“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, November 5, 2010

John Boehner's Post-Election Interview with Fox News' Bret Baier

Last night, Fox News' Special Report aired this interview of prospective Republican House Speaker John Boehner with Bret Baier. This link may break over time, and the clip was not on YouTube, nor downloadable, so the Fox News link is the best I can do for now.

I haven't been one of Boehner's biggest fans, and in prior posts, have argued that he needs to renounce his intention to become Speaker next January. To me, Boehner's having been part of the GOP leadership that lost control of the House in 2006 is reason enough for him to step aside and let new blood lead the House, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to the independent voters who gave Republicans their new House majority in the next Congress' House, that he and the GOP 'get it.'

That said, this interview has substantially improved Boehner's standing in my view, although it still hasn't changed my opinion about his becoming Speaker.

I was heartened by Boehner renouncing earmarks and coolly, repeatedly saying that the Republicans 'will not raise taxes on the American people.'

Very clear, succinct and positive. I think it's no small thing that Boehner refused the bait of discussing 'extending the Bush tax cuts,' which makes it sound like that is change. Instead, he echoed Glenn Beck's view that we need to not raise taxes- period. That, of course, means making the nearly decade-old tax rates permanent.

Boehner signaled unwavering agreement with voters that Obamacare must be repealed, stopped or defunded. This is a clear signal to Wonderboy that the latter's attempt to characterize any effort to repeal the healthcare bill is going 'backwards' won't fly in the House.

Boehner also rather positively implied some type of explicit approach the GOP might employ to demonstrate it is listening to voters outside the Beltway.

You don't get such a sense of personality cult with the Ohio Representative as with Frisco Nan or Gingrich. Of course, the context is much different. How odd, that Boehner's GOP House majority won't be such an oasis after a long dry spell of control of the House, but, at the same time, is a larger wave of incoming GOP freshmen than in 1994.

Overall, I think Boehner gave a really terrific interview.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wonderboy's Post-Election Excuses

I was working on some posts while listening yesterday afternoon to Wonderboy's post "thumping" 1PM address and press conference. Only I guess he called it a "shellacking." It's one of the very few times I could tolerate his voice for so long.

It was quite a treat, I must admit, to see and hear him devoid of his usual arrogance.

His opening remark was amazing. He first expressed regret that 'so many fine public servants' would be leaving Congress or other political jobs. He defended the defeated Democratic Congressional and Senatorial members as having made difficult, career-ending votes that had to be made.

I guess Wonderboy missed the part of the Tea Party movement which is incensed with career politicians spending us into oblivion.

After trying to put his usual 'miscommunication' spin on the House blowout, Wonderboy then inexplicably began to try to describe his economic plans by way of electric cars and green technology. Try as they might, reporters could not get the First Rookie to acknowledge that voters across the country had repudiated his program and so-called leadership.

In his remarks and responses to questions, he continued to show his tin ear, professing the now tired explanations that: a) nothing was his fault, he inherited the biggest mess in American history besides FDR; b) things were much better, but people don't realize it, and are ungrateful, and the fact that voters don't yet realize how well he's fixed things is his fault, and; c) there's no need to change direction, just communicate better.

Truly amazing how dense and arrogant this guy is, isn't it? His party suffers the worst loss of House seats in more than 50 years, loses at least 6 Senate seats, including his former one, as 2 races remain to be determined, plus a solid Democratic seat earlier this year (Scott Brown in Massachusetts), and he thinks it's all just a slight misunderstanding due to his miscommunication of how well life in America has become under his socialist regime.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Election's Aftermath

By now, everyone knows that the Republicans, thanks to Tea Party activism and general voter outrage at the administration's and Congressional Democrats' socialist legislation and excessive spending of the past two years, retook control of the House with a net gain of some 66 seats. By Fox News' count, the largest change of seats in the House since 1946. The Senate saw GOP gains of 6 seats.

Not accidentally, several media pundits weighed in yesterday with advice on how Wonderboy can rebound from the anticipated, now real "thumping," to use George W. Bush's term, the president and his party took at all governmental levels.

The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib wrote extensively on how Reagan came back from the mid-term losses of 1982. CNBC held a panel in which they once again (over)used the analogy of Wonderboy as national CEO and Congress as his 'board of directors.' Various organizational behavior mavens, including Yale's Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, chimed in with their views. As you might expect, the two most frequently-mentioned 'solutions' for the current administration is to triangulate/compromise with the newly-empowered House Republicans, and to focus on economic and job growth.

Seib at least noted that Reagan's Republican's didn't lose the House, but merely seats in the House. And only about 25, at that.

There's a problem though. Whether you believe our First Rookie is capable of compromise- and it seems like he's not- his basic values run to socialism, not capitalism.

So if he can't compromise on economic issues, and his are, as we have seen, wrong-headed and prone to fail, he can't really do what the various observers recommend.

Everybody seems to have missed this point. Reagan's approach worked because, well, as Seib at least acknowledged, it led to economic and job growth unrivaled in decades. Now, we have the reverse, and no prospect in sight for anything remotely Reaganomic. Even the decade-old Bush tax cuts are to become Obama tax increases in two months.

My point is, I don't think this president can or will compromise his few, core, socialistic values to re-ignite robust US economic growth.

That said, all the pundits mouth the 'compromise' platitude. Even Frank Luntz' focus group on Fox News last night nearly universally called for Congress to simply 'get the job done,' and 'listen to us.'

How do you get compromise when one party has dumb, unworkable ideas, and the other wants to change that?

Boehner's speech last night at least noted one important fact come January. Something Gingrich found out the hard way as Speaker.

The president has to lead, because his veto of divided-chamber legislation makes the House unable to enforce its majority's will. It's true that the new GOP House majority can de-fund and selectively hamper various programs, perhaps even including Obamacare. But it can't lead the country.

Where this will all shake out is anybody's guess. But I suspect that even if Boehner isn't sufficiently astute to avoid Gingrich's mistakes, having Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and other GOP House "young guns" on his team will go a long way to prevent a rerun of the 1990s government shutdown while Gingrich faced off against Clinton.

The new House GOP leadership is probably better positioned and informed to effectively deal with the split-power government which will sit in Washington come late January.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Robert Reich's Last Ditch Anti-Tea Party Scare Tactic

In last Friday's Wall Street Journal, former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote a fear-mongering editorial entitled Why Business Should Fear the Tea Party.

Worried about the Tea Party's potential effect in today's elections, Reich wrote of how the movement has "shaken the GOP to its core" by defeating RINOs in Senate.

He then moved to his main topic, i.e., Rand Paul's call to abolish the Fed. Reich provides poll numbers showing more Tea Partiers want the Fed gone than does the general public, so it must be bad for Tea Party-backed candidates to win elections. Next, Reich cites Jim DeMint's focus on eliminating the IRS.

By mid-editorial, Reich shifts to basically admitting that Wonderboy has not been good for the economy, but, surely, Tea Party victors in Congress will only increase uncertainty, causing even more economic damage.

In the final paragraphs of his piece, Reich excoriates Michelle Bachmann for sensibly worrying that the current administration is trying to use the G-20 to advance the cause of 'world government. He quotes Bachmann as saying,

"I don't want the U.S. to be in a global economy where our economic future is bound to that of Zimbabwe,"

as if that's not a sensible sentiment.

Reich then reprises Wonderboy's 'cling to their guns and religion' theme, claiming that the Tea Party aims would not be gaining traction if there weren't a recession. He concludes by calling on business to "stand[ing] up to this dangerous idiocy, while actively supporting policies to relieve the economic stresses that fuel it."

In short, Reich is all for business as usual, with no change in the intrusive Progressive policies which, since 1932, have gradually but inevitably brought the US to its current profligate condition.

In Bob Reich's world, that's okay. Don't worry about overwhelming public debt, China's ownership of so much of it, slow economic growth or a weak dollar. And you certainly don't want to do anything too radical to reverse any of those phenomena.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Now They Tell Us! Brian Baird Comes Clean About Pelosi

This past weekend's Wall Street Journal in-depth interview, by John Fund, was with retiring Washington state Democratic Representative Brian Baird. He alleges that he's retiring "because the brutal congressional commute makes it impossible for him to see his twin five-year-old boys grow up." Fair enough. As a 12-year veteran, he's not running out just because he'll be in the minority come January.

I find Baird's comments totally disingenuous. Consider these passages from the interview,

""It's been an authoritarian, closed leadership. That style plus a general groupthink mentality didn't work when Tom DeLay called the shots," Mr. Baird says. "We've made some of the same damn mistakes, and we were supposed to be better. That's the heartbreak."

Mr. Baird, 54, is a loyal Democrat who voted for all of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's legislative priorities, including the stimulus bill, cap and trade and ObamaCare. But he admits all three have serious flaws."

So for all his sanctimony in the interview, remember, Baird was a party-line Pelosi soldier. He is one of those morons who believes that passing bad legislation on which people must rely, and must obey, is okay. Then serially fixing said flawed legislation, creating even more uncertainty- well, that's okay too.

"Democrats also watered down efforts to practice fiscal responsibility. "We initially had numbers a bit more honest than the Republicans—we at least included war costs in the budget," he says. "Now we're authorizing programs for three years instead of five in an attempt to pretend we're saving money."

When President Obama was elected in 2008, Mr. Baird was again optimistic that Democrats could bring real reform. But fierce Republican partisanship and the White House decision not to focus on job creation as its "number one, two and three" priority dashed that hope.

