Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Maybe one of my 2 or 3 readers can help me with a few questions I have regarding some of President Obama's early decisions. First, let me say that it is absolutely wonderful to have a president who will restore real science, help women's rights around the world, put justice back in the Justice Department, and reach out to the Muslim world. And explain it all articulately.

But reaching out to Republicans? His efforts are admirable, even if without positive results. However, I don't know if the tax cuts offered in the stimulus plan are a sop to Republicans or a fulfillment of his middle class tax cut promise. Which is it? Whichever it is, President Obama must certainly take great care in making concessions for the sake of unrequited bipartisonship.

Seems to me that he has spent too much time trying - unsuccessfully - to get Republicans to cooperate and not enough time getting Democrats to fashion a fine-tuned stimulus plan targeted to the need for jobs and help for the housing market. With Larry Summers and the other hot shots on staff, the administration should have been able to get a good, strong plan without all of the extraneous programs and protectionist provisions.

Next, how will he manage the myriad lines of command he has created? Obama has Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State but also at least two special envoys to regional hot spots, George Mitchell for the middleeast and Richard Holbrook for Pakistan/Afghanistan. And, among others, A White House environmental czar in addition to the EPA. The organization chart will look more like a spider web.

Any help. anyone?


Straying from my usual political junkiness, I have a couple of observations. First, the bonuses given to executives of banks and other financial institutions were really phony. Presumably they were based on good profit performances. But there were really little or no profits because the mortgage derivatives and other toxic assets took those "profits" away.

So can we make the executives pay them back? Or hold the Boards of Directors responsible? Or the accounting firms?

On another topic, I have a hard time making sense of the car rental company's ads touting excitedly the customer's ability to select the actual car to be rented. Does this mean choosing the blue instead the green Escort? The customer is paying for a car category. If the category is subcompact, the customer cannot choose a Lexis.