American Elephants

If Politics Is A Game, Are There Any Rules About Lies? by The Elephant's Child

Politics is a funny business. How many of us would like to or be able to go out in public, brag about our accomplishments, in a way that hopefully didn’t seem too much like bragging, expose all our past failures and foibles, stand up under the insults and lies from our opponents team, and try to prove to the public that we are the better person to handle an important job? Not me! The connection between my brain and my keyboard comes easily, but I’m often a slow thinker. I have to ponder stuff, and the right answer doesn’t pop out of my mouth until much later, and all too often becomes just “I wish I’d said that.”

That said, it is not really surprising that much of a campaign’s advertising is based on an emotional appeal. The Obama campaign’s “Joe Soptic ad,” where Soptic tried to blame his unemployment and his wife’s death on Mitt Romney —was a charge that was shown not only to be false, but chronologically impossible. Nevertheless, it is still running. I see a far greater cynicism from the Democrats — an expectation that people will believe falsehoods and don’t know how to discover the truth. But perhaps that’s just because I’m on the other side.

Mitt Romney is in a difficult position for the opposing campaign. He has been an honest and spectacular success in business, helping to nurture many startups to success, and salvage others. His education prepared him for a successful career in business and his work ethic, leadership, and intelligence made it a sterling career. He turned those skills to saving the Salt Lake Winter Olympics from disaster, and went on to win the Governor’s office in Massachusetts. With a Legislature that was 93% Democrat, he managed to get rid of the deficit and restore the State to a surplus. This is not the stuff of easy attacks. We have a genuinely supremely skilled candidate who is that rare thing in politics at any time — a genuinely good and compassionate man. Makes the attack thing hard. It is well known that Mitt is rich, and people always hate the rich, because they have no conception of the common man. Out-of-touch, uncaring, and filthy rich!

Enter the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), who recruited Mitt Romney’s garbageman — embarrassing, but true — for a new ad, published Oct, 1, 2012. Richard Hayes is a City of San Diego sanitation worker whose route includes Mitt Romney’s $12 million oceanfront villa in La Jolla, California. This is his story.

Note the sledgehammer message? (h/t: Charles Cooke) It isn’t Mitt Romney’s house — it’s his “$12  million oceanfront villa.” Mr. Romney’s wealth and detachment prevent him from having to know what life is like for blue-collar workers like Mr. Hayes.

One problem, if the AFSCME folks had done their homework, they might have encountered page 251 of Mitt Romney’s book No Apology:

During my campaign for governor, I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I’m often asked which was the hardest job – it’s child care, by a mile.

One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn’t even see me. It was as if I was invisible. Perhaps it was because a lot of us don’t think garbage men are worthy of notice; I disagree – anyone who works that hard deserves our respect. – I wasn’t a particularly good garbage collector: at one point, after filling the trough at the back of the truck, I pulled the wrong hydraulic lever. Instead of pushing the load into the truck, I dumped it onto the street. Maybe the suits didn’t notice me, but the guys at the construction site sure did: “Nice job, Mitt,” they called. “Why don’t you find an easier job?” And then they good-naturedly came down and helped me pick up my mess.

And here’s Mitt working as a garbage collector:

America at Risk: Sequestration by The Elephant's Child
October 2, 2012, 6:52 am
Filed under: Politics

Obama’s Scandals Mount. Sssh! Don’t Tell the People! by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2011, when Democrats needed the federal debt ceiling raised, President Barack Obama’s top deputies believed the prospect of massive defense cuts wold compel Republicans to agree to a deficit-cutting grand bargain. Then OMB Director Jack Lew, White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors pitched the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)After several rounds of bargaining, Republicans accepted the deal, and the federal debt ceiling was raised — staving off a potential financial crisis.

It was called sequestration, automatic budget cuts would reduce federal spending by roughly $1 trillion over the next decade, with half the savings taken from national security programs. The problem was finding, or rather not finding budget cuts to which the president would agree. All agreed that sequestration which meant all accounts are reduced by an equal amount with no strategy.

In his new book The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward said the present crisis was not the product of ineptitude or misplaced priorities, it was caused by the conscious decisions of political leaders who have put their election priorities ahead of their duty to protect and provide national security.

President Obama has no interest in cutting back on spending, but he doesn’t mind slashing defense spending specifically. He wants tax hikes, specifically on “the rich.” One of Obama’s main reelection strategies is class envy, and he has told us a number of times that he believes in income redistribution.

In spite of attacks on some 20 of our embassies; the death of our ambassador to Libya and four other Americans; the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan with a death toll that has reached 2,000;  the devastating Camp Bastion attack; Iran edging closer to a bomb; China threatening Japan in the South China Sea; Egypt threatening Israel; the Defense Department saying to cuts would be devastating; Obama is still playing politics.

As if he doesn’t have enough disastrous scandals on his plate: lying to the American people about Benghazi, our Ambassador and four others killed through State Department ineptitude and lax security; new revelations and new murders in the Fast and Furious debacle; and Camp Bastion. Any one of which should be enough to bring down a presidency.

The defense readiness of the free world relies on America. The cuts are too big and have no rationale. At risk are nearly $500 billion in cuts from the defense portion of sequestration. 43 percent of the cuts would come from defense. The cuts to Defense alone are scandalous. They are projecting weakness to our allies and our enemies. But this is the president who has passed word to Mr. Putin that he can be “more flexible after the election.”

Here’s the big one: The White House has moved to prevent defense and other government contractors from issuing mass layoff notices in anticipation of sequestration, notices which they must, according to law, send to workers deemed reasonably be likely to lose their jobs sixty days before they will be let go. The White House wants defense contractors to keep the layoffs secret and the contracting agencies would cover any potential litigation costs or employee compensation costs that could follow. The spending cuts would take effect January 2, 2013 — $109 billion.

So the Office of Management and Budget went a step further in guidance issued late Friday afternoon. If an agency terminates or modifies a contract, and the contractor must close a plant or lay off workers en masse, the company could treat employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability, attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs as allowable costs to be covered by the contracting agency—so long as the contractor has followed a course of action consistent with the Labor Department’s guidance. The legal fees would be covered regardless of the outcome of the litigation, according to the OMB guidance issued by Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, and Joseph Jordan, the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy.

Democrats have said — there’s no need to needlessly alarm hundreds of thousands of workers. But it’s quite clear that the Obama administration doesn’t want the public to know about defense orders dropping by 40%, and all those layoffs until after the election. The White House not only wants to cover up the massive job losses and slashed defense orders, but they want taxpayers to pay for the cover-up.

This article has a couple of dandy graphs that explain what sequestration means. Entitlement spending is the driver of rampant increase in spending, but the administration is unwilling to address that. In 1965 entitlements consumed about 2.5% of the budget. By 2045 entitlements, if nothing serious is done, and done soon, entitlements will consume over 18% of the entire economy. The federal government would spend every dollar it brings in on entitlements, leaving no room for even interest on the debt.

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