Tuesday, October 1, 2013

US Government Shutdown: don't blame the Republicans – blame whoever spent all the money!

The Telegraph ^ | 10/1/2013 | Tim Stanley

Okay, so let's get the mainstream media analysis of the looming shutdown out of the way first. The House Republicans are led by a moderate weakling (Boehner) who is being held hostage by a gaggle of Tea Party crazies determined to destroy a humanitarian law known as Obamacare that is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to rescue us from disease, poverty, global warming and Robin Thicke. Obama (Father of the Nation and possibly Jesus, but he's too humble to admit it) and the lions of the Senate are standing their ground. And so the Federal Government faces catastrophe because a GOP alliance of cowards and loons won't see reason and bend to the public will as represented by the glorious Democrats. Prepare yourself for society to collapse as museum workers don't turn up for work in the morning…
The reality is that this crisis has been caused by two things: a) overspending and b) the Constitution of the United States. On the overspend, the US has reached this point of crisis because it has failed to curtail spending effectively – and it has failed to do that because Democrats have consistently refused to make genuinely tough choices (the dreaded sequester was, itself, a plan to delay making a plan that has now started catching up with the President who called for a sequester in the first place). I could recite all those big debt numbers that run into hundreds of zeroes but for a simpler sense of the madness consider the spending spree that has been going on in just the past few days. In a dash to "use it or lose it", The Washington Post reports that,
This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.

(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.telegraph.co.uk ...

Obama's Shutdown Strategy Banks On The Press Blaming Republicans Like They Did In the '90s

Newsbusters ^ | 9/30/2013 | Mark Finkelstein

The list of things on which Barack Obama has been wrong goes on to the crack of doom.  But there's one thing on which the President is surely right. In devising his strategy for dealing with the shutdown, the prez can count on the MSM to blame Republicans.

Mark Halperin bared the president's calculus on today's Morning Joe, saying the Obama admin has little incentive to negotiate because it believes a "sympathetic" press will blame Republicans like they did in the 1990s, accusing them of being "obstructionist."  View the video after the jump.

Halperin offered what amounted to an indictment of MSM bias.  But no one on the panel made a peep. They apparently just took it as a given that is neither controversial nor objectionable.

Watch Halperin let the cat out of the bag.

WILLIE GEIST: Mark, at this point then, what is President Obama's incentive to negotiate? Because if he sits there, the law that he championed and the law that he got passed and the law that was upheld by the Supreme Court will go into effect. If he doesn't -- if he doesn't give anything up on this he gets what he wants. Why does he negotiate with Republicans?

MARK HALPERIN: Here what's the White House and to some extent the Hill is going to monitor. One is how the press covers the shutdown and does it just go back into the '90s mode of sayingobstructionist Republicans are causing a shutdown and people, real people are hurting? And the White House is assuming that's going to happen. Then they're going to watch the polls and see whether it's not just partisan. Whether by the end of the week there are surveys that show public/private, that people are blaming Republicans and that that's going to put pressure on Boehner to come to the floor and either force his -- some members of his own conference beyond the handful who will never be with him on this to have a compromise. So they don't have to capitulate on the floor. They don't let Nancy Pelosi dictate what gets passed. So the White House does not have much incentive. Because they think--they think--those trends are going to go in their direction by the end of the week or early next week at the latest because again, the press is largely sympathetic to their arguments on this that it's the House Republicans' fault. 

US employers slashing worker hours to avoid Obamacare insurance mandate!

The Guardian ^ | 10/1/2013 | Karen McVeigh

Avita Samuels has worked at the Mall of America in Minneapolis for the last four years, juggling a sales job with her studies in political science and law at the University of Minnesota. The 24-year-old has been the top sales associate for the last three years and works between 29 and 35 hours a week. But over the past few months, she said, she has watched as friends working in stores around her have their hours and benefits slashed – and she's worried that she will be next.
Forever 21, the clothing store, told staff last month in a memo leaked to the press that it planned to cut hours and reclassify some full-time workers as part- time. The move, which the company denied had anything to do with President Barack Obama's health reforms, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will nevertheless help it avoid a mandate under the legislation requiring companies with 50 or more employees to offer those working 30 hours a week or more health insurance. Earlier this month, Seaworld, which operates 11 entertainment parks across the US, capped hours for part time workers at 28, down from 32, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
(Excerpt) Read more at theguardian.com ...

