Reid Out, Deal Done?

It looks like there may finally some movement on a deal to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, with about 12 hours until the existing tax rates expire:

President Obama held a press conference to announce that a deal was close (although not reached) at this point, and urging for action (all the while seeming to sabotage the effort for personal political purposes, we can surmise). Without re-hashing the issue of whether or not Obama and the Democrats are negotiating in good faith, it appears as though an agreement on the tax part has been reached (although worse than the panned “Plan B” from the House); with other parts (noticibly not spending cuts) still to be hammered out.

Probably the most notable thing about this tentative McConnell-Biden deal is that what once seemed hopeless ended up getting done once Harry Reid was removed from the negotiating table. If you’re reading this, it probably comes as no surprise that Harry Reid has acted as Chief Obstructionist on Capital Hill, all the while blaming Republicans as the party of “no”. He has refused to allow votes on jobs legislation passed in the House, refused to pass a budget for four years, and generally blocked any attempt at legislating, if it did not fit the Democrat agenda:

In other words, while blasting Republican “obstructionism,” Reid is plotting systematic obstructionism throughout the coming months. This is spelled h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y.

Whether the deal gets done and voted on by both houses of Congress, or if it isn’t signed until tomorrow; whether you like the fact that a deal was reached or prefer to “Let It Burn”, it is interesting to note that a deal could finally be reached once a bad senator with too much power (c’mon Nevada, get your act together!) was removed from the process. The media reporting this fact and informing the American public…that’s a different story.

[UPDATE 12/31/12]

Depsite the closed-door deal-making, it appears that there won’t be any votes held in the House today. So, it looks like D.C. has made a New’s Year’s Resolution to go cliff diving:

With a vote likely for tomorrow while the markets are closed, expect business as usual on January 2; with no spending cuts in this deal, and who-knows-what happening with the debt ceiling (except that real spending cuts will likely not be a part of any deal), expect more of the same over the next four years.

What Will They Come For Next?

Last night, as I was listening to talk radio as I often do to help me sleep, the host of the show (I don’t know what show – I was asleep in 10 minutes) mentioned a proposed ban on kitchen knives in the U.K. So I decided to look into this as many times these hosts can be prone to hyperbole. Sure enough, this is what I found:

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.kitchen knives 1 @ Aritsugu

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

Now, to be fair, this call for kitchen knives to be banned was from 2005, and I can find no evidence that it was ever put in place. The enforcement alone would be a nightmare of epic proportions:

A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “ACPO supports any move to reduce the number of knife related incidents, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes.”

Enforcement aside, it’s just shocking the lengths to which some will go in order to ostensibly protect us from ourselves. I wrote “Ban All The Things!” recently partly as a satire, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. I think what it really boils down to is a failure in logic by leftists in ascribing moral judgments to inanimate objects, rather than to the individuals who use them. An inanimate object has no intrinsic morality; it is a tool that has value insomuch as it performs the task it was designed to do: in the case of a gun, to shoot a bullet; a knife, to cut a piece of meat; a bat, to hit a baseball). It is the person who uses the tool who provides the moral context of the that use (hitting a baseball or assaulting another person).

Why bring this up? With the Democrats in the House poised to submit new gun legislation on the first day of the new session, it is useful to consider where this new “national conversation” may lead us. Given the propensity for “everything old is new again” on the left, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar call for a kitchen knife ban here in the U.S. Let’s face it, Americans value their guns, and have a constitutional right to them, so it is likely that sweeping new gun regulations wont gain much traction. However, with the looming implementation of Obamacare, it is not unreasonable to imagine the IPAB (or some yet to be formed panel, board, commission…) to come up with a similar proposal in an effort to reduce emergency room care costs for knife wounds, or whatever other insidious justification they can muster.

As a post script, I would like to shamelessly quote myself:

Negotiating In Bad Faith

The Hill has recently reported that progress is being made in Senate fiscal cliff negotiations between Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) following a meeting with President Obama and others today:

Harry Reid (D-NV), United States Senator from ...

Senate leaders emerged optimistic from a Friday afternoon meeting at the White House with President Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Vice President Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also attended.

Obama told reporters late Friday thereis still time to reach a deal.

“I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time,” he said in a live statement to the press after which he declined to take questions.English: Official photo cropped of United Stat...

Of course, Obama is not presenting any new proposals as part of the negotiations. Instead, he is keeping his target for tax increases at families earning $250 thousand a year. This, then, is the starting point for the negotiations. It is widely expected that McConnell will counter with raising the income level to $400 thousand in an effort to get a deal passed; but the question is whether the tax-peddling Democrats will compromise and agree to the higher income level. If not, Reid will force and up or down vote on the $250 thousand income level:

If Reid and McConnell fail to reach agreement by Sunday, Reid will bring to the floor a bill that extends income tax rates on family income below $250,000 and unemployment benefits and dare Republicans to vote against it.

Therein lies the rub; and why the dissention over Plan B mattered. If the House Republicans passed Plan B, then the could have dared the Senate Democrats to vote against it. Now, the ball is back in Obama’s court, and he’s serving up $250 thousand. Unfortunately, taxes are going up whether we like it or not. By failing to pass Plan B, the Republicans kneecapped themselves, and now they will be going up on a higher percentage of Americans. The best that the Republicans can hope for now is not a hike on those making $1 million or more, but rather a hike on those making $400 thousand or more; that’s only if the Democrats agree to compromise, certainly not likely.

Let’s face it, there’s no real incentive for the They are more than happy to let the country go over the fiscal cliff so that taxes go up on everyone. That’s why these negotiations are nothing more than kabuki theater. If we go over the cliff, the Democrats can then introduce new cuts for the middle class and come out smelling like roses – they know that the Republicans will be blamed for higher taxes, so they have nothing to lose and have no need to negotiate in good faith. The Republicans know this too, which is why they want to agree to a deal at $400 thousand, but will most likely cave at $250 thousand. Everything else is just playacting.

Leftist Hypocrisy and Selective Memory

If you have been surfing the internet or following your Twitter feed lately, you may have noticed a common theme that has arisen from recent events. Namely, the glaring tunnel vision, selective memory, one dimensional thinking, or just plain old hypocrisy (whatever you prefer to call it) from leftists. Like all things that are in plain sight, sometime one doesn’t notice until it is either gone, or reaches critical mass. In this case, let’s call it critical mass.

Therefore, I have decided to catalog some of the more recent examples out of both amusement and pure disgust. I have organized them into “case studies”, however the list is meant to be more representative than comprehensive. So without further ado:

Case 1: The “tolerant” ones wishing a painful death on George H.W. Bush

We are told time and time again that the leftists, as a group, are more inclusive, compassionate, and tolerant than conservatives. However, I suspect that in many of our personal observations it is our leftist friends who are the the angry, prejudiced, intolerant ones (I have an unhinged aunt to attest to this). This contradiction is exemplified by the reaction to President George H.W. Bush’s recent hospitalization. The apalling responses from leftists on Twitter has been immortalized by Twitchy, but I wanted to highlight this one, as the sentiment is even hypocritical in regards to this person’s Twitter “handle”:

It’s hard to imagine a group of “intolerant, bigoted” conservatives tweeting this kind of vitriol if Presidents Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton were seriously ill, but it’s par for the course for the “party of compassion”.

Case 2: We need more gun laws, but let’s break them like a common criminal because it’s easy and in the public interest, therefore we need more laws…or something

Nothing has been more preposterous in the new “national conversation” on guns than when David Gregory violated Washington D.C. laws by bringing a high capacity magazine to the set of Meet The Press last Sunday, ostensibly to make a point to his interviewee (the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre). Immediately, other “journalists” such as Howard Kurtz and Glenn Thrush came rushing to his defense stating the “his motives were pure” and that “it was in the public interest” for him to break the law. As you might expect, Twitchy has it covered.

