I’m not much of a fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie but I find the faux outrage by the Left about the George Washington Bridge closing* absolutely nauseating. Louis DeBroux over at United Liberty almost completely matches my attitude about how the Left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) are handling this scandal. DeBroux rattles off a good number of scandals on the part of the Obama administration, nearly all of which make the bridge closing look like a prank (read the article and you will understand my point). On his last two sentences, however; DeBroux hits it out of the park:
So was the bridge closing an abuse of power? Absolutely. Illegal? Very likely. Should everyone involved be fired or prosecuted? Without a doubt.
But forgive me if I can’t work myself up into a lather with outrage when the same people now bellowing their fury have been conspicuously silent over far worse abuses from their own camp.
*When I first heard of this, my reaction was “But if not for government, who would close the bridges and roads to exact revenge on political foes?” Seriously. What would happen if this bridge was managed by a *gasp* private, for profit greedy Capitalistic company? What would be the motivation to ever close the bridge other than necessary repairs?
I haven’t blogged about the shutdown, because, well, I haven’t blogged much about anything. Mea culpa.
I haven’t had time because I’m, quite frankly, not personally or professionally affected. Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, however, is very personally AND professionally affected. Warren operates private concession operations that handle all on-site activities at parks, with a good portion of his business based upon federal parks.
These parks use no federal employees. They don’t require any federal dollars to operate. In fact, they pay rent to the federal government as part of the terms of their lease. So of all things, you’d think that the Feds would want them to remain open. In fact, in all previous shutdowns (including 1995 & 1996), they have remained open.
Not this time. They’ve been ordered to close.
I can’t do justice to all the coverage that already exists for this. While I assume many of my readers are also daily readers at Coyote Blog (and Popehat), I can’t be sure.
All of Warren’s post on this topic can be found here. Check them out, please. You will not be disappointed.
As it pertains to the shutdown, I have little patience for the Republicans here. The Republicans are playing a gambit they can’t win. The Dems are NOT going to defund or delay Obamacare. This is stupid on strategic and tactical levels. You can’t win and you’re going to damage your brand in the process. WTF are you thinking?!
But what I see from the Obama administration is wrong on many more levels. It seems that the administration’s tactic here is to screw as many people as possible, to make this as painful as possible, and then hope the blame rests only on the Republicans for what the administration has done. There is no reason to close these privately-operated parks. There’s no reason to throw people out of their homes because they rest on federal land. There’s no reason to close open-air memorials that don’t require human workers to operate. While I’m not sympathetic to Republican partisans, I have to say that naming the barriers that closed the World War II memorial “Barrycades” is quite smart.
I’m still filled with nothing but disgust for everyone in Washington. Both sides are angling for a “win”. I want to see both sides lose, dammit!
Unfortunately, I know that in Nov. 2014, lawmakers from both parties will probably enjoy >90% re-election rates. And people wonder why I say that democracy doesn’t work?
Step right up and enjoy the posturing, rhetoric, and antics of our congressional clown crew…
Over to your right you’ll see the amazing vocal endurance of Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz as he tosses red meat to the base…
… To be serious, there are a large group of people, who don’t understand why the rest of us consider what Ted Cruz did (a 21 hour “filibuster” of a motion in relation to items within a continuing resolution for funding the federal government for the next six months), both harmful to the country, and nothing more than grandstanding.
For them, it looks like Cruz was (in the composite words of many Americans on the right):
“Taking a brave and principled stand against the funding of a bad law that will harm our country.”
In reality, he was doing no such thing.
Cruz is being maligned by his own party because he was being a clown. This “filibuster” was nothing but a clown show.
It may be viscerally satisfying, but it’s idiotic. It will do absolutely NOTHING for the Republicans, of for those against Obamacare, except throw red meat to the stupider side of the base.
This is underpants gnomes strategy.
Step one: “Non-filibuster a piece of already passed legislation that I can’t stop by doing this… but that’s OK I wasn’t really trying to, really I was just trying to get media attention and attract donations from the less intelligent and aware side of my political base”.
Step two: … uh….
Step three: Electoral Victory?
“But, one brave man, standing up for what he believes in, can do amazing things. A small group of patriots can change the world, just look at the American revolution.”
No, they can’t. No guns involved in this one. No big foreign war distracting the occupying power. No actual fight going on among the actual fighters… just a series of bargaining and trading; while the rhetorical fight goes on among the spectators.
It may be emotionally satisfying rhetoric, but that’s all it is, rhetoric.
You are not a member of the patriotic few, bravely standing up against the despotic elite, risking all for freedom.
In fact, unless you support drug legalization, getting the state out of marriage…and almost everything else… giving up legislating morality and goodness entirely… You AREN’T EVEN ON THE GOOD GUYS SIDE.
You’re just another guy on the badguys side, who wants the badguys to tax the tea a little differently.
Oh and as “just another guy”, you actually aren’t on their side at all…
You’re a spectator rooting for your team from… not even the stands… from the comfort of your own home; with the game streamed lived via satellite into your living room.
“But what would you have us do? Just give up, let the Democrats run the country into the ground”
Nope… Not at all…
I’d have you stop assuming the rhetorical mantle of revolutionary patriot because it makes you feel good; and stop supporting things which reinforce that feeling, without actually DOING anything.
If you buy Ted Cruz’s stunt, you are perpetuating this crap.
If you want to actually do something… ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. Get involved with your political party on a local level. Get onto policy committees. Become a subject matter expert for the party on something you know, and use that position to help steer the party, and the politicians in the party, in the right direction.
That’s actually doing something. This thing with Cruz? It’s just something you can say you supported so you can feel morally vindicated while not actually doing anything.
“You’ll see… Cruz was right, this is bad law and we must stop it. Cruz will be vindicated, time will tell”
Well of COURSE he’s RIGHT, we all know that… it’s AWFUL law… even Jon Stewart thinks it’s bad law… but that doesn’t mean he was doing any good… or even try to for that matter.
Sure he’s increasing his own fundraising, and certainly he’s right about Obama care… but to be vindicated you have to have done or said something substantive, and then been proven right later.
How has he done that?
He’s hurt the Republican party badly with the center, and provided yet another target for mockery and ridicule… and to scare those who think this sort of thing is either stupid or crazy…
Yes, he’s increased his own fundraising… and tripled that of everyone on the left.
This is not some brave heroic last stand. This was a foregone conclusion. Obamacare would never, under any circumstances, be defunded. This wasn’t a filibuster. This wasn’t moral courage.
If it was a serious attempt to stop Obamacare, fine, that would be great. Even if it were a futile attempt, if it were even structurally capable of stopping it, sure… it wasn’t and isn’t.
It wasn’t really even a symbolic gesture.
It was pandering, to the lowest common denominator. It was Ted Cruz setting himself up to be the poster boy for the low information voters of the right.
And he knew EXACTLY what he was doing… By all accounts Cruz is a brilliant man.
“It doesn’t matter if he was doomed to fail, it was the right thing to do anyway. Standing up for what’s right is never wrong”
If that’s what he was actually doing, I wouldn’t be so irritated by this.
I’m irritated because this is what they do instead of something useful. “I supported Ted Cruz’s filibuster but those nasty democrats and RINOs passed it anyway”…
The people who believe this, don’t seem to understand that what Cruz did actually hurt us. Us being those of us who really fight against government overreach, and bad law.
It gave cover to the people who wanted to do nothing anyway, it encouraged a few whackjobs to make spectacles of themselves, and it INCREASED the morale and assumed moral authority of the other side.
Do you not realize how stupid and ridiculous this makes anti-obamacare people to the middle? How hysterical it makes them appear to the other sides donors? How this is a permanent harmful soundbite/video clip?
It’s idiots like this that made them able to paint Mitt Romney as an ultraconservative ultra right damn near American Taliban…
When in fact, he wasn’t conservative enough for a lot of people to bother even coming out, and they just stayed home rather than vote.
This is NOT a dedicated small group of principled people fighting against government overreach… That would be excellent.
This is the Republican equivalent of a college student “sticking it to the man” by wearing Che Guevara t-shirt an shouting about oppression and justice, out in front of the admin building.
“You don’t understand… Cruz is different… he’s the only one of the Republicans with the guts and the principle to stand up and do something”.
If he had actually done that, I would more than agree… I’d be cheering him on too.
But he didn’t.
If he were actually different… I’d be 100% behind him… Hell, I think he’s a good man, and in general he will probably be a good senator, though it’s a bit early to tell. If nothing else, he’s a LOT smarter than most Senators.
But really… other than that… he’s not much different than any other professional politician.
I’ve read the mans bio, read some of his speeches, hell I was even on a conference call with him and Marco Rubio at some party event during the campaign last year.
Yeah, he’s accomplished, and he’s got a hell of a back story (great family tale), but… what is it you think makes him so special?
He’s a smart guy, apparently a great legal mind, clerked for Rehnquist, editor of the Harvard law review… which are great things sure… but but I don’t see what you seem to see that makes him particularly exceptional among senators. He’s been a politician basically since law school; either full or part time.
He spent less than a year in private practice before going into an administration job, then less than 4 years out of the fedgov, where he ran for office twice, before going back to the fedgov.
He’s a professional politician.
I think he’s probably going to be a good senator (kinda hard to tell 9 months in), but I don’t see anything there that says anything other than professional politician… He’s a smart man and seemingly a good man… and those are great things… but he’s still a professional politician, and has never been anything but a professional politician.
I mean… he actually voted… in fact the senate voted unanimously 100-0… for the motion he was supposedly filibustering…
How can you even call it a filibuster if you’re going to vote for it?
So… In the next show, we have the “Government Shutdown”.
As of right now, the Republicans in congress have refused to sign any continuing appropriations bills that require the raising of the U.S. federal debt ceiling, and which fund Obamacare.
