Free Markets, Free People

Congress


Remembering the promises, looking at reality

You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008.  And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again.  He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars.  Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.

Yeah, that was then and this is reality:

The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.

An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.

And rightfully so.  It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era.  Well done, Mr. President.   But that’s not the real problem is it?  It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:

As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.

This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.

That is absolutely correct.  But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor.  As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.

So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008.  In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe.  The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:

When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.

As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either.  This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy.  If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be.   And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties.  They’re absolutely the worst yet.  That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.

~McQ


We can’t have ObamaCare effect these folks – they’re “federal employees” for heaven sake!

When I read articles like this they infuriate me.

Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

Why?  Because there doesn’t seem to be any ability to relate their problem with the problems they’ve imposed on business through their ramming through this horrific legislation we call “ObamaCare”.  Even with the effects beginning to be understood, like that above, they don’t get it:

Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat in leadership when the law passed, said he thinks the problem will be resolved.

“If not, I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief to say, ‘Listen this is simply not fair to these employees,’” Larson told POLITICO. “They are federal employees.”

But apparently it is “fair” to the employees of business who, in some cases, will see 100% plus increases in their premiums.  It only becomes a problem when it effects who?  Why, ‘federal employees’, of course.  You know, our so-called “public servants”.  And then, apparently, only that subset of federal employees that work for Congress.  They seem oblivious to the fact that the same thing is happening in thousands of places and effecting multi-thousands of businesses.  Freakin’ clueless.

Even as mad as this made me, I got a chuckle out of this:

If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform.

Talk about silver linings to storm clouds.

~McQ


How bad do you have to be NOT to be hired?

I wondered, when Barack Obama was re-elected, how bad you had to be to be fired.  Apparently worse than Obama, if that’s possible.

Now, with the confirmation of Chuck Hagel – another politician who has never run a large or complex organization and who was abysmal in his confirmation hearings – I have to wonder how bad you have to be NOT to be hired.

Apparently, worse than Chuck Hagel, if that’s possible:

Republicans siding with Democrats, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s secretary of defense, a nomination that drew strong opposition within the Republican former senator’s own party, with some troubled by past statements on Israel and Iran.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns, (Nebr.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) supported Hagel in the 58-41 vote. No Democrats opposed him.

Again, let down by the GOP (the ‘good old boy club’ just couldn’t say no to a former member).

Anyone seeing a pattern here?

~McQ


Benghazi: McCain essentially says “what does it matter now?”

If it weren’t for the old ladies of the GOP, you might get some answers to some very compelling and yet unanswered questions as well as force this administration to be transparant.

But then there’s McCain and the continued capitulation of the GOP:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that the White House’s response to his and other Republican senators’ questions on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya was satisfactory. The senior Arizona senator said he is now ready to find a way to end the filibuster that is holding up the confirmation vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, CNN reported.

“I think it was an adequate response, yes,” McCain said. “We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done.”

Yes, that’s right, nothing to see here, move along now, move along.

The Great and Powerful John McCain (I will celebrate when this yahoo shuffles off to retirement) has decided that Beghazi is over and we must, must have an incompetent buffoon for Sec. of Defense.

Must!

Parodies that write themselves come in the guise of our politicians.

~McQ


Why we’re in the mess we’re in: Because we have idiots in leadership postions and we leave them there

We’re governed by half-wits who’ll say anything to shift the blame or misdirect the public if they think it helps their party and fool us:

Pelosi rebuffed GOP calls for the sequester replacement to focus exclusively on targeting more spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

“It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address,” she told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday.

How in the world does this jaybird think we got into the “budget deficit problem?”
Magic?

Back in 1984, a columnist named Charlie Reese wrote a piece which pretty much cuts away the artifice that those we allow to “govern” us have woven:

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

Whatever the problem (and despite Pelosi, it is a spending problem) they are the cause.  “They” being Congress.  It is “they” who have gotten us into this mess, so when one of them say things like this, just consider the source:

Pelosi added that the deficit and debt are at “immoral levels” and “must be reduced.”

