About Author: neoavatara

Website
http://www.neoavatara.com

Posts by neoavatara

0

Captain America: Movie Review

I saw this over a week ago, but political shenanigans were at an all time high, and so I never got this posted.  But Captain America is a relic.  He is a character largely created simply for the use of raising patriotism during World War II, and actually was created in early  1941.  After the war, the popularity of the character has waxed and waned, until now, when it basically hit rock bottom.

Until now.

Director Joe Johnston was given what I consider the unenviable task of making a character from a previous era enjoyable to youngsters of today.  Here is a character that believes wholeheartedly in truth, justice, and the American way; he believes in the greatness of America.  Not something you hear much from Hollywood these days.

We all know that this movie would never have been made, except for the fact that Marvel is gearing up for The Avengers movie next May. (By the way, there is a short preview of that at the end of this movie, FWIW).  However, I am glad they finally succeeding in making this movie.  Captain America may be a relic…but is also harkens back to yesteryear, when we fought real enemies on a real battlefield, with real heroes.  Nothing wrong with bringing a character that lives with those old ideals today.

Chris Evans, in his second stint as a superhero (he was the Human Torch in the ill fated Fantastic Four series) brings a solid performance to the buttoned up pure American hero, Steve Rogers.

This is the Captain America movie that many fans have wanted for years.  There will be no sequel, I predict, because the Avengers is basically this movie’s followup.  But this movie has brought Captain America back into relevance…quite an achievement in and of itself.  I cannot wait for the Avengers next year.

0

The Battle On Deficits and Debt: What Did We Accomplish?

The Tea Party largely drove the wave election of 2010.  And there were three topics, above all else, that were a focus of their candidates:  The repeal of Obamacare, the economy and unemployment, and restraining the Federal Government.

Let us admit, in the beginning, that we have made no progress on Obamacare, and the economy is a mess we cannot hope to clean up until we send Barack Obama into retirement.

But the one hope we as a movement had was to restrain federal spending.  By taking the majority in the House of Representatives, we controlled the power of the purse.

Initially, Republicans thought they could get a grand deal, which would encompass extension of the Bush tax cuts, the 2011 budget (which Democrats failed to pass), and the raising of the debt ceiling.  Guess what?  It was Democrats, led by Barack Obama, that didn’t want such a wholesale solution.  Instead, the President made it the piecemeal approach, which is exactly why we are in the position we have been in for the past several weeks.

So, what did we actually get, and lose, in the deal?  Well, you want to look at Speaker Boehner’s PowerPoint presentation, here it is.  But the key points…

  • The framework creates a 12-member Joint Committee (Super Committee) that is required to provide legislation by November 23, 2011 to cut the deficit by $1.5 Trillion over the next decade.   This bill must be voted on by the end of the year, without any amendments added on.
  • Across the board spending cuts apply to discretionary spending, Defense, and Medicare.  Social Security, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits and military pay are exempt.
  • As for the risk of the super committee coming back with tax cuts…doesn’t sound that likely.  James Pethokoukis has a nice piece on why baseline budgeting is actually going to help us out on this one.  The key point?  The CBO, using its somewhat arcane accounting measures, assumes the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012, because that is the law of the land at this moment.  Thus, it will already take into account $3.5 Trillion in supposed increased revenues.  To raise taxes over that amount, the committee would have to cut even more from the budget.  Democrats will never accept that level of cuts.  So tax increases are simply not going to be a part of the committee’s recommendations.
  • As for those huge budget cuts into defense…they may not be as bad as initially reported.  According to early reports, the total $800 Billion in cuts will include cuts from defense, foreign aid, homeland security, and other agencies involved with ‘defense-like activities’.   Real cuts to the Defense Department are more likely in the range of $400 Billion over the next decade…a large amount, to be sure, but the amount that Republicans had largely accepted as a reality long ago.
  • The House and the Senate must take a vote of the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution no later than October 1, 2011.

Would I call this a victory?  I guess, in the slimmest definition of the word.  Republicans, controlling just over half of one branch of the legislature, were able to turn Barack Obama’s neverending spending spree, and bend the curve.  Slightly, admittedly, but still, as for rate of increase, there is no doubt Republicans were successful.

