Tag: George W. Bush

The Pigeons Come Home

Now that it looks like we’re headed for a … ugh … Trump/Clinton showdown, expect to see more articles like this:

Back in 2013, I argued that the U.S. has been building “all the infrastructure a tyrant would need, courtesy of Bush and Obama,” adding, “More and more, we’re counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils.” With Trump and Hillary Clinton leading in the primaries, let’s revisit some particulars:

Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after. Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant’s checklist that they’ve provided their successors:

A precedent that allows the president to kill citizens in secret without prior judicial or legislative review

The power to detain prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial

Ongoing warrantless surveillance on millions of Americans accused of no wrongdoing, converted into a permanent database so that data of innocents spied upon in 2007 can be accessed in 2027

Using ethnic profiling to choose the targets of secret spying, as the NYPD did with John Brennan’s blessing

Normalizing situations in which the law itself is secret — and whatever mischief is hiding in those secret interpretations

The permissibility of droning to death people whose identities are not even known to those doing the killing

The ability to collect DNA swabs of people who have been arrested even if they haven’t been convicted of anything

A torture program that could be restarted with an executive order

Even if you think Bush and Obama exercised those extraordinary powers responsibly, what makes you think every president would? How can anyone fail to see the huge potential for abuses?

Before moving into a new house, parents of small children engage in child-proofing. Before leaving the White House, Obama should engage in tyrant-proofing. For eight years, he has evinced a high opinion of his own ability to exercise power morally, even in situations where Senator Obama thought that the president should be restrained. At this point, better to flatter his ego than to resist it. You’ll be gone soon, Mr. President, and for all our disagreements, I think your successor is highly likely to be less trustworthy and more corruptible than you were.

Insofar as you can, limit his or her ability to violate liberties or hide atrocities before you go. It may be the most significant step you can take to safeguard your legacy.

Conor, who like many libertarians, has been sounding alarms on these issue for the last decade, also calls on Congress to reclaim its power while it still can.

Lee warned about it when Bush was assuming Patriot Act, surveillance and torture powers. I warned about it when Obama assumed mass surveillance powers and started doing everything by executive order. The mantra was always the same whether you trusted Bush or trusted Obama or trusted both: it wasn’t about them; it was about the next President and the next.

And now we have a next President, either Clinton or Trump. And the public doesn’t trust either of them. Nor should they. Both have shown a disregard for Constitutional restraint and the Rule of Law. Both have shown that they will use the power of the office to engage in petty personal vendettas. Both of them could be imagined being overruled by the Supreme Court and saying, as Andrew Jackson once did, “John Roberts has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

Yet rather than reign in this unprecedented power, our leaders seem to be expanding it. To wit:

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone. And it certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information — see the Stingray debacle. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We’re now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue: do you want Clinton or Trump to have these powers? But of course, it is a partisan issue. Congressional Democrats don’t want to reign in the power of the White House because they’re just fine with Clinton wielding that power. Republicans might be a little more principled, given their fear of Trump, but I suspect they wouldn’t mind too much if he had such power.

One way or another, we appear to be on the brink of realizing what all those civil libertarians have been complaining about for years. And the country may never be the same.

War of the Memes

This piece of crap has been spreading through my Facebook and Twitter feeds like a particularly aggressive form of gonorrhea.


There’s a lot wrong here. First of all, Clinton raised taxes on everyone, not just the rich. Second, the Clinton economy was a product of Republican budget control, NAFTA (passed with Republican help) and the .com boom (enabled by lots of deregulation). Third, Bush cut taxes for everyone. But a spendthrift administration, a real estate bubble and horrible monetary policy from the Fed wrecked the economy anyway. Sorry, liberals, it’s just not that simple.

But, hey. Two can play this mindless meme game. Here’s mine. And it has the advantage of being a little more grounded in reality (click to embiggen).


Memogate Resurfaces

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a movie being made about Memogate, based on Mary Mapes’ book. Just to refresh your memory, Memogate was when CBS ran a story of supposed documents proving that George W. Bush skipped out on his Air National Guard Service. It became quickly obvious that the memos were forgeries.

The documents were such obvious forgeries that some of the liberal bloggers were the first to proclaim them as such. They were very evidently written on Microsoft office and printed on a laser printer. You can read Megan McArdle who goes point-by-point through CBS’s story and Mapes’ subsequent book pointing out that it was obviously a bad a story and any journalist who wasn’t sick the day they taught journalism in journalism school would have seen it.

When it came to the movie itself, I said this:

The thing is, I can confidently predict two things about this movie: it will be praised by the media and it will flop. This happens all the time with these liberal “issue” movies.

This movie will flop. It will make about a hundredth of what that shitty Shade of Grey movie is going to make. Because no one wants to see a movie about how poor poor Dan Rather and poor Mary Mapes were really the good guys when they put obviously forged documents on the air to try to influence an election. No one wants to hear their excuse-making about vast right wing conspiracies.

