My Take on the Debt Ceiling Fight

Like many (whose job doesn’t entail following the news minute by minute), I find myself having a hard time keeping up with the twist and turns in the debt ceiling debate. One minute, there is a deal, the next…who knows. As each day goes by, there simultaneously seems there will be no raise in the debt ceiling and that a last minute deal (to avoid some supposed default) will be struck because neither party wants the default albatross hung around its neck.

However, the GOP seems to have won this particular battle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signaled that, despite his on-the-record rhetoric, the Senate is not looking at tax increases as part of any Senate deal. This is a singular blow to the White House, and a tacit admission of victory by the House GOP caucus. It seems that perhaps Reid is pushing this issue out another day or two to score some points with his party’s base, before he folds up the proverbial tent, “for the good of the country.” Reid knows that the Democrats’ position in this debate does not enjoy the support of most people, no matter how many times grandma is scared.

Despite all this, the GOP is not out of the woods yet. This issue, seemingly more than any other, has brought into stark relief the division between the class of 2010 and the pre-2010 Election members. The 2010 class, by and large elected through the energy of the tea party and other conservative grassroots movements, came into office with a clear mission to stem the growth of the federal government and stop or slow down the policies being pushed by President Obama and Harry Reid. The debt ceiling debate touches on all of the issues that mobilized so many conservatives in 2010 and will probably do so in 2012. House Speaker John Boehner has seemed able to manage the rift in his caucus up to this point, but some cracks have shown in the facade during this debate. Many of the House freshmen, and their more conservative colleagues, have the fresh memory of the last Continuing Resolution and the many (phony) cuts in spending that were touted by the Speaker which were used to get many of these same house members on board with it.

Of course, all of this talk of default could come to naught. There is the possibility of a government shutdown to avoid default, however that is by no means a long-term cure. Any shutdown, rest assured, will be laid at the feet of the Republicans by the mainstream media and the Democrat party. There is also differing opinions on when a default may actually occur. Despite the perceived public relations damage, Republicans should stick firm to the idea of no increase in taxes. They already have a tacit agreement from Reid, and the President is going to be under ever-increasing pressure to sign anything that comes out of Congress (which the White House alluded to over the weekend). Is the package everything conservatives want? No. Will we have to hold both our Congress members’ feet to the fire to get real, meaningful spending cuts, especially if a debt reduction commission is put in place as part of a deal? Yes. But this was never going to be the singular battle. This is, to use the old tone, a war of attrition. Our system did not become dysfunctional overnight, and fixing it will take just as long, if not longer. Let’s take what we can, and move on to the next fight.

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A Fresh Face for NC

As a relatively new blogger, I was excited to get an invitation to participate in a blogger’s conference call helping to kick off the candidacy of Renee Ellmers, who is running for Bob Etheridge’s seat in the House of Representatives.

Honestly, I am normally a bit skeptical of these kinds of events, but since it isn’t everyday that a small time blogger such as myself gets invited to one of these, I took the opportunity to participate. As I began looking into who Renee Ellmers is, I became more interested in hearing about her candidacy.

Without regurgitating her bio (you can check out her website here), the part of her story that interested me the most is that she is not your typical politician, nor is she coming out of the typical politician “farm team” (that being a lawyer). She is a nurse by training and vocation, and up until recently has had no interest in running for public office. In what I suspect will be a story repeated throughout this country, Renee decided to get involved in running for office after the contentious debate over healthcare during the summer of 2009.

Renee’s candidacy is exciting to see for two reasons. One is that she is running to unseat a long-term Democrat incumbent in Bob Etheridge. Two, Renee’s candidacy is more of  what our Founders had in mind when they created a sense of civic virtue. Our Founders never intended for public service to be a career. Most of them saw public service as an obligation that one fulfilled, not a vocation in which you served long enough to draw a pension.

George Washington, I think, best embodies the ideal in this case. He was more than willing to serve his country, but he was always looking forward to returning home to his vocation of planter. He never saw himself as a politician or career public servant. He viewed his public service, both as a general and as President, as an obligation he owed to the country, and never saw his public office as something he was owed.

Obviously, I am not comparing Renee Ellmers to George Washington, but her story is one that I think he would recognize. She sees the country at a crossroads, and is very concerned about its direction and especially its impact on the next generation. As she put it on the conference call, being a mom is what really got her to run for public office. It seems that Renee sees holding public office is a way for her to help her country, and I suspect that, if she wins, she will always have one eye on returning to the medical practice that she and her husband run in Dunn, NC. If we can get a few more people like Renee in office, and a few more of the career politicians out, I suspect our government, and our lives will be the better for it.

