Archive for February 13th, 2012 | Daily archive page

House Republicans Now Regret Debt Ceiling Deal

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Now The Claim They Didn't Know

What a bunch of liars!  Everybody with the discerning capacity of a gnat knew that the Debt Deal was a loser, and that the triggers and targets and sequestrations would all result in only one thing:  Massive defense cuts while the Obama spending machine chugs along.   Now that it has come to pass, some House Republicans are now expressing “buyers’ remorse.”  My suggestion to these simpering would-be Republican leaders is that if they think they now feel badly about the way this has turned out, just imagine their poor voters.  These members of Congress who were elected precisely to stand firm on this issue should understand something more:  If they think they’re feeling buyers’ remorse, they should see how their voters feel about having elected them. They feel badly?  Not badly enough!

This foolishness is their way of trying to repair bridges to voters, particularly the Tea Party, but I think it’s pathetic and will not work.  I think the voters who elected these members, all of them, should remember that these are the people who sold us out to Barack Obama on the basis that they needed to do so in order to save their own electoral skin.  As I discussed at the time of the “deal,” the entire episode was a display of sickening surrender by House Republicans, whipped into submission by a weak Republican leadership that is more willing to discipline its own members than to fight the leftist front.

Cowardice was the approach of the time, and it was all about their unwillingness to do the hard work of leadership.  It is this same troop of alleged “stalwarts” who shafted Newt Gingrich in 1995 over the government shutdown, as they went with Dole rather than Gingrich.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is who the whiners in our House leadership is comprised of today.  Nobody on the conservative side of this argument should forget that these folks had a chance to stand up to the Republican leadership, and to stand against Obama and the Senate, in order to stave off this growing disaster.

Our military is now bearing the vast majority of the cuts under the auspices of this programmed sequestration and now we see Congressmen from defense-heavy districts complaining, after having voted for this pig in a poke.  They took what they thought was the easy way out politically, to try to safeguard their own necks, all because they were unwilling to fight.  To suggest that we need new leadership in the House of Representatives is to undersell the point:  We need new leadership everywhere among the Republicans, in the House, the Senate, and in committees.

Consider the case of Buck McKeon(R-CA), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.  He backed the deal, and helped round up the freshmen members, and pushed them to support this plan, yet now he complains bitterly that the deal is no damned good.  Interviewed for The Hill article, he said:

“I voted for it because I was told the supercommittee couldn’t fail, because sequestration was so bad that they would have to come together on that,” McKeon said. “Well, obviously it didn’t work, so now we find ourselves in a very difficult situation.

“Can I go back knowing what I know now, and change my vote then? We don’t get that luxury around here.”

This is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee complaining that if he knew then what he knows now, he’d have changed his vote.   If Buck McKeon were in easy shouting distance of me, I’d point out to this bonehead that THE ENTIRE CONSERVATIVE BASE OF THE PARTY KNEW, and was telling he and the Speaker, and the Majority leader all of this in no uncertain terms.  What sort of dismally bankrupt logic permits this man to now pretend that he didn’t know. He’s lying!  He did know!  They ALL knew!  The rare few members whose arms they could not twist certainly knew.  The members who they cajoled and prodded into joining them in surrender knew.

What then is this business about not knowing then what he knows now?  Somebody who lives in Chairman McKeon’s district should please let him know I’m calling him out on all of this. I may be nobody, but even this nobody knew!  Obviously, the Tea Party in his home district must be making a fuss, otherwise this useless whiner wouldn’t be out in the media whining about not having known how this would go.  How can any serious leader in the GOP claim not to have known?  The answer is that there are not now many serious leaders in the GOP in the House, so if the truth would be told, every last one of them who has been there over three terms should be bounced out of town on their asses at the next possible electoral opportunity.

Forgive me please, ladies and gentlemen, for becoming a bit hacked-off about all of this.  It’s unconscionable that the leadership of the Republican party in the House of Representatives would tell us with a straight face, and plenty of simpering, that they hadn’t known.  Boehner needs to go. Cantor needs to go.  McKeon and every other one like him needs to go.  I think we should question the sincerity of any member of the House, never mind the leadership, who claims that he or she hadn’t known.  In fact, I’m certain of it.  We told them.  We demanded Cut, Cap and Balance, and while it passed the House, it was already being undercut by the Speaker’s own negotiations.  No sir, they all knew.  All of them.