"Obama decided we weren't going to have a highway transportation bill because it might have required a gas tax increase," he recalls. After passing a misdirected stimulus bill, Mr. Obama made the fatal error of pushing forward with other priorities: cap and trade, financial services reform, ObamaCare. Each became compromised quickly.

For some of the shortcomings of financial regulatory reform, Mr. Baird blames the disillusioning battle over ObamaCare. "When the House had to pass the Senate version of health care unchanged, some members asked why should they invest the mental effort in mastering the details" of financial reform. Mr. Baird found parts of the bill mind-numbing.

Although he voted for it, he says he was troubled that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the entities at the heart of the housing meltdown, weren't addressed. They have clearly exercised undue influence on Capitol Hill, he notes. "When I was first elected I was puzzled why they were holding events in my honor as a mere freshman. I asked myself, why is a federal entity so involved in political activity?" "

I find these statements, again, disingenuous. So Baird had all these insights about and issues with various legislative proposals. But where was he on CNBC, Fox News, CNN, etc., complaining about them? Did he do so, and I missed those interviews? The last comment is hilarious, except it indicates how stupid Baird must be. Only "troubled" that Barney Frank's magical bill omitted Freddie and Fannie? C'mon, is anyone really this dense? They started the housing meltdown, led by Frank's directives from Congress. Was, and is, Baird so naive about the GSEs that he really 'asked' why they held an event for a freshman Rep?

"Regarding health care, his specialty, Mr. Baird gave House Democrats real heartburn. He voted against the first version of ObamaCare in November 2009, because the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hadn't yet analyzed the bill's impact on insurance premiums and medical costs.
"What the hell were we doing voting on this? I had labor groups come to me and insist the bill was so important we couldn't wait to know what was in it," he recalls. "I asked them if they were handed a new union contract and told it was so important they had to agree to it without reading it, would they go along?" They continued to insist he vote for the bill and threatened him with a primary challenger.

Mr. Baird had developed his own health-care proposal that drew on his 23 years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist treating patients with cancer and brain injuries. His plan would have provided universal health care but held down costs through vouchers for the poor, medical savings accounts for the middle class, and reform of malpractice insurance.

He admits to being frustrated that ideas like his never got a fair hearing in a Congress dominated by inertia and interest groups. "Our problems are now so grave we can't afford petty partisanship and closed thinking," he tells me."

All well and good, but, again, why was Baird silent? So long as these back-benchers remain silent, the parties will both continue to behave badly. Baird was elected by people in Washington, not Pelosi, Hoyer, Frank, et.al. Whose interests was he really serving with his silence?

"Mr. Baird stands by his vote for ObamaCare, noting that something had to be done for those denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions. But he acknowledges that the bill carried within it the seeds of its unpopularity. These include the nightmare mandate that all companies report to the IRS all of their business-to-business transactions over $600, so the government can capture unreported business income. At a recent forum with small business owners in his district, Mr. Baird was stunned at the complexity of the rules they now must follow.

"I warned my fellow Democrats that the insurance companies they were whacking could increase premiums just before the midterm election and blame them for it," he sighs. "I pointed out that the major benefits wouldn't kick in till 2014, but the costs were up front. I asked them, where was the political win? There was no real answer.""

Again, nice sentiments....now. Where was he nine months ago with this stuff in public? It's great to be brave now. How about when it mattered and might have affected legislative results? Sorry, Brian, you get no credit here for after-action honesty and 'courage.'

"In his new book, "Character, Politics and Responsibility," Mr. Baird argues that in order to afford caring for the needy, liberals will have to challenge "unsustainable entitlements." "I would eliminate the concept of entitlements and move to needs-based social insurance," he says. "The key is to both promote personal responsibility while lowering expenditures by not promising or giving money or other benefits to those who don't need it.""

Nice. Why wasn't this published online as an alternative view, rather than silently voting for Pelosi's bill?

"I ask Mr. Baird what he would tell the incoming class of freshmen Republicans if given the chance to address them before the new Congress convenes. He summarized his bottom line:

"Governing isn't as easy as you think. Many of you have taken pledges that are contradictory—to balance the budget and cut taxes, for example. You must be honest about the numbers, since our annual deficit now exceeds all discretionary spending combined. If you set as your goal to roll back the size of government, you have an obligation to answer the tough questions and show real courage, not just appeal to ideology. Treat the voters like adults." "

Not as easy as you think? I don't know about that. That pledge is feasible. The fact that Baird believes it is not means he is in the camp of believing people work harder as you raise tax rates. What an idiot!

Sure, honesty about numbers is important. So is treating voters as adults. But, as his former colleagues will likely see tomorrow/Wednesday morning, that's probably going to be the rule now, no longer an exception. And it will go for Republican in two more years, as well.

A different kind of tipping point, politically, may now have been reached.