Sunday, February 24

George Eff Will, The Jose Canseco Of Baseball

George Eff Will, "The manufactured crisis of sequester". February 22

LET'S begin, appropriately, in a previous century: George Eff Will is a fucking affirmative action hire, a National Review body double for William Fuhbuckley raised to actual national prominence ostensibly to counteract the horrible leftist slant of mass-market news, but more likely because one of those dreadful Carter people seated Katie Graham below the salt one evening.

Will's the oldest living specimen of the species (unless you count fellow former NatRev sinecure Fr. John McLaughlin, S.J., among the living, and PBS as a mass-market), and the first beneficiary of the No Tag Backs rule which accompanied the right-wing ballast the national press took on: because the Poor Right had been in the wilderness for so long--not through any fault of its own, but because of the unreasonable liberal bias in favor of sex education, fluoridating water, and anti-lynching laws--rightists such as Will were allowed to hurl complaints without ever being cross-examined, asked to produce evidence, or risk having their feelings hurt. Will's been on This Week now longer than David Brinkley had been alive when the program started, and the worst he's ever had to face was the differing opinions of Beltway insider liberals like Sam "Gentleman Farmer" Donaldson.

You'll recall, if you were cursed to live through it the first time, that Ronald Reagan was "President" for "eight" years, and was allowed to play the Washington outsider for all of them.

And, look, in addition to atrophying rhetorical skills, isolation is simply contraindicated when your bloodline includes raging xenophobes, backwoods religious maniacs, hallucinatory monastics, and anyone who puts Atlas Shrugged on their desert island book list.
Even during this desultory economic recovery,

from the worst global financial meltdown since the 1930s, the direct result of Republican economic plerophory, defanged government oversight, crony capitalism, and the elevation of Greed to founding principle of the United States
one industry thrives

Healthcare? Investment banking? Unlicensed gun sales?
the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying “Wolf!” about spending cuts under the sequester.

Wait, "Hysteric in Chief"?
He is actually crying “Hamster!”

Jesus, George, that's weak for an American Thinker blog.

Could you, at the very least, put a small amount of effort into coming up with your own take on the President's side? "Hysterical!", "Frantic!", "Armageddon!". You, Jenny, Lady Noonan, Rich Lowry...
As in: Batten down the hatches — the sequester will cut $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget! Or: Head for the storm cellar — spending will be cut 2.3 percent! Or: Washington chain-saw massacre — we must scrape by on 97.7 percent of current spending! Or: Chaos is coming because the sequester will cut a sum $25 billion larger than was just shoveled out the door (supposedly, but not actually) for victims of Hurricane Sandy! Or: Heaven forfend, the sequester will cut 47 percent as much as was spent on the AIG bailout! Or: Famine, pestilence and locusts will come when the sequester causes federal spending over 10 years to plummet from $46 trillion all the way down to $44.8 trillion! Or: Grass will grow in the streets of America’s cities if the domestic agencies whose budgets have increased 17 percent under President Obama must endure a 5 percent cut!

Care to place a little bet on how long it'll be before we hear how vital it is that we have two aircraft carriers in the Gulf to threaten Iran? (It's two.)

For cryin' out loud. I've got no problem if you want to argue from a partisan perspective, but it shouldn't preclude being accurate or sensible.

Where do we begin? The sequester is a joke, but not a particularly funny one, because it's The One About The U.S. House of Representatives, and we've all heard it. The numbers were picked out of someone's ass, and the concept behind it was that once Republicans had swept Barack Obama out of office last November, we'd simply return every last bristle and fried rind to the the military budget, and gut social programs to make up the difference, and then the GOP would ride out the midterms, hope two Court liberals died, and 2016 would usher in the New Golden Age.

And here's the interesting thing about that, George, apart from the fact that you think it should still happen, even though it didn't: Ronald Reagan, the Most Popular Politician Since Jesus, didn't touch Social Security. Newt Gingrich's Revolution didn't. I'm not sure what the Bush II administration did domestically, but it wasn't that. Rabid Republicans have taken the government to the brink of shutdown three times, and all three times there's been a resounding denunciation across the land. Which has led, as we all know, to the party becoming more and more certifiable.

The sequester's a joke, but the cuts are real. That's why you've been hiding from specifics for thirty years, and now it has caught up with you. You relied on "hysteria" about budgets to win elections but you didn't really believe the rhetoric. You just wanted to cut money to blah people and environmental protection. There wasn't any way that would have dealt with deficits, because 1) you'd have continued cutting tax rates alongside; 2) you'd have let the Defense establishment back up twice as many trucks to be filled at Fort Knox; and 3) and most importantly, because there's not that much there there. Domestic spending is real. It's not all intended to save the snail darter, the way you've gotten away with pretending for so long.
The Defense Department’s civilian employment has grown 17 percent since 2002. In 2012, defense spending on civilian personnel was 21 percent higher than in 2002. And the Truman must stay in Norfolk? This is, strictly speaking, unbelievable.

Oh, for chrissakes, now I have to read the Washington Times for you?
“The department’s civilian growth is largely tied to key strategic initiatives, including improved acquisition practices, increased medical support for our troops and their families, and greater protection of our [information technology] systems,” said ArmyLt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman. 
“As a result, there were increases in the acquisition workforce, the medical support staff, and the cyber/IT staff. There were also military-to-civilian conversions to get the military back to their primary responsibilities, and as a cost-saving measure, the department insourced contractor positions to civilian positions,” she said.
This buildup is the shit your guys wanted, George. As well as The American People. Now it's off, because you needed a new tune, or because the Republican level of cognitive dissonance reached critical mass four years ago? Or just because, as always, you think it'll all happen by magic anyway?
The sequester’s critics correctly say it is not the most intelligent way to prune government; priorities among programs should be set. But such critics are utopians if they are waiting for the arrival of intelligent government. The real choice today is between bigger or smaller unintelligent government.

How rare and wondrous is the argument with only one side!

Good thing idiot government always makes the right decision when it comes to saber rattling, though.
Obama, who believes government spends money more constructively than do those who earn it,

Isn't it time you recused yourself, George?
warns that the sequester’s budgetary nicks, amounting to one-half of 1 percent of gross domestic product, will derail the economy.

Do I have to read the New York Times for you?
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, a Republican, warned in a letter to President Obama on Monday that the automatic spending cuts would have a “potentially devastating impact” and could force Virginia and other states into a recession, noting that the planned cuts to military spending would be especially damaging to areas like Hampton Roads that have a big Navy presence. And he noted that the whole idea of the proposed cuts was that they were supposed to be so unpalatable that they would force officials in Washington to come up with a compromise. 
“As we all know, the defense, and other, cuts in the sequester were designed to be a hammer, not a real policy,” Mr. McDonnell wrote. “Unfortunately, inaction by you and Congress now leaves states and localities to adjust to the looming threat of this haphazard idea.”
Sorry if I'm spoiling your hysterics about hysterics.
A similar jeremiad was heard in 1943 when economist Paul Samuelson, whose Keynesian assumptions have trickled down to Obama, said postwar cuts in government would mean “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.” 
Federal spending did indeed shrink an enormous 40 percent in one year. And the economy boomed.
Amazing proof that someone you can label a Keynesian was wrong in 1945. Somebody tell Amity her next book's arrived.

In other news, this ain't 1945. That 40% reduction? Eighty-nine percent of it was the cut in military spending. Maybe that was the magic? Meanwhile, there was that little matter of pent-up spending after years of rationing (and full employment), plus the fact that the U.S. was the only major power whose economy, and whose infrastructure, didn't lie in ruins. Other than that, I suppose the situations are identical.
Because crises are government’s excuse for growing, liberalism’s motto is: Never let a crisis go unfabricated. But its promiscuous production of crises has made them boring.

Yeah, no one loses his head about anything these days.
Remember when, in the 1980s, thousands died from cancers caused by insufficient regulation of the chemical Alar sprayed on apples? No, you don’t because this alarming prediction fizzled. Alar was not, after all, a risk.

Yeah, right. Big conspiracy, big hysteria, according to the paid mouthpieces of Big Anti-Regulation. Fact: Alar is a human carcinogen. The fact that it would require enormous exposure before one reached toxic levels of Alar does not make it risk-free. There is such a thing as cumulative risk. There is such as thing as Better Safe than Sorry. Fact: Alar was detected in applesauce and apple juice, infant foods which caused the American Academy of Pediatrics to call for the ban. We ignore the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and listen to John Stossel? That's the road to sanity? Fact: Alar was used on apple crops for purely cosmetic reasons. It made apples "look pretty". That's not a reason to poison applesauce, Mandrake. Children's applesauce.

One would get the impression, if one didn't know better, that you folks actually think that "unintelligent government" is a good thing.
Remember when “a major cooling of the climate” was “widely considered inevitable” (New York Times, May 21, 1975) with “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation” (Science magazine, Dec. 10, 1976) which must “stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery” (International Wildlife, July 1975)? Remember reports that “the world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age” (Science Digest, February 1973)? Armadillos were leaving Nebraska, heading south, and heat-loving snails were scampering southward from European forests (Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 27, 1974). Newsweek (April 28, 1975) said meteorologists were “almost unanimous” that cooling would “reduce agricultural productivity.”

Remember when Ronald Reagan was going to reduce the Federal debt?

I remember when the continents, and the Universe, were thought to be static. And so what? Science doesn't claim to be perfect. That's your Church.

Tell ya what else I remember: it was only after all that that the extreme environment of Venus was understood, and explained, by the Greenhouse Effect. Like the man said, difference of opinion may make horse races, but it won't stop a glacier from melting.

Sorry you've got more hands stuck in cookie jars now than you have hands, George. Sorry that we're apparently going to have to wait until the public takes it in the ass before it starts screaming about public services. Is it hysterical to note that the minuscule cuts of the sequester are just the first step where you people are concerned? Good luck peddling this shit for the next four years.


cgregor said...

So, how come YOU can't get on the Sunday talk shows?????? Maybe you carry the Cassandra gene... Keep up the great commentary!

chrome agnomen said...

bow tie daddy don'tcha blow your top,
everything's under control.

/frank zappa

Kathy said...

cgregor: in order to get on a Sat or Sunday talk show, One must say things that the Corporate Owners want to here, and somehow make it palatable, if not tasty, to everyday Shmoes.

Kathy said...

Gah! Tarnation! "... say things the Corporate Owners (of the shows) want to HEAR."

Deep sigh.

Pontiac said...

Worth noting too that there was a hell of a recession in 1947 or so directly related to the cutbacks after the war (y'know, that war ended in 1945, and it takes a while for things to wind down)... and that recession only really started to get solved after lots of labor action (meaning unions striking) that got wages back into line with prices. Because, yes, during WW2 it was totally unpatriotic to give anyone a raise but it was totally ok for prices to get out of control.

Brian M said...

Excellent post as always except one might (cautiously) point out that Clinton is as much to blame for Deregulation and the scam is 110% bipartisan. It's just the "liberal" side tries (feebly...see the justification for gutting the fifth Amendment) to sound reasonable.