Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt, Deficit, and the Un-Seriouness of Washington in the Debt Ceiling Debate

As someone that cares deeply about the future of our greatest nation on earth, and as a political junky, I have watched a lot of the debt ceiling debate on C-Span over the course of the last week. Of course from my “objective” perspective, the big government types of both parties are the ones at fault in this conundrum. While the Tea Party members of the house seem to be the only ones typically standing on principle, it looks like the latest deal now in the works will not contain many of the critical aspects with which they insisted must be included. With the loss of their support on this Reid/McConnell/Boehner Frankenstein compromise, one can only assume that the party leaders on both sides are looking at how to get this bill passed despite the Tea Party opposition. In other words they are trying to appeal to the Democrats and “moderate” big-government Republicans in the House of Representative. Therefore, business continues as usual in Washington D.C. and that compromise is NOT what our country so desperately needs right now.

Various reporting agencies have threatened downgrades in America’s triple A bond rating if our debt situation is not addressed. Indeed, Standard and Poors chairman of the company’s sovereign rating committee, John Chambers, has recently said that a minimum of "$4 trillion would be a good down payment… A grand bargain of that nature would signal the seriousness of policy makers to address the fiscal situation in the U.S.".

So what do our elected officials do in their “compromise”? Well the current bill that both houses of congress now seem hopeful about, and the White House has indicated would be acceptable to it, is estimated to be a $2.8 trillion dollar deal. Early reports say that $1 trillion in cuts in spending will be decided by lawmakers, while the remaining $1.8 trillion will be decided by a joint commission. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before! In attempts to appeal to the Republicans, there will be no tax hikes in the bill, while the White House will get its way and not have to address the issue again until after the 2012 elections. No indication of a balanced budget amendment were noted in the report, which will surely be a deal killer to many in the Tea Party caucus.

I suppose I should be happy in the fact that the debate has at least shifted to the proper perspective, thanks to the principled stand of the Tea Party Republicans. Indeed, President Obama had requested a clean bill authorizing the extending of the debt ceiling without any other provisions attached. Obviously, this did not happen; however, had those stalwart few not been there to declare “No!”, one suspects that this whole debate regarding the critical necessity of our cutting our debt would never have occurred in the first place. The Senate would have passed, and the House would have grumbled but reluctantly passed this debt ceiling extension otherwise, I suspect.

The ironic thing is that this bill still does NOT cut our debt one single cent. It simply cuts our deficit spending. In other words, there is no reduction in the $14.5 trillion in national debt that America owes. We simply are cutting how fast we are deficit spending and thus adding to that debt. No wonder that credit rating agencies are threatening to downgrade our bond rating.

The pernicious Democrats lead by Reid, Schumer, and Durbin in the Senate have been particularly disingenuous in demagoguing the issue in their strict adherence to partisan politics. They decry that they are not the ones preventing a deal being made and that they are serious about reducing our spending. This is unadulterated horse apples! The Senate Democrats, under Senator Reid’s majority leadership, have failed to even abide by their primary obligation in producing a federal budget for over 800 days. In other words, we are into the third year of funding our government through continuing resolutions because of the failure of responsible leadership in putting together ANY budget in the Senate, let alone one that actually would have us live within our means.

The House of Representatives, under Speaker John Boehner, produced and passed a budget that was guided by the well-thought-out and serious Ryan Plan. Further, they passed a serious bill that they sent to the Senate called Cut, Cap, and Balance that would begin the process of putting our financial house in order. The Democrats in the Senate and the White House have balked at these and tabled them accordingly, and yet have produced no plan of their own in response. They then have the audacity to state that it is the Republicans in the House that are stalling the process and playing politics. Sharon Angle may very well have been a bird of a different feather, but one can’t help but think that had she won her race against the politically intransigent Harry Reid , that we would indeed have had one less quack in the Senate.

Anyway, the deal is seemingly promising in its likely passage. The seriousness of the issues have been scuttled. The cutting of the debt in this deal will be non-existent, and the business in congress will continue as is typical. We will very likely be downgraded in our bond rating accordingly, despite this “wonderful” compromise deal, and frankly we deserve to be downgraded. When that happens, the Democrats and the President will claim that the stalling by the Tea Party in the House caused this to happen, and the sycophantic statist media will parrot that propaganda.

