Friday, July 29, 2011
Would you vote for it?
The New York Times reviews yesterday's developments, but watch The Hill for the latest out of today's House GOP Conference meeting. This wonderful paper is painting the vote on Boehner 2.0 as a referendum on the Speaker, though there are a lot of supporters of the Speaker who might vote no. It is a very complicated vote.
On the one hand, the potential damage done to markets (and to politics) by even a partial repeat of the panic of 2008 argues greatly for a yes vote. The bill doesn't increase anyone's taxes, makes some modest cuts, and the Gang of 12 could come up with some significant entitlement reforms that will get a vote.
On the other hand, the Speaker made the "yes" vote harder yesterday by allowing MSM to present the vote as a jam down by him, and he provided that narrative just as the conservative leadership in the House both experienced --Paul Ryan-- and new --Alan West-- was getting Whip Kevin McCarthy's numbers up.
And there is the real chance that all of the hype about August 2 is just that, hype.
I would vote yes on the bill if I knew who was on the supercommittee and trusted them not to allow any tax hikes into the mix when the committee met and debated. The Speaker has not explained his $800 billion in new revenues offer made to the president, and if that included changes to the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction or the state and local tax deduction, it would be a terrible policy change and a devastating political blow as well as a breach of the Pledge so enormous as to endanger the GOP's House majority in 2012.
The Speaker has said no new taxes will come out of the supercommittee, but that depends on the meaning of new taxes doesn't it, and on the supercommittee's members' views on the meaning of new taxes.
Then there's defense spending. Boehner 2.0, as Bill Kristol noted on my show yesterday --the transcript of that conversation is posted here later-- does not gut Defense beyond the sharp and very difficult cuts already imposed on the Pentagon, but supercommittees have superpowers, and if one of the GOP's members decides with the Democrats to push to a vote some Pentagon-slashing bit of isolationist wishful thinking, the final product can't be filibustered in the Senate and could fly through the House on the strength of a coalition of Democrats, isolationist Ron Paul types, debt-reduction-only hawks and liberal Republicans.
The names --folks like Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, John Campbell, Buck McKeon-- would help ease passage, but the Speaker has thus far not been willing to tell his Conference on whom their political futures and the fiscal sanity of the country rest.
So I would be leaning yes today, but asking the ambassador from Planet McCarthy "Who is the Speaker appointing to the Joint Committee?" If I didn't get an answer I liked, or any answer at all, then I wouldn't give one back either.
"[W]ith respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age." --Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
Congress Is Still Stuck in Neutral on Debt
Five days and counting until the end of the world. At least that's what Democrats would have us believe with regard to the federal debt ceiling. "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget," declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." Well, Pelosi and her tax-and-spend ilk "succeeded" for one more day when the House postponed a vote on Speaker John Boehner's plan of spending cuts and debt-ceiling increase Thursday night. But it was because Boehner (R-OH) couldn't get enough Republicans to go along with his plan that it faltered. Even if the plan had passed the House, though, all 53 Senate Democrats had promised to torpedo it in favor of Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan.
Boehner's plan, revised Wednesday to improve its score with the Congressional Budget Office, included projected cuts of $917 billion over 10 years with no tax increases. Most Republicans got in line behind their leader, hoping to win the battle by offering something to the Senate after the upper chamber defeated Cut, Cap and Balance. Others concluded that the dollar amount stretched over too many years was woefully insufficient, and insisted on passage of a balanced budget amendment. We happen to think both sides are right.
Republicans control just one-half of one branch of the government, and they have to start somewhere. Yet $22 billion in cuts this year in exchange for $900 billion more in debt this year is a sorry deal. Trying to sell it by saying that the $900 billion increase is conditional on $917 billion in cuts is just Washington math. Even with the deal, the federal debt would rise several trillion over 10 years, meaning the ceiling would need to be raised many more times, including again in 2012.
Reid (D-NV) also has a plan to counter those "radical, right-wing, Tea Party extremists": Raise the ceiling by $2.4 trillion now, in exchange for cutting $2.2 trillion over a decade. That likely would avoid having to address the issue again before next year's presidential election, which President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats want to avoid at all costs. However, Reid's plan has more than its fair share of accounting gimmicks. For instance, half the "cuts" in his plan are the savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As columnist Charles Krauthammer quipped, "I'm told there's an extra $10 billion in here of savings from not invading Normandy a second time."
For his part, Obama has been remarkably silent this week following his speech Monday night, which offered nothing new -- just blame for everyone but him. Perhaps his advisers have concluded that we're all tired of hearing him read from the teleprompter.
Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Assistant Minority Leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) are floating a "14th Amendment solution," which they say would allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment reads, "The validity of the public debt of the United States ... shall not be questioned." Only a leftist using the "living constitution" could construe such language to mean that the president can unilaterally incur more debt, a power still left to Congress. Fortunately, even Obama acknowledges that using the 14th Amendment isn't "a winning argument."
Besides, even if the nation passes Aug. 2 without a deal, there will still be money to pay the interest on the debt and other vital obligations. We're pretty sure that, despite Nancy Pelosi's dire warnings to the contrary, "life on this planet as we know it today" will continue even without bureaucracies such as the EPA or HUD. The nation managed for two centuries without either one.
Finally, the White House is prodding the three major credit rating agencies to back the Reid plan. It's not just the debt ceiling that could cause a credit downgrade, however. Our long-term trajectory is not sustainable, which is likely why Obama long ago gave up on his demand for a "clean" increase in the debt ceiling -- meaning no spending cuts whatsoever.
What remains to be seen in the coming days is whether Congress can pass a deal -- any deal -- to address the issue, however timidly. Indeed, after being stymied Thursday night, the House turned to the urgent matter of re-naming post offices. The tragedy of it all is that real solutions and fidelity to the Constitution seem far beyond the grasp of so many of our elected representatives.
"The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national debt-ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets near whatever the current ceiling might be. Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national debt-ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies -- and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes." --economist Thomas Sowell
In arguing the debt ceiling issue on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) quoted a Wall Street Journal editorial -- specifically the part criticizing "tea-party Hobbits" for wanting too much. It was a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Lord of the Rings."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fired back, "I think in reading the books, the hobbits were the heroes. They overcame great obstacles, and I think I'd rather be a hobbit than a troll."
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more." --Barack Obama in his prime time speech Monday
News From the Swamp: Democrats Love Reagan?
Among all the other shenanigans taking place in Washington, Democrats have now attempted to rewrite history and co-opt Ronald Reagan's legacy. In their fight to raise the debt ceiling, House Democrats released a television ad with selective clips of a 1982 Ronald Reagan radio address warning of the fiscal disaster that would come from a failure to raise the debt ceiling. Of course they neglected to mention that the 1983 ceiling was $3 trillion, a bit below the current $14.3 trillion. Democrats gleefully point out that Reagan agreed to raise taxes at the time. The tax hike rolled back some of Reagan's historic 1981 tax cut, and he regretted the decision for the rest of his presidency. Democrats reneged on their promise to cut $3 spent for every $1 raised, and instead used the tax revenue to increase spending. In other words, they lied. You won't see that in the ad, nor will you hear what Reagan said later in the same speech: "Every time Congress increases taxes, the deficit does not decrease, spending increases." Democrats would love history to repeat itself.
The debt has quintupled since the Reagan presidency, and since that time Democrats have constantly smeared his legacy. But now, even Obama quotes the former president in his attempt to push his ideological agenda of an all-encompassing federal government. We would rejoice if our friends on the Left had truly come to respect Reagan, but when such comments are weighed against the vitriolic words Obama has used against the GOP in recent weeks, it's more than apparent that Democrats are adulterating Reagan's record for their own political gain.
