FUBAR

The beginning of the end or an opportunity?

The Congressional Budget Office, the economic forecasting arm of the Congress, now reports that the Social Security trust fund is almost in the red. They project that the fund’s surplus next year will be a scant $3 billion.

For perspective, CBO just 12 months ago projected that this same surplus would be $86 billion — almost 30 times larger. Plus, the CBO estimated then that the fund would not be in the red for another ten years. Now it looks like it may be next year.

Don’t look now but Uncle Sam is taking over

Unless you wandered off the beaten path in the business pages you probably missed this dispatch out of Detroit that President Obama’s auto task force participating in meetings that "have focused on educating the Treasury on the world of auto manufacturing."

This is ominous news indeed, especially coupled with the Obama administration forcing out General Motors’ CEO. The Treasury is sidling into the auto business — Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Treasury.

As crisis loomed, Geithner ignored warning signs

Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama’s embattled Treasury Secretary, ignored warning signs of the impending banking and economic crisis because he, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was too close to the industry he was supposed to regulate.

Others saw it coming and the warning signs were there but Geithner missed the signs and ignored the warnings of others.

Today’s America: A socialist state

Anyone who doubts that the Bush and Obama administrations collectively transformed America into a socialist state should consider this: For every dollar American citizens generated last year, the federal bailout consumed more than 90 cents in outlays, loans, and commitments.

A not-so-upbeat cherry blossom season

Thousands of digital cameras are snapping that famous shot of the cherry blossoms framing the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin here despite bouts of chilly, rainy weather, but, somehow, the mood is not the same this year.

Hillary’s mea culpa on drug violence

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew attention to the U.S. "insatiable" demand for drugs and U.S. arms sales that end up in the hands of narco-traffickers in a policy paradigm shift, characterized as a "mea culpa" in the Mexican press. Clinton’s statement was taken as a major admission in the violent quagmire engulfing Mexico.

Ted Stevens: Powerful victim of injustice

Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been so ill served by the criminal-justice system that his guilt or innocence of the actual charges is almost irrelevant.

Stevens, 85, was, until his defeat last November, the Senate’s longest-serving Republican and an institution in his home state, which had re-elected him almost automatically since 1968. He was willful, highhanded and totally unabashed about the vast amounts of federal money he earmarked for Alaska, including that lasting symbol of pork politics, the $320 million Bridge to Nowhere.

Mexico: Too much violence, too few agents

The startling rise of violence in Mexico and along the southwest border of the United States has sharpened the focus on a long-existing problem neither Congress nor a succession of presidents has been willing to resolve — the startling lack of manpower in a key agency in what promises to be a long battle.

Obama’s bloated entourage

The heads of government in London for the G-20 summit are discussing serious and weighty issues, which in time will be duly reported on, but right now the British press is entranced by the sheer size of President Obama’s traveling entourage. And no wonder.

Obama arrived 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.

A disturbing caricature

Let’s not call the political cartoonist Pat Oliphant an anti-Semite or even an Israel-basher. Let’s just be clear about what he is doing: encouraging those whose intentions are genocidal.