Free Markets, Free People
Alan Greenspan to David Gregory on “Meet the Press” (via Politico):
"I have a more fundamental question. Why do we have a debt limit in the first place? We appropriate funds, we have tax law, and anyone reasonably adept at arithmetic can calculate what the debt change is going to be. … [T]here is a major problem in cutting spending. … [I]t is inconceivable to me that we’ve put ourselves in this position. Why we are continuously going back to the well to continuously up the debt limit when we already predetermined what that limit has to be, and so, consequently, they’re trying to abrogate what the Congress did?"
It is a pretty fundamental question. What is the purpose of a debt limit – note the word, “limit” – if it only serves as a temporary point at which, when reached (again) Congress reconvenes and raises it almost automatically? It makes no sense. But then we’re talking about Congress and politicians here.
Greenspan’s point is dead on target. What is its purpose if not to limit spending to that amount or less? And what real purpose does it serve if it is continually raised?
The answer to the first is “political not policy” and the answer to the second, unfortunately, is “none.”
Actually we have a pair of quotes of the day. First from Roger Pilon who is the VP for legal affairs at Cato”
Our tax system sucks the substance and spirit of entrepreneurs and workers alike, filters that substance through Washington, then sends it back through countless federal programs that instruct us in minute detail about how to use the government’s beneficence. Manufacturing, housing, education, health care, transportation, energy, recreation — is there anything today over which the federal government does not have control? A federal judge held recently that Congress can regulate the "mental act" of deciding not to buy health insurance.
Steel on target. Key word? “Control”.
Our next quote in this edition comes from Mark Steyn about our Sneerer in Chief who addressed the concerns of an American had about gas prices by telling him maybe he ought to get rid of his gas hog:
America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era.
Bingo. Definitely campaign advertising fodder. A “let them eat cake” moment. The man defines “don’t care” and “out of touch”. One assumes he considers statements like that to be "leadership".
The perfect Libya analogy via Mark Goldblatt:
Why do I have a sinking feeling that expecting the Libyan rebels to overthrow Qaddafi is like expecting the Coyote to catch the Road Runner . . . and that we’re about to become the Acme Corporation?
Can’t improve on that (unless there’s a way to work Elmer Fudd into it).
Seriously folks, Victor Davis Hanson got me laughing so hard today that I almost coughed up a lung.
What struck me as so funny? His characterization of the left and
Lybia Libya. His article nails it.
Even liberal television and radio commentators cite ingenious reasons why an optional, preemptive American intervention in an oil-producing Arab country, without prior congressional approval or majority public support — and at a time of soaring deficits — is well worth supporting, in a sort of “my president, right or wrong,” fashion.
He calls that the “war mongering liberals” and claims it may presage a move by the left to pre-Vietnam days of “hawkish ‘best and brightest’”. Still laughing over that possibility.
Conservatives have complained that opposition — especially in the cases of then-senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden — to George W. Bush’s antiterrorism policies and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was more partisan than principled. Obama ended that debate by showing that not only can he embrace — or, on occasion, expand — the Bush-Cheney tribunals, preventive detentions, renditions, Predator attacks, intercepts and wiretaps, and Guantanamo Bay, but he can now preemptively attack an Arab oil-exporting country without fear of Hollywood, congressional cutoffs, MoveOn.org “General Betray Us”–type ads, Cindy Sheehan on the evening news, or Checkpoint-like novels. In short, Obama has ensured that the antiwar movement will never be quite the same.
Tell me you’re still not chuckling, huh? I mean check out that laundry list of, uh, accomplishments that Obama has “embrace[d]” or “expand[ed]” upon. It was that list that had the left in a high hover for almost 8 years when Bush was in office. Obama? Meh, not so much. It is absolutely telling that the “anti-war movement” now appears to have been about as principled as Jimmy Swaggart. Long on preaching, making signs and talking about high minded principles. But when their choice of a prez does the same or more … pretty much crickets. Remember the rumble about “preemptive” war? “War of choice”? “Dumb wars”? Done and done.
While there are some on the left that have been consistent in their positions, they’re few and far between.