My cat died a few weeks ago at age 16 years.
Her name was Madame Nhu II.
I named her in honor of Madame Nhu, the widow of President Diem, the Catholic President of Vietnam back at the beginning of the the Vietnam War.
President Diem was assassinated by the American CIA with the permission of the Catholic President of the United States, John F. Kennedy because of Buddhist agitation against the Diem regime.
Madame Nhu moved to Paris after her husband's assassination and embarked on a world tour of denunciation of President Kennedy and the United States.
I always admired her loyalty to her husband and to her fierce defense of his reputation.
My cat, as a kitten, displayed a temperament like Madame Nhu, fierce and resourceful, and
since she was a Southeast Asian Leopard cat it seemed fitting that I name her Madame Nhu II.
President Diem was succeeded by Nguyen Cao Ky who died last week.
Thus, this bit of reminiscing by me.
- Leo Rugiens
A purple footnote to a distant war
By Wesley Pruden
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Nguyen Cao Ky died last week at 80, a forgotten purple footnote to the distant war in Vietnam that nearly everyone wants to forget. Those who do remember it usually remember it for the wrong reasons.
Ky was once big stuff, twice the prime minister of wartime South Vietnam and commander of the South Vietnamese Air Force. He relished his reputation as the playboy flyboy. He was fond of fast planes, high times and beautiful women, and when the war ended he commandeered a helicopter at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport to fly to an American ship in the South China Sea, fleeing like the U.S. ambassador. He was broke and settled in Southern California to open a liquor store.
The obituaries, mostly respectful, repeated the old stories. The playboy flyboy left a lot of color in his prop wash. He was given to wearing a black flight suit – with an identical suit made up for his stunning young wife – and they made a striking duo around town. He wore a purple scarf at his throat, and said that if Hollywood made a movie about him Errol Flynn should get the leading role. Stanley Karnow, the eminent historian of all things Vietnamese, said Ky “looked like the saxophone player in a second-rate nightclub.” He wore a pencil-thin mustache and his dark, severe countenance was, as more than one woman in Saigon remarked, relieved “by bedroom eyes.”
He was popular with the war correspondents for his colorful quotes. Despairing of the rowdy anything-goes corruption and lack of effective leadership in Saigon, he once said Vietnam “needs five Hitlers to impose discipline.” He occasionally invited a few of us to his home near Tan Son Nhut where the after-dinner entertainment was repairing to the back porch to shoot wild pigs as an aide set them running from a pen at the back of the property.
He was pleased with his bad-boy reputation, exaggerated to his delight. He once complained that the pistol he wore at his side was usually described as pearl-handled. “Nobody would have pearl handles,” he told me one balmy night, with the thunder and flash of guns on the distant horizon punctuating the conversation. “The handles are only ivory.” I remarked that Gen. George S. Patton’s ivory-handled pistol was also described as “pearl-handled,” which Patton said made him sound like “a pimp in a New Orleans bordello.” Ky grinned, obviously pleased with the comparison.
But he turned out to be a serious politician. When the generals who ran Vietnam made him prime minister in 1965 everyone thought he would last the usual two or three months (or less). He survived two years and tried to govern with an unexpected hard hand. He ordered a businessman shot for manipulating the runaway black market. He met President Lyndon B. Johnson in Honolulu in 1966 to plead for a harder, more effective war strategy, arguing that the American strategy of limited defensive war enabled the enemy to resupply field armies at will. “Long before America decided to quit the war,” he said years later, “I realized this would be the inevitable result of the lack of commitment to victory.”
Ky mellowed in the shadow of his advancing years, and was moved to tears when he returned to his birthplace a decade ago as a guest of the Communist government. “The idea of America – its freedom, financial and educational opportunities, the lifestyle, wealth and beauty of the country and its people remains the envy of the civilized world,” he said on his return. “In Vietnam today even the sons and daughters of those who fought against American soldiers for two decades love everything American.
“I say today to the veterans of that lost war, Vietnamese and American, Australians and New Zealanders, Thais and South Koreans and all the others who supported our fight for freedom—we have no cause for shame. We were right.”
He took considerable pleasure in observing that Vietnam, like China, has abandoned Marxist dogma, and clings only to the fiction of a Marxist state. “Now everyone knows that Vietnamese communism is dead,” he said. “The business of Vietnam now is business.” He urged the young among the million or more Vietnamese who fled at the end of the war to return to help rebuild the country. “In another hundred years the Vietnamese will look back at the war and feel shameful. We should not dwell on it. Those who bear grudges only care about themselves.”
He was content to follow Douglas MacArthur into the past. “He said ‘old soldiers never die, they just fade way.’ That’s me, too.” He will be buried in Vietnam.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
NEW YORK TIMES READER KILLS DOZENS IN NORWAY
by Ann Coulter
July 27, 2011
The New York Times wasted no time in jumping to conclusions about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who staged two deadly attacks in Oslo last weekend, claiming in the first two paragraphs of one story that he was a "gun-loving," "right-wing," "fundamentalist Christian," opposed to "multiculturalism."
It may as well have thrown in "Fox News-watching" and "global warming skeptic."
This was a big departure from the Times' conclusion-resisting coverage of the Fort Hood shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Despite reports that Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" as he gunned down his fellow soldiers at a military medical facility in 2009, only one of seven Times articles on Hasan so much as mentioned that he was a Muslim.
Of course, that story ran one year after Hasan's arrest, so by then, I suppose, the cat was out of the bag.
In fact, however, Americans who jumped to conclusions about Hasan were right and New York Times reporters who jumped to conclusions about Breivik were wrong.
True, in one lone entry on Breivik's gaseous 1,500-page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," he calls himself "Christian." But unfortunately he also uses a great number of other words to describe himself, and these other words make clear that he does not mean "Christian" as most Americans understand the term. (Incidentally, he also cites The New York Times more than a half-dozen times.)
Had anyone at the Times actually read Breivik's manifesto, they would have seen that he uses the word "Christian" as a handy moniker to mean "European, non-Islamic" -- not a religious Christian or even a vague monotheist. In fact, at several points in his manifesto, Breivik stresses that he has a beef with Christians for their soft-heartedness. (I suppose that's why the Times is never worried about a "Christian backlash.")
A casual perusal of Breivik's manifesto clearly shows that he uses the word "Christian" similarly to the way some Jewish New Yorkers use it to mean "non-Jewish." In this usage, Christopher Hitchens and Madalyn Murray O'Hair are "Christians."
I told a Jewish gal trying to set me up with one of her friends once that he had to be Christian, and she exclaimed that she had the perfect guy: a secular Muslim atheist. (This was the least-popular option on the '60s board game Dream Date, by the way).
Breivik is very clear that you don't even have to believe in God to join his movement, saying in a self-interview:
Q: Do I have to believe in God or Jesus in order to become a Justiciar Knight?
A: As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus.
He goes on to say that a "Christian fundamentalist theocracy" is "everything we DO NOT want," and a "secular European society" is "what we DO want."
"It is enough," Breivik says, "that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist." That statement doesn't even make sense in America.
At the one and only meeting of Breivik's "Knights Templar" in London in 2002, there were nine attendees, three of whom he describes as "Christian atheists" and one as a "Christian agnostic." (Another dozen people mistook it for a Renaissance Faire and were turned away.)
Breivik clearly explains that his "Knights Templar" is "not a religious organization but rather a Christian 'culturalist' military order." He even calls on the "European Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu community" to join his fight against "the Islamization of Europe."