 

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National Review Goes After Gingrich Again

Monday, February 13th, 2012

NRO's Editors Dump on Newt

I think it’s pretty clear that there is only so much room in the market for conservative media outlets, and since it’s likewise clear that the National Review has slowly transformed into the Establishment publication of record, I am calling on the editors at the National Review to set aside its claims to conservatism.  Since they’re so interested in cleaning up this race, I think they should step aside as the conservative journal of record.   You may think I’m nuts, but you see, according to the National Review, Newt Gingrich should withdraw from this race for the sake of Rick Santorum.  Newt Gingrich is simply an obstruction, they say.  He doesn’t have the temperament or the popularity to govern or even win the election, they say.  He must go, they say.  To all of this, I say “Nuts!”  Gingrich should respond similarly.  While the Review plays its silly games, pretending to favor Santorum,  I know what it is that they’re really after.

Don’t get me wrong: If Rick Santorum is able to make good on his recent victories, and becomes the eventual Republican nominee, vanquishing Romney, it will be better than Romney winning, but the trouble is that such an outcome isn’t set in stone, and more than this, I believe the call for Gingrich to withdraw is a head-fake.  The National Review doesn’t want Santorum either, but what they would like to do is reduce this contest to just two candidates(other than Ron Paul.)  You see, if this is reduced to a Romney v. Santorum race, Romney and the National Review suspect that with all of the cash at his disposal, Mitt Romney will be able to power through to the nomination.  If Gingrich withdraws, the National Review will likely have been correct, as Romney will grind him down with negative attack ads until the electorate’s eyes bleed.

The problem is that the editors of the National Review are positing a notion intended to give them what they want, but not necessarily what the country needs.  We need a hard fight all the way to the convention, and if it’s a brokered convention in the end, what of it?  That’s our process, and to be blunt, I have more faith in the outcome of that alternative than I do in trusting this process to the judgments of the National Review and the GOP establishment it represents. Make no mistake about it: The National Review is pushing here not for Santorum, but to set Santorum up for elimination. By reducing the number of targets for Romney’s negative campaign, they hope he will finally wrap this up.

Naturally, I disagree with the National Review’s board of editors on this call for Gingrich to withdraw.  Instead, I am calling on National Review to withdraw from the realm of conservative publishing, because if they were actual conservatives, they would be in favor of letting this process work itself out as designed. They would understand that this struggle  is important to the long-run health of the party, and if they really want to issue demands for somebody to  withdraw, perhaps they should focus their calls on the least conservative candidate of them all: Mitt Romney.  No, while the editors claim they think Romney isn’t up to it, they call instead for the withdrawal of a man who  is more conservative by leaps and bounds.  I have no interest in what they have to tell us because at this point, they’ve become the mouthpiece for establishment manipulations in this process.

The National Review has fallen a long way in my estimation, and it seems to have begun as Mr. Buckley’s influence has been on the wane subsequent to his death.  I didn’t always agree with Buckley, but at least I knew he was a sincere conservative.  I no longer get that sense from the National Review, and this call for the withdrawal of Newt Gingrich is just one more bit of evidence that the editors there are interested in short-changing this process.  Conservatives everywhere should recoil at the notion.

Note to Samuel L. Jackson: I Vote With My Dollars Too

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Over the weekend, the story came out that actor Samuel L. Jackson has told Ebony Magazine that he voted for Barack Obama because he is black.  Jackson went on to say he didn’t care much about politics, but was instead simply voting as others, allegedly for somebody who “look like them.”  This is typical fare for Jackson, apparently:

“I voted for Barack because he was black. ’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them,” the actor recently told Ebony magazine via Page Six. “That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean [bleep] to me.”

First of all, let me simply say that this is clearly a racist sentiment. Yes, if this is Jackson’s belief, he’s a racist. He then went on a tirade in which he dropped the “N-Word” several times:

“I just hoped he would do some of what he said he was gonna do,” Jackson said. “I know politicians say [bleep]; they lie. ’Cuz they want to get elected.”

“When it comes down to it, they wouldn’t have elected a [bleep]. Because, what’s a [bleep]? A [bleep] is scary. Obama ain’t scary at all. [Bleeps] don’t have beers at the White House. [Bleeps] don’t let some white dude, while you in the middle of a speech, call [him] a liar. A [bleep] would have stopped the meeting right there and said, ‘Who the [bleep] said that?’ I hope Obama gets scary in the next four years, ’cuz he ain’t gotta worry about getting re-elected.”

