If you’ve ever wondered what pure “spin” looks like, you have as your most current example an article under Nancy Pelosi’s name in USA Today. It is a marvel of context free and, frankly, fact free verbiage designed to do nothing more than paint an alternate picture of reality. It is an attempt to effect how history will be written. And it is laughable on its face.
Essentially what Pelosi does is provide a list of discredited Democrat talking points in essay form, never once acknowledging that most if not all have been debunked, shown to be untrue or simply a figment of very fertile imaginations.
My favorite part is where the soon to be minority leader, if that, finally lays out the welcome mat for Republicans – after 6 years of all but shutting them out of the Congressional process.
And, in the running for the most appalling lie among many is this line included after Pelosi lists the “accomplishments” of the 111th Congress:
And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.
Good lord. An estimated 6 trillion in further debt heaped upon the country during her watch and she has the audacity to play the PAYGO card? This and the previous Congress under Democratic rule have been the most profligate in our history. And Ms. Pelosi attempts to say everything has been paid for?
Democrats – if you keep this person in your leadership after her 4 years as the Speaker what little is left of your tattered credibility is as good as gone. She is divisive, extreme, partisan to a fault and the perfect leader to ensure you don’t see a majority in the House again for a decade or so. She is the gift that keeps on giving for the GOP.
One of the unstated questions many of us who have observed the Tea Party ask is how long before it become co-opted by one of the major parties. Because it is mostly a leaderless movement, that may end up being a very unlikely thing. But what about the candidates it backed? We’re told that 5 Senators and about 30 or so representatives were backed by local and regional Tea Parties and won their elections.
One of those was Rand Paul who, as the son of Ron Paul, came off as particularly libertarian in his approach to his job as a Senator from Kentucky. In fact, during his campaign, he made what his campaign web site labeled "Rand’s no-pork pledge":
Rand Paul appreciates Republican Senator Jim DeMint introducing today a one-year ban on earmark spending and a balanced-budget amendment. Rand strongly supports both initiatives and has made them centerpieces of his campaign for limited government, including his signing of the Citizens Against Government Waste “No pork pledge.”
“The Tea Party movement is an effort to get government under control,” Rand said. “I’m running to represent Kentuckians and to dismantle the culture of professional politicians in Washington. Leadership isn’t photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks. That kind of thinking is bankrupting our nation. Senator DeMint understands that and has taken action to stop it.”
It was that pledge along with other such promises that saw Paul ride a wave to electoral victory.
However, and it seems in politics today, there’s always a "however", it seems that even before taking office, Paul is having second thoughts about his pledge. Veronique de Rugy at the Corner points us to a quote in a Wall Street Journal article about Rand Paul which is, well, disappointing, to be kind about it:
In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.
Of course there are plenty of ways to "advocate for Kentucky’s interests" without breaking a pledge. That, of course, requires a politician with imagination and the courage of his convictions.
If the quote is accurate, then I have no doubt that Rand Paul will rationalize and justify his way into becoming just another establishment Republican Senator who sells out (in this case, almost immediately) to the “system” in DC. Another in a long line of “go-along-to get-along-old-boy-network” that is within virtual inches of destroying this country.
I have to wonder how the Tea Party movement, which spent so much time, effort and money to get this guy elected feels about this quote? I’ll be interested to hear Paul’s explanation concerning what the WSJ says he said.
But frankly, and assuming he wasn’t misquoted, it’s another indication that much of our political class is a collection of opportunists whose only real quest is the accumulation of personal power. They’ll say whatever it takes to win with no intention of sticking with the principles they claim. While, as Paul says, earmarks are indeed more symbolic that significant, they were significant enough when he was seeking office to take a pledge not to seek them. A pledge voluntarily taken by someone who, as usual, styled himself as “different” and an “outsider” who was going to change the way we do business.
Instead, at the first opportunity, he back-peddles and attempts to rationalize breaking his pledge to “advocate for Kentucky’s interests”.
I hope it’s not true but in reality it appears to be business as usual.
You remember the organization that became one of the biggest shills for the impending health care legislation now known as "Obamacare"? Reason brings us the story that AARP is now notifying its employees that thanks to their support for this monstrosity they have the privilege of paying 8 to 13% higher health care premiums next year:
In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.
And AARP adds that it’s changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. Aerospace giant Boeing also has cited the tax in asking its workers to pay more. Shifting costs to employees lowers the value of a health care plan and acts like an escape hatch from the tax.
AARP said that its support of the law was based in the fact that “health care costs are growing too fast for everyone.” Now AARP’s employees will have the opportunity to experience that first hand – after the law the group supported to prevent such cost growth is in effect.
I suppose I should be surprised at this, but I’m not. Mitch McConnell seems now to believe that earmarks are a hallowed legislative prerogative, and Rep. Jerry Lewis is keen to retake the gavel of the Appropriations Committee.
Basically, the deal is this: After talking a good game about fiscal conservatism for months, the GOP is going to take its cues in the Senate from a guy who basically doesn’t give that much of a crap, and very likely empower a guy in the House whose top priorities have previously included money pit swimming pools into which he likes to dump massive, great, heaping piles of your hard-earned cash because, hey, he’s in charge here, dammit.
I don’t like it; you don’t like it. Let’s hope that by some miracle, folks calling the shots up on the Hill might possibly be paying attention to what everyone from the Tea Partiers to me, your local candy-ass RINO, thinks: Quit with the earmarks, and let’s not just empower the people who pursued them with zeal last time the GOP was in charge, because well screw it, we won… kind of…
So, is that the deal? Head fake to the right on spending for the Tea Party during the election, but back to business as usual after winning? Are the 2006 Republicans back?
If so, it’s gonna be a long two years, and 2012 is gonna be a nightmare.
Even more irony – the groups lining up against the EU’s energy targets mandating the use of biofuels are not who you would expect:
Energy targets for 23 of the EU’s 27 members suggest 9.5 percent of the bloc’s transportation energy will come from biofuels by 2020, said the groups, which include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and ActionAid. The crops may need an area twice the size of Belgium, and clearing the necessary land could make the fuels 167 percent more polluting for the climate than sticking with gasoline and diesel, they said.
The proponents naturally say that’s all nonsense:
The EU aims to get 10 percent of its energy for transportation from biofuels, hydrogen and renewable power by 2020. The target is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said the targets require less land than the study suggests and that EU guidelines prevent the use of deforested land.
“The Renewable Directive says very clearly that it is not allowed to chop down forests to produce biofuels,” Holzner said in an e-mail. “The same goes for drained peatland, wetland or highly biodiverse areas.”
Well of course it says that’s not allowed. Whether or not that’s actually followed is another matter entirely. But here’s the point – the directive’s implementation means that existing land that can be used to reach the targets must be converted from growing whatever it is growing now (food?) to being dedicated to biofuel production. Either way a large area (twice the size of Belgium?) is going to have to be dedicated to such production to make the 10 percent target viable. So where does "food production" go? Looking for new land, that’s where. Or, the EU learns to live with the reduction in agricultural products and the resultant increase in prices required to turn the existing land into biofuel production.
The bureaucrats wave away the concern:
The 10 percent target would require 2 million to 5 million hectares of land, and there is enough unused terrain in the EU that was previously used for crop production to cover its needs, Holzner said.
This is classic government intrusion into markets and the beginning of the inevitable market distortions that brings along with the law of unintended consequences. Biofuels have to be grown somewhere. Government is going to subsidize that at a rate higher than growing food. That means, at some point, food growth is going to be displaced. Holzner, with an airy wave of the hand says “hey, the land is available – problem solved”.
Of such are man-made disasters cluelessly formulated and executed.
Lost in the news of the drubbing Democrats took in the House is the state level progress the GOP made on November 2nd.
The GOP now has 690 new seats in state legislatures, five new governors, and currently controls the legislatures and governor’s offices of more than 20 states.
That means two very important things for the GOP.
1. State budgets. Republicans at state level in a majority of states will control the budget, taxes and spending. With the stimulus funds about to dry up, they’re going to have to put together austerity programs that work toward balancing the budget – a requirement in many states.
2. Reapportionment and redistricting. 2010 is a census year. That means that reapportionment and redistricting House seats will be a priority. In most states Governors are intimately involved in this process. With almost 30 governors the GOP is poised to set itself up rather well as the House reapportions state representatives and the states redistrict as a result. Ohio and Florida are two examples of states which have gone GOP and will be committed to both reapportionment and redistricting.
It also means that somewhere out there is a fiscally conservative member of the GOP who will be gaining important experience with austerity budgeting, governing and attempting to bring down unemployment in his or her state. While it may be too early for 2012, those that are most successful at doing what is necessary to put their state back on firm fiscal footing and increasing employment in their state should be considered for 2016. It is not too early for the GOP to begin watching, monitoring and grooming the right people for that particular race. And yes – resumes with accomplishments will count heavily.
It has become an article of faith in modern economics that the gold standard just isn’t suitable for modern economies. Since the Great Depression started the movement away from the gold standard, we have moved towards a system of freely convertible fiat currencies whose values are, in the main determined by the ability of central banks to maintain control of inflation. Any talk of returning to the gold standard, therefore, is derided as some sort of fanatical return to a failed past.
Now, to be sure, there are problems with gold as money. Some of them are perceived problems, others are real.
Ultimately, gold, as a currency, tends to be deflationary. A country’s money supply is limited by the amount of gold on hand. Absent an increase in the amount of gold, any increase in real output must cause prices to decline.
Also, any balance of payments deficit reduces the country’s gold supply. For instance, during the Depression, England had a horrific balance of payments problem. The country was paying out so much money in foreign payments, that it was literally draining all the gold out of Britain. The only real remedy to this was to massively deflate British prices…in the midst of an already deflationary recession.
Monetary shocks are easily transmitted from one country to another via gold. Since countries who participate in the gold standard have fixed links, inflation or depression in one country can be quickly transmitted to another. For instance, the discovery of a large gold mine increases the supply of gold, without affecting real output. That inflationary effect is quickly felt throughout all the countries who share the standard.
But–and this is a big “but”–the change from a gold standard to freely convertible fiat currencies has solved those old problems by introducing entirely new ones. Governments and central banks have embarked on massive programs of public indebtedness, the inflationary–and sometimes hyperinflationary–printing of fiat currencies, and the wholesale selling of sovereign debt to foreign countries who may not have, as their primary interest, recouping the money on their investments, but rather the manipulation of an enemy’s economy, should it become necessary.
These problems bring us to Robert Zoellick, the head of the World Bank. In an Op/Ed in the Financial Times addressing our current economic woes, he suggests something that will no doubt be much discussed. In a discussion of how to create a monetary regime to succeed the clearly dying Bretton Woods II paradigm in which we’ve operated since 1971, he suggests, among other things:
This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves towards internationalisation and then an open capital account.
The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.
If I’m not mistaken, the head of the World bank just called for the creation of a new gold standard for international trade.
This should be interesting.
In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss Tuesday’s midterm elections, and Friday’s unemployment report.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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The "Rodney Dangerfield" of movements gets ignored by liberal Bob Herbert. After he says both sides are clueless in DC, and leadership is "AWOL", he says this:
What this election tells me is that real leadership will have to come from elsewhere, from outside of Washington, perhaps from elected officials in statehouses or municipal buildings that are closer to the people, from foundations and grass-roots organizations, from the labor movement and houses of worship and community centers.
The civil rights pioneers did not wait for presidential or Congressional leadership, nor did the leaders of the women’s movement. They plunged ahead with their crucial work against the longest odds and in the face of seemingly implacable hostility.
Sounds like a perfect description of the Tea Parties and what they’ve faced from the left – to include Bob Herbert.
Irony – something about which the left remains clueless.
I think Toby Harnden of the UK Telegraph best captures what is going to happen with Obama and the Democrats as we go forward. A couple of quotes say it best. However, first Harnden addresses the Obama press conference following a stinging rejection of Democrats and the fact that Obama seemed clueless about the cause of the defeat – or, if not clueless, at least not prepared to accept the real reason for the defeat:
The one thing Obama was not prepared to admit was that his policies, which have led to a massive expansion of government power and the national debt, could in any way be at fault. The problem with health care reform, he said, was that the process used to achieve it was "an ugly mess" – no mention that it was hugely unpopular and pushed through on a partisan vote without a single Republican legislator’s support.
The reason that is important is what it portends for the future under Obama. Harnden recalls Clinton’s reaction to the losses he suffered and how he decided, almost instinctively, to move to the center and “counterpunch” from there.
Obama is not about to move to the centre. Whereas Clinton was an instinctive "Third Way" centrist from the South who had wandered too far Left, Obama is a standard-issue liberal of the type found in Ivy League commons rooms. Nothing in his career indicates he is ready to cut deals with political opponents. He is sure what he believes is right; if you don’t agree with him, he pities you for being so slow to understand.
It is his innate arrogance that will be his undoing. He is going to try, as did Truman, to blame a Republican Congress for lack of progress. Truman actually had a Republican Congress and so the strategy worked. As I’ve said in the past, not gaining the Senate is almost a blessing in disguise for the GOP because the same sort of strategy will not work for Obama.
Harnden also makes a great point about the Tea Party and how establishment liberals are ready (and happy) to dismiss them because they “failed” to elect all their candidates.
The defeat of candidates like Christine O’Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angle of Nevada has helped fuel a complacent Washington consensus that the Tea Party failed. Never mind that his grassroots anti-tax, small-government "constitutional conservatism" movement provided the energy and momentum behind the biggest congressional election victory in 62 years.
The true nature of the Tea Party is much better represented by the likes of newly-minted senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Rand Paul than the frankly wacky O’Donnell and Angle. It was hardly surprising that a spontaneous, chaotic movement managed to throw up some oddball candidates. The Tea Party is likely to readjust accordingly next time.
What the Tea Parties are likely to do now is begin the hunt for suitable candidates that reflect their principles and don’t carry the baggage of the insurgent candidates they were stuck with in various races. The left has wanted to dismiss this movement from its inception and is ready to do so again right now. Big mistake.
But again, the main point Harnden makes is one I agree with – Obama doesn’t accept the reasons for defeat and is unlikely to change in any substantial way to address the new reality:
Obama believes he can get by on Being Barack Obama. Last Tuesday was a setback like nothing else he had experienced in life and it appears to have left his enormous sense of self-assurance undiminished.
A majority of Americans voted against Obama’s agenda that day and Republicans dearly want to make him history. It is far too soon to write off Obama’s chances of re-election but his rhetoric of bipartisanship and forging consensus has been shown to be a sham, leaving his Left-wing core exposed.
But the first step to keeping him in the hole he has dug for himself is a counter-intuitive one. Republicans intend to capitalise on Obama’s vanity and highlight his default ideology and determination to push "progress".
He is about to become the Relevant Progressive President.
Exactly. The GOP must pound on and point out the “progressive” ideologue that is the president. They must keep him relevant in that way so they can run against his liberal ideology in 2012. Obama gives every indication, at least at this point, that he’ll cooperate. And such cooperation, given the results of this election, indicate a one-term presidency.
And that’s a good thing.