So, is your irony meter pegging out yet? No? Try this – quote three:
The media serially blamed a supposedly lazy Ronald Reagan for napping during military operations abroad. George W. Bush was criticized for cutting brush at his Texas ranch while soldiers fought and died in Iraq. Obama rendered all such presidential criticism mere nitpicking when he started aerial bombardment in the midst of golfing, handicapping the NCAA basketball tournament, and taking his family to Rio de Janeiro.
Inconsistency? Not our media. Bad “optics” are only for the right. Of course they’re no worse than our President or the left in general. But the irony impairment of all those folks remains a serious condition.
After Bush’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, many war-weary Americans believed that we would never again get involved in a Middle East war. But now, with Obama’s preemptive bombing of Libya, giddy American interventionists are again eyeing Iran, Syria — and beyond!
I keep thinking back to Robert Gates at West Point this year and his line about how any president who gets us engaged in another war in the middle east needs to have his head examined.
Uh, I think it is about time, don’t you? Some may argue it is well past time.
I have no idea how else to introduce this latest Obama quote – from our erstwhile CiC – during his stop in El Salvador:
And that’s why building this international coalition has been so important because it means that the United States is not bearing all the cost. It means that we have confidence that we are not going in alone, and it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally. And we will accomplish that in a relatively short period of time. [emphasis added]
I can’t tell you how many ways that is just wrong. Seriously.
And if he “misspoke” or said it incorrectly, or didn’t mean it that way, then I want to see a clarification. But it appears, in the case of Libya, that what he said is precisely what happened. We got “volunteered” and he went along with it.
This is what I mean by lack of leadership. He actually thinks this is a good thing, I assume. And it is a tip of an iceberg of which we don’t want any part.
Obama has, during other press opportunities, made the point that the US has “unique capabilities” within its military that allow it to do things others can’t.
And he’s allowing others to “volunteer” it?
Oh, but don’t be too concerned, he’s rationalized it all out for you:
Now, with respect to our national interests, the American people and the United States have an interest, first of all, in making sure that where a brutal dictator is threatening his people and saying he will show no mercy and go door-to-door hunting people down, and we have the capacity under international sanction to do something about that, I think it’s in America’s international — in America’s national interest to do something about it. (emphasis added)
Ross Douthat, who I rarely quote, manages to nail it in terms of Libya and the left:
In its opening phase, at least, our war in Libya looks like the beau ideal of a liberal internationalist intervention. It was blessed by the United Nations Security Council. It was endorsed by the Arab League. It was pushed by the diplomats at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, rather than the military men at Robert Gates’s Pentagon. Its humanitarian purpose is much clearer than its connection to American national security. And it was initiated not by the U.S. Marines or the Air Force, but by the fighter jets of the French Republic.
One minor correction, there is no – none, zip, nada – connection, not even a tenuous one, to American national security and the war on Libya. There may be afterward, if Gadhafi survives and decides he needs to find a way to strike back at the US in the “long war” he’s promised to wage. But going in? Nope – none.
The quote above fought with this other Douthat quote for top QotD honors:
But there are major problems with this approach to war as well. Because liberal wars depend on constant consensus-building within the (so-called) international community, they tend to be fought by committee, at a glacial pace, and with a caution that shades into tactical incompetence. And because their connection to the national interest is often tangential at best, they’re often fought with one hand behind our back and an eye on the exits, rather than with the full commitment that victory can require.
And keep in mind that once the first Tomahawk flew, whether we call our participation limited and of short duration, we’re into it up to our hips as far as the Arab world is concerned. So whatever happens there which might turn the “Arab street” against the US yet again, any argument made by the administration that most of the mission has been conducted by others isn’t going to change a single mind.
Also keep in mind, as Douthat implies, that this “consensus war” depends on the committee who are conducting it staying together. Can’t have them deserting and then renouncing the Western powers committed to seeing this through – can we? Already the Arab League is a bity antsy.
Finally – watch for mission creep. The ostensible reason for this little foray is humanitarian. But then, so was Somalia, Kosovo and Yugoslavia.
I predict there will be boots on the ground, whether ours or others. It will become necessary if I have any read on Gadhafi at all. Why? Because he will precipitate a humanitarian crisis of some sort – on purpose.
Then what? What if he forces a “put up or shut up” moment?
Well the fair weather supporters will go home, that’s a given. And those who see a downside risk politically will go home. And I promise you the Arab members will say bye bye.
And who will that leave to deal with it?
The two quotes from Douthat are very instructive in understanding the liberal philosophy of war and why it is dangerously utopian, likely to fail and not at all in the best interests of this country, or any country, to pursue.
If you haven’t met your irony quotient for the day, here’s our present Secretary of State while a former Senator talking about the “civil war” in Iraq and how we should not take part in what is going on no matter the level of the violence:
“No one wants to sit by and see mass killing,” she added. “It’s going on every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem — we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."
Of course that was then … apparently Libya is an international problem, not a Libyan problem, and we can save the Libyans from themselves, unlike the Iraqis.
Of course …
Talk about chutzpah, check this out from our favorite little Holocaust denying, "wipe-Israel-from-the-map", "no gays in Iran", protest busting, protester murdering, election stealing, nuclear bomb building popinjay, er, "President" of Iran:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday urged Middle East leaders to listen to the voices of citizens who have taken to the streets in masses to demand a change in government — though such protests in his own country have been crushed with brute force.
Ahmadinejad "strongly recommended such leaders to let their peoples express their opinions," the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"He further urged those leaders of regional countries who respond to the demands of their nations and their revolutionary uprisings with hot bullets to join their peoples’ movements instead of creating blood baths."
What’s next – a lecture from Fidel on individual rights? Hugo Chavez waxing poetic on the virtues of capitalism?
When is a penalty not a penalty? Ask Rep Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-TX). Yesterday she told the House Judiciary Committee that the requirement imposed on individuals to buy health insurance doesn’t really constitute a penalty for non-compliance:’
“I would make the argument, one, that instead it is an incentive to do right–that it is not penalizing because penalty is punishment,” Jackson-Lee told the Judiciary Committee.
“You’re not punished if you have health insurance, in fact. And so you are, in fact, incentivized to have health insurance, rather than take the negative which is to suggest that because we have a penalty you are being punished,” Rep. Jackson-Lee said.
“I am helping you. I am helping you not to have 26 percent un-insurance in the state of Texas. I’m helping children be insured. I’m helping diverse minorities be insured,” said Rep. Jackson-Lee. “And I know during the civil rights argument–even though we were arguing under the Constitution–there were many policy statements being made: Do we want to live in a nation that discriminates against a person because of the color of their skin? In addition to the constitutional argument, do we want to live in a nation where there are people being uninsured causing catastrophic costs unto the nation and others have to pay. I think that is the question that needs to be considered by the courts.”
Unfortunately for Rep. Jackson-Lee, who may have never actually read the bill, the law is quite specific about non-compliance.
“If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) [having a government-approved health-insurance policy]… there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual.”
Elsewhere, in a section entitled “Payment of Penalty,” it says that individuals failing to carry a government-approved health insurance policy must pay a maximum penalty of $750.
Meanwhile back in the runaway logic train of Ms. Jackson-Lee:
“But I also need to say whether or not it is more an incentive than it is a punishment,” said Rep. Jackson-Lee. “I am more inspired by incentive. And I welcome it being a parking ticket. We get parking tickets all the time, and no one complains about being required to do the right thing.”
One of those bright stars – because of the level of intrusion we’re allowed this government to make – who are making decisions about your life.
This is part of a very long post regarding the meme being shaped by the left:
If even a left-winger can’t resist Rush Limbaugh’s commands to kill when he doesn’t even hear them, what possible chance is there that the 60% of the Tea Party which is primed to murder will resist his call when they do hear it?
As they say, RTWT.
Seriously, this is just a shameless lie. Nancy Pelosi at her final news conference as Speaker of the House summing up the House’s priorities under he leadership:
"Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go."
No. It hasn’t.
When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. The last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership on December 22, 2010 the national debt was $13,858,529,371,601.09 – a roughly $5.2 trillion increase in just four years. Furthermore, the year over year federal deficit has roughly quadrupled during Pelosi’s four years as speaker, from $342 billion in fiscal year 2007 to an estimated $1.6 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2010.