Monday, August 29, 2011

I am so going to hell for this blog post | Daniel W. Drezner

I am so going to hell for this blog post Daniel W. Drezner

As if we needed further proof Michele Bachmann isn't qualified for ANY political office let alone the highest office in all the land. "Joking" about Hurricane Irene being punishment from God telling us the Washington D.C. is horribly corrupt (as if we needed an act of God to tell us all that) is beyond insensitive and stupid. She should tell this "joke" to the families of the 35 confirmed dead from this storm, the 7 plus million on the east coast without any power, and the countless others whose homes are under water from the flooding that is getting worse in certain areas as I type this.

But arguably the worst part about this is the fact her staff immediately came out and played down what she said as being "in jest"...As if that makes a bit of difference! Of course she said it "in jest" when you watch the video..But that isn't the point. I honestly don't know which would have been worse, her honestly believing God was punishing the WHOLE of the east coast for the sins of Washington D.C. or it was just a big joke..The only joke here is Ms. Bachmann thinking she is actually deserving of the office for which she seeks..

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Looking to Harding & Coolidge for Economic Wisdom?

Today I received a mailer from the Public Interest Institute, an Iowa-based non-partisan policy group, that included a rather interesting economics piece.

The piece (whose text I will re-post here shortly), makes the argument that the economic policies of President Warren G. Harding and his successor Calvin Coolidge should be used as a model for trying to the fix the many economic problems that ail the United States today, especially focusing on how the government should manage it's money.

Without giving away too much from the article itself I will say this: Though President Harding is often rated today as one of the Worst presidents, I believe that judgement is unfair and when looking specifically at his economic policies and what he did to government spending I think his actions should serve as a reminder that such things can be accomplished. However I also caution my readers that the economic nightmare we are in today when just looking at how the government spends its money is much more complex today then it was in Harding's day and such simple solutions are not likely enough (I wish it was, I really do) but that doesn't make them irrelevant.

The full article:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Looking for a Jack Ryan President..

Something of a change for my readers today, for once I will not be discussing the daily load of political BS being shoveled upon we Americans citizens from our elected "representatives"...A nice change huh?

So what will I be talking about today then if not the usual political tit for tat? Well, to be blunt, I want to talk about a book that I believe could open people's eyes on how their government SHOULD work.

And before your eyes start rolling into the back of your heads, please bear with me.

The book in question was written by my all-time favorite author, Tom Clancy. That's right, the same man who has been thrilling readers for nearly 30 years and making politicians and military men alike ask "how does he know that??" has inspired me. But how does this relate to how our government should work? The title should help clear that up a bit..

"Executive Orders" was written in 1996 (seems like an eternity ago) and takes place in then the near future (1998 or so if I remember properly) and starts off in a shocking fashion.

At the end of the previous novel, "Debt of Honor", an airliner pilot who was distraught over the death of his son during a brief conflict with the United States single-handily decapitates the entire US government by ramming his airliner jet into the US Capital Building during a special session of Congress presided over by the President and with the majority of both houses of Congress present and all 9 members of the US Supreme Court...All except newly sworn in Vice President Jack Ryan (who is the main character in Tom Clancy's novels to those who don't know) who narrowly escapes the explosion.

Suddenly, Mr. Ryan finds himself with an unimaginable burden to bare, the US Presidency, since he is next in the line of succession...for which he is the only remaining member. He also finds himself without a Congress or Supreme Court...He IS the US government, at least for the moment.

Worse still, Mr. Ryan is not politician and only agreed to be Vice President because the previous VP had been caught up in a sex scandal (big shock) and would only be holding the office for a year or so til the next election in which he would relinquish the office to someone who knew the political game and was better suited for the duty. Now suddenly he must figure out first how to work in Washington D.C. while simultaneously reconstruct the US Government.

Now I won't get too much into the plot of the book because I want to focus not on the possibility of such a thing but how he decides to deal with the situation he finds himself in.

