Mar 03 2013

Life in the fact free world

I have been reading the reactions to the sequester-and I am truly coming to the firm conviction that the United States of America has gone insane. Not only did Congress not avoid this abomination-but they didn't even stick around and try to work it out even after the deadline has passed. That astounds me beyond all belief. Even more so is the reaction of some in the proletariat who actually believe that this approach to budgeting is a good thing and are saying we need even more cuts ( without offsetting revenue restoration).

There are a whole host of lies and distortions out there-and that is what bothers me the worst. One cannot even correct the record-because there is no willingness to understand, much less believe the facts.

Lets review the facts shall we?

1) It is not just "a 2 percent cut" in federal spending. Its an almost 9 percent whack in defense and a combined 8% whack in non defense when the various non defense cuts are aggregated. And even more importantly-because the Congress did not act to allow the Administration to execute reprogramming actions, the various departments cannot do what common sense says they should do-make vertical cuts and tough reductions in programs wholesale. ( Like cancel LCS for example and move the money to other accounts). Yet there are people-I've argued with them who just go on saying that we can  do this and no one will get hurt. Well, they are wrong-and deserve to be beaten for their inability to understand. Yes I said that-its how I feel.

2) The GOP insistence that there can be no restored revenue-even when it makes sense and will better spread the burden around-is total lunacy.

Ezra Klein mans up and admits he was wrong. He had written a piece suggesting that if only Republicans knew how much Obama has been willing to offer, they might be willing to make a deal. Jonathan Chait set him straight, informing him that no matter what Obama put on the table, Republicans would find a way to say that it’s not enough. And sure enough, a Twitter exchange lets Klein watch that process in real time, as a top Republican consultant, confronted with evidence that Obama has already conceded what he said was all that was needed, keeps adding more demands.

So Klein admits that Republicans just don’t want to make a deal. Their objections to the deals on the table aren’t sincere; if convinced that Obama has met their demands, they just make more demands.

I think it’s important here to understand the broader implications.

The whole push for a Grand Bargain has been based on the notion that we can reach a fiscal deal that takes the whole fight over the budget off the table. What Klein has belatedly learned is how unlikely such a Bargain really is; but the same logic tells us that any Grand Bargain that might somehow be struck, via Obama’s mystical ability to mind-meld Star Trek and Star Wars or something, wouldn’t last. In a year — or more likely in a minute or two — Republicans would be back, demanding more tax cuts and more cuts in social programs. They just won’t take yes for an answer.

Meanwhile, it’s not just Republicans who refuse to accept it when Obama gives them what they want; the same applies, with even less justification, to centrist pundits. As people like Greg Sargent point out time and again, the centrist ideal — deficit reduction via a mix of revenue increases and benefits cuts — is what Obama is already offering; in fact, his proposals have been to the right of Bowles-Simpson. Yet the centrist pundits keep demanding that Obama offer what he has already offered, and condemn both sides equally (or even place most of the blame on Obama) for the failure to reach a deal. Again, informing them of their error wouldn’t help; their whole shtick is about blaming both sides, and they will always invent some reason why Obama just isn’t doing it right.


This is the whole false equivalency thing again. "Both sides do it". No, in this case only one side has-and since they don't experience any consequences for it-they do it again and again. The fiscal scolds and whack jobs in the GOP should have their balls in a vice right now-being squeezed until they pop. But no one is inflicting the pain on them to get them to do what is right. America only has two branches of government right now. Congress for all intents and purposes has ceased to exist. The founding fathers never intended for that to happen.

Basically its a continuation of the total freak out 30% of America had when Obama won in 2008 and when he won again in 2012. Unlike others its not about race, but it is about his proposing ideas that that show compassion for the non-wealthy. The 30% on the teabag side of the aisle don't really believe in the two party system anymore. They only know that if they can't be in charge than they are going to whine and cry like the selfish spoiled children they are.

Fact 3-Congress bears the bulk of the blame. Between the filibusters on the Senate side and the GOP in the house proposing nothing of substance-they created this situation and what's worse, they like it.