Actually, what is scary to me is that Samuel L. Jackson sees everything through the lens of race.  What is scary to me is that with all the hatred in the world, this Hollywood jerk is running around talking this way.  What’s scary to me is the primitive racist who thinks it’s perfectly fine to think this way, never mind speak this way publicly.

Here’s the thing Mr. Jackson ought to know.  I tend to vote with my dollars, and I do so in various ways.  As a matter of habit, I won’t go to movies with certain leftists in them because I refuse to give money to their support.  I do this as a matter of moral and philosophical consistency, and the cost is that fewer and fewer movies are made that I will watch, simply because of the cast.  At this point, Mr. Jackson joins such ignorant people as Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin on my “do not watch” list.  Yes, it’s clear that as leftists in Hollywood make themselves known to me, my list grows longer, and the number of moves I will watch shrinks.  Too bad.  I love books more anyway.

What Mr. Jackson should understand is that while he votes for people who “look like [him,]” I find that method of selection repugnant, and since I vote with my dollars, no more of mine will be traveling to him.  That’s how that works.  The world is filled with more than enough irrational hate without supporting people who add to the sum.

Remember When Jeb Bush Wanted to Abandon “Nostalgia” for Reagan?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

No Need for Nostalgia?

I try not to be unduly inflammatory when discussing other Republicans, but these remarks, as published in the Washington Times back in May 2009, serve to remind me of why I don’t think much of Jeb Bush.  Saturday, in stark contrast throughout a speech that stirred CPAC to multiple standing ovations, Sarah Palin mentioned Ronald Reagan, and alluded to him as well, but I suppose that in the minds of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, she’s just “living in the past,” like so many conservatives.  The thing that crosses my mind as I consider his arguments of nearly three years ago is that what he then proposed was absurd, and as time goes on, his thesis grows only more obnoxious in my view.  How can it be said that Ronald Reagan is irrelevant if he still evokes the sort of passion we saw in the crowd’s reaction to the mention of Reagan’s name throughout the CPAC convention?  Maybe his problem is that the name “Bush” does evoke similar nostalgia.

I dare say that in light of all I know, and all that has happened in this campaign season, the thesis put forward by the former Florida governor is merely evinces the complete and thorough disconnect between the grass roots and the elites in the Republican Party.  Consider what he said in May 2009, as quoted in the Washington Times:

“So our ideas need to be forward looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it’s great, but it doesn’t draw people toward your cause,” Mr. Bush said.

Here was a former governor of a pivotal state in presidential elections, whose father and brother both boasted of their ties to President Reagan as a matter of their campaigns, and yet now we should ditch all of that in favor of what?  A Bush dynasty?  Is that the legacy of the party to which we should now point with reverence?  Please.  Here is a man who tells us this as he sat alongside Mitt Romney who had been defeated only one year before, and he bothered to tell us who he thinks is no longer relevant?  Please.  Then I consider that Jeb has been out of office for a good little while himself, and then I consider that isn’t Mitt Romney’s clinging to him merely a nostalgic reach back to an earlier time?

After all, I know any number of people who wish to bring back the Reagan era in terms of our governmental affairs, and I don’t know anybody outside the GOP establishment who shares that same view of the Bush clan.  Of course, over the years, there have been any number of people in the GOP who have made statements along these lines, and Jeb Bush wouldn’t be the worst or the first.  I need only remember the man with whom he shared the stage on that day, Mitt Romney, who told us when running for Senate in 1994:

Of course, one wonders if Jeb remembers that Mitt said “I don’t want to return to Reagan/Bush.” In any case, for the GOP establishment to continue to attempt to ditch Ronald Reagan and his principles is one of the worst political moves they could make, and the sort of statements they make publicly help cement the notion that they’re not really conservatives.

There has been this sentiment withing GOP establishment circles almost before Reagan left office, and it’s based on the fact that they really didn’t like Reagan any better than the left did, but since he was overwhelmingly popular with conservatives, they decided as a matter of expedience to ride on his legacy. The problem is that they don’t believe in it, and they have a bit of a grudge too.  Those around George HW Bush believed then and now that if only the elder Bush had been elected instead of Reagan in 1980, he would enjoy that position of favor with the American people.  Naturally, that’s a preposterous proposition, and it assumes a great deal.  For instance, the elder Bush would have cautioned against the Berlin Wall speech, as delivered, and he wouldn’t have been likely to walk out on Gorbachev at Reykjavik, Iceland.

