadr) and the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq both did poorly in the election. They lost many seats and their dream of a monolithic Shiite bloc has fragmented.
  • Newsweek said the election “most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.”
  • Thomas Friedman of the New York Times says “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right.”
  • Many liberal politicians in both 2004 and 2006 claimed the United States was “imposing democracy on Iraq.” The results of this fifth election demonstrate that Iraqi’s are enthusiastic participants in the democratic process.
  • Vice President Joe Biden is now saying Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” However, the credit clearly belongs to the Iraqi people and the Bush Administration.
  • Peter Wehner of Politics Daily noted: “We might be able to agree, too, that the new counterinsurgency strategy announced by President Bush in January 2007 — a strategy that was fiercely opposed by Messrs. Biden and Obama, by virtually the entire Democratic Party, the political class, and almost all of the foreign policy establishment — was a wise and politically courageous decision. . . But it’s clear, I think, that the commonly held view that Iraq was ‘probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history’ (Joe Klein) was wrong and foolish.”

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch Blasts Obama’s Treatment of Israel by Gregory Hilton

Obama’s abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Netanyahu is shocking. There is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did — protect our ally, Israel. . . Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama — 78 percent of the Jewish community did — believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover.
“It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel’s enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote. — Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch

The New York Post approved of the former Mayor’s statements and said “Koch is absolutely right. Obama and Clinton intentionally treated Netanyahu like dirt, then made sure the world knew. It wasn’t just bad manners. It was flashing a green light for Israel’s enemies. By broadcasting his wavering support, Obama made it more likely there will be a new war.
“He also undermines efforts to get Iran to stop its nuclear program and makes it more likely Israel will undertake military action. Yet Koch didn’t just criticize American policy. He went after Sen. Charles Schumer (D) and his rubberstamp, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), among others, for not standing up to the president. He elaborated during my call. ‘It’s their silence,’ Koch said to me yesterday. ‘I can’t figure out where they are. Take Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). You’d think he’d be jumping up and down. But there’s nothing.'”
“Ed Koch is on fire. Here are a few of the bombshells he dropped yesterday. President Obama ‘wants to make Israel a pariah state.’ Hillary Clinton is a ‘disappointment’ and didn’t deserve the standing ovation she got from a leading Jewish group.
“Sen. Chuck Schumer has been silent on America’s tilt toward the Palestinians because he is ‘afraid of Obama.’ Anything else? Only that Clinton won’t answer his letters when he asks directly whether the United States is prepared to defend Israel from Iran.
“And Obama isn’t neutral in the Mideast. He’s pro-Arab.”
The New York Post also said: “It is odd but true: The fact that most Jews in Congress are Democrats is proving to be a liability to Israel.
“Silence is not a virtue. There is an obvious split in the administration, with Obama and Clinton the pro-Arab hawks, and Vice President Joe Biden and adviser Dennis Ross advocating a more Israel-friendly policy.
“The time to influence the outcome is now, with reasoned arguments — in public. That’s how critics would challenge a Republican president making the same mistake.
“Later, Sen. Schumer’s office issued a one-sentence statement in response to my request. It signals he will go public if his private efforts fail to change Obama’s policy:
‘If the administration continues along this line, everyone in the New York delegation will have no choice but to speak out.’
“Remember that promise. Koch certainly will.”

Was the Bush TARP Program a Mistake? by Gregory Hilton

Many Republicans who supported the Bush Administration’s Troubled Assets Recovery Program (TARP) are now encountering GOP primary problems. Some of these GOP voters are lumping TARP into the same category as the Obama stimulus (which was opposed by every Republican), the $3.6 trillion budget, the costs associated with health care reform and the use of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to subsidize irresponsible lending. Some of these voters do not realize that there was a major difference in how TARP was administered by the Bush and Obama administrations.
The voters have already inflicted punishment on TARP backers. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was called “Kay Bailout” by her primary opponent, and was defeated in her attempt to win the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination. TARP is also a major issue in the primary battles confronting Sen. John McCain (AZ) and Bob Bennett (UT).
Rep. Gresham Barrett (SC) is feeling the heat in his gubernatorial primary, and was booed of a stage because of his TARP support. Many Republicans supported TARP which was proposed by the Bush Administration. In 2008 it was endorsed by McCain and then Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) said supporting TARP was difficult for any Republican but it was the “correct and courageous” thing to do. Romney went on to say:

I hate the way TARP was administered, but I can tell you that we were on a precipice unlike anything we have known before in modern history with the potential of a complete collapse of our currency system and our financial system. Had we not taken action, you could have seen a real devastation. . . TARP prevented a systemic collapse of the national financial system. . . It was intended to prevent a run on virtually every bank and financial institution in the country.

Nicole Gelinas of the free-market Manhattan Institute noted: “We were never going to escape this debacle without pumping massive amounts of taxpayer money into the financial system.”
The first $350 billion TARP installment was spent by Bush and the second $350 billion installment went to the Obama Administration. TARP passed the Senate on October 1, 2008 on a 74 to 25 vote, and the House approved it on October 3 by a 263 to 171 vote.
TARP was supported by 34 Senate and 91 House Republicans, but public opinion was always strongly against TARP. TARP was designed to address the subprime mortgage crisis, and it was enacted during a year of tremendous upheaval on Wall Street.
This difficult year included the sale of investment banks Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, the failure of Lehman Brothers and the government rescue of the American International Group, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. None of this halted the panic on Wall Street.
TARP was a capital investment in the financial system to prevent a huge collapse. It was essential to save the financial markets because they have an enormous impact on pensions, savings, investments and mortgages. In the fall of 2008 many experts said the worldwide banking system would collapse within days without TARP.
After Lehman Brothers failed in mid-September of 2008, all commercial credit in the United States came to a halt. With the credit markets frozen there was tremendous volatility in the stock market. Bush was told by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, that a failure to act decisively could plunge our nation into another Great Depression.
They said without a massive government intervention, America faced a total financial collapse because of lost confidence in the banking system. Bush said, “I readily concede I chucked aside some of my free-market principles when I was told by my chief economic advisers that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression.”
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) spoke for many of the GOP TARP supporters in September of 2008 by saying “We’re on the cusp of a complete catastrophic credit meltdown. There is no liquidity in the market. We are out of time. Either you believe that fact, or you don’t. I do.”
Former Sen. John Sununu (NH) is one of the two Republican members of the TARP oversight panel. He says the program “did help to stabilize financial markets during the critical period of November and December in 2008.”
Republican primary voters are now attacking lawmakers in their own party for supporting a program that A) was created at the behest of a Republican President and B) was central to saving America from a serious depression. The infusion of $350 billion by the Bush Administration was the best way to slow the nation’s slide to the financial edge. The program worked and the Republicans should be glad it did.
UPDATE – TARP Ends, October 4, 2010
As of October of 2010, $67 billion remains outstanding of the TARP funds which went to the auto industry. GM is planning to raise funds through an IPO, an Initial Public Offering. The government is ultimately expecting to lose $17 billion on the auto loans, but at the same time they are making a $9 billion profit just from the money that was lent to Citibank. Treasury Secretary Geithner said:

The returns we’ll get from our investments in banks and AIG will be more than enough to cover the money we’ll lose in autos. The net costs of TARP will be a fraction of their original advertised cost, but profits aren’t the proper measure to use when evaluating TARP. I don’t like to focus too much on just the accounting cost. We weren’t in the business to make money. Even if they had lost much money, that would have been the right thing to do. I think it’s an excellent record for careful financial stewardship.

Geithner pointed to metrics such as the speed at which the price of borrowing came down in 2009, the resumption of economic growth in the second half of 2009, and the speed with which banks raised private capital to replace public funds. As Daniel Gross of Yahoo Finance has written: “TARP has been an enormous success from a policy perspective — it saved the financial system and averted a second Great Depression at a very low price to taxpayers. But politically, like the assets it was designed to remove from banks, it remains toxic.”

It should also be noted that TARP was not the only effort to unfreeze the credit markets. In the words of Robert Samuelson, the Federal Reserve also “devised ingenious ways to provide credit to parts of the financial markets (commercial paper, money market funds) that were being abandoned by private lenders. For almost two years, it held its short-term interest rate near zero. All this arguably averted a second Great Depression but obviously did not trigger a vigorous economic recovery.” In late 2008 the Fed authorized a $1.725 trillion purchase of Treasury bonds, mortgage backed securities and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds.

