April 5, 2009

Obama’s 12-Teleprompter Entourage Is Not Newsworthy, or Humor-worthy

ObamaGlassNotes0309 On Monday, the UK’s Evening Standard, at its “This Is London” site, matter-of-factly noted the following in the final sentence of its report about President Obama’s upcoming European trip (bold is mine):

Accompanying the party will be a total of 500 officials including kitchen staff, 35 vehicles in all, four speech writers and 12 teleprompters.

This more than vindicates yours truly’s “President ‘Prompter” appellation.

It is beyond me how comedians can still claim, as many apparently did after the election, that they have little raw material to work with for poking fun at this guy.

They could even tell good jokes and break news at the same time. As has so often been the case with Obama’s gaffes and myriad foibles, the US media establishment has been nearly unanimous in ignoring the Standard’s teleprompter tidbit.

A Google News Search on “12 teleprompters” (not in quotes) from March 30 – April 5 came back with all of 15 results (Google’s total results returned claim of 24 at the link is incorrect).

A Scripps Howard News Service editorial makes up half of the results other than the original from the Evening Standard. That editorial wryly notes that “For sure, our president is not going to be at a loss for words.” It also makes a more serious point about the size of Dear Leader’s entourage, a point that I believe would have been widely touted had President Bush ever gone overseas with “with 500 staff in tow, including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, the White House chef and kitchen staff with the president’s own food and water”:

The president is entitled to all the security, communications and support he feels necessary to do his job but surely, when we’re trying to project a more restrained, humble image to the world, the president’s huge retinue could be scaled back to something less than the triumphal march from “Aida.”

I also did a Google News search on “twelve teleprompters” (in quotes) for the same date range and got one result, a First Read Blog item at MSNBC. There was no ‘prompter reference in the post. The only reason it appeared in the search was because of a reader’s comment.

To prove the obvious, I searched on “teleprompters” at the New York Times. Of course, there was no reference to the procession of ‘prompters. But the first result has a knee-slapper from writer Peter Baker:

Mr. Obama can be an exceptionally careful public speaker, to the point that he uses teleprompters more often than past presidents have ….

Oh stop it, Peter, you’re killin’ me.

Here is why he uses them, Peter, straight from John Crace at the UK Guardian (of all places; HT to NewsBuster commenter motherbelt). Crace whimsically probed Obama’s mind as he delivered a nails-on-the-blackboard response to a softball question from the BBC’s Nick Robinson.

Read the whole uproariously funny thing. It proves that there’s more than enough grist for the humor mill. The problem is a clear lack of willingness to swim against the PC tide on the part of the comedic wing of the supposed “truth to power” crowd.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Social Security’s Crisis Will Arrive Six Years Early

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:31 am

Note: This post originally went up at Pajamas Media on Friday.

___________________________________________________

Remember how the left said there was no crisis?

___________________________________________________

A year ago, I wrote:

Think Social Security will be solvent until 2041? Think again. The next president will face rapidly growing problems by the end of his or her first term.

At the time, the concern was that the substantial Social Security surpluses we experienced during the past 22 years would begin to shrink.

An updated version of a Congressional Budget Office chart I presented last year shows that the shrink has indeed begun (information is at the “Data” link at this CBO page):

CBOdeficitDetails1986to2008

Social Security’s surplus for the year ended September 30, 2008 fell to $180.2 billion, reducing its subsidy to the rest of the government.

What? That’s right; I said “subsidy to the rest of the government.”

Social Security’s surpluses have been raked off by Uncle Sam and have subsidized the rest of the government since 1968, when President Johnson began “including Social Security and all other trust funds in a ‘unified budget.’”

At that point, as I wrote last year, “Social Security’s Trust Fund, instead of being a separate, untouchable stash of cash and investments (i.e., instead of being run like a normal pension plan), thus became money that the rest of the government could raid.”

And raid it they have, as you can see above. Since 1986, Social Security surpluses have subsidized the rest of the government to the tune of over $2.3 trillion, enabling reported deficits to be lower than they really have been. Social Security’s so-called “Trust Fund” consists of a stack of IOUs from Uncle Sam, who is now over $11 trillion in debt.

A year ago, the annual Social Security surpluses were expected to shrink to zero by 2017. That’s because, starting last year, the annual demographic wave of millions of Baby Boomers reaching the system’s minimum age of 62 for collecting began to hit. This wave will continue for the next two decades.

I wrote about that 2017 estimate two months or so before Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Harry Reid brought us the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy. That Democratic-driven downturn began during June. I recognized what was happening in early July, and a week later observed that “businesses and investors are responding to their total lack of seriousness by battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst.”

In June, Pelosi, presidential nominee Obama, and Reid drove the POR Economy’s initial dive, which is now a recession as normal people define it, by clearly telling investors, entrepreneurs, and business owners that an Obama administration and the congressional majority would starve the nation of energy and massively increase taxes on the productive once in power. Then their party’s decades-in-the-making disaster in the housing sector came to a head in September. Initially fueled by the collapses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Democratic-driven housing and lax credit mess ultimately led to what has been a seemingly endless string of bailouts of the financial and then other sectors. The economy has seriously retreated and continues to perform poorly, as has the stock market.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that, as a result of all of this, Social Security’s fiscal situation has headed downhill at breakneck speed. Tanking the economy (possibly deliberately?) has consequences.

In a mini-preview of things to come, Social Security went negative in February for the first time in decades. Outgo exceeded income by over $1.2 billion:

SocSecDeficit0209.jpg

February was a bit of a fluke, because there were only 28 collection days to offset a full month’s payments. But according to the CBO, per Heritage, “the Social Security surplus will only be $16 billion this year, and only $3 billion next year”; it will show a deficit, or “go negative,” in 2011.

How can this be happening? I thought Pelosi, Reid, and the Left all assured us several years ago that there was “no crisis.”

That they did. In May 2005, during the Bush administration’s weak attempt to build support for partial privatization of the system, “Pelosi accused President Bush of creating a crisis and manufacturing an issue.” Before that, in late 2004, as it became clear that Bush would try to mount such an effort, the pair jointly said that, “We cannot support any plan that relies on massive and irresponsible increases in debt, which could destabilize financial markets and lead to large tax increases.” The current irony of that joint statement is provided at no extra charge.

The fact is that a crisis has been building for decades. It has seemingly come out of nowhere only because the POR Economy’s recession has sharply reduced Social Security tax receipts. Any recovery in collections arising from an economic comeback will necessarily build on a smaller base. That is why Social Security is on track to go negative six years earlier than was anticipated just a year ago. If February’s monstrous stimulus package doesn’t reignite job growth, it will probably go negative in fiscal 2010. The “save” part of Team Obama’s risible “save or create jobs” goal will do nothing to increase Social Security tax collections.

Once Social Security goes negative, we will have come to the point so many have long feared we would reach. To cover the system’s cash drains, the government will have to, in some combination, raise taxes, borrow more, or reduce benefits, year after year after year.

More importantly, and tragically, the “no crisis until 2040 or so” crowd, which has been lying all along, will have accomplished what I believe has been their long-term goal, which is making even partially privatizing Social Security politically and financially unachievable. It appears that they’ve “won.” The economy, and personal liberty, have lost. Pelosi, Obama, and Reid deserve the blame for the statists’ early “victory.”

Positivity: Reunited by a Kidney

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Hull, Mass.:

They were a typical American couple: They got married, raised two daughters, and then, finding themselves squabbling over money and other issues, had a typical American divorce. Then Jim Tobin fell desperately ill with kidney disease that only a transplant could cure. His ex-wife, Bernadette Tobin, asked to be tested and found she was a perfect match.

Here’s what the experts say you can do to keep your marriage healthy and happy.

And so, she gave him her kidney and he gave her back his heart.

Thanks to that gift of life, the couple who had fallen out of love fell back in again. And on Sunday, they married each other again in their Hull, Mass., home — 17 years after their divorce and 10 years after the kidney transplant that saved Jim Tobin’s life.

On Wednesday, the couple sat down in New York with TODAY’s Ann Curry, who asked them what changed in their relationship and made them want to resume their marriage interrupted.

Older and wiser
“You grow wiser; you know a lot more,” Bernadette, 63, replied. “You’ve gone through a lot of things, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. You’ve already gone through ‘in sickness and in health,’ so you know each other a lot more.”

“And you don’t want to lose each other again,” her 64-year-old husband added, turning to her. “I’m here today because of your compassionate heart.”

The decision to remarry wasn’t made in a day; it’s been a process that began 10 years ago, when Jim Tobin was battling the polycystic kidney disease that had been destroying his heart and kidneys for years. He had gone through his first single bypass operation when he was 34 and went through five more operations over the years. By 1999, he had been on dialysis for three years and needed a kidney to survive.

Although both Jim and Bernadette had moved into separate homes and dated other people, they had remained on good terms. Bernadette said one of the reasons she volunteered a kidney was because she wanted Jim to live so he could enjoy their grandchildren. The couple had raised two daughters, who today have five daughters between them.

The couple recuperated together after the surgery in the home of one of their daughters. That’s when they began to realize they still liked each other. Two years later, to save money, Bernadette moved out of her apartment and back into Jim’s home in Hull.

Getting it right

They’ve had plenty of time to think about what went wrong during their first marriage, which lasted 27 years. A big problem, Jim said, was that he was working two and three jobs so that his wife could stay home with their daughters, and he never really got to know either his wife or his children.

“I think when you’re working so hard and trying to bring up a family, you sort of drift apart,” Jim told Curry. “You have arguments about money and things like that. I think once the children grow up, you don’t have much left.”

“We were young when we got married. We were right out of high school. You’re living with each other but you really don’t know each other,” Bernadette added. “You grow older, and you know more.”

Go here for the rest of the story.