The Policy Makers at the IRS are 95% Partisan and Don’t Need Orders before Taking Partisan Actions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 15th, 2013

Week in Review

Did the IRS follow orders to harass Tea Party groups?  Is there a smoking gun?  Probably not.  Because there doesn’t have to be.  Not when the policy makers of this ‘nonpartisan agency’ clearly think just like President Obama (see Most IRS, government lawyers donated to Obama campaign by Ashe Schow posted 6/14/2013 on The Examiner).

It is not just IRS employees who donated to President Obama in 2012, but lawyers working for the federal tax agency as well. In fact, lawyers at the IRS (and in every other government agency) overwhelmingly donated to Obama during the last election…

…the lawyers for that particular federal agency donated to Obama by an astounding 20-to-1 ratio, according to Robert Anderson, associate professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law…

…Lawyers are relevant because they are the ones taking the lead in writing regulations, litigating cases, and making delicate legal judgment calls in borderline cases…”

Of the IRS lawyers who made contributions, a whopping 95 percent gave to Obama. And if you think that’s a high percentage, 100 percent of the lawyers at the Department of Education, the United Nations and – no surprises here – the National Labor Relations Board (you know, the pro-union agency that sued Boeing) contributed to the Obama campaign.

So there you have it.  A nonpartisan agency that clearly is partisan.  Well, at least 95% of them are partisan.  Making a smoking gun irrelevant.  For the president didn’t have to give any order for the people who support him and his policies to know what to do.  Because the president delegates authority.  Like all presidents do.  They put in people that support his vision.  And then let them do their partisan work.  And for President Obama that holds true even at the nonpartisan IRS.

There’s a piece by Herbert Meyer in The American Thinker creating a lot of buzz (see The Smoking Gun in Plain Sight by Herbert E. Meyer posted 6/3/2013 on American Thinker).  Getting a lot of traction on talk radio.  And in the conservative blogosphere.  Because it compares the IRS scandal—and President Obama—to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  About as provocative as you can get these days.  Especially when you throw in the Holocaust.

Very few people are aware of this, but there is no document — not one — linking Adolf Hitler to the Holocaust.  Why not?  Because Hitler didn’t need to sign a document ordering the slaughter of six million Jews.  All he needed to do was to demonize his enemy in speeches at the Reichstag, on the radio, and from one end of Germany to the other — then hire thugs like Herman Goering, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Josef Goebbels.  They knew what der Fuhrer wanted, and der Fuhrer knew he could trust his henchman to get the job done — no matter how, no matter what may be the law — and to not bother him with the gory details.

Reader, take a deep breath.  Nowhere in this essay will I suggest, or even imply, that President Obama plans the mass murder of his opponents the way Hitler murdered his.  That’s absurd.  I am merely pointing out that President Obama has been going about the business of demonizing his political enemies, and then hiring thugs to destroy them without regard to the law, in precisely the same way that Hitler and his fascists did it in Germany.  This isn’t an accusation; it’s an observation.

Look at the record: From the moment he took office in January 2009, President Obama has spoken before Congress, on television, and at countless rallies across the country describing his political opponents in terms we haven’t seen before in the United States.   Time and again he’s insisted that Republicans aren’t merely wrong, but evil…

His rhetoric heated up fast after the Tea Party movement gave the GOP enough oomph to win back the House of Representatives in 2010, and as the president geared up for the 2012 election.  He urged Latino voters to help him “punish our enemies and reward our friends.”  He told his supporters at one rally to think of voting for him as “an act of revenge.”

So there probably isn’t a smoking gun.  For when 95% of the policy-making people at the IRS are like-minded and in lockstep with the president they don’t need an order from the president (or from anyone in his administration) to act.  There may be someone who gave an order.  But when you’re that partisan you don’t wait for orders.  Because you want what your president wants.  And you know your president will approve of your actions.  No matter how legally questionable they may be.  As long as the president has plausible deniability.  And when you don’t sign any orders you have plausible deniability.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From Journalism to Propaganda

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 9th, 2013

Politics 101

Whenever an Unscrupulous Politician would look over His or Her Shoulder a Journalist would be There

It took 8 years to formally end the American Revolutionary War.  America was finally free from the arbitrary rule of a foreign government in a distant land.  The states could now govern themselves.  Without that distant government trying to tax them.  Regulate them.  Or oppress them.  Which is why there was fierce opposition to the new federal government.  Only 4 years had passed since the end of the war.  Memories were fresh.  They did not want to trade one distant oppressor for another.  It took a Bill of Rights to finally ratify the new Constitution.  And the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution stated:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In the First Amendment is the right of a free press.  Allowing our news media to report everything that happens without fear of governmental retribution.  Even if it pisses off those in government.  Especially if it pisses off those in government.  Just to let them know someone is watching them.  To keep them honest.  Transparent.  To let the people know the second they try to exceed the bounds of their constitutional authority.

It’s a noble profession.  Being the guardian of the people.  To speak truth to power.  To dare say that the king isn’t wearing any clothes.  Standing up to the powerful to protect the people.  Just like the Founding Fathers did.  When they stood up to the world’s greatest superpower.  The British Empire.  And so would the free press.  Who would not be intimidated by any government.  No.  They would get into their face.  And be on them like ugly on a pig.  For whenever an unscrupulous politician would look over his or her shoulder a journalist would be there.  Ready to report to the people all of their unscrupulous deeds.

The Mainstream Media wrongly blamed Radical Conservatism for Boston, Newtown, Aurora and Tucson

And how is that brave and noble profession doing today?  Don Henley wrote a song about it in 1982.  Dirty Laundry.  The title says a lot about how Henley felt about television journalism.

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

And little has changed since 1982.  Television news loves it when people lose.  And for these people reading the teleprompters on air nothing is better than when bad things happen to good people.

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
Comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam
In her eye
It’s interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry

Unless those dead people are in Benghazi.  Or their deaths can be traced to radical Islam.  When they die for some reason it’s not interesting.   When those bombs went off at the Boston Marathon the news media was all over the place.  If you turned on a television there was someone standing somewhere in Boston telling us a lot of nothing.  Because no one learned anything yet to tell.  But they were offering up possible motives.  It was in Boston.  It was Patriots’ Day.  Close to the anniversary of the fiery end of the siege at Waco.  Close to the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.  And it was tax day.  April 15.  It could mean only one thing.  The bomber had to be a radical conservative.  Just like they blamed the Newtown, Aurora and Tucson shootings on before they knew any of the facts.  But radical conservatives committed none of these crimes.

When they found out the bombers were a couple of radical Islamists, though, things changed.  Especially when we learned one of them had traveled to Dagestan, a hotbed of radical Islam.  Stayed there for 6 months.  The Russians had even warned us about this guy becoming radicalized.  Yet the FBI let him back into the country.  Didn’t pursue him.  And didn’t even tell the Boston police about him.  So they might take a closer look at him or his Islamist anti-American YouTube playlist before a big public event like the Boston Marathon.  Now the news hardly mentions these new developments.  For once they ruled out radical conservatives as the culprits they lost that gleam in their eye.

Today the Mainstream Media is nothing more than the Propaganda Arm of a Distant Powerful Government

Not only has television news degenerated into cheap tabloid journalism it also has become partisan.  Instead of speaking truth to power they have become an arm of the powerful.  President Obama blamed our troubles with radical Islam on George W. Bush.  Because he was mean.  So President Obama was going to be nice.  He changed the language to be kinder to Islam.  So as not to offend our Muslim friends.  When Nidal Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” like other radical Islamists do before they start killing innocent people President Obama called Hasan’s killing of 13 and wounding of 30 workplace violence.  For the president refused to blame anything on radical Islam.  In fact, after he killed Osama bin Laden he said the War on Terror was over.  Al Qaeda was on ropes.  And there were no more radical Islamists trying to kill Americans.  This was the campaign message of the 2012 election.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  And General Motors is alive.  Which the dutiful media reported without hesitation.  Even though radical Islam had just killed 4 in Benghazi.

So in the president’s eyes there is no radical Islam.  This is why the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous uprising.  By people who walk around with RPGs in their back pockets.  Who were incited by a YouTube video.  Not an al Qaeda attack.  For the president won the War on Terror.  So it couldn’t be al Qaeda.  No.  The Muslim world now loves us.  Because George W. Bush is no longer president.  But since President Obama has been in office radical Islamists have been trying to kill us.  There was the underwear bomber.  The Times Square bomber.  And the Christmas tree lighting bomber.  All plots that failed.  Then there was Benghazi.  And, of course, the Boston Marathon bombings.  Proving that radical Islam is alive.  And that they still hate Americans.  No matter how much nicer President Obama is than President Bush.  And now three whistleblowers are testifying before Congress about Benghazi.  People who were there.  And they contradict what the Obama administration has said.  But other than Fox News no one is reporting this.  Instead, they report more sensational tabloid news.  While attacking and dismissing as partisan anyone that pursues the Benghazi story.

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do “The Innuendo”
We can dance and sing
When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
We all know that crap is king
Give us dirty laundry!

Journalism was once an honored profession.  But journalists today have sold out and gone over to the dark side.  Instead of standing up to power they protect those in power.  Case in point Benghazi.  President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Rice blamed Benghazi on a spontaneous uprising in response to a YouTube video.  That according to the people there had nothing to do with the terrorist assault on the American mission.  So the Obama administration lied.  Few believed the lie back in September.  No one believes it now.  Yet the media doesn’t investigate why the administration lied.  Instead, they attack those who do and call them partisan.  Protecting the government.  Unwilling to report to the people a single unscrupulous deed government does.  Unless the unscrupulous one is a Republican.

The mainstream media stopped being objective journalists long ago.  And today is nothing more than the propaganda arm of a powerful government in a distant land.  That stifles the free press.  By cutting anyone down to size who dares to criticize the federal government.  Entertaining us instead of informing us.  And here we are, 8 months after Benghazi and they still haven’t told us a thing about that terrorist attack that killed 4 Americans.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FT158: “Journalists are more partisan than wise.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 22nd, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The Mainstream Media sacrifice their Journalistic Integrity to help the Obama Administration Advance their Agenda

The president has warned that the $85 billion in spending cuts of the sequester will gut government programs leaving Americans at great peril.  This despite baseline budgeting automatically increases spending every year.  From 1974 (after Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold and the government adopted baseline budgeting) through 2008 (before the spending orgy of the Obama administration) federal spending increased approximately 7.5% each year.  Crunching the numbers for the spending increase from 2012 to 2013 we get $284.7 billion.  Applying the cuts of the sequester reduces this increase in spending to $199.7 billion.  We will spend more in 2013 than we did in 2012.  Even AFTER the sequester cuts.  So all the peril the president is warning us about is not real.  He’s lying for political gain.

Yet the mainstream media is discussing this issue as if there are real cuts in spending.  That we will reduce spending in the numerous government programs the president warns about if we let the sequester happen.  Less food inspection.  Less airport security.  Fewer police officers.  Fewer firefighters.  Fewer teachers.  Fewer flu vaccinations.  And less childcare.  In their reports they discuss these as a matter of fact.  When they are just not true.  And it’s no secret.  Anyone can do what we did and look at federal outlays and see the automatic spending increases each year.  And see that we will still spend more in 2013 after the sequester cuts than we did in 2012.  You’d think a journalist would study the facts.  The historical record.  And then question the president and his administration.  Ask them why they are lying.  But they don’t.  Why?

Because they are partisan.  Committed to the leftist agenda the president is trying to pass.  So they either help spread the lie.  Being complicit in the lie.  Or they spread the lie because they are victims of the lie.  They are so committed to the leftist agenda that they don’t question anything coming from the liberal left.  Because they want to believe.  They sacrifice their journalistic integrity to help the administration advance their agenda.  More a propaganda arm of the administration than a free press.  The kind of journalism they practice in Venezuela.  Cuba.  China.  North Korea.  And the kind of journalism they practiced in East Germany.  The Soviet Union.  And Nazi Germany.  Where there was no free press.  Only state propaganda.  Propaganda in a totalitarian regime is one thing.  They already oppress their people and their news is more for the benefit of outsiders.  Where they lie about record harvests.  And record gains in industrial production.  Things their people have long stopped believing as they suffer through the misery of the reality.  But it’s different in a free country.  For it lends legitimacy for illegitimate actions of government.  And allows them to overstep the restraints of their constitutional authority.

The Mainstream Media helped Downplay the Resurgent al Qaeda in Benghazi to help President Obama win Reelection

In 2010 the greatest cause of accidental deaths for children age 5-15 was motor vehicle accidents.  In 2010 there were 806 deaths.  Representing 49.1% of all deaths.  The number two cause was drowning with 251 deaths.  Or 15.3% of the total.  Next came fire/burn at 135 deaths.  Then death by suffocation at 79 deaths.  Then death by other land transportation at 68 deaths.  Then poisoning at 54 deaths.  Then came firearms at 37 deaths.  Yet many in the mainstream media actively support the Obama administration in their push for gun control.  Especially a ban on assault weapons.  Even if (as they say so often) it saves only one child.  But guns aren’t the leading cause of death for children.  In fact, as horrific as scenes like the Newtown shooting are they are very rare occurrences.  Far more children die in automobile accidents each year.  No doubt because we are driving smaller cars to save the planet (lighter cars means greater gas mileage and less pollution).  But the journalists don’t report this fact.  Because they endorse the leftist agenda of saving the planet.  And more gun control.  Even if saving the planet means the death of more children from driving in smaller and less safe cars.  While more gun control probably won’t save a single child.

The Obama administration’s foreign policy record has been a poor one.  The greatest threat to peace and stability in the Mideast and North Africa is Iran.  Yet the Obama administration did not support the Green Revolution protesting the 2009 Iranian election results that most felt were unfair.  There are few bigger enemies of the United States.  The Iranian supported insurgency killed or wounded a lot of U.S. military in Iraq.  Our strongest allies in the region (Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) all feared growing Iranian influence in the region.  But given an opportunity to support an uprising that could overthrow a great enemy to peace and stability the Obama administration did nothing.  But when the Arab Spring swept through Egypt the president abandoned one of America’s most stalwart allies and the anchor to stability in the region.  Hosni Mubarak.  Now the Iranian influence in Egypt is stronger than ever.  When the Arab Spring spread to Libya the Obama administration supported that movement, too.  Despite Colonel Muammar Gaddafi having denounced terrorism and supported the Americans in the war against al Qaeda.  When the Arab Spring spread to Syria the president did not support that protest.  Despite Syria being Iran’s strongest ally in the region.  A sponsor of terrorism.  And a nation with a chemical arsenal likely manufactured by Iraq (those weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein had used on his people but had disappeared when the Americans arrived on the scene, likely having skedaddled across the border into Syria).  As bad as the ruling regime was in Syria we did nothing to help Syrians overthrow their oppressor.

Now civil war engulfs Syria.  Elements of al Qaeda have joined the opposition.  Making sure Iran wins however things turn out there.  And the Iranian influence is stronger than ever in Libya.  When al Qaeda killed the American diplomat in Benghazi the Obama administration made up a story about a YouTube video causing spontaneous protests that led to the ambassador’s death along with three other Americans.  To downplay a resurgent al Qaeda during the 2012 election campaign.  As they had refused to beef up security in Benghazi as the ambassador requested.  Because it would look bad in the 2012 election.  Yet the mainstream media did not question these very poor decisions the Obama administration made for political reasons.  Instead accepting their position that there was nothing newsworthy in Benghazi.  Which they wholeheartedly reported.  Refusing to even ask questions.  Such as why did they refuse the ambassador’s request for more security?  Who edited the talking points for Ambassador Rice used for the Sunday morning shows?  Or why is al Qaeda now stronger in the Middle East, North Africa and West Africa after 4 years of the Obama administration that they were during 8 years of the Bush administration?  No.  They showed no journalistic curiosity.  Or integrity.  Simply accepting the administration’s statements as fact.  While the Middle East and Africa become more dangerous places.

The Mainstream Media is no longer a Free Press for the People but a Propaganda Arm of the Obama Administration

Obamacare is the most sweeping change to the American economy since LBJ’s Great Society.  Which was the most sweeping change since FDR’s New Deal.  The American Left has always wanted a national health care system.  Just like what they have in the United Kingdom.  The Left likes to point to their National Health Service (NHS) as the right way to do health care.  As does the mainstream media.  Yet if you read the British papers their NHS is not all the American Left says it is.  Britain’s aging population has caused health care spending to explode.  The UK is in the midst of massive budget cuts to bring down health care spending.  While the NHS has long tried to deal with chronic problems of long wait times.  Rationing.  A shortage of doctors and nurses.  Even ambulances.  Their emergency rooms are overflowing with people with non-emergencies as the NHS closed their neighborhood clinics to reduce costs.  And the quality of care has been falling in their hospitals.  The problems in the NHS are no secret.  All you have to do is pick up a British paper and read about them.  For they are ongoing.  Yet the mainstream media never reported these problems during the Obamacare debate.  Or what passed for a debate.  No.  They never asked how Obamacare was going to avoid all the problems they were having in the NHS.  Which they should have.  As the US has an aging population, too.  Worse, they have about five times the population the UK has.  Guaranteeing any problems they have will be five times worse in the US.  Serious questions a good journalist should have asked.  But no.  They didn’t.  Because they support the liberal agenda more than they believe in journalistic integrity.  So they only report what helps the administration.  While avoiding anything that is critical of them.  Or their agenda.

When it comes to economics the mainstream media are all supporters of Keynesian economics.  Despite their record of failure.  When Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold in 1971 it allowed the government to go all in with Keynesian economics.  And they did.  Printing so much money that it led to excessive inflation, high unemployment and economic stagnation.  Ronald Reagan reversed those Keynesian policies.  His administration stopped printing money.  And got the government out of the private sector economy.  Cutting regulations.  As well as tax rates.  And economic activity exploded.  There was so much economic activity that tax revenue nearly doubled.  Even at those lower tax rates.  But the mainstream media doesn’t report this.  Instead, they revise history.  Always supporting Keynesian economic policies as they allow government to expand.  So they can implement their leftist agenda.  Which is anti-business.  Pushing higher regulations.  And higher taxes.  And whenever anyone talks about Reaganomics they say those cuts in tax rates only increased the deficit.  When the historical record clearly shows tax receipts increased.  Which they could easily look up (see Table 2.1—RECEIPTS BY SOURCE: 1934–2017).  But they don’t.  Or chose not to.  Preferring to support the liberal agenda.  Instead of having journalistic integrity.

The mainstream media today is no longer a free press for the people.  They are an extension of the Democrat Party.  At least the liberal wing of the Democrat Party.  More of a propaganda arm of the Obama administration.  That is more interested in changing the country than keeping our politicians honest.  Or reporting the facts.  They are fiercely partisan.  Or they are just not very smart.  Either woefully ignorant of the material they report on.  Or so in the bag for the Obama administration that they will report falsehoods as truth.  The kind of thing that isn’t a big deal in a totalitarian regime.  But a pretty big deal in a free country with a government that continues to try to exceed its constitutional authority.  For a free press is the vanguard of a free country.  Keeping the politicians honest so they can’t exceed their constitutional authority.  And if the journalists aren’t going to do their job by the time we find out what our politicians are doing it will be too late.  As we now have Obamacare as law.  Which passed on partisan lines.  With enough moderates and independents voting for Obamacare as few in America knew of all the problems the British were having with their national health care.  Today it’s Obamacare.  Tomorrow it may be gun control.  Or a war in the Middle East thanks to a resurgent al Qaeda.  And a growing Iranian influence.  Thanks to such a poor job in foreign policy that if the mainstream media had reported it honestly President Obama may not have won reelection.  And four Americans may not have died in Benghazi.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hope, Fear and Lies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 13th, 2012

Politics 101

The Founding Fathers were Gentlemen of the Enlightenment with Sound Philosophical Beliefs

Politicians have to win elections.  They have to persuade and convince people to vote for them.  Once upon a time that meant vigorous debate where candidates explained why their way was the better way.  Going right back to the Founding.  Where Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson bitterly contested each other’s vision for the country.  And the debate often got dirty.  Such as when Hamilton’s political enemies exposed his extramarital affair with the con-woman Mrs. Reynolds who seduced Hamilton with the purpose of blackmailing him.  Who wanted to use this information to say he was involved in a bigger scheme with Mr. Reynolds in defrauding the federal government.

Treasury Secretary Hamilton met three gentlemen of the political opposition in private.  Admitting to his affair.  And proved beyond a shadow of doubt that all money paid to the blackmailers came from Hamilton’s private funds.  Not a penny came from the Treasury Department.  According to 18th century gentlemanly behavior the matter was closed.  The affair was a personal matter.  It would be imprudent to make it a public issue.  But upon Hamilton’s retirement a bitter political enemy leaked this information to a scandalmonger.  James Callender.  Who wrote a book exposing this private matter.  The History of the United States for the Year 1796.  Jefferson had helped to finance Callender.  And reveled in Hamilton’s scandal.  But when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  And Jefferson did.  For Callender published articles confirming rumors that Jefferson had fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.

Politics then were just as dirty as they are today.  And often crossed the line.  But underneath all the scandals and mudslinging there were philosophical principles.  They did these things for principle.  For they feared the opposition and what their policies would do the fledgling nation.  There was political patronage and political corruption.  But above that was a battle of competing political ideology.  Waged by men well read in history.  Familiar with John Locke.  And Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu.  Icons of the Enlightenment.  Whose philosophies can be found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  These Founding Fathers were rich propertied men.  Established in their careers.  Who had little left to prove.  These gentlemen of the Enlightenment did what they did not for money or political favor.  So they could live a more comfortable life.   They did these things out of principle.  Based on sound philosophical beliefs.

The Democrats try to Scare the Bejesus out of People to Get and Keep the Republicans out of Office

It’s not like that anymore.  Instead of rich successful people entering politics for selfless reasons people of no accomplishments enter politics to become rich and powerful.  Who have no principles.  Who will buy and sell anyone to remain in power.  Of course they don’t campaign by saying this.  Instead, their campaigns are based on hopes and fears.  And the telling a lot of lies.  With little principle.  Or sound philosophical beliefs.

In 2008 President Obama campaigned on hope and change.  To get away from the partisan politics of the past.  Democrats continue to peddle hope.  Health care for everyone.  College degrees for everyone.  High-paying green jobs and energy independence.  A return of manufacturing jobs.  Spending our way out of recession with Keynesian stimulus spending.  A bigger social safety net.  Talking to our enemies instead of going to war with them.  And making them like us by resolving all of our differences with diplomacy.  That we can have whatever we want.  If only we got the Republicans out of office.

While at the same time the Democrats try to scare the bejesus out of people if we don’t get and keep the Republicans out of office.  For the Republicans want to take away birth control and abortion from women.  And keep them from being independent and having careers.  The poor will remain poor.  The rich will get richer.  And the hungry will die.  Slavery will be reinstituted.  The Republicans will tax the middle class more so they can give tax breaks to rich corporations.  They will burden the nation with massive deficits with their tax cuts for the rich.  Global warming will continue unchecked.  Our drinking water will be polluted.  And our atmosphere will become poisonous to breathe.  All because Republicans put profit before people.

The Left tells a lot of Lies to Win Elections because all they have are Failed Keynesian Economic Policies

Republicans, on the other hand, peddle the hope that we can return to the prosperity of Ronald Reagan.  By cutting tax rates.  For throughout U.S. history whenever the government cut tax rates prosperity followed.  As well as flooded the treasury with tax dollars.  For contrary to the fear peddling of the Democrats cuts in tax rates have historically increased tax revenue.  And can again.  As Ronald Reagan campaigned in 1984, it can be Morning in America again.  We can be prouder, stronger and better.

While at the same time Republicans like to scare people with national security issues.  The Clinton administration handled terrorist attacks against America in the courts.  Which emboldened America’s enemies into an escalation of attacks resulting in 9/11.  The one in 2001.  Not the attack in 2012 on the U.S consulate in Benghazi.  While the Democrats believe our enemies hate us because George W. Bush made them hate us with his cowboy swaggering ways.  And that was the only reason.  Even though Bush had little time to swagger before the attacks on 9/11.  Those in 2001.  Not the ones in 2012.  The Republicans say our enemies hate us for who we are.  As we are too Christian.  And allow our women to have careers and use birth control and abortion.  Something our enemies won’t allow their women to have.

President Obama did not end partisan politics.  He lied about that.  For his administration has been perhaps the most partisan in U.S. history.  With no interest whatsoever in compromise.  He and the Democrats continue to lie about the Reagan tax cuts.  And the Bush tax cuts.  Blaming tax cuts for all our woes.  And our deficits.  Despite those tax cuts increasing tax revenue.  They lied about a war on women.  Having one of their cronies in the mainstream media create it by asking Mitt Romney if he wanted to take away women’s birth control.  And they continuously spread the lie that the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.  When the top 10% of income earners pay about 70% of all federal income taxes.

