Thursday, February 28, 2013

Government by Histrionics Part II

Remember the Y2K scare?  It was hyped as Armageddon.  It would destroy the economies of nations and topple civilization as we know it, in particular ours.  It all ended with a predictable thud as the date passed and nothing happened.  Partly because businesses and governments were doing the right things to solve the problem, but the media paid little attention.  The largest part of why it was predicable to many, was because while the media was hyping about "clocks", it was evident that in many cases the clocks were simply crystal driven pulse timers (very precise frequency pulses that engineers call "clocks") that really knew nothing about the calendar.  The two digit year issue in software programs were corrected in time, as planned.  The media just has to have doomsday to sell.

Now we have Armageddon predicted once again by President Barack Obama as a result of the sequester that he originated and championed in 2011 (see Part I for more). This montage is a video showing President Barack Obama caught in the lie about who originated the sequester:

President Obama, spoke in complete histrionics, 10 days before his sequester is to take effect.

Note the gratuitous use of people as props for his performance.
Text of the speech (excepts)
And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite.  It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.  It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day.  It doesn’t make those distinctions.
Emergency responders like the ones who are here today -- their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded.  Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced.  FBI agents will be furloughed.  Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.  Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.  Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.
The histrionics also come from others in his administration, trying to prove the pain that will be a result, he starts to assure that:
1) Obama’s first sequester move: Releasing “waves” of illegal immigrants from detention centers

2) LaHood: Sequester will disrupt air travel even though we get more money for fewer flights now

Sad news: Sequestration might hamper more renewables projects and “investments”

Wall Street Journal
Flanked by emergency medical personnel, Mr. Obama made his usual threat of Armageddon if automatic spending cuts go forward on March 1. Americans can expect more such melodrama in the coming days, so as a public service we thought we'd break down the President's three biggest political tricks.
Americans need to understand that Mr. Obama is threatening that if he doesn't get what he wants, he's ready to inflict maximum pain on everybody else. He won't force government agencies to shave spending on travel and conferences and excessive pay and staffing. He won't demand that agencies cut the lowest priority spending as any half-competent middle manager would.
 But this is a message that Barack Obama is starting to lose and the truth.
Obama has just taken about double the sequestration amount out of the economy by his recent tax increases.  Those of course will not cause any ripples like the sequestration will. Hooey!

Charles Krauthammer flays the Obama histrionics argument [Video].

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: This is the most ridiculously hyped armageddon since the Mayan calendar. In fact, it looks worse than the Mayan disaster. Look, this, as you say, can be solved in a day, in an hour by allowing a transfer of funds. It's incredibly soluble, easily soluble. And the president is the one who ought to propose it. He won't, of course, because he is looking for a fight and not a solution. But secondly, look at this in perspective. 

In terms of the gross domestic product of our economy this is .003, it's a third of 1% of our domestic economy. On the domestic side, overall, it's 2.5 cents on the dollar. And overall, on the non-defense side, it's a penny-and-a-half on the dollar of reductions. Here we are with a debt of $16 trillion and the argument today is if we cut a penny-and-a-half on non-defense spending in one year it's the end of the world. If so, we are hopelessly in debt and we're going to end up like Greece. (Special Report, February 20, 2013)

So today Barack Obama starts the message shift to, "it won't be so bad". After spending weeks to instill, in the minds of the media and the low information voters, the panic that he wanted and needed, so he can get a Democratic Congress in 2014 to give him a blank check, no compromise needed. Playing both sides on the record, to give himself the option of saying "see I said it wouldn't be that bad", after spending weeks proclaiming the impending Armageddon
From Politico
He said the automatic, across-the-board cuts won't have an immediate impact except on those whose businesses are directly tied to the Defense Department but noted that other impacts will be felt, for example, if Head Start slots disappear.
"This is not a cliff, but it is a tumble downward," Obama said.
He predicted it would be a "big hit" on the economy, stifling economic growth, which could shrink by 0.6 percent. And he added that the "worst part" is that it is "entirely unnecessary."
So what has President Barack Obama been doing about the sequester?
Washington Times He's giving the Congress a whole 7 minutes!
Never let it be said that President Obama has failed to spend time with Republican leaders in seeking an alternative to automatic budget cuts that are due to hit most federal departments Friday. On Wednesday, for example, the president gave GOP lawmakers as much as seven minutes, a rare face-to-face encounter that the White House described as a “meeting.”
The White House’s characterization of this momentary huddle at the Capitol as a meeting illuminates Mr. Obama’s strategy in dealing with Republicans on the budget cuts and other fiscal deadlines.
A GOP aide: By the time Obama meets with the leaders, the cuts–$85 billion worth over the next seven months–could have already started to take place. It all depends on when Obama issues an order to let them begin. He has until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday to issue the order, according to an official with the Office of Management and Budget.

A senior congressional Republican chided Obama for the timing of the meeting.

"Either someone needs to buy the White House a calendar, or this is just a – belated – farce," the Republican said. "They ought to at least pretend to try."

From  2 great points:

1) Just how far has Barack Obama traveled to avoid reaching a deal on the sequester?  The House Republican Conference put together this clever video illustration of the President’s travels over the last two weeks, showing an itinerary of over 5,200 miles of jet-setting to gripe about the sequester.  The distance between the West Wing and Harry Reid’s office?  Why, that’s less than two miles:
2) Here’s what Woodward wrote in the op-ed that didn’t get them hot and bothered on Twitter, even though it should have: “[Months] of White House dissembling further eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans. (The Republicans are by no means blameless and have had their own episodes of denial and bald-faced message management.)”

Lest you be caught up in the histrionics and still cower at the thought of the sequester taking effect tonight, you can read 
Reason TV: 5 facts that will keep you from committing sequestration seppuku

or watch the video

 And finally this chart is the reality of the cuts.
President Barack Obama is using the sequester as a tool to campaign for midterm elections.  To smear the Republicans with his actions.  If you buy into his histrionic arguments, you are part of the problem, not the solution!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Government by Histrionics - Part 1

The President's sequester argument is the histrionic art form raised to a new level.  Is it any wonder Barack Obama doesn't want the Press covering anything more in depth than his frequent campaign speeches, and his wife's appearances on the Oscars?   He artfully obfuscates the issues by blaming others for his actions it when politically expedient.  The media then follows the meme of the moment and spreads the message on demand, providing impenetrable cover for his misdirections.  No other candidate could compete with such free advertising and message delivery. 

According to Bob Woodward, the sequestration originated in the White House, and was championed by Barack Obama in one of the singular times he has gotten involved in real presidential work, for more than a minute.
My [Bob Woodward] extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.
Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.
Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had.
But yet,  15 months later, Barack Obama is claiming
The sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.”
— President Obama, in the third presidential debate, Oct. 22, 2012
Even the Washington Post acknowledges this to be a lie in the fanciful "whopper" category, giving it the maximum 4 Pinocchio rating.

This was a case where the Republicans did what the public voiced demands for, they "compromised", giving Barack Obama what he asked for.  Now Barack Obama, in a phenomenal reversal of intent, is blaming them for the sequester.  Barack Obama is basically a one trick pony, his only solution is "tax the wealthy"
Text from Obama Speech
Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising — instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans — they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class.
What will he do when he reaches taxing "the wealthy" at 100% and can't get anymore from that well? It has been demonstrated that even at the "fair" level of taking everything from the wealthy is still far less than the $1.2 trillion he needs to continue his profligate spending habit,  and it gets even worse when you look at adding entitlement growth.
Presidents Speech Text more histrionics
These are the questions Republicans in Congress need to ask themselves. And I’m hopeful they’ll change their minds. Because the American people have worked too hard for too long to see everything they’ve built undone by partisan recklessness in Washington.
Barack Obama has spent weeks flitting around the country demagoguing the sequester.  Leadership requires difficult decisions and skills that have been demonstrated by few Republicans and far fewer Democrats.  We cannot continue to follow inadequate solutions lasting but a moment. They must be solutions to actually solve problems, not yield "shovel ready projects" only digging us deeper.  The sequester does not cut the full budget.  There will be more spent in 2013 than in 2012, and in each year following. President Barack Obama lays out a demagogic array of dismissals and firings of police, firemen, and others as he parades political props behind him at each stump speech.  This is again, histrionics played for a willing media and misguided public.  Many of the people he targets are local government employees, not federal, with the intent to make results as painful and undesirable as possible.  A plan much like Governor Mark Dayton's, in Minnesota's manufactured budget crisis. The decision about how how it affects people is entirely within the Presidents control.  He can make it as painful as he wants, or make the needed decisions to curb his appetite for growing government.  Its his choice. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Minn DFL Gun Grab a Reach

Last week, Feb 5-7, 2013, many Minnesota Democrats embarked on an effort to impose new legislation to limit gun ownership rights for all legal and ordinary citizens.  There is a lot of discussion about the value of such legislation.  There is not much debate about what started the effort, the Sandy Hook tragedy.  They reason that banning certain styles of guns will prevent such tragedies.  For many that "logic" is not only faulty, but shallow.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, passed in 1994, expired on September 13, 2004.  It was in place for the Columbine School shooting,which occurred on April 20, 1999, and others that followed.  The existence of the law had no impact on that tragic act.  In fact, according to US Today, the original weapon of choice was not even the guns they ultimately used, and are now once again the target of legislative actions.
A decade after Harris and Klebold made Columbine a synonym for rage, new information — including several books that analyze the tragedy through diaries, e-mails, appointment books, videotape, police affidavits and interviews with witnesses, friends and survivors — indicate that much of what the public has been told about the shootings is wrong.

In fact, the pair's suicidal attack was planned as a grand — if badly implemented — terrorist bombing that quickly devolved into a 49-minute shooting rampage when the bombs Harris built fizzled.

"He was so bad at wiring those bombs, apparently they weren't even close to working," says Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, a new account of the attack.
Slate adds even more details:
Columbine was intended not primarily as a shooting at all, but as a bombing on a massive scale. If they hadn't been so bad at wiring the timers, the propane bombs they set in the cafeteria would have wiped out 600 people. After those bombs went off, they planned to gun down fleeing survivors. An explosive third act would follow, when their cars, packed with still more bombs, would rip through still more crowds, presumably of survivors, rescue workers, and reporters.
The report on Columbine shows one very clear fact, killers are not limited by limiting guns, they will seek out a different "tool" to carry out their evil acts. 

The evidence of any links between gun legislation and these tragedies is extremely tenuous at best.  During the eight hours of committee presentation, the anti-gun lobby, headed by Heather Martens, promised extensive statistics to support their claims, but ultimately delivered very little on that promise. They ignore many facts, such as (the creator of this chart limited it to rifles, as that is all that is being discussed in "Assault Weapon" legislation)
[Picture of Chart]
The Facebook post earned a "True" rating because it reflected the FBI’s statistics from 2011, the most recent year available, for murders with knives (1,694), personal weapons (728, typed on Facebook as 726), blunt objects (496) and rifles (323).
Much, if not most, of their argument rested on an egregious use of emotional manipulation and exploitation of tragedies.  Lobbyist Heather Martens, ProtectMN, is a consistent user of tragedies and victims as such props.
Video: Heather Martens exploitation is called out by a young Mother at the hearings.

So how convincing has the anti-gun lobby been?  They try to convince the public that this is a partisan issue.  But that is a fatal canard.  Just before one of the sessions Representative Jason Metsa (DFL) from district 6B came to speak to the Second Amendment supporters in Room 10.  He stated clearly that this is not a partisan issue and that he, and others, did not and will not support the legislative actions.  He was far from the only democrat to make statements during the presentation and public testimony.  Police officers, mothers, and self declared lifelong democrats voice opposition and disbelief in the arguments made.
Video: Self declared lifelong democrat declares "probably no more".

Clear thinking and real solutions are what all sides of the political spectrum want in our legislature. A lack of critical thinking and political expediency provides no protections, and costs ordinary citizens much.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Democrats Bolt during HF 241 Testimony

The Minnesota House Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy, presented the HF 241 bill today, 2/6/2013.  This bill relates to:  "Assault weapons; crime established for manufacturing, transferring, or possessing assault weapons; existing assault weapon disposal or registration provided for; terms defined; data classified; language clarified; and penalties provided."

So you would think that as elected representatives, tasked with preserving the rights and liberties, as well as the safety of all Minnesotans, they would want to hear testimony that directly relates to what they are currently discussing and planning on prohibiting.

How will this affect potentially millions (47%, the national average, of the 5.4 million people in Minnesota) of you and your neighbors who own guns?

What is it that is really subject to this legislation, cosmetic features?

What will be potentially making felons of those affected?