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What the Austin Incident might tell us

The incident on Thursday in Austin where a man crazy man flew his airplane into an office building that housed the local IRS office has given me a lot to think about. I struggled whether to touch on this subject or not, since what I want to say could be construed as I support or am defending this guy’s actions. So let me say up front that I do not. One of the great things about our country is that we have largely avoided political violence as a part of our national experience. Yes, there are some exceptions – but for the vast majority of time, while we may be loud and a bit rowdy at times in our political discourse, it stays largely within the battlefield of ideas.

So, for those of you hard of hearing (so to speak), let me reiterate it: Stack was absolutely wrong in what he did, and all right thinking people should condemn it. Having said that, here comes the (potentially) controversial part of what I have been thinking. There is a link between the incident in Austin and an increasingly intrusionary governemnt apparatus. Let me expand on that.

Stack’s complaint (or one of…his “manifesto” wasn’t exactly coherant) was with a government that seemed to have little disregard for his plight. Anyone who has ever dealt with the IRS, or heck even the local DMV, can relate to that one. He say the government as something that simultaneously was more intrusive into his life and at the same time less and less concerned about his welfare. The leftist rantings aside (oh yeah, read the manifesto…the Federalist Papers it ain’t). Unfortunately, you combine the sense of frustration and inattention he felt with his craziness, and Stack comes up with his murderous idea.

Now I am certainly not saying that the people working in that building deserved what they got, no more than I believe the people working in the World Trade Center towers deserved what they experienced on 9/11 (you hear me Ward?).  What I am saying is that this incident serves as a signpost to us. Incidents like what happened in Austin are part of the reason why the Founding Fathers sought to design a limited government. Most of them understood political violence, the Revolution notwithstanding. The years leading up to the Revolution was filled with attacks on officials, tar and featherings (and worse), and other acts that  came about, in part, because of people’s frustration and anger at a distant, impersonal, and seemingly draconian government (sound familiar). In their view, a government that left people alone as much as possible was also a government that would not become a target of the people’s ire.

Fast forward to the present, with government at all levels increasingly telling us how to live, what to eat, what to drive, what temperature to set our thermostats to, what pressure we should have in our tires…is it all that surprising that crazy finds government to be the biggest target out there?

In the end, outside of the human tragedy, it is also a worrisome sign. Think of it as a proverbial canary in the coal mine. If the canary died, the miners knew to get the heck out of the mine because they too would soon be overcome. While you can always argue that these kind of acts are singular events perpetrated by the crazy and the fringe, maybe they are also a kind of warning. Maybe I am wrong, but it is something that ought to be thought about at least.

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Don’t Tell Me…

Obama’s first State of the Union address is just a few hours away, and much of what the media (new and old) has focused on are what the President will say about issues such as spending and health care. Given the recent developments on these fronts, it easy to focus on them. However, one of the issues that the President will be bringing up is the issue of gays serving in the military.

This issue is one that has bothered the left for years, and is one of the things that is often cited as one of Clinton’s “sell-outs” amongst that group. Many of  you may not remember that the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a compromise between the Clinton administration (which desperately wanted gays to be able to serve openly) and the military (that desperately did not).

The problem with this policy, like so many coming from the left, is that it attempts to make the situation into something that it will never be (and probably never should be). In this case, the left wants to treat the military as a giant social engineering experiment. It looks at the military as an opportunity to test out its desired social policies, since the vast majority of those in the military would have to comply whether they liked it or not (you know, that whole chain of command thing).

The left conveniently forgets that the military is not just another large organization. As much as lefties may squirm at this fact, it’s reason for being is to defend this country, which usually entails defeating its enemies on the battlefield. This often requires actually killing another person (as opposed to Mirandizing them and sending them at an art therapy program). This business is hard, dirty work and requires several things that most other organizations don’t have a need for. One is a requirement to follow orders, no matter how seemingly trivial or insignificant. Another is a little intangible called unit cohesion. This can take on many forms, but for brevity’s sake, let’s define it as the need for the personnel within a unit to act as one.

Anything that causes damage to this unit cohesion is generally frowned upon. A great deal of time and energy is invested in developing and maintaining unit cohesion. One of the many arguments from the military at the time the policy was enacted was that it could damage unit cohesion at the small unit level (where it really matters). Like it or not, it was a serious worry, and probably remains so.

Now comes President Obama, who campaigned on (amongst other hare-brained ideas) to repeal “Don’t Ask” so that gays can serve openly in the military. Now that his great two-headed monster of health care reform (takeover) and cap and trade seem to be dead on arrival, he needs to do something to help placate his progressive base, which is becoming increasingly frustrated with his seeming inability to ram the progressive agenda home once and for all.