He doesn't believe in Christianity or want anyone else to, but apparently supports celebrating Christmas simply to annoy Muslims.
Breivik says he is "not an excessively religious man," brags that he is "first and foremost a man of logic," calls himself "economically liberal" and reveres Darwinism.
But Times reporters had their "Eureka!" moment as soon as they heard Breivik used the word "Christian" someplace to identify himself. No one at the Times bothered to read Breivik's manifesto to see that he doesn't use the term the way the rest of us do. That might have interfered with the paper's obsessive Christian-bashing.
Other famous killers dubbed conservative Christians by the Times include Timothy McVeigh and Jared Loughner.
McVeigh was a pot-smoking atheist who said, "Science is my religion."
Similarly, Breivik says in his manifesto that "it is essential that science take an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings" –- a statement that would be incomprehensible to all the real scientists, such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, Newton, Mendel, Pasteur, Planck, Einstein and Pauli, all of whom believed the whole purpose of science was to understand God.
The Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner, was lyingly described by the Times as a pro-life fanatic. Not only did more honest news outlets, such as ABC News, report exactly the opposite -- for example, how Loughner alarmed his classmates by laughing about an aborted baby in class -- but Loughner's friends described him as "left wing," "a political radical," "quite liberal" and "a pothead." Another said Loughner's mother was Jewish.
The only reason Timothy McVeigh has gone down in history as a right-wing Christian and Jared Loughner has not -- despite herculean efforts by much of the mainstream media to convince us otherwise -- is that by January 2011 when Loughner went on his murder spree, conservatives had enough media outlets to reveal the truth.
As explained in the smash best-seller "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America," the liberal rule is: Any criminal act committed by a white man with a gun is a right-wing, Christian conspiracy, whereas any criminal act committed by a nonwhite is the government violating someone's civil liberties.
It's too bad Breivik wasn't a Muslim extremist open about his Jihadist views, because I hear the Army is looking for a new psychiatrist down at Fort Hood.
Ann Coulter is a columnist and author of Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault On America.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The liberal elite's rhetoric takes an authoritarian turn.
By JAMES TARANTO
The Best of the Web Today
The Wall Street Journal Online
July 27, 2011
Yesterday we noted that President Obama had mused about how much better it would be if he could rule unconstrained by constitutional checks and balances. "Some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own," Obama told the National Council of La Raza Monday. He paused while the crowd chanted, "Yes, you can! Yes, you can!" and then said, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting."
This is the sort of thing that feeds wacky right-wing conspiracy theories. This columnist is not a conspiracy theorist, and we hasten to note that the president told the crowd Monday that no, he can't: "That's not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."
But he was unquestionably right that "some people" want him to "bypass Congress"--to impose his will in a dictatorial fashion. These calls are coming not from the fringes but from the "mainstream" left--from people who would be considered entirely respectable in the newsroom of the New York Times.
A Times news story the other day raised the idea (which we discussed July 8) that the president could instruct the Treasury to borrow money without congressional authorization on the basis of the 14th Amendment's provision that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned." The news story notes that Obama has rejected the idea (albeit "not in categorical terms"). Well he should, for it is absurd on its face to suggest that a provision guaranteeing the payment of debts "authorized by law" would permit the incurring of more debts without legal authorization.
The shocking thing in this Times story, though, is this quote from Jack Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School, on what would happen if Obama did assert this authority: "At the point at which the economy is melting down, who cares what the Supreme Court is going to say?" Balkin told the Times. "It's the president's duty to save the republic."
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson expressly endorses the idea: "It seems to me that definitive action--unilateral, if necessary--to prevent the nation from suffering obvious, imminent, grievous harm is one of the duties any president must perform":
Who knows how the courts--ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court--would react? With outrage? With deference toward presidential power? With traditional reluctance to intervene in political disputes between the two elected branches of government? It would matter, eventually. But while legal briefs were being prepared and arguments honed, Obama would have raised the debt ceiling on his own authority--and the crisis would have been averted.
As some left-liberals urge Obama to grab power now and worry about the Constitution later, others seek to delegitimize congressional Republicans--duly elected representatives of the American people--by describing them as enemies of the state.
"Wake up to the national security threat," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof exhorted his readers on Sunday. "Only it's not coming from abroad, but from our own domestic extremists," whom Kristof compares to "Iran and al Qaeda." Kristof's colleague Thomas Friedman echoes Kristof today, writing: "If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission." (As an aside, remember earlier this year when the Times fretfully lectured us about the urgency of promoting "civility" for about six weeks?)
Similar comparisons come from academia. Here's Geoffrey Stone, a law professor from the University of Chicago, writing at the Puffington Host:
By threatening to wreak havoc with the national interest, [Republicans in Congress] are attempting to terrorize rather than persuade the nation into doing what they want. . . .
Of course, the President could temporarily avert disaster by giving in to the terrorists. . . . Those Republicans who are pursuing this course may be honoring their pledge not to raise taxes, but they are also dishonoring the very spirit of their oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
In a Times op-ed today, David Barash, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, likens congressmen to bull elephants who have become "temporarily 'crazy' " because they are in musth (sexual arousal, which the Times spells "must"):
Huge bulls, oozing a weird, foul-smelling, greenish glop from glands near their eyes, behave with violent abandon, taking risks and defying the basic rules of pachyderm propriety (and also giving rise to the term "rogue elephant"). . . .
It's fair to conclude that Mr. Obama is facing the political equivalent of an elephant in must--a player who simply won't play the game.
In the 1983 movie "WarGames," an errant military supercomputer has a final moment of lucidity in which it notes, "The only winning move is not to play." The president is best advised to do the same: declare that the other side has foregone all pretense at rational legitimacy, and simply proceed to govern as best he can for the good of the country.
Barash goes much further than to say that the president is right and the Republicans wrong on the merits of the policies at issue. He goes much further even than to accuse GOP congressmen of employing a dangerous tactic in threatening not to raise the debt ceiling. (The president, it should be noted, is using this tactic as well when he threatens to veto ceiling-raising legislation that does not suit his policy and political priorities.)
No, Barash is describing those of whose politics he disapproves as less than human--as wild animals who must be controlled. Using that ugly metaphor, he calls for a dictatorial power grab by President Obama, which he describes in the benign terms of governing "as best he can for the good of the country."
It reminds us of our Friday column, in which we poked fun at a liberal writer for calling the president "practically a caricature of Spock-like rationality and sober caution." Obama's emotional Friday press conference gave the lie to that description. But all this talk of benign, rational dictatorship calls to mind a scene from "Patterns of Force," a "Star Trek" episode from 1968, in which the Enterprise visits a planet ruled by a former history professor from Earth, John Gill, who has modeled its society after Nazi Germany:
Kirk: Gill. Gill, why did you abandon your mission? Why did you interfere with this culture?
Gill: Planet fragmented. Divided. Took lesson from Earth history.
Kirk: But why Nazi Germany? You studied history. You knew what the Nazis were.
Gill: Most efficient state Earth ever knew.
Spock: Quite true, Captain. That tiny [sic] country, beaten, bankrupt, defeated, rose in a few years to stand only one step away from global domination.
Kirk: But it was brutal, perverted, had to be destroyed at a terrible cost. Why that example?
Spock: Perhaps Gill felt that such a state, run benignly, could accomplish its efficiency without sadism.
"Believe me," said the Vulcan in chief on Monday, "the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting." Again, Obama was quick to acknowledge that this was only a fantasy. But as we have seen, such fantasies are chillingly common among the liberal elite.
Our constitutional system of checks and balances is frustrating at times, and it is not without dangers. But we owe a hearty thanks to Balkin, Robinson, Kristof, Friedman, Stone and Barash for putting their own ugly impulses on display and reminding us of how much more danger the country would be in without the Constitution to restrain our would-be rulers.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I have troubling news. I'm very careful about criticizing my party's leaders, but what is happening in Washington right now cannot be ignored.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has abandoned the Cut-Cap-Balance Act and is now pushing a new plan that is nearly identical to the one proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The Boehner-Reid plan gives the President an immediate increase in the debt limit and only promises to cut spending in the future. It violates all three principles of the Cut-Cap-Balance Pledge because it does not substantially cut current spending, it does not truly cap future spending, and it does not require the passage of a strong Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the debt limit.
In short, I oppose the Boehner-Reid plan because it won't balance the budget and stop the debt that is destroying our country.
The Boehner-Reid Plan
You will hear many claims about this plan over the next few days as it is pushed through the House and Senate. Some of these claims will be true, but many will be false. Here are the facts. The Boehner-Reid plan:
- Provides two increases in the debt limit -- $900 billion and $1.6 trillion -- totaling $2.5 trillion. It gives the President an immediate $900 billion increase given that Congress does not vote to disapprove it. It gives the President another $1.6 trillion increase next year if a bill written by a new Super Committee passes both houses and becomes law.
- Reduces spending by only $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. This amount won't even come close to balancing the budget, as the debt is expected to grow by as much as $10 trillion over the next decade. The plan also reduces spending by only $6 billion in 2012. Considering that our government currently spends $10 billion a day, $6 billion is far too little to cut over the first year of the plan.
- Calls for a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment but does not require its passage. Without passage of a strong Balanced Budget Amendment, Congress will never break its addiction to spending.
- Makes it virtually impossible to stop the debt limit from going up. The debt ceiling increases can only be stopped if Congress passes a resolution of disapproval and then votes to override the President's veto with two-thirds support in the House and Senate.
- Creates a new, 12-member Super Committee to write another "grand bargain" to reduce the deficit by at least $1.6 trillion. It does not, however, prohibit the Super Committee from writing a bill to raise taxes and destroy jobs. The bill can then be fast-tracked through the House and Senate with no amendments.
After reviewing the details of Boehner-Reid plan, I cannot support it.
- It won't balance the budget and stop the debt. Even if the cuts called for in the plan were real, the debt will still increase by $7 trillion over the next ten years.
- It won't protect our AAA bond rating. According to financial reports, this plan will not reduce long-term spending by enough to prevent a downgrade. If we lose our AAA rating, it will create higher interest rates and cause our debt to grow even faster.
- It will likely result in higher taxes that will destroy even more jobs. The unemployment rate is over 9 percent. We cannot afford to lose more jobs when so many Americans are struggling to find work.
The Way Forward
Fortunately, there is a much better solution.
The Cut-Cap-Balance Act would balance the budget, stop the debt, and protect our AAA bond rating. This legislation passed the House with bipartisan support but was blocked by Democrats in the Senate.
The votes in the Senate for Cut-Cap-Balance are there if Republicans stand firm. 23 Democrats in the Senate have expressed support for the Balanced Budget Amendment at some point in their careers. They're blocking it now because they believe Republicans will blink and agree to something much less.
And that's exactly what will happen if the Boehner-Reid plan is passed. It gives the big spenders in Washington everything they wanted -- an increase in the debt limit, phony spending cuts, and a mechanism to pass tax increases.
Please call your senators today and urge them to oppose the Boehner-Reid plan and to demand passage of the Cut, Cap, Balance Act.
United States Senator
Chairman, Senate Conservatives Fund
MANAGING THE MEDIA AND PRUDENCE
by Phil Sevilla
Tuesday, 26 July 11, 11:30 AM
Gov. Perry ignited a firestorm after his comments in Aspen about homosexual marriage.
I found a good summation of the blowback in the secular press after Perry's careless comments. Read on: Perry, Conservatives and Gay Marriage: An Evolving View?
Bottom line... lessons learned... again and again:
Nothing new here about the media - most are not friends of Christian conservatism and they are not objective.
Watch what you say, tread very carefully - every word will be scrutinized, second guessed, and distorted.
Perry should know this.
One last thing I observed which critical Christian believers picked up on ...What did Perry say in Aspen that offended their Christian sensibilities?
"Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me." He continued, "That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."
"Well, it's not fine with God, Governor Perry," is a common thread I found resonating on Christian blogs voicing readers' disappointment with Perry's statement .
Perry needs to send out a clear explanation addressing Christian conservatives' concerns about his remarks. Confusion can spiral out control if he intends a White House run.
I'd like to remind Perry that in 1967 there were only a handful of states who legalized child killing - Colorado, Oregon, California, N. Carolina. New York followed in 1970. What happened? Six years after Colorado, seven Supreme Court judges voted that a Texas statute restricting abortion only when necessary to save the life of the mother was unconstitutional. The rest is history.
What makes Gov. Perry think that New York legalizing homosexual marriage is irrelevant to Texas and the other states that have defended traditional marriage? That's how corruption works! It spreads! Most of his book, Fed Up, talks about activist legislators and judges.
If he meant what he said in his book about the danger of activist judges and legislators, doesn't he realize his statement came across as defending the narrow majority of state legislators (33-29) acting to obstruct the will of the people of the state of New York? If he is fine with New York upending traditional state marriage laws, then, he will soon find the fight in his state by the same leviathan attacking marriage in all 50 states.
Has he forgotten what happened in Lawrence vs. Texas?
|Anders Behring Breivik|
Anders Behring Breivik
|Born||13 February 1979 (age 32) |
|Other names||Andrew Berwick, Sigurd Jorsalfar|
|Known for||2011 Norway attacks|
|Religion||Church of Norway[4|
Islamophobia and Mass Murder
By Mark Steyn
The Corner / National Review Online
July 25, 2011 1:25 A.M.
I have been away from the Internet for the weekend, and return to find myself being fitted out for a supporting role in Friday’s evil slaughter in Norway.
The mass murderer Breivik published a 1,500-page “manifesto.” It quotes me, as well as several friends of NR — Theodore Dalrymple, Daniel Pipes, Roger Scruton, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Hannan (plus various pieces from NR by Rod Dreher and others) — and many other people, including Churchill, Gandhi, Orwell, Jefferson, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, not to mention the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Darwin.
Those new “hate speech” codes the Left is already clamoring for might find it easier just to list the authors Europeans will still be allowed to read.
It is unclear how seriously this “manifesto” should be taken. Parts of it simply cut and paste chunks of the last big killer “manifesto” by Ted Kaczynski, with the occasional [insert-your-cause-here] word substitute replacing the Unabomber’s obsessions with Breivik’s. This would seem an odd technique to use for a sincerely meant political statement. The entire document is strangely anglocentric – in among the citations of NR and The Washington Times, there’s not a lot about Norway.
Nevertheless, Breivik’s manifesto seems to be determining the narrative in the anglophone media. The opening sentence from USA Today:
Islamophobia has reached a mass murder level in Norway as the confessed killer claims he sought to combat encroachment by Muslims into his country and Europe.
So, if a blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavian kills dozens of other blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavians, that’s now an “Islamophobic” mass murder? As far as we know, not a single Muslim was among the victims. Islamophobia seems an eccentric perspective to apply to this atrocity, and comes close to making the actual dead mere bit players in their own murder. Yet the Associated Press is on board:
Security Beefed Up At UK Mosques After Norway Massacre.
