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President Jumps The Gun, Makes Awful Assumptions

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Tony Katz

Earlier today, President Obama took to the White House briefing room to announce that a deal had been struck between Democrats and Republicans.  The president clearly stated that not everyone got what they wanted, but it is a deal that will be best for the country.  As always, he added his standard platitudes about the wealthy paying more, and corporations have to “…pay their fair share.”

The president spoke as if the deal was done.   Nothing could be further from the truth.  While House Republicans and Senate Democrats have come to an “agreement,” the bill has not been voted on in the Senate, or in the House.  As of the time Obama spoke on Sunday evening, only highlights had been distributed to the rank and file in the House and Senate.

The president jumped the gun, and on purpose.  By speaking in the White House briefing room, he made the attempt to set the nation’s expectations.  If you were a layman just watching TV, you left Obama’s statement saying to yourself, “OK…done deal.  Good.  Finally.”

It is an obvious ploy, designed to put massive pressure on House Republicans to pass the legislation. We will now see how Speaker John Boehner responds to this pressure.  A long look has to be taken at the “triggers,” which include major cuts to defense, as opposed to across the board cuts.  Further, the deal raises the debt limit by $2.4 trillion, a number that might be more than most House members can accept.

House Democrats also have issue with this “compromise.”  Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the head of the Progressive Caucus, has stated that the 70+ members of the caucus will not support this bill, as it does not include tax increases.

While the president may be positioning House Republicans for a fall, it is the president who has put himself out on a limb.  If this deal doesn’t go through, many will wonder how he got it so wrong, how he misread his own party, and if there is time enough before 2012 to mount a primary challenge against him.

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$2.4 Trillion and the Progressives Say No

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Tony Katz

According to FOX NEWS, the latest debt limit deal has an increase of $2.4 Trillion, with $1 Trillion happening immediately, and the rest based on certain “triggers” as they have become known.  Congress would have until the Thanksgiving recess to come up with $1.2 Trillion in spending cuts.  If not passed by December, automatic “across the board” cuts would then go into effect.

Yet, FOX also announced that the Progressive Caucus (the ones who proposed the most embarrassing and insulting budget ever!) has stated that they can not support the new possible deal because it DOES NOT include tax increases.

It seems that the idea of compromise has gone out the window.  As the Progressives are showing, their “rigid ideology” of taxation (see Big Government and Government Control) is far more important than the welfare of the nation, and much more important than backing their weakened leader, President Obama. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) leader of the Progressive Caucus has come out to say:

This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it

One no longer has to opine as to who the real radicals are.  They are obvious, and they want your money.

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Buzz Ballad: New Debt Ceilings Are a New Spending Floor

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Buzzsawmonkey

—apologies to Paul Simon, and “One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor”

There is a debt ceiling here
Because we’re deeply in the red
And there’s some hard feeling on
The Congress floors
Because the Tea Party oppose
What the Democrats propose
To raise taxes and to spend a lot more
It’s just those no-budget blues
And when you spend without rules
A raised debt ceiling
Is a new spending floor
A raised debt ceiling
Is a new spending floor

Where did the Stimulus go?
Don’t you ask the CBO
No shovel-ready jobs materialized
They say that the economy
Has had a big recovery
But instead I believe my own eyes
They want to savage defense
And bloat up entitlements
Remember new debt ceilings
Are a new spending floor
New debt ceilings
Are a new spending floor

But the economy could be rebuilding
If Congress would just reshuffle the game
Stop spending more than it makes
No matter how much it takes
Regulatory agencies must be tamed

[Instrumental interlude]

New debt ceilings are a new spending floor
You bet
New debt ceilings are a new spending floor…

[Instrumental fadeout]

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Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich contest

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Zombie

Well, it looks like we’ve just entered the Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich era — better known as the post-Debt-Deal Age.

The more entertaining title derives from the instant-classic metaphor concocted earlier today by Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who described today’s debt compromise as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” by which I assume he meant he planned to vote against it — unless Satan meat is a new food trend I somehow managed to miss.

Anyway, on the infallible principle that there already exists somewhere on the Internet a picture of anything and everything, I did a Google Image Search for “Satan Sandwich” and just as I suspected — yes, Virginia, there is a picture of a Satan sandwich:

But that’s not quite what I had envisioned, to be perfectly frank. I want to see Satan himself in a sandwich, and it’s got to be sugar-coated. I thought about trying to create such an image myself, but alas my Photoshop skills are few and far between, and my artistic skills are non-existent.

So I thought: Let the people speak!

What is your vision of this new sugar-coated Satan sandwich we’re all stuck with? Create your own image, either with Photoshop, a set of felt pens, or even a camera snapping a picture of a real Satan sandwich of your creation, and then submit it to the Tatler. The image can either contain allegorical political references, or just be a straight Satan sandwich with no trimmings.

All* entries will be displayed here.

(* = subject to the whims of my Satanic opinion.)

There’s no way to upload images directly in the comments section, so either post them online yourself somewhere and then post the link in the comments section — or email the link or the full image itself to the address found on this page, and I’ll be sure to get it; either way, I’ll add any new images as updates here.

UPDATE:

And no, a sweet seitan sandwich doesn’t count. Economics is no joking matter.

SUBMISSIONS:

Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich #1 comes from reader Paul Mitchell:


Very tasty-looking! That powdered sugar helps to neutralize the Satan flavor.

Our next sandwich was served up by the “2 Political Junkies” blog:


This is more accurate than you might realize at first: remember that Spam is technically “deviled ham.”