While it is unfortunate that the Obama administration thinks that making this change (which is very unpopular within the military) while we are prosecuting a war, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. The left, of which President Obama is still a member in good standing (despite all this talk about spending freezes and populist anger), is pushing hard for him to make a substantive change that aligns with their goals. Someone on Obama’s team has examined the factors and decided that now is the time to push this policy change through. While it may excite his progressive comrades, it completely ignores the needs and desires of the military. Civilian control of the military is one thing, but continued meddling in the inner workings of the military, especially instituting grossly unpopular social engineering policies, is just another bad progressive idea.

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Yes, we ARE serious!

As I write this post, we are probably no more than 24 hours away from the government taking yet another move to further control its citizens and deny individuals the freedom to do as they wish. By all reports, what little resistance the Republicans could muster in the Senate has largely melted away, and for Christmas, the United States of America will take a large step towards government control over its health care system. For Progressives and other Leftists, despite their public protestations, this is as close to their dream as they have been able to come in the one hundred plus years of the Progressive/Socialist/Communist movement.

In the laundry list of repugnant items that are in the health care bills is the individual mandate. Out of all of the items within these bills, this is the one item that does the most damage to individual liberty. For those of you living under a rock, the individual mandate portion of these bills will make it illegal to NOT have health insurance that meets the criteria that will be determined by the Federal government.  That means that the government will now make the service of a private company mandatory to own/purchase in order to be a citizen in good standing of the United States of America. This, to put it mildly, is unprecedented (and no, Liberals, car insurance is NOT the same).

To any serious student of the Constitution, and of our country’s history, there is little evidence upon which one could argue that Progressivism is aligned with the Constitution. In fact, it is hostile to any instrument which places restrictions on the state (read that the government). As our current President has lamented, the Constitution is a list of “negative rights”. It defines what the Federal government cannot do, not what it should do. As such, the Constitution is despised by collectivists of all stripes, since it shackles the very thing they rely on to force others to bend to their will.

This explains the incredulousness of Nancy Pelosi recently when she was asked where in the Constitution is the authority given to mandate that the government force people to buy a particular good or service, in this case health insurance. Her reply to the question: “Are you serious?” In so many words, this is the answer given by every Senator or Congressman that has been asked the same question. The dirty little secret in all this is that, not only is it NOT in the Constitution, they do not care that it isn’t there.

One of the biggest lies that has been promulgated by the Progressive movement is that of the “living Constitution.” Being a product of the public education system in the United States, I was fed the lie throughout my education that the Constitution has to be able to change and grow with the times. Luckily, I had some matter left between my ears after my sentence, er, education, so I was able to deduce for myself that the living Constitution thingy was a load of Leftist poo.

Luckily, the Left has felt so sure of itself over this past year that it has abandoned many of the smokescreens and double-speak that it has used for years to cover up their true intentions. So, instead of feeding us some line about constitutionality and compassion and lawyers (apparently, Mary Landrieu did not get the memo), Ms. Pelosi felt she could reveal her true derision for the Constitution.

As we approach 2010, and an election year, it is important for all those who love liberty and respect the true, original intent of the Constitution to continue keeping score. We must deliver a message that is so clear and so unmistakable, so as to be noticed by even Ms. Pelosi.  Yes, we ARE serious…now answer the question!

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Filed under Conservatism, Constitution, Health Care, Politics

Today’s The Day

Well, it looks like today is the day on health care reform. After a summer of town halls, tea parties, back room negotiations and language changes, it seems that Comrade Pelosi has had enough of waiting around for the brave new world to arrive. It appears likely that there will be a vote on health care reform sometime this weekend.

I am not an expert at counting votes, and I have little insider knowledge to allow me to pontificate on whether she has enough votes to ram this through. I do know one thing: if it comes to a vote on the floor, she will have enough.

If it does pass the house and manage to pass the Senate, there is going to only really be one way to fix it and that is vote in conservatives (as opposed to RINOs) in the 2010 election cycle and vote in a conservative President in 2012. Even if the Congress goes back to Republicans in 2010, Obama would never sign something that repeals or significantly curtails the program he and the Congress are trying to ram down the American people’s necks.

There is some hope in the way of a state “opt-out”, but depending on how it is structured (assuming it makes it into some version of this monstrosity), it could be an empty promise for those states that tend to be conservative and don’t want to have this particular millstone around their necks.

We could go down the road about how we got here, the state of our society, etc., but that is another topic for another day. It is time to make those calls, emails, and even physical visits. Supposedly, there may be another gathering at the Capitol Building today. If you are near there, please go for those of us who can’t be there. Maybe we can hold this thing off again, as we did this summer.

Cross posted at RedState.

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What I Did On Summer Vacation, Part I

Yes, yes I realize that my summer break was a little longer than just the summer.  While the excuses are many, the important thing is that I am back and ready to resume my own little battle in the war of ideas.

Despite my extended absence on my blog, I was not just sitting idly by. Beyond calling and emailing my particular congress critters, I have been doing a good deal of reading. So today, to mark my return to the blog, I will do what countless schoolchildren have had to recently do: recite to the class what they did on summer vacation. In my case, I am going to offer up a short review of each book – not all at once, but interspersed in with other posts as we go into the fall (and probably winter) of our national discontent.

LFFirst up is a book by a writer that I hope is not unfamiliar to most of you. If he is, do yourself a favor and start reading his articles. It is Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, who writes for the National Review. I realize that this is not a new book, however it is new to me and, well, its my blog. At any rate, as you can probably guess by the book’s title, Goldberg’s main proposition is that liberalism (with a big L) lends itself to, or even creates, fascistic movements. He then goes on to lay out the historical case for why this is, moving from the end of World War I and the rise of Fascism in Italy, through the radicalization of the Progressive/Liberal movement in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s, up to today with the Left’s focus on political correctness, multiculturalism, and identity politics.

The most important thing that I gained from this book (and why I highly suggest you read it) is that it really turns many of the orthodox views in political history and political systematology on their head. Having spent a good deal of my education (both formal and self-imposed) in these areas, this book was really an “aha” moment for me. It isn’t so much that Goldberg revises history in a way that fits my worldview (although he is often accused of being a “revisionist”), it is that his re-telling of these historical events makes sense when placed in the political context of the late 19th and early 20th Century. For example, he points out, through primary documentation, that Mussolini did not consider himself right-wing at all. He was a died-in-the-wool socialist. National Socialism, hence, was not a right-wing or reactionary political movement, but a primarily socialist one mixed with totalitarian components such as such as worship of the state. Goldberg also does a great job of documenting the war between the communists and National Socialists in both Italy and, especially, Germany.  His point is not that these were two political ideologies combatting each other from opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, it is that these were basically turf wars. They fought over the same piece of ground, ideologically speaking.

Here’s where Goldberg turns over an orthodoxy. Political Science 101 is that there is a spectrum of political ideologies that has the unique characteristic of being circular in nature. Think of a circle that starts and ends at the 6 o’clock position. This is where totalitarianism resides. At the 12 o’clock position is liberalism, it being the opposite of totalitarianism. Now, if you go around the circle to the right from liberalism, you arrive at fascism (or so the “experts” say). If you go to the left, you arrive at communism. However, either way, you have arrived at totalitarianism. The point is that fascism and communism are really the same ideology, just one is “right wing,” the other left. Goldberg points out the fallacy in this argument by his fairly thorough examination of fascism as a socialist movement. To Goldberg, the political spectrum is not a circle, but a line, and both fascism and communism are well to the left of the center.

Goldberg also details the Left’s love affair with National Socialism, and Mussolini in particular, in the United States. Quite frankly, this is not the sort of history you get from your average U.S. History class. He shows how both were looked upon father favorably until the onset of the Second World War. Many on the Left saw National Socialism as the next logical step from the vast amount of planning that had been put in place during the New Deal (a topic we will cover in another review). He also shows how the Left was able to manipulate the view that Fascism was not a left-wing movement, but a right-wing one during the post-War years, in order to distance itself from a political ideology that was now inextricably tied up with genocide.

Goldberg also does a good job of exposing the skeletons in the Left’s closet, such as eugenics. While this topic is generally swept under the rug in your normal history class, Goldberg draws a damning web between progressives and the eugenics movement that was alive and well in the United States until well after the Second World War. He also shows the direct line from the eugenics movement to that bastion of progressive ideology, the “pro-choice” abortion movement.

Quite frankly, I could go on, but my suggestion is that you read this book. Especially if you are as concerned about the direction the Progressives (read that Liberals, the Left, or the Democratic National Committee) are taking this country. As you can guess, Goldberg has taken a good deal of fire from historians in academia (since most of them are part of this very movement, or are at least supportive of its aims) (you can follow much of it, as well as his take on current events here – although the blog isn’t being updated as of August). However, it is hard to combat the prodigious amount of primary documentation he uses, especially on the whole National Socialist topic. This book also does a great job of filling in many of the holes that most have regarding U.S. History, especially this country’s political history during the 20th Century. Again, there is good reason, because it doesn’t make the Progressive movement look very good, and let’s face it, that’s who is writing the history (at least the textbooks).

So, do yourself a favor. Read the book, even if you consider yourself a “liberal”. It is hard to ignore the historical evidence, and it will give you a better understanding of the ideological conflicts in present-day America.

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