Framing the Dialogue

Everything Before “But” Is Bull

Over the years, there have been only a few phrases or sayings that have stuck with me.  We all have learned the Golden Rule from our parents and that is a basic way to you’re your life.  What I am talking about are phrases that stick in my head and make me hesitate when I say something often forcing me to reword what I was about to say.

I first heard one of these phrases on one of my favorite talk shows, Quinn and Rose in the Morning.  One of my favorite quotes from Jim Quinn is “everything before “but” is bull.”  When you speak and use the word “but” to qualify the statement, that qualification is nonsense, untrue, a lie, or bull.

Let us look at a few recent examples:

This from Senator Arlen Specter defending his vote for the Obama Stimulus package:

“He says he’s not completely happy with Obama’s plans but he points out that he was able to cut the price tag by over $100 billion and he says he was able to increase the amount of tax cuts.” (Emphasis added)  In the but/bull theory, this means that he supports Obama’s plans.

I can only imagine that Specter may also say soon that he is a Republican, but supports Democrat politics.  I think that when he runs again, I will have to say, “I am for Senator Specter, but I will have to vote against him.”  It is looking like many in the Keystone State are thinking the same thing.  Stay tuned.

That is enough picking on Arlen.  I was prompted to write this posting based on recent interviews by three prominent businessmen and Mad Money host Jim Cramer all Barrack Obama supporters.  In each of the interviews, they profess their support for President Obama, BUT

Businessman 1:  Warren Buffet was just ranked as the richest man in the world and is a self-professed Obama supporter.  In recent interviews on CNBC’s Squawk Box Mr. Buffet had these interesting musings about the Obama Administrations agenda:

“President Obama is–he’s very, very smart. He’s got, I think, exactly the right goals. He’s articulate and I–you know, he will be the right person to be the commander in chief in this economic crisis. But it is an economic crisis.”


“We are in an economic war. We’re going to solve this together. We’re not going to use it as a way to get all kinds of changes made.’ And I might like to see a change in the tax code and maybe–but right now I’m for doing the part that helps the people that are the worst off”

“I think the secret ballot’s pretty important in the country.  You know, I’m against card check, to make a perfectly flat statement…I think card check is a mistake” (referring to the Employee Free Choice Act)

“Anything you put in that effectively taxes carbon emissions is–somebody’s going to bear the brunt of it. In the case of a regulated utility, the utility customers are going to pay for it… But if you put a cost of issuing–putting carbon into the atmosphere, it–in the utility business it’s going to be born by customers.  And it’s a tax like anything else.” (Answering a question about Obama’s proposed Cap and Trade System on carbon emissions).

“I think job one, job two and job three is the economy” (on where the administration should be concentrating)

“I’m not sure he said it quite that way, and it–incidentally, when it’s said, it shouldn’t be said, you know, about these guys are all a bunch of bums, but we’re going to make sure you–and basically, it’s a message that has to come out very clearly” (discussing how the President speaks about the banking system)

“the majority party can’t push around a minority party. So you can’t use that as an excuse to push through all kinds of things and then expect unity, or substantial unity from both parties in supporting you in the really important war, and this is an important war.” (The war is the economic crisis)

“I would defer pushing a big agenda. And you know, there’s this phrase that a crisis, you know, should not be wasted. Well, I think if you said a war should not be wasted and use that as an excuse to push–try to push through everything in sight, I think–I really think it’s a mistake.”

And this just in from Oz, White House Press Secretary suggested that Mr. Buffet was not criticizing President Obama, but Washington.  There is that pesky “BUT”

Businessman 2:  Jack Welch is the former CEO of General Electric and best-selling author and Obama Supporter also appeared on CNBC.

“I didn’t know it was going to be lawns and all that stuff.  I want real stimulus.” (Discussing the Stimulus Bill)

“A whole mess of stuff” (when asked what should NOT be in the Stimulus)

“We ought to have three buckets…we have a bucket that talks about job creation…we ought to have a bucket that deals with safety (referring to unemployment compensation, food stamps, etc.)…then we have another bucket that ought to be dealt with separately which is all this SOCIALISM (emphasis added)…we ought to vote on those separately.”

“Stuffing this bill with old projects…with more government, government, government is bad.”

“I’d say no.  I’d say no to this one.” (When asked if he would have voted for the Stimulus Bill)

Businessman 3:  Barton Biggs is described as “the ultimate big-picture man…the global investment strategist for Morgan Stanley, Barton Biggs is without question the premier prognosticator on the international scene and a mover of markets from Argentina to Hong Kong.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Biggs wrote the book on emerging-market investing.” Mr. Biggs appeared on the Charlie Rose Show yesterday.

“I voted for Obama.  I am a fan of Obama, BUT I think his tax program has really affected the market.  So I’d like to see him back off from raising the capital gains tax to 20 %, the dividend tax to 20%…and send a different signal”  (emphasis added)

“Don’t tax the long-term entrepreneurial part of the  economy…there shouldn’t be a 20% tax on dividends.  It’s too high.”