This is part of the problem a fair number of conservatives have with the Bush family:  There’s a sense that they believe it is their role to be stewards of the party, and the nation, irrespective of whether the American people agree, and they always conclude that we would be better off forgetting Reagan in favor, I suppose, of one of their family.  At this point in history, however, I think most Americans, and perhaps particularly conservatives, simply aren’t in the mood for any more from the Bush family.  While Jeb Bush may have created a cult-like following in some segments of Florida politics, that doesn’t extend to the national stage, and given the performance of his father and his brother, both social liberals when examining their respective domestic policies, it’s clear that conservatism simply isn’t in the market for more of that in its next leader.

Perhaps rather than suggesting that we should abandon the Reagan legacy, or that we should cease looking for his logical, philosophical, and political heir, the Bush family might wish to consider that they’re a bit stuck in a past when their opinions mattered to conservatives, when we still thought there had been a chance they might be more like us. After twelve years of Bush presidencies, I don’t know a single conservative, not one, who seriously suggests that Jeb Bush is the direction we should look for national leadership, although there is no shortage of Bush clan sycophants who can’t wait to push that theme.

You might wonder why I’m reaching back to 2009, nearly three years ago, to make a point about the GOP establishment and the Bush clan, but it should be obvious that after all the nation has endured, the Bushes still think they should be running things, and influencing outcomes.  It was their guy who delivered the response to Obama’s State of the Union address this year, and Romney is their guy, inasmuch as they at least prefer him to the others, but what I frankly find galling is that while I am sure there are a few hands-full of people who can’t wait to see another Bush in office, I don’t know one of them personally.  I’m in Texas, for goodness’ sake, less than thirty miles from Crawford, and the best I can get any Texan I know to say about George W. Bush is:  “Well, he was good on national defense, but he was too liberal on domestic policy.”

Such is the legacy of Bush presidencies, and it is why I look askance at the proposition that we should ditch the legacy or “nostalgia” for Ronald Reagan.  My question is ever: “To be substituted with what?”  Clearly, Jeb Bush has his own ideas, but I don’t think a large number of people outside of Florida share them.  More, I don’t believe he wants us to look all the way back to Ronald Reagan, because I think he fears how much the records of his brother and his father will suffer in the inevitable comparisons.  Modern conservatives are not really enamored with political dynasties, and I think it’s clear that the nation is suffering Bush fatigue that will not be softened much or soon. Of course, the Bush family seems to know this, as they continue to groom a younger generation for eventual political offices, like Jeb’s eldest son, George P.G. Bush.  Whether the American people will ever accept another Bush presidency is unknown, but one thing is clear:  If conservatives are polled on which President for whom they consider worthy of nostalgia, it isn’t a Bush.  As CPAC’s event demonstrated clearly last week, it’s still Ronald Reagan, who was clearly the most-referenced figure from American political history.

Supernova: The Death of a Superstar

Monday, February 13th, 2012

The First Time I Saw Her

In astrophysics, the concept is simple, and the phenomenon we witness among Earthly stars seems to mimic nature.  The largest stars in the cosmos burn bright, furiously so, consuming all their energy to maintain their volume against the gargantuan force of gravity that will inevitably destroy them, born of their vast size.  In short, the bigger the star, the faster it burns, and the quicker its light will be extinguished in a flash, usually in a few million years.  Small stars like our own Sun haven’t the mass to go out quite like this, and they never achieve supernova, so instead they become a stable engine for life to spring into existence and thrive for billions of years before expending the energy contained in their mass.  Our Earthly stars often seem to follow a similar pattern, with a stunning ignition that clears all debris from their vicinity, but the energy required to maintain their towering stature often undermines it in the end.  Too often, as we have seen with so many others, the decline for some of our pop culture stars is as sudden as their ascent.  So it has been with Whitney Houston, dead at age 48, apparently the victim of her incapacity to cope with her own early, brilliant successes.

I was a young solider when Houston erupted onto the scene, and her initial string of hits grew, but somewhere along the way, she was morphed slowly from a “nice girl” into some kind of “diva.”  This happens to a large number of stars, as the marketeers try to take them from some form of clean-cut beginnings into a bad-boy/naughty-girl cast.  I’m not really sure why, except to appeal to more people, or to create some sort of marketing narrative, but it seems always to coincide with their move from blossoming star to mega-star.  After that, it seems always a fight to maintain that pinnacle, and so outrages are common fare, but one wonders if that’s all there really is to it.  While it seems almost programmatic at times, I also note that this is when they start to benefit more wildly from their newly-minted wealth.  In one sense, it may be like the lottery winners’ syndrome, and I expect this rapid move from modest means to previously unimaginable wealth plays a role in the problem.