Instead of simply choosing to surround himself with political insiders and try to return to busy as usual, he decides instead of playing the political game, he is going to change the rules...and try to fix the problems that ails our government. He acknowledges that our government was designed to be inefficient to some degree but that was no excuse for how Washington was operating and decided to try and change that. Sound familiar? It should because it's what every politician has promised to do for decades now but seemingly always forget once they get to Washington.

Next, President Ryan calls on the American people to do something rather shocking..

"Therefore, to you, and to the fifty governors, I have a request. Please, do not send me politicians. We do not have time to do things that must be done through that process. I need people who do real things in the real world. I need people who do not want to live in Washington. I need people who will not try to work the system. I need people who will come here at great personal sacrifice to do an important job, and then return home to their normal lives."

"I want engineers who know how things are built. I want physicians who know how to make sick people well. I want cops who know what it means when your civil rights are violated by a criminal. I want farmers who grow real food on real farms. I want people who know what it's like to have dirty hands, and pay a mortgage bill, and raise kids, and worry about the future. That's what I want. That's what I need. I think that's what a lot of you want too. "

"Once those people get here, it's your job to keep an eye on them, to make sure they keep their word, to make sure they keep faith with you. This is your government. A lot of people have told you that, but I mean it. Tell your governors what you expect of them when they make their appointments to the Senate, and then you select the right people for the House. These are the people who decide how much of your money the government takes, and then how it is spent. It's your money, not mine. It's your country. We all work for you. "

-Executive Orders p.165

Now here's where this all ties into today in the real world. Clearly this is a fictional character in a book of fiction but boy does Mr. Clancy hit the nail on the head. Leave it to an author of fiction to create a politician most Americans could only dream of..

President Ryan is the kind of President I believe all Americans should hope and dream for. His opinions on the major issues may not fly with a majority of Americans but he is brutally honest and knows the true purpose of our government in this great nation: to work for us, the American citizen.

The sad truth however, as Jack Ryan finds out after he makes this speech in the novel, the "MainstreamMedia" and political establishment immediately resist this idea of having non-politicians run for political office since such people automatically have no experience with how our government works and how "the game" is played...But that's the point! Imagine having elected officials who care more about their country then how they are going to get re-elected and covering their own arse instead of doing what's right for the nation. It's hard for most Americans to even grasp let alone believe in. And yet we strive for such a standard every election cycle and to some degree that was released this last election cycle when the Tea Party ran many who were not career politicians to try and shake up the system and they succeeded in some cases and I think that is a great thing for America. However whether these new elected officials will remain loyal to the people who elected them and avoid getting sucked into playing "the game" in Washington remains to be seen just yet.

Even harder for most Americans (including myself) to imagine is a President who had the political guts to ask such a thing of his fellow citizens...and actual MEAN it!

Now, being a political realist, everything I have ever learned about politics both in school and in life is that such idealist hopes are naive at best and foolish at worst. The simple fact is, no government is perfect and certainly ours has its flaws but I refuse to believe that such a change is impossible to achieve. I shouldn't have to feel foolish for believing that the government should truly work for the people as our founders intended to nor should I give up such a belief simply because conventional wisdom and the establishment tell me it's impossible. I also refuse to believe that our government is beyond help and simply can't be fixed and that I should just except that and move on. As an American citizen I have the RIGHT to demand that my government work for me and for all citizens and as such hold my elected representatives fully and wholly accountable for their actions in Washington, whether good or bad. This is how our government is supposed to work, period. End of story.

And no one is going to try and feed me this crap that it's only one party in Washington that has corrupted the system..Both the Democratic and Republican parties are guilty of propagating this myth that "We work for the American people" while simultaneously throwing us under the proverbial bus and saving their own skins. The two parties may be ideologically miles apart, but they are lock-step in continuing this fantasy that they really work for us and everything they are doing in Washington is in our best interests.

And for that, I am a little thankful for the Tea Party movement. I may disagree with their politics at times but I can't deny they have got a lot of Americans interested in how their government is run and encouraged Americans to hold their politicians truly accountable and I hope that trend holds..

Now normally I don't get into such heated talk about how flawed our government is but reading this book has truly inspired me to issue this wake up call for not just Whigs such as myself but to all Americans. While I acknowledge that achieving the kind of accountability that Jack Ryan asks of the American people in Mr. Clancy's novel is not likely in my lifetime, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try and I am certain that slowly but surely, we will be able to hold our politicians more accountable and hopefully in turn make our government actually work like it's supposed to..For us.

My thanks to Tom Clancy for writing "Executive Orders". I find it amazing how a book written 15 years ago can still instill such passion, even in a realistic political wonk such as myself. My hats off to your sir.


"Executive Orders", by Tom Clancy. Copyright 1996 G. P. Putnam's Son Publishing, page 165

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Emergence of Rick Perry

The arrival of Rick Perry on the Presidential field has certainly made this election cycle a bit more interesting hasn't it?

First he announces he run for the highest office in the land the same day as the Ames Straw Poll in my home state of Iowa which both excites and irritates many GOPers.

Second, he makes his first campaign stop here in Iowa at the same event as rival Michelle Bachmann and not only makes a good impression on the audience, he makes her look like a political prima dona instead of a serious candidate (which I honestly got a kick out of).

And then yesterday he managed to cause some people to scratch their heads (both Democrats and Republicans) and caused some prominent GOPers from President Bush's administration to denounce him outright. What exactly did Mr. Perry say to cause so much trouble in a single day? He more or less stated that if the Federal Reserve Chief printed more money between now and the next election it would be "almost treasonous". Such harsh words being directed as the Fed. Chief is hardly unusual but coming from the new star of the GOP Presidential field it has raised a few eyebrows even from his own party.

Now do I think it is a major stumbling block for Rick Perry's chances at the GOP nomination? Honestly, I doubt it.

However I will give Rick Perry credit for one thing, he certainly knows how to make an entrance..

The Emergence of Rick Perry

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rick Perry's Ruin?

As political wonks know, Rick Perry had a rather important weekend though there is some debate about HOW important it was..

For those who don't know, Rick Perry hosted a religious gathering of sorts in Houston, Texas called "The Response". It was advertised as a Day of Prayer for the nation's many ailments, both religious and not and not necessarily a political event since Perry began planning it shortly after being re-elected for a third term as Governor of Texas.

Without looking too deeply into the event, I initially thought it sounded like a nice idea regardless of my own religious feelings simply because Perry's call for prayer not just for the nation but also our elected officials (including asking God to guide President Obama) and such a good sentiment is pretty rare in America today. And I obviously wasn't the only one thinking such thoughts since many were saying this was just the kind of event to not only launch Ricky Perry's Presidential run (come on, we all know he going to do it!) and his wearing of his religion on his sleeve is exactly the kind of leader America needs.

However, after taking a closer look at the event in question, I am having second thoughts about both it's purpose and what impression it gives me of Rick Perry.

First off I should clarify a few things..Personally I don't much like Perry's stand on most social issues simply because I am not a social conservative plain and simple. However I do give him credit for his straight-talk attitude and his spine compared to most politicians today. You may disagree with what Perry says, but he leaves little doubt he believes what he says and won't back down from a challenge very easily, and I like that in a politician.

And his faith and attitudes, I believe, give Rick Perry a clear advantage over most of the declared GOP candidates with social conservatives (a very powerful force in the GOP nomination process historically) and his state's job growth is certainly something to brag about (though he always fails to mention his state has the 2nd largest state debt in the nation after California). The question is, did this weekend's religious event help or hurt Rick Perry's chances for the highest office in the land?

Lets first look at how big this event really was. Now to be honest, it wasn't a very big event considering how much it has been talked about and the man running the show with only 8,000 or so in attendance (though hey, that's more than twice the size of the town I live in!). The only thing is no major political figures actually showed up, the exception being Governor Sam Brownback (Vice President anyone?). Now that's not because Rick Perry didn't invite them, because apparently he invited about everybody under the sun but for whatever reason(s) they chose not to attend..and I may know why: One should always judge an event by who is sponsoring it.

The group that primarily sponsored this event (other than Rick Perry of course), was the American Family Association. Now don't let the simple name fool you, the AFA is a Christian Conservative group, and a dandy of one at that. It's not often I find an organization who I completely 100% disagree with on pretty much every issue you could ever imagine. I won't bore my readers with listing the entire list of things the AFA think is wrong with America so I just give you a short list:

1. Islam in America- "Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government." - Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy
2. Religious Freedom- The AFA also believes Islam is not entitled to 1st Amendment Protection.
3. Homosexuality- Don't even know where to start on this one, but long story short: If your a company and you even LOOK at a Gay/Lesbian organization they will boycott you. Heck they even boycotted McDonalds for Christ's sake! (and yes I meant that pun intentionally)
4. Norway Massacre- While I am sure Mr. Fischer denounced the mass murder Anders Breivik's acts of violence a few weeks ago, he did admit that he believes much of what Mr. Breivik said about the problems of Europe are right, "Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate," and "Breivik’s angst was caused by the presence of so many Muslims in Norway and Europe, which he correctly observes is leading to ’cultural annihilation.’"

Not that any of this bothers most of the GOP candidates, most of whom have been on the AFA's radio shows recently.

I could go one all day about this group of bigots and filth but I digress..

So long story short, the AFA is a Christian Right group and they aren't looking to make any friends in the world, let alone America.

So the fact this group paid for Rick Perry's "The Response" pretty much sours not only the importance of this event, it also sours my opinion of Rick Perry a bit that he not only associates with such "people" but also is happy to have them pay for his day of prayer..But it gets better.

Another group sponsoring the event is the International House of Prayer (I am suddenly hungry for pancakes..), another dandy of a group whose founder Mike Bickle has stated in the past that Oprah Winfrey's tolerance and popularity is a foreshadowing of the apocalypse...I can't even make this crap up people..Read it for yourselves:

"The Harlot Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the Antichrist. The Harlot Babylon will be a religion of affirmation, toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement. They will feed the poor, have humanitarian projects, inspire acts of compassion for all the wrong reasons. They won’t know it, beloved they will be sincere, many of them, but their sincerity will not in any way lessen the impact of their deception. The fact that they are sincere does not make their deception less damaging. I believe that one of the main pastors, as a forerunner to the Harlot movement, it’s not the Harlot movement yet, is Oprah. She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable, she is utterly deceived, utterly deceived. A classy woman, a cool woman, a charming woman, but has a spirit of deception and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement." - Mike Bickle

Listen, I never much liked Oprah either but the Harlot of Babylon? Come on, next you are going to tell me Obama is the Anti-Christ! Oh wait, they did already say that? Well there goes the neighborhood.

To be fair, I made up that last part about them saying Obama was the Anti-Christ (not that I would be shocked if they did), but clearly these people are not what you would call, eh, normal church folk.

So, after all this intolerance and idiocy, where does that leave "The Response"? Personally, I think the sponsoring of this event by such bigots and outright morons is likely going to scare off a good number of political independents (and also ensure no matter how much they complain, Liberals will vote IN MASS for Obama)and hurts Perry's chances in the General Election. Sadly, I doubt the inclusion of these groups will scare enough GOP voters to keep the nomination from Rick Perry should he decide to run. The other problem with such an event is most Americans are FAR more concerned with our crippled economy than social issues and the presence of such groups could distract voters for Rick Perry's economic message.

Now to be fair, it is possible Rick Perry doesn't share all the beliefs of these two organizations and may have just sucked it up because they offered to pay for the event..But I am not so certain and until he states such, I am suddenly quite uncomfortable with Mr. Perry as "President Perry"..much more than I was before this weekend.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Deal or No Deal?

Well after months of political bickering, posturing, and outright stupidity, a Debt Ceiling compromise was announced last night by President Obama that had the approval of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner. As of last night, all seemed good with the deal and that while there were complaints from both extremes of the political spectrum, the deal looked like a sure thing.

Here is a brief summary courtesy POLITICO's Jonathan Allen:


President Barack Obama has a fairly easy path to getting the debt ceiling raised between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion. Initially, the debt limit is increased by $400 billion, when the president certifies that it is within $100 billion of being exceeded. An additional $500 billion cap room is created if Congress does not pass, with veto-proof majorities, a resolution disapproving of the increase sought by the president. The total up-front increase is $900 billion, assuming that there’s not enough support in Congress to stop it. Another $1.2 trillion hike occurs when the president seeks it — but that figure would rise to $1.5 trillion if a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution has been sent to the states for ratification or a level between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion if a new deficit-reduction committee’s plan is enacted and its legislation exceeds $1.2 trillion savings. The $1.2 trillion increase could be halted if Congress approves a joint resolution of disapproval, which is unlikely.


The deal puts in place the annual discretionary spending caps found in the bill the Republican-controlled House passed last week worth about $917 billion in cuts over 10 years. But those caps, from $1.043 trillion in fiscal 2012 to $1.234 trillion in fiscal 2021, are now split between “security” and “non-security” spending, enforceable by across-the-board cuts. The bill defines the “security category” as ‘discretionary appropriations associated with agency budgets for the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the intelligence community management account, and all budget accounts under international affairs.


The top leaders in each party in each chamber would appoint three members to a 12-person joint select committee that would be charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion or more in deficit reduction. The committee would report by Nov. 23, and the bill provides for expedited floor procedures for voting in each chamber by December 23. If the committee fails to report a bill by Nov. 23 — or either house fails to act within a month after that — the committee loses its special privileges.


If Congress doesn’t act on the supercommittee recommendations — or if the new law doesn’t meet the deficit-reduction goals — new cuts based on the difference between $1.2 trillion and whatever is enacted (perhaps nothing) would go into effect. The reductions would be divided equally between security and non-security programs.

Firstly, the "Super Committee" as it's now being called is something that should be watched VERY CAREFULLY. Shockingly, both Conservatives and Liberals are raising alarms about the creation of this Super Committee which while theoretically cuts through the red tape of Congress, it also could theoretically create a quasi-third chamber of Congress and the precedent set by its creation now could be used to justify the use of such a body in the future and logically the abuse of this committee's laid out powers to circumvent Congress.

Now not surprisingly, both Conservatives and Liberals are not altogether pleased with this deal as a whole. Liberals are upset because the possibility of cuts to welfare and domestic programs and are feel as though the President put his own re-election ahead of his principles by not demanding revenues increases in return for the cuts being proposed. Conservatives are somewhat divided by the deal because the "Twit" branch of the GOP still thinks the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised at all and more "grounded" conservatives who are glad there are no tax increases but are skeptical of the President's sudden reversal.

Now as I mentioned earlier, as of last night and early this morning, it seemed like the deal was going to get passed without much trouble (relatively). That all has changed during the day. Now there are a growing number of Republicans in both house who are not supporting the bill and even one who is hinting at filibustering the deal. Likewise, Nancy Pelosi (leader of the Democrats in the House) is making it clear that a majority of Democrats in the House will not support the bill. Combine this with the growing number of dissident GOP'ers suddenly Mr. Boehner's ability to pass the bill through the House of Representatives is now far from certain.

So for the moment, the chances of this bill making it through both houses by the deadline tomorrow is far from certain and Americans should stay tuned and send their elected officials a clear message of where they stand and make it clear that we will hold them responsible for their actions in the next 24 hours...