Feb 21 2010

A Waste Of Precious Time – On Dumbership

The nation has been through many tough times in its past. From the war of 1812, through the civil war and into the Great Depression and World War II, this nation has been through incredibly tough times. 9-11, the last great test of our resolve and strength, surprised even us when we emerged more united than since World War II. We had common cause, built around the center of the electorate. And we had leadership.

But then there have been times when the political fringes got restless with the slow pace of their ideological take over of ‘true’ America – even though there is always clear evidence their ideology was not supported by the majority of Americans. Recently the far right took first turn at using the levers of power post 9-11 to try and impose hyper partisan ideas on a nation that had been supporting GOP leadership up until then.

Hyper partisan” is the condition where the proposed policies are so far out of the mainstream they create a split in the partisan coalition of the sponsoring party, while the opposing party is in near unanimous opposition. It is the act of proposing such toxic ideas it creates a backlash by the majority of America.

The GOP was soundly thrown out of power for the conservative movement’s over reaching.

Then the liberals took a Democrat Party sweep at the voting booth in 2006 and 2008 and again tried to use the levers of power to impose their hyper partisan ideology. Now they are on a path to get thrown out of power in a massive backlash in 2010. Why these hyper partisans think they can bully the rest of us around with their unsubstantiated arrogance is beyond me – and most other Americans.

Usually these hyper partisans are not the brightest bulbs, hence their simple and broad brush ideas to complex solutions that have highly complex ramifications. If they were fairly smart and had some common sense they would know complex problems with complex ramifications don’t respond well to simpleton approaches (it’s like the difference between applying neurosurgery or the drinking of fragrant tea when dealing with deadly brain damage, one option is simple – very simple).

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi stimulus bill passed last year was based on a liberal, simpleton idea that government spending would help job creation within 6 months of passage (their charts, not mine). Anyone in DC with a few IQ points should know government programs never get started in under a year. Thus any economic stimulus would be delayed, and the economic pain extended – not corrected. Guess what happened.

Three articles up at RCP today really define what is happening in national politics right now, and why the Democrats are pushing harder and harder for political oblivion. The liberal Dem leaders are willing to go to any extent to prove their failed ideas are not failures. Which means they will continue to self destruct in a blaze of ignorance and arrogant denial until the end.

To understand the current dynamics is to understand where we are right now, and between DC and the rest of the country those are two totally different places.

First case in point:

He [President Obama] could have skipped the soaring oratory [at the State of the Union] and boiled his message [to America] down to three words: “We’re in trouble.”

The president spoke to a country that is in a mood of pessimism and deflation. Gone is much of the hope and enthusiasm that greeted Obama in the early days of his presidency. The nation had come together to derail a threatening Great Depression with strong support for the stimulus package and other measures. But Obama then squandered this political momentum by pursuing agendas inconsistent with the country’s focus.

This excellent observation is then followed by a bunch of useless policy ideas until we get to the end:

This administration loses rather than gains when it gives the impression that it is putting politics ahead of policy, staying in a campaigning and not a governing mode, and attacking the business world as a political tactic. In the end, the American people are going to demand: Where are the jobs? Unemployment is the leading indicator when it comes to politics. Jobs, jobs, jobs must be the No. 1 challenge, and antibusiness rhetoric is not going to help.

No jobs are coming from the government through spending or intervention. None. The clock has run out on this Congress, probably this President. If jobs is the measure, then they have and will continue to fail if government intervention is their selected tool.

In fact it has been the continued government intervention and drain on the economy that delayed any recovery. Worse, now business growth is frozen because the government is sucking up all the credit and making wild, chaotic plans which make it impossible for businesses to plan any expansion. No one knows what idiotic simpleton thought will come blasting out of DC without any concept of its potential ramifications. Dems are poll testing sound bites, not analyzing policies. They are throwing out ideas like scatter shot. Everyone else in the country is waiting for their mental crack up to end before making long term plans.

The tried and true approach of cutting taxes and trimming spending is still off the table simply because liberals cannot fathom that Reagan, “W” Bush and John F. Kennedy were right and they were wrong about economic stimulus. Ego alone is now driving DC into the ditch.

Which brings me to case two:

Well, so much for the pivot to jobs. Late last week, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats made clear that, rather than turn to voters’ economic concerns in this winter of discontent, they want to persist in pushing the health care proposals they have championed for a year—proposals voters have rejected by every means at their disposal, from expressing (a still growing) opposition in polls, to scolding members of Congress in town hall meetings, to handing Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat to a Republican.

It is now clear that the “summit” the president has called for February 25 is not intended to consider different approaches to health care financing, but rather to create an illusion of momentum that might just lull disoriented congressional Democrats into ramming the health care bill through the budget reconciliation process.

The House and Senate bills do differ on some issues—a government insurance plan, the details of tax increases and Medicare cuts—but they agree on the big picture, which would be the essence of a combined bill: a massively ambitious, costly, intrusive, inefficient, and clumsy combination of mandates, taxes, subsidies, regulations, and new government programs intended over time to replace the American health insurance industry with an enormous federal entitlement while failing to address the rising costs at the heart of our health care dilemma.

It would raise taxes in a tough economic time, cut Medicare benefits without putting the program on a sustainable footing, create a new open-ended entitlement as we confront daunting deficits, and displace the insurance arrangements of millions.

It is pathetic really, watching these fools believe they are so slick, so savvy, so intellectually superior that these crass and transparent media tricks are going to fool Americans into backing a rejected ideology and its policies. I mean it is a simpleton facade wrapping a simpleton ideology – and they think no one is noticing?

It is not inspiring, it is not motivational, it is not leadership. It is dumbership – if I may coin a phrase. We expected leadership, we are getting dumbership, which is the only way to describe the continued application of a hyper partisan approach in these serious times.

Which brings me to case three, the political observations of one Charlie Cook:

… I think the Democratic problems and the president’s problems, they, by a factor of a hundred, go beyond the Tea Party movement, but the Tea Party movement is sort of the tip of the sword.

I sort of reject the notion that there is a communications problem with President Obama. I think it’s just fundamental, total miscalculations from the very, very beginning.

And then when unemployment numbers started proving to be much, much tougher and it started becoming more clear that the stimulus package hadn’t worked properly, they just kept plowing ahead on health care. And this isn’t a communications problem. This is a reality problem. And I think they just made some grave miscalculations and as it became more clear that they had screwed up, they just kept doubling down their bet.

The thing that I think a lot of Democratic strategists are really concerned about is that some of these districts are going to be gone for a generation or more. I mean, they’re not coming back. They’re ones that had somehow managed to hang on in Democratic hands even after the Democratic Party fell out of favor in a lot of the South. But once they slip away, I’m not sure they’re coming back.

I disagree with a lot of what Cook claims – e.g., the stimulus was not big enough. It was not the size but the mechanism of moving the money into the economy to push growth that failed. Tax cuts are immediate and apply across the entire economy to some level. Yes, those who pay the most get the most back, but they are also the ones in a position to invest in new growth, and they need their money back to do it.

The bloated federal bureaucracy on the other hand is a slug. It takes YEARS to move money into projects, and then only into small areas of the economy, and then only to certain companies who have a history of working with the government processes and regulations. The liberal path is slow, wasteful and ‘targeted’ – thus it is a waste of precious time.

As we have seen, the markets have found their bottom point all on their own – which means we did not need to waste $1 trillion dollars of our children’s future incomes on these failures. And it all could be turned around with tax cuts and spending cuts. But these are off the table and hyper partisan insanity is all the rage.

We are not dealing with leadership – we are wasting time on dumbership. And right now we are moving from dumb, to dumber – to dumbest, evah!

Update: Even the New York Times is not very sanguine on the jobs picture:

Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

As I noted here, the number of people nearing the end of their benefits have tripled in size since the failed stimulus bill passed. They now number just under 6 million people and are climbing by three quarters of a million each month.

The NY Times has the same data I have been reporting for months now – and shows to America finally:

5.8 million of those 6.3 million are on EUC, the last vestige of the unemployment safety net.