So the Left tells a lot of lies to win elections.  Because that’s all they have.  They do not have a Morning in America they can talk about.  Just failed Keynesian economic policies.  Like the 4 years of Jimmy Carter.  The 4 years of President Obama.  And what may have been the 4 years of Bill Clinton had it not been for the Republicans taking control of Congress 2 years into his presidency.  Of course the Republicans can tell a lie, too.  The big one being their claim of being conservative like Ronald Reagan.  As they too often fall for the lies coming from the Left.  And appear more interested in living a comfortable life than sound philosophical beliefs.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Burgoyne, Saratoga, Daniel Morgan, Banastre Tarleton, Loyal Legion, Waxhaw Massacre, Camden, Horatio Gates, Cowpens and Yorktown

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 7th, 2012

Politics 101

The Scotch-Irish and Germans in the South had a connection to the Stuart/Hanover King George III

It turns out the first British general to lose an army on the field of battle to the Americans was the only one with a coordinated plan.  General Burgoyne planned to separate and isolate New England with a coordinated three-prong attack.  He’d attack down Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson.  St. Leger would attack out of Oswego and head east along the Mohawk valley.  With Howe coming up the Hudson.  Bringing all three prongs together around Albany.  And it may have worked if Burgoyne had overall command of British forces in America.  But he didn’t.  For there was no one in charge of all British forces coordinating their resources in a unified plan.  So General Howe ran around Pennsylvania instead of going up the Hudson to meet Burgoyne at Albany.  Downriver from Saratoga.  Where Burgoyne surrendered his army.

Now Burgoyne wasn’t the greatest general the British had.  But he had about the only grand strategy to defeat the Americans.  For no one else tried to marshal Britain’s superior forces towards some strategic end.  Lucky for the Americans as it gave them the time to survive through Valley Forge.  Where they emerged as good as any European army.  Which rebuffed the British when they turned to the Middle States.  Cities they captured they eventually gave up and left for the Americans.  And returned to New York.  Where a large British force stayed ensconced throughout the American Revolutionary War.  While another British force tried their luck in the South.

Things could have been different in the South.  For there were a lot of Loyalists in the South.  Especially in the back country of North and South Carolina.  A great mutt of nationalities.  Including a lot of Scotch-Irish.  And Germans.  Who had a connection to King George III.  Who was the king of England and Wales.   As well as Scotland, Ireland and Hanover.  A German province.  And family.  Related to the British House of Stuart.  Yes, those Stuarts.  Who had ruled England for such a long time.  And still do to this day.  Thanks to their Hanoverian relations.  So there was hope in the South for Britain.  Made even more promising by the fact that these Scotch-Irish and Germans didn’t get along well with the local American governments.

Tarleton’s Waxhaw Massacre inflamed anti-British Sentiment and Turned a lot of Neutrals into Patriots

In truth once you moved away from the big cities the South was neither Loyalist nor Patriot.  It was both.  Depending on where in the South you were.  In fact there was a lot of bloody fighting in the South that the British had no part in.  This bloody fighting was between neighbors and families.  Which is why it was so bloody.  For civil wars are the cruelest of wars.  Because of the vengeance factor.  Whenever your enemy did unspeakable acts of atrocities to their former friends and family the retaliation was in kind.  Or worse.  It was an ideal environment to wage war in.  A little overwhelming force and coordination with the Loyalist side could have paid large dividends for the British.  Sort of like D-Day in World War II.  The Allies dropped paratroopers behind the beach defenses to support the beach invasions.  A multi-pronged British force could have done the same.  Attacked the coastal areas while the Loyalists kept the Patriots busy, preventing them from joining the action in the coastal areas. 

Instead the British won great battles.  And captured cities.  But the surrounding countryside was rife with partisan guerilla war.  The British did not bring a large enough force to subdue the countryside.  Or to protect the cities they won.  Where Patriot leaders like Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens and Daniel Morgan rode freely, making hit and run raids at will.  While British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton lead a cavalry unit made up of Loyalists Tories.  The Loyal Legion.  (Mel Gibson’s character in the movie The Patriot was a composite based on these Patriots.  And his enemy was based on Tarleton).  And waged a cruel war that won him no love from those who had remained neutral in the South.  Such as following the fall of Charleston.  Tarleton set out to try and subdue the countryside.  And met a force of some 300 Virginians commanded by Colonel Buford at Waxhaw Creek.  When they met Tarleton demanded Buford’s surrender.  He refused.  They fought.  Overwhelmed, the Americans raised the white flag.  Tarleton’s men then killed the surrendering Americans by bayonet.  Perhaps the cruelest act of the war.  And from this came the battle cry ‘Tarleton’s quarter’.  Meaning take no prisoners when fighting the British.   The British win at Waxhaw secured much of the south for them.  But the massacre inflamed anti-British sentiment.  Turning a lot of neutrals into Patriots.

For the most part both the British and the American regular soldiers fought according to accepted rules of warfare.  And committed no such atrocities like the Waxhaw Massacre.  In fact, it wasn’t even the British who committed this atrocity.  It was American Loyalists fighting for Tarleton.  Part of that civil war in the South.  Which grew ugly.  The British and their Tory American allies were like Vikings.  Doing a lot of pillaging.  And not being very nice to the Patriot ladies.  While their men were away they not only looted their homes but stole the possessions they were wearing at gun and sword point.  And who knows what else.  Acts perpetrated on no orders.  But by the free-for-all in a land consumed by civil war.  And once again the crueler the war the more it inspired people to continue the fight.  While their men were away continuing the good fight their women were at home.  Securing supplies for their Patriot men.  And getting them to those fighting the good fight.  Brave women these Patriot women.  And heroes.

General Daniel Morgan’s Victory at the Battle of Cowpens was the Turning Point of the War

The ‘hero’ of Saratoga came south to take command of American forces.  Horatio Gates.  Who came in to take command just prior to the surrender at Saratoga.  Where the battle was truly won by future traitor Benedict Arnold.  And Daniel Morgan’s riflemen.  Who would leave the military soon thereafter.  After a long and distinguished career.  But those in Congress gave the credit to Gates.  As they did the Southern Department.  Something General Washington was not in favor of.  And for good reason.  For Gates displayed a certain incompetence that put his army in danger.  And suffered one of the greatest American defeats at the Battle of Camden.  In the general route that followed Gates got on a horse and fled from the battlefield.  And did not stop fleeing until he reached Charlotte.  Some 60 miles away.

General Nathaniel Greene replaced General Gates in the Southern Department.  He was who Washington wanted for the position in the first place.  And Morgan emerged from retirement to join the department under Greene.  Where they and those other Patriot partisans were causing all sorts of trouble for the British in the South.  General Morgan was proving to be quite the problem so General Cornwallis detached Tarleton and his Loyal Legion to handle the Morgan problem.  And caught up to him at Cowpens.  Suffering one of the greatest British defeats of the war.  (The final battle in The Patriot is based on the Battle of Cowpens.  Though in real life Tarleton survived and returned to England, forever haunted by this great defeat).  Which proved to be the turning point of the war.  Setting the stage for another British army to surrender.

The failed British Strategy in the South allowed a revitalized American army to push the British across Virginia.  To the coast.  Where they were hoping to get support from the Royal Navy.  Only to see the French navy.  For the French had joined the American cause after the victory as Saratoga.  And were now joining forces with the Americans under General Washington.  At a little place called Yorktown.  Where Cornwallis found his back to the water.  And the French navy.  While surrounded on land by a Franco-American force.  And for the second time in the American Revolutionary War a large British army surrendered on the field of battle to an American general.  Only this time “northern laurels” didn’t turn into “southern willows” as they had for Gates.  The victory at Yorktown was only the prelude to an American win in the Revolutionary War.  And the birth of a new nation.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Raising the Debt Ceiling may be Worse than Default

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 30th, 2011

Despite U.S. Debt Crisis, U.S. still the World’s Safe Asset of Choice

As Congress debates over the debt ceiling…blah blah blah…Armageddon.  Funny thing is, the U.S. debt problem is not that bad.  When compared to the debt problem in Europe (see Err, over here by Schumpeter posted 7/29/2011 on The Economist).

AS THE August 2nd deadline for a resolution of America’s debt-ceiling row approaches, other news is being drowned out. America’s debt debacle provokes rubber-necking fascination but the euro crisis is still the bigger threat to financial stability.

The chances (admittedly diminishing with time) are that America will get its house in order and avoid default; and that a ratings downgrade will happen but not threaten the pre-eminence of Treasuries as the world’s safe asset of choice. In contrast, the euro area’s crisis is already in full swing and policymakers, as this week’s issue of The Economist makes plain, have not found a way to stop it.

Things are worse in the European Union.  Especially the Eurozone.  And though Armageddon is at hand in the U.S., we’re still the “world’s safe asset of choice.”  So the end of the world as we know it may not be at hand.  But the out of control government spending and debt is fast approaching European levels.  So if we don’t cut our spending and reduce our deficits, we will follow lockstep behind Europe into fiscal ruin.  And then, of course, Armageddon.  

Partisan Democrats decry Republican Partisanship

So this Republican partisanship needs to end.  They need to be bipartisan.  Like the Democrats.  That is, when they’re not being partisan themselves (see For Reid, Durbin, and Obama, a (very) partisan record on debt ceiling by Byron York posted 7/30/2011 on The Washington Examiner).