“The Tale of TARP”, Washington Post

Bush’s $350 Billion TARP is About to Break Even by Gregory Hilton

The Obama administration announced today that over the next year it will begin to sell the government’s 7.7 billion shares in Citigroup. The Citigroup shares are one of the last remaining legacies from Bush administration’s first installment of the Toxic Assets Recovery Program (TARP). The sale means the Bush outlay of $350 billion in TARP funds will break even, or result in a profit.
All of the major financial institutions which received funds from the Bush administration have been able to meet the requirements established by the Treasury Department. Over 80% of these funds have now been repaid with five percent interest, and the government earned $19 billion. All six of the biggest U.S. credit-card issuers have also returned their bailout money, and these initial TARP funds were repaid about a year after their distribution.
Citigroup was one of the hardest hit banks and they received $45 billion in bailout money, more than any other financial institution. The Treasury paid $3.25 a share for its stake in the bank during the 2008 credit crisis. The good news for the taxpayers is that the shares have increased steadily in value, and the government will receive a hefty profit of between $8 and $10 billion.
The remaining major question mark from the Bush TARP funds is the insurance giant AIG, which has been rapidly selling its assets. The taxpayers could still lose $12 to $20 billion on their AIG investment. If that does happen, it will be subtracted from the $29 billion in profits which were received from Bush’s TARP. Once again, the bottom line is that Bush’s TARP will break even or will result in a small profit. This is a far different outlook than what was predicted during the final months of the 2008 campaign.

Obama’s Broken Promises: The Message From Iowa by Gregory Hilton

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the health care reform legislation tomorrow and he will return to Iowa City on Thursday. It will be his first trip outside of the nation’s capital since the House of Representatives narrowly passed the bill on Sunday evening.
The President will discuss health care at the University of Iowa and in the city where he first unveiled his medical plans three years ago. Iowa City was then a bastion of Obama support but that has changed dramatically. The President’s approval has slipped steadily in Iowa since he carried the state in 2008 and after winning its leadoff Democratic nominating caucuses that year. According to the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, only 33% approve of his health care plans while 58% disapprove.
A study released Monday indicates the bill is highly unpopular with the very professionals which will be asked to treat an expanded pool of insured Americans. Seventy-one percent of U.S. physicians said they had an unfavorable opinion of the administration’s plan. The poll of 1,217 physicians was conducted by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. Of those who had a negative view of the President’s plan, 80% said the new law would have made them less likely to enter the medical field.
A major reason why American’s have soured on the President can be seen in Iowa. The significant theme in the 2008 Obama campaign was to bring the nation together, and to govern in “a post partisan manner.” That has never happened, and not one Republican in the House or Senate voted for the health care bill. All of the GOP reform proposals were rejected, and it is now clear Obama is one of our most partisan presidents.
Obama has constantly been in the national spotlight since he won the Iowa precinct caucuses on January 3, 2008. His address that evening in Des Moines emphasizes his subsequent failure to cross party lines and to move forward in a bipartisan manner. In claiming his Iowa victory, Obama said:

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. . . We are choosing hope over fear. We’re choosing unity over division, and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.
I’ll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois – by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done.
This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear, and doubt, and cynicism; the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up. . . . We are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Barack Obama entered the White House with an enormous reservoir of political and public support. His honeymoon with the American public was greater than any incoming president in the past three decades. He had better numbers, and they were usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls.
President-elect Obama told CBS’s Steve Croft about his ability to bridge differences and bring people together. He said he wanted to rally Americans to a common cause. To date, the only groups Obama united are the Republican Party and his political opponents. The President is now returning to Iowa but the message of his 2008 campaign has been forgotten.