Unless the facts get out and people pay attention to the dire seriousness of the problem that we MUST cut our debt and not just our deficit, by definition the amount our government owes will only continue to increase. Indeed, if left on this current trajectory, our spending will equal our yearly GDP within a decade. No nation can long survive such profligate spending, and simply agreeing on a politically expedient compromise bill that does not address any of the root causes of the problem simply assures that the impending doom awaiting us will be here before we all know it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Senator Rubio Summarizes Obama's Failure of Leadership

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida summarizes succinctly President Obama's failure of leadership in the current debt ceiling crisis.  Ironically it is a failure of leadership that President Obama accurately pointed out as being a characteristic of his predecessor when then-Senator Obama refused to vote to raise the debt ceiling under President Bush's administration.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Giving In To Progressives

Over the course of all of the years that I have spent arguing with progressives, I have finally determined that I should no longer attempt to fight an inexorable force.  That said, I am now in agreement with some of their most ardent wishes as follows:

A. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.

B. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.

C. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.

D. In three generations, there will be no progressives left in America.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Parable of the Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see the beauty.”

Then the second tree said, “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”

Finally, the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, “I don't need anything special from my tree. I'll take this one,” and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all for which he had prayed.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.

The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree did not think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said “Peace” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. Indeed, if you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they had wished and prayed for, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not our ways, but with His unfailing sight and love, His ways for us are always best.

H/T Flamminio

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jim Meskimen Recites Shakespeare in Celebrity Impressions

This gentleman is truly remarkable with his celebrity impressions as he recites a Shakespearen monologue!  Enjoy!

H/T Carrie

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Utah 'Pre-Ratifies' U.S. Balanced Budget Amendment

Yesterday the Utah state congress passed a resolution to “pre-ratify” a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution should the United States Congress approve such a desperately needed measure. Utah is the first and currently only state to say that they will support such an amendment to the United States Constitution which will require our federal government to maintain a balanced budget and no longer run our nation via deficit spending.

Currently, 49 out of 50 states require either by state constitutional stipulations or other statutory means to maintain a balanced budget for their respective states. The push for a federal amendment to the Constitution has long been a pipe dream of many fiscally conscientious folks. Now that the U.S. debt is rapidly approaching $15 trillion and negotiations in congress to raise our debt ceiling yet again before the August 2nd deadline occurs, a critical part of Republican legislation offered in exchange for such spending increase authority is the passage of a federal balanced budget amendment. This is part of the G.O.P.’s plan to cut, cap, and balance the budget accordingly via legislation of that same name. Of course any amendment to the United States Constitution must be passed with at least a 2/3rds majority in both houses of congress and then be approved by at least ¾ of all state legislatures in the union. With the fiscal irresponsibility shown by our federal “leaders”, the time has seemingly now arrived when passage of such a bill is indeed finally a distinct likelihood.

The Utah House of Representatives passed their non-binding pre-ratification resolution yesterday for the U.S. Constitutional amendment by a 51 to 12 vote, while the Utah Senate approved it with only one dissenting vote, which was cast by Democratic State Senator Luz Robles of the Salt Lake District.

Coincidentally, it was the United States Senator from Utah, Mike Lee, that introduced the “cut, cap, and balance” act in the U.S. Senate after being approved in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 234 to 190 vote. Senator Lee authored, “The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government,” and said that there are some members of Congress that are quite reluctant to support his amendment even though polls show wide public support for a balanced budget amendment.

When asked why, Lee said, “Because a balanced budget amendment would make politicians less powerful. It would make Congress as an institution less powerful.” Lee continued, “We need the balanced budget amendment to save the American people from this power. Every time we expand the power of the federal government we run the risk of interfering with the individual liberty of Americans.”

Mike Lee was the Tea Party candidate that upset former Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett in the G.O.P. primary last year. Bennett had drawn the ire of many fiscal conservatives within the state for his big government voting record and thus was challenged and summarily defeated for his seat in 2010. Lee has thus far proven to be a reliable conservative that has done what he had promised to do accordingly, including working with the other U.S. Senator from Utah, Orin Hatch, in trying to rally support for the United States Constitutional amendment for a balanced budget in the U.S. senate.

Utah’s state legislature’s pre-ratifying of this federal amendment will hopefully provide the impetus to the eventual passage by the U.S. congress and at least 38 other state legislatures accordingly. It would seem that only through constitutional means will the people of the United States be able to reign in the overspending by our elected officials otherwise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Two Different Americas as Seen in California vs. Texas

It would seem that the nation has become so polarized these days that often times conservatives and liberals don't even share a common language anymore.  While the following example is meant to be somewhat funny and tongue-in-cheek, there is definitely more than a grain of truth to it all.  That said, our polarized nation is neatly characterized by the typical Californian's vocabulary as compared to that of the typical Texan's.  (Austin notwithstanding.)  Cheers y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Parable of the Pencil

Every once in awhile something unique happens by and catches my attention which causes me to slow down for a moment and take notice of it. The following artistry is just such a thing. An old navy buddy of mine sent me an email the other day that contained some pictures of the remarkable work done by this particular artist named Dalton Ghetti. His patience and steady hands must truly be remarkable.