And here’s a new video of Emanuel Cleaver himself, wordsmith extraordinaire, reaffirming his condemnation of the deal as a Satan sandwich:

The People’s Cube has just updated their menu with several “motivational poster”-style pictures of metaphorical “Satan sandwiches” — such as Harry Reid sandwiched between Obama and Pelosi — but also included this picture of Obama enjoying an authentic Satan Sandwich:

Reader Maya L. just whipped up a South Park Satan-and-Saddam sandwich:

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Reid Signs Off on Obama-GOP Debt Deal

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Rick Moran

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed off on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut $2.8 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years.

The Hill:

After meeting with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) for over an hour and a half on Sunday, Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders must now sell the deal to their caucus.

“Senator Reid has signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid.

Sources familiar with the outlines of the deal say it would raise the debt limit by about $2.7 trillion and reduce the deficit by the same amount in two steps. It would cut about $1 trillion in spending up front and set up a select bicameral committee to put together a future deficit-reduction package worth $1.7 trillion to $1.8 trillion.

Failure of Congress to pass the future deficit-reduction package would automatically trigger cuts to defense spending and Medicare. An aide familiar with the deal said the Medicare cut would not affect beneficiaries. Instead, healthcare providers and insurance companies would see lower payments.

Reid says he wants to bring a completed deal to the floor of the senate later this evening.

No doubt  House Republicans will want to look very closely at the trigger mechanism that would come into play if the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Super Committee can’t come to an agreement on the additional $1.8 trillion in spending cuts. And there is an open question as to whether Congress will be in much of a mood to trim spending that would affect favored constituencies of both parties less than a year before national election.

In fact, the history of such “triggers” is that they are honored in the breach.

Hoagland said this particular trigger may not be effective in reducing the nation’s debt because discretionary spending covers only roughly 18 percent of the federal budget.

“The real problem remains the health-care entitlement programs and the revenue side,” he said.

The 1990 agreement also featured a pay-as-you-go requirement for mandatory programs and revenues. A trigger was enacted to enforce the caps and the “paygo” requirement.

Still, Congress overrode the enforcement provision two out of the three times it was triggered, according to an April 28 report by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform.

And in 1985, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control, or the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, included a trigger to enforce deficit targets. If the year’s target wasn’t met, spending cuts were triggered. In the five years of the act, the triggers kicked in twice, one of which was reduced by Congress and the other overridden by a subsequent budget agreement.

Congress has also rejected scheduled automatic reductions in doctors’ Medicare pay rates established in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, prompting the annual passage of additional spending that is so routine it has a nickname: the “Doc Fix.”

“Anything Congress does, Congress can undo,” said Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition. Ain’t it the truth.

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PJTV: Alexis Garcia Interviews Herman Cain at the Smart Girl Summit

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

PJTV’s Alexis Garcia catches up with GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, and asks him for his thoughts on the debt ceiling debate. Describing the debate as a “debacle,” Cain slams President Obama for his lack of leadership.

YouTube Preview Image

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Senator McConnell: The Shrewd Adult in the Room

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

At first glance Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to be an unassuming,  bland, and soft spoken southern good old boy. McConnell is  a dream stereotype for Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. You can imagine SNL depicting McConnell as the poster child for any thick headed,  slow talking southern conservative.  Admittedly the Kentucky senator is a slow and can look a bit goofy

But don’t be fooled. Mitch McConnell is one of the shrewdest political tacticians in the United States Senate. And he is exactly where the wants to be.  After outmaneuvering Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last night by calling for a cloture vote in which Reid lost, today he pivoted to announce that he had secretly opened up direct talks with President Obama, leaving Reid out in the cold.  Earlier today he announced that he is “very close” to a deal with President Obama.

As he did last December when he crafted a deal to preserve the Bush tax cuts, McConnell is in his prime at the negotiating table. Even WaPo’s Paul Kane concurred writing today that “McConnell’s fingerprints are on every big bipartisan deal and every key spending bill to emerge from the Congress in recent years.

All eyes including this writer expected the Republican to begin direct talks with Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV). Instead, he shrewdly reached out to the White House and said let’s make a deal.  This was a brilliant move. It means whatever agreement is sealed, President Obama will be co-owner.

McConnell holds the important cards at the table.  As he demonstrated last night on the Senate floor, he has a united caucus of at least 41 Senators behind him. This will deny the Senate Democrats the 60 votes needed for any deficit vote.  So today McConnell is the kingmaker.  While we don’t know the final outlines, we can be assured it will be a creative resolution that can hand the best deal to his fellow Republicans.

This worries the Democratic party base.  They have harshly criticized White House Chief of Staff William Daley as a weak negotiator and complained that he already has made too many concessions to the Republicans, including the pledge of no new taxers.  Of all the scenarios to unfold, a McConnell-Daley-Obama  deal strikes fear in the hearts of many progressive activists.

As McConnell has said today, whatever the outlines of the deal there will be no new taxes.  “We’re not going to raise taxes in this deal,” said on the Sunday morning talk shows. “I just said that, and I will say it again. There are no tax increases in this bill.”

Among the betting is that the outlines of a broad $3 Trillion plan might emerge that will cut short term spending and set up a structure for further debt reduction including entitlements. Significant liberal sacred cows will be sacrificed and conservatives could see the first down payment on real deficit reduction.  In return, there will not be another debt limit vote until the next presidential election.

If this political deal holds Obama will be seen as moving to the center while his hard core political base is left out in the cold.  He could get a nice short term bounce up in the polls except for The Nation crowd.  This would be be good news  to deliver to Monday morning’s Wall Street opening, although it is possible that it could still result in a credit rating downgrade by October.

McConnell is a no patsy.  The 69 year old Senator served as a judge and Deputy Attorney General under President Gerald Ford. His stint at Justice was at a delicate  political time for the country when the nation was dealing with many post-Watergate legal issues.  He floor managed President Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan policies after September 11.  He was the key player in shaping the financial bailout bill when the Congress failed to pass it and the stock market fell 700 points.  And he delivered the final post-election deal with President Obama last December.