45 responses so far

45 Responses to “A Waste Of Precious Time – On Dumbership”

  1. dbostan says:

    AJ,

    Somehow, I sense that the crux of the matter/your disdain for what you call “right wing of the GOP” is very much related to their (and my) opposition to the amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Your jihad started during that debacle in the Senate, in 2007 if I am not mistaken.

    Please feel free not to reply to may posting…

  2. AJStrata says:

    dbostan,

    It really is simple and trascends any one issue. If you cannot remain civil and respectful when disagreeing you are hurting the cause of the conservative coalition. if you cannot lose without denigrating you are hurting the coalition, which allows liberals openings to destroy the economy.

    The far right destroyed the coalition in their rabid misuse of the word ‘amnesty’ and insults. They lost the right to deserve respect in return (thus the whining about being slammed now is both silly and pathetic). Besides being toxic they were legally clueless! Paying back taxes and fines is not amnesty for misdemeanor violations.

    You got it, I ain’t a fan of dumber – right or left. Once you prove unworthy of respect, doing more of the same ain’t going to win it back.

  3. hekktor says:

    AJ,

    I will have to defer to your recollection as to whether you name names, since I am not going to take the time to research the validity of the statement. I, like many other loyal readers, have the sense that you have named names.

    Then again my wife accuses me of hearing her say things that she swears she never said. How reliable am I?

    I do have difficulty respecting true centrists. I don’t have a difficulty respecting people who believe themselves centrists but to my ear sound less than centrist. How can that be?

    In my mindset, a centrist is a fence sitter. Either side of the fence can easily take pot shots at the fence sitter. Often to stay on the fence, the fence sitter will lean to where he can withstand falling off.

    Many self-identified centrists are far from fence sitters. Most carry on their everyday lives as dyed-in-the-wool conservatives.

    One loyal friend of mine and I have a difficult time talking politics together. He loves to identify himself as a liberal Jew. I readily identify myself as a Conservative Protestant. Yet I have attended Seder at his home with his family and mine. We relish learning from each other’s difference.

    He is a generation older than I, so we compare notes on our experiences growing up.

    He attends Shabbat services fairly regularly. He is adamant in his work discipline. He has high expectations for his family’s morality and comportment. He wants little to do with government in his life, and he works in a business where cutting down government meddlesomeness is the daily mission.

    To me he lives the life of a Conservative.

    But don’t call him a Conservative! He is much too erudite to suffer that insult. His politics can be traced like his genealogy, even if his daily life violates every tenet of his politics.

    Is he a Centrist? No.
    Is he a Conservative?
    Is he a Liberal?

    He would much sooner accept the mantle of Centrist than Conservative.

    AJ, I don’t know you. I don’t presume to know your life like I know my friend’s. I must admit confusion by your aversion to a group of people that you have not met. I admit that my co-protagonists have grown bold and vocal in the past 3 years or so with many emphasizing their frustration and passion more than their reason.

    On the sales side of my business, I had to learn how to use my observations of people’s passions to guide them back to reason. As a lawyer, I wanted to reason away their passion.

    It does not work. Only the protagonist can persuade himself by learning what fails. The antagonist can only do two things: feed the anger or promote opportunities to more clearly see failures.

    A few months ago (before the El Nino and plate tectonic research was announced), I took my pastor to lunch to help dissuade him from Global Warming sermons. I did not try to condense your considerable analysis into a 30-minute conversation. I told him that I did not want the church to make the Galileo mistake of dictating science to the scientist because of some tenet of faith.

    I said that Global Warming being caused by 3/100% of the atmosphere and not considering the sun’s effects is like blaming your blanket for being too thin while sitting in a modern house is cold in wintry Minnesota without determining that the furnace is off.

    I did not and could not persuade him of any notion. All I could do is introduce him to doubts about his point of view.

    Did the Right abuse the term amnesty?

    In criminal law (Be careful! I commit malpractice if I look at the inside of a criminal courtroom) there is the concept of ex post facto law. The Latin translation, I am told, merely is “after the fact” law. The notion focuses on the prohibition on imposing a new penalty for an act already committed. This is Constitutionally prohibited. Congress cannot write a law in 2010 prohibiting me from playing guitar in 2009 (as bad as I am, it is Congress’s loss). This prohibition is relaxed in civil law and tax law.

    In the immigration debate, the discussion focused on changing penalties for misdemeanors already on the books.

    I may be mistaken, but I understand that to legally require a repeal of the original sanction or penalty after the crime of crossing the border illegally has been committed. Then to impose the new sanction for the past act. The only way you avoid the violation of ex post facto laws is that the once-criminal act is decriminalized for all persons who had violated the law and then impose civil fines and penalties.

    The imposition of civil fines and penalties must be a clear and separate act from the decriminalization.

    Turning again to Dictionary.com, amnesty is defined as “1. a general pardon for offenses, esp. political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.
    2. Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, esp. to a class of persons as a whole.”

    If my technical description of how the process would have to work to pass Constitutional muster, do we have amnesty? We have
    a. a class of persons: immigrants ;

    b. who are given forgiveness of jail sentence;

    c. for a past offense, specifically a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and no more than 1 year in jail (ignoring different classifications to focus on the broad definition of misdemeanor as any crime punishable by less than a year in jail);

    d. granted before trial or conviction.

    Once the pardon is given to the immigrants here for the misdemeanor in getting here, we have the new punishments of fines.

    The back taxes is probably going to reduce their liabilities, so is more of a tax amnesty, which many states like Indiana have recently used more broadly with huge success. It is not an imposition of a new obligation.

    If the fines pass court muster as civil penalties because there is no jail time threatened, we would have a reduction in penalties for entering the country and failing to pay taxes in a timely and complete manner.

    So now, this is where most of my friends who are offended by the description of above of amnesty dismiss my argument as being too technical and not understanding enough of the immigrant’s plight.

    I have to shake my head in wonder at this bailout of the discussion. Most of these people have never seen these countries in person. I have been to 30 countries. I have seen profound poverty. I have seen Jamaica in the 1970′s with crushing inflation. I have seen Mexico away from the tourist meccas. I have been to Africa. I have walked through neighborhoods in Spain where people lived in collapsed houses with sewage in the streets.

    Do I understand the immigrant’s plight? After those experiences, if I do not, I am a blind man.

    As to respect of my part of the political spectrum, the 60′s radicals now turned senior citizens have spent a lifetime ridiculing people like me as ignorant.

    Rarely in debate with their PhD, JD’s, MD’s, MBA’s do they find me ignorant. They often end the debate perplexed as to what just happened. They are not accustomed to someone willing to identify themselves as Conservative that violates every stereo type they have of what a Conservative should be: uneducated or at least only junior college level, untraveled, monolingual if not just monosyllabic, able to quote the Bible but unable to discuss the history of religion, not well-versed in science or math (definitely never having seen an integral equation).

    Frankly, I have seen a million liberals and self-styled centrists. Few have any patience for a self-identified Conservative. Until the last few years, few Conservatives were even willing to discuss politics, let alone allow themselves to be labeled as a Conservative for fear of reprisal or at least heavy shunning at the cocktail party.

    Now that Conservatives have felt their strength and frustration turning into possible power, their excitement has sent them over edge from time to time.

    Still I don’t think the use of the term Amnesty was a criminal offense. I find it highly reasonable and accurately descriptive of what was being attempted.

    For your readers that have become testy over your suggestion they were illogical, I share their frustration if not their mode of communicating it.

    Like my clients, I do not expect to persuade to my way of thinking. I do hope to introduce some doubts about what have become your strongly held conclusions. May I be luckier than I hope to be.

    In the end, you would do me a great honor were you to accept the mantle of Conservative. Nah, too much to ask. Just being able to break bread and discuss what is truly amnesty would be good enough.

  4. dbostan says:

    I think this thread was/is very informative as it clarifies so many things…
    Thank you, AJ.

  5. AJStrata says:

    dbostan,

    glad to hear it. Hope you hang around and keep adding to the debate.