US government shutdown: Barack Obama is presiding over the end of America's superpower status!

The Telegraph ^ | 10/1/2013 | Con Coughlin

For a country that is supposed to be the most powerful in the world, the fact that Americans have today woken up  to find large swathes of their nation closed for business is humiliating.
Thanks to President Barack Obama obduracy over his flagship healthcare policy, Democrats and Republicans have failed to reach agreement in Congress on the federal budget, forcing the US Government to close down for the first time in 17 years, with around 700,000 federal workers being placed on indefinite leave.
There was a time not so long ago when the world looked to America for both political and economic leadership. But now that can no longer be taken for granted thanks to Mr Obama's inability to provide decisive leadership on either front.
Republicans rightly argue that by pressing ahead with Obamacare before the implications of the programme have been properly assessed risks adding to America's debt mountain at a time when the American economy is still recovering from the biggest economic crisis in recent history.
The emergence of Russia, meanwhile, as the main power broker in the Syria crisis has severely damaged America's standing as a major global player.
In short, the longer the Obama presidency continues, the more America's status as a superpower ebbs away.
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.telegraph.co.uk ...

If Only Obamacare Had Been Passed With Careful Deliberation

Townhall.com ^ | October 1, 2013 | Michael Barone

Many Democrats are genuinely puzzled about Republicans' continuing opposition to Obamacare. It is the law of the land, these Democrats say. Critics should accept it, as critics accepted Medicare.
They should work constructively and across the aisle with Democrats to repair any flaws and make the law work to help people.
Historical analogies are often useful, but can be misleading. Certainly so in this case: Republicans, like it or not, are behaving differently from the way they behaved after the passage of Medicare in 1965.
To understand why there is continued resistance to Obamacare and why majorities of voters continue to oppose it in polls, a different historical analogy is helpful.
It is an example of a law that was bitterly opposed but that was accepted by opponents to a much greater extent than even many of its advocates expected: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The most controversial provision of the law was Title II, prohibiting racial discrimination in public accommodations -- hotels, motels, restaurants and theaters. This overturned Southern state laws requiring racial segregation in such facilities.
There was good reason to believe that this law would be hard to enforce in practice, as recent experience of the Freedom Riders showed.
Starting in May 1961, civil rights groups organized biracial groups to ride on interstate bus lines in the South. Segregated interstate transportation had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1946, but Southern states ignored the ruling.
Freedom Riders were physically attacked with baseball bats and bicycle chains in South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. Birmingham police chief Bull Connor (then a Democratic National Committeeman) organized mob attacks. A bus was firebombed near Anniston, Ala.
Attorney General Robert Kennedy called for a "cooling off period." The Kennedy administration eventually got Southern governors to provide police escorts for Freedom Ride buses and not to interfere if the Riders were arrested.
I have often wondered what the politicians and journalists who favored equal rights but urged civil rights protesters to go slowly were thinking. They must have believed that protests would provoke violence, and that most of the people hurt would be black.
Surely many of those who supported desegregating public accommodations must have feared widespread noncompliance and continuing violence. But in fact these things did not happen to any great extent.
Why not? The way the law was passed.
In May 1963, Bull Connor turned police dogs and fire hoses on protesters in Birmingham. Technological developments enabled evening newscasts to bring the Birmingham story into Americans' living rooms.
A feeling that this was intolerable and that something must be done swept most of the nation. In June, President Kennedy went on evening television and endorsed a civil rights bill including public accommodations.
Congress had passed, after much deliberation, civil rights laws of narrower scope and lesser effect in 1957 and 1960. It proceeded with careful deliberation to pass a stronger bill this time.
The House Judiciary Committee reported a bill in November, just before Kennedy's assassination. The chairman of the Rules Committee, Howard Smith of Virginia, said he would not allow it to be considered.
Supporters sought the signatures of a majority of House members needed to bring the bill to the floor. They got them after members heard from their constituents over the winter break. The bill went to the floor in February and passed with bipartisan support, 290-130.
In the Senate, Southerners launched a filibuster that lasted 57 working days. It then required 67 votes to cut off debate. But in June, 71 senators voted for cloture and the bill passed 73-27.
Full compliance with the public accommodations section was not immediate. In Georgia, Lester Maddox closed his restaurant rather than serve blacks, and then was elected governor, narrowly, in 1966.
But after Congress acted in such deliberate fashion, and the Supreme Court upheld the law, white Southerners largely acquiesced. Traditional Southern courtesy replaced mob violence. Minds and hearts had been changed.
Obamacare has been a different story. Universal health care was promised, not to address a high-profile headline crisis, but because President Obama's twenty-something speechwriter wanted an applause line for a campaign speech.
The poorly drafted bill was passed almost entirely on party lines by exceedingly narrow margins -- and in the face of majority negative public opinion.
So it's not surprising that opponents won't accept its legitimacy or permanence. History tells us what that takes.