A cool and shrewd negotiator, Mitch McConnell may emerge as the true adult in the room.

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Adding a vote

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

Frankly, I wasn’t going to CPAC anyway, but I didn’t want to simply leave a “me too” on Roger’s post.  I want to make it completely clear that I fully agree with, associate myself with, and support Roger L. Simon’s and Andrew Breitbart’s decision to skip CPAC this year due to the “get back in the closet” status accorded GOProud.

Having looked at some of the comments already posted, I want to preemptively respond to some of the arguments already coming up.

  • No, I don’t consider “GOProud members can attend but GOProud can’t sponsor” as adequately inclusive.
  • I don’t consider homosexuality as a “sexual perversion.”  All evidence suggests that sexual orientation is a spectrum of behaviors, and that sexual behavior between members of the same sex is common among many species. Frankly, if God disapproves of homosexuality, why’d It make queer penguins? Arguments based on the notion that homosexuality is perverse should be taken down the hall, I’m not interested.
  • Yes, I do think the increasingly authoritarian, cynical cronyism — hell, frank Perónismo fascism — of the current administration is the most important problem for conservatives and libertarians to confront.  For that reason if no other, I’d oppose this divisive and counter-productive position.

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Roger L. Simon Backs Breitbart on GOProud vs. CPAC

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

I cannot speak for PJM as of yet — it’s the weekend and I’m in a ferry queue in Seattle — but I had to speak out personally in immediate support of my friend Andrew Breitbart regarding GOProud. I too will not be attending CPAC next year unless the ban of this organization is lifted. Frankly I am appalled by the decision of CPAC’s new management and I hope they will rescind as soon as possible. If they don’t, I won’t be there. I urge others to deliver the same message.

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PJTV: Alexis Garcia Interviews Dana Loesch at the Smart Girl Politics Summit

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by The Tatler

Two of the Right’s smartest, together in St. Louis. Dana weighs in on the debt ceiling fight and what Speaker Boehner should have done, and on President Obama’s asinine twitter spam campaign.

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GOP Leaders Claim They’re Close to a Debt Deal with Obama

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by Rick Moran

Yes, but will it pass muster in the House?

Top GOP congressional leaders indicated Saturday afternoon they are close to reaching a deal with President Barack Obama to raise the nation’s debt limit and avoid what would be an unprecedented national default.

Addressing reporters on Capitol Hill around 4 p.m. ET, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he had talked to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “within the last hour” and was “confident and optimistic” that there will be an “agreement within the very near future.

A national default “is not going to happen,” McConnell promised.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also expressed optimism that an agreement is near.

“In spite of our differences, we’re dealing with reasonable, responsible people,” Boehner said.

There do not appear to be enough Republicans in the House who would be willing to blow up the economy if they don’t get a balanced budget amendment in a debt deal. But there are certainly enough GOP hardliners who would not accept a deal that contained tax increases. If taxes are off the table in these negotiations, there is a reasonable chance of passage in the House and probably in the senate too.

A spending cut only debt limit bill would be a big victory for Republicans that Obama would try to spin into a personal achievement due to his “bi-partisan” approach. Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill, frozen out of the negotiations, will be left to fume in silence as their irrelevancy in the debt negotiations is revealed.

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Breitbart to Skip CPAC

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by Alexis Garcia

ST. LOUIS, MO– While speaking to attendees during a lunch at the 2011 Smart Girl Summit, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart announced that he would be skipping next year’s CPAC in reaction to the American Conservative Union’s decision to bar GOProud from participating in the event.

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Smart Girl Summit: Lessons from Wisconsin, Taking on Public Sector Unions And Winning

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 - by Owen Brennan
YouTube Preview Image

Stay tuned for interviews with Andrew Breitbart, Dana Loesch and 2012 GOP candidates Rep. Thad McCotter and Herman Cain.

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Rep. Tonko Embarrasses Himself on Greta

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

What a dumb reactionary Representative Tonko (D-NY) sounded on the Greta Show on Friday night, defending the stimulus plan and, incredibly after all this time, blaming Bush for the economy. Tonko is not an idiot. He’s an engineer. But his pathetic partisan politics made he seem almost retarded. Liberalism is dead and these people cannot face it.

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Democrats, Naked

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by David Steinberg

Throughout the day, the most profound element of the debt ceiling slapfight became evident to most, a nagging truth that most of America realized but hadn’t yet addressed with all the play-by-play stealing the dialogue. But it’s there now, with another bill passed and another bill tabled by Senate Dems, and the ruling class Republicans vs. the conservatives is the least interesting narrative. Rather than being the drama of the day, it’s hardly worth a mention.

The Dems have no cards left to play, and not just for this hand. The Dems just have no cards left, and I’m not even sure they know why they sat at the table. What was the best possible outcome for them? A raised debt ceiling, and another tax increase, followed by another week of horrible economic data? The game really is over, the world understands its over, and I think the Dems do as well. They played the “let’s see if the Republicans fold” card, because, well … they were already at the Capitol building. But I don’t see any heart left. Reid may still be scrapping, but I don’t see any heart left.

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Now the ball is in Reid’s corner. The interesting part begins.

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

A pretty chaotic chapter in the deficit debate ended tonight with passage of a Republican bill in the House of Representatives.

Now the most important — and perhaps most entertaining — chapter is about to begin.  For political cover Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will seek to kill the House legislation. His act will get cheers from his party and from his activists.

