Weekly Musing 10-13-13
The Democrats’ Shutdown Spin
A national network reporter, during an interview about about the government shutdown, actually told me: “Democrats believe government should do some things. Republicans don’t believe government should be doing anything.” Where had we heard that characterization of the GOP?
“‘Anarchist’? Why in the world wouldn’t I use the term anarchy?” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a CNN interview. “That’s what they are. They’re anarchists. They don’t believe in government — at any level. … They’re anarchists, just like they were at the beginning of the 20th century. … They’re not blowing up buildings and they’re not killing people. But they’re throwing monkey wrenches in the wheels of government.”
That a reporter parroted the line almost verbatim explains why Obama and the Democrats believe they will win the PR battle over which party voters will blame for this partial government shutdown.
Well, forgive tea party Republicans, elected to stop Obamacare, for actually going to Washington D.C. to try to stop Obamacare. Politicians literally attempting to fulfill campaign promises. Imagine.
..and then: At one time a brash, young senator took then-President George W. Bush to task over the rising U.S. debt: “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents. Number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic!”
Today Sen. Harry Reid would call that young Illinois senator — and future president, Barack Obama — an “anarchist.”
How the Shutdown Crisis Will Be Resolved Sorry, Mr. President, the tea party isn’t going away
That’s because they see themselves as fighting for a principle as sacrosanct as the one their opponent, President Obama, has laid out. Obama is saying now, as he has since the beginning of the year, that he will no longer negotiate in a government-by-hostage-crisis atmosphere. The tea partiers are saying now, as they have for three years, that they will no longer tolerate government growth as usual—in this case, the advent of a new program, Obamacare, that they know will become yet another irremovable and permanent node of big government if it goes fully into effect. And the only tool they have left is the debt ceiling.
It’s a little like the abortion debate. At odds here are two irreconcilable principles. It is, therefore, a dispute that can’t be resolved on principle. It must be muddled through. And that is why, Mr. President, at some point soon—though not this week, not yet, surely—you are going to have that “conversation” that Speaker John Boehner so badly wants.
And despite the growing public backlash against the shutdown—with more Americans blaming Republicans than the president—tea party libertarians are experiencing a thrilling frisson of what their ideal world of much less government might look like. “Eighty-three percent of the government is still up and running. The portions deemed non-essential do make you wonder what is the proper size of government,” says Jenny Beth Martin, the Georgia-based co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. Martin insists she never wanted the government to shut down, and agrees that “the entire country is tired of this brinksmanship. We need more stability in the government.” But she adds: “The only way to take action is through brinksmanship.”
How Democrats Can Get to Yes
Google is a pretty amazing thing. The other day I was thinking about the government-shutdown mess and how it might be resolved, despite the element in the Republican Party, and specifically on Capitol Hill, that remains committed to extending the shutdown as a reasonable tactic in the war on big government. Most other Republicans, deep down, have real misgivings about all this, and know it’s not the way to settle disputes. Sure, members of this second group view the Affordable Care Act as horrific policy with the potential to damage the economy and cost jobs, but they don’t see shuttering the government or refusing to raise the debt ceiling as a reasonable strategy. These Republicans are backed into a corner, though. If their party’s base perceives them as caving in to President Obama’s demands, they are sure to be accused of lacking principle and capitulating to a president whom some see as just short of the devil. They would likely face a conservative challenge in their next election.
At the same time, too many Democrats seem to be enjoying this debacle, appearing to view the fight as a terrific political opportunity to inflict some real damage on the Republican Party. It certainly looks as if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a boxer in his early years, thinks he has his foot on the throat of House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP and is not interested in taking it off. Stories that Reid insisted on keeping Vice President Joe Biden away from key meetings reinforce this view; the majority leader apparently sees Biden as too willing to cut a deal and forge a compromise.