Were we successful in achieving any longterm success?  Doubtful, and I would say nonexistent.  Long term expenditures are wholly dependent on our entitlement programs and the Defense Department.  Defense was certainly cut, as it always is; however, if the above analysis is correct, and total ‘defense’ cuts include other agencies, the effects could be minimal.  But entitlement cuts are tokens so far, and nothing more.  Medicare spending is restricted, which is an achievement, but Medicaid and Social Security are not touched, and Obamacare was not mentioned as far as I can tell.  Nothing less than the Ryan plan would have put us on the course for long term fiscal stability, and that was not achieved.

As a political statement, I would not call this a victory in the least.  Republicans looked flummoxed, rudderless, and almost in a state of internal civil war during this process.  That is to be expected, without a Republican President to lead us, and a Speaker of the House that, despite his best efforts, is not uniformly trusted by his caucus.  The process was worse than watching sausage being made, to paraphrase Otto Von Bismarck.  And Republicans did not come out of the process looking like leaders.

We should go forward, telling our constituents that we did make progress, but we did not have victory.  Victory will come when we make the changes necessary to set our fiscal course to a glide path to deficit neutrality.  And that victory, it seems, will not come until we hold the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  And even then, with Senate rules, it will be difficult (unless we take a page from our progressive friends, and use reconciliation; wouldn’t that be ironic?).

Of course, Democrats, especially the progressive wing in the House, could still scuttle this bill.  Economically that would be damaging; politically, Pelosi might as well hang the Democrat Donkey by a noose if she can’t rally her caucus.  But assuming that Obama forces their hand, and that things go as we expect, this deal is a win for us.  An imperfect deal, that achieved far less than we hoped…but still a win.  This is only the smallest of victories in a tiny battle in the long term war against federal spending and the debt.  Nothing more.  And we should portray it as such.

1

Obama: Detached From Reality

Have we ever seen a moment like Monday night, when we had an American President more detached from reality?

Mr. Obama gave a political stump speech, which in and of itself was unsurprising.  In fact, he has said little different since April.  His speeches all amount to this:  Republicans are on the political fringe and intransigent, Democrats are reasonable and intelligent, and he alone wants a balanced approach, i.e. tax increases.

But the amazing part of the speech was that Mr. Obama now seems distanced from the political realities that even his own party has accepted.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently laid out a debt ceiling proposal with approximately $2.5 Trillion in cuts (only about $1 Trillion being real cuts), but more importantly, without any tax increases.  Reid and Pelosi appear to have largely agreed on this proposal.  Yet, we had a Democrat President on primetime continue to demand for increases in tax revenues.

Even the mainstream media, usually oblivious to such stark issues, has noticed this one.  Gloria Borger of CNN pointedly noted this fact after Obama’s speech.

Maybe this is the tipping point.  In the White House Press briefing on Tuesday, Spokesperson Jay Carney was innundated with questions of why the President has yet to offer any specifics for his budget proposal, especially at such a late date.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cqmMhzybek&feature=player_embedded

The media pummeled Carney for a solid 10 minutes on the simple fact that Obama has not laid out one single policy rider to this bill.  Not even one.  They then asked why the White House would not release the plan that was being discussed with Boehner which the President’s men state that was close to a deal.  The simple fact is that there was never a deal that Obama was close to accepting.

Forget the politics for a moment.  Mr. Obama doesn’t understand that he has marginalized himself.  Republicans had allowed Obama, over the past few weeks, taken the high ground.  But he never claimed the alter of leadership, for a simple reason:  he doesn’t know how to lead.  Obama could have taken the mantel, and Republicans (with their usual ham handed way of dealing with these issues) would have probably lost the media battle.

Instead, Obama has acted like a petulant child, unable or unwilling to rise about the political rancor.  Additionally, unlike his immediate predecessors, Bush and Clinton, he is unable to tell progressives in his own base to sit down and shut up, for the greater good.  In all fairness, Republicans are not willing to compromise.  But Obama is the leader of his party in a way that no Congressional Republican, Speaker Boehner included, is.  But Obama has never showed the spinal fortitude to stand up to his own base, and doesn’t appear to be considering it this time around either.

The way forward is quite clear.  Something along the lines of the Boehner proposal is the only thing that will pass the Democrat Senate.  The public actually supports the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ proposal by wide margins, but the intransigence of progressives in the Senate (and the White House, for that matter) make that impossible to pass into legislation.  I don’t like the concept of coming back to these spending fights 6 months down the road, but Mr. Obama has left little alternative.

The Boehner plan is, to put it mildly, less than optimal.  But ultimately, what can pass?  Even Paul Ryan, who I think has a lot of credibility here, has come out in favor of the plan:

The Budget Control Act takes an important step in the right direction by cutting $1.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade. Critically, it does this without resorting to Senator Reid’s gimmicks and without imposing the president’s preferred tax increases on American families and the struggling economy.

This bill is far from perfect. We still have a long way to go toward getting the key drivers of our debt — especially federal health-care spending — under control. But considering that House Republicans control only one-half of one-third of the federal government, I support this reasonable, responsible effort to cut government spending, avoid a default, and help create a better environment for job creation.

Obama is divorced from reality.  He doesn’t understand that approximately 2/3 of the country thinks we spend too much.  Yes, many people feel we could raise taxes on the rich, but it is far from a supermajority, and it is not going to happen with Congressional Republicans in power in the House.  Obama can either come to his senses, or he can drive this economy over the cliff.  I would not put the latter past him at this point.

That is why Ryan’s point, bolded above, is the key.  We need to win in 2012.  This President and this Senate will never, ever, pass the reforms necessary to put us on a track to fiscal sanity.  No deal that this President would have ever signed would have accomplished our goals.

It is better to frame the topic as we have, and to ‘kick the can’.  It is time to focus on 2012, because anything short of a Republican President and Republican Senate will not enable us to save this nation from a fiscal black hole.  Holding the line on CCB, as much as it makes me feel better, does not help accomplish the goal of retaking the White House, and thus, does not help to attain our ultimate goal of fiscal sanity.  So it is time to cut a deal, a bad one at that, and show this President and these Democrats for what they are:  completely and utterly detached from reality.

0

Don’t Call Our Bluff: Gang of Six Proposal and Obama’s Veto Threat

 

c/o Nate Beeler, Townhall.com

Finally, the truth emerges.  After months of the media telling us that Obama, not Republicans, is the realist and pragmatist, yesterday we saw in the full light of day what Obama is:  a political hack and idealogue.

Mr. Obama, through his Press Secretary Jay Carney, yesterday clearly stated that the President would veto the “Cut, Cap, and Balance’ bill that Republicans in the House will pass this week.  The bill, which proposes $2.7 Trillion in cuts over the next decade with no revenue increases, has only one item missing for Mr. Obama to veto it.  Simply put, for Obama it is a motto of “Taxes or Bust”.

If we use the media’s own spin over the past few months, that should get Mr. Obama criticized for being an ideologue, or as some liberals have put it, an economic hostage taker or terrorist.  That is what they called Republicans as they pushed their ideas on the country.  The double standard, although expected, is mind blowing.  We should never expect fair treatment in the media, and this is just one more example.

As the debt ceiling debate rolls on, to whatever fruitless end Mr. Obama and the Republican establishment are set upon taking us, I have to wonder…what is our goal here?

Conservatives, it is time to call Obama’s bluff.  Boehner has been ill-suited to make the grand bargain, largely because he has no room to maneuver.  However, Eric Cantor and others could convince the base that a deal is worth making.  What kind of deal am I talking about?

Well, I am talking about a huge deal.  Give the Democrats some tax increases.  Hell, give them the Bush tax cuts if they want.  I simply don’t believe that even that would sell the plan to them.

Well, now we shall see.  There appears to be an outline of this plan forming, in all places, in the Senate’s Gang of Six minus one.  The plan would cut $3.7 Trillion from the debt over 10 years.  Tom Coburn, who is the member of the Gang who jumped ship, appears to like the concept:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had pulled out of the Gang of Six in May, also rejoined the group and praised the plan as something that could win the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.

