Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rolling Out the Barrels

It is almost amusing to watch President Barack Obama and Congress squabble over the contents of the “stimulus“ bill (a.k.a., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), almost as amusing as an episode of “Yes, Prime Minister,” except for two things: the posturing, chicanery, and logrolling apparent in Obama and the Congressional oligarchy are not as entertainingly stylized as the language, manners and decorum in the TV series, although the results will be the same in reality as they are in that satirical recreation of British politics -- the taxpayer will foot the bill and the economy will be effectively nationalized. The consequences will be real, regardless of what is kept in and cut from the biggest legislative earmark in American history, which will consume big chunks of productive wealth and redirect other chunks of it to programs favored by senators and representatives who secured their pork in committee rooms or during off-the-record caucuses in both Houses of Congress.

The machinations dramatized in “Yes, Prime Minister” have the character of a minuet, or of a game of musical chairs between conniving, cordial devils; the behind-closed-doors deal-making and arm-twisting in Washington elicit the visceral repellence of watching rival kennels of pit-bulls let loose on each other. Obama’s saccharine, hands-across-the-aisle tone has grown testy, impatient and too imperious to be populist; Congressmen have become querulous, sanctimonious, and transparently venal.

“My pork is more important to recovery than your pork!”
“Says you! My pork will employ more people than yours and perform a necessary and important public service! Yours just throws bad…I mean good money after bad!”
“Horse apples! Your pork will just get you more votes for reelection!”
“And yours won’t? Who are you kidding?”
“Tell you what, friend: I won’t vote to cut $150 million from your pork, if you don’t vote to cut $250 million from mine.”
“Well….Why don’t we hit the Foggy Bottom Bar and discuss this over drinks? You bring your pals and I‘ll bring mine. We gotta come to some kind of arrangement. We gotta please the Big Guy.”
“Yeah. And we don’t want Vlad the Impaler knocking on our doors again, either. He‘s scary.”
“You mean Rahmrod? Yeah, he’s a genuine Chicago strong-arm.”


The reader may fill in the names of the Congressmen and the nature and sizes of their pork barrels. It doesn’t matter whose names or which pork. There are perhaps one or two items in the stimulus bill that are arguably Constitutional, that is, the legitimate venues of government authority. Perhaps the Coast Guard really does need a polar ice-cutter. The rest are all either of an economically fascist nature or are generously boosted fiscal steroids for programs initiated or perpetuated by past administrations and Congress.

“The Senate bill greatly expands welfare spending. There are $13.3 billion earmarked to raise health insurance for unemployed workers, $27.1 billion for increased unemployment benefits, and $11.1 billion for ‘Other Unemployment Compensation.’ Another $20 billion will go to raise maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assurance Program benefits (i.e., food stamps).”


And if you thought former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Congress were Constitutionally out of line by instituting faith-based federally funded programs which intentionally undermined the church-state separation, Obama, ever shovel- and pickax-ready, plans to perpetuate the idea by creating his own faith-based “outreach“ office.

“Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton Washington yesterday, Obama said the goal of the initiative ‘will not be to favor one religious group over another -- or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line our Founders wisely drew between church and state.’”


That is the height of doublespeak. Obama‘s rhetoric has often invoked the Founders, as though he wants to assure Americans that he is not advocating a departure from the principles that animated them (not that many people or politicos today know what they were, including Obama), and that he is not advocating the destruction of what they argued and fought for -- which was a constitutional republic with a government established to defend individual rights. He has not once enunciated what those principles were, nor identified what it is he intends to replace the republic with, which is a state committed to economic fascism.

“The office will be headed by Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal who worked on religious issues for Obama’s campaign…DuBois said the faith-based office will employ about 50 people.” So, taxpayers will be paying the salaries of DuBois and his staff to administer federally financed faith-based “outreach” programs. This is the Left appropriating the religious fervor of the Right with a union of religious and secular organizations, a phenomenon many observers justifiably expected in a John McCain/Sarah Palin administration (Palin is also a Pentecostal). This does not merely further “blur” the line drawn between church and state; it chops it into several pieces. It is a certainty that much of the “stimulus” money (or a chunk of the $750 million reserved for nonprofits) will go to ACORN, the “community activist” organization being investigated for voter fraud and in which Obama took his basic training in political action.

While banks, mortgage companies, and the auto industry have monopolized the bailout headlines, the cultural establishment also wants a cut of the trillion dollar loot.

“We wanted to make sure arts were not left out of the recovery,” said Robert L. Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a national lobbying group. “The artist’s paycheck is every bit as important as the steelworker’s paycheck or the autoworker’s paycheck.”….In Congress the [stimulus] bill, approved last week by the House Appropriations Committee, includes a $50 million supplement for the N.E.A. [National Endowment for the Arts, which already has a $145 million budget] to distribute directly to nonprofit arts organizations and also through state and local arts agencies.


Among the demands of various government subsidized arts and “culture” groups asking for more money, is one that Obama create a cabinet-level position such as Secretary of Arts and Culture, and another that “culture” would be better served if the Department of Education assumed a greater role in arts education (and was appropriated an even larger budget). Either way, taxpayers would be forced to subsidize more mangled monstrosities that pass for sculpture, more “experimental“ theater, more multicultural festivals, more atonal compositions of noise, more Robert Mapplethorpe and John Cage caliber rubbish, all in the name of “free expression” liberated from the marketplace of ideas, values, and risk. And from money.

But even if the government promoted and subsidized art worthy of the name, it would still be a matter of coercion. What would a “culture czar” do? For one thing, become the object of petitioning beggary and the dispenser of money, favors and doles to individuals, organizations, and state and local governments. For another, help to further entrench and enlarge an already entrenched and suffocating “cultural” establishment.

The cited New York Times article is accompanied by a photograph of three musicians performing presumably a classical work for the Obama inauguration on the stage in front of the Capitol Building. It is known is that they were only going through the motions; the cold weather compelled them to “lip sync” to a recording. One of the musicians, Yo-Yo Ma, had difficulty restraining his laughter at the sham.

What is not well known is that Obama’s press conferences are just as phony and are essentially rigged. His press secretary draws up a list of favored reporters who on cue ask expected questions. Obama, after blathering vagaries in answer to one question for a few minutes, calls out the name of a reporter or nods to one he recognizes, then answers that person’s question with another mix-and-match selection of catch-phrases, colloquial gibberish and macaronics from his campaign rhetoric. And say absolutely nothing that the press hasn’t heard before. It is yada-yadaism elevated to a new rhetorical high, but journalists remain in awe.

This dishonest policy is aided and abetted by the White House press corps, and further abetted by the news media, which broadcast the press conferences as genuine news. It is a continuation of George W. Bush’s policy of fixing presidential press conferences to avoid too much embarrassment. So much for Obama’s “openness” and bringing “participatory democracy” to the people. What no member of the news media dares state, concede, suggest, or insinuate in public is that Obama has reneged on most of his “revolutionary” promises and that he has been mercilessly mauled by the pit-bulls of Congress.

If the country were not to suffer greatly from Obama’s moment-to-moment pragmatism and from the craven deference paid him by the news media, if the criminally fraudulent character of the entire picture were not so repellent, I would be genuinely amused. Unlike “Yes, Prime Minister,” however, Obama’s and Congress’s theatrics leave me numb with contempt and determined as ever to expose them.

7 comments:

Brent S.A. Cowgill said...

What chapter of Atlas Shrugged are we in now? I swear it sounds like day by day we get closer to shrugging time.

Andrew E. said...

"If the country were not to suffer greatly from Obama’s moment-to-moment pragmatism and from the craven deference paid him by the news media, if the criminally fraudulent character of the entire picture were not so repellent, I would be genuinely amused."

Indeed. There are brief moments when I feel utterly out of control and cannot decide between wanting to do something and speak out in some way or to throw up my hands and wait for the results of all this madness. I must know, when will enough be enough?

To put in simply, I'm tired of waiting and just want to know how this terrible story ends.

Andrew E. said...

er, that should've read, "To put it simply,..."

Roger Parian said...

Very clear Ed. I hope your thoughts actually motivate some critical thinking journalists to write for some free and independent media outlets (if that’s possible). I'm afraid that you and other critics will be silenced as our Freedom of Speech is eroded due to things like Hate Speech Laws, The Fairness Doctrine, and the likes. I hope you will continue to be heard and can bring an arc-light to illuminate the fraud. It looks like a full collapse will be the only thing that results from the attempt to cure our debt problems with massive amounts of new debt.

In case you haven’t seen this, it looks like our freedom of choice is also dying under the "The Obama Stimulus Plan." which apparently is a Trojan horse hiding the legislation to establish a Nationalized Health Care Plan. Read this story by Betsy McCaughey on Bloomberg...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aLzfDxfbwhzs

and weep. There is a push to regulate supplements and pressure to silence and de-license alternative learning physicians. It looks like us older folks should prepare to feel like the Founding Fathers must have felt as they aged under the medical knowledge of their day ― miserable.

Michael Labeit said...

Very insightful but very depressing.
Adding to what was said about English politicans, at least when they plunder their own, they sound scholarly when they justify it.

shahnawaz said...

The chickens are coming home to roost.Obama is the emodiment of what the intellectuals and the culture at large thought a "moral" person would do.well they got what they deserved.

Jim May said...

What chapter of Atlas Shrugged are we in now?

"The Moratorium on Brains", Directive 10-289.

My fiance is reading AS for the first time, so when she was occupied elsewhere, I grabbed the book and read just past her bookmark to see where she was.

On the page I settled on, Fred Kinnan is horsetrading for control of the Equalization Board. There are two paragraphs on that same page, which are so directly prophetic of recent events that my jaw hit the floor. I haven't reread the book in about fifteen years; I need to do so again and pull out each one of those instances and put them up on a website.

The first was Mouch telling Eugene Lawson that the path to censorship without it being recognized as such was to "leave the spirit alone" and make the law about "printers and paper and ink". That way, no dangerous ideas would get published, but "nobody would fight over a material issue". Does that not precisely describe the tactic used by John McCain and the Supreme Court, when they declared that "Money is not speech"?

Further down the same page, Kinnan pooh-pooh's Lawson's notion that the intellectauls would rebel against Directive 10-289. He describes them as "shutting up when danger approaches" while being "the first to scream when it's safe". I immediately thought of modern "artists" who engage in things like "Piss Christ" but go silent in the face of Muslim anger.