Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis

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The Sheer Hilarity of “No Labels”

McQ hit these pompous fools when they first popped their heads up. I was too busy to chime in then, but the more I’ve watched this whole “No Labels” thing, the funnier it gets.

George Will does a pretty good job today of shredding some of their sillier assertions:

Although the people promising to make No Labels into a national scold are dissatisfied with the tone of politics, they are pleased as punch with themselves. If self-approval were butter, they could spread it across America, if it were bread. They might cover the country with sanctimony as they "overthrow the tyranny of hyper-partisanship."

But Bloomberg, addressing the No Labels confabulation, spoke truth to powerlessness: "It’s not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised or wants a lot of the things we are advocating." Just so. Whatever their defects, America’s political parties are marvelously sensitive market mechanisms, measuring every tremor of the electorate’s moods.

But the truly funny thing to me about the entire premise of the group is that a very close approximation of what they are advocating was already tried – by George W. Bush.

W was the guy who “reached across the aisle” to Ted Kennedy to federalize education. He was the one who “accomplished things” by expanding the welfare state via Medicare Rx. He even signed campaign reform legislation that was intended to limit those who “who recklessly demonize their opponents”, though it was later ruled so out of bounds that it was declared unconstitutional.

His tone towards Democrats was mostly moderate, much more so than Obama’s tone when berating Republicans and other opponents. W didn’t pander to his base very often. He was the model of political civility.

His reward? He was demonized by the left as stupid, mean, and equivalent to Hitler.*

That’s why the No Labels’ threats to form citizens’ groups to “carefully monitor the conduct of their elected representatives” are laughable. Republicans have been treated to a detailed object lesson in exactly what works and what doesn’t when trying to work with today’s left. Attempting to compromise with them gives ground while getting nothing of consequence in return, and results in spittle-flecked leftist rage in the bargain.

To simple minded politicians wrapped up in the Beltway bubble, compromising to “get things done” gives an illusion of progress. But it’s just an illusion. It’s akin to having shared control of the rudder so that they get to help choose which side of the waterfall to plunge off of. It does nothing to reverse the course away from the waterfall, and wastes whatever time and resources we still have to do that.

Many such simple minded fools, in both parties, were removed in the last election. That happened despite the fact that the Tea Party movement is new, inexperienced, and doesn’t have deep pockets to draw on. The Tea Partiers went up against the professional and veteran political organizers and rabble rousers of the left, funded by folks like Soros, and in many cases kicked their butts.

So now the Democrats are left with Barney Franks types, from districts so mired in partisan Democratic politics that they would elect a shrill, nasty, Democrat whose demonstrated incompetence helped facilitate the subprime crisis. If you believe in limited government, or even if you just think we better do something quick before the debt bomb explodes, good luck “finding common ground” with such people.

The Republicans have been put on notice that back-scratching with those leftist Democrats is probably going to get them a well-funded, passionate primary challenge. If Mike Castle can get beat by Christine O’Donnell, they know they are not safe with politics as usual. So we’re likely to see more polarized politics rather than less – and as George Will points out, that’s a good thing.

I look forward to hearing about all those “citizens’ groups in every state and congressional district”. Or rather, I look forward to not hearing about them, because just like the aborted Coffee Party movement, well-intentioned fools will volunteer to be organizers, and then find only two or three left-leaning pros at their organizational meeting. They will then grouse to their spouse about how “nobody cares about bringing moderation and civility to politics” and go back to watching MS-NBC.

(*) No Labels co-founder Frum ought to know this. He worked in the Bush White House. But he’s either too simple-minded to draw the obvious conclusions, or such a publicity whore that he couldn’t resist the opportunity to trumpet his reasonableness in the pages of the Washington Post. Or both.


Schadenfreude summary: Election day minus 1

Obama has "abolished torture" and needs to be more theatrical to appease those silly people who are voting against his party

Tina Brown says that Obama will need to amp up the theatrics after Tuesday. Yep, it’s obvious to all thinking people that since he’s done wonderful things like abolishing torture (yes, she said that), any displeasure among the voters simply must be that they’re taken in by the theatrics of the right. Therefore the obvious solution is to increase theatrics on the left!

It would be harder to find an example of the shallowness and self-absorption of today’s left than Tina Brown. It would also be harder for find an example of just how biased and off the rails the mainstream media has become that Newsweek wanted her as editor.

 

"Gentlemen, we have to protect our phony-baloney jobs!"


In a desperation move that I can’t recall ever being used before, Harry Reid’s campaign is using congressional aides from out-of-state (specifically from the staff of Max Baucus) to do door-to-door canvassing. Now, remember, the Tea Parties are all astroturf, but the Senate Majority Leader, one of the most powerful incumbents on the planet, can’t find enough volunteers in his own state to go door to door for him. He has to supplement with lobbyists (natch), and congressional aides.

Is that even legal? Not using the snakes lobbyists, I’m talking about the congressional aides. Michael, what say you?

 

Nate Silver writes Republican election p0rn


A guy with a pretty good reputation on the election prediction front writes up what he thinks is the worst case scenario for the Democrats, with a pretend newspaper story from Wednesday morning. It’s brutal. It even includes Lieberman switching to caucus with Republicans, which if he is retiring after this term would make eminent sense.

Then Silver gives the reasons his imaginings are not so far-fetched. There’s nothing about them that looks very far out to me; in fact in a couple of areas I think he is understating likely effects. An example would be that I think the general animus against professional politician incumbents is stronger than he seems to think. I consider it stronger than it’s ever been in my lifetime.

 

Labor unions starting pre-election crocodile tears


This is in the NYT, and the article is a variation of the famous joke with the punchline "Women and minorities most affected". In this case, the wailing is for a different Democratic special interest group, organized labor. Here’s a sample:

“All this means that Republicans may well go on the offensive against labor, after two years in which unions have been on the offensive.”

Why that’s bad isn’t really explored in much depth. Of course they give the usual slanted "rebuttals" from Republicans, with cherry picked quotes from them about how their policies are good for businesses. This is classic NYT, nominally presenting the opposing case, but doing so in a way that will satisfy their latte-sipping Manhattanite readers that the Republicans are scum who don’t care about anything but money.

 

Not the best photo to highlight Obama’s Chicago trip


A black man kneeling to Obama’s limousine is the marquee shot for Obama’s pre-election visit. I notice that the guy put some paper or cardboard down on the street to use as a prayer mat.

I don’t care which side you’re on, if this picture doesn’t inspire revulsion, then you don’t understand what it means to be American.


“In a wave election, … you feel powerless. Everything I feel I know how to do, that I’m trained to do, I can’t do.”

The title comes from a quote by a pollster for the Democrats in this article. Most of the article is about the resignation that the GOP will take the House, with some Democratic strategists predicting as many as 70 Republican pickups.

I highlighted that quote because I think it indicates what is different about this election and what is wrong with most elections.

Democratic consultants, pollsters, and strategists have a tried-and-true playbook. It includes some of the following:

  • Raise a whole lot of money from people who have a vested interest in more government, and promise them to exert the power of government on their behalf.
  • Don’t make concrete promises on the campaign trail. Talk about generic “hope” and “change” and similar ideas, so that you can carry out your special interest policies in office without anyone overtly accusing you of lying.
  • Rely on various groups to get out the vote from reliably Democratic special interests. Depend on those proxies to push the rules to the edge, and maybe break them, but expect that any fallout will take place after the election and so far ahead of the next election that it will have faded from the news.
  • Demonize the GOP opposition. If they utter a single word about cutting government spending, accuse them of wanting old people to eat cat food, or whatever. Talk in a generic sense about how you are in favor of responsible government and you want to cut “fat” and “waste”. This reassures clueless moderates, and your leftist base has long since grown to understand that these are code words for cutting stuff leftists don’t like, such as the military, or doing nothing at all.
  • Depend on most of the media to help you demonize the opposition, carry water for your campaign, and studiously ignore anything that makes you look bad.
  • Have your special interest groups, especially unions, round up a bunch of relatively uninterested people to come to your rallies, frame them as making it look like you’re enormously popular, and depend on the media to use that to make you look so popular that you can’t be beaten.
  • This anonymous Democratic pollster is right. None of that is working. Thank goodness, because it’s time and past time for such tactics to fail.