“The plan has moved significantly, and it’s where we need to be — and it’s a start,” Coburn said. “This doesn’t solve our problems, but it creates the way forward where we can solve our problems.”

Coburn said the plan would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years and increase tax revenues by $1 trillion by closing a variety of special tax breaks and havens.

He also noted, however, that the Congressional Budget Office would score the plan as a $1.5 trillion tax cut because it would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. It would generate a significant amount of revenue out of tax reform and reduction of tax rates, which authors believe would spur economic growth.

Coburn said he expected a “significant portion of the Senate” to support the plan — “maybe 60 members.”

Now, call me skeptical.   A $1 trillion increase in taxes…that is going to be scored as a tax cut?   The elimination of the AMT, an albatross on the necks of tens of millions of middle class Americans, would be an excellent device to get some tax relief, and I am fully in support of eliminating it.  However, we have heard this before; remember the budget deal earlier this year?  I want to see major details before I jump on board.  Coburn’s voice is a positive note however.

If this is real, and Coburn is accurately describing the plan, it would shift the debate.  Ever since Obama theoretically accepted the concept of a ‘grand bargain’, Republicans have been playing on the defensive.  Mitch McConnell’s plan was nothing more than a plan to save face, with some political games included.

But something on the lines of the above plan would force Mr. Obama to put his cards on the table.  Like in past debates, Obama doesn’t really want to take a stand on anything.  He talks about reforms in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, but demands tax cuts in return.  Fine.  Let us theoretically give him the tax cuts, but only for what we want in return.

On entitlements, the plan would fully pay for the Medicare “doc fix” over 10 years, allowing doctors to avoid a drastic cut in Medicare payments under the law, which is regularly avoided but never paid for.  The plan also contains strong enforcement procedures. One of these would require a 67-vote supermajority in the Senate to circumvent spending caps.

Supposedly, Social Security reform is also on the table, but any savings from the program would not be used for deficit reduction.

Now, Mr. Obama, where are your cuts?  Where is your plan?  If this deal is true to its word, $2.7 Trillion in cuts need to be on the table.  We shall see if this President is ready to make true changes to entitlements.  He will have to support some real reforms and real cuts to programs that, so far, he has refused to touch other than with rhetoric alone.

If not, I dare him to veto whatever the Congress sends up to him.  Don’t call our bluff, Barack.

0

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Movie Review

There are many people that criticize one thing or another about the Harry Potter books and movie series.  “They are children’s stories!” “They talk about witchcraft!”  “They can’t compare to the literary classics!”

All of these statements miss the point.

First and foremost, J.K. Rowling’s series has inspired more young children to read than probably any book in the history of the world.  There are generations of kids, from now and moving forward, that start with the childlike The Socrerer’s Stone, and move steadily through the series and follow Harry Potter’s path through adolescence just as they themselves mature.  Most readers are youngster that have grown into adulthood with Harry; the books followed the normal progress of every preteen.  Rowling has given us a treasure more valuable than her books; it has inspired a generation of youngsters to reading.  Very few others can make that claim.

Secondly, the story, both books and movies alike, are as centered into our culture as any story I can think of.  At its core, Harry Potter is an orphan who is forced to face the realities of a cruel world, and ultimately, must fight evil for the greater good.  He is honest, devoted to his friends, and more than anything believes in the forces of good over evil.

I was an adult by the time the Harry Potter series began.  And my children are still too young to read these books.  But in youngsters everywhere, I have seen an affinity to this series like no other.  It goes to show that the story is so appealing that so many other age groups have become enthralled with the stories of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, and the multitude of other characters that are now ingrained in our social dynamic.  The only stories that have captured the imagination of fans of so many ages that I can think of is Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings saga.

Admittedly, the books and movies are somewhat separate.  There is no way to turn the books into movies without some artistic leeway.  That goes doubly true for the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  The book, 784 pages in all, could never have been made into a single movie…and thus, we are left with Part 1 and Part 2 in the movie series.