Meanwhile, budget cuts or no budget cuts, the military budget is being hollowed out from within by rising military health costs. Over the past decade, the military’s health-care costs have tripled, surging from $19-billion in 2001 to $53-billion in 2011. Health costs are projected to rise to $63.9-billion by 2015. An additional 6% cut atop those previous problems begins to look like a serious challenge to readiness and effectiveness.

Yet this serious challenge is not being taken seriously by the very people you’d most expect to be concerned. According to a Gallup poll released last week, 80% of self-identified Republicans feel it is very important for the U.S. to have the world’s strongest military. Only 48% of self-identified Democrats think so, as opposed to 51% of Democrats who say military predominance is “not that important.”

In Washington, however, it is the Republicans who are behaving cavalierly about the defense budget…….

The trouble is that the new Tea Party congressional GOP no longer minds defense cuts as much as it used to — or as much as the rank-and-file Republicans surveyed by Gallup. Congressional Republicans increasingly welcome the sequester as a good thing, or anyway, an acceptable thing.

According to Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee: “[This] shows we’re finally willing to stand and fight for conservative principles and force Washington to start living within its means. And that will be a big victory.”

It should be stressed: The Republican Study Committee is an important group within the Republican caucus. These are not Ron Paul style isolationists, but mainstream conservatives. Unfortunately, mainstream conservatives are increasingly willing to risk national security to score points in the Washington partisan competition.

Americans sense the decline in their country’s strength. Gallup finds that only 50% now express confidence that the U.S. military ranks number one, the lowest number since the end of the Cold War. Such pessimism is exaggerated of course. But it’s not completely ill-founded. Not since the 1970s has Congress taken the kind of risks with national security that it seems ready to incur today.



I am becoming more and more pessimistic-and less able to control my anger. Ronald Reagan would weep at what his party has become, and Tip O'Neill would weep at the state of Congress today. No matter how polarized the discussions were in the 80's they were still able to negotiate compromises. But now-then, the debate was about the policies. Now, its about Obama. The useless people in the crazed 30% of America who make up the teabagger village cannot come to grips that there is a better and different solution than to give in to their inherently selfish instincts. And I am at a loss as to how to make them understand it short of depriving them of oxygen and letting them suffocate.

The truth is, most of what "conservatives" believe to be true is false. And there is no one in America who can convince them other wise. Such is the result of 10+ years of an alternative world-led by Fox News-that makes up its own facts, distorts the truth and allows shills to gain positions of prominence. The US has become what it says it despises-a 2nd rate power. It has no one to blame but itself. you can't cut, cut, cut-and not pay the bill.  We can have less government spending-but do not kid yourself, it comes at the cost of global retrenchment. By deciding not to decide-Congress has decided. Let the withdrawals begin. But please don't complain when the results are not what you wish.

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11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Life in the fact free world”

  1. Foggyon 03 Mar 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Sorry to say all evidence points to you understating you case.
    I have written my representative several respectful letters requesting some justification on the willingness of his party (GOP) to risk the nations' economy and defense for ideological reasons. No response as of yet. .  Could be he des not want to place in print the real reason. Obama is not like him or the rest of the tea party.

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  2. Old H-2 Guyon 04 Mar 2013 at 8:54 am

    Never let a crisis go to waste…..Let's eliminate the entire VP Community!  Think of all the savings from not having to buy P-8's plus not having to pay all that per diem!

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  3. Richardon 04 Mar 2013 at 11:21 am

    Dylan Mathews of the Washington Post from three days go has a basic rundown of the sequesterand its effects etc etc.

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  4. Curtison 05 Mar 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Like is too mild a word for us. We're laughing our heads off (In a disgusting and selfish way).  It boils down to point of view now. Whatever you are so terrified of is going to have to crawl over the dead burnt bodies of the Americans living on the coasts in order to get to us in the red states. Here in Cleveland we reckon we can take Canada if they attack us or give them Detroit. If they get to frisky we will toss in Chicago and the rest of Illinois.
    Now we need another 50% cut in federal spending. Can we count on Obama to offer another brilliant sequester idea?

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  5. Skippy-sanon 06 Mar 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Curtis, only one thing to say, "The Browns SUCK!"

