My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Syndrome Is Very Common 

Nowadays, we value safety, we value security, and we want to mitigate our risks. We don’t want to enter into dangerous commitments which we have a tough time seeing the end of, and we certainly don’t want to seem like we’re hasty or rash. We label some as “cowboys” and it’s a pejorative (John Wayne, have mercy . . .), and we’re so afraid of someone getting hurt that we don’t let our children wander out of the back yard. And the lengths we go to now to insulate ourselves from failure would make Thomas Edison blow a gasket! Every once in a while we get jolted into youthful action, like when 3,000 innocents were killed one sunny Tuesday morning by enrgetic young men who used our complacency against us. But eventually that action faded, and we started looking for the remote control again.

At its heart, though nobody ever said anything about it, the health care debate was about our national character. It was a debate about whether or not we were going to institutionalize our old age.

On the one side, you had (some honest) Republicans and a few Democrats trying vainly to stop the juggernaut of government because government impedes Freedom; on the other side, you had (some honest) Democrats driving that juggernaut of government to the rescue of the fallen because only that juggernaut can provide Safety and Security for the people. On BOTH sides are men and women of good will and good conscience who honestly believe that their vision is the right one for the country (though not all qualify). And ultimately, the vision of Security outweighed the vision of Freedom.

And so the small and the weak among us now will have a better safety net under them. The ultimate price the rest of society pays for the construction of that net has yet to be seen, but history teaches us that once that net is there it will never go away, no matter how much the maintenance of that net eventually costs.

But the spirit that built the Empire State Building among the carnage of the Great Depression will no longer strive for Icarian heights like that (dubious? the Empire State Building was built in about 2 years—how long has there been nothing but a hole in the ground where the World Trade Centers used to stand?); the spirit that sent men to the moon has run its course on dangerous manned exploration and shifted towards mechanical exploration; the spirit that celebrated the American character at Mount Rushmore (also during the height of the Great Depression) would never be so arrogant as to claim such a monument in latter-day America (even if the E.P.A. would allow it). There are many who say the curtailing of that spirit is a good thing—that the world as a whole could use a far more humble and subdued America.

I am not among them.


The Syndrome Has A Name 

It's called "middle-age crisis."

The American character had an inspiring start in the nature of its founding. Whether it was the free peoples who roamed the country for millennia, or the courageous explorers who crossed oceans to find greater liberty, there has always been a streak of independence and freedom in the American character. The Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their Sacred Honor to the principle of Independence; they then fought a fool’s war against the greatest army in the world . . . and won. Four score and Seven years later the country was torn apart by idea that All Men Are Created Equal. And shortly thereafter the American character swept into wild and unknown spaces west of the Mississippi in search of adventure.

I used to be like that. When I was younger, I did a lot—A LOT—of really stupid things because I wanted the adventure and I believed in my own indestructability. I would have been in the front of a column of wagons searching for Mesa Verde 100 years ago, and America was very much like a post-adolescent boy, yearning for freedom, oblivious of the dangers and the limitations around them. It was with that same spirit that America jumped into World War I, where we irritated our allies in much the same way as a brash young man irritates his elders. But that brashness made us try what “couldn’t be done,” and we won that war. Twenty years later we got drawn into a conflict not of our own choosing, and attacked it with that same spirit. One of my favorite stories of World War II is of Doolittle’s Raid: how a small band of brash young pilots launched (for the first time) bombers off of an aircraft carrier to hit Japan just 4 months after Pearl Harbor.

And it was that same spirit of adventure and exploration that launched mass-production industries, rock n’ roll, and put a man on the moon.

There was no insurance policy then; there were no guarantees of ANYTHING—fame, glory, and success were slightly less likely outcomes than failure, suffering and death. But America leaped at them with both feet, without looking, because that is what our national character demanded of us.