In this 8th and final film of the Harry Potter series, the movies finally enter their climactic sequences.  The war, led by the evil forces of Voldemort, is going very badly.  The good guys are losing at every turn.  People are dying, and only Harry has the ability to end the suffering.  And that suffering will end, one way or another, at the site of most of our adventures with Harry….Hogwart’s School of Magic and Wizardry.

Harry, Ron and Hermione have basically been on the run, fleeing one threat or another, for the better part of a year.  They have had virtually no adult assistance, with their major supporters either dead or in hiding themselves.  That have face starvation, the elements, each others weaknesses, not to mention the ever looming threat of capture, torture and death.  In the first part of the Deathly Hallows (spoilers if you have not seen the film) they barely escape the clutches of Malfoy Manor, only to be rescued by of all people, Dobby the House Elf.  However, Dobby dies in the escape, ending the movie in tears and heartbreak.

I always avoid all significant spoilers, and will do so again here.  The basics are these:  critical pieces of the puzzle to destroy Voldemort remain, and Harry must obtain them before ever hoping to defeat his enemy.  This leads us first to Gringott’s, the wizards bank which we were introduced to in the first movie.  There, we see an extraordinary action scene play out, which sets up the final scenes of the series.  The action closes at Hogwarts, as the forces of Voldemort and the allies of Harry Potter meet for a deciding battle.  The final clashes of the film, in the Battle of Hogwarts, rival scenes from the Lord of the Rings.  This will be music to the ears of fans, many envisioning exactly that when they read the book 4 years ago.  The final battles have the heartbreak and agony that should go with a war movie…which this ultimately is.

Emotionally, the movie hits all the right notes.  Yes, it does abbreviate some characters paths, but key characters such as Harry, Voldemort, Severus Snape and others get their appropriate due.  And the losses (yes, there are heavy losses) are emotionally charged, as they should be.  The ultimate climax and end of the movie, which I was pretty concerned about, were done perfectly, and I think will please most viewers.

This is a more than fitting end to this series.  Like the books, the movies take us from childish banter in the early movies to vicious, destructive and emotional battle for the freedom of all in the final film.  A fabulous end to a fabulous series.

 

 

 

0

President Jello

Speaker of the House John Boehner basically nailed President Obama’s entire character as President in a quote earlier today:

“Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o,” Boehner said. “Some days it’s firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out over night.”

This is how Mr. Obama has run his presidency from the day of the inauguration.  And in fact, he has not done this only with Republicans.  Obama never really took a stand with Congressional Democrats on the stimulus or on the health care program either.  He simply let deals ‘congeal’ around him, and then jumped on board at the very end.

That worked relatively well when he was dealing with Democrats, for the simple reason that they had largely overlapping basic principles when discussing policy.  However, when you are dealing with the other side, that makes for an impossible bargaining environment…as Speaker Boehner is learning.

Boehner has spent the last day or so finally pushing for the White House to put out its own recommendations for the debt ceiling agreement.

I think it is time for the president to put his plan on the table. Let the American people see just what the president is proposing. You can’t go out there and talk about some $4-trillion agreement to substantially change the fiscal situation here in Washington without any facts.

They, of course, won’t do this, mainly because they don’t have a clue what their ideal plan would be.  More importantly, Obama wants all the credit and none of the responsibility for whatever is eventually produced.  His entire political strategy is to blame others for the failures of his administration.

This is ultimately what you get when you have someone with no executive experience in the Oval Office.  It is one thing to work in a group, such as Congress.  It is a wholly different matter to stake your position by yourself as leader of the nation.  The successful Presidents of our time, including Reagan, Clinton, and Bush had a plan for all to see well before the debate commenced.  Obama has been just the opposite, shying away from the limelight at every turn.

This was a major impetus for Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell to propose his emergency plan on the debt ceiling.  McConnell has said he will not accept a ‘smoke and mirrors’ deal, and thus would rather lay the entire mess at the President’s feet than take responsibility for it.  I have my reservations about the plan, and conservative voices have fallen in both for and against the plan in vigorous debates in the blogosphere.  However, it goes to show that Republicans no longer have any trust in this President, and don’t feel the ability to honestly broker any kind of deal that isn’t written in stone.