But again: No mosque was targeted in Norway. A member of the country’s second political party gunned down members of its first. But, in the merest evolution of post-9/11 syndrome, Muslims are now the preferred victims even in a story in which they are entirely absent.
A Tweeter thinks that “turning this scumbag’s atrocity in Norway into a lesson about how Mark Steyn and his ilk are douchebags seems… opportunistic,” but that’s the least of it. Even by the elastic definitions of “Islamophobia,” the angle being pursued is bizarre and profoundly tasteless: A rambling Internet pdf is trumping the facts on the ground — trumping the specifics of what occurred, and the victims.
This man Breivik may think he’s making history and bestriding the geopolitical currents and the clash of civilizations, but in the end he went and shot up his neighbors. Why let his self-aggrandizing bury the reality?
Any of us who write are obliged to weigh our words, and accept the consequences of them. But, when a Norwegian man is citing Locke and Burke as a prelude to gunning down dozens of Norwegian teenagers, he is lost in his own psychoses.
Free societies can survive the occasional Breivik. If Norway responds to this as the Left appears to wish, by shriveling even further the bounds of public discourse, freedom will have a tougher time.
A SYMPHONY BY CONGRESS
by Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times
Tuesday, 26 July 11
When the American economy spits, to steal an ancient Chinese aphorism, everybody swims.
When the American economy sneezes, everybody catches cold.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, as reckless as they can be on given occasions, have any intention of taking responsibility for the default that could—“could,” not necessarily “would”—suck the world into a black hole of unknown depth.
Everybody’s nervous about the resolution of the “crisis” in Washington, but when the Asian stock markets opened Monday there was no mass suicide on the trading floors, no frantic search for a building high enough to jump from. In fact, the traders and investors in both Europe and Asia appear to have been paying attention to the advice of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican majority whip. He told his caucus to “keep calm and carry on.” This was the philosophy of the late George Wallace, who, on losing an improbable race for the White House four decades ago, was asked what he intended to do next. “I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on.” It’s what all prudent men do when hysteria beckons.
There are seven days to go before the Aug. 2 deadline, a whole week for the pols to string out the soap opera. The consequences of the debate are huge, with the winner rewriting the rules of the political game for the next generation, or at least for the next election cycle. Neither side can afford to be the first to blink. The rhetoric will grow an even deeper shade of purple as the week wears on.
Nancy Pelosi, relegated to the peanut gallery for the resolution of the struggle, reached for her share of the purple ink Saturday night at a fund-raiser for a congressional candidate in Connecticut. She reckons there are two visions of America struggling for dominance. “President Obama has a vision to work for the little guy, the middle class and for all people in our country,” she said. “He is there for 100 percent of Americans and Republicans are there for 2 per cent of Americans.” Class warfare comes naturally to certain Democrats. She was obviously using the arithmetic so beloved in Washington, where you make up your own numbers. By her counting the two parties are there for 102 per cent of all Americans. Who would have thought we had it that good?
John Boehner, the speaker of the House and the leader for the moment of the Republicans in Congress, has a full day’s job calming the fears of the timid Republicans, of whom there are always too many, and the anger of the Tea Party Republicans, of whom there may be just enough. For President Obama, the speaker had a lesson in fundamental civics, once taught in junior-high school before the subject was squeezed out by courses in self-esteem, feminist war heroes and gay studies.
“As I read the Constitution,” Mr. Boehner told the president, “the Congress gets to write the laws and you get to decide what you want to sign.”
Plain speech like this gives Washington, where euphemism has been raised to high art, the heebie-jeebies. The Democrats won’t speak of raising taxes; they want to increase “revenue.” Who doesn’t like “revenue?” The president boasts of his eagerness to “reform the tax code,” but won’t say he would “reform” the code by decorating it with new taxes to pay for an expanded government.
Lost in the sturm and drang, the clanging of the background music, the thunder of approaching doom and the pipsqueakery of the politicians, the wringing of hands and the decrying of partisanship, is the reality that this is exactly how the political system is meant to work. Debate, argument and contention are what the Founding Fathers prescribed as the means of reaching consensus and resolution. They were not much concerned with bipartisan civility and being nice. Genteel courtesy was for the parlor, not the well of the House. The noise that frightens the more refined pundits, delicate editorialists and the stock-market traders who imagine themselves masters of the universe is merely the sound of the republic at work. Not a symphony by Mozart, exactly, but music to the educated ear.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
RUNNING A COUNTRY'S ECONOMY WITHOUT A PLAN IS LIKE FLYING INTO SPACE WITHOUT A PLAN TO RETURN TO EARTH
A MAN WITHOUT A PLAN
by Mark Steyn
Friday, 22 July 2011
Earlier this month, Moody's downgraded Irish government debt to junk. Which left the Irish somewhat peeved. The Department of Finance pointed out that it had met all the "quantitative fiscal targets" imposed by the European Union, and the National Treasury Management Agency said that Ireland was sufficiently flush "to cover all its financing requirements until the end of 2013."
Which is more than the government of the United States can say.
That's not the only difference between the auld sod and America. In Europe, austerity is in the air, and in the headlines: "Italy Fast-Tracks Austerity Vote." "Greek Minister Urges Austerity Consensus." "Portugal To Speed Austerity Measures." "Even Queen Faces Funding Squeeze In Austerity Britain." The word has become so instantly ubiquitous that Leftie deadbeats are already opposed to it: "Austerity Protest Takes Place In Dublin." For the rentamob types, "austerity" is to this decade what "Bush" and "Iraq War" were to the last. It can't be long before grizzled old rockers are organizing some all-star Rock Against Austerity gala.
By contrast, nobody seems minded to "speed austerity measures" over here. The word isn't part of the conversation – even though we're broke on a scale way beyond what Ireland or Portugal could ever dream of. The entire Western world is operating on an unsustainable business model: If it were Borders or Blockbuster, it would be hoping to close the Greek and Portuguese branches but maybe hold on to the Norwegian one. In hard reality, like Borders only the other day, it would probably wind up shuttering them all. The problem is structural: Not enough people do not enough work for not enough of their lives. Developed nations have 30-year-old students and 50-year old retirees, and then wonder why the shrunken rump of a "working" population in between can't make the math add up.
By the way, demographically speaking, these categories – "adolescents" and "retirees" – are an invention of our own time: They didn't exist a century ago. You were a kid till 13 or so. Then you worked. Then you died. As Obama made plain in his threat to Gran'ma last week that the August checks might not go out, funding nonproductivity is now the principal purpose of the modern state. Good luck with that at a time when every appliance in your home is manufactured in Asia.
As I said, these are structural problems. In theory, they can be fixed. But, when you look at the nature of them, you've got to wonder whether they ever will be this side of societal collapse. Blockbuster went bankrupt because it was wedded to a 1980s technology and distribution system. In government, being merely a quarter-century obsolete would be a major achievement. The ruling party in Washington is wedded to the principle that an 80-year-old social program is inviolable: That's like Blockbuster insisting in 2011 that there's no problem with its business model for rentals of silent movies with live orchestral accompaniment. To be sure, there are some problems parking the musicians' bus in residential streets, but nothing that can't be worked out.
But "political reality" operates to different rules from humdrum real reality. Thus, the "debt ceiling" debate is regarded by most Democrats and a fair few Republicans as some sort of ghastly social faux pas by boorish conservatives: Why, everyone knows ye olde debt-limit vote is merely a bit of traditional ceremonial, like the Lord Chancellor walking backwards with the Cap of Maintenance and Black Rod shouting "Hats off, strangers!" at Britain's Opening of Parliament. You hit the debt ceiling, you jack it up a couple trillion, and life goes on – or so it did until these GOP yahoos came along and decided to treat the vote as if it actually meant something.