We've been following the moderates' advice, and where has it gotten us? Where has it gotten the nation?

GOP, You've Tried Surrender; Let's Try Fighting
Townhall.com ^ | October 1, 2013 | David Limbaugh

Why is it just assumed Republicans will automatically be blamed for any government shutdown over a budgetary impasse between Obama and his Democratic Party and Republicans?
More disturbingly, why do so many Republicans and right-leaning commentators surrender before we've even begun to fight?
Do our moderates believe there is any position President Obama and the Democrats could take that would result in the public's blaming Democrats, rather than Republicans, for a shutdown?
The moderates always cite polls that say Republicans will be blamed, but who decreed that polls are set in stone? Which Republicans, when they were campaigning for election, promised to govern according to the polls and not their principles?
But if we must discuss the polls, let me ask you to consider what would happen if the pollsters framed their questions as follows:
"Will you support efforts by congressional Republicans to defund Obamacare, even to the point of a government shutdown, because they believe it is the greatest destroyer of jobs today in America, it will reduce access to and the quality of health care, it will not ensure coverage or care for everyone, it will not allow people to keep their own doctors or their own plans, it will cost the government at least twice what Obama promised, it will not reduce the health care expenses of a typical family of four by $2,500 as Obama promised but increase them by some $7,400, it is such a legislative mess and so burdensome that many have demanded to be exempted from its various provisions and President Obama, in disregard of his own health care law and of the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine, granted, by executive fiat, special exemptions and delays to some and not others, and that the Internal Revenue Service, which has been caught red-handed abusing its power against the administration's political opponents, will be in charge of enforcing Obamacare?
"And, dear voter, wouldn't you agree that it's a bit unfair to conclude that Republicans are mainly at fault for shutting the government down when the Democratic Senate has continually ignored its legal duty to pass budgets, Senate Democrats have flat-out announced they won't negotiate and have leaked their secret desire that the government shuts down so they can demonize the Republicans, and Republicans have, in fact, passed several budgets, which only exclude the funding or delay the implementation of Obamacare, a law that is very unpopular with the American people?"
Of course, we'll never see poll questions so patently loaded, especially in favor of the Republican position. And we shouldn't. But we do see slanted poll questions all the time, subtly nudging the participants toward a desired response. I'm sure that's the case here.
But we shouldn't be defeated by poll questions based on a snapshot in time and based on fixed assumptions that don't allow for any change in public opinion based on future events and communications. Unless he is clairvoyant, no pollster can factor into his questions the precise unfolding of events leading to and after a shutdown, and the possibilities of how they're communicated are endless.
Polls can't possibly predict to any degree of reliability how the public would respond to a shutdown if Republicans finally united and articulated a compelling case to the public before and during a shutdown, including the points contained in my absurd hypothetical poll questions.
What if Republicans got together, instead of shooting one another in the backs, and made those points and also hammered Obama for refusing to come to the table on real spending and entitlement cuts?
Objectively speaking, Obama's position all along has been indefensible. Almost nothing he's said about Obamacare is true -- and this can be easily demonstrated. He will not do anything about our short- and long-term spending problems, and he and his party are the ones who are absolutely refusing to negotiate in good faith, if at all, on these budgetary issues.
Though I respect my more moderate friends on the right and don't wholly discount their position, I believe that their default defeatism and their friendly fire against principled conservatives such as Ted Cruz are damaging the GOP's chances of convincing the public of the unreasonableness of Obama's position and the reasonableness of their own.
I believe that if Republicans would finally draw a firm line in the sand and then go to the media with a united, 24/7 communications effort, they would -- with their courage, their principled stand and their contagious patriotism -- reignite the grass roots and inspire many others to recapture an optimistic spirit, a spirit that says that America is not yet dead and that there are still elected officeholders who are willing to stake their careers on saving this nation.