A look at Reid’s record, however, shows that in the last decade his own voting on the issue of the debt ceiling is not only partisan but perfectly partisan. According to “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” a January 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service, the Senate has passed ten increases to the debt limit since 2000.  Reid never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control of the Senate, and he always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control…

At look at Durbin’s record shows that he, too, has voted along absolutely partisan lines.  In the last decade, Durbin never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control and always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control.  As for Obama, there were four votes to raise the debt ceiling when he was in the Senate.  He missed two of them, voted no once when Republicans were in charge, and voted yes once when Democrats were in charge.

So the Democrats have a history of being just as partisan as the Republicans.  Even now, as they decry the Republican’s partisanship, they refuse to compromise at all on what they’ve always wanted.  More taxes.  And more borrowing.  So they can spend a lot more.

Democrats open to Compromise, as long as it’s the Republicans doing the Compromising

And they’ve drawn a line in the sand.  No meaningful cuts without new taxes (see Senate Kills Debt Bill, Bipartisan Talks on Hold by Steven T. Dennis posted 7/29/2011 on Roll Call).

“We’ve got a closet full of triggers,” he said. But, he added, “I came to the conclusion that we are negotiating with ourselves. The Republicans will not agree to any triggers that have any revenues in it.”

And Reid noted that Democrats have drawn a line in the sand against any cuts to entitlement programs without revenue.

The Republicans refuse to raise taxes because America is still wallowing in the Great Recession.  Democrats refuse to drop their request to raise taxes.  And flat out refuse to cut entitlements.  Like Social Security.  Medicare.  And the new Obamacare.  Because, though fiscally responsible, it’s not politically expedient.  Which is going to become a BIG problem soon.

Repeal Obamacare and all our Current Troubles go Away

Health care spending will take the U.S. to European levels of spending and debt (see CMS Projections Confirm Runaway Health Care Spending by Kathryn Nix posted 7/29/2011 on The Foundry).

As the economy recovers and the major provisions of Obamacare kick in, national health spending is projected to grow at quite a clip—increasing, on average, 5.8 percent each year. By 2020, the nation will spend $4.54 trillion on health care, or close to 20 percent of GDP. (For the sake of comparison: In 2010, federal tax revenue totaled 14.9 percent of GDP, and all federal spending combined amounted to 23.8 percent of GDP.)

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining.  An S&P report calls for real spending cuts of $4 trillion or more over 10 years to avoid the credit downgrade.  And look at this.  Obamacare will cost $4.54 trillion over some 10 years.  Imagine that.  Save the AAA bond rating.  Leave Social Security and Medicare intact.  And all you have to do is cut one program that no one is receiving any benefits from yet.  Repeal Obamacare.  And all our current troubles go away.

Or you can Devalue the Currency

Of course, that’s one way of solving the current crisis.  There appears to be another.  One that is a bit more destructive (see Answers to the 7 big “what-ifs” of debt default by Lauren Young posted 7/30/2011 on Reuters).

Traders say Asian central banks, among the world’s biggest dollar holders, have been steady buyers of alternatives to the dollar such as the Singapore dollar and other Asian currencies as well as the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars. “Foreigners are at the vanguard of the drop in the dollar,” says Dan Dorrow, head of research at Faros Trading, a currency broker/dealer in Stamford, Connecticut. “I don’t think anyone expects a catastrophic U.S. default. But a downgrade will make them more aggressive in moving away from the dollar…”

The bottom line? It will be more expensive to travel overseas, drink French wine or buy Japanese cars.

A little trade war anyone?  A weak currency is like a tariff.  It makes imports so expensive that we stop buying them.  And buy American instead.  Thus increasing U.S. GDP.  And there is a corollary to this.  Can you guess what that is?  Here’s a hint.  It does something to our exports.  And our vacation market.

Fixing our Economy by Destroying other Economies

A weak currency not only makes your imports more expensive, it also makes your exports less expensive.  Which helps your export market.  And encourages people to vacation in your country because those stronger, foreign currencies can buy so much more (see U.S. Economy: Growth Trails Forecasts as Consumers Retrench by Shobhana Chandra posted 7/29/2011 on Bloomberg).

The improvement in the difference between imports and exports added another 0.6 point [of U.S. GDP].

Overseas sales will remain a backstop for factories. Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), the largest U.S. chemical maker, said demand is “strong” in markets abroad.

“We captured strong growth in Latin America, and the emerging geographies more broadly, while North America experienced moderate growth,” Andrew Liveris, chief executive officer, said on a July 27 conference call with analysts.

So perhaps this is the grand plan.  Increase spending to unsustainable levels.  Incur record debt.  This spending and debt triggers a downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt.  Which devalues the U.S. dollar.  Which places a de facto tariff on imports.  And provides a subsidy for our exports.  And it makes the U.S. a vacation destination.  Until our trading partners retaliate for fixing our economy by destroying their economies.  Like everyone is saying the Chinese are doing by keeping their own currency weak.

Repealing Obamacare would Please the Credit Rating Agencies

So the only bright spot in the U.S. economy is other economies.  Where they’re experiencing growth.  And can easily afford U.S. goods.  Which is about the only market buying them these days.  But for the world’s largest economy (for now) to rely solely on exports can be a bit risky.  Especially if it triggers a trade war.  Which, incidentally, helped trigger the Great Depression.

No, it would probably be more prudent to keep that AAA rating by cutting spending.  Before we spend ourselves to European ruin.  That’s the key to everything.  In particular cutting the fastest growing government expenditure.  Health care.  Which makes repealing Obamacare made to order.  No one is benefitting from it yet.  So no one will even notice this cut.  Other than the credit rating agencies.  Who will stand up and applaud this action. 

For just raising the debt ceiling doesn’t solve the real problem.  In fact, raising the debt ceiling without the $4 trillion in spending cuts will just push us closer to European ruin.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama’s Choice – Cut Spending or Downgrade U.S. Sovereign Debt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 27th, 2011

The BIG Problem is the Excessive Spending, not the Debt Ceiling

I don’t know what’s more annoying in the budget debate to raise the debt limit.  The cries on the left for the Republicans to quit being partisan.  To instead propose a true bipartisan bill that has a chance of passing the Senate.  And by ‘bipartisan’ they mean one that gives the left everything they want.  Or is it the doom and gloom being bleated by the president, Congressional Democrats and the mainstream media if the debt ceiling isn’t raised (see Debt-ceiling threat has Wall Street scrambling by Nathaniel Popper and Jim Puzzanghera posted 7/27/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).

Without a deal, the most feared scenario is that the U.S. will miss payments on its bonds and default — which financial experts say would be disastrous. While still considered unlikely, the prospect is popping up more in conversations…

No.  This can’t happen.  There’s enough money to pay interest on the debt.  And to issue Social Security checks.  But they will have to make cuts elsewhere in some nonessential areas.  Like in some cabinet departments (Education, Energy, EPA, etc.).  This is all fear peddling by the Obama administration to do one thing.  Raise the debt ceiling.  So they can keep spending.  And this is the BIG problem.

The more likely scenario that investors are preparing for is that a temporary deal is struck to lift the debt ceiling. But such a makeshift plan is unlikely to allow the U.S. to maintain its AAA grade with bond rating companies. Citigroup analysts say the odds are 50-50 that the U.S. will be demoted to an AA rating for the first time ever.

Such a downgrade could lead to a temporary market panic. In the longer term it could push interest rates up for everyone from bankers down to ordinary people taking out car loans, and weaken the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency.

Even if they raise the debt limit in time there is a far greater problem.  And yet few are talking about THIS problem.  The excessive spending that will ultimately cause the credit downgrade.

To Avoid Credit Downgrade will Require $4 Trillion in REAL Spending Cuts

And it’s no secret.  S&P was very explicit in their report of what would cause a credit downgrade.  Unrestrained government spending (see The Real S&P Warning: A $4 Trillion Deal or a Downgrade by Veronique de Rugy posted 7/19/2011 on National Review).

As the debt-ceiling showdown heads into its final stages, the political maneuvering has intensified. Yet I fear that we are losing sight of the only reason why the fight over the debt ceiling matters: It forces a discussion of the country’s real problem — unrestrained government spending and the tremendous fiscal imbalances that jeopardize our financial safety.

This is the real message in the July 14 S&P report.

First, S&P writes that unless there’s a credible $4 trillion deal within the next three months, they will downgrade us. By “credible,” S&P explains, they mean a plan that will actually be put into place (i.e., not one where the tax increases happen but not the spending cuts). Not $2 trillion, not $1 trillion,  but $4 trillion. And it has to be credible.

That means REAL spending cuts.  Not those ‘future’ kind that never happen.  Those that Democrats have promised time and again only to renege on those promises.  Or the base-line budgeting type of ‘cuts’ that still increase spending.  The onus is all on Obama and the Democrats.  Because they are the ones steadfast in their opposition to any real spending cuts.

The Electric Car – Typical Wasteful Government Spending

To get an idea of their voracious appetite to spend, consider the electric car.  What the economy of the future is based on.  Green energy.  The thing that’s going to make America rich and prosperous again (see California dials back its electric car credits by Eric Evarts posted 7/26/2011 on Consumer Reports).

In large part, EV appeal was greater in California due to a $5,000 state rebate that came on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit. With the tax credits, the price of an all-electric Nissan Leaf could be as low as $21,000, making it cheaper than a Toyota Prius and putting it on par with other small cars. (The Chevrolet Volt was not eligible for the state credit, although it does receive the $7,500 federal tax credit…)

While the price of electric cars is going up for California drivers, other factors still make the Golden State more attractive than most for electric cars: California uses no coal to generate electricity; its major electric utility companies have time-of-use rates and special power rates for electric cars, effectively lowering their energy costs; and perhaps most importantly, pure electric cars are still eligible to use carpool lanes on the state’s notoriously congested freeways with just a driver onboard. In addition, public charging infrastructure is on a faster track than it is elsewhere in the nation.

So that’s $5,000 from the state.  $7,500 from Washington.  That’s a discount of $12,500 (37.3%).  And yet the price of the Nissan Leaf is still $21,000.  But that still isn’t enough to make this car sell.  They need a subsidized electrical rate as well.  Government at all levels is paying a lot of our tax dollars to make a car no one wants to buy.  And this is the kind of spending that they just can’t cut.  Wasteful.  And this is only one example from the multitude.

Repeal Obamacare – Save Money, Please the People

Cutting $4 trillion over 10 years will not be easy.  But we can halve this number with one stroke of a pen (See By a Margin of 21 Points, Americans Favor Repeal by Jeffrey H. Anderson posted 7/27/2011 on the Weekly Standard).

While President Obama’s notion of a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction isn’t written down anywhere, it’s quite clear that it doesn’t involve repealing Obamacare (despite the fact that the health care overhaul would cost over $2 trillion in its real first decade, from 2014 to 2023). Polling, however, strongly suggests that it should. The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that, by a margin of 21 points (57 to 36 percent), Americans support the repeal of the centerpiece legislation of the Obama presidency.

Repealing Obamacare would be a step in the right direction.  It will save $2 trillion in spending that is pushing the U.S. toward a credit downgrade.  And the people don’t want it by a margin of 21 points.  Save money.  Please the people.  It’s a no-brainer for responsible government.  If only government was responsible.

The Choice – Cut Spending or Downgrade U.S. Sovereign Debt

The president said we need to live within our means.  And he’s right about that.  But living within our means doesn’t mean taxing and borrowing more to pay for out of control government spending.  Living within our means starts by NOT spending money we don’t have.  Not to spend first and figure out how to pay later. 

And just because other presidents raised the debt limit doesn’t mean we have to raise the debt limit.  You don’t justify bad behavior with bad behavior.  We’ve borrowed too much.  The credit rating agencies have spoken.  We need to cut spending.  And not get all professorial and lecture the American people that we need to be ‘responsible’ and raise taxes to pay for the government’s irresponsible spending binge.

We either cut spending.  Or Obama and his Democrats will downgrade U.S. sovereign debt for the first time in history.  Those are the choices.  And a good place to start would be to repeal Obamacare.  Because that’s all future spending.  All $2 trillion.  Not like Social Security or Medicare.  You can cut Obamacare.  And no one will miss it.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Republicans and the Credit Rating Agencies believe it’s a Debt Crisis, not a Revenue Problem

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 23rd, 2011

The Crisis of the Debt Crisis Negotiations

It’s near crunch time.  When something has to happen.  Something.  Good.  Or bad.  But the politicians aren’t playing nice.  And the pundits are opining (see Reactions to the impasse posted 7/23/2011 on First Read).

Andrew Sullivan: Republicans are anarchists.

David Frum: The Republicans made the debt problem a debt crisis.

Jay Cost: Obama is a lot like Jimmy Carter.

Ezra Klein: John Boehner is purposely wasting time by making non-offers.

Over on the New York Times, Paul Krugman is calling it Naked Blackmail (posted 7/23/2011). 

It turns out that in the final stages of the debt negotiations, Republicans suddenly added a new demand — a trigger that would end up eliminating the individual mandate in health care reform.

…the health care mandate has nothing to do with debt and deficits. So this is naked blackmail: the GOP is trying to use the threat of financial catastrophe to impose its policy vision, even in areas that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, a vision that it lacks the votes to enact through normal legislation.

Which is one side of the story why Boehner walked out of the negotiations.  For another side you can read Why the Obama-Boehner talks fell apart by Keith Hennessey (posted 7/23/2011).

The President backtracked in private negotiations this week, demanding bigger tax increases after the Gang of Six, including three conservative Republican Senators, released a plan that raised taxes more than the President had previously demanded…

…the President retreated from an earlier position on taxes as a result of the Gang of Six introducing their plan. On total tax revenues, tax rates, and refundable outlays, the President increased his demands last week.

And then there’s the unfunded mandate.

…the President and the Speaker had open disputes about how much to save from Medicaid, and about an automatic mechanism to force Congress to act on the entitlement and tax provisions. The President wanted a provision that would “decouple” tax rates if Congress failed to act, allowing top tax rates to increase while extending the other tax rates. Republicans would hate this outcome and would therefore have an incentive to legislate the deal. The Speaker insisted that if this automatic hammer decoupled tax rates, it also had to repeal the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), to create roughly equal legislative pressure on both sides of the aisle.

So there’s a lot more to the story some people are leaving out in their condemnation of Speaker Boehner and the Republicans.  For it would appear that it’s Obama and the Democrats who are refusing to make a deal that cuts spending or doesn’t raise taxes.  And it’s Obama that’s been increasing his demands.  With an able assist from the Gang of Six.

The Debt Rating Agencies siding with Boehner and the Republicans

But are Boehner and the Republicans just partisan mad men?  Making mountains out of molehills?  Debt crises out of debt problems?  Guess it depends on who you talk to.  If you talk to partisans on the left, yes.  If you talk to credit rating agencies, no (see Egan Jones cuts US rating, cites high debt load by Karen Brettell posted 7/18/2011 on Reuters).

Credit rating agency Egan-Jones has cut the United States’ top credit ranking, citing concerns over the country’s high debt load and the difficulty the government faces in significantly reducing spending.

…the cut is due the U.S. debt load standing at more than 100 percent of its gross domestic product. This compares with Canada, for example, which has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 35 percent, Egan-Jones said in a report sent on Saturday.

And S&P is getting closer to following suit (see Obama officials clash with S&P over downgrade threats by Tim Reid and Rachelle Younglai, Reuters, posted 7/23/2011 on Yahoo! News).

Since October, S&P has accelerated its deadline three times for when it might downgrade the United States’ coveted AAA credit rating as efforts in Washington to reach a deal on cutting long-term deficits have faltered.

The U.S. is in very dangerous debt territory.  Even Al Jazeera is writing about the severity of this debt problem (see Obama launches crisis talks over US debt posted 7/23/2011).

The US government now owes $14.3tn, which is its current legal limit, and is more than the size of the economies of China, Japan and Germany put together…

The largest US creditor, China, has twice warned that the US must protect investor interests, as ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have said the sterling Triple-A US debt rating was in danger of a downgrade.

You know your debt is bad when it exceeds the sum of three of the largest economies in the world.  At least you should know.  That’s why the rating agencies are looking at downgrading American sovereign debt.  The debt problem is that bad.  And tax hikes without spending cuts will only make this very bad problem much, much worse.  Because it’s a debt problem.  Not a revenue problem.

And, yes, the high costs of Obamacare need to be included in this conversation.  Because it is a BIG part of the spending problem.

From Sea to Shining Sea, at Least for awhile Yet

Raising the debt ceiling is not the problem here.  It’s the amount of debt that’s the problem.  Whatever happens in the next few weeks the United States will survive.  But it will not be able to survive the long term explosion of spending (in particular on health care) and debt.  Which is the thing that is making the rating agencies nervous.  As well as the rest of the world.

In the grand scheme of things, it would appear that Boehner and the Republicans are trying to do the right thing.  Whereas Obama and the Democrats are merely looking for short-term political gain.  Which is not in the best interests of the country.  But they’re not worried.  For whatever becomes of America, they are certain that they will be ensconced in their liberal Democrat city-states.  Insulated from the surrounding ruins that they will simply refer to as flyover country.

