Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
The last three elections were wave elections against the party that was in power at the time. I would argue that, in effect, all three were effectively votes against elitist, “centrist” opinion. In 2006, the “suck on this” war drove the Democratic victory, in 2008, the continuation of the “suck on this” war and the Maestro Greenspan-ravaged economy drove another Democratic victory, in 2010, the Kaplan-approved, insufficiently-stimulated economy drove a big Republican victory.Verily. But what happens when people realize that just throwing people out of office is not going to in and of itself change things? I think that’s when it gets interesting.
- Republican Party popularity on the wane.
- Public taste for activist government on the rise.
- Grover Norquist, ignored, is not a pretty thing. It’s premature to say that Norquist has been dethroned, but for some reason one of my favorite lines from the movie Miller’s Crossing came into my head: “You don’t hold elected office in this town. You run it because people think you run it. They stop thinking it, you stop running it.” And here’s a clip, as I can never resist old dudes being totally badass:
I know that one of my running themes on the blog since time immemorial is how painfully stupid most of our fellow Americans prove themselves to be on a daily basis.
Well, this new set of poll numbers pretty much takes the cake and shuts the file on the open case of “How stupid are we?”:
How aggressively stupid is America when it comes to our debates over taxes, budgets and the size of government?
That’s been difficult to answer with any precision, beyond simply citing the Tea Partier who famously told his congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” But now we have some hard numbers to tell us how deep this ignorance really goes.
According to new data crunched by Cornell University’s Suzanne Mettler, large numbers of Americans who receive benefits from government social programs nonetheless tell pollsters they “have not used a government social program.” And when I mean large, I mean large. For example, a majority of those who have received federally subsidized student loans, 44 percent of Social Security beneficiaries [ed. !!!!!] and 40 percent of G.I. bill recipients say they have not used a government social program.
These numbers go a long way to explaining why the economic debate in our country is so insane. Indeed, at a moment when taxes have hit a historic low, most politicians — from presidents to governors to state legislators — insist we must further cut taxes and shrink allegedly “Big Government.” And they are finding a receptive audience in the general public because, as the numbers show, so many Americans wrongly believe they don’t receive direct financial benefits from government.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We get the government we deserve. And by Jeebus, we sure do deserve the government we’ve got.
Gee, what a surprise.
The Big Tough Daddies in government whined and cried for weeks on end about how Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has brought ruin – RUIN! – to American diplomacy.
They ran to their loyal stenographers in the D.C. press corps and did verily catch the overwhelming vapors, rose up into tears and telegenic hysteria, and finally dropped to their knees, rent the threads of their garments asunder in righteous fury, and denounced Assange as a most despicable and deleterious scourge of a man – a Traitor! that must be summarily assassinated by the U.S. military without resort to the petty grievances that a trial court might deign to so offensively proffer to stop the extinguishment of Hitler Assange from the face of all of Western Christendom!!
Well, guess what?
The damage caused by the WikiLeaks controversy has caused little real and lasting damage to American diplomacy, senior state department officials have concluded.
It emerged in private briefings to Congress by top diplomats that the fallout from the release of thousands of private diplomatic cables from all over the globe has not been especially bad.
This is in direct opposition to the official stance of the White House and the US government which has been vocal in condemning the whistle-blowing organisation and seeking to bring its founder, Julian Assange, to trial in the US.
Oops. You have one guess as to where we learned this news from:
Are we really so incapable of ever showing a face to the world that isn’t hysterical and worthy of neverending mockery?
Nick Gillespie reflects on the folks at the Glenn Beck rally:
For much of the new century, and certainly for all of the past three years, there has been nothing but uncertainty in the economy and a good degree of uncertainty in the political arena. The people we talked to felt something like cogs in a machine whose shape and size they didn’t even understand. They were not rabid xenophobes or racists or even haters in general, but they were pissed off that their individual actions did not seem to mean much. They were not conspiracists (few if any brought up Obama as a Muslim or a foreign national, for instance), but they felt cheated and frustrated that their individual lives seemed to be controlled by larger forces and institutions over which they had little or no control. And to the extent that they talked about government, the focus was generally upon government spending that they assumed threatened to destroy the future, for them and their kids or grandkids.
Conor Friedersdorf explores one cause for their feeling:
[There is a] steady trend toward giving greater power to the federal government at the expense of states and localities. Tell me that my city has done something I don’t like, and I can go speak to the person who cast the deciding vote face to face. In less than a month I can attend a public meeting where I make my case to elected officials and fellow citizens. If that doesn’t help, and it’s an issue I care enough about, I can back a challenger during the next election, or run for office myself. All these remedies are realistically available to every single citizen. And even the citizen who loses on an issue, having exhausted every remedy, doesn’t feel powerless. They feel as though they made their case in the democratic process and lost.
Our states are big enough that it’s much harder to impact the process at that level, compared to something that is decided at the local level. But if California does something that upsets me enough, I can initiate a campaign for a ballot initiative, or run for the state assembly… or I can move elsewhere: Oregon has some nice Pacific coastline, and New Mexico offers lots of sunshine and decent avocados.
Federal legislation is a different beast.
One cannot remain in the country without being subject to it. Getting an audience with one’s senator is unlikely, and even one’s congressperson is often away or else busy with other business. Reversing legislation at the federal level is exceedingly difficult, one cannot speak before the relevant body or even attend its sessions with any ease, its rules are complicated and opaque, and trying to influence it, a single citizen hasn’t a chance (unless he or she can afford a good lobbyist).
Now take an issue where the country is evenly divided. If it is handled at the federal level, half the populace is unhappy. Handling it at the local level affords a chance for a lot higher percentage of people to live under the rule they prefer. [..]
This is a huge and diverse country. I think it’s safe to say no other nation has as many different cultures and economic and political views represented within itself as does the United States.
The European Union is the most comparable bloc in scope, but few people think Europe would be better off with a stronger central parliament that sets tax rates and health care and welfare policy across the width of the continent. Why then do so many think 51% majorities in the US Congress should be setting policy for the other 49%? Why should Washington be setting policies that are uniform from Maine to California, Florida to Alaska?
Progressives are wont to bemoan that California, with 69 times Wyoming’s population, has but an equal voice in the Senate. And obviously coasties are known to joke about the insignificance of ‘flyover’ country. But on reflection, how many are so vainglorious as to think representatives from California should be setting economic and social policy in Wyoming?
It is vitally important and entirely proper that the federal government protect the constitutional rights of every citizen, and carry out its enumerated functions. Beyond that, however, there are good reasons to decide things at as local a level as is practical, and one of them is the fact that local control empowers Americans to shape the institutions under which they live.
Agreed, and hence why I am pleased by the upcoming return to a divided federal government that will keep itself in check, leaving more to local control.
Plus the economic effect of federal noninterference is astonishing:
Since 1973 [..] real, inflation-adjusted returns for the S&P 500 were a fabulous 15.3 percent gain in “gridlock” years, and a horrible 9.9 percent loss in years with unified government (see chart above). That’s a 25 percentage point difference.
The reason for this difference is simple: Unified governments spend far more, and more quickly, and expand regulation much more than split governments do. Programs sail through, the dollar is jeopardized, and investors seek real assets like gold to counteract the political risks of an activist government.
Based on the data, the ill effects of unified government apply to both Republican (a 7.7 percent loss) and Democrat (a loss of 11.5 percent) unified governments. The best was a split between a Republican Congress and Democratic President Clinton, which produced a whopping 32.8 percent real return.
President Reagan and a split Congress did pretty well too, with a 24.8 percent real return. Both President Reagan and Clinton did their best sustained work with a constraining Congress, or, to be more accurate, those Congresses did their best work with popular Presidents.
When it comes to split government and real returns, the right answer is “divided we stand, united we fall.”
So there’s been a bit of an extra helping of “divided government” pseudoanalysis going on here lately. I don’t have much time at the moment to do a whole post but I just wanted to throw out a question to everyone:
- If divided government is so demonstrably awesome, why do all the other rich first world countries have parliamentary systems that prevent such a thing from occurring?
- On a related note, why are there no other rich countries in the world that share our presidential form of government?
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