So we are left now with the decision making of “President Jello”.  Will he wiggle or jiggle?  No one knows.  Obama has not shown the ability to stand firm however, and usually capitulates in the face of steadfastness.  Whether Republicans have the backbone to stand up to him, and take the beating that will surely occur in the mainstream press until a deal is done, is at best uncertain.

I guess the real question for conservatives is less to do with what the President is made of, than what the Republicans are made of.  It is time to see.

 

1

Jobs Number: Does Obama Feel Your Pain?

A little humor in a NOT so funny situation...

For liberals, maybe they should be more worried about how distant the White House seems from reality.  First this past week, David Plouffe, who ran the President’s 2008 Election campaign, had this brilliant sound byte:

The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” Plouffe said. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”

This, of course, was roundly criticized by members of the Right and the Left.  Mitt Romney didn’t wait more than minutes before responding, and calling for Plouffe’s resignation or firing:

“If David Plouffe were working for me, I would fire him and then he could experience firsthand the pain of unemployment. His comments are an insult to the more than 20 million people who are out of work, underemployed or who have simply stopped looking for jobs. With their cavalier attitude about the economy, the White House has turned the audacity of hope into the audacity of indifference.”

However, do not let this White House ever be seen as admitting a mistake.  Press Secretary Jay Carney doubled down on this idiocy:

“Well, I understand that we’re engaged in the – or rather, the Republicans are engaged in a primary campaign, trying to get some media attention.  I don’t know where, you know, the voters that some other folks might be talking to — but — or — but most people do not sit around their kitchen table and analyze GDP and unemployment numbers.  They talk about how they feel their own economic situation is.  And they measure it by whether they have a job, whether they have job security; whether their house – whether they’re meeting their house payment, whether their mortgage is underwater; whether they have the money to pay for their children’s education or they don’t; whether they’re dealing with a sick parent and can afford that, or whether they can’t.

They do not sit around analyzing The Wall Street Journal or other — or Bloomberg to look at the — you know, analyze the numbers.  Now, maybe some folks do, but not most Americans.  I think that’s the point David Plouffe was making; that’s the point the president was making just moments ago in his statement in the Rose Garden.”

I guess, that in a way is true.  What Carney misses is that people’s own person economic situation sucks royally.  No one is going to argue that people struggling to meet their next month’s rent or find money for dinner are worried about the unemployment rate.  But they are concerned about the economic climate in general.  Apparently, this White House doesn’t exactly share that concern.

The absolute ineptitude of this White House on the economic front is now coming to fruition.  But if that was not bad enough, they do not seem to even understand the severity of the problem.  At the current rate of job production, it will take 10 years to get back to 2007 peak employment levels.  During that time, however, the unemployment rate will steadily increase, as the number of people overall increase by normal population increases.

Moreover, the President and his West Wing staff do not appear to ‘get it’.  They seem to have locked themselves in a cocoon, not letting any outside opinions interfere with their perception of reality.  This hearkens back to 1991, when then President George H.W. Bush was being harshly criticized for not understanding the difficulties of the common man.  This, of course, opened him up to attacks from then Governor Bill Clinton, and his famous catch phrase, “I feel your pain”.

Right now, one thing is clear:  Mr. Obama and his comrades do not feel anyone’s pain, especially yours.

 

3

Goodbye, Space Shuttle

I wrote a post last year about the end of the Space Shuttle program, titled ‘Space Shutttle:  End of an Era‘, that can be read here.  It has, over time, been one of the most popular postings on my blog.  I think there is a simple reason why.  For my generation (I was born in the early 70s), we missed out on Mercury and Apollo.  We didn’t see Neil Armstrong land on the moon.  Our vision of space travel began with the Space Shuttle.

Additionally, we did not see the great disasters of American History…Pearl Harbor, and that assasinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.  What we did see was the Challenger explode on a January morning in 1986, and more recently the Columbia disintegrating on re-entry.  Those images are seared into many of our memories.

July 8, 2011 is the scheduled launch of the 135th and last space shuttle mission.  This is, for all practical purposes, the end for the last great American space program.

