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Belmont Club

Going to the Well

September 30th, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Peter Roff at US News and World Report argues that politicians are like cats. You can’t tell from the caterwauling whether they’re fighting or mating. In particular he argues that neither the administration nor the “mainstream” Republicans really want a ‘government shutdown’. Both simply want to use it as a bargaining chip — “crowbar” might be a better word — to extract political gain. They’ve set it up so when the crisis is resolved they’ll have more public money than ever before.

Truth be told, Obama and Reid want a shutdown – unless they get everything they want. That means not just the survival of Obamacare but the busting of the spending caps so that the federal spigot can be turned back on and the money can start flowing once again to the constituent groups that are such an important part of the Democrat’s electoral coalition. Anyone who doubts this should just look at the way the White House has been handing out waivers on Obamacare and to whom. In the political sense, they’re the next best thing to cash.

There are some in the conservative coalition who really do want to force a government shutdown as they see it as the only way, the last gasp if you will, to stop Obamacare before it starts to be implemented. What most of the Washington punditocracy won’t tell you is that the White House, Harry Reid and the Democrats want a shutdown just as much if not more They see it as the pathway back to control of the House after the 2014 election, which would allow Obama to finish his term much the same way he started it – with no checks and balances on him whatsoever.

After all that’s what they live on: public money. The shutdown process is as simple as it is cynical. While much of the government, like Homeland Security, keeps going for the duration, any resulting inconvenience will be pointedly inflicted on the public. It’s like waterboarding the taxpayers, until they cry “uncle”  and give up one more bit of control over their wallets for the privilege of getting their money unfrozen and their debts increased. What could go wrong?

Megan McArdle despite her long career as a pundit never quite “got it” until she looked at the Detroit pension plan. McCardle wondered why the pension trustees were handing out “bonuses” to the recipients when all investment logic demanded that the funds in their care be reinvested. Being a logical and decent person McArdle cast around for an explanation without success.

I literally slapped my forehead while reading some of the explanations that the trustees offered for their behavior. The spokesman for the trustees has the nerve to complain about the actuary’s report that outlines these wild deviations from sanity. Here is how she justified draining the pension fund assets:

She said that the trustees were administering benefits that had been negotiated by the city and its various unions and that they had established an internal account to set aside “excess earnings” that would cover the cost. She said it was appropriate for retirees to benefit from market upturns because they had paid into the pension fund, so their own contributions had generated part of the investment gains.

“People were having a hard time, living hand-to-mouth, and we thought we would give them some extra,” Ms. Bassett said.

It does not seem to have occurred to Ms. Bassett, or the other trustees, that people would have a very hard time when the pension that they were depending on went up in smoke.

Then she got it, like a light coming on in her head. The pension trustees were draining the pension because they were so sure, so absolutely certain that the taxpayers would have to refill the pot they felt safe helping themselves to whatever they wanted. She wrote:

they were thinking the pensions would have to be paid, one way or another. After all, it’s in the Michigan State Constitution. So they could pay out bonuses, please various constituencies, and then force the city or the state to make them whole when it all came tumbling down.

What could go wrong? To everyone’s amazement something completely unprecedented happened: City Hall went broke. “They didn’t reckon with the possibility that the city would simply run out of money, and the state would decline to step in, leaving them with no deep pockets to make up for their mismanagement.” And so the Detroit pension is bust unless they find something they can siphon off to replenish it.

This is exactly the game the administration is playing. However, the one danger the Obama administration, smug behind its wall of tame media and government bureaucracy, has not provided against is an emergent event like that which crushed Detroit. What if the money really runs out? What if this time they go too far?

The insiders are probably laughing at the very idea of limits, saying to themselves that no you can’t go too far. The Fed can always print more money. That yes, have to raise the debt limit, because we always did. That sure it’s going to happen because it always has. And so forth. Until one maybe one day it just doesn’t happen.