Case 3: We forgot that President Clinton suggested armed guards at school after Columbine, while we were telling conservatives what a stupid idea it was.

I actually got the idea for this post while reading an entry on this topic over at the Real Science blog.

After Columbine, Bill Clinton proposed using armed policemen to protect schools in the same way that we protect our banks, businesses and neighborhoods. The NRA made the same common sense proposal and were met with screams of derision by nutcases on the left.

I recommend reading the whole thing at the link above; it’s brief but gets right at the heart of the matter: if a leftist proposes an idea, then it must be the greatest thing since sliced bread. If a conservative/Republican proposes the same idea, it’s the dumbest thing in the history of the universe. For example in the eyes of a leftist: Obamacare = good, Romneycare = bad; Armed guards proposed by Clinton = smart solution; armed guards proposed by NRA = stupid idea. I can’t decide if they’re willfully ignorant, or just completely brainwashed. What’s more, it even affects their “leaders”:

Case 3a: We’re never going to vote for that awful legislation you proposed, even though we proposed the exact same thing a few months ago.

Isn’t that right, Nancy Pelosi? As Ed Morrissey observes regarding “Plan B”:

That concept came originally from Democrats and Nancy Pelosi, just a few months ago. Boehner pulled it because he couldn’t get enough votes out of his own caucus to pass it, but had Democrats voted for it, they would have had exactly what Reuters describes, plus a new AMT patch on top of it, with spending cuts addressed separately.

Instead, Pelosi let Boehner twist in the wind, telling reporters that time had somehow expired on a proposal she originated. Pelosi and her caucus were more invested in making Boehner look bad than in protecting taxpayers from the fiscal cliff, and the US economy from recession.

That’s a leftist for you, playing games with peoples’ futures just to score political points, and with a plan that you yourself proposed! I guess nothing is out of bounds for leftists selective memory; their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Again, these are but a few examples meant to illustrate the left’s propensity for double talk and hypocrisy based on recent events; we can all think of many more. What’s your favorite example?

“Let It Burn”, Cloward-Piven, and Rebuilding

I have been thinking a good amount about the “Let It Burn” (LIB) strategy that has become rather popular among conservatives regarding the Fiscal Cliff (over which we will dive if a deal isn’t reached within the next 6 days). Most should be familiar with LIB, which basically calls for the Republican-controlled House to sit back and let President Obama and the Democrats get everything they want in the Fiscal Cliff negotiations (i.e., higher taxes and increased spending), while simply voting “Present” – not endorsing nor opposing the Democrat agenda. Some have also extended this approach to the debt ceiling as well, allowing for an unlimited increase in the nation’s ability to accrue debt.

The thinking is that giving the Democrats everything they want will lead to a massive recession and crushing debt that would be so obvious that voters would have no choice but blame the party that proposed the policies that led to the disaster. At that point, conservatives could begin to rebuild the country with proven policies that work in providing national prosperity. Philosophically, I rather like the idea in a perfect world. However, this is not a perfect world: the mainstream media is a more than willing accomplice to the Democrat Party, and it’s agenda to crush the Republican Brand. If the country does go “cliff-diving”, there is no doubt that the media will direct the blame squarely to the Republicans, who caved on taxes and let the rates go up on everyone at the expense of protecting millionaires (see “Plan B”).

Pivan-Cloward

However, I see another issue with the LIB impulse. The results would seem to feed right into the Cloward-Piven Strategy, which some are suggesting Obama has been implementing. In a nutshell, this strategy calls for overloading the already-strained entitlement programs to cause a crushing debt which would lead to a rebuilding of the system (sound familiar) with a national guaranteed income. Without debating Cloward-Piven, it seems that the Let It Burn strategy would end up promoting the same ends. Proponents of LIB suggest that once the economy crashes and burns, it can be rebuilt with small government, free market principles. However, this assumes that the current nation of low information voters would correctly attribute blame to the Democrats, and thus vote for Republicans in 2014 and 2016 in order to correct the mess.

Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I just don’t see that happening. As I mentioned above, the media will be all too willing to blame Republicans at every opportunity; this will be all that the low information voter will hear – from snippets on the nightly news, to sound bites from David Letterman, or the liberal morning radio hosts on their way to work (I can hear the drum beat now about how the GOP caved on taxes, and stood by while the rates went up on everyone). Thus, I see the effects not as wins in 2014 (especially) and 2016, but rather the further damage and running away from anything Republican by the average voter.

In the meantime, Obama and the Democrats will gain more leverage to pass their agenda, no doubt to start with tax cuts for the middle class (now the Democrats can be the party of tax cuts while painting the Republicans as tax-raisers). What’s worse, if the country does fall into recession, with more and more people out of work and swelling the welfare, unemployment, food stamp, and disability rolls, Obama can use that to “rebuild” with a federal strategy in the name of income fairness, much in the same way he “rebuilt” the health insurance industry with Obamacare. Will he achieve the stated goal of Cloward-Piven? Despite my pessimism, I doubt it; however, one thing is for sure: any rebuilding will be guided by leftists, not conservatives.

No thank you. Again, while philosophically I understand the attraction to letting it burn and have the Democrats wallow in their failures, this is the real word; in the real world, that’s not happening. Also, I prefer to have my elected officials fight for what is the right thing to do for the United States, not just stand aside and let it burn. As Rick Moran observes:

Would that political parties could afford such childlike purity. But despite its irrationality — a political party shouldn’t set out to deliberately create conditions for a crushing defeat — there is an overriding principle to consider as well: self-preservation. What would a full-monty cave-in on taxes do to the Republican Party, especially if it comes with no guaranteed cuts in entitlements?

[UPDATE 12/26/12]

Allahpundit has some insights regarding the negotiations based on the “Plan B” fallout, as well as the what a deal from the Democrats may look like. Is it enough to send us over the cliff? He sure seems to think so:

When Plan B failed, so did his leverage on that point. Now the White House knows that the final bill, if it passes before December 31, will only pass with Democratic votes, which means it’ll have to be more liberal than Plan B. Bailing on Boehner thus means more small businesses will feel the crunch next year unless centrist Republicans stick with the rest of the caucus right now and refuse to pass Obama’s plan if he doesn’t raise the income cut-off from $250,000. Somewhere between that number and $1 million lies the number that’s going to get a deal done. Obama already proposed making the cut-off $400,000, so presumably he’ll end up back at that number (or higher) unless there’s a complete breakdown in Republican discipline and Obama/Reid/Pelosi somehow manage to peel off 30 GOP votes for the $250,000 mark. Anyone feel confident that that won’t happen with the December 31 deadline bearing down? Bear these new numbers from Gallup in mind when making your prediction:

fc

Per CNN, Democrats figure — wisely — that their best chance to get O’s plan through the House is to time it so that the bill ends up there on December 30 or 31, when political pressure on the GOP will be at its zenith. Which makes me wonder: Will Boehner try to block the bill or will he let it come to the floor? The vote for the next Speaker happens just a few days later, on January 3; if he allows Democrats to pass a bill with token Republican help that hikes taxes on everyone who makes $250,000 or more, there may be enough conservative opposition to end his Speakership. It’s in his own political interest at this point, then, to go over the cliff, let the tax hikes take effect across the board, and then let the House vote on cutting the “new,” higher tax rates for earners below $250,000. So we’re going over the cliff, I guess.

At this point, going over the cliff may be unavoidable. However, if we do, and tax rates are hiked for everyone (again, I’m not philosophically opposed to this if the Dems would be held accountable), I want the House Republicans to go down fighting by proposing a reasonable offer, or just outright voting “No” on principle; not to stand aside and just let it happen.

‘Twas the Post Before Christmas

Come on in, and find a cozy place next to the fire…

I have a little story I want to tell:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Now, while Santa Claus is all well and good, and makes millions of people happy, let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas as told by someone who can do a much better job than I:

Have a happy and blessed Christmas, from my family to yours!