By the early to middle 1990’s, I had begun to separate from the pop-culture in a significant way, but just as I did, some stories about the growing tribulations of Whitney Houston’s life had surfaced.  I shook my head, as I walked away from the entire pop-culture scene, knowing what must ultimately happen to Whitney Houston.  Strictly speaking, it wasn’t inevitable, but from my increasingly cynical point of view at the time, I did not see how she would escape what I suspected would come.  It took just a little longer than I thought, and apparently, she made a number of attempts at a comeback, but to survive the drugs and the entire range of problems she was by then experiencing takes a life of near-perfection without failures and back-slides along the way.  Few have the ability to come back from all of that, or at least so it seems.

What I believe happens in most of these cases is a sort of disconnect between their new wealth and their understanding not only of how to keep it, but how they acquired it in the first place. Many young stars in that position seem to suffer from a misplaced sense of what brought them success, and they shift from trying to be successful as singers to being successful at maintaining their fame.  It doesn’t help that as soon as they “make it,” they are descended upon by a parade of parasites who all seek to skim a little money and a little fame for themselves.  People who wouldn’t give them the time of day only a short time before suddenly won’t go away, as hucksters and charlatans can’t wait to thin out their accounts.

It is in this circus atmosphere where the trouble usually begins, and as so often is the case, it revolves around booze, drugs, or both.  Once the addictions begin in earnest, they may do a number of stints in rehabilitation when they collide with the law, but in the main, they are on their way down.  All of the hangers-on already begin to sense the end, and rather than abandon ship, they make a conscious decision to “get while the getting’s good,”  and the rate of the loss of wealth accelerates.  They’re bleeding money, and they’re generally losing their ability to produce more, either from a lack of the ability to function, or the fact that they’ve harmed themselves in such a way that their former talent is reduced to a memory.  How bad must it get for a singer who smokes crack or even marijuana?  What does it do to their voice, and their capacity to hold an extended note?  More, since most of these drugs either deaden or modify one’s senses, one’s own perception of one’s performance will likely be skewed.  No longer are they as demanding of themselves as when they first ascended the ladder to success.

This leads to declining fortunes, and declining returns on their inferior efforts.  In turn, they start to lose fans, and when this happens, it delivers a crushing blow to their egos, and thus it is that they fall more deeply into the clutches of their various addictions.  Unable to meet their fans expectations any longer, they collapse, and then without intervention, it’s usually a quick trip to the bottom with the only question being how long they will linger.  They attempt comebacks, but the problem is that they’re accustomed to being treated as a star, only few treat them this way any longer.  Those in their inner-circle are often vultures, as they hide from family and friends who were close before their fame how far they have fallen.

Of course, many people in this instance immediately think of Michael Jackson, because the totality of the picture is not all so dissimilar.  In truth, it’s shockingly the same.  Of course, not all are singers as we can remember many in sports, and all forms of fame who have fallen into similar situations.  Of course, there have been a lot of singers, as I recall Elvis Pressley of a two generations before.  There was another young star who burned bright, fell and attempted comebacks, but ultimately succumbed at least in part to his addictions.  He managed to hold onto more of his wealth, but still, the general pattern applies.   You can list them, the whole long line of them, and when you do, you’ll realize how frequently this pattern repeats.

Last Pictured on Friday

It shouldn’t be inevitable, because people are not stars, in fact, but merely people, and when we elevate them to that status, it seems the go off on a course that frequently imitates the natural objects.  They burn brightly indeed, and their end is never pretty, but one sees the birth of a new star and hopes briefly that this one, perhaps, will not end up the same as the others.  Whitney Houston had been a powerful singer, and a remarkable young woman when  I first knew of her, but the poor woman who died in Los Angeles Saturday evening at the young age of 48 was no longer that woman.  Dejected, or even depressed, and addicted without the reserves of discipline she once had in her youth, she succumbed, and like so many supernovas in nature, she ended leaving only a prematurely cold body from which light would no longer shine onto our world.

I mourn her passing, as a powerful voice still singing with memories from my youth, but also as one more solemn warning to the superstars of tomorrow.  They needn’t mimic the giants of nature, as all life is a choice, and one hopes that somehow, those who loved them before fame and fortune  could set them straight early on, but they so seldom are.  As long as we have superstars, we’re likely always to have supernovae, but unlike in nature, their early passing needn’t have been inevitable, and it’s a shame.

For my part, I choose to remember Whitney Houston as she was when I first became aware of her entrance onto the music scene: