Democrats Archives

Manufactured Pain in the Government Shutdown

This past weekend, veterans and their supporters protested in Washington, DC. They took down the barricades surrounding the open-air World War II memorial, and dumped some of them half a mile away outside the White House. It seems like spending money, during an alleged government shutdown, to close something that doesn’t actually require opening was a bridge too far for an administration bent on making sure you feel the pain, even if the pain is manufactured.

Speaking at this protest were politicians of all stripes, standing with and supporting our vets. Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin spoke to the crowd, and… Hmm, just a minute. Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin… Aren’t they both Republicans? Why yes; yes they are. What should have been a bipartisan show of support, was partisan only because every available Democrat either supported this manufactured pain, or dare not cross his party leaders with a show of independence or support of the troops.

Is the question of this manufactured pain — shutting down things that have never been shut down during a government shutdown – a partisan issue? It shouldn’t be. And I do understand supporting the President who happens to be of your party. Generally, you don’t want to be the one giving the other side an easy target. I get that. But aren’t there some things beyond the pale? For some, it appears not.

Oh, and on Monday, the barricades were put back up. Now there’s an essential service for ya. Seems the World War II Memorial is more secure than our borders.

    What the Detroit Bankruptcy Has To Say To Us

    [This is the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

    Detroit, Michigan, formerly the auto-making capital of the US, if not the world, filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on July 18th, becoming the current capital of big cities going under in the US. What brought Detroit under water is not really debatable; declining income and spending beyond its means. What is being debated are the causes of the two.

    On the spending side, I think it’s no coincidence that the city has had essentially one party rule for the past 51 years. No surprise that the party in question is the Democratic Party. Detroit’s current budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and its long-term debt could be as much as $20 billion. Rather than cutting spending, Detroit ignored the common sense lesson of living within your means, embrace the Paul Krugman idea that austerity kills, and died anyway, spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, there is a tomorrow, and it’s here.

    When tax and spend had to be curtailed, because of a shrinking tax base, then borrow and spend kicked in. I suppose someone like Krugman would say they didn’t borrow enough. When that wasn’t enough, President Obama said that Detroit wouldn’t go bankrupt on his watch, and he tossed boatloads of money at the union-controlled, Democrat-voting auto industry, and pronounced it, merely on the reasoning that he had written a check, that Detroit was coming back. Yeah, no so much.

    Now, even the Obama administration won’t touch them. They’ve stood up for their big spending principles, in DC and in Detroit, and reality has hit them upside the head with the mother of all clue-bats, as in “get a clue”. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Consistently spending more – far more – than you have will one day come home to roost. And everyone – both those from whom the money was taken, and to whom the money was given – will suffer. And it will affect the poor disproportionately because the rich have the means to escape.

    And they did escape, which brings us to the income side of the equation. The riots of 1967 chased citizens and businesses alike out of the city, which only accelerated and existing trend, such that in the past 60 years, it lost 60% of its residents. But the riots weren’t the only reason. With corruption, over-promising and the requisite overspending, those that could read the handwriting on the wall did what they had to do. If you can’t change the government, change your location, and they did.

    And if you’re inclined to lay the blame at the feet of greedy corporations that outsource jobs, Walter Russell Mead has some information that tends to suggest a group as, or more, culpable. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners. That’s “billion”, with a “B”. But now, these folks, whose union representatives negotiated this package, and now very likely going to get less than 10 percent of that. Like I said, everyone gets hurt, ultimately, with these kinds of policies. Those who got their benefits and hit the road are not unlike the folks who start a pyramid scheme. They cash in early and often, while those who get in later either get very little return, or lose out. The pyramid in Detroit has played itself out.

    Walter Russell Mead, again, has a relevant warning for those in other cities who still think such policies are a good idea, because of their good intentions.

    Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

    I would add that the sooner DC comes to terms with this, the better, for the same reason. And, working our way back in the political process, the sooner the voters of this nation come to terms with this, the better off we will all be. It may not sound, to the untrained ear, to be very caring, or fair, or socially just. But Detroit has a 47% illiteracy rate. 60% of its children are living in poverty. Its crime rate is 5 times the national average. The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City. Is it caring, or fair, or socially just, to pursue policies that led to that?

    If you continue to vote for those policies, then what visited Detroit will be visiting you soon enough. It may already be in the process of happening. Detroit just got there first. Who’s next?

