Archives

Obama plus Congress equals economic chaos

‘ Ronald Reagan was right when he said: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” The next stage of out-of-control government spending started when George W. Bush bailed out Wall Street with $700 billion (new debt No. 1). But Congress didn’t learn from that failure, and apparently, neither did Barack Obama. So the newly elected president pushed for the next stimulus bill (debt No. 2), this one for $787 billion.

But that wasn’t enough, either, so the recent $410 billion omnibus spending bill (with 9,000 earmarks — 60 percent originating with Democrats and 40 percent with Republicans) is being railroaded through Congress to keep government moving until September (debt No. 3). And then Obama informed us last week that another $634 billion is required for a down payment on universal health care. Before there’s a plan, there’s already a payment (debt No. 4). If that isn’t enough, Obama is asking for a roughly $3.6 trillion budget for 2010 despite the fact that the White House projects a 2009 budget shortfall of $1.5 trillion – triple the $455 billion in 2008. (That’s debt No. 5.) And all of that doesn’t include other stimulion the horizon, as Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, noted when he called the mammoth $787 billion spending bill “stimulus No. 1.” (That’s debt No. 6, debt No. 7, debt No. 8, etc.) All of these wild expenditures would be a little more bearable if we saw any signs of economic recovery. But how has all this alleged stimulus stabilized and grown the economy and the market? As our government has bailed out, the Dow Jones industrial average has dropped. It’s dropped about 2,000 points since Obama took office, roughly 200 points after every major speech he has made. So the big question is: How has Obama gotten away with racking up more expenses in his first 30 days in office than all the presidents combined since the founding of our republic did in theirs? Bernard Goldberg’s A Slobbering Love Affair is a great book about the media’s blind bias and infatuation with Obama, but Obama’s hypnotic that he just wanted to blow himself up. And then came The New Yorker magazine’sJuly cover on which cartoonist Barry Blitt depicted Michelle and Barackin militant Muslim garb, giving each other a terrorist fist bump. Blittsaid he was only mocking people who accused the Obamas of being secretMuslims. No doubt, there seems to be a trend toward moreblatant racist humor these days, but we shouldn’t automatically lumpall perpetrators together. The New Yorker cover, for example, was a constructive slam at ill-informed white people. But what about the Post’s attemptat political satire? Was it really intended to be racist, or was thecartoonist just insensitive? Long before Obama came onto the scene, thePost frequently used images of monkeys to depict incompetent andrude people. They once took aim at NYC cabbies by depicting a taxidriver as a chimp (FYI, most New York cabbies are not black). So it was consistent for the Post to take aim at congressmen who passed a pork-laden stimulus package, and to assign them a simian identity for their misdeed. Let’s be clear, though. I am in no way defending what the Post did. Even if they didn’t mean to offend anyone, they displayed extremely poor judgement. Sotoo, did veteran insult-hurler Don Rickles during a recent interviewwith Jimmy Kimmel. Mr. Warmth, known for being an equal opportunityoffender, joked that President Obama was tap dancing behind the podiumduring a recent speech. Rickles, who hasn’t a racist bone in his body, meant no harm. But given the controversy and tension building from the Post’s debacle, Rickles should have refrained from the minstrel show reference that night. Thefact is, sometimes, good people say things that they don’t realize maybe offensive. During a “Monday Night Football” broadcast, the lategreat Howard Cosell became excited when a black player broke free andran the length of the field for a touchdown. “Look at thatlittle monkey run”, Howard shouted. Angry viewers called in to demandthat ABC fire the star. But the protests were silenced when severalleading black celebrities came forward to explain that Cosell, achampion of civil rights born in Winston-Salem, used the term “littlemonkey” affectionately, and did so frequently when referring to his owngrandchildren. The Cosell incident teaches us not to jump toconclusions, nor to assume that certain words and phrases arenecessarily spoken with the intention of doing harm. On the other hand,there are times when conclusion jumping is entirely appropriate, suchas when “Seinfeld”’s

MichaelRichards went on a racist rant during a stage performance. Richardsclearly harbored some deep-seated prejudice against African Americans,because being heckled doesn’t make someone suddenly say the N-word inanger. That’s why Richard’s delayed apologies rang hollow. How,then, can we really know what’s in someone’s heart, or in what contextthey intended a certain remark or illustration? Interpretations of thespoken word may continue to present us with moral dilemmas, but when itcomes to cartoons, we do have a benchmark with which to judge betweensatire and hate-filled images. Just check out the website www.resist.com, for example, and browse the socalled humor of white supremacists,whose cartoons are catalogued by race, color and religion. The imagesare very disturbing and clearly designed to spread hatred. And thenthere are the animated cartoons of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, which,unlike the Klan–type funnies of resist.com, were insensitive andoffensive without intending any malice toward minorities. Nevertheless,Warner Brothers took those cartoons out of circulation in 1969, andrecently blocked them from display on YouTube. But censorshipis not the answer to our problem. To the contrary, it can bedetrimental to the dialogue which Attorney General Holder isadvocating. We should absolutely discourage anyone frompublishing material which may be offensive, but going forward we shouldresist purging old cartoons from public view. Such revisionist historydoes a disservice to those of us who seek to understand and teach thecontext in which the offensive material appeared, and to assess thedamage they might have done. In the meantime, we are left to walk anarrow tightrope. On the one hand we must be ever vigilant to guardagainst denigrating images and hate speech, while, on the other hand,we must not overreact to every satirical word or illustration thatconfronts us. Despite recent setbacks, we have made great progress overthe years in navigating a racially charged high-wire act. We must becareful not to lose our balance and fall from the great heights we haveachieved.

How has Obama gotten away with racking up more expenses in his first 30 days in office than all the presidents combined since the founding of our

Share: