Monday, July 25, 2011

A Simple Play: "Frustrated"

Scene opens, on the national stage: President Obama enters, stage very left:

President Obama: I want a clean bill raising the debt ceiling $2.4T

GOP: Hell no. We’ve done that too many times, and look where it got us. We learned from the election in 2010. No more clean bills.

Obama. Raise the debt ceiling. I’ve got more spending programs that I want to borrow for.

GOP: No. You only get a raise in the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts equal to or more than the increase.

Obama: And tax increases. Lots of tax increases. Stick it to the rich folks. Like me – I don’t need all my money.

GOP: Then write a check to the treasury. No tax increases in a recession.

Obama: Tax increases. Raise em up! Soak the rich.

GOP: Spending cuts. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. It’s job-killing.

Obama: Okay, you go first.

GOP: You’re the President. Show some leadership.

Obama: Um, no. I need you to go first so I can portray you as heartless. I’ve got an election coming up, and I’m already in campaign mode. Gotta go to a fundraiser…

GOP: Okay, here’s our budget. We’re going to vote on it and pass it as legislation in broad daylight. It’s based on the Ryan plan, and it controls deficits without tax increases.

Harry Reid: Extremists! Why do you always just say no.

GOP: We didn’t say no, we passed a budget.

Senate Dems: What’s a budget?

GOP: Okay, Mr. President. We went first. We passed a budget.

Obama: Extremists! Why do you always just say no?

GOP: Mr. President, we’re going to default if you don’t agree to debt reductions in exchange for the increase in the debt ceiling. Let’s talk.

Obama: Come on over. I have a plan.

Media: You have a plan? (Swoon)

Obama: Yes. It’s a BIG PLAN. $4T in cuts over ten years.

Media: Did you hear that? He has a BIG PLAN! What a leader.

Obama: It’s a balanced plan, with revenue increases and big cuts!

Right-wingers: Yeah? We’ve heard that before. Back in the Reagan years. He got snookered by you for tax increases now and spending cuts that never happened. Like Lucy pulling away the football, you guys always promise spending cuts in years 9 and 10 that never happen. Let’s see the plan.

Obama: I have a BIG PLAN.

Right-wingers: Yeah? Where is the plan? We want to read it. When do the cuts start?

Media: Didn’t you hear THE ONE. He’s the only adult in the room. He said he had a plan.

Right-wingers: Okay. Where is the plan?

Media: Are you not paying attention? He just said he had a plan. 5 minutes ago. Did you not hear him?

Charles Krauthammer: Where is the plan?

New York Times: Good God, you are stupid “domestic terrorists”. Did you not hear the President say he has a plan? Why do you always say no to everything? You are pushing us off a cliff. Tax the rich already.

Jake Tapper: Oh Obi-wan Obama, to whom I have pledged my allegiance, can you name just one spending cut in your BIG BALANCED PLAN?

Obama: Oh, there’s bunches of them. Tons of them. My BIG BALANCED PLAN is just chock full of them. Tax the rich, especially the evil corporate jet owners.

Tapper: Mr. President, I’m with you. I have my lips surgically attached to your backside as do all of my brethren here in the press corps. But, toss me a bone. Just name one specific cut!

Liberal Bloggers: Did you not hear the President? He has a BIG BALANCED PLAN. And it goes way too far and cuts way too deep! It’s an outrage! Tax the rich already and let’s be done with this and get back to borrowing and spending more. Time’s a wastin’.

Right-wingers: Really? It cuts too deep? How do you know? Where is the plan? Can we read it?

Media Matters: Fox News thinks the President is a Muslim, and is brainwashing the Tea Party to just say no to everything. And Bill O'Reilly is a fathead.

GOP: Hey, everyone. While we were waiting to see the President’s plan, we passed some new legislation. It calls for cuts in spending, a balanced budget, and raising the debt ceiling responsibly. Just debate it and pass it in the Senate and we avoid a credit default and…

Harry Reid: Nope. Too late. I tabled your extremist bill, you extremists. Didn’t need to actually vote on it because, hey, it might have passed the Senate too. Why are you so intransigent? Why do you always say no to everything?

GOP: We didn’t say no. We passed legislation. That’s what legislators do. You’ve heard of that, haven’t you?

Media: The GOP is intransigent and just says no. They should just agree to the President’s plan. He’s the reasonable one. Blessed be his name. Tax the rich.

Right-wingers: What plan? Is there something more than dreams and wishes and demands and press conferences? Is there something in writing?

GOP: Something we can vote on?

Obama: Hey, by the way, can I talk you out of $400 billion more of tax increases? I have more spending to do. Much, much, much more spending…Tax the rich.

GOP: Are you not listening? No tax increases in a recession.

Obama: But, it’s in my BIG BALANCED PLAN! Which cuts too much! We’re going to impeach you if you carry through with your plan!

Right-wingers: Really? We hope it cuts too much. Can we just see the plan?

Michael Moore: We’re not broke. We just need to enslave all of the rich and confiscate their wealth and build hospitals in Cuba with it. That’s all. We’re not broke. Bush’s fault.

Media: When is everyone just going to agree to THE ONE’s plan? He’s super smart. He’s like way smart. Stop saying no to him. He’s compromised as much as he reasonably can…

Reid / Boehner: Maybe we should just talk amongst ourselves. Obama doesn’t seem to have a plan.

Reid: Voila! Here’s the Democrat plan.

Right-Wingers: Doesn’t seem like a plan. More like a vague outline. How much spending is cut, and when?

Reid: I’m not much of a numbers guy. Ask my staff. I’m sure that there is a plan in there somewhere…

Randy Masters: Where is the Democratic plan? What does it cut, and when? Give me a link to it…

And, scene.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are We Past the Tipping Point?

Is it just me, or does it seem like we are racing past the tipping point in our ability to hold together civil society?

Definition of Tipping Point: "the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development."

I can think of several areas of our communal life where we are past the tipping point.

1. Political discourse

It's toxic right now in the public arena, and getting worse. Democrats, you are pushing too hard past the bounds of decency in public political discussion. Let me just give you 3 quick examples off the top of my head:

a. The savaging of Sarah Palin in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Congressman Giffords in Tuscon. Many of you maliciously accused her of direct cupability in a heinous mass murder. Blood on her hands, because of her tone - when it was really your tone that was way out of line. You shouted a hurtful lie in the public square, and have never apologized for it even in the face of overwhelming evidence that you were wrong.

b. The savaging of Michele Bachmann last week for signing the "marriage pledge" in Iowa. It was a straightforward pledge supporting the institution of marriage. In building a case that the institution of two-parent marriage is itself past the tipping point - given a 70% out-of-wedlock birthrate in the African American community - it included a bullet point about a higher rate of two parent marriage during the period of slavery than present day.

A non-insane reading of that bullet point would conclude that they referenced slavery because it was the starting point of black family life on this continent - when blacks were forcibly brought against their will for that abominable institution, as the bullet point stated. It's a timeline point: from the beginning until now the institution of marriage has suffered in the black community. It's a reasonable point.

But the Democrat response was not reasonable. It was malicious spin. It was an assertion that Michele Bachmann was arguing that blacks "had it better" under slavery. It was a desperate and strained attempt to call a GOP candidate a racist. That is insanely partisan. ENOUGH WITH THE RACISM ACCUSATION!

b. Speaking of irresponsibly playing the race card: Rep Sheila Jackson Lee came out this week and claimed that the GOP opposition to Obama's debt position is racist. It's because he is a black man.

Please. Stop it. Opposition to Obama on the debt plan is due to Obama's irresponsible position on our budget. Please remember that Obama presented a budget to Congress just this February which increased the national debt by TEN TRILLION DOLLARS. The United States Senate rejected his budget by a margin of 97-0. That is both Democrats and Republicans telling the President that he has a ridiculous position on the budget and debt. It has nothing to do with race. ENOUGH WITH THE RACISM ACCUSATION!

We are too polarized, with a toxic public debate, and perhaps past the tipping point on bringing it back to civil.

2. Dependency class:

We will be past the tipping point in our ability to control our budget when more than 50% are dependent on government services - and therefore invested in irresponsibly voting to expand them.

We are there. We are way past the legitimate "safety net" function of a limited government, and way too far into the "entitlement" culture of receiving government checks.

I read some startling figures in the last week that give me the sense that we have hurtled past the tipping point of fiscal stability. Figures like:

- only 58.9 percent of adults are employed
- the bottom 47% of wage earners pay ZERO income tax

How can 41 % of the population support the rest? How can so many people who don't pay into the tax base vote themselves money from the general coffers? How can is that sustainable?

3. The debt ceiling negotiation in Washington tells me that we are way past the tipping point in being able to survive as a country fiscally. Yes, I mean that. Our government is irretrievably broken AND broke.

We are 16 days away from suffering consequences from the fact that our Federal Government has ALREADY passed the legal debt ceiling of $14.3 Trillion dollars. The "debt ceiling" is the current law, and it says that we cannot borrow more than the limit. We are past the limit. Our government - Congress and POTUS - have already broken the law wantonly and irresponsibly. But, instead of gathering in an emergency action to cut spending to borrow less and get back under the limit they are arguing about how to raise the limit on our credit cards. Unbelievable!

We have more government than we can afford. Every dollar we spend has 40 cents borrowed! And that number increases every day. It what possible universe could an individual go for a long time putting 40% of everything they spend on a maxed out credit card? Why do we think our government can do it? We can't. We are past the point where we can ever reasonably pay off the debt that we owe, and are only desperately trying to service the interest payments. That is the sign of bankruptcy, and we are there.

" How the debt ceiling is eventually resolved only changes the timing and extent of the economic collapse.  In that sense, it has no bearing on the ultimate fate of the nation...The US government has been insolvent for years.  Now bankruptcy is a risk because it is potentially "borrowed out."" - Monty Pelerin, "The Debt Ceiling Charade", The American Thinker
The rise of the Tea Party is the response to this pending bankruptcy of our nation. I fear that it is too late for the Tea Party to effect enough change to make a difference. Yes, the Tea Party is stiffening the spine of the GOP to draw a line in the sand and say enough. But, they are getting pilloried in the press as terrorists. "You've raised the debt ceiling before", the media parrots daily. Yes! And it was the wrong thing to do! It's just gotten us further past the tipping point of national debt! No more. Not again. Stop now.

We need a simple affordable limited government. Mike Huckabee paints it well in his new book "A Simple Government". He describes it thusly in his last chapter:

"...I've found that people actually want much less from their government than politicians think. They want the trash  picked up on time, smooth roads and safe streets, good schools, a fire truck to show up promptly when needed, and secure borders to keep bad people from getting in and disturbing our peace. They want veterans to be cared for, sick people children, and old people to be treated decently, and laws to be enforced. That's about it. They don't need a supernanny" telling them what to wear, what to eat, and how many hours of sleep to get each night. They don't want to work hard and then get penalized for their productivity so that government can reward the slackers and the failures..."
Limited government. Simple government. Meeting the needs fiscally responsibly.

We are way past that. We have an unsustainable, unpayable, national debt that has enslaved our children and our grandchildren to a bleak future of debt servicing. Picture this:

We as a nation have indebted ourselves for our wants far beyond our ability to pay it back. No one can even reasonably imagine the number  $14,342,953,885,641.98 - which is our current national debt. It is so far outside of our daily experience that it is an imaginary number. And it's not even the true number. With unfunded liabilities in the entitlement trust funds it's more like 100 trillion dollars in debts.

Bottom line:

1. We are broke. We have an unsustainable public national debt. We are past the point where we can ever pay it back, and are only fighting a losing battle to service the interest payments to our foreign creditors, using fake money printed by the Federal Reserve.

2. We have a broken government. Currently gridlocked in a delusional struggle at the tiny margins of our debt.

3. We are past a tipping point of dependency on government in our population. We can't pare our government back to a fiscally sound limited government, because too high a percentage are dependent on ever-expanding borrowed-money largesse from that government.

4. We are past the point of civil debate. Democrats are pushing too hard in demonizing the Tea Party and fiscal conservatives as "economic terrorists" and racists. It's too much. It's malicious and harmful to our civil society. Stop it.

We have such big issues to face. I fear that we are past the tipping point in being able to solve them as an intact sovereign nation. I fear that we are past the tipping point in being able to cede to our children a sound and civil society. Shame on us.

Back to the definition of tipping point: "the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development."

The irreversible development is economic collapse. National bankruptcy. Debt slavery for our children.

Our our politicians acting like this is a real possibility? Because, it is.

What say you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Summer Reading List

Have you ever belonged to a monthly book club, failed to decline the pre-selected choices, and have them arrive at your house with a bill attached?

Hate when that happens. Which it just did. (No, I'm not sending them back. Too much effort, and I want to read them.)

So, I have two new books for my Summer Reading List. They are:

1. Ron Paul: "Defining Liberty". 50 essential principles for freedom.

2. Erik Stakelbeck: "The Terrorist Next Door". Are there radical jihadist enclaves in the territorial United States?

I struck out at lunch today at Barnes & Noble getting the book that I really want to read this Summer:

Gretchen Morgensen: "Reckless Endangerment". It's about what really caused the 2008 crash. (Basically, the things that I have been saying for three years caused it, caused it. Hello Fannie Mae.)

Plus, I have a few last chapters on a few different books on my Kindle to polish off. I did finish Breitbart's "Righteous Indignation". Good read.

My rule now is:

Kindle for fiction, dead tree book for politics.

Why? Because I like to flip back and forth in political books to quote lines or reference charts. Impossible to do well on the Kindle. For Grisham novels it's perfect. That's just me.

One business book:"Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done"

That's my list. What are you all reading this Summer?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Making Nice TV

Sometimes whole projects start with a single sentence.

In this case, it was my Tweet: "2012 is going to be a political effing war".

What it started was "Making Nice TV", a joint project with my new friend Olivia Collette to see if an American Tea Party conservative and a Canadian socialist can have civil discussions on politics. Not debates! We're not trying to score points off of each other. We just having conversations, and trying to hear each other. How often does that happen on TV? We're trying to model that.

There are 4 episodes up so far, and more "in the can" being edited.

Enjoy! And give me some feedback. Leave me a comment here or there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

on Patriotism

Wow! What a great 4th of July this year. We had a beautiful blue-sky day on our holiday day off. I got to listen to a terrific audio reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR's website. (Stirring!) And I got to finish off the day with our annual tradition of taking my boys into the high school's stadium for the fireworks display set to the stirring music of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" with a grand finale to Neil Diamond's "Coming to America".

Yes, I am way patriotic. And yes, I did take that picture. And yes, that is a Tea Party "Don't Tread on Me" hat - with a flag pin.

Webster defines patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country". Put me down for that. I'm in the category of people who believe that America has a tremendous history - despite our flaws - in our brief 235 year history and is generally a force for good in the world.

Apparently not everyone is that patriotic. Those that aren't are almost exclusively on the political left in this country.

Don't take my word for it. Ask them. Many on the left will tell you straight out that they are not that patriotic. A new friend told me exactly that in a discussion this week. My new friend was perturbed that rightists often throw the charge of "unpatriotic" at leftists as an insult. But, what if it's just an observation? What if it's just a fact, in some cases, as you will tell us if we ask?

I'm not talking about dissent as being unpatriotic. Dissent away. I dissent on King Obama's illegal war in Libya. You dissent on the Iraq War. We both do that because we want the best for our country. I accept that.

No, I'm talking about actual love for our country. Many Democrats give evidence by their words that they are more embarrased for our country than in love with it.

How many examples do you want me to list?

While I was Tweeting patriotic quotes from our founders on the 4th, I saw these Tweets typical of what the folks that I follow on the left were sending:

- "You do realize that we are celebrating rich white slaveowners who just wanted to get out of paying their taxes."  (Yes, I know it's a movie quote. The question is: why did that particular movie quote resonate with you on our nation's finest holiday?)

- The best part of being an American today is that you don't have to worry about being invaded by America. (Really? on the 4th of July? This is what you are thinking?)

Not just unpatriotic on Twitter. I checked in on Huffington Post, as I do daily. Nothing to be found on how great our country is. But, wait! There is an article on the Declaration of Indepence! Oh,'s an article by a leftist on how the Declaration is a "damaged" document because of three words that are a slight to Native Americans. By all means, focus on those three words on the day of our celebration! Grievance monger.

For some reason, the American political left sees the 4th of July as a day of angst. It's not my worldview, but is apparently theirs.

The left is not just embarrassed by our country's history on the 4th, though. All year long. Any ocassion. The list of grievances are long. The embarrassment of low-class rah-rahing deep.

I recall, for example, candidate Obama observing in 2008 that "we're just 5 days away from fundamentally changing America". Why would you want to fundamentally change something that you're proud of?

Or of his wife Michele - a child of privileged upbringing in America that included an Ivy League education - and her campaign observation that "for the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country". Really? At that age, the first time? You can believe all of the apologetic rationalizations that have been offered since, or you can accept that she was telling you her truth in the first place.

The Obama's were not particularly proud of America's history during the campaign. President Obama spent much of his overseas speeches apologizing for it. What would you expect from people who sat for 20 years under the mentorship of his hero Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright?

Bottom line: if conservatives note that some liberals are not patriotic it's not an insult. It's just an observation. A fact. Just ask them directly. You'll either get a straight up "I'm not very patriotic", or you'll get some list of grievances about why we're not a good country. Is that "love of or devotion to your country"?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Quick Bites

Am I claustrophobic?

I found out the answer to the question yesterday as I was loaded into a MRI machine. A brief moment of panic as I went into the tube! Then I was able to calm my mind and finish the test.

A pro tip for you if you have to have a MRI: bring something to think about. You have only your mind to calm your fears. Keep it occupied. For me, that meant composing a blog post in my head about current events. Such as:

1. Is Sarah Palin running for President?

I think she is. In that I stand against all current conventional media wisdom, given that they have all written her off even as they obsess about her because she is ratings gold. Here's why I think so:

- She said earlier that she will run if a solid commonsense conservative doesn't step forward. Given that all of the media constantly parrots that the GOP field is a bunch of lightweights, that condition is fulfilled.

- She loves campaigning. She loves touring, and she loves meeting regular folks.

- She has some chits to cash in from all of the GOP candidates that she helped in the 2010 cycle.

One twist: I'm getting 3rd party vibes from her this time around. I think that she has no love lost for the GOP establishment, given their pitiful treatment of her in 2008 and since. She is a Tea Party favorite, and I think that the Tea Party is getting tired of the GOP establishment too. Although the Tea Party worked within the GOP in 2010, that could change. Plus, it would avoid the Palin / Bachmann throwdown that the media is salivating for. It's just a hunch at this point. But, you should pay attention to my hunches with Palin given that I called her as a McCain Vice Presidential candidate way back in July of 2008  - before most of you even heard of her. I get her better than you do.

2. King Obama and the Libyan not-a-war war.

My Democrat friends: were you really taken in by King Obama's lame defense of his illegal folly in Libya in his relection campaign speech called a press conference? Really?

Straight talk time: Team Obama is lying about Libya.

- It's not "days, not weeks". It's been months now.

- We're not uninvolved, leaving the fighting to our NATO allies - who are acting outside of the NATO charter. Drudge has it up this week that US bombers are still flying hundreds of sorties, including a hundred that involved dropping bombs on targets. Add that together with the fact that our troops in the theater are getting "imminent danger" pay, and it adds up to WE ARE IN A WAR IN LIBYA. Team Obama's demurring notwithstanding.

- King Obama went on during his ridiculous press conference on how extensively Team Obama is "consulting" with Congress.

Urgent to King Obama: it's not consultation that is required. It's approval. That means a vote. The only vote that has been held in the House specifically repudiated your actions in Libya. You are engaged in an illegal action with our military. Stop it, or resign. Articles of Impeachment are now in order if the House has any spine.

3. The DSK bombshell

The NYT dropped the story this week that the rape case against former IMF head DSK is unraveling due to suspect testimony from the alleged victim.

She may be an actual victim. He may be guilty. I don't know. We just need to let the case unfold in the courts. If he proves to be guilty, hammer him.

My only interest in the story involved left media bias. Specifically the rush-to-judgement that the media conducted in trashing DSK to a level deserving of a war criminal. Wow. Followed closely by a "media whipping" of Ben Stein for writing a piece in the "American Spectator urging caution and due process. The left media elites despise Stein for earlier defending Intelligent Design and they subjected him to a public savaging - even though his article clearly qualifies that "it's possible indeed, maybe even likely, that he is guilty as the prosecutors charge".

I experienced some of that myself online. I defended Stein on the presumed-innocent argument and got accused of "defending a socialist (DSK)". It got savage there for a while, just like the media savaged Sarah Palin over the Tuscon shooting. It's what they do to conservatives, and it's getting worse.

Bottom line: Ben Stein looks to be right, and the left media that savaged him will never admit that or apologize. (Just like they still haven't apologized for falsely accusing Palin of culpability in a heinous mass-murder).

4. Fukushima unfolding

The reactors are melting down. The American media is not covering it. Nor are they covering the flood threat to the nuclear reactor in Nebraska. It's okay - go back to sleep.

5. Candidate Obama - the unserious President

The President scolded the Congress for not yet resolving the pending debt default crisis. Never mind that we're past the legal "debt ceiling" and will officially default on our debt Aug 2. Never mind that the President has personally been absent from all of the WH negotiations with Congress. Never mind that he completely failing with leadership, preferring instead golf every weekend. Candidate Obama got to scold Congress in his campaign speech dubbed press conference for not working hard enough. Right before he got on a plane and went to Philadelphia for campaign fundraisers. Hypocrite-in-Chief.

Bottom Line: the President has checked out from governing and is a non-serious scold. The debt crisis continues...

6. the SoCal seccession

Drudge story this week that the conservative counties South of Los Angeles have proposed seceeding from California and forming a new state called Southern California. No, seriously.

It is not an unrelated story that the U.S. National Soccer team got boo'd in LOS ANGELES during it's game with Mexico. Not to mention that the awards ceremony was conducted entirely in Spanish.  Drudge story: "Mexico was the home team". IN LOS ANGELES.

7. Fabulous weddings in New York

Gay is not my issue one way or another. While I generally think that the definition of marriage as one man/one woman has been the basis for every society in earth's recorded history, I'm all for civil unions like the Illinois Governor just signed that provide the same rights.

I only have two issues on the gay question:

a. I can see this getting to the point where churches will be charged with hate crimes if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages. If it gets to that point, it's on. Do what you will at the courthouse. You can't force a church with a religious objection to perform a wedding. Some of you will unwisely try.

b. Gays in the military is a more complicated issue than many of you think it is.

Have you served in the military? Lived under the separate judicial system known as the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)? Lived under the forced housing situations that are sometimes unique to the military and it's unique and hazardous mission?

If so, we can disagree on the issue and I respect our disagreement.

If not, you do not have enough experiential information to have an informed opinion on the subject. Period.

8. Uncivil Society

We are, I fear, so deeply polarized in this country over such serious issues that we are headed for an unraveling of civil society.

You see it on TV in other countries. The revolutions of the "Arab Spring". The austerity riots in Europe.

Why do you think it can't come here?

What pressures would it take for a breakdown of civil society? Are you not paying attention? They're coming...

Stop pushing so hard to "fundamentally transform America".

Back to the MRI:

So, those are the things that I was thinking about that got me through the intense claustrophobic experience of laying in that loud and confining MRI tube. That, and the gastric distress of having eaten at Taco Bell before my appointment. "Don't fart in the tube! Others have to get in here..."