Is this the day? Nobody can say for sure. But there’s one thing to bear in mind. President Obama was all set to strike Syria on his own authority until suddenly he found that he couldn’t. He never saw it coming. One day his foreign policy car wouldn’t start. Oh well, he has tried to console himself by arguing that however diminished he has become abroad, he is still a giant at home. Maybe he is. But then again maybe not.

Only one thing’s for sure. When the music does stop, nobody — least of all the administration — will see it coming.

PS: Readers may want to look at an experimental app I threw together which lets the user examine every bill in every state of the Union by subject. It also lets you look at the voting records of each legislator. Choose your state, then type a search term in “Find in Bills” and get a list of bills pertaining to that subject. Then if you click on a bill, you are taken to a screen which reads out the sponsors, description and vote record of the bill, right down to the commitee votes.

Try clicking on a vote row see the individual voting record. Click on an individual legislator and see his entire voting record for the bill search set. You can also go direct to the Legislators tab and find a legislator and click on him/her and get a similar voting record.  It’s useful in a cool kind of way, though I have yet to think of a business case for it.


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The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
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Top Rated Comments   
Something that I have yet to see anyone mention...

Much of corporate American actively wants something like Obamacare or single payer. Often the leaders of these corporations do not have a moral or ideological dog in the hunt and only think in terms of pushing the cost and worry about employee healthcare off onto government (meaning that the wprkers can figure out their healthcare for themselves) so that they can compete pn what they see as a more equal footing wth European companies, which do not have to worry about such things. The institutional Republicans, I'm guessing, are closely aligned with the political donation profiles of these corporations.

The Blue State model was never really about business vs. government. It was always about BIG government and BIG business and BIG labor colluding to push out anyone who threatened to upset the anxiety-free troika applecart. 1954 was supposed to last forever. it could not and did not, and the Rockefeller Republicans as well as the Democrats have been fighting a losing retreat of pretend ever since. The actions of the institutional Republicans on behalf of their big business paymasters are really no different than the actions of the Democrats on behalf of their big government hordes. For both, the greatest fear really is fear itself, ar that 1954 will finally be declared dead and that moving forward cannot be put off any longer.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
As soon as there's a major movement to a 3rd party, I'm in, and I'm there. If for example, Palin and Cruz jumped ship, that would be enough. If the GOP fractures, I'd expect a minority party to evolve including perhaps nineteen Senators and 160 or 180 Congressmen, plus many more state level governors and representatives to follow. I don't have intimate historical knowledge about when the Whigs died, and the GOP started, but in my mind it'd have to be a relatively quick death of the GOP and new birth of the successor party. The Democrats, of course, would look like kings for a while, which is all the more reason that the GOP would die quickly as the Constitutional party (or other) grew.

The GOP has, unfortunately, been a complete fraud rather than "the party of Reagan". Imagine an GOP without the history of Reagan, who I wholeheartedly admire, but also am critical of because he let Tip O'Neil walk all over him during his second term. Without Reagan, fill in the blank, "The party of -----"? Who? Lincoln? Eisenhower? There just isn't an ideological leader of any weight in the history books.

The GOP co-opted the conservative movement into submissive vassels, rather than the other way around. The GOP RINO Senators have run the party since before my birth (and that's a hell of a long time ago). No matter how many GOP Senators or Representatives, there's no conservative advancements because they are blocked by these McCain type fellows. Similarly, the record of GOP Supreme Court nominees is distinctively tilted left-wing, due to the influence of these few RINOs.

Sadly, the GOP must die for conservative, Constitutional governance to have any hope in the USA.

I'm in, but it'll take someone with possibly Lincoln's stature and cojones of titanium to make the move. I'm not sure Cruz has the stature, though I suspect Palin, amusingly enough, has the cojones to do the job.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK. First, is ANY of the MSM covering this thing honestly? Newt Gingrich was just on Hannity pointing out that there were like eight government shutdowns under Tip ONeil. IIRC the Republican demand is NOT to defund Obamacare but just to delay the individual mandate - YOU CAN STILL BUY OBAMACARE TOMORROW. Not even any of the Republicans seem to be representing themselves clearly. Reid is on the radio prattling about "Republican bullies", when it is *he* who is doing the bullying - against a bunch of Republican wimps who seem to do nothing but cower when confronted by even the ratty little girly-man like Reid. Someone should suggest Reid read (sic) the constitution, and/or he should f'ing try PASSING A BUDGET which this is NOT in any case.

