How serious are we about fixing the deficit?

I apologize for the scarcity of posts. I won’t bore you with the details, but the end of the semester has been insanely busy. I hope to be back on a more regular schedule soon. This one will be quick and dirty.

I saw Joe Scarborough struggle to keep a straight face as he read this poll on his show, “Morning Joe.” It’s funny, but in a sad way. A McClatchy-Marist poll last week showed that an incredible 80% of all respondents opposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, two of the United States’ biggest entitlement programs. Wow! As for Democrats, 92% of them oppose those cuts, as do 75% of independents.

Tell me, how are those people planning to fix the deficit mess if they’re not willing to make changes to entitlement programs? Thank goodness we have the Republicans – shamed back to their conservative roots by the 2008 election – to show us the way. How many of them oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid? What’s that? Did you say 73%? Holy smokes.

Okay, so maybe the Tea Partiers will save us. Surely they will know we need to make fixes to our entitlement programs, reign in spending, etc. etc. etc.! How many of them oppose cuts? Wow. A whopping 70%. That’s a majority, holmes.

So the question, as the title of this post implies, is how serious are we about fixing the deficit? It’s looking like the answer is “not very.”


P.S. – The sign pictured is probably not legit, but something like this did happen. Check out this video, at about the 1:14 mark.


Bachmann for President? This is what’s so funny.

Over here, Michele!

S.E. Cupp thinks the idea of Michele Bachmann isn't laughable. I swoon at S.E., then respectfully disagree.

Full disclosure: I have a major crush on S.E. Cupp. I can’t really explain it…maybe it’s like that thing where the good girls have crushes on the bad boys. So even though I don’t have a lot of political common ground with S.E., I still follow her on Twitter, still tune in to shows I know she’s appearing on, and still wind up frustrated by her. Why do I keep falling for it every time?!?!?!?!?

So when Ms. Cupp Tweeted “My Daily News column today: ‘Bachmann For President! (What’s So Funny?)'” yesterday, I fell for her siren song once again. I gave her column a fair read, but still can’t figure out why I pay attention to anything she says. Michele Bachmann for President is both a laughable idea and my dream come true. (Can you imagine her debating with Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee? Comedy gold!)

Cupp feels that Bachmann’s political beliefs and personal story make her a perfect Presidential candidate – no more laughable than Huckabee or Tim Pawlenty. I contend that Bachmann is actually much more laughable as a serious candidate. Bachmann reminds me a bit of Palin, which is why I laughed so hard when Meghan McCain – my other political commentator crush – called Bachmann the poor man’s Palin. It’s absolutely true.

Both candidates are clearly shrewd politicians. They’re clearly skilled at rhetoric. They know how to fire up the fan base by feeding them a steady diet of red meat. But do they really know how the cow gets turned into the steak they’re serving their fans? I don’t think so. As a former coworker once said of a relative, “She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know!”

Bachmann’s public file is littered with missteps that  make it hard to take her serious. My introduction to her came when she accused the Obama administration of trying to move the United States away from the dollar and into using a “global currency.” I know nothing of economics, but even I knew how badly she misunderstood the issue. China wanting to use an international currency for its reserves and protect itself from inflation of the dollar has nothing to do with the currency you and I use to buy our groceries. A serious presidential candidate should understand that.

And that’s only the beginning of Bachmann’s botches. She opposed stimulus because we’re “running out of rich people” in this country. Even the Wall Street Journal, hardly a liberal rag, said she was off-base. Frank Rich said, basically, we’re not running out of wealthy people, those wealthy people are just running out of taxable income. Those are very different things. It’s worth pointing out here that, at a combined wealth of $1.37 trillion, the 400 richest Americans saw their wealth increase by 8% from 2009 to 2010, so they aren’t doing too bad, right? No need to sound the alarm.

Want more? I’ve got all you can handle. Since CO2 is a “natural byproduct of nature,” the threat of man-made global warming doesn’t make sense; Swine Flu only seems to strike when Democrats are in the White House…except for the fact it first hit when Ford was President, not Carter; the “Hoot-Smalley” Tariffs signed into law by Herbert Hoover are how FDR turned a recession into a depression. Etc., etc., etc.

She also provides plenty of political fodder for left-of-center moderates like me to get worked up over, like quoting an article that blames the 2008 financial crisis, in part, on President Clinton pushing “homeownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class”; she calls hate crimes legislation the “very definition of tyranny.” She’s also called for the news media to do a “penetrating expose” and take a look at the views of the people in Congress to see who’s “pro-America” and who’s “anti-America.” I assume, then, she’d want them to use her own standards to define both pro- and anti-America. As if she’s the one who gets to decide that for everybody.