Right or wrong, this is how I was seeing things, and I began wondering how a skilled negotiator might deal with such an impasse. When I was young, whenever I would ask a complicated question, my mom or dad would always tell me to “look it up in the encyclopedia.” So I turned to its modern-day equivalent, Google, typing in “Government shutdown expert negotiation.” The very first article that popped up was a fantastic Oct. 3 column by Jena McGregor, in her WashingtonPost.com feature On Leadership. McGregor, a former editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, quoted five conflict-resolution experts, starting with William Ury, cofounder of Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, who has been involved in disputes ranging from corporate mergers and coal-mining strikes to ethnic wars abroad. Ury, the coauthor of the book Getting to Yes, says, “There is a power struggle going on,” and adds, “The question is, how is this power struggle going to be resolved?”
The experts, in McGregor’s words, made three major points: “This is likely to get worse before it gets better. The president might choose not to negotiate on his core principles, but he’ll still have to find a way to let Republicans save face. And even if you’re dealing with hostage-takers, there’s still room to talk
Who Shut Down the Government? A MUST Read.
Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.
This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.
As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either.
You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.
Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.
‘Obama Lied, My Heath Care Died’
The letter bringing the news the president told me would never come arrived in Thursday’s mail.
It said, in part, “Among other things, these (Affordable Care Act) requirements will cause your benefits to change to include federally-mandated Essential Health Benefits. Since your current benefit plan does not conform to these new mandates, your current health plan will cease upon your anniversary date.”
There it was, in black and white, notification that I would not be able to keep my current health care plan – whether I liked it or not.
Remember the presidential talking point? If you like your current health plan, Barack Obama and his allies repeated over and over again, you would get to keep it. There would be no change. Things would go on as before even if Obamacare became the law of the land.
Let’s Get Cynical Why should we trust the government–especially now?
In reality, nobody is more disgusted or cynical about government than Tea Party activists themselves–and they have much to be cynical about. The Washington Examiner reports that TeaParty.net “has finally received its tax-exempt status after a three-year delay” caused by the repurposing of the Internal Revenue Service into a political operation aimed at suppressing opposition to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign:
DEMOCRATS TO AMERICA: WE OWN THE GOVERNMENT!
In the current fight over the government shutdown, Republicans are simply representing the views of the American people.
Americans didn’t ask for Obamacare, they don’t want it, but now their insurance premiums are going through the roof, their doctors aren’t accepting it, and their employers are moving them into part-time work — or firing them — to avoid the law’s mandates.
Contrary to Obama’s promises, it turns out: You can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your insurance — you can’t even keep your job. In other words, it’s a typical government program, but this one wrecks your health care.
Also, the president did raise taxes on the middle class in defiance of his well-worn campaign promise not to. Indeed, Obamacare is the largest tax hike in U.S. history.
The MSNBC crowd calls Republicans “arsonists” every 15 minutes. They ought to check with fellow MSNBC host Al Sharpton. He knows his arsonists! In 1995, Sharpton whipped up a mob outside the Jewish-owned Freddy’s Fashion Mart with an anti-Semitic speech. Sometime later, a member of the mob torched the store, killing seven Hispanic employees.
Every single Democrat in the country uses the exact same talking point: We “refuse to negotiate with a gun being held to our head.”
Which means the Democrats will not negotiate at all — not now, not ever. House Republicans have already passed three-dozen bills defunding, or otherwise modifying, Obamacare. Senate Democrats and liberal commentators had a good laugh at Republicans for passing them.
Now they’re paying attention!
If you are in the minority of Americans not already unalterably opposed to Obamacare, keep in mind that the only reason the government is shut down right now is that Democrats refuse to fund the government if they are required to live under Obamacare.
Don’t Detroit America We need to tell the story of Detroit — and of its opposite, Texas.
It happens every day. Businesses pick up and leave one state and move to another. So do citizens. They do it not because it’s easy or fun. They do it either to run from someplace or to run to someplace.
And businesses and people around the world are doing the same thing.
Which is why the GOP must start talking about Detroit. And mobility.
There was a day not long ago when Americans wanted to move to Detroit. Detroit changed the way we thought of ourselves. The cars made there represented the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted.
It was the Silicon Valley of its day; engineers, designers, and workers of all kinds flocked there. By 1960, nearly 2 million people called the city home, and it boasted the highest per capita income in the nation.
That Detroit is dead.
That’s the thing about big-government types: They don’t seem to understand that they need business to finance all their programs. And that the biggest losers when a city like Detroit empties are the people who can’t afford to leave.
Which is why we who care about the future of America must start telling the story of Detroit. And the story of Texas. While America lost 2.5 million net jobs in the past five years, Texas created 530,000. Over the last ten years, Texas has created 33 percent of the net new jobs in America. That’s 33 percent!
Leaders there call it the Texas Model. Many of us call it the American model. It’s pretty simple: Treat people who come to your state to start and grow businesses as friends, not enemies. Enact policies that make it easy to start and grow businesses — policies like lawsuit-abuse reform, predictable and effective regulations, low taxes, and accountable schools that can train a competitive workforce.
The real Republican divide
Forget the GOP divide between tea party members and establishment Republicans. If you want to see where the fault line runs in the Party of Lincoln look at the difference between Washington Republicans and other GOP leaders across America.
A good place to start this review would be with the elected conservatives who met on Capitol Hill today. On one side of the table were Washington Republicans who ignorantly followed a self-serving freshman senator over the cliff straight into a government shutdown without an exit strategy. Despite warnings from the Wall Street Journal, Charles Krauthammer, Scott Walker and myself, they charged straight into enemy gunfire and woke up the morning after in a ditch with a 28 percent approval rating. For those trying to minimize the damage caused by the Ted Cruz strategy, Gallup pollsters report today that the GOP number is the lowest any party has received since they began asking voters a question about party approval 21 years ago.
Unlike D.C. Republicans who reside in the 28 percent club, conservative leaders like Walker, Christie and Kasich have succeeded because they have chosen to pass budgets, work with Democrats, and avoid credit defaults. Maybe, that’s why they are the future leaders of the Republican Party instead of those D.C. creatures who are leading Washington Republicans down a political rathole.
It’s time for the Party of Reagan to redefine the debate, stop engaging in stupid fights they cannot win, and focus on creating jobs and tackling the debt.
Obama’s Vindictive Shutdown Theater
The point of this federal propaganda exercise is obvious: The administration seeks to gin up ill will against the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for refusing to crumble when Obama and the Senate peremptorily refuse to even consider its proposals. But there is a bit more to it than that. The Obama administration cleaves to the notion that “government is the only thing we all belong to,” as the Democrats put it during their 2012 convention, and it seeks to put the state at the center of national life. That the government has resorted to turning old people out of their homes suggests a level of ruthlessness that is shocking if not surprising. The Democrats have called their opponents “hostage-takers” in this matter — but they are the ones conducting seizures.
This may simply be an extreme version of the Democrats’ usual strategy of closing the Washington Monument, but it is notable extremism: throwing people out of their homes and forcing the shutdown of non-federal facilities. It is, if anything, an excellent illustration of why conservatives believe that the tentacles of the federal government are too long and too many.
Move over Jimmy Carter, Obama has my vote for worst president – ever
America has had some great presidents, many mediocre ones and a few bad ones. But we’ve never had one like Barack Obama. He’s the first who thinks the job is beneath him.
He’s the first who turns political give-and-take into a crisis by refusing to negotiate with Congress.
He’s the first who thinks the way to more power is to inflict pain on ordinary people.
The move to barricade the World War II memorial reveals the mentality of a tin-pot dictator. The limited government shutdown did not need to affect the memorial because it is open 24 hours, without gates and often without guards.
I’ve been saying for a while that there is no bottom to Obama. He’s not just ruthless. He’s without scruples and honor.
But to turn public opinion in his favor, Obama’s goons trucked in barricades to keep out World War II vets and other visitors. By one estimate, the barricades and workers cost $100,000.
Shutdown Fever: Is the House in Play Now?
Is the House in play now? Of course not. My newsletter’s most recent race-by-race assessment, completed just days before the shutdown began, found that the most likely overall outcome next year is a small gain for one of the parties. At this point in the cycle, there is no compelling evidence that a Democratic wave is developing, which is what the party would need to net the necessary 17 House seats to win the majority.
That’s not to say it can’t happen, of course. If the shutdown (and, possibly, inaction on raising the debt ceiling) creates a severe economic downturn for which Republicans get most of the blame, anything could happen. But there are a lot of assumptions in that scenario.
If the 1995-96 shutdown is any guide, the political fallout from the current legislative stalemate is likely to be limited. According to the Brookings Institution’s “Vital Statistics on Congress“ (p. 54, see note e), Democrats gained nine House seats in 1996, only about half of what they need next year to win control. Moreover, the nation’s current polarization and the last wave of redistricting make it less likely that the current shutdown will result in a dramatic change in the cycle’s trajectory.
The House is not in play now, and we will need to wait until after the current legislative fights are resolved to see whether the outlook for the 2014 House elections has changed dramatically one way or the other.
Funny & Stupid: Liberals Fabricate Outrage Over “Redskins”
No one picks a team name as a means of disparagement. San Francisco didn’t choose the name “49ers” because it wanted to mock the foolish desperation of people panning for gold in the mid-19th century. Dallas didn’t pick the name “Cowboys” to highlight the gunslinging violence of life on the American frontier.
Team nicknames and logos invariably denote fierceness and strength, which in the context of the NFL are very good things.
Yes, the name “Redskins” is an anachronism, but it is a harmless one. It isn’t meant as a statement of how people should refer to Native Americans, nor would any rational person take it as such. A team nickname is a highly stylized symbol utterly removed from reality.
Are we supposed to believe that the team’s cheerleaders are popularly known as the Redskinettes because that’s what people think Native Americans called their women?
What motivates Gratz in U-M fight?
For the past 17 years, Gratz, 36, has devoted her time and energy to fighting against racial preferences and unequal treatment under the law. Whether she likes it or not, she’s the face of the affirmative action fight she won against the University of Michigan in 2003, as well as Michigan’s racial preferences ban. “I’m so passionate about it,” she says.
Michigan’s ban, the constitutional amendment voters approved in 2006, was overturned last year by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The High Court has taken up the case and hears oral arguments Tuesday.
Gratz will be there. And it’s the second time in a decade she’ll be in the court regarding a case that involves her directly.
5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM
Rise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.
The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health, John Durant (Clark’s son)
In The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health, John Durant argues for an evolutionary – and revolutionary – approach to health. All animals, human or otherwise, thrive when they mimic key elements of life in their natural habitat. From diet to movement to sleep, this evolutionary perspective sheds light on some of our most pressing health concerns. What is causing the rise of chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and depression? Is eating red meat going to kill you? Is avoiding the sun actually the best way to avoid skin cancer?
Durant takes readers on a thrilling ride to the Paleolithic and beyond, unlocking the health secrets of our ancient ancestors. What do obese gorillas teach us about weight loss? How can Paleolithic skulls contain beautiful sets of teeth? Why is the Bible so obsessed with hygiene? What do NASA astronauts teach us about getting a good night’s sleep? And how are Silicon Valley techies hacking the human body?
PRAISE FOR THE PALEO MANIFESTO
“Brimming with ideas and a fascinating read.” –Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
“Read this book as a hardcover, e-book, or stone tablet, but read it.” –A.J. Jacobs, editor at large at Esquire magazine
“A first glimpse of a new and better world.” –Seth Roberts, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley
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