Therefore, the Republicans are trying to pull a repeat of 1996 and “shut down the government”; again to foster the illusion that they are taking a principled stand against excess spending and government waste etc… etc…
“Why can’t they just balance the budget, instead of raising the debt ceiling again… That’s not a solution, that’s just making the problem worse?”
That’s the question of a well meaning, intelligent person, looking at this problem from a rational perspective…
So it’s completely irrelevant to anything they do in Washington of course.
First thing, the whole “Defund Obamacare” spiel is, and always has been, a sham. It’s more redmeat for the base. It’s not going to stop Obamacare, never was going to, never could; and even if it could, the republicans couldn’t get it past the senate, or a presidential veto, or an override etc… etc…
It’s just PR.
The Republicans saw what happened to Mitt Romney. They know that a large portion of the electorate doesn’t think they’re conservative enough and so won’t bother to vote for them… This is how they’re trying to address that issue. Nothing more substantive than that.
This still leaves the debt ceiling issue… and of course, incurring yet more federal debt is a bad thing. We are already at more than 105% of GDP (of course, that’s far lower than most other nations, but it’s still quite bad).
However, since it is quite literally impossible for any continuing appropriation to be passed that doesn’t require increasing the debt ceiling… In fact, even without a continuing appropriation the debt ceiling will need to be increased (because of credit payments, entitlements, and other already legislated spending); the debt ceiling is GOING to be raised.
Either that, or an accounting trick will be used to do the same thing.
It’s not a solution. It’s a requirement of the circumstances.
Balancing the budget… that’s a joke; given that we haven’t actually PASSED a budget or OPERATED under a budget , since 1997. From 1998, the government hasn’t been funded with a passed budget, it’s been funded with omnibus spending and special appropropriation bills, and continuing resolutions.
In fact, since Obama was elected, we haven’t even managed to pass an omnibus spending bill, and have exclusively funded the government with special appropriations and continuing resolutions.
The reality of the “debt ceiling” is, the U.S. is NOT going to default on its credit payments, under any circumstances.
In the first place, a U.S. credit default would trigger a world wide economic collapse and long term depression the likes of which have not been dreamed of outside of dystopian fiction.
So yeah… that’s bad… let’s not do that.
Even if that weren’t true, the politicians in this country are not going to let people miss entitlement payments… which is the whole reason why we don’t have a budget in the first place…
Every politician in America knows that if they get blamed for their constituents missing a social security check, they are done… dead… never to be elected to anything, even dog catcher, again.
So, any threat not to raise the debt ceiling, or to have a true and complete government shutdown, really is just grandstanding.
Until we make serious cuts to entitlements, we are not going to have anything close to a balanced budget. No politician in this country who has actually managed to get elected and wants to be re-elected is going to EVER under any circumstances, vote to cut entitlements. Therefore we are never going to have a balanced budget again… or at least not until there is a real unavoidable crisis, where they can cover themselves by saying “we had to do it to save the country”, and their opponents can only look like irresponsible liars if they try to say otherwise…
Of course, if this country weren’t filled with economically and politically ignorant “citizens”, then perhaps the electorate as a whole would understand that we’ve long past the point at which such a crisis could be avoided, and that something really needs to be done right now…
Unfortunately, what looked like it was going to be the first major group of voters working for entitlement cuts in this country, the “tea party”; was quickly overrun by a huge number of these idiots who, completely un-self aware were saying, with complete sincerity “get the government out of healthcare and welfare… but don’t touch my social security and medicare”.
The politicians noticed this… Particularly the smart ones… Like, say, Ted Cruz.
I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.
Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra
Bashar al-Assad has allegedly crossed what President Obama called a “red line” using chemical weapons against up to 1,000 people. The threat of chemical weapons and other WMD by such unsavory characters as Saddam Hussein was the major pretext for “preemptive” war with Iraq.
President George W. Bush argued that regime change was necessary due to the fact that Hussein used these awful weapons in the Iraq-Iran war and against the Kurds. In this post 9/11 world, “outlaw regimes,” particularly those he dubbed the “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) were a threat to the civilized world which could no longer be tolerated. Chemical weapons are so taboo, after all, even the Nazis opted not to use chemical weapons on the battlefield!*
But as this article in Foreign Policy points out in analyzing declassified CIA documents, the use of these weapons was not so taboo inside the CIA at the time when Saddam Hussein used them against Iran (yes, the very same event which would later be cited as a reason to attack Iraq about a decade and a half later):
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.
U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.
“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.
It seems that U.S. foreign policy is quite hypocritical, no? Using chemical weapons are fine as long as they are being used against a nation the administration at the time happens to dislike, for whatever reason…until a later administration decides differently. While the use of chemical weapons is very inhumane and rightfully condemned by the civilized world, the U.S. hardly has the moral high ground in deciding where any red line is or what action should be taken whenever it is crossed.**
*Not that the Nazis had some sort of moral objection to using such weapons when exterminating the Jews. The reason these weapons weren’t used on the battlefield was probably due to the difficulty in using chemical weapons in anything other than ideal weather conditions and that they did not want the Allies to use the weapons used against them.
**Assuming there is no direct threat to national security of the U.S.