    To be sure, Republicans sometimes dabble in the same tactics. They can’t depend on the media to carry water unless they are pretty lickspittle to the press and talk trash about other Republicans, but some of them do that. And generic promises and backroom special interest deals are a staple among professional politicians of all stripes. The interesting thing about this election to me is that some of those Republicans faced the same difficulties as the Democrats (an “adverse political climate“) and some are already gone from the field.

    This election is different because there is a contingent of voters that simply does not give the benefit of the doubt to either professional politicians or the media any longer. In fact, it’s worse than that. They assume what they’re hearing from those entities is distorted or dishonest. They assume the media has chosen sides. They assume that the professional politician cares more about his power and perqs than about governing responsibly.

    They have every reason to assume all of this, because it’s all true.

    I see two things that have made the difference this time around. First, the media trashed any remaining credibility they had in relentlessly pimping for Obama. They covered up every potentially damaging fact that came up about him, never challenged him on specific policies, and basically acted as though they would be happy to bear his child (even the men) if that could be made to happen. This level of obsequiousness was detectable even in people who don’t pay much attention to politics.

    Second, the failure of leftism, and the arrogance of leftism even in the face of its own failure, is more obvious than ever. Obama and his cronies have made no attempt to hide their contempt for the foundational principles of the country. They believe they know better than the common citizens what is best for the common citizens.

    That arrogance has been around for a while. There are Democrats who have been trying to nationalize healthcare since Medicare passed in the sixties.

    The difference is that now it’s on open display. Barney Frank can now be caught saying outright that he wants single payer, but it can’t pass right now, so Obamacare is the best progress they can make this time around. Multiply this by thousands as the words Democrats are used to telling the faithful (and expecting to be hidden from wider view by a complicit media) now get played on YouTube to millions of pi$$ed off voters.

    We have a generation of political consultants and strategists who have basically looked at voters as a large group of marks and suckers. With good reason, since tactics based on that attitude have worked to put odious, nasty leftists like Frank, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and many others in office for decades.

    My biggest hope based on this election is that our incompetent and corrupt ruling class has at last awoken a critical mass of voters who refuse to be marks and suckers. Who work relentlessly to expose the true arrogance and ineptitude of pro politicians, and the feckless bias of the media.

    We’ll have to wait until 2012 to see if that’s the case. But then, I’ve waited all my life to see that critical mass awaken, and I’d almost given up even trying to talk to people about the dangers we face from unbridled government. I can wait a while longer to see if I’ll be disappointed again.


    Democrats having trouble with “adverse political climate”

    As a writer I can’t help noticing subtleties in the articles and books I read. A good writer packs a lot of meaning into a short space, and sometimes creates impressions in the reader that are subconscious.

    Here’s an example from this weekend:

    Obama made his fourth trip to Nevada Friday for a week-before-the-election rally and fundraiser to help Reid squeak out a victory despite low popularity in his home state and an adverse political climate. [Emphasis mine]

    I’ve seen the same phrase several times over the last few months, always referring to the travails of embattled Democrats.

    Notice the implied message. Those poor Democrats are not being beaten by motivated, possibly better qualified opponents. Nor are they contending with the results of their own disastrous, unpopular policies. Instead, they are dealing with “an adverse political climate”, as if the entire situation were just some random storm that blew up out of nowhere.