So, THE DEMOCRATS SHUT DOWN THE COVERNMENT FOUR YEARS AGO. *REID* shut down the government four years ago. Passing this bill is STILL not in keeping with the law or the minimal duty of the Senators to their jobs, their constituents, and their country.

SHUT
IT
DOWN

47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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A friend posted an article from HuffPo titled, " Obamacare isn't Communism and 13 other Questions Answered." I only posted a quote, " The goal of Socialism is Communism." ~ Vladimir Lenin

She haughtily informed me that her post was not "for debate or to be twisted for political purposes" and would be removed. Proof that the one thing Liberals cannot take is truth. Keep pursuing the truth, that is their Achilles heel.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, this is interesting: the truckers are calling for a General Strike on October 11 - 13.

TRUCKERS' strike to roll on Washington Oct. 11-13: pass it on!

http://preview.tinyurl.com/mqbzx38

Facebook shut their page down after complaints by lefty asshats; they're suing Facebook (which, BTW, has no problem with pro-jihad pages).
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone home here? Is BC federally funded?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey GOP-Send individual bills funding the VA, national parks and Easter-egg "rolls" and make the Senate vote against each one. Divide and conquer.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Following the theme of Adm. Nimitz's orders to his battle commanders at Midway, the following would be a useful approach for House and Senate Republicans

"Always bear in mind that the enemy's center of gravity is Mainstream Media. Be governed by the principle of calculated risk, which you will interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your forces to attack by superior MSM forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to MSM.”
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The above is not meant to be a call for retreat. Rather, it is a warning to remain focused on MSM - the enemy's center of gravity. If the GOP focus is on anything else (ObamaCare, Reid, Obama, etc.) they will surely be dive bombed by MSM. However, if they keep the proper focus, there may be an opportunity to inflict "greater damage" on MSM. If that opportunity does not present itself, then it is time for a tactical retreat and preparation for the next battle.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is how you handle a shutdown folks!-"Vets take back their closed Memorial."

https://vine.co/v/hgmlV2gWvTL

How quickly does this story get buried?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
END THE SHUTDOWN!!!!!!!!!!! The "Panda-cam" at the National Zoo has been de-activated.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/national-zoo-panda-cam-dark-shutdown-20422458
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sun rose in the east this morning.

I don't see the problem.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
A curious turn of phrase:
Various Democrat mouthpieces have accused the Republicans of holding (the economy/the country/the government/something along those lines) "Hostage" to get an Obamacare concession out of the Democrats.

But the logic of a Hostage is this: the value of the hostage must outweigh the value of whatever demand is being made. It must be so, or there is no incentive to accept the demand. Go ahead, shoot the hostage.

Which is exactly what the Democrats did.

The only logical conclusion is that the Democrats do not value (the economy/the country/the government/whatever) more than they value the entirety of Obamacare, in full and intact (except unilateral delays and waivers they issue themselves.)

They were asked "Is protecting that individual mandate worth any price, no matter how painful to the nation?" and they have answered "Yes, yes it is." and shot the hostage.

They are deranged.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
They can't be persuaded to give up a piece of a finely crafted nuclear device. It won't work without all the pieces.

Never designed to save anyone. Just a weapon to immolate the American economy.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Loved your comment and shared on Facebook (attributed to you of course), hope you don't mind.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Succinct. Let's keep making this point over and over.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that what we are going to need to hit rock bottom as a nation, and the sooner the better. The longer this drags out, without really being implemented, the more entrenched the Democrats, Obamacare, etc. will get with the voters. Unfortunately, there are a lot of non-desrving people who will suffer in that process.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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