Obama has done his best to pretend to take them seriously. He claimed to have a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. The court eunuchs of the press corps were impressed, and went off to file pieces hailing the president as "the grown-up in the room." There is, in fact, no plan. No plan at all. No plan whatsoever, either for a deficit reduction of $4 trillion or $4.73. As is the way in Washington, merely announcing that he had a plan absolved him of the need to have one. So the president's staff got out the extra-wide teleprompter and wrote a really large number on it, and simply by reading out the really large number the president was deemed to have produced a serious blueprint for trillions of dollars in savings. For his next trick, he'll walk out on to the stage of Carnegie Hall, announce that he's going to play Haydn's Cello Concerto No 2, and, even though there's no cello in sight, and Obama immediately climbs back in his golf cart to head for the links, music critics will hail it as one of the most moving performances they've ever heard.
The only "plan" Barack Obama has put on paper is his February budget. Were there trillions and trillions of savings in that? Er, no. It increased spending and doubled the federal debt.
How about Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader? Has he got a plan? No. The Democratic Senate has shown no interest in producing a budget for two-and-a-half years. Unlike the president, Sen. Reid can't even be bothered pretending he's interested in spending reductions. But he is interested in spending, and, if that's your bag, boring things like budgets only get in the way.
It seems reasonable to conclude from the planlessness and budgetlessness of the Obama/Reid Democrats that their only plan is to carry on spending without limit. Otherwise, someone somewhere would surely have written something down on a piece of paper by now. But no, apparently the Department of Writing Down Plans is the only federal expense the president is willing to cut. You begin to see why the Europeans are a little miffed. They're passing austerity budgets so austere they've spawned an instant anti-austerity movement rioting in the street – and yet they're still getting downgraded by the ratings agencies. In Washington, by contrast, the ruling party of the Brokest Nation in History has no spending plan other than to plan to spend even more – and nobody's downgrading them.
Well, don't worry. It's coming. The domestic media coverage of this story has been almost laughably fraudulent: To the court eunuchs, a failure to raise the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion would signal to the world that American government was embarrassingly dysfunctional. In reality, raising the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion without any spending cuts would confirm to the world that American government is terminally dysfunctional.
In the debt-ridden treasuries of Europe, they're talking "austerity." In the debt-ridden treasury of Washington, they're talking about more spending (Kathleen Sebelius is touting new women's health programs to be made available "without cost.") At the risk (in Samuel Johnson's words) of settling the precedence between a louse and a flea, I think Europe's political discourse is marginally less deranged than ours. The president is said to be "the adult in the room" because he is reported to be in favor of raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.
By the year 2036.
If that's the best offer, there isn't going to be a 2036, not for America. As the Europeans are beginning to grasp, eventually "political reality" collides with real reality. The message from a delusional Washington these last weeks is that it won't be a gentle bump.
Friday, July 22, 2011
VULCAN IN CHIEF
Live long and prosper? Nah, death panels and 9% unemployment!
By JAMES TARANTO
The Best of the Web Today / The Wall Street Journal Online
Friday, 22 July 2011
We thought the Boston Globe was a newspaper, but apparently it is a science-fiction fanzine. Get a load of this column by Joshua Green:
Barack Obama took office vowing to usher in a post-partisan era that would drain the toxic anger of the Bush years and focus the country on practical, long-overdue reforms. Like Bush, he was no doubt sincere in wanting to unite the country. Unlike Bush, he has governed in a manner largely consistent with that ideal. A lot of good it's done him: Washington is more poisonous than ever. And as Congress courts disaster by threatening to default on the national debt, Obama must marvel at his plight. Practically a caricature of Spock-like rationality and sober caution, he's presiding over a capital that has become completely unhinged.
Come to think of it, there are major similarities between Obama and Spock. Both have oversize ears. Both were fathered by aliens, although Obama's parents hailed from the same planet. Both are ill suited for command, although Spock was not ambitious enough to seek it.
It's amok time in Washington.
And of course everyone remembers the episode in which Spock said: "Imagine Captain Kirk drivin' the Enterprise into a wormhole"--Vulcans always drop their g's when they're trying to sound folksy--"and it's a deep wormhole. It's a big wormhole. And somehow he walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we transported down into the wormhole--me and Bones and Scotty and Hikaru and Nyota. We've been pushin', pushin', tryin' to get that starship out of the wormhole. And meanwhile, Kirk is standin' there, sippin' on a Slurpee."
OK, we exaggerated. He didn't actually say "Nyota." Lieutenant Uhura didn't have a first name until the 2009 "Star Trek" movie.
Green's entire account of Obama's presidency is as removed from reality as "Star Trek." By what conceivable standard can one claim that the president has "governed in a manner largely consistent" with the "ideal" of "a postpartisan era"--much less that he has been "unlike Bush" in doing so?
Consider the two most controversial legislative initiatives of George W. Bush's first half-term: the 2001 tax cut and the 2002 authorization to use military force against Iraq. Both had substantial bipartisan support: The former passed with "yes" votes from 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats; the latter had the backing of 81 House Democrats and 29 Senate Democrats.
By contrast, Obama's two biggest legislative initiatives, the so-called stimulus and ObamaCare, had the support of a grand total of three Republicans in both houses combined (all senators who voted in favor of the stimulus).
Now, Obama backers might argue that these were just "practical, long-term reforms," which the Republicans were partisan for opposing. One's own side, after all, is always principled where the other side is partisan. But the majority of voters did not seem to see it this way. The most modest interpretation of the 2010 election results is that Americans thought Obama had gone way too far and wished to restrain him from going further.
Which brings us to the current impasse involving the debt limit. The so-called mainstream media is engaged in a bizarre propaganda effort, aimed not so much at persuading voters to agree with Obama but at convincing politicians that voters agree with Obama. Green provides a particularly good example of this, selectively citing survey numbers to paint a picture of wide public support of the president, when in fact the polls are more ambiguous.
"A majority of Americans now say Congress should raise the [debt] ceiling," Green writes. Perhaps so, in some surveys and subject to certain conditions. But in a Fox News poll released Wednesday, "voters were asked to imagine being a lawmaker in Congress who had to cast an up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling. The poll found 35 percent would vote in favor of increasing the limit, while 60 percent would vote against it."
"Two-thirds agree with Obama that any deal should balance spending cuts with tax increases," Green writes. "Only 21 percent favor the Republicans' plan of cuts alone." But according to a CNN poll, 66% favor a proposal in which "Congress would raise the debt ceiling only if a balanced budget amendment were passed by both houses of Congress and substantial spending cuts and caps on future spending were approved." That's the GOP "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan, which the Senate tabled this morning by a 51-46 party-line vote.
"Obama's approval rating, while only around 50 percent, towers over that of his opponents," Green writes. He doesn't mention that presidential approval ratings almost always tower over congressional ones. Anyway, "around 50%" is overly generous. The RealClearPolitics average is 46% (with 48.8% disapproval), and it has been more than a month since any poll showed Obama with an approval rating over 50%.
Even as he falsely claims that "Obama has prevailed" in public opinion, Green acknowledges that the president is "almost certain to lose the fight in Congress":
He'll get the debt limit raised--maybe before a default, maybe after--but only in exchange for a package that will probably consist entirely of cuts totaling at least $1.5 trillion and force his party into a series of politically uncomfortable votes. . . . It's enough to turn anyone into a raving partisan.