Where does NASA go from here?  Financial realities mean that it will be a downsized program, and likely will have less manned flights.  From now until the eventual successor of the Shuttle, Americans will be dependent on the Russian space program to keep the International Space Station alive.  In fact, other than the minimal current activity by the Chinese, the Russian will basically own human space travel for the next decade.

American space travel and exploration will continue.  But something truly palpable ends today.  America led the way into space, and the Shuttle program’s termination brings a large part of that to an end.  This will be a program more concerned about costs than discovery, less concerned about going to Mars than to send satellites to investigate global warming.  That is simply the world we live in.

So goodbye, Space Shuttle…you will not be forgotten, but you will be missed.

You can watch the launch online here.

1

If Obama Ignores Debt Ceiling, Impeach Him

There has been a very slow, but steadily increasing, argument on the left that conservatives should pay heed to.  Liberals are suggesting that the President should invoke the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt ceiling, and spend the way the White House wills.

The argument has become more prevalent as we get closer to the August 2nd ‘doomsday’.  It was most pointedly noted by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner in an interview several weeks ago.  In actuality, it was proposed even earlier, by Bruce Bartlett in late April 2011.

More recently, ultraliberal Katrina vanden Heuvel made a similar argument that goes something like this:  Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which says that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”  The left’s convoluted understanding of the amendment then argues that Congress cannot default on any debt, because of this passage, and thus the President has constitutional grounds to ignore the debt ceiling all together.

First and foremost, it is quite laughable to have liberals point to the strict reading of any amendment of the Constitution (can you say ‘2nd Amendment’?).  But that belies the point that the 14th Amendment actually was much more specific in its scope than these liberals would have you believe.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which you will note the liberal authors conveniently dismiss, states the following in toto:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

That appears to be a much more specific and targeted amendment.  A more in depth reading of the discussion over the passage of the 14th Amendment points to a simple fact:  the amendment was never to convey the power to the President to simply ignore Congressional spending powers.  It was, in actuality, an amendment written to prevent political blackmail by using the debt to damage political enemies (in this case, those made during the Civil War).

Furthermore, no one in this current political climate is questioning the validity of the debt.  They are question how to pay it.  And in fact, even if the debt default day were to pass, the debt would not be defaulted on.  What would be at risk is payments for government programs.  This would initially include discretionary spending, and ultimately spread to nondiscretionary items such as Defense, Social Security and Medicare.  But at no point in time is anyone dismissing the validity of the debt we have accrued.

Ms. vanden Heuvel does make one point which should scare Republicans…that Obama would be on strong legal footing, at least initially.  There are numerous Supreme Court rulings, including Freytag v. Commissioner (1911), where the Court has held that the president has “the power to veto encroaching laws. . . or to disregard them when they are unconstitutional.  It is doubtful that such a broad interpretation would stand up in this current Supreme Court.  However, in the interim, who would stop Obama?

The answer is simple, but not politically pleasing:  Impeachment.  Moe Lane at RedState was the first that I saw to float the idea, but I think the prospect was looked over too quickly.

The Oath of Office, taken at the time of the inauguration, is clear:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

A pure reading of the Constitution leaves all decisions of the purse to Congress.  This is the most everlasting of Congressional powers.  For the President to ignore this most sacred power of the legislature is to spit on the essence of what the Constitution stands for:  a document that ensures no tyranny, by the power of checks and balances.

If this simply a bargaining too which is supposed to threaten conservatives, threat of impeachment should get liberals attention.  And Obama’s.  If they believe we conservatives are truly the ‘wack jobs’ that the press makes us out to be, then impeachment is definitely in the cards.

Politically, I am not a huge fan of impeachment.  It did the Republican Party no favors when we impeached Clinton.  But sometimes, the Constitution demands it.  I hope it never gets to that point, because politically it would damage Republicans for generations to impeach the first African American President.   But sometimes, one cannot avoid the inevitable.  We should raise the specter of impeachment now, and prevent the crisis all together.  I don’t want to impeach Mr. Obama, but ignoring the Constitution cannot be ignored.

0

Independence Day

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

 

Page 20 of 120« First...10...1819202122...304050...Last »