It is the responsibility they were elected to fulfill, but that seems to be too much for several when presented with the real objects, unloaded, inspected and approved by the Sergent at Arms for the House prior to display. And grudgingly allowed by the Committee Chair Michael Paymar, who said he was not happy about it.

However 5 DFL Legislators decided to be abruptly "not-present" while this presentation took place.

That is a breach of the public trust.!

Update: Removed video

Rep Hausman gets schooled on what is the Second Amendment

Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee Meeting Feb 6, 2013.  Alice Hausman DFL 66A presented her bill to ban particular styles of rifles.  During the presentation Alice Hausman made some startling revelations about her understanding of the United States Constitution Second Amendment.  She is comparing the US to other Nations on Gun violence (not violent crime of course, which would completely negate her argument, even without consideration of her error on the 2nd Amendment).

Alice Hausman:
"But there is one component that sets us apart, and its a sentence.  Um the second amendment, I've heard from a lot of people in the last few days about that. Um, and um, um, I just wanted to speak on that sentence for a minute. Uh, a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, [speeding up her voice here] the right of the people shall not be infringed.  That first part of the sentence is one we don't hear very often. The one frequently repeated are those last few words "shall not be infringed".  But the first part of it, and this is what will weigh heavily on you, what does that mean "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state"?

Representative Alice Hausman has a viewpoint that many liberals want or would like to be true, but which was recently and very solidly been decided in the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

Hamline Law Professor Joseph Olson explains:
I actually had one of my articles cited in Heller. So, uh, I know Judge Scalia is familiar with my work.  I have read the opinion a number of times, I teach it in my seminar at Hamline Law School. Uh, the Supreme Court did two things in Heller case that are relevant to the discussion as Representive Hausman brought it up. One in Heller the Supreme Court made very clear that the introductory clause to the second amendment is not part of the normative statement. In other words the introductory statement is not part of the rule of law. The rule of law is "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".  And the court went on to discuss just exactly how much the District of Columbia was infringing that right. Furthermore the court talked in the case about the arms that were protected by the second amendment, and it said the arms that were protected were the arms that were in common use.  Military style firearms are in common use.
It could not be any clearer.  Rep Alice Hausman has a very faulty understanding of the United States Constitution and is making serious error in the proposed law she is authoring.  We need serious discussion on what is a solution. Not misguided efforts that will do nothing to actually resolve the issue they claim to be furiously "doing something" about.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

MNGOP Where Do We Go From Here

An event titled MNGOP Where Do We Go form here? was held on Jan 30.  Steve Hensley of and were the organizers

Hosts: Mitch Berg, Jeff Johnson
Panelists: Maryanne Stebbins, Mark Westpfahl, Doc Dan Severson, Sarah Janecek, Walter Hudson, Andy Parrish, Erin Haust
The complete video is available on this youtube channel a link is given below.

First a review of other articles "covering" this event:
If you searched for the traditional media attending the event, there were (as of today) two. They included little actual information about what was said, concentrating on a strident display of Andy Parrish's comments.  Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Cyndy Brucato attended the event and subsequently wrote articles.  I must give cudo's to Rachel E. Stassen-Berger.  She had twittered the obvious liberal take away line from Andy Parrish.
At which point I leaned over and asked "so are you going to be including in your article the line he said right after that?"  She responded "what was that?"  And though I doubt it was due to my prompting, she did report the entire relevant quote.  It was the dominating and closing point of her article.  Which left you with a completely false impression of what was the reality of the event.  However for the low-information voter, that will be all they see, and will be their reality.  Have you checked her linked article yet for that full quote?  You can also see it in the video, but here is the line: "because that's what the Democrats do"! The rest of the quote is entertaining, but not really important to the story.

If you want to actually get a good description of the nights discussion, here is the best. Predictably it is on a great news analysis blog, one of the sponsors of the event.

