"Shovel-ready was not as ... uh ... shovel-ready as we expected," Barack Obama joked the other day at a meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Republicans jumped on Obama's comment as insensitive. "He joked about the wildly mistaken predictions he and others at the White House made a couple of years back about the job-creating potential of the stimulus," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Well, I don't think the 14 million Americans who are looking for jobs right now find any of this very funny."
I'm sure they don't, but the fact that the president laid an egg when he tried to be self-deprecating isn't the scandal here.
After all, Obama has pretty much said the same thing several times. In a New York Times magazine profile last October, the president admitted he had to learn the hard way that there's "no such thing as shovel-ready projects."
This is a staggering indictment of the president, the team he assembled and the journalists who accepted this administration's arrogant assertions that they knew exactly what to do, how to do it, and what would happen as a result. Remember, this is the administration that to this day insists it is "pragmatic" and simply cares about "what works."
"I think we can get a lot of work done fast," President-elect Obama said shortly after gathering of governors in December 2008 "All of them have projects that are shovel-ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door."
Jared Bernstein, the economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden -- the White House's point man on the stimulus -- said in a cable news interview in February 2009: "I think what people need to understand is that this really isn't rocket science." Spend a bundle on public works projects and -- boom -- you get a lot of people working.
They were wrong.
They were wrong not just about the effect of infrastructure spending -- even an analysis by the Associated Press found no evidence unemployment was significantly improved by the Recovery Act's public works projects -- but they were wrong about the existence of shovel-ready jobs in the first place. (They were also misleading, since only a tiny, tiny fraction of the stimulus went to any infrastructure at all. The bulk went to social programs.)
Back in October, when Obama admitted that he had to learn on the job that shovel-ready jobs don't exist, then-Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell -- a leader in the push for the stimulus -- told the New York Times it was all a terrible misunderstanding. "When we said 'shovel ready' we meant 'shovel ready' in the way we do things." He added, "I don't think we meant to be deceptive."
You've got to love the "I don't think" there.
The "way we do things" involves endless paperwork, union regulations, environmental red tape and the like. That's why it only took 410 days to build the Empire State building and 16 months to build the Pentagon but nearly 20 years to complete Boston's Big Dig. Lord knows how long it will be for the government to finish work on Ground Zero.
The point is that the president and his team came into office insisting that they were on top of things and above mere ideological considerations. When confronted with skepticism about the existence of "shovel-ready" projects, they in effect rolled their eyes and scoffed at the backseat drivers.
But they were the ones who were blinded by ideology. One need not be an ideologue to understand that public works contracting has become bloated and inefficient. Indeed, one must be an ideologue of a certain kind not to understand that. Or one has to be incredibly naive. Or both.
Perhaps that's why Obama's real economic agenda never changed to fit the economic crisis. During the campaign he promised to reform health care and fight for a green economy. After the financial crisis, the "pragmatist" stuck to his outdated agenda, saying -- surprise! -- what the economy needs is the same agenda he promised before. So while he kept saying he was obsessed with job creation, he spent all of his political capital on health care reform and energy. All the while, the White House tries to spin its agenda as something it's not.
For instance, you know where this jobs council meeting took place? At Cree Inc., an LED light bulb maker. Under the supposedly jobs-boosting stimulus, Cree received $5.2 million. According to Recovery.gov, that $5.2 million created 3.02 jobs. That's $1,716,171 per job.
There's a funny joke in there somewhere, but I don't think Obama wants to tell it.
Obama's Job-Killing Jobs Council
President Obama says he's 100% focused these days on creating jobs. So why is he taking advice from a bunch of CEOs whose companies have been shedding jobs for years?
In February, Obama chartered the Jobs and Competitiveness Council with a mission of leaving "no stone unturned" in the search of ways to boost the country's anemic job growth. But you could tell from the start that this council would have trouble even finding those stones, let alone turning them over.
After all, Obama stuffed the group full of Fortune 500 CEOs - General Electric, American Express, DuPont, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak and Xerox, among them. While these may be good companies, they've hardly been roaring engines of job growth. In most cases, in fact, the opposite is true. Some examples:
GE's domestic workforce shrank by 25,000 - almost 16% - between 2001 and 2010, according to the company's annual reports. (The number of overseas GE jobs climbed over those years.)
AmEx employed 28% fewer workers in 2010 than it did a decade ago.
Kodak's workforce cratered to just 18,800 last year from 75,000 in 2001.
Xerox's employee base shrank by nearly a third between 2001 and 2009, before it acquired Affiliated Computer Services and its 74,000 workers in 2010.
Even Intel has trimmed the number of workers it employs over the past decade.
Beyond this, the board is made up of the heads of two big unions, an energy company, a railroad, an airline, a couple investment firms, and the like.
Just one business represented on the board - Facebook - is a genuine growth company. And the council is all but devoid of the kind of small- and midsize firms responsible for two-thirds of the nation's new jobs.
It's little wonder, then, that the list of immediate must-do, job-creating ideas the council came up with - and outlined in a Monday op-ed signed by GE's Jeff Immelt and AmEx's Ken Chenault - is so uninspiring.
More money to retrain workers? More tax dollars retrofitting commercial buildings to boost energy efficiency? More government loans passed out by the Small Business Administration? That's the best the council could come up with after almost four months' work?
At least the board did give a nod to job-choking red tape, calling on the administration to streamline permitting processes. But what about the three job-creating free-trade agreements Obama has locked up in his desk drawer? How about an immediate cut in corporate and capital gains taxes? Or for that matter any of the many other job creation ideas we detailed in this space last week?