Still … it’s a good illustration of how the Left, including the Hollywood Left, are still suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

It’s a year later and they’re still suffering from it, having been stimulated into a relapse by the Presidential campaign of Jeb Bush. Last night, Rather appeared on Maddow’s show. After a 20-minute segment in which she said the issue of whether the documents were real or not was “never really resolved” and that nobody was ever able to really say whether they were fake, she had Rather out to say that the story was true and the documents have never been proven to be forgeries.

This is bullshit. McArdle again:

The defenses mounted by Mapes and others amounted to saying, “Well, there were machines that did proportional fonts, and you could order a ball with a ‘th’ key or solder one on, and maybe the kerning is an artifact of the faxing of the documents.” All of this is true, but … at some point, as a journalist and presumably as a movie producer, you start having to ask yourself: What’s the likely story? That a Texas Air National Guard commander who couldn’t type found a typist who had ordered a custom machine that just happened to match the defaults in Microsoft Word? Or that the document was typed in Microsoft Word? The best journalistic bet is the easy, likely thing, not the ultra-long-shot coincidence.

Exactly. As I noted above, liberal bloggers were among the first to recognize that the documents were obvious forgeries, ham-fisted forgeries. CBS’s own experts recognized that they weren’t real. The forgery was so obvious that I know liberals, to this day, who think that the Killian documents were faked by the Bush campaign to discredit the stories about his Air National Guard service.

Now I will grant Rather and Maddow that there no notarized photographs of Bill Burkett actually forging the documents. But the burden of proof was on CBS. And they failed spectacularly.

Now, I expect this from Maddow. She claims she isn’t a Democrat but she is an openly anti-Republican hack with an openly anti-Republican show who nurses old grudges against conservatives and Republicans. Fine. But Rather was … or at least claimed to be … a journalist. For him to still be backing this story proves that CBS was absolutely right to fire his narcissistic ass. Hell, they should fire him a second time just to the point clear.

(As for the movie, it just had a limited opening to good-but-not-great reviews (65% on Rotten Tomatoes) with some Oscar buzz for the leads. It will go wider soon. I expect it to flop. You can read McArdle’s follow-up review here.)

The Pravda

Speaking of the decline of entertainment:

Robert Redford has signed on to play Dan Rather in Truth, a film based on the 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.

The book, written by Rather’s producer Mary Mapes, centers on the firestorm that erupted in September of 2004 after Rather reported that George W. Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, a report that was based on some documents that were suspected to be forgeries.

Suspected? The documents were such obvious forgeries that some of the liberal bloggers were the first to proclaim them as such. They were very evidently written on Microsoft office and printed on a laser printer. You can read Megan McArdle who goes point-by-point through CBS’s story and Mapes’ subsequent book pointing out that it was obviously a bad a story and any journalist who wasn’t sick the day they taught journalism in journalism school would have seen it. And any journalists who didn’t have her head three feet up her own ass would have realized her horrible mistake quickly:

You can argue that Mapes was missing key pieces of information. Only after the documents aired, for instance, did Killian’s secretary and others point out problems with the jargon used in the documents. With the time pressure she was under, it’s possible to argue — as I have — that Mapes made a forgivable mistake.

What happened next, however, was not forgivable. Even after all the problems were pointed out; even after Bill Burkett changed his story to say that he got his documents from the mysterious “Lucy Ramirez”; even after the typewriter expert Mapes had been unable to contact analyzed the documents and offered his opinion that they were very unlikely to have been written on the typewriters available at the time … even after all this, Mapes insisted that she was right about the documents, and everyone else was either the enabler or the victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy. Of course, refusing to accept that you’ve made an enormous mistake is natural behavior. But at some point, you have to be able to see the obvious.

Other people could, which is why CBS retracted the story, why Mapes and Rather were pushed out, and why the consensus among journalists — from conservative magazines to Mother Jones — is that the documents were faked and Mapes was had.

Like Megan, I don’t think that Rather and Mapes were being evil, at least at first. I think it illustrates a subtle point about the liberal bias in the media: they don’t apply the skepticism to claims about conservatives that they apply to, say, claims that Bill Clinton raped someone. Rather and Mapes wanted to believe their story was true because they didn’t like Bush and we were in a close election.

Everyone has cognitive biases, which is why I sometimes wish the press would give up their pretense of objectivity. But once it became obvious the story was bogus, they crossed the line from gullibility to mendacity. And now Hollywood is going to make a movie glamorizing them starring one of the leads from All the President’s Men, a movie about a genuine journalistic investigation.

The thing is, I can confidently predict two things about this movie: it will be praised by the media and it will flop. This happens all the time with these liberal “issue” movies. There was The Contender, a movie so obviously about the Clinton scandals that Roger Ebert, in a five star review, decided the villain in the piece was Ken Starr. It was praised by critics and nominated for two awards. And it made $22 million because the public didn’t give a shit how “awful” Republican investigations of Clinton were.

Then, in the 2000’s, we had numerous films about the Iraq War: Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, Stop-Loss, etc. Each was praised and each flopped because the public didn’t want to watch them. The only movie that had even moderate success — The Hurt Locker — did so because it was apolitical (although I’m of the opinion that the Academy tapped it for Best Picture under the mistaken belief that it was an anti-war film).

