Monday, October 21, 2013

The Debt Crisis and Other Leadership Failures

* The Government Shutdown. You would not know it from the mainstream media, but the Republicans in the House of Representatives were well within their rights in trying to defund Obamacare. Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution reads as follows: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills." If the House chooses to not fund Obamacare, or the EPA or any other agency for that matter, they can simply pass a bill that provides for no funding for that particular law or agency. Some do not appreciate the genius of our Founding Fathers, who feared an overly powerful central government, and an even more powerful single authority - a President acting as King. The power of the Presidency is vast, and Congress has certainly in the past threatened to cut off, and has cut off, funding from a President.

* But some prefer a King, especially one whom they believe is on their side. has called on the Attorney General to "arrest Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Speaker of the House John Boehner and other decision-making House Republican leaders" because of their attempt to "extort the United States government into altering or abolishing the Affordable Care Act," in what they consider was an act of "seditious conspiracy." Now, one can argue that maybe they just do not understand the system of "checks and balances" created by the Founders. Unlikely. Rather, their position reflects a willingness to arrest and try the opposition, exactly as a totalitarian dictator would do. And they have the nerve to say that Republicans are "extreme."

* Perception is Reality. The mainstream media made it quite clear who they thought the bad guys were in this debt ceiling "crisis." Obama and Reid knew very well that the media would spin the debt ceiling battle according to Democrat policy. Much of the public adopts this false "perception," which then becomes their reality. Imagine, if you will, a different media. Imagine these headlines. "Obama again refuses to negotiate with Republicans." "While Bush invited the Congressional leadership to the White House within days of taking office, Obama waited 542 days to invite McConnell." "Once again, Obama seems oblivious to the ever growing threat to our economy and credit rating by asking for greater debt." "Greece, here we come." "Democrats are like children in a toy store, unable to control their spending." "Unlike Reagan, who met regularly with Tip O'Neill to reach a consensus, Obama tells Republicans 'It's my way or the highway.'" Create a different spin and create a different perception.

* It is unlikely that you would have read anything accurate in the mainstream media about the government shutdown, or the consequences of not reaching an agreement by last Thursday night. If no deal had been reached, there were no debt payments due for another couple of weeks. If no deal had been reached, the government would still take in more than enough money to pay the interest on the debt. The real issue is that they would have had to prioritize with regards to how they would spend the rest of the money. Not unlike the way almost every household in America has to do. Yet, many liberals expressed sentiments not too dissimilar from - they hate the Tea Party. I would surmise that these same critics run a balanced budget, and even put away money for savings. But when the Tea Party tries to protect future generations from a crushing debt burden so that we do not end up like Greece - well, that's just evil.

* Obama and the Muslims. No, I am not going to discuss whether or not Obama is really a Muslim. I am going to point out that he withheld foreign aid from the Egyptian military because they overthrew President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The military is trying to prevent a build-up of Al Qaeda forces in the Sinai, which could lead to an open war with Israel. The military prevented a key ally of the US, Egypt, from becoming another Islamic dictatorship. Clearly, they needed to be punished. Syria crossed a "red line" with their use of chemical weapons according to Obama. But, maybe not. Maybe it was just a pink line, maybe they didn't really cross any line, maybe they didn't see the line. (Apologies to Jackie Mason.) So, now the Russians get to decide whether or not Syria is complying with their commitment to eliminate their chemical weapons. What could go wrong there?

* Well, at least Obama is on good terms with Turkey's leader Recep Erdogan. That's a good thing, right? Turkey has been aligning itself with radical Islamists and away from the secular country established by Ataturk over ninety years ago. Erdogan has called Zionism a "crime against humanity." Erdogan accused Israel of orchestrating the overthrow of Morsi in Egypt. Erdogan says Israel is guilty of "genocide" when the Israelis defend themselves against terrorist attacks. And David Ignatius of the Washington Post reported that in 2012 Turkey revealed to Iran the names of 10 Iranians working for Israel. I imagine those 10 souls suffered quite a bit of torture before being executed. And speaking of Iran, I am guessing that Obama, taken in by Rouhani, will agree to let Iran continue their nuclear enrichment, so long as they promise not to build a bomb. Again, what could go wrong there?

* So, has Obama done anything right in the Middle East? In a word: no. He is demanding that Israel create a terrorist Palestinian state on its borders. He has given the two sides nine months to reach an agreement. At that point, and absent an agreement, I suspect he will have the US formally recognize "Palestine" as a state; with Jerusalem as its capital. While I have predicted similar actions by Obama in the past, this time he does not have to face re-election. This time, he need not worry about either the "Jewish vote" nor the fund raising provided by many Jewish supporters.

* A word on the home front about the politically correct stupidity of "zero-tolerance" policies. A 17 year old high school student in Massachusetts went to a party where there was underage drinking. Realizing she could not safely drive herself home, she called a friend, another 17 year old. The friend went to pick up her drinking friend, and went into the house where the party was in order to find her. That is when the police arrived and arrests were made. However, the nondrinker was released without charges. That was not good enough for her high school, which has a zero-tolerance policy on the use of alcohol. As an honor student and volleyball player on the school team, she was suspended for 5 games. The school's attorney said this: "the school is really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol." Incredibly, MADD agreed with the school's position.

* Now, one could argue that this falls under the category of "no good deed goes unpunished." One could also argue these situations should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, just as courts do in any civil or criminal matter. What if we instituted a zero-tolerance policy against killing. Isn't killing bad? "Oh, you killed someone in self-defense? That's a shame because under our zero-tolerance policy you will spend the rest of your life in prison. You should have let yourself been killed." Far fetched? Not at all; because that's exactly the message this high school is sending to students. Better to drive home drunk and risk getting yourself killed and killing others, than to get your good friend in trouble. And the non-drinking friend - better to not go and get in trouble with the school.

* As I have said before, zero-tolerance policies substitute a predetermined outcome in place of judgment. Zero tolerance is an admission by school administrators that "we are just too stupid to be able to determine right and wrong by ourselves. Therefore, we will create a 'one size fits all' policy." More seriously, it means that students cannot trust those in authority to do what's right - and that alone outweighs any perceived benefits of "zero-tolerance."