Health Care: Democrats May Regret Their Victory by Gregory Hilton

It is a triumphant night for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the senior leadership of the Democratic Party. A deal was struck in the late afternoon, and pro-life Democrats provided the margin of victory (219 to 212) for the misnamed health care reform bill. There has never been a time in American history when such an unpopular major piece of legislation such as health care reform has become law by such a narrow and partisan margin. Speaker Pelosi used the same gavel which was last seen during the 1965 Medicare debate. The difference is that Medicare and Social Security were popular entitlement programs which had broad support from both parties. The intensity of the opposition (those who strongly oppose ObamaCare) has grown steadily, and 60% of independent voters are in opposition. The best analogy to what has happened would be the 1854 Kansas Nebraska Act, which seven years later resulted in the Civil War.
The argument frequently used by Democrats is based on the need for covering the uninsured, but that is not the health care system’s major problem. According to Robert Samuelson:

The big problem is uncontrolled spending, which prices people out of the market and burdens government budgets. Obama claims his proposal checks spending. Just the opposite. When people get insurance, they use more health services. Spending rises. By the government’s latest forecast, health spending goes from 17 percent of the economy in 2009 to 19 percent in 2019. Health “reform” would likely increase that. . .
Whatever their sins, insurers are mainly intermediaries; they pass along the costs of the delivery system. In 2009, the largest 14 insurers had profits of roughly $9 billion; that approached 0.4 percent of total health spending of $2.472 trillion. This hardly explains high health costs. What people need to know is that Obama’s plan evades health care’s major problems and would worsen the budget outlook. It’s a big new spending program when government hasn’t paid for the spending programs it already has.

Jimmy Carter’s pollster Pat Caddell was on Fox News on today and said the health-care bill is a “political Jonestown” for House Democrats. He said Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on forcing them to vote yes is akin to mass suicide, “The battle for public opinion has been lost. Never in my experience as a pollster can I recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data by Democrats.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted on June 18, 2010, “If you just pound it through on a partisan vote, you have people practically as soon as the ink is dry looking to have it repealed.” He was correct and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are both pushing repeal bills, and they have 47 co-sponsors so far.

Behavior of Senior Democratic Lawmakers is Not Appropriate by Gregory Hilton

Several prominent liberal activists are upset about allegedly inappropriate remarks made by some tea party protesters who visited the U.S. Capitol on Saturday. Ironically, these same left wing activists have often overlooked outrageous remarks by the senior leadership of the Democratic Party.
Many observers doubt the offensive tea party comments were made, and videotape of the incidents does not support the allegations of the liberals. Nevertheless, the House Republican leadership earlier today released a statement criticizing the alleged comments of a few demonstrators. If offensive comments were made, there is no excusing them. No matter how heated a debate may be, no one has the right to bring into question a person’s race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, and personal attacks are not permitted on the floor of Congress.
That has never stopped Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA). He said President George W. Bush was sending troops to Iraq to get their “heads blown off for his amusement.” In a debate on national health insurance, he said Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the then HHS Secretary, was “a disgrace to his race.” Lawmakers such as Rep. Craig Washington (D-TX) supported Stark. He called Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) “a whore,” Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO) “a little fruitcake,” and Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) was a “fascist.” He falsely accused Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) of having children born out of wedlock.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called Bush a “loser” and a “liar.” When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) did that he immediately apologized, and said “This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.” President Obama accepted the apology but Wilson was still censured. That has not happened to any recent Democratic party lawmaker.

Health Care: The Secret Behind Obama’s Lobbying Success by Gregory Hilton

Why is the President so persuasive? Seven lawmakers who voted no on health care reform in November switched positions yesterday. They had previously made statements critical of the bill, but flipped after meeting with the President. Perhaps the prestige of the Oval Office had an impact on them? Former House Majority Whip David Bonior (D-MI) tells another story in recounting the 1993 battle over the North American Free Trade Agreement.
It was an usual debate in that Democratic lawmakers were opposing a treaty advocated by a Democratic President. Bonior remembers, “We had about a 25-vote lead going into the last two weeks. The President basically opened the store and people came down to the White House one by one and asked for things — roads, bridges, educational grants, fund-raisers. One by one I watched the lead disappear. The power of the presidency is huge.”
The White House has incredible power, but hopefully these lawmakers will not forget the sentiments being expressed by their constituents. They might also want to reflect on the fate of the 34 Democrats who were defeated in a similar situation.
Health care, tax increases and the prestige of a new Democratic President were also factors in 1993. Then freshman Rep. Don Johnson (D-GA) said “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that time. I remember it quite well, and it is tattooed inside my brain.”
Johnson recently spoke to WSB radio and said he repeatedly told President Clinton and Vice President Gore that he would not vote for a budget deal filled with tax increases. He remembers speaking to Gore on one phone while Clinton was calling him on another line. The Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell (D-ME), assured him there would be consideration of a cap on the growth of entitlement spending. At the last moment he changed his mind and voted with Clinton.
At the time the Clinton budget was the largest tax increase in history, and it passed by one vote. Every lawmaker who supported Clinton could be described as the decisive vote. Johnson held a town hall meeting shortly afterwards. One his constituents described he scene:

I had never been to one before, but I was energized by the crowd of 75 or so citizens, most of whom were mad as hell at what they considered a betrayal by Representative Johnson. Many of the questioners demanded to know what “Slick Willie” had promised the Congressman in return for his vote. The Congressman’s earnest, almost plaintive, statements that he made his vote in good conscious without any quid-pro-quo of any type were not well received by the hostile crowd.
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I, and most of the people at that meeting, did not behave respectfully to the Congressman. He was interrupted repeatedly by jeers, shouted rebuttals, and cat-calls. He made his points, but there was nothing he could say that could explain away his critical support for a large, unpopular tax increase. In any event, the crowd was not in a conciliatory mood, and let him know this in very direct and personal terms.

Johnson’s district had always been represented by Democrats but he was defeated in his 1994 bid for reelection by a shocking 31 points. Johnson was booed off the platform during other campaign events, the newspaper in Augusta (which had strongly backed him in 1992) took the unusual step of apologizing to the voters for its mistake.
He lost to a GOP dentist who had never run for elected office before. It was the first time since reconstruction that the district had voted for a Republican, and it remains in GOP hands today. It should also be noted that Johnson tried to run away from Clinton but it did not work because of his voting record. The Congressman said he would not want Clinton to visit his district unless he was “coming down to endorse my opponent.” The Clinton administration did take care of Johnson, and he subsequently received the rank of ambassador in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Many Democrats who vote yes on health care reform on Sunday will be defeated in November. It would be better for them and our nation if they would reflect on the consequences. If the bill is defeated the process can start over in a bipartisan manner.

It is Time for Republicans to Praise Barack Obama: 10 Good Things About The President by Gregory Hilton

I have frequently described the shortcomings of the Obama Administration, but the President has also made several correct decisions. He has single handedly done far more to turn the American people against the progressive agenda than any combination of Republicans conceivably could have.
Without Obama, GOP election prospects for 2010 would not be this glowing. The President deserves credit for the Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, and the U.S. Senate upset in Massachusetts. Listed below are 10 reasons to praise the President.

1. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize he authorized a 34,000 troop surge for Afghanistan and the construction of 12 bunker-busting bombs which could be targeted on the underground nuclear facilities in Iran and North Korea.

2. By putting his name on many policies George W. Bush was condemned for adopting, he has begun the process of rehabilitating Bush’s reputation.

3. He is the first President in 36 years to successfully facilitate the revival of the nuclear power industry.

4. He ignored many of his campaign promises, and I am especially grateful he broke his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA.

5. He has improved the way race is perceived in America on both sides of the racial divide, and has made Jesse Jackson irrelevant to the main stream media.

6. He reauthorized the USA Patriot Act without any changes, and exposed the “anti-war” Democrats as complete and utter frauds. The left only cared about the war as a platform to damage Bush. They came out in force to condemn Bush’s Iraq surge but they have been totally silent about Obama’s surge. The protesters completely disappeared.

7. He broke his January 2010 pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within a year. The indefinite detention of terrorists continues, and the President is backtracking on his promise to try the terrorists in civilian courts. There has been no left-wing furor over these decisions because the liberals were only interested in portraying Bush as an outlaw.

8. By continuing to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has crushed the hope of the people who bought into the campaign abstraction “hope.” They thought the wars would end if the U.S. left, and our presence was the cause of the conflict. Their belief was astonishingly naive.

9. He allowed the Navy to shoot pirates in the head.

10. He started the Tea Party movement.