Have I made a case here? Cupp, late in her column argues that “the staunchly conservative Condoleezza Rice does not attract such visceral animosity.” And I agree with that. I have no such disdain for Rice. Though I disagree with her, I find her to be a thoughtful, respectable person. Her appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart backs that up. I wouldn’t be so quick to laugh at her for having presidential aspirations.

But that is not who Michele Bachmann is. She is brash, outspoken, confrontational and – as I’ve shown above – wrong too many times to be taken seriously. That’s what’s so funny, S.E. But don’t worry. I still have a crush on you.


I ain’t never scurred

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook, and I thought it was too much not to share. Behold:

The Tea Party loves a good scare tactic, don’t they?

I decided years ago to not allow my fears to control my vote. (This happened around the time I left the Republic Party, so take that how you will.)  The ominous music, the downbeats hitting with bold-texted statistics, the storm clouds rolling past the Statue of Liberty…it’s like the trailer for a dramatic movie.

Attention Tea Party: This stuff doesn’t scare me, but it does move me…farther away from you. Ideas, not scare tactics, are what it takes to sway moderate, independent voters like me.


A “Pledge to America”…to be boring

"A Pledge to America"

I didn't judge this book by its cover. I judged it by its insides. Its long, boring, insides.

I decided to sit down and read the GOP’s “Pledge to America.” Kick the tires a bit, give it a fair shot. I used to be a pretty conservative Republican back in the day, so maybe this will reawaken the elephant in me.

In a word, No. Here are my random notes, taken while reading:

It’s only page 3 before they jump into the anti-gay agenda, pledging to “…honor…traditional marriage.” This comes just one paragraph after pledging to “advance policies that promote greater liberty, (and) wider opportunity.”

This is where the GOP loses me, where I no longer feel connected to the party. Limiting marriage to two members of the opposite sex doesn’t promote greater liberty and wider opportunity. It does quite the opposite. And I don’t understand why people who are for limited government want to expand government when it comes to the private lives of two consenting adults.

That point is driven home just two grafs later when they say “the blessings of our liberty buoy the hopes of mankind.” Unless, of course, you’re gay, then you can’t get married, or adopt children, or serve in the military. But beyond that, yes, liberty.

On page 6 they tell us they’ll simply repeal the health care overhaul, which is totally awesome. I had no idea they could do that. I was under the impression that once it became law, it was game over, man. So why were they so worked up with that whole “Kill the bill” thing, if they could simply repeal it later?

Oooh, they go after Keynes again on page 14. Here’s one of the great things I learned about Keynesian economic theory last summer: Yes, homeboy did propose increased government spending to act as a stimulant when they economy is in trouble, but he also recommended the use of tax cuts as another way to encourage spending – the idea being people will spend the extra money. Hmmmm…who’s the Keynesian economist now? Basically Keynesians believe the government should act to help the economy, not just wait for built-in stabilizers to help shorten a downturn.

Really, guys? Still trying to blame the mortgage crisis on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? I did some research on this and found ample evidence to suggest that it was private sector loans that were the real problem (here’s one example: “Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis”). I’m still not buying this one.

Holy crap, it seems like they use the phrase “common-sense reforms” a lot…often in place of any specifics.

Glad to see on page 38 they’ll hold “President Obama and his administration responsible for any Guantanamo Bay detainees they release who return to fight against our troops or who have become involved in any terrorist plots or activities.” Does that mean they’ll do the same for the 18 confirmed and 43 suspected detainees who returned to terrorism after being freed by President Bush? Surely it does, right?

P.S. – There are lots of pretty, patriotic photos in this document. Here’s a fun game to play: Count all the cowboy hats pictured, then see how many non-white people appear in the photos.

In all, it’s a relatively boring read, with all the usual platitudes. Democrats have bashed it, sure, but now conservative bloggers are calling it out, too. I’m intrigued to see what effect this has on the November midterms. This will likely not go far enough in the eyes of Tea Partiers, but really, who else are they going to vote for besides Republicans? My guess, though, is this could splinter conservative votes in places like Alaska, where the defeated “mainstream Republican” candidate is writing as a write-in against the Tea Party-approved, official Republican candidate.

Color me unimpressed, and still not ready to return to the Republic party anytime soon.