My Analysis:
One of the points that Cyndy Brucato closes her article with, is what typifies the liberal viewpoint that I find most mystifying, and of course quite incorrect.
The two-hour discussion ended as it began — with no unity on content of message, tactics or strategy but plenty of evidence that Minnesota Republicans are scattered well beyond the boundaries of the big tent.
One of the overarching themes that liberals attempt to claim as their own is that of "the value of diversity".  A message that in so many ways they reveal they really don't believe.  Cyndy's statement is evidence of that.  What was on display Wednesday night (Jan 30) was one of broad diversity of opinion.  Far broader than you see at any liberal meeting (which I film and attend many), where conformity to their singular message is mandated and enforced by enormous social pressure.  And resulting from that ambivalent mind set (i.e. double minded), diversity is the first thing the liberal commentators use to try to tear apart and dismiss the message and the content of the event.
From Rachel:
The panelists, who, at times, testily disputed one another, offered a wide variety of sometimes conflicting prescriptions.
Yes that is how real, lasting and enduring compromise is achieved.  It does not instantly appear, nicely packaged and ready for use.  It is earned and forged with messy discussion and hard work. To find that common ground where all can stand proudly and proclaim this is a solution we can implement for the benefit of all of us.  To the liberal mind it is merely an unwillingness to compromise and dis-unity.  To those who really seek to have theirs and other's voices heard, it is the path of hope.

In the panel statements that message is clearest heard through the voice of the ever eloquent Walter Hudson, on the question "What is your dream for the party"
at 1:39:06 - 1:40:39 in the video

Walter's dream (watch the video for full statement);
My dream for this party is that we learn, first to understand, and then to project the positive, morally good, life affirming philosophy that undergirds our policies.  Individuals seek out values, they seek out that which is going to perpetuate their life, help them survive, and to help them improve their quality of life, help them to thrive.  And the only way you can do that, as a human being, is if you are free to act upon your own judgement.  Thats unique to human beings. 
On the question of "What can we all agree on going forward?"
at 1:47:22 - 1:48:34 in the video

There was a time in this country where the reason to come here, the only reason to come here, was to be free of the tyranny that you were leaving behind in your country of origin.  And when you got here, there was no guarantee that there was going to be food or water or health care or retirement or anything. Other than land and trees and air.  I think we can agree as a party that we still believe in the pioneering spirit that brought those people here in the first place.  And we want to get government off, not just our backs, but everyone's back.  Especially those whom we would consider disadvantaged or "lower class" or in need.  Because, they more than anyone, they need that hope that "I can build something, I can achieve something, and I don't need somebody else to do it for me".
And on the question of what plans came out of the meeting, which Ms. Brucato did not hear, one of the several plans or tactics suggested, came from Erin Haust.  One which I am sure Rachael and Cyndy would say is completely unnecessary, because really the media is so fair and balanced.

Erin Haust at 1:14:14 - 1;16:12 in the video

We can talk all day long about what our messaging should be.  But if we don't have a tactical plan to get that message out, we're lost, we're dead in the water.  So some of the things we can do right now, and they seem like very easy things, but I promise you we are not doing them, and they [the Democrats] do them very, very, well on the other side.  Number one, start viral videos on twitter and Facebook   Have your candidates, have your issues, have your whatever it is.  Make it funny, make it short. Two to four minute videos, teaching a thing, talking about a tax, talking about something   The next thing we can do is advertise on Facebook  right now, right now, for 2016 elections.  2014 you might be too late to start changing a lot of the culture right now. But by 2016, boy we better have ads going.  Use memes and info-graphics, and if you don't now what they are get on twitter get on Facebook and find out.  Because if we're not using them we're lost.  The young people are using memes to make points every chance they get.  And then finally make friends with our local newspapers. One of things we also don't do very well is get media of any kind on our side.  We don't have a chance with MSNBC. We don't have a chance with some of the larger groups out there, but some of these local newspapers we can get people to apply for the reporter job that are already in our camp. We can write not just letters to the editor, but articles.  Let's talk about something great thats happening at a local business and say why the taxes will hurt that person.  There are things we can do right now, but we better start with social media.  We better start with twitter and Facebook, and if your not on it get on it right now!  And encourage all your friends to do the same.
So my response to the event was, of course, quite different from Rachel and Cyndy.  I saw a positive, and while not all on one message, start at the dialog that leads to agreement.  We need to understand the difficulties of achieving good compromise.  It is not simply submitting to one side and letting them control, much as Democrats want.  Defining opposing thought as always the one not compromising (see my article on Tolerance) does not achieve compromise or a useful path forward. Journalism, that does the hard work and critical thinking required to explore the historical context and opposing sides viewpoints is the best way to "get things done".  So the evening successfully presented the vast array of opinion that we call "Republican".  The work ahead will define the future of the GOP, and how it will implement those goals embodied in the messages, hopes, and dreams above.

The complete video of the event is available here: