Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Can Obama Reverse Early Losses in Europe?

March 28, 2009

For many Europeans, he had them at hello.  But over the past few months, European leaders have become less enamored with Baraco Obama…

Can he win them back as he starts his trip next week?

Last summer in Europe: the people were at his feet.  Now?


By Toby Harnden
The Telegraph (UK)

When he visited Europe last July, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, stood before 200,000 in Berlin’s Tiergarten park to declare his “global citizenship” and call on the “people of the world” to “come together to save this planet”. It was heady stuff, and the rapturous reception was one befitting a new political messiah after eight wilderness years. Back in the United States, the young senator ended his stump speeches with a vow to “change the world”. Americans craved affection from abroad. Europeans were eager to fall in love.

But that was eight months ago, and the innocence of that summer has started to evaporate. Mr Obama has become the first black man to occupy the White House, but the world is in the grip of the worst economic depression since the Thirties, with no path back to prosperity in sight.
While the troop surge in Iraq that Mr Obama so vehemently opposed has succeeded beyond his imaginings, the “good war” he championed in Afghanistan is spiralling downwards and there are dark mutterings on the Left about it becoming his Vietnam.

For all the mutual goodwill, the transatlantic policy battle-lines are drawn. The Americans want additional economic stimulus measures to be taken across the globe. The Europeans are preoccupied with a supra-national financial regulation structure.

Mr Obama’s demands for more European boots on the ground in Afghanistan have already been rejected by the French and Germans.

As the new American commander-in-chief embarks on his first extended foreign trip in Air Force One, stopping in London for the G20 summit, Strasbourg for a gathering of Nato, and going on to Prague, Ankara and Istanbul, the sheen is already wearing off his shiny new presidency at home.

The leak-proof, supremely well-organised campaign and the post-election transition that was hailed as being one of the smoothest in history are over. They have given way to an at times stumbling administration that struggles to fill the cabinet, botches its message and has all but abandoned the bipartisanship candidate Mr Obama promised.

US bank chiefs to meet with President Obama

Far from changing the world, Mr Obama has barely looked over his shoulder at it

Far from changing the world, Mr Obama has barely looked over his shoulder at it. The person he has entrusted his foreign policy to is Hillary Clinton, a bitter campaign rival whose diplomatic credentials he once mocked. To appoint her Secretary of State was perhaps an ominous sign, a move designed to keep her from challenging him domestically.

During his first, chaotic weeks in power, Mr Obama’s focus has been almost entirely domestic. Key diplomatic posts remain empty. No ambassador is in place in London or Paris. Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, has grumbled that it has been almost impossible to organise next week’s G20 summit in Docklands because White House officials are missing in action. “There is nobody there,” he says. “You cannot believe how difficult it is.”

Obama was elected as the “unBush”, and his image of being everything his Texan predecessor wasn’t has given him stratospheric popularity ratings overseas that still endure. When he took office, a Financial Times/Harris poll found that 68 per cent of Americans believed he would have a “positive impact on the course of international events”. In France, this figure was 92 per cent, in Italy 90 per cent, Spain 85 per cent and Britain – where perhaps some saw echoes of the Tony Blair in 1997 who went on to dash so many hopes – 77 per cent.

During his more multilateral second term, George W. Bush went some way to rebuilding fractured transatlantic ties. But recognition of this did not penetrate much deeper than the level of his fellow world leaders and the political classes. Ordinary Europeans remained intensely sceptical.

The reverse was true with Mr Obama. In the corridors of the Foreign Office and Quai D’Orsay, however, there is already some disappointment. Nile Gardiner, the director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, is a touch hyperbolic when he hazards that foreign governments now see the Obama administration as “poorly managed, ineffective, inept and extremely bad at getting its message across”. But there are significant rumblings of concern.

Gordon Brown’s visit to Washington earlier this month was a public relations fiasco. Minutes before his meeting with Mr Obama in the Oval Office, British officials were still negotiating details with reluctant White House aides.

Although Mr Obama spoke of the “special relationship”, he appeared supremely uninterested in Mr Brown and what he had to say. He did not echo the Prime Minister’s call for a “global new deal” on the economy. The usual pomp and ceremony was absent at the White House.

While the fuss over his present to Mr Brown of 25 DVDs of American movies that were rumoured to be incompatible with British DVD players was overblown, the blunder in protocol swiftly came to be viewed as the kind of crass ignorance more commonly – though often unfairly – associated with his predecessor.

When Mrs Clinton met Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in Geneva, she cheerily handed him a large red button in a yellow case, with the words “reset” and “peregruzka” written on it in Latin rather than Cyrillic script. It was a reference to the call from Joe Biden, the Vice-President, for a “resetting” of the US-Russian relationship.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” responded Lavrov, who informed her that “peregruzka” meant “overcharge”.

The schoolboy error had happened because the State Department’s cadre of Russian translators had been bypassed in favour of Mrs Clinton’s political team, who had turned to a Russian speaker who was not up to date with computer terminology.

Little of this will matter to ordinary Europeans, who view Mr Obama and his wife Michelle as a 21st-century version of the Kennedys. For Europeans, they symbolise everything America could be. “There’s a certain vicarious sentiment in Europe … Obama is so popular in part because they see the US as enjoying a multiculturalism they don’t have and won’t have for a long time,” says Charles Kupchan, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow and former senior Clinton administration official.

“Europeans still struggle with these issues and have done a much less impressive job in integrating minorities into the social mainstream, and that gives Obama enormous appeal just as a human being. I expect we shall see that outpouring when he is in Europe.”

This will be both an asset and a burden to Obama on his grand tour. For some in Europe, the reality of a President Obama may disappoint. “They may be naively surprised that Barack Obama is an American and not a European in drag,” says Mark Kirk, a Republican who is the only member of the House of Representatives to have served in Afghanistan.

Whatever their policy reservations, European leaders such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel are clamouring to bask in the reflected glory of the American president. Sarkozy worked assiduously to secure an extra stop in France for Mr Obama and was bitterly disappointed when the White House demurred, Strasbourg not withstanding.

If Mr Obama is skilful, he will use this to secure policy concessions. “He’s more popular than European presidents and prime ministers in their own countries,” says Kirk. “He’s saying the right things on diplomacy with Iran and climate change. There’s a danger for European leaders if they don’t give him what he’s asking for.”

And if he doesn’t, timing may be partly to blame. The G20 and Nato summits have come uncomfortably early for Mr Obama. In London, there will probably not be enough agreement on the global economy for much more than a vapid joint statement of common aims. It was only yesterday that Mr Obama announced the results of his own internal review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy – leaving little time to twist the arms of Nato allies.

The symbolism of Mr Obama addressing the Islamic world from Turkey, a Muslim country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, will be undeniably powerful. Whether his first major overseas trip will mark the moment Mr Obama matures from a personification of American possibility into a global leader who can take tough choices and secure concrete results remains an open question.

Global Recession, Security Challenges Test Obama’s Popularity Among World Leaders

Obama’s end of the beginning and possibly the beginning of the end

March 27, 2009

Today the President of the Uited States said, “the safety of people around the world is at stake,” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Most of the world yawned.

Next week the president will be in Europe for contentious G20 meetings and then on to a NATO conference.  He should take all his white water rafting knowledge with him.  Despite the unual ulta-polite European ways: Obama cannot expect any huge long term committment from his NATO allies on Afgahnistan; and Pakistan is a sovereign nation that has problems to solve on their own, most European leaders think.

The U.S. has already been in Afghanistan for seven years and has struggled every step of the way to gain more help from European and other allies.  But the allies are now tired and much poorer than seven years ago.  Their focus is on the economic recovery and not much else.

President Obama will be the new guy next week.  He’s untested and he has a lot on his plate: much of it he put there himself.  Already China is wondering how Obama can possibly repay all his debt to do all his many projects.

But Obama has made it clear he will do everything at once: stimulus, new bank regulations, health care, education, environment, and energy.

His team will also be at at U.N. climate change event this next week — an event that should cause worry for most Americans.

U.N. ‘Climate Change’ Plan Would Likely Shift Trillions to Form New World Economy

Next week for Obama he is at the end of the beginning and possibly the beginning of the end.

London Protesters Threaten Bankers, Evoke Executions

Obama Has United Pakistani and Afghan Taliban


From Politico

The Obama administration fears getting bogged down in a bloody and inconclusive war in Afghanistan and Pakistan — but it also fears walking away from the region.

So its new strategy, which President Barack Obama announced Friday at the White House, is a careful middle course that seeks to avoid both of these unacceptable outcomes.

It keeps the U.S. committed but not too committed.

It doesn’t promise fast results or sweeping achievements, like defeating the Taliban insurgency or quickly bringing security to the Afghan people.

It seeks to draw allies into the effort but doesn’t greatly expand the U.S. footprint, though Obama will announce he is sending 4,000 more troops, several hundred civilian reconstruction experts, and $1.5 billion in additional economic aid to Pakistan.

And it will contain benchmarks that give Obama a chance to review the strategy at regular intervals to decide whether it is working.

The question that arises is whether in trying to keep the U.S. commitment limited, the White House is making it that much harder for the new strategy to work.

The main new U.S. goal is as constricted and clear-eyed as can be. It is to go after Osama bin Laden and the other remains of Al Qaeda hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Everything else will be secondary.

Read the rest:


Troops Under Fire In Afghanistan; Obama Hit By RPGs from Democratic Left


President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan proposal is under fire from the liberal base, which is becoming increasingly disappointed in his war policies.

Russ Feingold, the liberal and often defiant Wisconsin senator, said today that Obama’s plan “could make the situation worse, not better.”

Peace Action, a liberal anti-war organization, is organizing a coalition to petition Congress to oppose Obama’s Afghanistan plan.

“It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result,” said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action.

And Win Without War, another anti-war group, also slammed Obama.

“I regret that President Obama, in his desire to protect our nation from a genuine threat, has outlined a policy that will undermine our security, not enhance it,” said Tom Andrews, the organization’s executive director. “In short, the president’s policy is playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by providing them with a cause that unites and strengthens them.”

Read the rest:

 Do we want to revive our economy, or do we want to punish the bankers?

Social Unrest: Hurt by Economy, Europeans Vent Their Anger

March 26, 2009

Tempers are flaring across Europe as the economic pain deepens and more people lose their jobs.

The New York Times

French employees of the German tire maker Continental burned tires at a demonstration in Paris on Wednesday. Photo: Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

Just ask Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the ailing Royal Bank of Scotland, whose house and car were vandalized early Wednesday. Or Luc Rousselet, the manager of a 3M factory in France, who was barricaded in an office for a second day by workers demanding better severance packages for 110 employees who are being laid off.

While such instances are scattered so far, the angry mood threatens to overshadow the Group of 20 summit meeting next week in London, where world leaders hope to find approaches to the financial crisis.

Several protests are planned in London’s financial district, and the police are warning financial institutions to bolster security, cancel unnecessary meetings and keep employees inside. Bankers are being advised to wear “casual clothing” so they do not attract attention.

“A recession has all sorts of knock-on effects,” said Christopher Husbands, a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics. “Crimes go up, relationships break down and there are instances of civil disturbance.”

A nationwide strike in France last week, which drew at least 1.2 million people, was peaceful. But the government remains worried about an outbreak of violence similar to that last month in Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory, and in Greece in December.

The sense of frustration among those who lost their jobs or savings or a large part of their pension funds is fueled by reports of executives continuing to reap large rewards, as demonstrated by the outrage in the United States over bonuses paid at the American International Group. Europeans have long pointed out that pay packages of top executives in the United States are simply out of whack with the rest of the world, but their hopes of avoiding a public outcry were doused by the latest reports of inflamed local passions.

In Scotland, vandals smashed at least three windows on the ground floor of Mr. Goodwin’s house in an affluent suburb of Edinburgh and damaged a black Mercedes S600 parked in the driveway. Mr. Goodwin was not in the house at the time and no one was hurt, but the incident alarmed Britain’s business community.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is in the United States, said “there could be no excuse for people breaking the law.”

Mr. Goodwin attracted criticism for keeping his pension, worth £703,000 a year, or $1.03 million, despite a string of ill-timed acquisitions on his watch that led to the bank’s being brought under government control. He rejected calls to surrender the payment, and the government is considering legal options.

It was the first such attack on a property owned by a banking executive since the financial crisis started, but some neighbors told local newspapers they were surprised it did not happen earlier.

The author of an e-mail message sent anonymously…

Read the rest:

Global Recession, Security Challenges Test Obama’s Popularity Among World Leaders

March 25, 2009

Only nine months ago, when he addressed an estimated 200,000 people in Germany, Barack Obama was heralded as “president of the world.”

But now that he’s president of the United States, the world doesn’t appear to be following up on its endorsement.

From France to Poland, from the Czech Republic to China, many nations are rebuffing the president and offering little wiggle room for him to negotiate economic and security policies.

Obama faces his first major international test next week when the world’s largest economies meet at the G20 summit in London.

“I think as the president heads to Europe, he faces a huge public relations disaster,” said Nile Gardiner, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

“Europe is increasingly turning against his massive spending plans, which most European leaders see as a destructive way to move forward for the global economy and will only add to a massive American debt burden,” Gardiner told 

“At the same time, there is a growing impression across Europe that the Obama administration is inept and inefficient and increasingly poorly managed.”

Last summer in Europe: the people were at his feet.  Now?

A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed Obama’s plans for the U.S. to spend its way out of recession as “a way to hell.”

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who lost a confidence vote in his own parliament this week and whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

That followed concerns by Poland that the U.S., as a way to appease Russia, plans to bail out of a missile defense shield the Bush administration negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic.

“Russian generals, and even the Russian president, still continues to threaten us with the deployment of medium-range missiles in our immediate vicinity,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., in Brussels on Sunday. “So we signed with the previous administration. We patiently wait for the decision of the new administration and we hope we don’t regret our trust in the United States.”

Most European leaders favor tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. has been pushing for larger economic stimulus plans.

“We consider that in Europe we have already invested a lot for the recovery, and that the problem is not about spending more, but putting in place a system of regulation so that the economic and financial catastrophe that the world is seeing does not reproduce itself,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a news conference in Berlin last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, rebuffing U.S. calls to spend more.

Read the rest from Fox:

Euopean Union President: Obama “will undermine the stability of the global financial market”

March 25, 2009

As the President of the United States gets ready for his first trip to Europe, he’ll have to prepare humself for disunity over his budget and economic plan — from the European Union.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Obama, ” talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans.  All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell.”

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

The “biggest success” of the European Council so far this year is a refusal to follow the same path, he said.

“We need to read the history books and read with it the lessons of history,” Topolanek said.

But Britain’s Pime Minister, Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is trying to convince Obama to spend even more……

Here is how Gordon Brown faced the heat at the EU:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts,  as he listens to ... 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts, as he listens to the debates, Tuesday March 24, 2009 at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Brown called for global standards of financial regulation and insists every continent must pour enough funds into their economies to beat the crisis.(AP Photo/Christian Lutz)


From The Telegraph (UK)

Mr Brown used a speech to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday to exhort the European Union to take the lead in rehabilitating the world economy and forging a new “moral” capitalism. He called for an end to offshore tax havens, tougher financial regulation, and international limits on remuneration.

But his message risked being overshadowed by a warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that Britain may not be able to afford further fiscal stimulus measures.

Mr King told the Treasury Select Committee that the UK’s deficit levels were already “very large”.

“I think the fiscal position in the UK is not one where we could say, ‘well, why don’t we just engage in another significant round of fiscal expansion’,” he added.

The remarks were seen as embarrassing to Mr Brown, who has successfully pressed the case for wealthy countries to bring forward significant fiscal stimulus packages to refloat the economy.

Read it all:


A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as “a way to hell.”

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Associated Press

A day after his government collapsed because of a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, Topolanek took the EU presidency on a collision course with Washington over how to deal with the global economic recession.

Most European leaders favor tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. has been pushing for larger economic stimulus plans.

Topolanek’s comments are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from recent U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

They also pave the way for a stormy summit next week in London between leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

The host of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, praised Obama on Tuesday for his willingness to work with Europe on reforming the global economy in the run-up to the G-20 summit.

Read the rest:


Pentagon to show softer side to the world

March 25, 2009

After seven years of war, American foreign policy has become nearly synonymous with the brawny side of its military. But the US armed forces may now be moving to show a different face to the world.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended an admiral better known for humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives than for muscle-flexing to assume a critical command post in Europe.

By Gordon Lubold | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Adm. James Stavridis is an unusual choice to fill a job usually held by the Army. In his two years overseeing US military operations in South and Latin America, he has built a reputation for running a different kind of command – deploying hospital ships and soccer teams while contending with drug trafficking and corruption.

Stavridis may be able to bring that balance to Europe, where deliberations over Afghanistan over the next few years will be critical to that mission’s success.

“It’s a terrific appointment,” says Carola.

In this April 21, 2008 file photo, Adm. James Stavridis, talks ... 
In this April 21, 2008 file photo, Adm. James Stavridis, talks with reporters during a news conference in Lima, Peru. Stavridis is expected to be President Barack Obama’s choice to be the next NATO commander, succeeding Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock.(AP Photo/Karel Navarro, File)

Read the rest:

See also:

Russia Pressing “Reset,” Medvedev Orders Military To Re-Arm

March 17, 2009

Was it Joe Biden, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton that thought it was a good idea to encourage Russia to just hit the “reset” button?  Well, whoever.

Russia apparently did hit the reset button today….

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red button marked "reset" in English and "overload" in Russian.

 Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia


The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered a ‘comprehensive’ military rearmament after accusing Nato of once again encroaching on Moscow’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union.

By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
The Telegraph (UK)
Mr Medvedev’s bellicose speech risks causing unease in Washington and will dampen hopes of a rapid improvement in strained East-West relations.

The president told defence ministry officials in Moscow that Nato’s continued enlargement ambitions meant that Russia had been left with no choice but to increase its conventional and nuclear combat preparedness.

The threat to Russia’s stability had also been increased by local crises, Mr Medvedev added, in an apparent reference to last year’s five-day war with Georgia.

Russia announces major military buildup

“The attempts to enlarge Nato’s military infrastructure are not ceasing,” said Mr Medvedev. “All this calls for qualitatively modernising our armed forces and reshaping their image. This involves the enhancement of combat preparedness of our troops, primarily the strategic nuclear forces.”

A “comprehensive re-armament” of the Russian army and navy will begin in 2011, the president announced.

Despite the aggressive symbolism of the word, US officials are less likely to be concerned about Mr Medvedev’s talk of rearmament than they are of his antagonistic references to Nato.

Read the rest:


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Russian president orders military rearmament  

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Photo: AP

Reuters on this topic:

What does Russia really want?  No missile defense in Eastern Europe and no NATO expansion….

From the Associated Press as printed in the Moscow Times
March 17, 2009

The United States should seek Russia’s close cooperation in dealing with Iran and solicit Moscow’s participation in, or at least acquiescence to, a missile defense system in Europe, a panel of former high-level U.S. diplomats and members of Congress urged on Monday.

Calling for across-the-board repairs to a splintered relationship with Russia, the commission took note of some recent positive trends.

But the panel warned that they “are deeply concerned by the gap between the current U.S.-Russian relationship and the level of cooperation that the United States needs with Russia in order to advance vital American interests.”

The commission, headed by former senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican, and Democrat Gary Hart, is a joint project of the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of Harvard University.

Describing current relations as “deeply troubled,” the commission said, however, that Moscow is not hostile to the United States, “at least not yet.”

Even if the relationship breaks down completely, Russia does not have the will or the resources for a new Cold War, the report said.

Both governments are to blame for the decline, the panel concluded. Rebuilding the relationship “is not solely the responsibility of the United States,” the report said.

The commission proposed that the administration of President Barack Obama “take a new look” at proposed U.S. missile deployments in Central Europe and concentrate instead on cooperation with Russia in confronting any threat from Iran.

A recent private letter from Obama to President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly broached recasting the proposed missile defense system to allay Russian concerns in return for Moscow’s aid in dealing with the Iranian threat to build nuclear weapons.

“Building a joint system that could include Russian facilities and equipment is most desirable,” the report said.

The United States has a strong interest in attracting Russia’s cooperation. Key U.S. allies would prefer such an approach, and “it would send a powerful signal to Iran” while avoiding new dangers from a possibly hostile Moscow reaction to deployment of the missile defense system without an understanding with Russia, the report said.


Pressuring Obama: International Actors Take Risks Amid Uncertainty

Socialist Former CNN Reporter Wins Election in El Salvador; “Yes We Could”

March 16, 2009

The world really is heading toward a more socialist utopia: make no mistake about that.

Mauricio Funes, a former television reporter, declared himself the winner before F.M.L.N. campaign workers chanting “yes, we could” at the Sheraton Hotel as supporters on the street waved flags and honked car horns in celebration.

“This is the happiest night of my life,” Mr. Funes said. “And I hope it is also the night of greatest hope for El Salvador.”

Funes’ victory ended a 20-year hold on the presidency by the right-leaning ARENA.

“Now the ARENA party passes into opposition,” Funes said. “ARENA … can be assured that it will be listened to and respected.”

El Salvador now has everything many of its neighbors, even its notable northern neighbor, has: bipartisanship, transparency, hope, “yes we can,” and socialism.

El Salvador joins other Latin American countries that have elected leftist leaders in recent years — Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil.

New York Times:


“If socialism signifies a political and economic system in which the government controls a large part of the economy and redistributes wealth to produce social equality, then I think it is safe to say the likelihood of its making a comeback any time in the next generation is close to zero,” wrote Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, in Time magazine in 2000.

Socialism Is Alive in Europe:

Obama: Fire Geithner

March 15, 2009

If Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is such a strong, competent, believable spokesman that gives everyone confidence in him, his economic plan, and the state of the U.S. economy: why is nobody believing?

Why is it that President Obama, Paul Volker, Larry Summer and others had to push the media “we are strong and confident line” these last few days.

How come, if Geither is so good, after he urged the G20 to “strong action” yesterday, in London mind you, a report of that speech couldn’t be found on page one of the London Times or the Telegraph?
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D- Ohio, pauses in the elevator after arriving on Capitol

Because Geither is not strong.  He’s worthless as a spokesman and advocate and that may make him worthless as a Treasury Secretary.

He needs a speech coach, a speech writer, a media advisor and body language lessons.


But maybe it is too late for all the remaking of Geithner.  Maybe we knew with his TurboTax lie that we were all in for trouble.

Geithner is apparently spineless, the Senate is mostly spineless for confirming him based upon false promises and lies; so who can we look to, in this time of “crisis,” with certainty and strength?

In times of economic weakness, the president’s own Treasury Secretary is weak.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, seen at a press conference at the G20
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

How much more slack does Barack Obama wish to give this guy and for what?

Obama can’t demonstrate strengh himself until he realizes what strength is and takes some strong action on something: and soon.

Obama: Stop Thinking About What Might Be Gained; Think What May Certainly Be Lost

Geithner Urges Europe to Strong Action

Even Joke Biden is doing better than Geithner….

Even Joe Biden, who has never been wrong on anything before, said a recent uptick in the stock markets is a result of the “Obama factor.”

 Obama, Biden Chat Up Economy; Congress Talking “Stimulus II”

 Biden Off Mic: “Gimme a f*&$#ing break”

Obama: Stop Thinking About What Might Be Gained; Think What May Certainly Be Lost

Government Health Care Often Means Waiting Lines, Rationed “Care”

March 11, 2009

In Canada, Britain and Europe, government health care often means long waiting lines and rationed treatment and care.

Here’s today’s example:

by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Telegraph (UK)

Patients face a significant increase in waiting times for operations as ‘insane’ European rules mean doctors’ hours are cut so much medics will not be able to cope, surgeons have warned.
The key pledge of Labour’s NHS reform has been to reduce waiting lists and now the majority of patients are treated within the target of 18 weeks from seeing their GP.

However this will be reversed as junior doctors will be limited to working a 48-hour week, from their current 56 hours, it is claimed.
The extension of the European Working Time Directive will effectively result in the loss of thousands of doctor shifts, John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said.

And the Government fears there will be a lack of locum doctors available to step in and help fill the gaps, following changes in doctors’ recruitment.

It means patients will have to wait months for routine operations as surgeons prioritise emergencies rather than scheduled cases.

The Royal College of Surgeons wants trainee surgeons on a 65-hour working week in order to produce safe, properly trained doctors and cover the workload required by hospitals.

Mr Black said: “If the 48 hour limit is enforced, surgeons will have to make a hard choice between caring for emergency cases and dealing with elective cases as there will not be the time available to do both. Surgeons will put patient safety first and focus on looking after emergency patients.

“All the progress on reducing waiting lists will go out of the window. Forty eight hours for surgeons is currently insane if we want maintain surgery in the NHS.”

Doctors have calculated an average hospital trust outside London will lose the equivalent of three trainee surgeons and other specialities such as paediatrics, trauma, and intensive care are likely to be similarly affected.

Smaller surgical units may have to shut or be merged in order to comply with the Directive, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley warned.

It is understood the Department of Health is considering increasing the length of time it takes to qualify as a consultant surgeon from seven years to eight or nine so doctors can gain enough experience and also comply with the limited working week.

Vanessa Bourne of the Patients Association said: “How can this be happening in a supposedly patient-centred service? Access to high quality safe care is the paramount requisite for patient and clinician alike and this muddle needs sorting out before patients are put at risk.”

The new regulations come into force on August 1 at the same time hospital trusts are trying to cope with organising the new intake of junior doctors.

The shake-up of doctors’ training, which caused a fiasco in 2007, means more trainees are in longer-term posts so there are now fewer candidates looking for locum posts and temporary jobs.

Read the rest:


In the U.S., Some 50,000 applicants to nursing schools were turned away last year because there weren’t enough spots, even as a nursing shortage leaves hundreds of thousands of jobs vacant and threatens the quality of care in hospitals and nursing homes, Reuters reports. The federal stimulus package contains some $500 million to address health staffing shortages, of which about $100 million will go to address the nursing shortfall.