Reese gets to the nut of it all (btw, this is an updated version where someone has put events happening now vs. those in 1984 – the irony is, nothing has changed):

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. ( The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

[...]

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.
Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees… We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

We should. But we won’t. And … well, we’ll continue to get what we richly deserve for not doing our job.

~McQ


Speaking of the lies we were fed …

By the likes of Krugman and the Democrats, here’s a little more proof:

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday quietly raised the 10-year cost of ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies offered via the health law’s exchanges by $233 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office review of its latest spending forecast.

The CBO’s new baseline estimate shows that ObamaCare subsidies offered through the insurance exchanges — which are supposed to be up and running by next January — will total more than $1 trillion through 2022, up from $814 billion over those same years in its budget forecast made a year ago. That’s an increase of nearly 29%.

29% and they’re not even off the ground yet. Anyone have any doubt whatsoever that this is likely a lowball estimate at this point?  Are we aware of the trend we always see when “costs” are discussed by governments and political parties?

Note too that they play games with the CBO (which is limited to forecasting 10 years out and also hasn’t been very accurate about much of anything – see debt forecasts over the last decade).

The politicians mostly fabricate whatever they think is palatable to the gullible public, sell them with the CBO’s false data and then, when it is found out that it was all bollocks, they say, ‘oh well, too late now, it’s the law”.

Well here’s my feeling about that.  If the “law” doesn’t live up to their hype – if it ends up being massively more than they claimed (you know like 29%) then there’s a fairly simple rule that should be followed.

It – the law – should be automatically repealed.

~McQ


The myth of “collective action”

As we launch ourselves further into an era of “collective action” as Obama called it in his 2nd Inaugural address, we can be sure that reality won’t stop the left from remaining true believers in its ultimate power and good and demanding it be forced on us all.  But what does that really mean?

Let’s hark back to Mancur Olson’s critique of collective action for a moment and point out a little ground truth about it, shall we?

Olson’s critique of collective action is complicated, and it is made less accessible by an ungainly prose style. But the gist is that large numbers of people do not naturally band together to secure common interests. In fact, the larger the group, the less likely it is to act in a truly collective manner.

As Olson explained, the interests that unite large groups are necessarily of the lowest-common-denominator variety. Therefore the concrete benefits of collective action to any individual are usually small compared with the costs — in time, effort and money — of participation. “Free-riding” is a constant threat — as the difficulties of collecting union dues illustrates.

By contrast, small groups are good at collective action. It costs less to organize a few people around a narrow, but intensely felt, shared concern. For each member, the potential benefits of joint action are more likely to outweigh the costs, whether or not success comes at the larger society’s expense.

Now, to me, that’s common sense. The bigger the group the more unlikely it will find common ground than a smaller group. So urging a nation of 300 million to a common effort or collective action? Yeah, not going to happen – at least in the areas Obama is likely to want to make such an effort.

That’s not to say that collective action won’t happen. It happens everyday in DC as Charles Lane points out:

Hence, the housing lobby, the farm lobby and all the special-interest groups that swarm Congress. Hence, too, the conspicuous absence of an effective lobby on behalf of all taxpayers or, for that matter, all poor people.

If there is any “collective action” that will take place in DC, besides those noted, it will be among the politicians who band together (and break apart) depending on what they’re after this week or next.  Their constituency?  Not that big of a concern to most.  Those that reside inside the beltway are more likely on their radar than those who voted to put them in office.

So when Obama called on Americans to once again act “as one nation, and one people,” he was, at best, stating an aspiration.

No he’s not – he’s mouthing platitudes to calm the masses, put the opposition on the defensive and set himself up to get his way. And this is how that will work:

Olson’s assessment of reality, both historical and contemporary, is less lofty but more accurate: “There will be no countries that attain symmetrical organization of all groups with a common interest and thereby attain optimal outcomes through comprehensive bargaining.”

Nope. It will be the group/party that is able to appeal the best to the masses and thereby garner more  of a veneer of support for their agenda than can the other party/group, whether or not the ultimate goal of the action is good for the country or the majority or not. Whether it really benefits the country as a whole usually has little bearing on the effort. And the minority? Well, they’re simply left hanging in the wind.

Their call for “collective action” is a cover, a means of draping the usual politics in high sounding rhetoric. The reality of the situation is that what he calls “collective action” is simply a new code phrase for continued class warfare and redistribution of income. The purpose of proposing “collective action” is to enable him and his cronies to label anyone who opposes them and their actions as divisive, unpatriotic and just about any other name they can think of necessary to demonize and dismiss them.

Meanwhile, the “collective” dismantling of this once great country will continue apace.

~McQ


And now the “rich” will pay…

I hate to say “I told you so”, but it isn’t just the rich who will be paying increased taxes. And what should be clear to anyone with the I Q of a turnip, is that this will cost people their jobs.

The compromise called for taxes to rise to 39.6% from 35% on personal income above $400,000. In a 2011 study, the Treasury Department found that raising taxes on incomes over $500,000 would affect roughly 750,000 small businesses organized as S-Corps, partnerships and other small entities.

Of course, you remember the Democrats claiming that this wouldn’t affect small businesses. Well, that was a flat out lie. But then we live in an era of lies which, if there political apparently, we’re willing to overlook. While most of us are. I just had to be one of those who isn’t.   Not that Democrats are the only political liars, but they seem to be the most prolific and the most blatant. Especially when it comes to budget, deficit, and financial matters. They are the quintessential “snake oil” salesman.

And they have sold us are huge bottle of snake oil.

Couple these tax increases with the Obamacare taxes that kicked in on the 1st, and you have two reasons for 750,000 small businesses not to hire. And you can bet none of them will go over 50 employees, and some may even reduce staff to get under that number.

These are your “rich”. They happen to be the “rich” would generate jobs, or what have, if they hadn’t been hit by two new taxes this year.

Your government at work.

~McQ


Fiscal cliff: Politicians play “chicken” with your lives and livelyhood

Because we’re served by the worst political class ever:

President Obama’slead negotiator in the “fiscal cliff” talks said the administration is “absolutely” willing to allow the package of deep automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes to take effect Jan. 1, unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher income tax rates on the wealthy.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview with CNBC that both sides are “making a little bit of progress” toward a deal to avert the “cliff” but remain stuck on Obama’s desired rate increase for the top U.S. income-earners.

“There’s no prospect for an agreement that doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top two percent of the wealthiest,” Geithner said.

Apparently there is no way to raise the desired revenue, at least according to Obama/Geithner, that “doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top 2%”.  No way.

Oh, wait …

What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes — tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.

Say, wasn’t that President Obama in July of 2011 at a press conference?  Why yes it was.  So there is a way, but he and apparently his “negotiator” refuse to pursue it (btw, no I”m not fooled by the illusion that this isn’t just as much a tax hike as what they’re proposing)?  It that what is happening?

Why yes, yes it is.  So there is another way to do this, apparently.  Unless our President was telling a tall one about what he’d be willing to do in July?  Yeah, I know, perish the thought.  Lie to us?  Unthinkable.

Instead according to Turbo Tax Timmy, they’d “absolutely” take us over the cliff, because, you know, raising taxes on the “rich” is now the only acceptable position.  You and your life?  You’re a mere pawn for these poppinjays.  They’re fine with playing with your life and livelihood to score a political win.   They have no problem holding your life and property ransom and using your future to force their desired resolution.  But if we go over the cliff, screw you.

Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Boehner continues to look for a comfortable place to lie down and surrender.

In the Senate the GOP actually tried to bring the President’s proposal to a vote and Majority Leader Reid denied it.  Because it was, per Reid, a “stunt”.

This is all a “stunt”.    A miserable stunt perpetrated by a miserable group of people who have no concept of leadership or service to their country but are long on ego and party.

It is the price of always voting for the “lesser of two evils”.

Screw ‘em.

~McQ