Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama, La Hood-winked, Caterpillar and Canoodling

Obama, La Hood-winked, Caterpillar and Canoodling
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 12, 2009

The oft used phrase politics makes strange bedfellows could not be more apt when examining the relationship between two Illinois politicos Barack Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood. Of all places for Obama to visit in the latest stop along his “I’ve got to shove the stimulus package down America’s throats” tour was the East Peoria plant of Caterpillar.

Obama had scheduled stops in Illinois for the same day, February 12, to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I don’t think Honest Abe would have looked too kindly upon Obama or La Hood. But of all places Obama could have visited, why Caterpillar?

Well, the over 80-year-old company that manufactures construction and mining equipment had planned to lay off roughly 22,000 workers according to Yet, one day prior, while speaking in Springfield, VA, Obama referenced Caterpillar in conjunction with upcoming construction projects and how the company would be able to rehire many of the unemployed. Obama reiterated the same thought while at Caterpillar noting that “Jim” could rehire workers upon passage of the stimulus bill.

At that point people’s crap detectors should have been working overtime. Jim, who Obama mentioned while at Caterpillar, is the beleaguered company’s CEO James W. Owens, who said there would be more layoffs before they start hiring again, also according to

So back to why Caterpillar for Obama’s visit. This is where La Hood comes in. La Hood is the former Republican Congressman who represented the district that includes Caterpillar’s corporate headquarters in Peoria prior to serving in Obama’s cabinet. Perhaps Caterpillar wouldn’t be in the financial straits it is currently experiencing if it hadn’t decided that a museum to itself was at the top of its “to do” list.

As I wrote on January 17, the Lakeview Museum in Peoria became possible partly due to a $330,000 earmark of La Hood’s and also due to Caterpillar’s own largesse. Oh, by the way, Caterpillar was La Hood’s biggest campaign donor. This earmark was merely the tip of the La Hood-wink pork-ladened iceberg.

In 2008 alone La Hood sent up legislation calling for $60 million in earmarks, ranking him in the top 10 percent of all Congressional porkers. This was partly made possible by sitting on the highly coveted Appropriations Committee and allowed La Hood-wink to funnel larded-up legislation toward some of his more generous political donors.

And while the record is being set straight, Obama’s got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do regarding his own mathematics. During his speech-conference on Monday night February 9, Obama said his stimulus albatross would create or save four million jobs, yet two days later in Springfield, VA, at , he said his crap package would create or save three million jobs. Seems reminiscent of his campaign when each day the bar on the amount of income to be tax-increased kept dropping. Perhaps he just “misremembered.”

Additionally, Obama should be ashamed of himself for attempting to publicly embarrass freshman Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) and shanghai his vote on the stimulus monstrosity. This Obama did during his speech at Caterpillar, which is located in the heart of the 18th District once represented by La Hood, and now Schock. This is just the kind of arm-twisting that would make Rahm Emanuel proud.

Making matters worse is that this so-called stimulus package is due to be voted upon Friday, February 13, which violates Obama’s own campaign pledge of five days of sunshine prior to signing. The sunshine refers to the opportunity for the bill to be examined by the public in Obama’s so-called era of transparency.

As of on Thursday, February 12 Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) still had not received the bill, nor had his fellow legislators, he said, while being interviewed by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. Graham further said, “I’m embarrassed to be in a Congress that would pass this spend-fest.” Graham was then critical of the $400 million returned to the package to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and the $1 billion to NASA, calling it a “national disgrace,” and that this is not a bill to create “jobs, but to help senators get reelected.”

If the senator thinks his hands are tied, imagine how the American people must feel. This is the kind of powerlessness of which revolutions are born.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

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