Friday, January 22, 2010

Bush admin's response to tsunami better comparison for current efforts

After listening to the last few minutes of Pat Kenny's show today I'm ready to explode. Okay, his panel was stuffed with Obamaphiles, but I'm just so sick of people comparing President Obama's handling of Haiti with President Bush's handling of Katrina.

President Bush made one big blunder in New Orleans and two less crucial blunders. The biggest error Bush made was not treating the New Orleans government, especially the mayor, like an ineffectual, tin-head, tin-pot third world leader that he actually imagined himself to be. Bush and the governor at the time should have jointly ousted him because he was a nincompoop.

I know the relief effort was bogged down and troubled, but I don't believe anyone died due to it. People were discommoded and upset, but what upset those the people whose homes and cities had been ruined were issues on a different scale from what the people of Haiti are putting up with now.

Bush's biggest political blunder, although only a small error really, was not decamping from Washington to set up a temporary White House in the region. It wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference to anyone's life, but the media would have been satisfied that at least he was 'doing something.'

Of course Pat Kenny and seemingly everyone else in RTE hasn't grasped that the media performed worse than did the Bush administration. And that was Bush's second minor error - not calling the media out on the lies they peddled at the time.

And, Dan Boyle - who I actually have a sneaking regard for - I'm sorry if you don't like that the United States has to defend itself, but you could have at least acknowledged the massive effort by the American navy and other forces to get supplies to the people of Indonesia. I hate that sort of 'knowing', 'little-smile-on-the-lips', 'amusing-to-all-euro-hipsters', snide anti-Americanism that Boyle displayed today when he said, "It's the best use of the American military I've seen in at least two decades." (I may not have it verbatim, but that's pretty close.) I thought he was better than that.

A better comparison with today's relief effort was the United States' response to the 2004 tsunami, which the Bush administration handled well.Not perfectly, of course, just as I'm sure today's relief effort is not going perfectly. Nothing goes perfectly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mass. election proves America's still not Europe

I posted this on Twitter earlier:
One year anniversary of Obama's election. He can still right ship, but Brown's win ends European dream of what Obama would mean.
I thought I'd expand on that a bit.

A lot of Europeans believed - more than hoped - that the election of Barak Obama meant that America had finally woken up to all that was wrong with their country (ie - all the ways it wasn't European). Although I imagine most Europeans aren't aware of it yet, last night's election result from Massachusetts has put paid to that idea.

That doesn't mean President Obama's Presidency is doomed. There's plenty of time left for him to fix the obvious problems and go on in the job for 7 more years.

Much the same applies to the Democratic Party. They too can adjust their ambitions and look for American solutions to America's problems and avert their wistful gazes from the European social and economic models. And, of course, the Republican Party is still a mess so clearly nothing is decided other than that the American people don't want to be Europeans.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brown vs Coakley in Mass and vs health care in US

RTE & the Irish Times have been trumpeting President Obama's success in getting his health care proposals through the various stages in both houses of Congress. In fact, sometimes the headlines are so excited that I'm sure the average Irish Times reader or RTE viewer who's paid any attention at all figures that Americans already have their government health care.

However, both RTE & the Irish Times have gone quiet on that front the past week, understandably, with Haiti dominating the news. Still, just in case you're vaguely interested, tomorrow's election in Massachusetts could be the end of America's national health care dalliance.

If Republican Scott Brown manages to defeat Democrat Martha Coakley for what was Senator Kennedy's US Senate seat, the President's health care plan is probably dead in the water. Not only will the Republicans have that crucial 41st vote to enable them to filibuster the Senate, but every Democrat from a state less Democrat-blue than Massachusetts (pretty much all of them) is going to be wondering about his own political health if he/she votes for the President's plan. Something much less watered down is probably all that could be hoped for if Brown wins.

As of right now the polls show him up slightly and Intrade says the good money's on a Brown victory.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Haloscan comments have vanished

I don't know what happened to the comments. Something seems to have changed with I can't access my account. I hope all's not lost there.

In the meantime I decided to reinstate the Twitter box, which was interfering with the comments. Maybe I'll add another Twitter box for my posts as American in Ireland.

The overly centralized mind

On Friday the Minister for Education, panicked by complaints from teachers and parents and the press, announced all schools were closed until Thursday of this week. Every school throughout the state.

No doubt he made that decision based almost entirely on the forecast provided by Met Eireann, who assured us that the 'bitter cold' and 'arctic conditions' would continue throughout this week. They were wrong about that, but these things happen. If there's one thing anyone in Ireland knows - even the government should know this - it is that you cannot rely on the weather.

The minister is the commissar in our soviet-style, centralized system. All of us little peasants look to him to be in charge, to 'do something' about everything. On Friday all the clamoring was for the government or the Minister to 'do something' about the schools deciding whether they should be open or closed. So, he did something, but it was the wrong thing.

Today the minister looks like an idiot. There's no reason why the schools in and around Dublin cannot be open today, let alone tomorrow and Wednesday. I'm sure the story's similar in other parts of the country too.

Yes, there probably are areas where this rain is snow, but why can't schools coordinate their response with the GardaĆ­ and take such decisions locally? Why does the minister have to be involved?

Of course he didn't have to step in. He shouldn't have, but still the media and the peasants wanted to see the commissar act and he did. And now, starting today, we'll all start complaining again about the schools being unnecessarily closed and demand that the minister 'do something.'

Friday, January 08, 2010

Will week off eliminate strike threat?

At a minimum pretty much every kid in the state is going to miss a week of school due to the weather. So are the teachers.

I wonder if the Minister is hoping that these missed days will head off any strike action later in the school year? If not, how many days can kids miss before vacation days have to be sacrificed? As far as I'm concerned it's not a biggie for the primary school kids. The secondary school year is a lot shorter, however and a full week off now combined with any length of strike could mean a lot of missed material.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Now that the Lisbon Treaty is secure out pop the tax harmonizers

We're a long way from out of our economic disaster, but the EU is ready to bash our hopes of recovery again. Yesterday's Sunday Business Post said the EU is set to push again for a common "tax base" for business taxes.

Of course our government will oppose such an effort, but any serious attempt at forcing this through will prove the utter cynicism of those in charge of the EU project. We were assured time and again over the past two years - before Lisbon I & II - that such a move was not possible. Now, in our severely weakened state, we may have to burn a lot of political capital to prevent from happening that which was supposedly not possible.

Yet, it must be done. Without the business tax advantage, Ireland is too small, too isolated and too remote to be a viable economy inside the EU.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Lone Parents Allowance encourages dependecy

Brenda Power says that the pajamas in daytime phenomenon is connected to the culture fostered by the Lone Parents Allowance. The LPA is a disincentive to education, training and work (and marriage), but instead encourages young girls to have babies on their own.

Power says the LPA was well-intentioned back in the 1970s when it was introduced, but the fact that the number of lone parents has grown from 3,000 to 90,000 over the 30+ years since it was introduced is evidence that the scheme has had an unanticipated affect: that is, the LPA now provides girls with an "income and a status in their community that they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy, without the need to seek work, training or education."

Power says it's well past time that this scheme was wound up as being a lone parent is not a disability and only serves to encourage dependency on the state.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A 'real' New Year's Day for President Obama

From today's NY Times:
  1. Christmas Day terror attempt may stop Guantanamo closing
  2. Man appointed by Pres Obama to lead investigation into what went wrong in case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had to be granted an ethics waiver.
  3. Federal judge dismisses charges against 5 Blackwater security guards
More reality for the President.