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Archive for January 3rd, 2012

Last year, I posted about Dave Barry’s 2010 Year-in-Review column, but limited myself to excerpting his best line.

This year, I’m not going to be as lazy. So here are some excerpts from Barry’s 2011 classic, divided into sections on Europe’s fiscal crisis and American politics.

Here’s what he wrote about Europe:

In Europe, the economic crisis continues to worsen, especially in Greece, which has been operating under a financial model in which the government spends approximately $150 billion a year while taking in revenues totaling $336.50 from the lone Greek taxpayer, an Athens businessman who plans to retire in April. Greece has been making up the shortfall by charging everything to a MasterCard account that the Greek government applied for — in what some critics consider a questionable financial practice — using the name “Germany.” …the European economic crisis worsens still further as Moody’s downgrades its credit rating for Spain following the discovery that the Spanish government, having run completely out of money, secretly sold the Pyrenees to China and is now separated from France only by traffic cones. …Things are even worse in Europe, where Moody’s announces that it has officially downgraded Greece’s credit rating from “poor” to “rat mucus” following the discovery that the Acropolis has been repossessed. …The economic crisis is even worse in Europe, where the Greek government sends out an e-mail to everybody in its address book claiming it was mugged in London and needs its friends to wire it some emergency cash so it can get home. This prompts Moody’s to change Greece’s credit rating to, quote, “a word we can’t say, but trust us, it’s worse than rat mucus.” …But things are not so rosy in Europe, where the debt crisis continues to worsen with the revelation that Greece has sold the naming rights to itself, and will henceforth be officially known as the Republic of Burger King. In response, Moody’s lowers Greece’s bond rating to the point where it is no longer represented by words or letters, just a brownish stain on the rating document. …Abroad, a wave of riots sweeps across England as thousands of protesters take to the streets of London and other major cities to strike a blow against racism and social injustice by stealing consumer electronics and designer sneakers. …… the worsening European debt crisis worsens still further when Italy, desperate for revenue, establishes a National Tip Jar. As markets plunge, the International Monetary Fund, seeking to prevent worldwide investor panic, announces that it will henceforth be supplementing its income by selling Herbalife. …an International Monetary Fund audit of the 27-nation European Union reveals that 11 of the nations are missing. “Also,” states the audit report, “the nation claiming to be Slovakia is in fact Belize using a fake ID.” Meanwhile in Greece, thousands of rioters take to the streets of Athens to protest a tough new government austerity program that would sharply reduce the per diem rioter allowance. …Abroad, the worsening Greek economic crisis forces Prime Minister George Papandreou to resign, leading to the formation of a new coalition government headed — in what some economists view as a troubling sign — by Bernie Madoff. …Abroad, the member nations of the European Union, in a last-ditch effort to avoid an economic meltdown, announce that they are replacing the “euro” with a new unit of currency, the “pean,” the exchange rate for which will be linked to the phases of the moon. The goal, according to the EU announcement, is “to cause American tourists to become even more confused than they already are.” The plan starts paying dividends immediately as a pair of elderly ladies from Indianapolis purchase two croissants at a Paris cafe for six peans and wind up leaving the equivalent of a $3,780 tip.

And here’s what he wrote about American politics and Obama:

It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, D.C., yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. …President Obama, whose instinctive reaction to pretty much everything that happens, including sunrise, is to deliver a nationally televised address, delivered numerous nationally televised addresses on the economy, but somehow these did not do the trick. …On the national political front, Newt Gingrich, responding to a groundswell of encouragement from the voices in his head, reveals that he is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He quickly gains the support of the voter who had been leaning toward Ross Perot. …a major crisis is barely avoided when Congress, after frantic negotiations, reaches a last-minute agreement on the federal budget, thereby averting a government shutdown that would have had a devastating effect on the ability of Congress to continue spending insanely more money than it actually has. …As the month draws to a close, a Twitter account belonging to Anthony Weiner — a feisty, ambitious Democratic up-and-comer who managed to get elected to Congress despite looking like a nocturnal rodent that somehow got a full-body wax and acquired a gym membership — tweets a link to a photograph of a pair of briefs containing what appears to be a congressional member rarin’ to filibuster, if you catch my drift. This member immediately captivates the nation, although, surprisingly, President Obama fails to deliver a nationally televised address about it. …In Washington, Congress is under mounting pressure to do something about the pesky federal debt, which continues to mount as a result of the fact that the government continues to spend insanely more money than it actually has. Congress, after carefully weighing its three options — stop spending so much money; get some more money somehow; or implement some combination of options one and two — decides to go with option four: continue to do nothing while engaging in relentlessly hyperpartisan gasbaggery. Incredibly, this does not solve the debt problem. …Speaking of drama: In Washington, as the deadline for raising the federal debt limit nears, Congress and the Obama administration work themselves into a frenzy trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the government is spending insanely more money than it actually has. After hours of intense negotiations, several walkouts, countless press releases and of course a nationally televised address by the president, the Democrats and the Republicans are finally able to announce, at the last possible minute, that they have hammered out a historic agreement under which the government will continue to spend insanely more money than it actually has while a very special congressional committee — A SUPER committee! — comes up with a plan, by a later date, that will solve this pesky problem once and for all. Everybody involved heaves a sigh of relief and basks in the feeling of satisfaction that comes from handling yet another crisis, Washington-style. …Standard & Poor’s makes good on its threat to downgrade the U.S. credit rating, noting that the federal government, in making fiscal decisions, is exhibiting “the IQ of a turnip.” …With the stock market in a steep nosedive, economic growth stagnant and unemployment relentlessly high, the White House, moving swiftly to prevent panic, reassures a worried nation that President Obama will once again be vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, where he will recharge his batteries in preparation for what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney promises will be “a real humdinger of a nationally televised address.” …In domestic news, President Obama returns from his Martha’s Vineyard getaway refreshed and ready to tackle the job he was elected by the American people to do: seek re-election. Focusing on unemployment, the president delivers a nationally televised address laying out his plan for creating jobs, which consists of traveling around the nation tirelessly delivering job-creation addresses until it’s time for another presidential getaway. …… the congressional Supercommittee, after months of pondering what to do about the fact that the federal government is spending insanely more money than it actually has, announces that, in the true “can-do” bipartisan Washington spirit, it is giving up. This means the government will continue spending insanely more money than it actually has until 2013, at which time there are supposed to be automatic spending cuts, except Congress would never let that happen, and even if it DID happen, the federal government would still be spending insanely more money than it actually has. …As it becomes clear that Congress will do nothing, a visibly frowning President Obama delivers a nationally televised address in which he vows to, quote, “continue reading whatever it says here on the Teleprompter.” …Speaking of the many benefits provided by the federal government: As Thanksgiving approaches, the Department of Homeland Security, having apparently handled all the other terrorist threats, issues a warning, including a scary video, on the dangers of: turkey fryers. I am not making this item up. …The economic outlook is also brighter in Washington, where Congressional leaders, still working night and day to find a solution to the problem of the federal government spending insanely more money than it actually has, announce that they have a bold new plan: They will form another committee. But this one will be even better than the Supercommittee, because it will be a SuperDUPERcommittee, and it will possess what House and Senate leaders describe, in a joint statement, as “magical powers.” …But there’s no need to worry: The president is planning a nationally televised address. So everything will be fine. Happy New Year.

By the way, if you like Dave Barry (and you should), here’s a post about one of his funniest columns, which deals with government stupidity.

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Even though I did a pretty good job guessing at the outcome of the 2010 elections, I’m a policy wonk, not a political hack, so take these predictions with a bucket of salt.

Especially since I’m predicting Ron Paul will win even though the intrade.com betting shows a Romney victory, and I cited those betting markets in 2010 when predicting that Scott Brown would win the special election for Ted Kennedy’s seat by a 51-48 margin (actual results: 51.8-47.1).

So here’s my prediction, along with a few thoughts on each candidate.

Paul (23 percent)

Ron Paul’s gotten a lot of flak for having some unsavory supporters, and that will probably hurt him, but he benefits from being an anti-politician. And he appeals to all the Republicans who want less government. Simply stated, what you see is what you get – even when it’s something crazy such as being against the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Santorum (22 percent)

I’m mystified by Santorum’s rise in the polls, which I think is happening solely because he’s not Mitt Romney and voters have somewhat soured on the other supposedly conservative candidates. But I want to stress the “supposedly” in the previous sentence. The former Pennsylvania Senator is not a fiscal conservative, having supported all the wasteful spending of the Bush years. If he does well, Mitt Romney will be very happy since Santorum will split the anti-Mitt vote for a longer period of time.

Romney (22 percent)

The former Massachusetts Governor tries to be all things to all people, which means he routinely does the wrong thing on policy (i.e., his refusal to reject the value-added tax, his less-than-stellar record on healthcare, his weakness on Social Security reform, his anemic list of proposed budget savings, and his reprehensible support for ethanol subsidies). But he has a base of support among people who are Republicans because their parents were Republicans.  For what it’s worth, I’ve already predicted that he wins the nomination and loses to Obama in November.

Perry (14 percent)

The Texas economy gives Perry a strong talking point, but he did not do well in the debates. Moreover, some Americans are probably reluctant to trust another folksy Texas GOP Governor after what happened during the Bush years. He still has a chance of winning the nomination if he can survive ’til South Carolina and consolidate the anti-Mitt vote.

Gingrich (12 percent)

The former Speaker of the House enjoyed a meteoric rise because of his debate performances, but the other candidates then ganged up and reminded voters of Newt’s various sins – such as criticizing the Ryan budget, climbing into bed (or at least onto a couch) with Nancy Pelosi to advance global warming hysteria, and supporting ethanol handouts. Heck, I remember having a bitter argument with Newt back in 2003 about Bush’s terrible prescription drug entitlement.

Bachmann (5 percent)

Congresswoman Bachmann had her moment of glory last summer when she won the Ames straw poll. She’ll be out of the race after today’s results.

Huntsman (2 percent)

He is putting all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket, so his last-place performance won’t surprise anyone. As a general observation, I’m surprised he’s not pushing his rather attractive tax reform plan.

P.S. I’m also surprised that Gary Johnson didn’t attract more support. And I’m baffled that the GOP establishment kept him out of the debates. That decision drove the former New Mexico Governor to bolt for the Libertarian Party. I suspect he will do surprisingly well, assuming Romney is the GOP nominee.

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