Sunday Links Fiesta, debate-skipping edition

January 8, 2012

I still can’t bring myself to watch the Republican debates: the quiz-show format, the never-ending quest for the gotcha moment or highlight soundbite, and (usually) liberal MSM hacks asking questions of conservative Republicans. (And on that last, I say “WTF??”)

Thank God there’s NFL football on.

But there are also good articles to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Here are a few I want to commend to your attention:

Debt-Watch: Senator (and future president) Marco Rubio has had enough with debt ceiling increases and wrote a scathing letter to President Obama to announce his opposition to another increase. Key phrase: “…the first three years of your presidency have been a profile in leadership failure.” Ouch!

Operation Fast & Furious: Three key ATF officials have been reassigned pending the DoJ Inspector General’s report. More scapegoats to protect Eric Holder and President Obama?

High-Speed Railroad-mania: For some reason, the statist Left are obsessed with high-speed railroads. (I suspect it’s a control-thing for them.) China’s vaunted program has been mired in scandal, while California’s proposed high-speed boondoggle has neared $100 billion in projected costs. So, what does the supposedly conservative (and definitely broke) government of the UK propose to do? Build their own high-speed railroad! James Delingpole calls it Britain’s “latest suicidal gesture.”

American Decline-Watch: President Obama announced massive cuts in military spending and active forces. The President says this will make American forces leaner and more efficient, while meeting our defense needs. Analyst Max Boot say these cuts put America on a “suicidal trajectory.” I agree with Max. For a reminder that American decline is a deliberate choice by Obama and his allies, have a look at Charles Krauthammer’s brilliant “decline is a choice.”

ObamaCare: The Supreme Court will be holding hearings on the constitutionality of ObamaCare soon. In preparation, Mario Loyola and other conservative-libertarian scholars have filed a brief explaining why not only should the individual mandate be struck down, but other key provisions, too.

Candidates-Watch: I’ve announced my support for Governor Perry for president, but other candidates are worth looking at, too. Fred Barnes argues that Governor Romney is more conservative than we think. I’m not wholly convinced, but thought there was enough here to chew over to make it worth passing along. Meanwhile, at Conservative Commune, a conservative, pro-life, Catholic woman makes the case against Rick Santorum.

Liberal Fascism-Watch: Call it “statism,” “the Chicago Way,” the “thugocracy,” whatever, President Obama is showing an arrogance and disregard for constitutional government that I have never seen in my lifetime. (In fact, I suspect this is what a Huey Long presidency would have looked like). At City Journal, Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin write about “The New Authoritarianism.” It’s alarmist, but rightfully so. Meanwhile, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy takes Obama and the Democrats to the woodshed for violating the constitutional order and the Republicans for doing nothing to stop it.

Birthday-Watch: It was Kim Jong-Un’s birthday this weekend, though it’s a state secret as to just which day it is. The Telegraph has video of the latest Dear Leader celebrating by doing his best Michael Dukakis impression and driving a tank. Really, these NoKo propaganda videos are almost an entertainment genre themselves. My favorite is the happy soldiers jumping up and down for joy at the little Un’s visit.

Finally, food: After all those annoying or depressing articles, doesn’t some comfort food sound good? And what’s a better side dish for breakfast than potatoes? You’ll love these “Perfect Breakfast Potatoes,” from Crepes of Wrath.

Hey, I’m not all-politics, all the time, y’know!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

“Leading from behind” in action

July 20, 2011

According to Mouth of Sauron Press Secretary Jay Carney, it’s some Zen thing wherein one leads by… doing nothing:

In response to a question about whether now would be a good time for the president to present his own debt ceiling budget plan, White House spokesman Jay Carney had this to say: “Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down and likely voted down…”

Newsflash, O Press Flack: the President of the United States is the Chief Executive of the United States. It’s his job to “propose a plan” to deal with the nation’s problems.

Carney’s statement suggests an attitude of coming up with “something, anything,”  just to see how a vote would go. Maybe he’s thinking of the president’s 2011 budget proposal, which was such an farcical joke that the Senate rejected it 95-0.

Here’s a suggestion, Jay: Let the president come up with a thoughtful, realistic plan for dealing with the nation’s debt and deficit problems, and I guarantee you it will get serious consideration from Republicans. We don’t want “a plan for the sake of having a vote,” we want a real plan.

We want real leadership.

via Pirate’s Cove, which has video

The adult in the Senate

April 23, 2011

In the debate over whether we should raise America’s debt limit (aka “Can I please borrow more because I’m sure the dice will turn hot, soon,” also known as the Obama Budget), we’ve heard predictions of disaster from those who say it must be raised (or a global financial apocalypse will ensue) and shrieking demands from those who say it would be an ultimate betrayal of the Republic if the ceiling were raised one penny.

Okay, I’m engaging in a little hyperbole here, I admit. There are reasonable people making arguments on both sides: that raising the debt limit is needful because even the chance of an American default would introduce dangerous uncertainty into the markets; and that refusing to raise it is necessary to make America go “cold turkey” on its addiction to debt financing, just like cutting up an individual borrower’s credit cards. But there’s also no doubt that there are hard core partisan ideologues on both sides fanning the flames of intransigence for political gain, abetted by a media that thrives on drama and the latest crisis.

However, there are a few adults in the room — or, in the case, the United States Senate. Among them is Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who penned an article about the debt ceiling that rips the irresponsible behavior of the Obama administration, particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and asks conservatives to take a deep breath and realize there are reasons to raise the limit one last time. First, regarding Geithner and his intellectual dishonesty:

On last Sunday morning’s talk shows, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once again implied that, if the debt limit is not promptly raised, the United States will default on its debt and the resulting catastrophe will be the fault of congressional Republicans.

But Secretary Geithner knows that congressional delay in raising the debt limit will in no way cause a default on our national debt. If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will still have more than enough money to fully service our debt. Next year, about 7 percent of all projected federal government expenditures will go to interest on our debt. Tax revenue is projected to cover at least 70 percent of all government expenditures. So, under any circumstances, there will be plenty of money to pay our creditors.

Moreover, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, the Treasury secretary himself has the discretion to decide which bills to pay first in the event that a cash flow shortage occurs. Thus, it is he who would have to consciously, and needlessly, choose to default on our debt if the debt ceiling is not promptly raised upon reaching it. It takes a lot of chutzpah to preemptively blame congressional Republicans for a default only he could cause.

Thus we have it from a rock-ribbed fiscal conservative that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would not be the end of civilization as we know it. Shock and surprise, President Obama and his tax-cheat Treasury chief are trying to scare us with another ginned-up crisis to force the action they want. I think we saw this show before, when it was called “Porkulus.”

On the other hand, Senator Toomey has words of caution for debt-purists who reject any raising of the debt ceiling as an abomination:

To be sure, absent an increase in the debt limit, the resulting sudden, drastic spending cuts would be very disruptive and undesirable. That is why I have always argued that we should raise the debt limit once we have adopted the needed spending cuts and budgeting reforms. But disruptive and undesirable spending cuts are not the same thing as a catastrophic default on our debt.

In other words, yes, there would be unavoidable and painful cuts if the ceiling were not raised. However, while they would not constitute a economic Ragnarok, it would be better to avoid them by raising the limit one last time — assuming serious spending and budget reforms were part of the deal.

This, folks, is good politics, the art of getting what you want by taking less than 100% now, knowing you’re likely to get the rest, later, because momentum is on your side. The public wants federal spending and the debt reined in, even if it hasn’t worked through all the implications, yet. But they also want Congress to get along and do the country’s business: battles over lines of ideological purity lead the vast middle of the nation to call a pox on both parties’ houses. Thus Toomey’s approach, holding out for major reforms but avoiding even any hint of a default, is a good position: it positions the Republicans as firm but reasonable, and forces Team The One to be the spoilers. Assuming all the major players on our side carry this message to the public, we have a strong hand to play in the upcoming screaming argument debate.

And this leads back to my comment about “adults in the room.” I’ve been impressed with the freshman class the Republicans sent to both the House and the Senate: Allen West, Renee Elmers, Christie Noem, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, among others: we’ve sent some good ones to office. While the debate and the process won’t be easy, Toomey’s article (read the whole thing) is an example of a new congressional class that has the maturity to put country ahead of party and wisdom ahead of intransigence, and is willing to chastise their own leadership when needed.

Now we just need the kiddies to listen to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

That pesky debt ceiling

February 12, 2011

One of the big arguments coming up in Congress over the next few weeks is the question of raising the federal debt ceiling, the amount of money the United States can legally owe. And it’s not just an abstract question: failure to raise the limit could (maybe, possibly) lead to a default on our debt, with horrific consequences — were it to happen. But will it? Would it be so bad the ceiling were not raised? Is this another manufactured crisis meant to bull-rush us into a bad decision?

In this episode of PJTV’s Trifecta, Bill Whittle, Scott Ott, and Stephen Green chew over America’s debt problem and how best to deal with it:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)