But Sen. Reid will have to craft a Democratic bill that also can attract at least seven Republican senators.  This is no small feat. He will need 60 votes to pass the debt reduction bill in the Senate.  He already lost one cloture vote on Friday night. And West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has declared his opposition to the Reid bill. This means the Democrats need to entice, seduce or bribe eight Republicans.

In private Reid will be sit down with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and deal. He’ll have to present a proposal that can attract bi-partisan support. In effect it is Reid’s bill that’s dead on arrival.

Most of the media bought into a Democratic narrative that ridiculed the seeming futility of House Republicans.They ignored the reality that once a bill passes from one chamber to another the political calculus changes. The Senate rules favor the minority.

Over the weekend something else also may become apparent. President Obama will be permanently sidelined as an observer. Of course he’ll be informed about the negotiations and his staff will stay in touch. But the President will be largely invisible and out of the talks.

Which is where the President sat throughout the historic debt reduction debate. He never presented a public plan. He never accepted the tough recommendations of his own deficit reduction commission.

Obama understands that cutting spending and entitlements is the third rail of politics. He refused to become the author of any proposition that would slash federal programs and entitlements. Cutting sacred federal programs would burn him with his base.

So he decided to let others carry the water.  The President played the detached and aloof spectator.  He pretended to be a frustrated observer. Most likely he hoped the issue would disappear.  But he won’t be able to escape the crippling reality of our ballooning budget.

In the end it may be ironic that President Obama may preside — unwillingly — as the overseer of the end of the modern welfare state.  He overplayed his hand in his first two years in office. Now the sheer financial math is against him. As Roger Simon wrote earlier today, “The welfare state is kaput. It’s gone — probably for generations to come.”

When might Democrats acknowledge it?

It could happen as early as this weekend when Senator Reid sits down in his Capitol Building hideaway and looks at the options before him — and before our nation.

 

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NYTimes poll-graph on debt crisis: public rejects extreme partisan solutions, but false premise skews results

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Zombie

Sometimes the big media outlets do something right — or at least clever and thought-provoking. In this case it was the New York Times, which today unveiled a very well-programmed interactive poll-graph which allows readers to voice their opinions about the debt crisis on a dual-axis Cartesian graph. The result is an instantly updated “spread” of reader opinions which show at a glance where the public — or at least the liberal-leaning public which reads the NY Times — stands on the debt crisis issue.

In case they eventually take down the poll, and in case not everybody has an up-to-date browser capable of displaying the graph, I took a screenshot of the results (click to enlarge):

The up-and-down axis is about spending: dots near the top of the chart represent people who want to cut spending, while those at the bottom don’t want to cut spending. The left-right axis represents tax revenue — those who clicked near the right edge of the screen want to raise revenue through higher taxes, and those on the left don’t (more on this later).

Thus the cluster of dots at the upper left corner represent hardcore libertarians and Tea Partiers — people who want a lot less spending and no new taxes. The cluster at the lower right are the socialists and welfare-staters — people who want more spending and more taxes to pay for it.

The tiny cluster at the lower left are the crazy people — people who want more spending, but don’t want to pay for it in any way. We can safely ignore them.

But as the chart instantly reveals, the vast majority of respondents are in the upper right — people who want less spending and more revenue. In other words, the mid-point between the two extremes: the Tea Party position of cutting runaway spending is now the mainstream position; but the liberal Democrat call for higher taxes is also now the mainstream position.

This is why no one can figure out who’s “winning” the debt battle. Both political factions have a monopoly on only one of the two favored positions, while their opponents lay claim to the other.

This being the New York Times, with its “progressive” readership, the overwhelming cluster in the upper right is slightly sagging toward the “Don’t reduce spending” direction, but only barely. Considering the demographic of the readership, this is to be expected, and a similar poll in a different publication might skew slightly upward. But overall, it’s solidly “Cut spending/raise revenue.”

But here’s where the glitch becomes manifest. And it’s the same glitch that partisan economists have been arguing about for decades.

The chart presumes that “increase tax revenue” is the same thing as “increase revenue.” Or more simply, it relies on the false premise that raising taxes will also increase revenue.

That may be true in the immediate months after a tax increase, but study after study (and real-world examples) have shown that raising taxes will in the long run stifle economic activity, and over time serves to decrease revenue. Or, seen from the other angle, as has happened at various times in U.S. history: lowering taxes helps to spur an economic boom, which stimulates wealth creation and as a result higher revenue for the government, counter-intuitive as that may seem at first. But choking 70% of gross income from a stifled economy ends up producing less revenue than skimming 20% of gross income from a robust economy.

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Bachmann: Lose Today, Win Tomorrow?

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Christian Adams

Every South Carolina Republican voted NO to the debt-ceiling bill in the House.    Mick Mulvaney, Joe Wilson, Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan and Trey Gowdy comprised five of the 22 House Republicans voting NO.  This says something about the mood of the Palmetto state, and something about the Presidential election.  South Carolina will play a central role in selecting the nominee.  No GOP nominee has ever lost South Carolina going back to 1980. Indeed, it saves candidates who lose New Hampshire or Iowa.  Joe Wilson, in particular, would not have voted “NO” unless the overwhelming mood of the S.C. GOP was pro-tea party, pro-spending cuts, and quite possibly, pro-Bachmann.  Of course Bachmann comprised one of the other 22 voting NO, as did Steve King and Tom Latham from . . . Iowa.

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Boehner Bill Passes House; And the Next Move Is…?

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Speaker John Boehner gave an impassioned stemwinder on the floor of the House this afternoon, moments before the vote commenced on his debt ceiling plan. Calling out the president to “put something on the table,” Boehner hammered away at President Obama’s intransigence and bad faith tactics.

The bill passed with 218 Republican votes, and zero Democratic votes.