    This enables reporters to talk about the problems of Democratic candidates without having to face up to the reality of Democratic administration of the last four years for Congress and two years for the White House. They don’t have to come right out and say that Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et. al. have been a disaster for the political left. And they certainly don’t have to make any serious examination of their own internal assumptions that leftism is the ideal political philosophy.

    The reporters can even sound somewhat sympathetic to the candidates’ plight. You can almost hear their internal dialog. “Gosh, we don’t know where the storm came from, but those Democrats sure are getting drenched! Isn’t it awful that our statesmen like Reid have to contend with such random things?”

    Perhaps I just don’t remember, but I don’t think I saw that phrase when Republicans were getting hammered in 2006 and 2008. Everything was Bush’s fault and the fault of those Republicans caught in assorted ethical scandals. This year, the much worse offenses of Charlie Rangel are quickly shuffled to the “old news” pile and never, ever trotted back out when discussing Democrats’ lagging campaigns.

    As I tiresomely repeat, to defeat the political left, it’s important to constantly be on watch for their post-modern attempts to redefine the terms used in politics to make themselves look better. I hope every time you see “adverse political climate” from this point, you’ll translate it more appropriately as “deep, deep hole the Democrats dug for themselves, which the reporter is too chickensh!t to acknowledge.”


    The line to apologize for praising Castro and Communism in Cuba starts here

    It’s a pretty long line. Or at least it ought to be. Given that even the Castro brothers have come clean about what a hellhole Cuba is, it is to be hoped that silly celebrity and religious types that served as Castro’s useful idiots will recognize their foolishness and apologize for it.

    To help prod them along, I’ve developed a little standardized form we can use.

    ***********************************************************

    You are hereby invited to apologize for your unsupported and ill considered remarks about Cuba in ______, which were that:

    Cuba is great because it has free health care

    Cuba is great because it has free housing

    Cuba is great because jobs are guaranteed

    Castro is a genius

    Castro is the kind of leader you wish you had in the US

    Cuba shows that socialism works

    Cuba’s economic problems all stem from the US trade blockade

    It’s too bad that the brilliant, dynamic Che Guevara died young

    Other _____________________________________________________

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. We know how much you value honest, open discourse in the political sphere, and how eager you must be to set the record straight on your own misapprehensions.

    Sincerely,

    ************************************************************

    Any enthusiastic volunteers are encouraged to complete the invitation and send it to appropriate recipients. Any list of invitees should at a minimum include:

    Danny Glover
    Steven Spielberg
    Jack Nicholson
    Harry Belafonte
    Chevy Chase
    Robert Redford
    Ed Asner
    Woody Harrelson
    Shirley MacLaine
    Kevin Costner
    Tim Robbins
    Sean Penn
    Oliver Stone
    Leaders of the Methodist Church, headed by Rev. Larry Pickens
    Naomi Campbell
    Spike Lee
    Sidney Pollack (deceased)
    Dan Rather
    Pastors for Peace

    Additions suggested by commenters:
    Michael Moore (how could I have forgotten him!)
    Carlos Santana
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Alanis Morissette
    Ted Turner
    Jane Fonda
    Jesse Jackson
    Al Sharpton
    Louis Farrakhan
    The Congressional Black Caucus, highlighted by Diane Watson

    Commenters are welcome to add to the list of invitees, and to suggest additional items for the checklist of things to apologize for.

    (For those who are about to comment that these fools will never apologize, I know that. The left didn’t apologize for their useful idiocy to the Soviet Union, and Cuba is small potatoes next to that.)

    **** Update 1:00 PM CST ****

    In re-reading this, I just remembered that Sidney Pollack is dead. I guess he’s off the hook for any apologies.


    Establishment Republicans are still lost, and they’re still too clueless to know it

    This quote from Susan Collins says more about what’s wrong with our current governing class than any single quote I’ve seen in the last few years.

    Senate Republicans do not deny that Mr. DeMint has opened a rift. “It is a new and shocking development to have a member of our conference opposing incumbent Republicans,” Ms. Collins said….

    Shocking, indeed! To think that someone in public office might actually stand by his principles and do what he thinks is good for the country instead of being loyal to the fellow members of the ruling class. Can’t have that, now, can we?

    I have long maintained that our political class is far more loyal to each other than to the country or even their own voting base. Here is vivid proof. She genuinely believes that other members of her party ought to support her and her kind no matter what collectivist policies they support, and no matter how often they “reach across the aisle” to help the collectivist opposition.

    Ms. Collins, since you have no governing principles of your own, I commend to you an examination of the man your are criticizing so strongly. With just a hint of perception and self-awareness, you might see what such principles look like.


    A phone call to Barbara Lisa Murkowski

    “Hello, Barbara Lisa Murkowski here.”

    “Yo, Babs. I hear you lookin for some DC smack.”

    “What? How did you get this number?”

    “Oh, a friend of yours gave it to me. He says you ain’t feelin too good. Had your usual fix taken away a couple of weeks ago. Got the monkey on your back, he says.”

    “Hey, I’m fine. I’m just trying to find a way to serve the people of Alaska through one more term.”

    “Heh, heh. Sure. Look, you want to hear what I got or not?”

    “Well, it won’t hurt to listen, I suppose.”

    “Well, the LPers are open to reason. I think I can get you a ballot spot.”

    “Those guys? First, they don’t seem to want to talk to me. Second, it’s a long shot that I can win by running under their ticket.”

    “Well, sure, it ain’t as high quality as what you’re used to. But it’ll keep the withdrawal pangs away for a few months. I bet right now you’re feelin like that’s enough. Eh?”

    “Look, I can stand it if I have too. I have dignity, you know. I could always take a job as a lobbyist.”

    “Sure you can, sure you can. I’m just sayin, I think I can arrange a deal to get you that fix, uh, I mean nomination. I mean, I’d hate to see you walkin K Street.”

    “How much will it cost me?”

    “No more than you got. Hey, I want to help. I hate to see a lady suffer. And from what I hear, you got the DC habit pretty bad.”

    “Well, it would certainly be hard to turn my back on the people of Alaska. I’ve done so much to bring home the bacon for them. It just feels so good to get the goodies for them, you know?”

    “Sure, sure, you and me in the same business, giving people stuff that makes em feel good.”

    “Well, seeing as how we’re both so public-spirited, I think we can definitely work together.”


    “We are altering the deal. Pray we do not alter it further.”

    Over at Instapundit, I see a hard line from a government worker threatened by all this talk of cuts that might be necessary for underfunded pensions:

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I appreciate your nuanced brand of conservatism. But lately, your attack on public pensions has me concerned. Look at it from my perspective:

    When I graduated from law school and applied for a job at a Federal agency almost 30 years ago, the deal was simple: “We won’t pay you as much as you might make in the private sector, but you’ll get reasonable pay, great benefits including a generous retirement system, and a reasonable work life.” I took the deal.

    {insert various moaning about the sacrifices he has supposedly made here, including such onerous burdens as working at metal desks…}

    Apparently though, some people, in and out of government, are no longer happy with the deal. Complaints and warnings about government pensions and pensioners abound. Typically, the narrative is something along the lines of: “Greedy Retired Bureaucrats Still Feeding at the Public Trough as Taxpayers Suffer!”

    Well, if you’re concerned about unfunded government liabilities, I agree with you. If you think that government employee pensions are too generous, I’ll listen to what you have to say. But if you just don’t like the deal the government made 30 years ago and want out, I’ll see you in court.

    Legally speaking, this guy probably has a point. However, he appears to be missing a much bigger point. The legal right to collect money from a party means nothing if the party simply cannot pay. Both states and the federal government have made promises that they almost certainly can’t pay.

    It sounds as though this guy, like many who haven’t thought very deeply about the matter, just assumed that he could find a way to banish such risks from his career. He bought into the fantasy that somehow, some way, government is different.

    In the long run, it’s not. Every organization has limits on how it can spend money and the promises it can keep.

    Private companies find out pretty quickly when they have reached those limits. For government entities, their monopoly on force and the resultant range of options to collect more money lengthens the feedback cycle, so it takes them longer to realize their mistakes. That just means they get in bigger trouble before the crisis comes.

    Employees have been getting shafted by organizations that lost the ability to keep their promises for hundreds of years. I’d like to see this guy tell some Enron folks about his troubles. I don’t think he would get a lot of sympathy.

    Yes, legislators have made stupid, stupid promises. In theory, that’s the citizens’ fault because they elected the stupid, short-sighted legislators. However, the citizens are not likely to accept that abstract responsibility. They are going to look at the high tax rates and poor government services in bankrupt states and decide to go elsewhere, as many in California and Michigan have done in recent years.

    Almost everybody is going to lose in the debt crisis to come. I’m sorry that someone like Insty’s correspondent, who chose job security over adding value in the more risky free market, now finds out that the security is illusory. That’s life. Those of us in the private sector have always known it. It’s about time government workers understood that you can’t take risk out of life, and that sometimes life isn’t fair.

    They also need to prepare themselves for a backlash that’s been building for decades. Government workers, in my experience, work hard and perceive what they do as valuable. This guy seems to be clearly in that camp. However, private citizens have a completely different perception. There’s a reason we have the cliche “good enough for government work”.

    When you’ve had a cushy thirty year career with no worries about losing your job, don’t expect a lot of sympathy about your woes from people beset with job insecurity and burdened by high taxes and meddling bureaucrats. Especially when they don’t see what you do as particularly valuable. Drafting and defending new regulations may be hard work, but it doesn’t necessarily add value to society.

    This divide in viewpoints is going to come to a head in many places and many ways in the next couple of decades. I know many government workers feel entitled; heck, that kind of entitlement psychology is what leads a lot of them to government work in the first place. However, believing in that entitlement so strongly that you are prepared to thrown your fellow citizens under the bus isn’t going to make the coming conflicts easier.


    A phone call to Republican Air Conditioner Service Company

    “Hello, Republican Air Conditioner Service. How can I help you?”

    “Hey, my air conditioner is almost completely gone. It uses ridiculous amounts of electricity, hardly cools at all, has long pipes running through the yard to neighbor’s houses, and it sounds like it’s about to blow up. I need you to fix it.”

    “Do you have a current repair company you’ve been working with?”

    “Yeah. The incompetent boobs at Democratic Air Conditioner Repair. I called them two years ago and they promised to fix it. It was pretty bad off then because it’s been getting progressively worse for a long time. After paying them to fix it, and watching them scramble around doing stuff for two years, it’s worse.”

    “Fine, just accept us as your repair company, and we’ll get right on it.”

    “Yeah, well, I’ve heard that before. What exactly are you going to do to fix it?”

    “Well, we’ll clean it up. It will be nice and shiny.”

    “I don’t care about that. I want it to work.”

    “Ah, but we are specialists in cleaning out a Culture of Corrosion. We think a nice, shiny air conditioner makes everyone feel better about how it’s working.”

    “Listen, I don’t care. What are you going to do to make it work?”

    “We’ll replace the other guys. You’ll see all new trucks in your driveway.”

    “You’re not getting the point. What are you going to do to fix my air conditioner?”

    “Well, that will take a lot of study. We might have to increase the power consumption so it works better.”

    “What?!? The power consumption is already more than I can afford! And I don’t see how more power is going to keep it from blowing up. In fact, I think feeding in more power is more likely to make it blow up!”

    “Yes, well, you are simply not acquainted with the rules of Keynesian electrical power consumption. Trust me, we’ve been doing this for decades.”

    “Yeah, I know. My air conditioner has been getting worse the whole time. Why can’t you just work off the basic laws of electrical physics?”

    “That’s way too complex to discuss. Besides, all the best people in the air conditioner industry have agreed that Keynesian electrical power consumption principles really work, so you don’t need to bother your head about it. The real issue is that you need to switch to us to take care of your air conditioner. After all, you certainly don’t want those other guys, after what you’ve been through, do you?”

    “No. But I want somebody who’s going to fix my air conditioner. And there are no other repair companies in the whole state.”

    “Of course not. Why would you need more than two? That gives you a choice. Isn’t that enough?”

    “Not when neither choice can get the job done!”

    “Oh, trust us. We should definitely be your air conditioner company. Are you ready to switch to us?”

    “Will be you be sending the same people that came the last time I used your company?”

    “Sure. They’re trained air conditioner repair people. You want experienced people, don’t you?”

    “No! I want competent people! I want people who will fix the problem!”

    “Well, that’s us!”

    “You didn’t fix it the last time I called you. I gave you years to do it, and you just made it worse. You didn’t fix anything, but you did add on more pipes to neighbors’ houses and an air-filter thingy I didn’t want and don’t need. That’s why I switched to the other guys, hoping they could do something about the stuff you messed up.”

    “And see what that got you! Those guys are just awful. They’re out of touch, and they’ll never be able to fix anything. Why, I hear they added a stereo and a set of speakers to your air conditioner. Don’t they deserve to be thrown out in favor of us?”

    “Wait, I thought you guys were good pals. Don’t you play golf with them all the time?”

    “Sure. They’re our colleagues. Plus, we often take over repair jobs from them, and we even use them for subcontracting sometimes. So we have to stay on good terms with them. Besides, we’ve known them a long time. We went to air conditioner school with them. Of course, they chose to go with the company that distributes Left of Left of Center Air Conditioners, while we distribute Right of Left of Center Air Conditioners.”

    “Yeah, well what exactly did you learn in air conditioner school?”

    “Oh, the usual. Telephone sales techniques, like I’m using with you right now. How to select the best polish to make the air conditioner shiny. Fundamentals of Keynesian electrical power. How to drive the truck that we use to get to your house.”

    “But did you take any courses on HOW TO FIX AIR CONDITIONERS?!?”

    “We took courses on how to WORK ON air conditioners. And how to keep working on them forever. Because they need constant tinkering you know.”

    “No, they don’t! They just need to work!”

    “You clearly don’t understand the purpose of air conditioners.”

    “I though they were to keep my house cool.”

    “Well, nominally, yes, but that’s a small part of their purpose. They’re supposed to do lots of other things too, such as pump cool air through long, uninsulated pipes to neighbors who can’t afford the electricity to cool their houses.”

    “That’s going to be me soon! Assuming this thing doesn’t blow up before then and kill me in the process!”


    The Republicans are lost: a continuing saga

    It looks like the GOP might very well take back the House this fall. They even have an outside shot at the Senate. If some of the dynamics, such as the results in Missouri last week, continue to move in their direction, this could be an historic election.

    My reaction to that is basically “So what?”

    As I’ve said before, when it comes to any serious change in direction for the country, the current crop of Republicans is not the solution, they’re part of the problem.

    It’s no better now than when I wrote the earlier post. The oleoginous Cantor is still in the House leadership. You can seem him in a picture associated with this article in the Washington Examiner, which points out that the GOP has absolutely no idea what to do if they happen to get back the Congress.

    To me, the following sentence in that article was most telling:

    Some young House Republicans have put out a call for voters to e-mail their ideas.

    In other words, even the newest current GOP members of Congress don’t have a clue what to do.

    If these young Congressmen are sincere, it means they’re unqualified for their jobs. Why are they doing in their seats if they don’t have a clue what to do to lead the country?* Plus, you can sum up what should be their highest priority in two words: cut spending. There are already plenty of ideas on how to do that, and if they need more, placing a list of federal programs on a dartboard and throwing darts would probably work pretty well.

    Their second highest priority can also be expressed in two words: repeal Obamacare. Among Republican politicians, that one should not even be controversial. All the polls we’ve seen say that Republican voters are foresquare for that option.

    The more likely interpretation of their email appeal, though, is that it’s just a cynical way to look as though they are listening to their constituents. They know they aren’t going to do anything of importance, but they’re too cowardly to admit it.

    So they’re just playing politics as usual, every chance they get. Here’s another example, in which you can see Cantor railing about Rangel and his ethics violations:

    Personally, I think “Chollie” Rangle is a snake, but I get a lot less incensed over his extra apartments than I do over the fact that he has spent forty years trying to figure out ways to take money from people he doesn’t like and give it to people he does. That, plus his complete indifference to the long term damage to American society of those thefts.

    Likewise, this “drain the swamp” rhetoric from Republicans like Cantor means nothing to me. I consider the revolving door between politicians and high-paid lobbyists to be just as ethically wrong as more direct means of appropriating other people’s money. We’ve seen people like Trent Lott use that door recently, and I’m expecting Cantor to use it at some point later in his life. So of course, he’s not going to say anything about that problem, and that makes his lamentations about Rangel nothing more than political theater.

    It’s all intended to paper over the problem that the current crop of Republicans is clueless about where to go from here. The know if they just go through the motions, as Cantor is doing above, they’ll probably get back control and the perqs that go with it. So, in their minds, why should they risk such a windfall from the Democrat’s blunders? Why should they actually stand up for proposals that might really make a difference but are guaranteed to make some constituency mad and endanger their chances of recovering Congressional dominance?

    For establishment Republicans, the name of the game is not leading the country. It’s gaining and holding onto power. That, of course, is why so many of us see so little difference between the parties – the Democrats have the exact same goal.

    The time is almost certainly coming when that game makes our economic and political system so unstable that establishment politicans get their playing field yanked out from under them. However, I don’t think more than one in ten of them have the imagination to envision such an outcome, and the rest are just hoping to push it down the road until they’re gone. It’s going to have to get a lot worse before establishment GOP politicans either wake up or get kicked to the curb.

    Until then, enjoy the football game this November, and cheer for your team as you watch the election returns, but understand that we won’t get any difference that really matters. Yes, Obama’s hard left ideology will be blunted, and I also prefer divided government to what we have now. But the big goal is reversal, and we’re just not yet in bad enough shape for that to happen. A GOP victory this fall just means a small delaying action against the coming reckoning.

    After all, the Republicans could repeal Obamacare, sell off huge government interests in automotive and finance industries, cut a trillion dollars in spending and they would be… back where we were nineteen months ago when Obama took office. I consider it preposterous that they’ll even do a fraction of that.

    We’ll have to do much, much more to regain a stable long term government, because the debt bomb ticks louder every month. Social Security and Medicare are going to blow up in our faces; the math and demographics are simply inescapable.

    I’d like to be optimistic and presume that the GOP is working to establish a base, and gearing up for serious action after hopefully winning the White House back in 2012. But I’m not. They’re just floating along, riding their perqs, and waiting for the Democrats to keep looking bad. Based on everything I’ve seen about the establishment GOP, they never intend to do anything that seriously reverses the growth of spending and debt. Even if a Pawlenty or Daniels were sitting in the White House, these drones in Congress like Cantor are never going to take the risky and painful actions needed to avert the consequences of too-large-and-ever-growing government.

    (*) I ask this rhetorically, of course. Many of them are members of the parasitic political class, and considerations of how to lead the country had little or nothing to do with their decision to run.

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