So much for “from sea to shining sea.”

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Battle to Raise the Debt Limit Begins

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 11th, 2011

Like Sumter, the Budget Compromise is only the Beginning

The next big congressional battle will be over the debt ceiling.  Which will set the stage for entitlement reform.  And being that this is the sesquicentennial of the opening shot of the Civil War, how about a little Civil War analogy?  About 150 years ago today General Beauregard ordered his canon to open fire on Fort Sumter.  The Union surrendered the fort.  There were about 10 casualties.

The first major land battle of the Civil War was the First Battle of Bull Run (aka, the First Battle of Manassas).  The military then still used Napoleonic tactics.  Armies formed in line, fired and advanced with bayonets amidst cannon fire, drums and regimental colors.  It was quite the spectacle.  The good people of Washington DC planned to make a picnic of it.  They would watch a couple of musket volleys and charges, see one army retire from the field of battle and then go home.  The battle did not progress quite that way.

Though we were still using Napoleonic tactics, we were not using Napoleonic smooth bore muskets any longer.  The effective range of the new rifled muskets was almost three times that of the smooth bores.  So as these men marched to close ranks with the enemy with their bayonets at the ready, the enemy fired accurate volleys into their lines.  The picnickers were shocked by the carnage.   When the Union Army was driven from the field of battle, the roads back to Washington were jammed with picnickers and soldiers alike fleeing for their lives.  There were just under 5,000 total casualties.  A pall hung over the nation.  No one expected the war to be this bad.  Then, about 9 months later, the Battle of Shiloh (aka, the Battle of Pittsburg Landing) saw just over 23,000 total casualties in two days of fighting.  Three months later, the Battle of Antietam (aka, the Battle of Sharpsburg) saw just over 22,000 casualties in a single day of fighting.  About a year later the Battle of Gettysburg saw close to 50,000 in total casualties over three days.

Now comparing political debates with Civil War battles dishonors those who fought those battles.  But because it’s the sesquicentennial, I will do so just for history’s sake.  Besides, politicians like to use war metaphors all of the time.  Even those opposed to the military.  The budget deal recently passed is like the Battle of Fort Sumter.  The battle over the debt ceiling will be like the Battle of Shiloh.  And entitlement reform will be like the three days of Gettysburg.  In other words, though they act like they just went to hell and back over this budget compromise, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

You Fix a Spending Problem by Spending Less, not More

House Speaker John Boehner pulled off a miracle of compromise.  Or some are saying.  While others are saying he caved (see John Boehner’s real tea party test by Chris Cillizza posted 4/11/2011 on The Washington Post).

House Speaker John Boehner is being widely credited as having emerged victorious from last week’s budget showdown — receiving kudos for extracting nearly $40 billion in budget cuts and uniting a fractious tea party behind the compromise bill.

But, the real test of Boehner’s abilities as a party leader will come next month when Congress begins debate on raising the federal debt ceiling.

Because of a fractious Republican Party.  The Tea Party wants serious cuts.  Because that’s why they got elected.  Meanwhile, the old guard doesn’t.  They may disagree with the liberals in theory but they want to be part of the same Washington establishment.  The liberals have the best parties.  With the best celebrities.  And the old guard wants to enjoy that life.

On this issue, at least, the American people side with the Tea Party.

In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, just 16 percent of people said the government should raise the ceiling while 46 percent opposed the idea and 38 percent said they didn’t know enough about it to offer an opinion.

Probing deeper, just 32 percent agreed with the statement that the debt limit increase was necessary to avoid the country being “unable to pay the nation’s bills” while 62 percent said that [they] agreed with the statement that such a vote would “make it harder to get the government’s financiaol [sic] house in order”.

Some may not understand the intricacies of the federal budget.  But they do seem to know that when you have a spending problem, you don’t solve it by asking the credit card companies to raise your credit limit.  People know that you fix a spending problem by spending less.  Not more.

But, judging from the concessions people like Rubio have laid out for a deal to be done — tax reform, regulatory reform, a balanced-budget amendment and entitlement reform — it’s hard to imagine the White House being able to give enough to make that sort of compromise possible.

And, all of that means that the burden will presumably be on Boehner to cut a deal that can garner 218 votes in the House while also avoiding a potential filibuster in the Senate from the likes of Rubio or South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

President Obama is a tax and spend liberal.  He’s not going to cede any ground on big cuts.  So Boehner will have to see how little in cuts the Tea Party will accept to vote to increase the debt ceiling.  And that will be a tough sell.  Because they want meaningful cuts.  But that’s something a tax and spend liberal just can’t do.

So as the nation is jubilant over the budget compromise that kept the federal government open, a longer, more bitter and far more partisan battle awaits them.  Which means the sides will entrench.  They will refuse to give ground.  And the compromise we’ll probably get will be similar to the many ones reached over slavery.  Which made the ultimate day of reckoning on that issue far more costly than anyone had ever imagined.

A History of Kicking the can down the Road

With sesquicentennial fever in the air, a 4th grade teacher tries to bring to life the issue that caused the nation to go to war (see Va. teacher holds mock slave auction by Kevin Sieff posted 4/33/2011 on The Washington Post).

Trying to bring a Civil War history lesson to life, [a] teacher…turned her fourth grade Norfolk classroom into a slave auction: She ordered black and mixed race students to one side of the classroom. Then, the white students took turns buying them…

Sewells Point’s fourth grade class is about 40 percent black and 40 percent white.

Though an interesting experiment, she unfortunately made it purely a racial issue.  Which is historically wrong.  There were a lot of whites in the south.  But only a few of them owned the big plantations where the majority of slavery existed.  She should have had only a few of the white children buying slaves.  And she should have identified them as the rich planter elite.  Who was also the driving force behind southern politics.  The other whites should have been identified as poor southerners working on small family farms without any slaves.

Then she could have pointed to the planter elite and said their wealth and political power depended on slavery.  Because all that cotton wasn’t going to pick itself.  Which is why they cited the North’s hostile attitude toward the institution of slavery in their secession documents.  They told everyone else it was about states’ rights.  But it wasn’t.  For the planter elite didn’t respect states’ rights in the North.  The North didn’t want to return fugitive slaves.  So the planter elite demanded the federal government pass the Fugitive Slave Act to override states’ rights in the North.  And force them to return their slaves. 

The debate over slavery was always controversial.  The Southern economy was entrenched in it.  The only way they’d join the Union was with their slaves.  So the issue was tabled for 20 years.  The Founding Fathers hoped the institution would just go away.  And it might have.  If it hadn’t been for Eli Whitney‘s cotton gin.  Because of the amount of cotton it could process, the southern plantations grew.  As did the number of slaves.  And the problem just continued to grow.  The cost to reimburse the plantation owners for the slaves they purchased legally grew too great to even consider.  The North didn’t want to pay that cost.  Slavery was a Southern problem.  And the slave population grew so large that no one wanted to address a post-slavery biracial society.  Because there were none then.  But there were slave uprisings.  And the South feared that a freed slave may try to exact a little revenge on their former master.  So the problem was kicked down the road for someone else to solve.  Until it couldn’t be kicked anymore.

This is where we are in our budget debate.  We’ve kicked that can down the road so many times that federal spending has grown out of control.  Now we’re entering European sovereign debt crisis territory.  And we’ve seen what has happened over there.  It’s a little different over here, though.  Germany and the other financially strong members of the European Union can bail out a Greece, an Ireland, a Portugal, etc.  But who is going to bail out the world’s largest economy?  Don’t spend too much time on that question.  Because there isn’t anyone big enough to bail us out.

Unfortunately, you win Elections with Spending, not with Spending Cuts

History often shows us that the longer we wait to address a problem, the harder and more costly it is to fix that problem.  And yet here we are.  With far too many people in Washington willing to just keep kicking that can down the road.

Interestingly, two who support raising the debt ceiling now were dead set against it at an earlier time.  When George W. Bush was in the White House.  Of course, then Senator Barack Obama was playing pure partisan politics and attacked George W. Bush on everything.  He regrets that vote now.  Because his hypocrisy makes him look partisan and naïve.  Harry Reid also had a hypocritical partisan position on this issue.  Bush spent irresponsibly and it was wrong to raise the debt ceiling.  Obama has spent even more in less time.  But now raising the debt ceiling is the right thing to do.  Go figure.