The GOP-controlled House has now passed two approaches to dealing with the debt ceiling. The Senate has passed zero. President Obama has talked alot but has not led at all. Wait — he has a “secret plan!“  Well how about lifting the veil, champ?

The Tea Party changed the conversation and moved it in the right direction. It’s simply impossible to win total victory when you don’t control all three levers. But to use a football metaphor, the Right has the ball and the Tea Party is calling the plays. That’s a lot to keep in mind. Meanwhile, the president wanted a clean vote on the debt ceililng, and didn’t get that. He wanted tax increases in the middle of a recession, and did not get that either. The unpopular president has not led; the Tea Party has.

The question is, where do we go from here? Washington is collectively scratching its head on that question. Will Reid twist the Boehner bill into something packed with more Democratic gimmicks, or will he try passing his own plan (which given Senate rules, is bound to fail at this point)?

For what it’s worth, S&P is alone so far in threatening to downgrade US credit. Moody’s says it won’t do that, at least not at this point.

Update: Jeff Flake is a smart man.

Update: Boehner writes:

The House demonstrated not arrogance, but leadership last week when a bipartisan majority — including many who came to Washington opposed to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstance — passed the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act for the greater good.

The House demonstrated not arrogance, but leadership today by passing the Budget Control Act, bowing not just to the will of the American people and their desire for a timely and responsible end to this crisis, but also to the Constitution, which gave us the reality of a bicameral legislature.

The legislation passed by the House this evening is not perfect, but it is a positive step forward in the effort to cut spending, clamp down on the growth of government, and reduce our debt.

The bill was constructed on a commonsense framework that was pre-negotiated last weekend with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate, in an honest and sincere effort to bring the crisis to an end. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats walked away from that framework over the course of this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a good man. His character is not in question. But the fate of this legislation, and possibly our economy, hinges on his ability to reason with the president, and with his caucus.

The people’s House has spoken — not once, but twice — presenting the other chamber with legislation certified by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as cutting trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade while providing an immediate increase in the national debt limit.

If you’re keeping score at home, that House 2, Senate 0. Obama is still armchair quarterbacking.

Update: Boehner bill defeated in Senate.

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No, a NYT Reporter Didn’t Give the Obama White House Twitter Advice

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

This may be the silliest backwater of the entire debt crisis. The Daily Caller alleges that NYT social media reporter Jen Preston (no known relation to yours truly) handed White House twitter dude Jesse Lee advice to use a hashtag to tweet attack the GOP. The frivolity of using twitter, rather than having an actual frickin’ plan to deal with the debt, is its own separate and much larger issue. This White House is simply a joke.

But having looked at the twitter stream in question, I don’t find enough evidence to convict Preston. Far be it from me to side with both the NYT and the Washington Post, but I don’t think Preston was “suggesting” a hashtag as the Daily Caller alleges. She was asking if there was one at all, and if I were in her place, I would have asked similar if not identical questions until I got an answer.

Here’s the stream in question, oldest tweets at the bottom.

NYT_JenPreston RT @macon44: People responding to POTUS shld use #compromise. As he said, it is “time for #compromise on behalf of the American people”

NYT_JenPreston @jesseclee44 Hi Jesse, what’s the hashtag that you guys are urging people to use in their tweets to Congress re: debtceiling?

NYT_JenPreston @macon44 Hi there. I heard the President ask the people to tweet re: debt ceiling. Are you guys using specific hashtag?

NYT_JenPreston President Obama asked the people to tweet to their members of Congress about debt ceiling. What hashtag?

The Daily Caller has run a story about nothing, or rather, they missed the real story here. Preston asks a reasonable question, on her public twitter feed, more than once because the White House’s tweeters didn’t answer, and then macon44 finally gets around to coming up with a hashtag. The story here isn’t what Preston did; the story is the ineptitude of the White House’s tweet dudes. They’re amateurs if they don’t think ahead far enough to think of a hashtag before launching their stupid twitter war. Hastags are what makes twitter tick. This White House is supposed to be a social media beast? Hardly.

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On Rationalizing Pedophilia in Islam

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Raymond Ibrahim

As pedophilia in Islam continues making headlines,  a Muslim cleric actually boasts of Muhammad’s marriage to  9-year-old Aisha. He is very impressed that, after their marriage, Muhammad did not expect the 9-year-old immediately to begin acting like an adult, but rather was magnanimous enough to let the child play with toys and basically act like a child — except for the sex, that is.
Read about it here.

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South Carolina Democrats: Racist Idiots

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, Dick Harpootlian, is — not to point too fine a point on things — a racist idiot for launching his latest inane attack on Nikki Hailey. And because his party faithful elected him to that post, they are also racist idiots if they go along with it. But South Carolina Democrats have a very very long history of being racist idiots, don’t they. (Just like Texas Democrats, by the way with their “white primary” and current two-step primary/caucus system.)

What box should Gov. Nikki Haley check when it comes to her race?

The South Carolina Democratic Party tried Thursday to make Haley out as a liar for checking “white” as her race on her 2001 Lexington County voter registration application.

But the application had no specific option for “Indian.” Her options were “white, black/African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or other.”

Dick Harpootlian, the Democratic Party chairman, said whether Haley listed her race as white or not doesn’t matter to him. The point is, he said, that the governor has a pattern of twisting the truth.

“Haley has been appearing on television interviews where she calls herself a minority — when it suits her,” Harpootlian said. “When she registers to vote, she says she is white. She has developed a pattern of saying whatever is beneficial to her at the moment.”

I don’t think those boxes and racial classifications belong in our modern republic at all, and I say this as half of a mixed marriage myself. But in the case of the one Hailey checked, she’s of Indian ethnicity, but that wasn’t an option on the piece of paper. What was she supposed to do, Dick?