      Tea Party "Terrorists"

      [This is part of the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

      A Rasmussen poll release on June 27th found that 26% of Obama voters think Tea Partiers are a bigger terror threat than radical Muslims. Fred Thompson asked in a tweet, “So… how many people were killed by exploding Constitutions?”

        A portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Act itself wasn’t chucked, just the way that it was determining which states came under it. The era of poll taxes and literacy tests are gone, and the disparity between whites and blacks regarding voter participation have been erased. The state with the largest gap between white and black voter turnout these days is Massachusetts, for cryin’ out loud. And in Mississippi in the 21st century, black turnout exceeds white turnout. But the VRA was still punishing the South for race disparities in voting that have long been remedied.

        So then, is 50-year-old data better than current information when trying to determine who should come under the Voting Rights Act? Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of the past? The four liberal Supreme Court justices, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama would answer No to both those questions, at least based on the outrage they feigned over the ruling. They can’t seem to bring themselves to believe that progress has actually occurred. Or they’re pandering to their base. Either way, to call requiring these stats to be updated “turning back the clock” is cognitive dissonance of the highest order. The request is that the clock be turned forward, and Democrats are against it. Or they are pretending to be against it, and hoping that their base isn’t paying attention.

        If you are a Democrat, and you’ve wondered why Republicans are often wary of laws that try to remedy sins of the past, this is exhibit A. Here is a law trying to do such a thing, but it’s stuck in the culture and racism of the 1960s, and any attempt to acknowledge repentance from those sins is taken, by liberals, to be just as bad. And if you want to take politically corrective legislation like the Voting Rights Act and update it for today’s reality, you must be racist.

        Ronald Reagan quipped that government programs are the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth. But the Supreme Court didn’t do away with the VRA, it just said that it should be relevant. Those politicos that spoke out against this eminently reasonable decision are, in my mind, just as irrelevant as 50-year-old statistics.

          (Recent) History Repeats Itself

          The housing bubble, anyone remember it? That’s when people who would not have otherwise been able to get credit to buy a house were given it anyway because the government pressured banks to do it. Everybody gets a home, and if you’re against this policy, you clearly hate the poor. Then the bubble burst, defaults were rampant, and more government programs had to be thought up to save us from the previous government programs. And, as Bruce McQuain notes at the Q&O blog, yes, the government’s meddling is what caused that sub-prime mortgage meltdown, which then was a huge contributor to the subsequent recession.

          And now we have this.

          The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

          President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

          Those who do not learn from history are doomed to … create public policy to repeat it. It’s allegedly being instituted to allow the poor to participate in the housing recover, but you can be sure that it won’t be a temporary measure, because any attempt to return to semi-sane credit checks will, will, be demagogued, once again, as eeevil Republicans throwing the poor out on the streets. This has to prove without a doubt that Democrats only care about intentions, not results. Even if the results have just finished happening.

          Short-attention span voters love this stuff. Obama just thinks anything Bush did he can do better, and in this case, he very well could. We just did this, like, six years ago, and Barney Frank told us it was all good and not to worry. And then we had to bail out a bunch of banks, because we made them make loans to people who couldn’t pay them back, because, you know, racist / sexist.

            Another Perspective on the Sequester

            The President has been treating the cuts from the sequester as some sort of budget Armageddon; blaming Republicans and talking up how much they’ll hurt. Here’s another perspective on these cuts from people who look more closely at our financial situation.

            Credit rating agencies are shrugging off sequestration, saying the U.S. government will need to do more to reduce the deficit if it wants to prevent a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

            While the agencies say the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts represent at least a step towards deficit reduction, they argue much more is needed to prevent the United States from losing its “AAA” rating.

            “It’s not the most ideal outcome,” said David Riley, Fitch Rating’s global managing director for sovereign ratings, on CNBC Europe. “You’d rather have intelligent cuts and some revenue measures as well … but we don’t live in an ideal world, and it’s better to have some deficit reduction than none at all.”

            The agencies view it as a positive sign that Congress did not simply scrap the unpopular sequester. Erasing the cuts without coming up with an alternative, something pushed by some liberal lawmakers, would have added to the deficit and debt and further pressured agencies to downgrade the nation’s credit rating.

            They are glad Congress didn’t scrap it, but the year’s still young. In any event, when you hear Democrats freak out about these cuts, just remember that the credit agencies are yawning.

              When the Shooter is a Liberal, the Media Gets Quiet

              When a nut shot Gabby Giffords, the Left blamed it on the Tea Party and thought Sarah Palin should apologize or reach out. LA shooter Chris Dorner idolizes the Left, and suddenly the media is a model of restraint.

              Alleged Los Angeles shooter Christopher Jordan Dorner, influenced by left-leaning media coverage of gun crime in the wake of the Newtown shootings, has virtually paralyzed the City of Angels. Floyd Lee Corkins, a gunman incensed by anti-gay marriage bias after reading articles by the liberal advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center, took a firearm into the Family Research Council’s headquarters with the intention of killing “as many as possible.” He hoped to smash Chick-fil-A sandwiches in the faces of as many corpses as he could. These shooters were clearly moved by left-wing media, and we should thank every benevolent force in the universe that they were. Had either shooter possessed even a tenuous link to a conservative group, a media-driven hysteria about the malevolent influence of right-wing broadcasters and commentators would be gripping the nation today. Fortunately, when a crazed shooter’s ideology is explicitly and demonstrably left-wing, the media displays admirable restraint about linking a gunman’s politics to their acts of violence.

                NY Times Wakes Up

                It’s one thing to criticize decisions. It’s another to realize you have to make the same ones you criticized. But Barack Obama has been continuing the same war policies from the Bush administration that he ran against. It’s amazing what getting the job has on your view of the job

                If President Obama tuned in to the past week’s bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.

                Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.

                (Oh, and the NY Times is just now realizing this?)

                  Friday Link Wrap-up

                  No, the Bush tax cuts didn’t cause the recession. Yes, Obama’s "recovery" has been the worst in history. These and other economic realities can be summed up in this graph. (Click for a larger version.)

                   

                  A sex scandal involving adults and children under their charge. No, not the Catholic church of the 60s; the public schools of today.

                  While he did get the number wrong, Romney was right in that those who pay the least in income taxes are the least likely to vote for him.

                  The number of scientific papers that had to be retracted last year was a 10x increase over the rate during the previous decade. And a study of those retractions finds that 3/4ths of those retractions were due to misconduct rather than honest mistakes.

                  Good news in the stem cell debate. "Two stem-cell researchers have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work in cellular reprogramming, a technique that unleashed a wave of advances in biology, from cloning to the possible treatment of diseases using a patient’s own cells." That is, there is less of a reason to use embryonic stem cells, when adult ones will do just as well.

                  Hedging their bets? "A survey by the Pew Research Center discovered that 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists and 3.3 percent say they are agnostic. Among the atheists and agnostics, however, 6 percent said they pray daily."

                  Need more money for your school district, by proving how many students attend? Make them wear microchips. Privacy takes a back seat to cash.

                  And finally, some apt scripture for the VP debate last night. (Click for a larger version.)

                    Debate Post-mortem

                    I know I’m biased, but Romney was mopping the debate floor with Obama last night. Even on the ObamaCare vs RomneyCare situation, he’s came out on top.

                    Some of the big-name liberals were astonished as well. Jeff Jarvis, media critic at BuzzFeed tweeted, "How did Obama get backed into the corner defending the death panel?" Indeed, Sarah Palin deserves an apology. Bill Maher had to admit, "i can’t believe i’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter". Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos top liberal blog lamented, "Nobody likes seeing a prevent defense in action, and that’s what Dems saw tonight."

                    Some good Tweets from the Right, too.

                    James Taranto: It’s a close one, but I’ll say Obama had a better night than Lehrer.

                    David Limbaugh: Again — listen to Obama- in almost every answer he focuses on what is and isn’t fair. He never addresses what will work esp 4 growht [sic] & debt

                    Blogger Ace of Spades quotes a pollster: Frank Luntz: "I have not had a group that swung this much. This is overwhelming for Romney. This is a big deal."

                    Again, I know I’m biased, but I think Romney won on substance as well as style; explaining the $716 billion he would put back in Medicare (and why), why RomneyCare was at least passed in a bipartisan way (as opposed to ObamaCare), and, as I said, getting Obama to admit and even defend "death panels".

                    It was a great first day of the rest of the campaign. Hopefully, this will translate into votes.

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