If the public is really on Obama's side, he ought to be able to hold out and win a legislative victory. But the truth is that he desperately needs a deal. The politics of default are unpredictable, but it is far from obvious that independents would respond to the chaos we have been told would ensue by re-electing the man who presided over it.
True, this confrontation would not be happening if Democrats still controlled the House. Maybe voters will end up blaming Republicans and end up re-electing Obama and a Democratic House majority. Then again, they may remember what that combination yielded in 2009-10 and conclude that Obama is incapable of governing satisfactorily regardless of which party controls Congress.
In the past four congressional terms, we have cycled through every possible party configuration of White House and House: both Republican in 2005-06, Republican president and Democratic House in 2007-08, both Democratic in 2009-10, and now Democratic president and Republican House. (In each election the Senate has moved in the same direction as the House, although not far enough in 2010 to deprive the Democrats of their majority.)
Voters were anxious for change in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and it's hard to imagine they won't be in 2012. That is a danger for Republicans for sure, but even more so for the one politician whose defeat would spell big change.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The incredibly bad timing of the incredibly lame "Gang of Six" plan-that-isn't-really-a-plan took the spotlight off of the president's cuts-that-aren't-really-cuts and launched another round of Manhattan-Beltway media elite stories trying to generate momentum for a massive tax hike with no spending reductions in 2012.
What is really astonishing is that any GOP senator urges support for a plan that isn't written down and presented to the public for weeks of debate. Did they learn nothing from Obamacare? Do they really believe this is what voters demanded last fall?
I spoke with Senator Pat Toomey about the latest developments on today's show. (The complete transcript is here.) One key exchange:
|HH: All right, so are we going over the falls in a barrel on August 2nd, Pat Toomey? |
PT: Well, first of all, I don’t think we go over the falls in a barrel if we don’t raise the debt limit. You know, I have argued repeatedly, if you look at the revenue that’s going to come in, a minimum of $173 billion dollars in tax revenue that will come in during the month of August, the total debt service obligation is $29 billion, a small fraction of that. There’s no reason in the world why we would default on our debt. And by the way, that’s enough money to also pay all Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, active duty military, and military vendors. So that leaves a lot out, and I acknowledge it’s very disruptive. We wouldn’t have any money for the Department of Education, or Commerce or Energy or Agriculture, and lots of other things that the government does, and that’s very disruptive. But it’s not a catastrophic default, and we ought to be, you know, I think we ought to keep that in mind, and we ought to insist on some real cuts in spending, and moving in the direction of a balanced budget. I don’t know at this point what can pass both the House and the Senate, and you know, there is some, I think there is some gravitational pull towards a short-term deal. But I just don’t understand why a short-term deal, when that expires several months from now, we’re going to be any more likely to solve this problem than we are today.
HH: Now Senator Toomey, after the break, I’m going to talk with the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, and he has been blasting Republicans as one would expect. My question to him, and I’m getting a crib note from you in this regard, is what exactly has the President really, truly, specifically offered to cut?
PT: Absolutely, I made this argument, and not only that, but let’s be honest. Every single issue that has had to do with fiscal policy, this President has been on the side of massive increases in spending. From the stimulus bill to the bailouts, to a budget resolution that was rejected by his supporters and got zero votes in the Senate, a CR battle where the dynamic we all know was John Boehner trying to cut spending, and President Obama resisting all cuts. I mean, there has been nothing about this administration that suggests any willingness to cut anything.
In the segment following Senator Toomey, Jonathan Chait got around to admitting that the president is proposing exactly zero cuts in spending for 2012, which is the key fact for the GOP to keep pounding home. The Democrats are simply not serious about reducing spending, and the president and his Democratic allies are forcing the country into the unchartered territory of a collision with the debt ceiling even though the GOP has offered a plan to both raise the debt ceiling and balance the budget.
If any fiscal meltdown follows, it will be because of the president's choices and political brinksmanship, and no amount of spin will disguise that result this year or next, even though the MSM will print and broadcast thousands of stories and plenty of loaded poll questions offering a contrary view.
The president may or may not be bluffing, but he is gambling with the lives and money of every American not in the super-wealthy class to which he will belong within weeks of leaving the White House.
A financial panic did occur on President Bush's watch, but he didn't seek it and regretted that it happened even as he struggled to end it.
President Obama is not intentionally engineering just such a panic -- his ego no doubt compels him to believe he is the master of events-- but his recklessness in allowing its approach is off the charts, as is the indifference of the Gang of Six to voter's clear direction last fall.
fromHugh Hewitt firstname.lastname@example.org via townhallmail.com
AN INTRANSIGENT PRESIDENT
by George Neumayr
THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR
The politicians most responsible for America's debt crisis are portrayed by the media as "grown-ups" while those least responsible for it are dubbed "intransigent." Veteran profligate spenders have been credited in recent days with a "balanced approach" to the crisis, even as Tea Partiers in Congress with no fingerprints on the debt have been cast as recklessly indifferent to it.
The mainstream media exclusively defines "intransigence" as conservative opposition to non-negotiable liberal demands. Hence, President Obama's willingness to risk default rather than drop his insistence on tax increases isn't considered intransigent and reckless but principled and mature.
Polls suggest that this media manipulation of the debate over the debt ceiling is paying off for the Democrats.
The politicians most responsible for America's debt crisis are portrayed by the media as "grown-ups" while those least responsible for it are dubbed "intransigent." Veteran profligate spenders have been credited in recent days with a "balanced approach" to the crisis, even as Tea Partiers in Congress with no fingerprints on the debt have been cast as recklessly indifferent to it.
The mainstream media exclusively defines "intransigence" as conservative opposition to non-negotiable liberal demands. Hence, President Obama's willingness to risk default rather than drop his insistence on tax increases isn't considered intransigent and reckless but principled and mature.
Polls suggest that this media manipulation of the debate over the debt ceiling is paying off for the Democrats. One recent poll says that the American public views Republican leaders as more responsible for the stalemate than Obama. Perhaps a political version of the Stockholm Syndrome is at work here. Obama certainly likes to play the captor turned hostage negotiator, saving the people from a crisis into which he has thrown them.
At his barrage of press conferences in recent days, he has presented himself as the people's advocate who is bravely confronting a problem that both Democrats and Republicans have long ignored. This role ill-befits a president who spent two and a half years pooh-poohing the calls of deficit hawks.
He said at one of the press conferences, striking a remarkably patronizing tone: "Now, what is important is that even as we raise the debt ceiling, we also solve the problem of underlying debt and deficits. I'm glad that congressional leaders don't want to default, but I think the American people expect more than that. They expect that we actually try to solve this problem, we get our fiscal house in order."
Obama considers it very heroic that he is even contemplating unspecified spending cuts and expects Republicans to make a similar "sacrifice" and swallow tax increases. This line of negotiation is a self-serving diversionary sham given that the crisis is due wholly to overspending. He is simply using a crisis that he compounded through trillions of dollars in heedless expenditures to push an ideological agenda extraneous to the issue under discussion.
An honest media would expose this gambit as raw exploitation of a self-generated crisis. But, instead, it treats his euphemistic calls for tax hikes -- he wants any deal to include a "revenue component" -- as the epitome of reasonableness, and has assisted him in turning the discussion into a referendum on Republican flexibility.