Church of England wants homosexual bishops if they have "repented" their homosexuality
As long as the repentance is sincere that seems in line with Christian ideas of forgiveness. I can't imagine sincere repentance in that church, however. I think it will end up as just a form of words
The Church of England is to give the go-ahead for the appointment of openly homosexual bishops. The Church will publish legal advice on Monday that says that homosexual clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops - as long as they remain celibate.
The legal guidance makes clear that it would be wrong for a cleric's sexual orientation to be taken into account when considering their suitability as a bishop.
However, the guidance will say that homosexual clergy should be made to clarify that they are not in an active sexual relationship - effectively make a promise that they are and will remain celibate.
It would also mean candidates for a bishopric being questioned over their previous sex life and asked whether they repent having gay sex.
The advice is likely to trigger a new row over the role of homosexual priests in the Church. Conservatives and liberals are bitterly divided over the issue.
The guidance is being sent to members of the General Synod, the Church's parliament, which meets in York next month and was produced by church lawyers in response to the Equality Act, legislation introduced last year which gives protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
It says that the CNC can take into account a series of factors when deciding whether an openly gay man is a suitable candidate to become a bishop, including "whether the candidate had always complied with the Church's teaching on same-sex sexual activity", and "whether he had expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity".
Senior clergy responsible for selecting bishops are allowed to reject openly gay clergy who have not "expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity" and are not considered to be a focus for unity, it says. These were two of the key reasons evangelicals said Dean John was unsuitable to be appointed Bishop of Reading.
"Glittering": The infantile mentality of the Left shining bright
It mainly seems to be the work of homosexuals. They appear intent on showing that they have the mentality of little girls. Who am I to argue?
Is glitter the new weapon-of-choice for the Left? Based on the (lack of) police response to these sparkling assaults, one can assume that `glitterings' will probably continue to occur and with greater frequency.
Four weeks ago Newt Gingrich was covered in glitter at a book signing. Last week Tim Pawlenty was targeted for `glittering' by a gay rights activist in San Francisco. Today, in her home state of Minnesota, after speaking to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters at the RightOnline conference, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was the latest conservative to be `glittered' by a protester.
The attackers see nothing wrong with their actions. But one wonders what the reaction would be if someone doused First Lady Michelle Obama with glitter or decided to deliver a `rainbow of pride' to Nancy Pelosi? It is safe to assume that the perpetrator would probably be hit with a Taser, wrestled to the ground, cuffed, and then hauled off to jail.
The three recent strikes against conservatives have yielded not a single arrest. Instead, the attackers usually end up on television, or in the newspaper.
The liberal organization GetEQUAL is promoting these attacks on any politician who disagrees with their position on gay marriage. In addition, they are offering to train anyone who might be interested in learning how to attack a politician.
Bachmann Turns On Overdrive
I've given birth to five babies, and I've taken 23 foster children into my home," Michele Bachmann explained from the stage of the first major Republican presidential primary debate of the 2012 season.
Jon Stewart would joke the next day that Bachmann was the winner of the primary "baby-off." Imagining himself as the moderator, "The Daily Show" host added: "And I just wanna ask everyone else here up on the dais, have you ever had to divide a birthday cake into 28 equal pieces?"
The Minnesota congresswoman was answering a question about abortion and brandishing her most authentic credentials as an embodiment of those God-given rights that America was established to protect. She also underscored one of the ways she is a formidable challenge to conventional media narratives about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the brutalized versions of those ideals reflected in President Obama's policies. She represents a continuing, promising threat to the prevailing view of what exactly social justice (see www.seeksocialjustice.com) and even feminism is.
The entrance of Sarah Palin on the national political scene in 2008 marked a milestone: No longer could the mainstream media pretend that women in politics were all about liberalism, wedded to the so-called "women's issue" of legal abortion. With her campaign for the presidency, Bachmann drives that point home.
"Michele Bachmann's commanding presence and performance in the debate sealed a political evolution that has been fomenting for some time: the diminution of feminism and the evolution of femininity," Kellyanne Conway, president of the polling company, says.
And it's about time. Polls consistently show that the majority of the country leans toward a pro-life position -- it's why advocates of legal abortion will talk about making it "rare." We're a country that knows that abortion is not a good thing. And even 57 percent of "pro-choice" women in New York City think the 41 percent abortion rate there is outrageous, according to a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll.
"In filing her papers, Bachmann became the first serious female U.S. presidential candidate who is neither a career politician nor married to one," Conway says. "She has an everywoman appeal the connects her to millions of Americans; she is accessible, authentic and affable. She is passionate but not angry, intelligent but plainspoken. Like many woman, she came to her beliefs through a series of events and over a number of years."
She represents the tea-party movement at its empowering best. As Conway recalls: "Bachmann is not alone. 2010 was rightly called the 'Year of the Conservative Woman,' with record numbers of right-leaning women winning state and federal elective office. What's more, it was the year of the conservative woman voter. Women comprised a majority of the electorate that produced historic gains for the GOP, and for the first time since pollsters have been keeping track, women favored Republicans over Democrats for Congress. That was a huge turnaround from the 56 percent who voted for President Obama two short years earlier. Millions of women identify with the tea party and women are much more likely to call themselves 'conservative' than 'liberal.' Their elevation of Republicans was consonant with their rejection of bailouts, spending, government expansion and the tipping point, health care reform. Women have married their microeconomic sensibilities with macroeconomic savvy."
It's a far cry from the "war on women" rhetoric that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stuck on, clinging to what Conway calls "the tired, harsh, outdated feminist playbook."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)