I’m not like that any more. I like reasonable assurances and mitigated risks; I have responsibilities and can’t just go do strange things on a whim. And frankly I’d prefer to talk my way out of a confrontation. To be honest, I miss that younger me, but I’m a little embarrassed by him, too.

The country—America—is a lot like that now, too.


If This Is Such A Great Thing . . . 

Then why does the SEIU feel it's necessary to spend millions of dollars to defend Betsy Markey?

Likewise, the gents have an interesting discussion going on about the fact that the health care bill contains absolutely no enforcement provisions for the individual mandate in the health care bill. In fact, the I.R.S. is expressly forbidden from enforcing the individual mandate. Which brings up many questions, not the least of which is if there are no enforcement provisions, then what the hell are the 1200 new IRS agents for? and for that matter just how accurate are those revenue provisions going to be?

The veil is starting to shred, and the reality is turning out to be just as ugly as we thought it was going to be.

I Recognize This Syndrome 

I used to love exploring: going new places, seeing new things, wandering off the beaten path . . . I look at these as opportunities for growth: every adventure into some unknown is also an exploration of my will and character. I used to prefer the challenge of the unknown, at whatever risk. In fact, last summer I had the chance to take the family on a “safe” version of exploring: five days driving around the American southwest. I learned on that trip that my character, especially these days, is nothing compared to the character of the original settlers of that region.

Consider this journey in today’s terms: I intend to strike out over land with my family and everything we possess to go into basically empty land. I don’t really have a destination in mind, but I’ll know it when I find it. Rumor has it that there are gangs and strange cult-like organizations in the region, but that doesn’t deter me. Also, I have no reliable weather information, so at a moment’s notice I know I could be buried in a blizzard or a torrential rainstorm—or have weeks on end without any precipitation. I don’t know the terrain, though I’ve heard it’s lovely and unforgiving; and I don’t have any idea if there are any convenience stores along the way. And, oh yeah, I’ll be travelling by horse and carriage, and there is no cell phone reception where I’m going.

First off, this whole adventure—in today’s terms—would be scuttled because no insurance carrier would be willing to underwrite the trip. But I digress . . .

When I get somewhere interesting, I intend to hike over mountains and cross rivers, to go where there is no path, and to keep going until I find something that seems like it could be home. If that requires me to push the carriage up a steep slope in the midday heat, travelling at 4 miles per hour for days on end, then that is what I’ll do. My family may get tired, they may get sick—in fact they may die in the journey—but I know it’s what I should be doing. Someday I’ll reach a place where I can drive a few stakes in the ground to put a roof over our heads and where I can make things grow so that we can live. Someday.

This would be considered absolute madness today. But it seems to be almost exactly what would have had to happen for the first explorers 100 years ago to find places like Mesa Verde and Antelope Canyon. Heck, my family got sick doing just the drive up to Mesa Verde and back down the plateau—the men who made that trek to find the Cliff Dwellings had it WAY rougher than we did.

And it occurred to me: our forefathers were made of far, far sterner stuff than we are in latter-day America. And that is what the Health Care debate really was about.

More tomorrow. . .


Wow! Who Could Have Seen This Coming? 

The immediate aftermath of ObamaCare passing:

:AT&T is needing to add a one-time $1 BILLION expense to its first quarter ledgers
:Deere and CO is similarly adding a $150 million expense
:Caterpillar will have at least $100 mil more in expenses in the first year alone
:Medtronic may be forced to lay of 1000s of workers
:Verizon will likely have to cut healthcare benefits for its employees

Now, let's see . . . what are the choices for these companies? Hmmm . . .such a quandary. Do I reduce expenses by cutting benefits? Or do I simply roll back the number of people I employ? Hmmm . . . maybe I can just raise the prices on all my services to make up for it! Yeah! That's the ticket!

Of course, the long-range impact is starting to look grimmer. Remember how important the Congressional Budget Office was last week? Well this is a new week, and important stuff like this just slips through every once in a while:

President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, and raise the federal debt to 90 percent of the nation's economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

Now, of course, none of this is going to get into the mainstream consciousness without a fight:

Henry Waxman not only orders the CEOs of AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere & Co, and Verizon to testify before the Energy and Commerce Committee, but also to produce internal analyses and emails related to their statements. They don't expressly subpoena the CEOs . . .

The Dems sent these letters to the Republicans on the committee after 6pm tonight with no advance notice or prior cooperation.

I wonder, based on this, which is more likely: Henry Waxman summons the director of the President's Office of Management and Budget to the Hill to ask why his/her projections were so far off and exactly what he plans to do about it, or Henry Waxman summons the director of the Congressional Budget Office to the Hill to chastise him/her for doing this analysis, doing it wrong, and then letting the information go public?

I've said for years that the Democrats are much better at wielding power than Republicans are. They used every trick in the book to get their Health Care, they'll use every trick to get reelected, the ram immigration "reform" down our throats without a blink of an eye, and then they'll find some way to shepherd Cap 'n Trade through the Congressional morass. They have this one shot at this, and they know it, so grab your hats and hold on to something: it's going to be a long, bumpy ride until November.


Officially Put Me In the Pessimist Camp 

I've been following The Corner really closely today--probably closer than any normal person should. And the maneuvering is fast and furious on Capitol Hill today. It looks like the Stupak block has splintered, but maybe as many as seven are still on board. Then the Dems abandon the Slaughter Strategy (too late--they've still grabbed the mantle of coward with Friday's votes). Now it looks like the President is going to issue an Executive Order preventing government funding of abortion . . . but that's likely to tick off the hard-core abortionists, and might be enough to screw up the process in the Senate for the reconciliation . . .which will leave the House having passed the Senate bill and the reconciliation being a forgotten afterthought.

What does it all mean?

Who knows. The most important piece of information came out late tonight from the Congressional Budget Office, which basically calls out the Dems for their assumptions and says the new bill will actually cost close to $1.2 Trillion dollars and add as much as $260 billion to the deficit. The problem, as I see it, is that there is too little time to play this for advantage before the vote tomorrow.

UNLESS . . . there is some arcane rule that says these new CBO numbers alter the Senate Bill too much to be able to pass "as is."

Somehow, I think Alcee Hastings' statement applies: "We make them up [the rules] as we're going along."

My prediction: this will pass. My guess is 217-219 votes for it. It will be the legislative victory Obama needs to try to press his more ambitious and damaging stuff next: Amnesty and Cap n' Trade.

However, I suspect that the long run will be ugly. There will be enough things about the vote that tick off the Senate that they'll reject the reconciliation package outright, and the President will have to break his pledge to Pro Lifers by rescinding or watering down the EO. Which will leave enough Dems ticked off and frustrated at their own leadership that any leverage Pelosi/Reid/Obama had will be effectively neutralized.

So when amnesty comes up and the voters take their anger over being ignored on this one and heap it upon their Congresskritters anew it will be persuasive. This victory will be, at best, a Pyrrhic one for The One, and it will also be the last accomplishment of the soon-to-be-retired Harry Reid and the soon-to-be Minority Leader Pelosi.

All of which will be nice . . . for now. Twenty years from now when my children can't find jobs and find that their children have to wait two weeks to get antibiotics for a respiratory infection, that will be of little comfort.


The Commercials I Would Run: Colorado Deserves Better 

Against Betsy Markey:

Betsy Markey claims to be a moderate; she claims to be pro-business; and in the Fall she voted against the House version of Obamacare on the grounds that it would be bad for jobs and bad for business in Colorado.

This week she announced that she was going to vote for the Senate version of Obamacare--which is more expensive, would be even worse for jobs in Colorado and even worse for business.

Either Representative Markey was lying in the Fall, and simply cast a vote because she thought it would give her political cover . . . . or she caved in to political pressure from the San Francisco-Chicago Radicals.

Worse yet, before she announced that vote, she voted in favor of a resolution that would allow the House to pass Obamacare without actually having to vote on it.

Betsy Markey: lyar? weakling? or coward? Perhaps that "Blue Dog" label ought to be changed to "Yellow Dog."

Colorado deserves better.

Against John Salazar:

John Salazar sold himself to Colorado voters as a moderate--one of them, who grew up on the land and earned a living with his own two hands, who shares our values.

One of our values, earned over 200 years building lives in the fronteir, is courage.

Yet last week Representative Salazar voted to allow the House of Representatives to pass a $1 trillion Health Care Reform without actually having to stand up and cast a vote.

That's not courage, Representative Salazar.

Colorado deserves better.

And last but not least, against Ed Perlmutter:

Ed Perlmutter never tried to hide his radical inclinations from Colorado voters--the Denver Post described him as "a Democrats' Democrat."

Even this past summer when he was trying to hide from his outraged voters in town hall meetings across the district, he made no attempt to hide his inclination towards a massive government takeover of the health care industry.

Finally, last week when he had a chance in Congress to stand up and proudly proclaim his intentions, he took the coward's way out and voted in favor of a procedure where the House of Representatives could pass the $1 trillion Obamacare package without actually having to vote on the bill itself.

Never mind that Coloradans, like the rest of the country, reject this federal intrusion into health care by solid majorities in every poll; if Representative Perlmutter really believes this is what's best for the country, he should stand up and say it.

Not hide behind arcane laegislative maneuvers like he's ashamed of his beliefs.

Colorado deserves better.


What Happens When "Hope and Change" Fall Apart? 

"This is the day the waters began to recede . . . " or some such crap. Problem is, the public is not really buying it any more. A new Gallup poll shows that the number of Americans who think global warming is as Al Gore says it is is shrinking dramatically.

"We will have the most transparent and ethical government . . . " or something. Except, I suppose, when they really need something like a dying health care package and so they can retreat to a locked room where they can contemplate passing a rule that asserts that they passed a bill which they never voted on. Seriously.

"I will listen to good ideas from both sides . . . " I just won't use any of them.

"The politics of destruction . . ." I wonder how sending you chief of staff into the showers to yell at an errant Congressman fits into this formulation.

Closing Gitmo and holding civilian trials for terrorists? That's working out pretty well.

World leadership and renewed respect and affection for America? Not according to the Democracy Corps.

And does anybody remember the term "Card Check?"

Is there a single item that the Left wanted and truly believed it was going to get that they can claim to have gotten? The first 100 days are a little bit past now, and any momentum the President may have had has completely bogged down. This operation is amateurish, thuggish, tone deaf, arrogant and--worst of all--unbelievably self-righteous. And to look at its allies in the Congress is to see nothing but corruption.

Here's the problem for all of us: which side is prone to violence? It is not, as Nancy Pelosi tried to say, the Tea Partiers. The only people who have been substantially prone to violence over the political debates of the last few years are the ACORN workers in Ohio (?) who were arrested for vandalism and the members of the Union professional protesters' brigade. When the whole house of cards finally collapses, what do you think is going to be the reaction of the Left?

In the meantime, some of the most trusted advocacy groups out there have completely shot their credibility through this process, most prominently the AARP.

So the legislative agenda will fail, the unemployment rate will continue to be bad (and let's not even get started talking about the dollar), gas prices are going to go up, the big social issues are crumbling out from under them, and the reliable organizational infrastructure is collapsing. It's been quite a year for this team.

Oh, yeah--and we're not any safer from terrorists than we were 18 months ago. Probably worse off, I'd say.

It's time to read the history of the summer of 1968. I think we need to be prepared for an ugly bout of social unrest.


This Summer Could Get Interesting 

I had to run several errands this afternoon, and I couldn't help but notice in the process that the price of a gallon of gasoline is ticking upwards pretty sharply right now. That is going to hit people pretty hard this summer. In the meantime, Congress is close to ready to enact a law that would make energy prices go up. Brilliant!

The unemployment rate will take a temporary tick downward as the government hires census workers, but that process will end. That is going to show back up late this summer.

China is already displeased with US rhetoric, and has started rattling its sabre a little bit. China, it seems, is traditionally a little more active in the summer, which could create a bit of a problem.

Engagement with Iran has produced nothing but laughter at this point, and who exactly knows when they'll be ready to move with their nukes. This could be a flashpoint for the summer, also.

If Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel needed an additional crisis or two to help Dems' election hopes in the Fall, they've got a few candidates to choose from. The problem is they're pretty much all of the Democrats' making.


Yeah, That Was Me 

that the Post was referring to as "Michael Acorn" in its "My Turn" reference in today's Editorial pages.

Every once in a while somebody writes something so stupid that I just have to respond. Maybe the solution is that I shouldn't read the dead tree version of the paper.


The End Of Incrementalism 

The Left has been very very smart for the last 50 years at feeding us Socialism in very small pieces until it has added up to a meal. Think about it: from very small Court cases (like completely re-defining the Establishment Clause) to small, harmless legislation (like the Endangered Species Act) to little social movements (like bilingual everything) to slowly changing history (by controlling the classrooms in which it is taught), the Left has managed to alter this country into a place that my grandparents would not recognize in a patient, glacial way.

I guess that's over with.

"Piecemeal reform is not the best way . . . " to take over the entirity of the economy and put the power squarely where it belongs: in Washington, D.C.

It seems to me that when one team suddenly abandons a gameplan that has worked for so long, you know that one of two things is going on: a. the team is desperate that what they've been doing hasn't worked and it's getting close to the end; or 2. the team has seen something that it wants to exploit, and NOW.

With a "historic" election, a very near supermajority in Congress, and an unearned reputation for rhetorical brilliance, I think the Left saw this as the year they finally outdid FDR. Sadly for them, the country did not want that, and their own ability to make it come to fruition turned out to be pathetically inadequate.

That's not to say that they won't keep trying, or that they won't eventually get things the way they want them. But they're throwing up a number of Hail Mary's this session, and you better believe that there are going to keep throwing them until they get kicked out of power in November.


The Worst Kind of Governance, Except for 

This is, of course, a sort of homage to Churchill's famous line that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other forms of government.

Well, having watched the Republicans govern from 2001-2007, I can now say confidently that Republicans are the worst type of leadership . . .

except for the other types. Namely, Democrats.

My buddy sent me a text yesterday, and I could practically hear him laughing through the keyboard. He said "Polosi is on TV this morning, and she's actually saying that Democrats have a lot in common with the Tea Party movement."

This less than 24 hours after she awarded herself an "A" for the past year's work (next time some politician spews about "grade inflation" in the public schools . . . ); which was probably less than 48 hours after she and all of her colleagues had looked like the JV Debate Squad at the Health Care summit.

The Republicans made a complete hash of the U.S. Congress by 2006; and as much as I liked him as a President, I think at the end W. had been rendered largely irrelevant.

But THIS was the alternative?!?

You can practically hear the sucking in of air as the country is starting to wake up to the reality of the enormous miscalculation they perpetrated in November '08. And pretty soon Cap 'n Trade is going to be back on the agenda . . . just in time for gas prices to spike back over $3 (my brother thinks this will be the #1 issue this Fall). If the country takes a good look at the Dems actual plan for energy independence, the mockery will be loud and well-deserved.

But it will only translate into GOP election gains if the GOP gets its act together. Paul Ryan's roadmap seems like a good starting point, but some things need to go deeper--EVERY candidate had better able to sound both knkowledgeable and visionary on energy, or the issue will find a way to slip away.

I suspect that the country is not satisfied with the idea of the lesser of two evils, when all is said and done and an obvious solution presents itself. Problem is, up to now the GOP has demonstrated little ability to present itself as an obvious solution.

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