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  6. Curtison 06 Mar 2013 at 8:33 pm

    GOP filibuster today,
    "The best part was when Rand Paul sought unanimous consent for a sense of the Senate resolution that the President shouldn’t kill American citizens in America — and Democrats, led by Dick Durbin, objected."
    And come on Skippy, I lived in San Diego for the last 29 years (off and on when INCONUS) and didn't root for the Chargers. Why on earth would anybody root for the Browns? I mean, THEY SUCK!

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  7. Skippy-sanon 07 Mar 2013 at 1:22 am

    Rand Paul is a great example of the blatant hypocrisy of the GOP on the drone issue. The man is nothing but a grandstanding fool. A lot of responisble journalists have been pointing out the faulty foundation of drone policy for some time. However its great stretch-and has never been announced as public policy that the United States would be doing such strikes on US territory. Have you looked at what Holder ACTUALLY said? I doubt it-and you know as well as I do, Paul has been a supporter of reprehensible policies long before he was against them.

    Besides, I can think of a few places in the US that could use a good drone strike-Kentucky and Wisconsin being among them. ( Paul Ryan’s hunting lodge perhaps?”
    BTW When someone says, "Here in Cleveland"-how else would you interpret it?

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  8. Curtison 07 Mar 2013 at 8:04 am

    Where I am not where I'm from. But that's me. Army brat then in the navy for a long time. Home is still PA and NOVA.
    They refer to a white paper. What I read yesterday was the DOJ reply letter signed by Holder. He failed to rule out extrajudicial murder but that's no surprise. After all, that was Waco when Reno killed scores of kids and Ruby Ridge when an FBI sniper killed the guy's wife and baby.

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  9. Endless Endlesson 08 Mar 2013 at 6:13 am

    It seems that the USA is being ruled by an all powerful hidden cabal…
    of pro-wrestling scriptwriters.
    Getting serious. It was (GOP in) Congress that caused the sequester. But now that it is here, both sides are using it:
    – Ds for painting Doom and Gloom (much of it real, most of it unnecessary) and blaming it on the other side
    – Rs for blaming the black guy (they know their base!) and jacking the stakes for the next budget fight(s). Debt ceiling is what, 2 months off now ?
    So now, for both sides, "the worse the better". And DoD will suffer for it.

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  10. Curtison 08 Mar 2013 at 10:34 am

    You write that DOD will suffer for it. Why? Just because Skippy et al have to cut back on their all expenses paid by DOD sex tours? Nobody since the end of the Cold War has made a convincing argument for keeping a Cold War sized military that accrues benefit to the people paying for it. Nobody. Talk all one likes about readiness cuts and real players will laugh out loud. How many of the Force deployed instantly to crush Saddam or eviscerate Afghanistan? And how much of what did was just pure overkill?
    I'm all for compromise but that has to mean something more than just agreeing to shovel debt on our great grandchildren's shoulders to pay for shit they will never ever see. That's wrong. Skippy and friends like to think that all Americans receive a percentage of GDP and if we just pay our fair share as a percentage of GDP it would be just like yesterday. So what idiot thinks that families get a % of GDP? Do I get the same % as APPLE or MICROSOFT? LOCKHEED MARTIN? BOEING? It's a stupid and false analogy.
    The only way to cut budgets is to CUT BUDGETS. The only way to take money away from a bureaucrat is to stuff his head underwater and hold it there. Everybody knows that and learns it right up front. If you don't spend every penny they gave you they will not give as much next year when you do need it. NO bureaucrat or military man SAVES a $ in spending.

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  11. Curtison 08 Mar 2013 at 10:45 am

    As I reread this I am struck by the truth of what I write. NOBODY and NO law mandates that CNO keep all the ships operational or the planes. If there was any sincerity at all the QDR would be real and unnecessary ships and wings would be moored and grounded and left in caretaker status. The crews and maintainers would be run through retention boards and those wanted by the navy kept either on active duty or reserve and the rest allowed to proceed about their business at the end of their enlistments. Oddly enough nobody was promised a 20 year career. Military leaders could save hundreds of billions without impacting real requirements as plainly and clearly seen by the deployments that were terminated when money ran short. No real need for a CVN in the Gulf and there never was a need for one there. Ditto Partnership for Peace crap deployments and drug deployments anywhere. Just think of the $ savings if we put our SSBN in Lake Michigan! They could clank and bang to their hearts content and nobody to hear or see them.

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