The Braying Jackass In Chief

President Obama addressed the nation last night to supposedly bring us up to speed on what’s going on with the debt ceiling stalemate between the Republicans in the House and him & the Democrats. I didn’t see the live broadcast but did catch the video & read the transcript, and was completely disgusted afterward. I started writing a post about it but it was late so I didn’t get very far with it, so decided to quit & go to bed before my blood pressure got out of hand. This morning I found this video from Patriot Post Humor in my inbox this morning; it’s nothing short of perfect.

As tempting as it is to just leave it at that, I need to get a few things off my chest. First off, the impending crisis precipitating this stalemate is the very real threat that, “… our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded…” But he claims, wrongly, that the way to dodge that bullet is to raise the credit ceiling so the country can continue to pay its bills; that’s only a temporary fix to a much deeper problem. The fact that we’ve run out of credit and risk defaulting on bond interest payments is only a symptom that we’re the government is spending too much. Way, way, way too much. The biggest problem as I see it is that neither of the plans being proffered by the House and the Senate adequately addresses the issue of spending beyond our means, and the proposed cuts won’t be enough to avoid the downgrade in the credit rating. All of the finger pointing and bickering will be for naught, and we’ll still have the “tax increase” resulting from higher interest rates.

He also said that raising the debt limit is something that other Administrations have done in the past, implying that it’s no big deal; what he doesn’t tell us is that the debt ceiling has already been bumped up three times since he entered the White House, by a total of nearly $3 Trillion (whereas previous increases have been much more modest and some only temporary.) And that mousy little bedbug Harry Reid is gaming to raise the limit by another $2.4 Trillion; $5+ Trillion in three years isn’t business as usual, as Mr. Obama would have us believe. Far from it.

He said:

For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

Really; no kidding? We’re spending more money than we take in? Thank you Professor Obvious. But excuse me, when can you “spend” a tax cut? In case someone at the White House needs to be reminded, the money does not belong to Washington, DC. It wasn’t spent, it wasn’t given away, it was simply not taken from its rightful owners, people who, for the most part, can use that money to do more to improve the economy than our illustrious elected leaders could ever do. And the code words for “It’s Bush’s Fault” are just a little too obvious these days; that excuse is wearing really thin.

He also said:

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office. To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit.

Again with trying to blame Bush. True, Bush was no fiscal conservative and he didn’t do much to help things especially with that bailout fiasco in 2008, but continuing to try & pin the blame for the explosion of the federal debt over the last three years on him is just plain ludicrous. And spending more money that the government doesn’t have at a time like this is like throwing gasoline on a fire. If he and the Democrat-controlled House and Senate are the budget hawks he is trying to make them out to be now, why didn’t they take the opportunity when they didn’t have to worry about the pesky Republican to get the country back in the black? They were too busy ramming their version of Health Care Reform through and spending money like drunken sailors to repay the left-wing special interests. Funny that nobody was much concerned about bipartisanship then, when the Republicans were effectively shut out of the entire process (cue more eyeball rolling.)

And I love his line about the so-called “balanced approach” and “contributions”:

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach — an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

It’s like a robber thanking the banker for his “contribution”. His definition of a balanced approach means cutting a little here & there and raising taxes as well, although he doesn’t have the courage to call them tax increases. And last I checked, when it comes to income taxes, the top 10% of those “wealthiest Americans” already pay nearly 70% of all federal income taxes. Just how much is their fair share, Mr. President? And the red herring he keeps throwing around about the private jet owners… This from the guy with the grandest of all private jets, and the one which we have the privilege of paying for (cue rolling of eyes.)

Yes, given the situation we’re in, the debt limit does need to be raised, but I’m convinced that it should only be temporary and only accompanied by drastic cuts that put the country on track to balance the budget. And sign me up as a supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment; that’s one thing that is long overdue. If there’s one thing in Obama’s speech last night that I can agree with is that the fault for the mess du jour lies with both parties and all the politicians. Anything that We The People can do to put a bit in their mouths is a step in the right direction.

I also watched John Boehner’s response to Obama’s speech; the difference between the two men is striking. Boehner comes across as the adult in the room, looking much more like a leader than Obama does on his best day. Ever since the days of the 2008 campaign I’ve said that Barack Obama was not qualified for the job of President, and he’s spent the last two years proving he’s in way over his head. Last night’s speech just reinforced the fact.

Tiny Ponies All Around

I was Googling (ok, doing a Google search) for something Apple-related this morning, and one of the results at the top of the list caught my eye:

There is a horse in the Apple Store and no one sees it but me.

I think, “Why?” What is the villain here that blinds all of these people to this situation? Am I nuts for thinking this is exceptional? Does anyone else see this? Did I accidentally drop acid and not realize? I must take a photo. I must verify later, when I’m not potentially tripping balls.

I think, “Would they notice if it were a tiger?” Or a lamb? Or an anaconda? What would it take to shake the haze from around their eyes? A sale sign? A new iPod Touch? Would they notice a new iPod Touch?

Are they just divinely focused? Are they meditating in a retail environment? Are they distracted by something shiny? There is so much shiny in the Apple Store. Is it enough to distract everyone from the little tiny horse that is at the Genius Bar?

Frank goes on to make an excellent observation;

Since then, John and I have a term called a “tiny pony.” It is a thing that is exceptional that no one, for whatever reason, notices. Or, conversely, it is an exceptional thing that everyone notices, but quickly grows acclimated to despite the brilliance of it all.

There are so many tiny ponies in our lives today it’s not even funny. It may sound a bit cheesy, but I’ve often imagined how surreal the world would be to someone who was magically transported to now from the distant past, and how I might explain to them how some everyday things work. Those imaginings make me think about some of the things we take for granted in life… Like air conditioning. When I was a kid, A/C was a luxury that my family couldn’t afford, so I remember well the times we made it through the hot & humid summers in Sioux Falls with little more than fans and cold water and a swimming pool a ten-block walk from home. But when you think about how we can take a little bit of electricity and use it to beat back the heat and humidity… And how so few people actually understand how it works, but expect it to work on demand. That’s a tiny pony.

Or even clean water on demand in our homes. Not only do we have it running from taps, but we can adjust the temperature of that water for different uses. Another string of tiny ponies to make all that possible. Or how about cell phones, or computers, or any other bit of technology that we use and in some small or large way depend on for our daily routine. Tiny ponies every-stinkin’-where. And those tiny ponies don’t just happen; they are the result of herculean efforts made by people who have gone before us to to invent the gadget, to harness the energy, to design the system, to write the standards, to maintain the system… And most of the time we have no clue who is behind it all.

Frank closes his post with another excellent point;

When does the magic of a situation fade? When do we get acclimated to the exceptional? Is this how we get by? Would anything get done if we were constantly gobsmacked? Is this how we survive, how we stay sane? We define a pattern, no matter how exceptional, and acclimate ourselves to it?

I allow myself to get gobsmacked sometimes, and that’s probably a healthy thing.

Welcome To Jimmy Carter’s 3rd Term

Excellent article in today’s Washington Times by Charles Hurt:

The problem with reaching a deal to raise the debt ceiling, (President Obama) explained in a long sermon, is that there is this huge wave of Republicans who won control of the House in the last election by promising not to raise any more taxes and to cut the absurd overspending that has driven this town for decades.

He bemoaned — in public — that these Republicans are more concerned about the “next election” rather than doing “what’s right for the country.” In other words, he is saying the honorable thing would be for these Republicans to ignore the expressed wishes of voters, break their campaign promises and raise taxes. Wow.

And then there was last night’s performance by the President where he stormed out of a meeting with Congressional leaders after telling House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, “Don’t call my bluff, Eric!” You’ve just gotta love a poker player dumb enough to broadcast a bluff by telling you it’s a bluff. Obvious bluffer is bluffing, obviously. He can’t even blame that flub on the Teleprompter in Chief.

The Sky Is Falling!

Or at least you’d think so, listening to the President. He is now on record saying that he can’t guarantee that Social Security checks, veterans’ checks, disability checks, etc… will be able to be sent out on August 3 if Congress can’t resolve its differences over reducing the deficit/raising the country’s debt limit by then. Of course, a statement like that is pure sophistry, scare tactics, and the worst kind of politicking, but also of course, people will believe him.

This kind of crap just pisses me off to no end. And what makes it even worse is that the clown from CBS “News” (I use that term very loosely) didn’t even challenge those lies. It’s like Obama’s staff handed this bozo a list of softball questions and the interviewer is just reading a script.

The fact of the matter is that despite all the doom-doom rhetoric by the President and Tim Geitner, if the debt limit is not increased by August 3, the country will not automatically be in default. The country will not be able to spend more than it takes in, but reaching our debt limit will not suddenly stop all tax receipts. In fact, I will be getting my paycheck tomorrow and again two weeks from tomorrow, and I can guarantee that those checkstubs will show sizable (well, sizable to me anyway) “contributions” to the federal coffers. And millions of other people across the country will see the same thing.

What will happen if the debt limit is not increased and the country is prevented from borrowing more money than we already owe is that the President and Congress will then have to prioritize what gets paid and what does not. So IF those checks don’t go out on August 3 as President Obama has threatened, then guess who bears part of the blame for that… Of course, he’ll say that it’s all the Republicans’ fault.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the state of Minnesota remains mostly shut down because of a budget impasse, but many of the politicians causing the trouble are still accepting pay. This stuff is like comedy. But it’s not funny at all.

The Truth Can Set You Free

And in the case of MSNBC’s Mark Halperin was set free — indefinitely — for speaking the truth about President Obama’s press conference performance last Wednesday.

Sitting on the set of “Morning Joe,” Mr. Halperin smiled mischievously as he disparaged Mr. Obama’s behavior at a news conference a day earlier. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Mr. Halperin said.

He apologized on the show a few minutes later and said he deeply regretted making the comment. Immediately after the show concluded at 9 a.m., a meeting was convened about the incident, and by 10:30 a.m., the channel said Mr. Halperin had been suspended “indefinitely” from his political analyst position.

Yeah; it probably wasn’t exactly appropriate to call the President a dick on national TV, especially on one of the bigger outfits like MSNBC. But if the shoe fits… After hearing bits of what Obama had to say in that speech, I can’t help but agree with Halperin’s assessment; he did sound like a bit of a dick. I’m no political analyst, but the intent of that speech seemed to be less of a “how can we work together to fix these problems” thing than a “who can I blame because I haven’t accomplished diddly” thing. Pure politics.

The strange thing is his ranting about what “Congress can do, right now” to improve the economy; true enough, Congress could be doing something more (I tend to think that especially with this Congress, the less they do, the better off we all are) but does he really think that insulting the people that he needs to work with is going to make them want to cooperate? I don’t. He chides Congress for not being the leaders they are supposed to be (check the mirror lately, Mr. Obama?) and their upcoming summer recess, saying he’s been in DC the whole time getting things done; but what I’ve seen is him spending time on the golf course, having celebrity parties, making television appearances, flying Air Force One all over the country for Democrat fundraisers (and nearly shutting down entire metropolitan areas in the process.) Is it any wonder that shortly after giving Congress that tongue lashing, Mr. Obama was off to yet another DNC fundraiser? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black… Some leadership.

I seriously doubt he had any thought toward solving any of the problems he complained about; his intent was more likely to make himself look better in the eyes of potential voters, and what better way to do that than beat down somebody else so he looks better in comparison. If this guy, with all he’s done to screw things up and all he’s failed to do to fix anything, actually manages to get himself reelected…

Casey Who?

I’ve paid about zero attention to the Casey Anthony trial, so all I knew of it was the little tidbits that I caught before flipping the TV or radio to another station when the name came up. The jury yesterday returned a verdict of “not guilty”. Unfortunately, the end of the trail won’t be the end of the endless prattling about Casey Anthony and the suspicious death of her daughter, Caylee.

Since the verdict was announced, I’ve heard way more commentary on the trial than while the trial was still ongoing, and most people seem to be convinced that she did indeed kill her daughter — that’s the most logical explanation for the circumstances surrounding Caylee’s disappearance and death and Casey’s behavior — but the prosecutors failed to prove it to the jury. She did mess up by lying to the police, and will serve some time for that, but once that’s accomplished, she’ll be a free woman.

Or will she?

She knows what happened, and whether she acknowledges God’s existence or not, He knows what happened, and will one day sort things out with her. Whether she comes to terms with Him before that day and seeks forgiveness… That’s her story, and something we are not privy to. He’s definitely hoping that she’ll seek His forgiveness, and we should hope & pray the same for her, as we should for everyone.

In God’s economy, all sin — whether it’s killing an innocent like Calee Anthony or the hateful thoughts in my head toward the idiot who cut me off on the way to work this morning — carries an equal punishment; death and eternal separation from God. But no matter what our sin, should we seek forgiveness for our actions and our condition through Christ Jesus, we will be forgiven. Yes, if Casey did indeed kill her daughter, she can be forgiven, just as I have been forgiven for the sin that once ruled my life and the sins that I continue to commit. She can be forgiven just as Jeffrey Dahmer was forgiven for the sin in his life. Just as you can be forgiven.

We as a society grade each other much differently than does God. We like to categorize and rank our own sins and those of others according to degrees of ‘badness’, then dole out punishments according to where those societal sins fall on our scale of badness. God treats all sin the same, but holds us all to a single standard; Holiness. Casey Anthony was found not guilty, but that is not the equivalent of innocent. In the eyes of many, her sin is as egregious as it gets — murder of her own child — compounded by also getting away with murder. Because of that societal judgment, the remainder of Casey’s life will be far from easy, in spite of the “not guilty” finding. Sure, the morbid curiosity surrounding the outcome of the trial will likely bring her much celebrity and a lot of money — interviews and maybe a book or movie deal — but she’ll always be a pariah.

But what really confuses and saddens me following the whole circus of a trial is the level of hatred for Casey Anthony, and the hypocritical double-standard it brings out in many people. Popular opinion says that she is a cold-hearted monster because she killed her daughter, and deserves much worse than she’s getting following the trial. But isn’t it more than a tad ironic that thousands of children are slaughtered every day in abortion clinics across the country after their mothers exercise their supposed right to choose? And we as a society barely bat an eye at the carnage. It’s likely that Casey Anthony made essentially the same choice as millions of other women before her and thousands more every day; Casey’s sin is that she made her choice later than what is socially acceptable (and acceptable by the laws of the land.) She is simply a victim of bad timing, right?

The photos we have of a doe-eyed Caylee Anthony are everywhere to remind us of the precious life that has been lost, probably at the hand of her mother. But because there are no photos of the millions and millions of children that have been killed through abortion and ignored by society, we have difficulty envisioning the beauty of those children, but they are no less precious than Caylee. And lacking some visual or physical connection with them, wrapping our minds around the enormity of that loss is somehow beyond us. Out of sight, out of mind; but the loss is no less real, and I believe much more damaging to our society than we will ever know.

Edit: Turns out I’m not the only one making the Caylee Anthony and abortion connection; Rush Limbaugh: Casey Anthony Not Guilty of Very Late-Term Abortion (July 6). Jenny Erickson on The Stir: Is Abortion Age Discrimination?, and many others.

Update: I just happened across this post when looking for another, and coincidentally, she will be officially done with her incarceration and probation at midnight tonight. Will be interesting to see how things progress. Or not.

The Star Spangled Banner — The Other Verses

The Star Spangled Banner is one of the most well-known songs in the US. It is after all our National Anthem. But did you know that what we hear sung before a baseball game is actually just the first verse of a much longer song?

Verse 1:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Verse 2:
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Verse 3:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Verse 4:
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The other three verses aren’t quite as, um, nice or politically correct as the first, which may be part of the reason they aren’t sung often and thus not as well known, but they hold a lot of meaning, and reflect more fully the Christian faith that was prevalent among the people in days past who first sung it. The gentleman in this video apparently hadn’t heard of the other three verses but learned verse 4, thinking it was the second of two verses. He does have a great singing voice.

I don’t remember ever hearing about the other verses until just recently. Last year I bought a pile of old books at a rummage sale, and tucked into one of them was a really old & tattered leaflet of Civil War battle songs that was assembled and printed by The Lion Coffee Company; near as I can determine from the contents of the booklet, it was printed not long after the Civil War. It was a bit torn up, had had a new cover added to it at some point so was missing some of its original content, and was held together with some string. Pretty cool stuff; lots of songs I’d heard and sung before, but some that I’d never heard of and others, like the Star Spangled Banner, that had verses that were new to me. I’ll share more of the contents of the booklet later, but couldn’t resist showing off one of the pages just a little!