Monday Musings: Harmless Rants

It is Monday, and The Rational Middle is curious; if a Grand Design is revealed in the mundane goings on of daily living, what does the following say about the Designer?

  1. I have brush to clear and burn.
  2. The weather pattern proceeds in the following manner; days of rain to saturate the brush followed by a couple of dry days to make the brush ready to burn. Inevitably, on the third day (the burning day), it is either raining again, or so windy as to preclude burning without risking your neighbor’s house.

I bet you thought I was going to talk about God’s will and politics, didn’t you? But I’m not…

Continue reading

The Peace The Follows War

Veterans Day is holiday evolution. We celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who placed themselves in that jeopardy, on the day originally established to celebrate the end of one terrible conflict. World War I wasn’t originally known by that name; it was either the Great War, or the War to End All Wars. Evidently, someone didn’t get that message. As we continued to strive for newer and more efficient ways to solve problems by killing (in today’s parlance, productivity increases), we realized that celebrating the end of one war while folks were fighting another was offensive and wrong.

Veterans Day stands as one of two strident opportunities (Memorial Day is the other) to remind Americans the real definition and purpose of sacrifice. It is also, sadly, another opportunity for people to miss the point. I haven’t met many warriors who enjoyed war, or celebrated its glory, but I have met many people who think that Veterans Day is an opportunity to do both. We have, in our nation’s history, fought principled conflicts that led to noble results. We have fought conflicts for far less noble a set of reasons. Regardless of motive, warfare is vile, ugly, and hateful. Combat certainly reveals the character of an individual, but is just as certainly defines the weakness and evil of humanity at its worst.

Continue reading

Fox Reality Check

I was going to write on bipartisanship today, but the continuing Fox News meltdown takes precedence. Partisan entertainment reporting of politics is one thing (honestly, MSNBC has dropped any pretense of journalism, although they maintain a firmer grip on the facts), but actively inciting a revolution is another. Adding to the mess is the typically Fox-like absence of reality.

When will they learn? When will grassroots conservatives learn? You can’t deny numbers because they don’t look good to you…reality wins eventually. Those folks were victims of their own propaganda and Karl Rove’s final and colossal failure…Bush’s Brain is so much more meaningful a moniker in the light of The Texas Turd Blossom’s underwhelming genius. Below are two important data points for conservatives to consider as they watch the “fair and unbalanced” crowd struggle for traction.

  1. Hurricane Sandy did not “stop Romney’s momentum”. Pundits are now trying to say that one more week of talking about “things important to America, like the debt and deficit, and restoring our greatness…” would have made all the difference. Multiple Mitt was trailing in all of the state polls that mattered because voters had heard every version of his reality (and that was a lot, mind you), and rejected them. Also, Romney’s momentum (a very real thing after the Denver Debate) had already stopped, as the graph on the side shows (the left arrow points to the period between the September jobs report, the Vice Presidential Debate, and the second Presidential Debate, the right arrow, Hurricane Sandy’s landfall).
  2. Rove’s pathetic attempt to blame “voter suppression” (in line with his own Rovian Quantum Politics) is beyond ridiculous. The election mechanisms in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia are all led and vetted by Republican governors. Those three states all went for the President (and elected or reelected liberal Senators) despite active voters purges that disproportionately effected Democrats. And as for conservatives  staying at home; Florida saw 200,000 more Republicans vote, Ohio saw 100,000, and Virginia 60,000. And since when are political ads voter suppression?

I thought that only The Donald would stand and reaffirm his reckless and idiotic crazy, I had no thought that most of the Fox News lineup would join with elected Republicans in a massive and frankly democracy-threatening pity party. They are all channeling their inner Pat Robertson, and it must stop. Some 225 years ago, the Founding Fathers created a nation as an indirect democracy, and did so with the knowledge that not everyone would always get along. It seems to have worked well so far, let’s not let our inner child make us bad losers.

A majority of the people have spoken, it is time to move forward.


The Rational Middle is listening…

Compromise, What Compromise?

There was a notion late, late, late on election night where the pundits starting talking about the Republican’s need to compromise with the President. “They just lost the White House, they lost seats in the Senate and the House, they are losing the demographic race…they have to come to the table.”

I feel a nightmare coming on…

A cursory look at the strategic position for Republicans, and their choices (both strategic and tactical) over the last 4 years, reveals little reason for optimism. Conservatives have leverage over liberals and their reaffirmed leader, President Obama, in the form of the sequester. The sequester is the package of budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion that take effect in January and would, with absolute certainty, restart the recession.

For reference, the collapse of the housing bubble siphoned around $560 billion per year in annual demand from the economy. The sequester would amount to around 20% of that…more than enough, in the context of a struggling Eurozone, to sap the recovery of its momentum. The specter of such a collapse, according to the hopeful pundits, is enough to drive the country-first Republicans to the bargaining table.

Except that in 2009, with the nation at the peak of The Great Recession and the newly inaugurated President offering compromise his own party couldn’t stand, a grand total of 3 country-first Republicans sat down at the table. The stated goal of the party then, was to destroy President Obama as a viable political franchise, and so destroy the rebounding Democrat’s best lever for change. In the last 4 years, conservatives have expended virtually all of their political credibility, and gone to extremes rarely witnessed in American politics. They are deeply invested, not in the success of America, but the failure of their opposition.

If Democrats had retaken the House, conservatives could have looked on the investment as sunk cost, and moved forward in rebuilding their image. In the current construction, the best strategic course for conservatives is to double down on the obstruction, and bring on the double-dip recession. It would be impossible for Democrats to decouple from the job losses and cuts to domestic-based defense programs. The economics that explain these events is beyond the time commitment of working Americans, and beyond the comprehension of the mostly lazy political reporter class.

This means further erosion of the House Democratic Caucus and the loss of the Senate in 2014. That reality would allow republicans to force the President into unpopular vetoes, and guarantee a Republican White House winner in 2016. The only risk for Republicans is the somewhat unlikely scenario that Americans see through the plan, and hold the GOP to account in the next election. But history is little reason for optimism; moderates left the President’s party in the 2010 midterms, and liberals spent most of the run-up to that election complaining about the absence of a Presidential policy miracle. Then liberals sat on their hands in the election itself.

I hope I am wrong; what is more, I hope those conservatives in the House who genuinely care (in a different way than I) about the country step up and prevent this. What we need now, is 30 courageous conservatives willing to allow defense spending to flatten first, then decline, and willing to allow top marginal rates to rise to Clinton levels. Democrats have already moved far from their starting positions. I suppose it is possible, but I don’t see the strategic justification for the move.


The Rational Middle will explore the notion of bipartisanship in Thursday’s post…