Further, using Mr. Ghetti’s beautiful work as inspiration, there is indeed a parable here from which we can all learn.

A wise pencil maker told a brand new shiny pencil before he placed it in the box alongside other shiny new pencils that there were five very important lessons that it should consider and follow in order to have a fulfilling life.

The first lesson was that everything you do in life will always leave a mark.

The second lesson was that you can go back and correct the mistakes you make.

The next lesson was that what is truly important is what is inside of you.

Continuing on, the fourth lesson was that in life you will undergo many painful sharpenings, which will only serve to make you better.

The final and perhaps the most important lesson was this: To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

May the sharpenings in your life only make you better for having endured them. May you be aware and grateful of the wonderful innate things that make you special, and may you be open to always being guided by the hand of God as He uses you in your life to create a masterpiece.

H/T: Rex

Monday, July 11, 2011

Obama's Trading of Wisdom for Power

In a meeting lasting over an hour last Sunday evening, President Obama insisted once again that more than $1 trillion in tax increases must be a part of any deficit reduction package in the negotiations with Republicans on whether to raise the debt ceiling. In that session, President Obama vehemently rejected a G.O.P. proposal to cut $2.5 trillion in spending cuts and various other reforms and instead continued with his insistence on raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy as a significant component of any plan.

In light of the continuing horrendous jobs report regarding our nation’s unemployment rate and the severely anemic economic growth, this tact seems particularly imprudent. President Obama appeared to have understood the danger of such tax increases during a recession once upon a time. Indeed, in August of 2009, during a trip to Indiana to shore up support for his stimulus plan, President Obama told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview that exact message. An Elkhart, Indiana resident by the name of Scott Ferguson asked a question of the President via Mr. Todd. His question was, “Explain how raising taxes on anyone during a deep recession is going to help with the economy.”

President Obama agreed with Mr. Ferguson’s premise in his response. “First of all, he’s right. Normally, you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to Scott is – his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

One wonders what has changed between then and now as far as President Obama’s understanding goes? Indeed, if anything, unemployment and the economic crisis are in an even more dire situation that would suffer more greatly from the effects of such tax increases now.

Of course the whole debate on raising the debt ceiling so that the federal government can continue its unabated spending seems preposterous in the extreme too. Once again, this is a fact that Senator Obama seemed to once understand. While sitting as Illinois’ Senator during the Bush administration, Obama said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here’. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Senator Obama was absolutely right- back then. Why the change of thinking on this now that he is president? Indeed President Obama’s economic advisor Austin Goolsbee argued at that same meeting Sunday night that a congressional refusal to increase the government’s debt ceiling, which currently sits at $14.3 TRILLION, would be “catastrophic” and a sign of “insanity”. Oh, how the times have changed now that Senator Obama is President Obama.

Of course, that was another topic on which Barack Obama’s wisdom on the subject seemed to devolve also. Indeed, back in 2004 after just having won his U.S. Senate seat, he was asked if he would consider running on a national ticket. His wise response back then was, “I am a believer in knowing what you are doing when you apply for a job, and I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now before having served a day in the senate. Now there’s some people that might be comfortable doing that, but I am not one of those people.”

Despite Obama’s record as one of the most liberal members of the senate in his very brief career there, he did at least show some signs of wisdom back then in his words, if not always with his deeds. One wonders why the huge difference now and the diametrically opposed shifts in his points of view on these major issues since then? Is the imbibing of the elixir of power so intoxicating that what once seemed like wisdom in defense and representation of the people of the United States can now be abandoned in order to satisfy certain constituencies and powerful special interest groups to thereby hold on to that political capital and power that has been obtained? For President Obama trading that wisdom for power seems to be acceptable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

John Adams on the Proper Celebration of America's Independence

Founding father and then-future second President of the United States, John Adams, thought that America should have properly celebrated the birth of our nation on July 2 since that was the actual date that congress voted for our independence from Britain.  This was not to be though, and instead America’s birthday has been celebrated on the day that congress actually approved of the future third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson’s, inspired document of the Declaration of Independence. 
Regardless, John Adams noted in a letter to his beloved wife Abigail how he thought the celebration of America’s independence should be conducted for all future generations. 
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Sentiments to which I heartily say, I absolutely concur Mr. President!  Here is hoping that everyone had a wonderful Independence Day celebration yesterday!