“The redistributionist part of his social agenda has bothered the market a lot so he ought to step back from that a little bit.”

“I believe in the American system of democracy, of capitalist democracy.”

And Mad Money’s Jim Cramer who appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

“Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin.  There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.’ Look – in Lenin’s book, ‘What Is to Be Done?’ is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?’ which is we have no place for profits.” (refering to President Obama’s similar phrasing in a January 30, 2009 about Wall Street).

“Thank heavens for the Chinese communists, deeply rooted in a profit government.  Because we have decided that profits have no place in the system.”

And from some comments written about on NewsBusters and US News & World Report:

“President Obama’s team, unlike Bush’s team, demonstrates a thinness of skin that shocks me. When I somewhat obviously and empirically judged that the populist Obama administration is exacerbating the crisis with its budget and policies, as evidenced by the incredible decline in the averages since his inauguration, I was met immediately with condescension and ridicule rather than constructive debate or even just benign dismissal. I said to myself, “What the heck? Are they really that blind to the Great Wealth Destruction they are causing with their decisions to demonize the bankers, raise taxes for the wealthy, advocate draconian cap-and-trade policies and upend the health care system? Do they really believe that only the rich own stocks? What do they think we have our retirement accounts in, CDs? Where did they think that the money saved for college went, our mattresses? Do they think the great middle class banks at the First National Bank of Sealy and only the wealthiest traffic in the Standard & Poor’s 500?”

“But all the initiatives he wants to rush, like tax hikes, changes in health care, tinkering with the mortgage deduction — good grief, right now in the midst of the worst housing downturn ever — and the tough cap-and-trade rules, will derail any chance we have of turning this economy around.”

“The market’s signal can’t be ignored. It’s too palpable, too predictive to be ignored, despite the prattle that the market’s predicted far more recessions than we have. … But Obama has undeniably made things worse by creating an atmosphere of fear and panic rather than an atmosphere of calm and hope.”

Here we have four icons of American business and media that are President Obama supporters, but seem to be against his economic policies.

Everything before “but” is bull. 


Update May 4, 2009 – It still amazes me how men who make their money in the business world support the tactics of the Obama administration.  They do not agree with his actions, but still support him.  I have to wonder about their judgment.  In my earlier post, I provided several examples of big-named individuals who support President Obama, BUT spoke a different tune when discussing specifics of his policies.

One of the better known was Warren Buffet.  Mr. Buffett was asked some pointed questions about President Obama’s recent challenge to auto industry bond holders who, according to Obama, did not want to do their part.  Obama essentially called them out in front of the world even though, contractually, they have preference to being paid back in any bankruptcy procedures.  Buffett replied:

“The bondholders want a secure bond.  If I have a first mortgage on my house here, and the first mortgage is for half of what the house is worth, and somebody says I want you to take a big haircut because I’ve got credit card debt someplace else, that’s got problems.  It has problems in terms of future lending.  I mean, if priorities don’t mean anything that’s going to disrupt lending practices in the future…giving up priorities in lending, abandoning that principle, would have a whole lot of consequences…If we want to encourage lending in this country, we don’t want to say to somebody who lends and gets a secured position that that secured position doesn’t mean anything.”

It seems to me that his buddy, Obama, wants to do just that.  Contracts and the law do not seem to matter to this administration.  There are legal procedures that happen when companies file for bankruptcy unless Obama disagrees or wants to protect one of his constituencies. 

In addition to calling out the bondholders who would not do his bidding, it has been alleged that the Obama White House threatened to use the press corps against the bondholders.  Bankruptcy attorney Tom Lauria, who represented several of the holders, raised this serious allegation.

“One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under the threat that the full force of the White House Press Corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight. That’s how hard it is to stand on this side of the fence.”

I am sure that is what our founding fathers had in mind for the “free” press.  They meant for them to do the bidding of the president, to be his lapdog.  Is it any wonder that Americans do not trust the mainstream media?  How does the media accept the fact that they are merely a cog in the Obama machine.  They are an embarrassment. 

Getting back to Buffett.  Where are all of the business leaders in the country?  They seem to be standing by as politicians are gaining power and taking America down the tubes.  Are they that intimidated by this administration? 

Forget about “Who is John Galt?”


5 CommentsLeave one

  1. Barack’s Christmas List Discovered - Framing the Dialogue says:

    […] This one mimics one of Obama’s favorite catch phrases.  Some suggest that if you are really honest and truthful, you do not need to pre-qualify your remarks with “let me be perfectly clear.”  Are we to assume that when you do not use the phrase that you are not perfectly clear?  Others ask whether being perfectly clear has an expiration date like many of his campaign promises.  Sentences often are followed by a sentence containing the word “but” and we know that everything before but is… […]

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