Monday, December 28, 2009

Year End Review

Well, it's that strange time of year yet again, that weird interval between Christmas and New Year's, where not much gets discussed except to look back at the previous year/decade/century. I hope you're expecting that here, because that's what I'm going to write about.

Looking back at 2009, I can't say that the successes have overwhelmingly outweighed the disappointments. Well, except of course when I imagine what it would be like if John McCain was president and Sarah Barracuda was sitting in the VP's seat. If that came about (and we only missed that happening by a very few points), thing would likely be significantly different today.

So I'm not going to say that this year was terribly disappointing. Yet, when I look back on the enthusiasm and anticipation with which we greeted the new year, I have to admit that we haven't gotten as much accomplished as I wanted.

2008 ended with President Bush signing the TARP bill, which bailed out Wall St. banks to the tune of $700 million.

2009 began with President Obama taking office in an unprecedented celebration, and began work immediately on the many pressing problems he inherited.

In February, President Obama signed the stimulus package, which invested hundreds of billions of dollars in economic recovery projects, as well as several hundred billion in tax reductions. The package was highly unpopular with Republicans, and a curious phenomenon soon after manifested itself; the faux-grassroots "Tea Party" movement.

Disgruntled conservatives found a way to express their disdain of anything constructive that Presidend Obama had to offer through these corporate- and conservative-think tank sponsored Tea Parties. Fox News enthusiastically pushed for increasing the level of dissent by publicizing and encouraging the more radical elements to take part, and arch-conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck helped fuel that discontent to an hysterical pitch. As the rallies became more and more radical, the corporate shills fanned the flames even higher, and the latent racism in many of the participants became very overt.

It's ridiculous how they can casually compare the president to a monkey, but if you call them "tea baggers" they act so terribly offended.

Sen. Chris Dodd found himself on the defensive for much of the year, due in part to his clumsy handling of the AIG bonus imbroglio and allegations of improprieties with a mortgage. A slew of Republicans have declared their intent to challenge him for his Senate seat this coming year, and we expect not only a difficult fight for the senator, but also a Republican brawl for the party's nomination. It amazes me how in 2006 the Republican Party actively discouraged anyone from running against Joe Lieberman, but this year they're crawling out of the woodwork to take a stab at Chris Dodd. (Actually, it doesn't amaze me in the least.)

Sen. Dodd's tireless work for health care reform paid off recently as the Senate finally passed a version of the bill that reached the minimum 60 votes required. There is still much to be done, and now the House bill will need to be reconciled with the Senate version early in the new year. I still have some hope that reconciliation will bring a bill before the president that includes many of the points that the Senate bill currently lacks.

Rep. Jim Himes completed the Democratic sweep for Connecticut's Congressional delegation last year, and just this week he was recognized for his superb constituent service by the Greenwich Time. Himes also hosted many "town hall meetings" this year to exchange ideas with citizens and hear their opinions. As the video below illustrates, sometimes those opinions were extremely vocal:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. President Obama has set a timeline for withdrawal, but there is definitely some wiggle room to keep troops in place beyond that if he chooses. Many progressives are disappointed that things aren't happening faster, but again, if McCain was in the White House we could likely expect a permanent state of war to exist in the region. Not to mention a possible attack on Iran. So while I'm not happy about the escalation in Afghanistan, I'm willing to give President Obama a grudging benefit of a doubt for the time being.

We got creamed in the local elections this year. This is something beyond mere personalities or qualifications; some extremely dedicated and gifted local legislators were replaced by dilettantes and amateurs due to some kind of a freakish Democratic backlash. When a city successfully posts the first tax decrease in it's history in a year when the Republican mayor proposed a 6.7% increase and we STILL get trounced, you have to suspect there is something strange going on here. The Democrats had better get to work on their messaging, or we'll possibly see a similar debacle in the 2010 midterms.

As for me, I'm looking forward to next year. I'm proud that I've accomplished all my New Year's resolutions for this year, and now I've got to work on some new ones.

I still don't believe in texting, and I steadfastly refuse to allow my phone to receive texts. If it's important enough, you can call me. If it's not, then it can wait. I've seen too many dipshits swerving all over the road while steering with a knee because they simply have to reply to whatever insipid message they'd just received.

(Me, cross-country skiing last week)

Anyways, that's about it for now. I'm sure I'll have more stuff to add but I need to get going for now. All things considered, it's been a hell of a year!


Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Yeah okay, Bush got snookered into the 1st TARP.

However since then it appears this guy's blown off more cash than all those before him combined.

Didn't you just love the clunker program?

CT Bob said...

Yeah, I actually liked the "cash for clunkers" program. It was a direct way to help out the average Joe car buyer, and get gas guzzlers off the road, and help invigorate the US automotive industry. As I've mentioned many times before, I've only owned American cars. I'd like to see more gov't incentives for people to buy US products, rather than sending all the profits offshore.

And I only wish the bank bailout did something similar for mortgage holders, rather than just rewarding the bankers for doing a shitty job at running their banks.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

>>It was a direct way to help out the average Joe car buyer, and get gas guzzlers off the road, and help invigorate the US automotive industry.

It encouraged those that had no business buying "brand new" to do so and to do it w/out any dealer discount at all.
It caused for perfectly decent automobiles to be destroyed.
So instead of glutting the used car market which would have driven values down on vehicles such as Cadillacs that would have been superb for both single mothers (who don't tend to pile up the miles and could use a nice safe car, which a Caddy surely is) or older Americans living on fixed incomes (who rarely venture far either) it gave them no relief whatsoever.

FURTHER - since the whole schtick was based on miles-per-gallon improvement alone, it targeted vehicles not even made here thus having in fact a stronger impact in both Japan and Korea than in number one for unemployment Detroit where they could really use a few jobs.

No high ticket item offers a greater percentage of W2 income than a vehicle of primarily domestic content; yet we blew it.

Just like the earlier "stimulus check" that we all received last year sold more foreign made flat screen TV's than anyone could have imagined, the cash for clunkers program cost the taxpayers plenty and had little impact on the economy as a whole.

West Haven Bob said...

Un, excuse me ACR...

Could you please point me to the aisle where the AMERICAN flat screen TV's are sold?

You can't...because the last American TV manufacturer went out of business during Bush '41.

Reaganomics at its best!

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

>>...where the AMERICAN flat screen TV's are sold?

That's the entire point.

We're using taxpayer money that winds up bolstering off shore business.
There's no sense in that.

The last "American" TV manufacturer (Zenith) was sold during that time.

BLaming Republicans for the heavy handed tactics of organized crime backed labor unions is a bit much Bob.

BTW The last manufacturer here was North American Phillips; but they're Dutch.

West Haven Bob said...

Actually, I was referring to Goldstar.

I wasn't "blaming Republicans"; I was merely stating a fact.

I know and understand that Republicans and conservatives are perfect and all-knowing; and us evil progressives want only to destroy "The American Way", so that our overlords in the Soviet Union can take us over.

Oh wait, are we now on Islamo-fascists?

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

>>understand that Republicans and conservatives are perfect and all-knowing....

Good heavens I wish that were true.

However all anyone has to do is review Lowell Weicker's history (NOTHING to do w/the CT income tax) to realize our ability to perpetrate a total fraud is every bit as up to snuff as our worth opponents.

Weicker is all of the following:
Womanizing unfaithful SOB
Handshake worth nothing.
Disloyal snake.

Many of us found him lacking ideologically as well, but your miles might vary on specific issues there.

No one likes to find a sneaky liar in their midst however, and I'm sure virtually anyone would agree with that.

Sometimes the other side is right.

Get over it, it happens.

Some of our nitwits are as dense as some of yours.

So instead of either simply agreeing, seeing as there's not a lot of sense in arguing when the other party is correct anyway, or (even better) steal the whole thing (*) and make believe it was your idea all along.

Someplace along the way we Republicans decided that insisting on fair trade policies from our trading partners was somehow the same as restraint of free trade.

Thus, we've allowed other nations unlimited access to our markets while theirs remain closed to us.

To stop this would have helped our car manufacturers immeasurably, *but* no-doubt their unionized workers too. (gasp!)

Too many Republicans were so distracted by the fact that some UAW members might prosper that we ran from anything that might sound like protectionism (a claim that would have been far-fetched anyway considering the other trade blocks placed on our goods) than to worry one bit about the jobs lost, or to even consider 3rd through 5th tier OEM auto part manufacturers.

Some of those manufacturers make up #3 in CT for manufactured goods; but we're a "blue state" so what the hell.

* ie: The Democrats have a done a masterful job over 2 or 3 decades of swiping the environment from us as an issue despite our much longer history going all the way back to T. Roosevelt. Joe Coors caused Nixon to sign the EPA in 1969.