Archive for Government

Maybe We Can’t After All But Gosh Symbolism Feels Good!

Interesting opinion piece. What strikes me is that Obama can carry himself politically in elections but he can’t carry other elections.  It will be interesting to see what happens next November.

The big-government programs of Obama Democrats evidently have less appeal than those trendy posters and inspiring rallies and cries of “We are the change we are seeking.” I have yet to see survey research showing that young Americans want to work under union contracts, with their 5,000 pages of work rules and rigid seniority systems. That doesn’t sound like a tune that appeals to the iPod generation.

Economically, the Obama majority was a top-and-bottom coalition. The Democratic ticket carried voters with incomes under $50,000 and over $200,000, and lost those in between. As the shrewd liberal analyst Thomas Edsall has noted, there’s a tension between what these groups want. High earners in non-Southern suburbs have been voting Democratic since the mid-1990s largely because of their liberal views on cultural issues; low earners vote Democratic because they want more government money shoveled their way.

via Michael Barone: Tuesday’s Biggest Loser: the Union Agenda – WSJ.com.

The Obama war against Fox News: Risky Business?

Gosh, I wonder if the evil, corrupt GW Bush ever went so far as to condemn by name a specific media organization for dissenting against his administration’s policies.

Aren’t the Democrats the ones who (rightly) assailed GWB for diminishing civil liberties through the pre-emptive practices of monitoring suspects without warrants when needed? Aren’t the Democrats the ones who say that no group should be marginalized and that all groups have the right to be heard? Or do the Dems mean only those groups that traditionally vote for Democrat Party candidates?

Seems like every time I ask myself if I am being fair, if I am being over-critical, stories like this surface and I realize that Democrats don’t really value freedom of expression. They only value unfettered expression of THEIR ideas. Everyone else can just shut the hell up.

What a fantastic transformation this administration has brought to Washington.

The Obama White House is making no secret of its distaste for Fox News.

In a round of Sunday talk show appearances, the administration escalated its war against the network that likes to call itself “fair and balanced” but that happens to feature quite a few conservative voices.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on CNN that Fox News isn’t even a news organization.

via The Obama war against Fox News: Risky business? | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times.

Deficit Dilemma: How to Dig Out? Does Obama Have A Plan?

Conveying the enormity of the U.S. budget deficit is tough. As humor columnist Dave Barry once observed, millions, billions and trillions sound too much alike. Think golf balls, watermelons and hot-air balloons, and you get a better idea. If today’s tax rates prevail, federal benefits are paid as promised and other spending grows at the same pace as the economy, the deficit will be bigger in 2019 than at any time in Barack Obama’s lifetime — and that’s even if the economy revives.

The U.S. budget deficit looms as a threat to the economy, yet President Obama has, so far, no business plan to prevent the U.S. from becoming the world’s largest subprime borrower. WSJ’s Economics Editor David Wessel explains.

For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the final deficit tally will be about $1.4 trillion. Measured against the size of the economy, that’s 9.9% of gross domestic product, bigger than any year since 1945. As a share of GDP, tax and other revenues are lower 15% and spending higher 25% than anytime in the past 50 years.

President Obama says this isn’t his fault. Of the $9 trillion in deficits projected over the next decade, the White House blames $5 trillion on the past — the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Medicare prescription-drug bill that a Republican Congress passed and George W. Bush signed without any visible means of support.

The White House pins the other $4 trillion on the consequences of the recession and financial crisis. That assumes that everything labeled stimulus is, in fact, stimulus, but grant that for a moment. The real problem isn’t how we got here, it’s where we are: Another day older, and deeper in debt.

The U.S. has confronted big deficits before. “Numbers like this will eventually prompt corrective measures, just as a stark but less worrisome budget outlook did in 1990,” Goldman Sachs economists assured clients last week.

This time will be tougher.

We are starting from a much deeper hole. When the economy began climbing out of the deep recession of the early 1980s, federal debt — the sum of every annual budget deficit — amounted to less than 30% of the nation’s GDP, the value of all the goods and services produced in a year. At the beginning of the 1990s, it was less than 40%. Today, it exceeds 50% of GDP and is rising toward 80%, perhaps 100% of GDP over the next 10 years. Even at today’s low interest rates, the federal government spent about $195 billion on interest in fiscal 2009, more than 10 times the entire NASA budget. A rising debt-to-GDP ratio means interest takes an ever-greater slice of the budget, much of that going to the foreigners.

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via Deficit Dilemma: How to Dig Out? – WSJ.com.

Liberals Aren’t Un-American. Conservatives Aren’t Ignorant.

My bullshit radar is finely tuned to look for ideological bias masquerading as objectivity. I have become quite skilled at tuning that crap out. If you read my blog or FaceBook posts, you’re probably pretty skilled at tuning my carp out too.

But this is one of the best articles I have read on why passions run so deep, why skepticism is so high and why agreement is damn near impossible.

I still think liberalism is full of shit and I think most of conservatism is too. Yet I also respect that fact that we are a pluralistic society and our country is full of people with widely divergent views. A nation the size of the US is an uber-complex adaptive system and one of the key characteristics of a CAS is insanely high levels of variation.

The variation and complexity mean that the reasons for our problems have many variables. Variation + complexity + variation makes solving meaningful problems mind-bendingly difficult. One might even say impossible.

I have swayed none of my liberal friends and they have not swayed me. Each of us are convinced the other is full of shit. We think the other side is inconsistent in their reasoning, we interpret the same facts differently, come to different conclusions and generally cite our own sound bites.

All of this makes the dialectic process one of roaring, tumultuous churn.

This article doesn’t fix any of that. But it does a fantastic job of showing why it’s so effin hard to connect the minds of people from divergent ideologies.

Jonathan Haidt is hardly a road-rage kind of guy, but he does get irritated by self-righteous bumper stickers. The soft-spoken psychologist is acutely annoyed by certain smug slogans that adorn the cars of fellow liberals: “Support our troops—bring them home” and “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

“No conservative reads those bumper stickers and thinks, ‘Hmm . . . so liberals are patriotic!’” he says, in a sarcastic tone of voice that jarringly contrasts with his usual subdued sincerity. “We liberals are universalists and humanists; it’s not part of our morality to highly value nations. So to claim dissent is patriotic—or that we’re supporting the troops, when in fact we’re opposing the war—is disingenuous.

“It just pisses people off.”

via Liberals Aren’t Un-American. Conservatives Aren’t Ignorant..

Obama Admits It Himself: “I have done Jack Squat.”

New Supreme Court Case On Vehicle Searches

Well done, Supreme Court. Not because this bottom-feeder got off but because the government needs to have specific cause for searching people’s cars.  “It shouldn’t matter if you have nothing to hide,” some might say.

That’s not the point.

The point is that the founding fathers intentionally wrote the Constitution to make it difficult for the government to search, arrest, accuse and prosecute people.  The post-9/11 era ushered in a horrendous degradation of individual civil liberties, all in the interest of stopping the Eevil Doers.  But ostensibly stopping potential criminals from doing something potentially bad does not justify the subordination of civil liberties.

Civil liberties should take precedence over arresting criminals. I am not saying that police should not seek to apprehend criminals. I am saying that the police should have solid probable cause and follow due process. It is never right to suspend civil liberties in order to catch criminals.

The United States Supreme Court recently re-wrote the law on search and seizure regarding vehicles. Now, if a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation and then removes you from your vehicle and handcuffs you, he can not then go back into the car to search for drugs and guns (or any other evidence).

The old law gave the officers the right to always search the passenger compartment of your vehicle after the arrest in order to look for guns or drugs (or other evidence) that could be destroyed. The logic was that the officers need to protect themselves and preserve any evidence that the arrestee might destroy. In the Supreme Court case of Arizona v. Gant (April 2009), Mr. Gant had an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended license and that his license was suspended. When he was pulled over, he exited his vehicle and was immediately placed in handcuffs and then secured in the back of the officer’s patrol car. The officer then went and searched Gant’s car and found a firearm and cocaine in the passenger compartment.

The Supreme Court held that the drugs and gun found in Gant’s car should be suppressed because the officer did not have a warrant to search Gant’s car. The prosecutors’ argued that they could search Gant’s car after they arrested him under the “search incident to arrest” rule of New York v. Belton. However, the Supreme Court said that, in Gant’s case, he was in handcuffs and secured in the back of the officer’s patrol car, there was no way that Gant could have grabbed a gun or destroyed evidence, so the officer was not allowed to go back into the car to search. Also, since the arrest was for driving on a suspended license, there was no reason to believe that evidence related to that crime would be located in the car. If the arrest would have been for a suspected drug or gun offense, then the search would have been valid as the officers could have searched the car for evidence relevant to the offense for which Gant was arrested. However, the court ruled that the “search incident to arrest” rule does not give officers the right to rummage through a suspects vehicle for every arrest they make.

via New Supreme Court Case On Vehicle Searches.