Obama is, in effect, asking overtaxed Americans for yet another bailout, a bailout that will allow him to resume the very deficit spending that catapulted the country into this crisis in the first place. Republicans have properly pointed out that tax increases will only make a bad economy worse. But the more fundamental argument against what Obama proposes is that it is unjust: Why should the American people have to pay more taxes for Washington's habitual mistakes?
Overspending pols are in no position to demand "sacrifice" from others, including from the rich whose already enormous tax payments make spending sprees in Washington possible. "Millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more," says Obama, adding that "we can close corporate loopholes so that oil companies aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks or that corporate jet owners aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks."
The media calls this the "balanced approach" of "grown-ups," but it is nothing more than scape goating by a childish pol who would rather engage in juvenile and idle class warfare than acknowledge his own complicity in the crisis. He had two and a half years to fix the problem and he didn't. Corporate jet owners, oil company executives, small business owners, and Tea Partiers aren't responsible for this mess; he is. While he was monitoring the "sacrifices" of others, he was making none himself and burying America in debt.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Nice place to be from.
Former State Senator and Republican Cook County Board President candidate Roger Keats and his wife Tina are leaving Illinois to live in Texas.
They bid farewell to their Illinois friends in a Wilmette Beacon article and with this letter this weekend, saying:
"We are voting with their feet and our wallets":
GOOD BYE AND GOOD LUCK
As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of it. After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart.
BUT enough is enough! The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can't continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here. I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4rd of our population.
Don't blame the weather, because I love 4 seasons.
Illinois just sold still more bonds and our credit rating is so bad we pay higher interest rates than junk bonds! Junk Bonds! Illinois is ranked 50th for fiscal policy; 47th in job creation; 1st in unfunded pension liabilities; 2nd largest budget deficit; 1st in failing schools; 1st in bonded indebtedness; highest sales tax in the nation; most judges indicted (Operations Greylord and Gambat); and 5 of our last 9 elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together! Then add 32 Chicago Aldermen and (according to the Chicago Tribune) over 1000 state and municipal employees indicted. The corruption tax is a real cost of doing business.
We are the butt of jokes for stand up comics. We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county in the most corrupt state in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire police and fire!
Our Crook County CORPORATE property tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House (Spkr. Mike Madigan) and the most senior alderman in Chicago each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their clients tax assessments.
We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while the Illinois income tax just went up 67%. Texas sales tax is ½ of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, tax payers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.
In The Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio ) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for and the property taxes are 1/3rd of what they are here.
Crook County's property tax system is a disaster: Wilmette homes near ours sell for 50% more and their property taxes are ½ of ours. Our assessed home value was 50% higher than the sales price. The system is unfair and incompetent. Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough.
I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets.
My best to all of you and Good Luck!
Muslim men are allowed to have as many as 4 wives.
Many Muslims have immigrated into the U.S. and brought their 2-3-or 4 wives with them, but the U.S. does not allow multi marriages, so the man lists one wife as his, and signs the other 2 or 3 up as extended family on welfare and other free Government programs!
Michigan has the highest population of Muslims in the United States.
When President Obama took office, the United States paid several millions of dollars to have a large number of Palestinians (All Muslim)immigrated here from Palestine .
Why? I have no idea, do you! We don't pay for other persons to immigrate here, and I'm sure that some of those Muslims moved into Michigan with the large current number of Muslims already
So now in Michigan when you call the Public Assistance office you are told to "Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish, or Press 3 for Arabic"!
Every time you add a new language to an American program it requires an additional number of persons fluent in that language to process those persons who refuse to learn English in order to
live here at an additional cost to the taxpayer!
Why are we even allowing persons to immigrate here who cannot provide for themselves, and putting them in our welfare system?
Press 3 for Arabic ..
This is quite alarming!!! This seems to have happened clandestinely, for, as far as I know, no public announcement, or opportunity to vote on this was offered to the American people. They're just adopting an official stance, and very likely using tax-payer money for it, in various capacities, without public knowledge or approval.
The following link takes you into the State of Michigan Public Assistance page, (as in Food Stamps etc). You won't have to scroll far before you see the assistance-letters options for...(get this)....English, Spanish, and ARABIC !!!
When did the ARABIC option sneak into our culture? Will we soon have to listen to our governmental offices, stores, and other venues offer us the option of "pressing 3 for ARABIC?"
Check it out for yourself.
The camel's nose is literally now OFFICIALLY under the tent!
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!!!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
WHAT, US WORRY?
WAITING TO CALL SOMEONE’S BLUFF
by Wesley Pruden
The Wasington Times
Tuesday, 19 July 11
The game of blind-man’s bluff isn’t working.
More and more Americans are catching on to the game. President Obama’s threat to withhold Granny’s Social Security check did not send millions of Grannies into the streets, her walker banging noisily against a wheelchair, leaving the wounded lying bloodied amidst splintered walking canes.
The president, who never learned to play poker very well, seems unaware that bluffing is what the card game is all about. When he told Eric Cantor, the Republican leader in the House, “don’t call my bluff,” it was the tip-off that he was, in fact, bluffing. Careful bluffers keep it to themselves.
The Republicans no less than the Democrats really can’t imagine sending the country into financial collapse. No one knows what would actually happen if the debt limit stays where it is. Neither party wants to be blamed for finding out. But neither side wants to be the first to blink, which is how bluffs are called.
There’s growing public suspicion that the tumult over the budget negotiations, largely media-made, will be the biggest bust since the media-made panics over epidemics of anthrax, anthrax, SARS, e-coli virus and swine and avian flu; Y2K (when all the airliners were supposed to fall from the sky at the stroke of midnight at the beginning of the 21st Century). Not to forget global warming (the lie that keeps on giving) or the Great Carmageddon that was supposed to catch millions in gridlocked Southern California to starve or die of thirst in their cars. These “disasters” terrified network-TV airheads who passed the panic on, and millions of corpses were in fact counted from Hong Kong to Hanoi to Haiphong. Almost all of the corpses were dead pigs and chickens.
The White House is trying mightily to manufacture similar panic over the budget negotiations, but getting excited about Joe Biden or John Boehner stretches the limits of human imagination. The polls, closely watched by the president though he often pretends otherwise, reflect disappointing results. Higher taxes are a tough sell. A new Gallup Poll finds that any Republican would bury Barack Obama by 8 points “if the election were held today.” Rasmussen finds a steady 5-point lead for the Republicans in the generic congressional poll.
Democrat and Republican alike know what must be done, Mr. Obama no less than Eric Cantor. Mr. Obama might be a great communicator if he had anything great to communicate, and he stated the case for action as eloquently as anyone: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies . . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
Wow! Right on. Unfortunately, that was Barack Obama in 2006, when he was speaking to Senate Democrats—many of whom are still in the Senate now singing a very different tune. Mr. Obama was determined not to raise the limit at the request of George W. Bush. By 4 votes, Mr. Bush persuaded Congress to raise the limit from $8 trillion to a little under $9 trillion. President Obama wants to pad enough trillions to enable the government to borrow enough to get him through the 2012 re-election season.
For most people, trillions sound like funny money. Printed in the newspapers without the zeroes, the figures 2.4, 9 and 12 don’t look so scary. Add all those zeroes, as in $12,000,000,000, and they do. The late Everett Dirksen, the Republican majority leader a few eons ago, once remarked that “a billion dollars here and a billion there don’t sound like so much, but you add it up and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s scheme to give President Obama the authority to unilaterally raise the limit is said to be gaining friends. The Constitution limits the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States” to Congress, but what’s a Constitution among politicians? The Constitution, learned judges tell us, is “a living document,” and doesn’t necessarily mean what it says. We live in fraudulent times.