That recent budget compromise?  It was but a minor skirmish in a long war to come.  And though there was a lot of nasty political rhetoric, the battles to come won’t be as nice.  The Republicans will try to make meaningful cuts.  And Democrats will say that they just want to kill women, children and the elderly.  Knowing full well that the cuts being requested by the Republicans are necessary.  But you don’t win elections with cuts.  You win them by spending money.  So they will resist those cuts.  And try their damnedest to kick this can down the road.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Government Shutdown over the Budget Debate would be Transparent, unlike this Current White House

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 7th, 2011

It is interesting the doom and gloom the White House is warning us about a potential government shutdown.  But as they make their case, it seems less doom and gloom and more of a good thing.  The truth is most of us wouldn’t even notice it.  And we’d save a lot of money we don’t even need to spend (see White House says shutdown will delay pay to troops by Richard Lardner and Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, posted 4/7/2011 on Yahoo! News).

The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season.

No worries here.  There is no recovery.  At least nothing worth saving.  We’ll pay the troops.  This is more of a scare tactic to scare the military wives.  Some of us may have to wait longer to write a check to the IRS for our income tax.  Those who do I’m sure will manage.  Small business loans?  Government shouldn’t be making loans.  That’s why we have banks.  And government-backed mortgages?  Really?  Come on, it was the government-backed loans that got us in the mess we’re in.  The subprime mortgage crisis wouldn’t have happened if the government wasn’t backing loans in the first place.

The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government’s spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise.

To jolt the Republicans?  Compromise is a two-way street.  Why is always the Republicans who are stubborn?  Why isn’t the other side, the stubborn side, stubborn?  What happened to President Obama’s debt commission?  The Republican budget isn’t asking more than Obama’s highly esteemed debt commission that Obama has filed away in the round file.  For he never had any intentions of making any cuts.  Because Democrats don’t make cuts.  They just talk about them.  So people can see that they’re serious.  And when people lost interest, bang went the debt commission’s report into the trash.

As the talks continued, the White House sought to put the prospect of a shutdown in terms people would care about, warning even that the beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in the nation’s capital would be wiped out. The Smithsonian Institution and national parks around the country would also be closed.

Life’s hard.  People are dying in genocide in Libya (according to the Obama administration).  If it’s not quite genocide then let’s call it civil war.  And there’s a lot of that going around.  In the grand scheme of things, missing the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade just doesn’t seem as great a disaster as wholesale death and destruction.

Under long-standing federal rules, agencies would not be affected that provide for U.S. national security, dispense most types of federal benefit payments, offer inpatient medical care or outpatient emergency care, ensure the safe use of food and drugs, manage air traffic, protect and monitor borders and coastlines, guard prisoners, conduct criminal investigations and law enforcement, oversee power distribution and oversee banks.

That sure sounds like we’ll be paying our soldiers.  They’re providing national security.  And if Libya is a vital national security interest, so are the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If we don’t pay our military it is nothing more than a cheap partisan trick to scare people into hating Republicans.  No, it seems like we’ll pay most of the ‘important’ things in the event of a shutdown.  Other than parks and Cherry Blossom Festivals.

Mail deliveries would continue in the event of a shutdown. U.S. postal operations are not subsidized by tax dollars.

Really?  Our tax dollars don’t subsidize the U.S. Postal Service?  That same postal service that hasn’t shown an operating profit since I don’t know when?  Really?  Since when?  But I digress.  The important thing is that the mail will keep coming during a shutdown.

According to the shutdown scenario described by the administration, the government would have to significantly cut staffing across the executive branch, including workers at the White House and civilian employees at the Defense Department; close to 800,000 workers would be affected. Congress and the federal court system will also be subject to a shutdown.

Good.  Make Thomas Jefferson happy.  Well, make his spirit happy.  Cut the executive branch.  It has grown way beyond what any of the Founding Fathers ever envisioned.  I doubt if Alexander Hamilton would even approve of its size today.  Though he would be pretty impressed with the power of the military, though.  But that’s a different story.  Let’s slash the executive branch for awhile and see if anyone notices.  If not, here’s a chance for some real budget cutting.  Let’s make these cuts permanent.

At the Pentagon, defense officials were finalizing plans that would lay out how the department would deal with a shutdown. But they already have acknowledged that U.S. military troops — including those in war zones — would receive one week’s pay instead of two in their next paycheck if the government were to close.

Military personnel at home and abroad would continue to earn pay, but they wouldn’t get paychecks until there was a budget agreement and government operations resumed.

Cheap partisan scare tactics.  Whenever a government can’t get the tax increases they want, they threaten the teachers, cops, firemen and, now, the military, in a childish tantrum.  Gimme want I want or I will cut the things that are important to you.  Those things that, if cut, puts you into peril.  How do you like that, hmmm?

What makes this worse is that they’ll enjoy not paying the military.  They don’t like them.  Never have.  In fact, they almost regret repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because it took away their go-to excuse to keep these people off of their Ivy League campuses.

Key national security responsibilities, including operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and earthquake assistance to Japan, would not be interrupted by a shutdown, the Pentagon said.

So are they paying them?  Or just making them work without a paycheck?  Maybe our soldiers should go on strike.  Like the teachers.  To prevent unfair treatment.  You have to admit being forced into combat operations without pay is worse than being asked to contribute another fewer percentage points to your own health care.  Of course, these aren’t the same.  The Obama administration would not stand by and allow teachers to suffer an outrage like paying for their own health care.  Soldiers in combat?  The hell with them.

Social Security payments would continue to be delivered, and applications for benefits would continue to be processed, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said.

Yes, they will sacrifice the soldiers.  And why not?  Most of them vote Republican.  But senior citizens?  Dependent on Social Security?  That’s another story.  Anyone dependent on the federal government votes to keep federal government big, i.e., they vote Democrat.  So the seniors get paid.  Always.  Unless the Republicans can be blamed.

Medicare would still pay medical claims for its 48 million recipients, who are mainly seniors but also several million younger people who are permanently disabled or have kidney failure. Payments to doctors, hospitals and other service providers could be delayed, however, should a shutdown continue for several months.

Sacrifice the soldiers (many of who vote Republicans).  Protect the seniors (many of who vote Democrat).

The Obama administration said the impact on the housing market would be more severe than in 1995, the last time there was a government shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration accounts for 30 percent of the mortgage market, nearly three times the amount 16 years ago.

And the greatest financial crisis ever (the subprime mortgage crisis) to hit the United States happened after the government backed three times as many mortgages than they did in 1995.  Having the government stop backing mortgages is a good thing.

The nation’s 15,700 air traffic controllers would keep working, as would many of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 6,100 technicians who install and maintain the equipment for the nation’s air traffic control system.

The planes will still fly in the event of a shutdown.

Operation of the International Space Station would be unaffected. NASA’s Mission Control in Houston would continue to work around the clock to keep watch.

Soldiers, no.  Astronauts, yes.  Even though the International Space Station is international.  With other nations ‘watching’ the station.  And our astronauts often catch a ride with the Russians on their Soyuz rockets.  So the space coalition could survive a few months easily without us.

Among other consequences cited by the administration:

_The Environmental Protection Agency would cease issuing permits and stop reviewing environmental impact statements, which would slow the approval of projects.

_Most government websites would not be updated, unless they were deemed essential.

_Federal courts would be unable to hear cases as clerks, stenographers, bailiffs, security guards and other employees would not be at work.

At most these are inconveniences.  Unlike the out of control spending that can “herald the end of the republic.”  As Benjamin Franklin warned us about when people learned they can vote themselves money.  And that’s where we are.  They’ve learned.  And have.  Franklin’s prophetic warning is about to play out if we don’t stop spending.  This is the choice.  Keep spending and end the republic.  Or make some serious cuts.

The Democrats have not presented a budget as called for in the Constitution since before the last election season.  Why?  It wouldn’t help them win any elections.  Further out of control spending would show them as irresponsible.  Responsible spending cuts would anger their voting base.  So they abdicated their constitutional responsibility.  They punted.  Now they’re trying to run out the clock with the Republicans on offense.  Positioning them to look like the bad guys.  No matter what happens.  Pain now (cuts).  Or greater pain later (no cuts).  It will be the Republicans’ fault.  Because they’re acting like the grownups here.  While the Democrats play their childish, partisan games.  And when the Democrats break the nation with their spending, like a child they’ll say it wasn’t them.   It was the big elephant in the room.  The big GOP elephant.

But what will the Democrats do if they win this showdown?  What will become of our country?  For if they don’t cut spending they will have to raise taxes.  But not by a little bit.  For the spending cuts proffered by the Republicans still aren’t large enough to solve the impending entitlement crisis.  So if there are no spending cuts the increase in taxes will have to be huge.  Bigger than the dollars in the current debate.  So big that they will truly undermine the anemic economic recovery underway.  Pulling the nation into a deeper recession.  So deep that we may never pull out without even more ‘draconian’ spending cuts.

In the grand scheme of things, a government shutdown is the least of our worries.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,