The notion that this would even be a salient issue in Dick’s mind says quite a lot about him, and what he thinks of his own party faithful who elected him. He thinks something this stupid and transparently racist will rile them up against Nikki Hailey? Then he has even more contempt for them than I do (and that’s saying something).

This, by the way, is not the first time Democrats have attacked an Indian-American who happened to be a Republican on the basis of race. When Bobby Jindal was running for governor of Louisiana, the Louisiana Democrats ran around calling him “Piyush.” That’s his given name, but he hasn’t gone by it in years — he has been known as “Bobby” from the time he was a kid. That racist attack failed; hopefully the South Carolina Democrats’ racist attack will fail too.

(via Instapundit)

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FreedomWorks Launches Last Ditch Effort to Kill Boehner Bill

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

As a last ditch effort to scuttle House Speaker John Boehner’s deficit bill, the Tea Party activist group FreedomWorks has dispatched a hard-hitting a letter to all Republican House members urging them to vote No.

The letter says “The revised plan still fails to fundamentally change the way Washington spends. Anything less than that, FreedomWorks cannot and will not support.”

The group is urging that Republicans stand by the original “Cut, Cap and Balance” legislation that passed the House earlier in the month. “We will be engaging our activist network of over 1.4 million grassroots volunteers to provide state and local support for Rep. Jordan and Sen. DeMint, and to remind Speaker Boehner and the rest of the Republican establishment that the ‘Cut, Cap, Balance Act ‘ is both good politics and good policy.”

Most observers say Cut, Cap and Balance does not have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.  There are only 47 Senate Republicans in the upper chamber.

Ther are numerous reports, meanwhile that many wavering Republicans have begun support the Boehner bill and defect from the ranks of the Tea Party.

Representatives Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) all flipped from opposition to support of the Speaker’s bill.  Gohmert told Politico he “liked what I’m hearing so far.”

“Let’s go vote 100 percent for this bill,” Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, one of the last holdouts is also quoted by Politico. Boehner also reportedly received a standing ovation from Senate Republicans during a lunch meeting today.

If the Boehner bill dies in the House the only option is to vote on a bill offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).  While only $2 billion differs in spending between both bills, the accounting rules for the two are completely different. Republicans claim that the Reid bill is filled with “gimmicks.”

The House vote is scheduled to begin at 7 or 8 pm this evening.

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Gallup: Obama Hits 40% Approval, 50% Disapproval

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The media will not say it, but Barack Obama is an unpopular president as half the country now disapproves of his job performance. And his antics on the debt debate are hurting him in the long-ball game, whatever happens in the short term.

Here’s Gallup’s latest.

President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval.

Obama’s approval rating averaged 46% in June and was near that level for most of July; however, it has stumbled in the past few days, coinciding with intensification of the debt ceiling/budget battle in Washington.

Another key stat:

Obama’s job approval rating among Democrats is 72%, compared with 34% among independents and 13% among Republicans.

All his base-baiting is doing is keeping the left somewhat in his camp, while turning independents off. They’re tuning him out. When he speaks, he doesn’t move the needle. And a lot of independents are in the Tea Party, which Obama and his party keep demonizing.

So, you know, he’s acting stupidly and it’s showing up in the polls.

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Sabato Compares Obama to Carter, Evoking ‘Killer Rabbit’ Episode

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Belladonna Rogers

 

In a Tweet no president could love, political analyst and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, raises the specter of yesteryear, and not in a good way:

@LarrySabato Larry Sabato

And Obama? POTUS looks weak, irrelevant, Carter-ized–at least for now. Any day, I expect him to be attacked by a killer rabbit.

When Larry Sabato sees a killer rabbit looming ahead, the White House should be worried.

The reference is to an April 1979 episode when then President Jimmy Carter returned to the White House after a solo fishing trip to his native Georgia.  He claimed he had used his paddle to fend off a berserk rabbit swimming right at his boat.  His staff didn’t believe such a thing could have happened. His own press secretary, Jody Powell, told an Associated Press reporter about it, and the next day The Washington Post ran the story on the front page under a banner headline: “PRESIDENT ATTACKED BY RABBIT.” Since the White House, which had a photograph of the swimming rabbit, refused to release it, the episode took on comic proportions and suggested, in many quarters, that Jimmy Carter was not only suffering from “malaise” but was downright delusional.

Within 18 months, Carter had lost his bid for re-election and the Reagan era began.

So it’s not the sort of comparison that would offer an incumbent the slightest comfort.

(h/t: NRO’s Jim Geraghty)

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Confessed Ft. Hood Terrorist Defiant, Gives Shout-Out to Hassan

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Nasser Abdo, the terrorist stopped this week by alert gun store owners before he could copy-cat attack Ft. Hood, made his first court appearance today.

Federal prosecutors formally charged an AWOL army soldier with “possession of an unregistered destructive device” in an alleged plot to set off two bombs at a popular restaurant in Killeen, Texas, that is frequently patronized by soldiers stationed at nearby Ft. Hood.

At a hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Waco, the 21-year-old Naser Jason Abdo, an army private and converted Muslim, refused to stand and, as he was being ushered away, yelled out “Nidal Hasan Ft. Hood 2009!” It was a defiant reference to the army major and psychiatrist who is charged will killing 13 people in a rampage at the base in 2009.

Abdo joined the US military just a little over two years ago, and several years into our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after joining, he filed for conscientious objector status, aligned himself with the anti-war movement, and became a cable news celebrity.

Is there any reason to think that he joined the military for any purpose other than to undermine and perhaps attack it from within? Is there any reason to doubt that jihad was his motivation from day one?

(hat tip Libertarian Republican, who has more on Abdo)

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Earth to Pelosi: Medicare is Already Unsustainable

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Rep. Nancy Pelosi is out trying to save the world today, telling everyone that we can “kiss Medicare goodbye” if the Boehner plan passes. The Democrats as a group are demonizing this plan so hard that there’s almost bound to be something good about it. But never mind that. Nancy needs to go have a word with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Just a couple of weeks ago, Sebelius admitted that Medicare as it stands now is unsustainable. Roll the virtual video tape — the main nugget comes right at the end, after the secretary makes a lame attempt to sell ObamaCare.

YouTube Preview Image

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If Bill Clinton Was President…

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

I take second place to no one when it comes to not admiring the Clintons. They’re slick and slimy and always looking out for themselves, and farther to the left than they tend to let on.

They’re also totally unprincipled, but in politics that’s occasionally a useful advantage.

Take the current debt fight. President Obama seems to be sticking close by his base on this, insisting on tax increases until forced off of that position, and allowing himself to be exposed for having no plan of his own (unless you buy the “secret plan” nonsense that WH chief of staff Daley trotted out on CNN). Obama is allowing Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to roll out idiotic remark after idiotic remark, demonizing the Tea Party and creating more and more division. He has allowed Harry Reid to draft a plan that just guts our national defense, once again exposing the Democrats for their weakness in an area that has been a bane to them since Vietnam. There is no discipline at all on the Democratic side, and they’re taking the lack of leadership as an opportunity to engorge on hate for the Tea Party, which is made up of everyday American patriots who care about our country. And, by calling on Americans to tweet their Congressman, Obama shows his own impotence and frivolity. Now he’s whining about a lack of sleep. Good grief. Can someone close to him just tell him to man up, already?

There is a word for all of this: Pathetic. Obama is totally exposed as a dreadful leader, and is diminishing himself and the office he holds.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Bill Clinton, for all of his other many repulsive traits, would never have let it all come to this.

Look back at the welfare reform battle of 1995-96. Clinton is a Democrat and in his heart of hearts was fine with the status quo on welfare. But reforming welfare polled well because Americans were rightly sick of people who stayed on the dole for decades and generations. So he talked a good game on welfare reform. When the Republican Congress called his bluff in 1996 and passed a sweeping welfare reform bill, Clinton did not do what Obama is now doing. He didn’t demonize it (much) to paint himself into a corner against it, and he didn’t just keep declaring it DOA. He abandoned his base on the issue — they hated the GOP welfare reform and lied like rugs about how it would mercilessly throw millions out into the streets. Clinton signed the bill and took credit for it. It took a special shamelessness to do that, but he did it, and that signature moved him credibly to the center in the public’s eye. His base, having nowhere else to go in the following election, stuck with him. He was re-elected, for a whole lot of reasons, and welfare reform was part of why he won.

In the current debt fight, Obama could have capitalized and gotten something done. He could have abandoned his base on a temporary and tactical basis, goaded Reid to move on whatever the House passed, and then signed it and taken credit for it. This would have moved him credibly to the center, which is where independents are. It would have been good for the country, as the welfare reform bill has proven to be. And it would have been good for Obama. Given everything else that’s going on it wouldn’t have guaranteed his re-election, but he’s crazy if he thinks this brinksmanship helps him win next year. It doesn’t. Whatever happens, his lack of leadership will stick to him.

If Clinton were president right now, we would have had a deal. It would have irritated his own base, and he would have stolen all the credit from the Republicans who wrote it, passed it, and forced him to sign it. But we wouldn’t be looking at the prospect of a US credit downgrade. Bill Clinton cared too much about his own skin to allow that to happen.

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Aw: Obama Apparently Not Getting Any Sleep Due to Debtageddon

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

How sad.

The White House is pushing back against the growing narrative that Obama is “sitting on the sidelines,” as reported by the New York Times yesterday, and letting Congress do all the work.

As John Boehner spent the night trying to wrestle members into place to support his debt ceiling deal, Valerie Jarret reminded reporters yesterday that it was President Obama who was losing sleep over the issue.

“He’s getting absolutely no sleep. He’s working tirelessly, meeting with his economic team, doing a lot of outreach, exploring all kinds of possibilities for compromise,” Jarrett said.

How terribly, terribly sad.

Supposing Harry Reid’s cynical debt plan, which guts defense and withdraws America from the world, passes, our young president stands to lose a great deal more sleep as the 3 am phone call will run into the 3:15, the 3:30, and so on.

American credibility and prestige, both of which buttress the Pax Americana of the past century, are on the line and the President of the United States is whining through his functionaries about his lack of sleep. Each time it appears that we cannot get any less from this president, he manages to outsloth himself.

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President’s Strangely Aloof and Passive Press Remarks

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

As the country goes careening forward toward a credit abyss President Obama continues to remain strangely inert and passive.

He said a few impromptu comments this morning to reporters without taking questions.  They are filled with cliches, but the most striking thing is how thoroughly disengaged he appears. Excerpts:

“The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now,” Mr. Obama said. “And I’m confident that we can solve this problem.”

“My door is open,” Mr. Reid said as the Senate convened. “I will listen to any idea to get this done in a way that prevents a default and a dangerous downgrade to America’s credit rating. Time is short, and too much is at stake, to waste even one more minute.

“The last train is leaving the station,” he said. “This is our last chance to avert default.”

Then he asked the American people to tweet their elected representatives.

In the middle of a crisis you ask people to Tweet?

This reminds me of “Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart’ remarks the other day after the President’s address to the nation in which he appealed to citizens to call Congress.

“Did the president just quit?” he said of the idea. “Seriously, you’re the president. You’re asking us to call Congress?”

At this moment of crisis this is one detached and aloof President.

Even as he expressed optimism, however, Mr. Obama delivered a stern warning to Congress: “For all the intrigue and all the drama that’s taking place on Capitol Hill right now, I’m confident that — but as I said earlier, we are now running out of time. It’s time for everybody to step up and show the leadership the American people expect.”

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Boehner Plan Gets Tweaked, Goes Online

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

It’s here. It’s 104 pages. It adds a Balanced Budget Amendment as a prerequisite for passing the next round of debt ceiling increase. As many as 20 Democratic Senators have said in the past that they support a BBA. Was that all talk and posturing to appear moderate, or did they mean it? It would be nice to get a real vote out of them on this question, and the new Boehner plan would do that.

Rep. Jeff Flake has switched from no to yes this morning, because of the change.

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The 14th Amendment Option Is Not Viable

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Though the White House says it has no plans to invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling unilaterally, murmurs have kicked up once again that they might do it anyway. They would be basing their action on the first sentence of Section 4:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner invoked the first 10 words and the last four when he argued in favor of the 14th Amendment option. But the words in the middle are there for a reason, and the phrase “authorized by law” is key. It takes the power to raise the debt ceiling out of the president’s hands because the president doesn’t pass laws. Section 5 spells out where that power rests.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

If the president invokes the 14th Amendment and raises the debt ceiling unilaterally, he has violated the very amendment he is citing and exposed himself to the possibility (admittedly remote) of being impeached. His action would probably provoke a Constitutional crisis to go along with the economic one we already have, and would probably wind up at the Supreme Court. Depending on which side of the bed Anthony Kennedy wakes up on as he hears arguments in the case, we either end up with a vastly weakened Obama presidency or a permanently imperial American presidency, and a greatly weakened US dollar. And probably a whole bunch of other negative consequences that haven’t occurred to me yet. Invoking the 14th to raise the debt ceiling would be a very dangerous move for Obama to make.

Besides all that, raising the debt ceiling all by himself is the last thing President Present would do. He wants everyone else’s hands dirty on this, while his stay squeaky clean.

 

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The Wheels Come Off the Obama Economy

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The national GDP is anemic.

The U.S. economy grew less than forecast in the second quarter, after almost coming to a halt at the start of the year, as consumers retrenched.

Gross domestic product climbed at a 1.3 percent annual rate following a 0.4 percent gain in the prior quarter that was less than earlier estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 1.8 percent increase. Household purchases, about 70 percent of the economy, rose 0.1 percent.

US consumer confidence took another hit.

Consumer confidence dropped last week as Americans’ views of the economy plunged to the lowest level since the recession.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 46.8 in the period to July 24, the lowest since May, compared with minus 43.3 the prior week. Six percent of those surveyed said the economy was in good shape, the fewest since April 2009.

Seniors and the unemployed were among those showing the most negative readings, a sign that partisan wrangling over the nation’s budget deficit was jarring those likely to be affected by cuts in spending. Unemployment above 9 percent, falling home prices and a rebound in gasoline costs may be weighing on sentiment overall, posing a risk for consumer spending.

No one is hiring, and it’s no mystery as to why: The Obama government has shackled business and is threatening or actively punishing business across the board. It is agitating for higher taxes on job creators and entrepreneurs in the teeth of a trashed economy. It emptied the Treasury and created massive uncertainty via ObamaCare and the regulatory state. The Obama government is killing the American dream by strangling the economy. The president’s ongoing campaign of economic sabotage — sorry, “fundamental transformation” — is taking its toll.

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GOP Party of Big Government, Too

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Howard Nemerov

Common rumor has it that the Democrats are the party of Big Government, and the Republicans stand for smaller government.

Only until it’s an idea the GOP thinks is “good.”

The House Judiciary committee just approved a bill that will force internet providers to maintain logs of their customers’ activities for one year. This means more government oversight.

Suddenly, the Democrats are against government intrusion:

It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill.

This vote is being hailed as a “victory for conservative Republicans,” and supported by the Holder’s DOJ.

Here’s the problem: Americans need to wake up and realize that career prostiticians of any professed political stripe are all the same. They want to steal your Liberty, and will do so with the most compelling sales pitch. It’s up to us to avoid being credulous just because the salesman is allegedly “one of us.”

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Obama Speaks, Tries to Cool Markets by Spreading More Fear

Friday, July 29th, 2011 - by Tony Katz

President Obama took to the airwaves once again today, this time to make a pre-preemptive strike against any Republican plan.  Focusing on the false promise of compromise, Obama pushed for plans by both Sens. Reid (D-NV) and McConnell (R-KY) with non-specified modifications.  Both of these plans, however, have been rejected by multiple members of the Senate, and the House.

This continued talk of an enforcement mechanism, also known as the “trigger” or the Super Committee, has simply baffled everyone.  Why should we trust Congress to make cuts down the road when they can’t make them now?

And yet, he continues to push the false meme that Social Security checks won’t go out.  Also, he pushes the fear of a lower credit rating, stating that we wouldn’t have a triple A political system to go with our deserved triple A credit rating.  This is Obama fear mongering.

It seems that all of this is in an attempt to ease the markets, which has been in flux around the world. Gold is at record highs and stock market indices are falling everywhere.

Obama then mentions that all the American people should keep up the pressure on House and Senate members.  Call, email or “tweet” them, he says.  While claiming that he wants a deal on his desk that he can sign, he simultaneously goes from Commander-in-Chief to Beggar-in-Chief; begging the American people to push forth the idea of compromise, when Obama has not put out a plan to create a compromise with!

It is obvious that Obama isn’t interested in doing the work of being President.  He stated that it’s time to put aside partisan politics, and walked off without answering a question.

Will this “leader” do what he says?  Will he compromise?  What will it look like?  He gave a press conference to try and cool the markets.  He did not succeed.

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