There has been some success of political films in the documentary arena. But Fahrenheit 9/11 was the only one that made serious box office scratch and that almost entirely because it cashed in at precisely the right moment for anti-Bush bullshit.

This movie will flop. It will make about a hundredth of what that shitty Shade of Grey movie is going to make. Because no one wants to see a movie about how poor poor Dan Rather and poor Mary Mapes were really the good guys when they put obviously forged documents on the air to try to influence an election. No one wants to hear their excuse-making about vast right wing conspiracies.

Still … it’s a good illustration of how the Left, including the Hollywood Left, are still suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Ranking the Recent Presidents

Gallup had an interesting poll out today asking people’s opinions of the last 11 presidents.

In assessing the legacies of the last 11 U.S. presidents, Republicans and Democrats diverge most in how history will judge Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Republicans believe Obama will be judged worst among recent presidents, while Democrats predict Bush will. At the same time, Republicans expect Bush to get a favorable historical review, and Democrats anticipate the same for Obama.

This should surprise no one. Barack Obama is President right now and Bush 43 was President just five years ago. It is very difficult to judge Presidents in the moment and it is often informed by partisanship as much as history. You’ll notice in the poll that the further back in time you go, the less disagreement there is. On Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower and Kennedy, the partisan gap in the approval ratings is less than 20%. You’ll also notice that Clinton now has a net approval rating among Republicans. When he left, I knew many people who told me he was the worst President in history who now think he was pretty decent. Reagan also has a net approval rating among Democrats. At the time, many said he was the worst thing that ever happened to America.

Here’s the partisan breakdown on net approval ratings for the Presidents:

Republicans: Reagan (+81), Kennedy (+65), Eisenhower (+53), Bush 41 (+26), Bush 43 (+25), Clinton (+14), Ford (-6), Johnson (-17), Carter (-34), Nixon (-42), Obama (-72)

Independents: Kennedy (+69), Reagan (+53), Eisenhower (+43), Clinton (+40), Bush 41 (+8), Ford (-3), Johnson (-4), Obama (-12), Carter (-12), Bush 43 (-31), Nixon (-34)

Democrats: Kennedy (+80), Clinton (+68), Obama (+46), Eisenhower (+43), Reagan (+25), Johnson (+17), Carter (+10), Ford (-3), Bush 43 (-17), Nixon (-35), Bush 41 (-51).

I find those numbers fascinating. First of all, we can see that Cult of Kennedy continues unabated. He was a mediocre President — yeah, I said it. But a halo effect surrounds him. And while I think Nixon was a poor President, his low rating is out of proportion to his actual Presidency. To rank him that much lower than Johnson is absurd.

I am gratified that Eisenhower is well-regarded, that even Democrats now approve of Reagan and that Bush 41 is slowly being recognized as the solid President he was (his low rating among Democrats is likely a residue of Bush 43 hatred). Note also that Carter and Johnson are poorly regarded by all but Democrats while Bush 43 is poorly regard by all but Republicans (although I think, in Bush 43’s case, it reflects a personal regard for the man himself, which I somewhat share, rather than a political judgement).

For kicks, my own rankings would be Reagan, Ike, Bush 41, Clinton, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Nixon, Obama, Johnson, Bush 43. Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Ike I would characterize as good Presidents. Kennedy and Ford I rate as OK Presidents. Everyone else is varying degrees of bad. And yes, I rank Obama above Johnson and Bush 43 right now. I’m being a bit conservative in ranking Obama given that he’s President now so my negative feelings about his presidency are not objective. It takes time to rank a Presidency as historically awful or merely bad. Obama also has yet to bungle a major war, so there’s that. My ratings tell you a lot about what I look for in a President: someone who keeps government small but functional; avoids wars but fights them effectively when they are necessary. What I really want out of a President is eight years of peace and quiet. We haven’t gotten that since Eisenhower.

Bush the Keynesian

Veronique de Rugy:

I don’t quite agree with de Rugy here on the efficacy of the later Bush tax cuts, but I think she’s more or less on the money. The Keynesians have yet to explain why the biggest spending President in American history (so far) who ran up the biggest debts (until Obama) and slathered the nation with demand-side tax cuts failed to produce an unending economic boom.

We can’t pretend that Obamanomics started in 2009. A shadowy version was running as early as 2002. And the only complaints were that Bush wasn’t spending enough. So why did we see a lost decade of minimal wage growth? Why did we end the decade poorer than we started it?

Update: The Keynesians are countering that Bush spent during an expansion, not a recession. Several problems with this. First, we were in a recession when Bush started and were in a recession when he ended. Second, the point is that the Bush economy was largely an illusion; a similar Keynesian-fed Obama recovery will also be an illusion. And third, since when have the Keynesians ever called for spending cuts during a healthy economy? I mean, ever? Hell, they constantly talk about 1937, when FDR scaled back some spending, as an example of what we can never ever do?

Make up your minds, guys.

Fuzzy Math

Jesus Tapdancing Christ. I have seen this now in several places and it needs to fucking stop:

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.

Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.

Stop right there. If you’ve been on this site, you know that the “Hoover cut spending” thing is a complete myth. Hoover increased spending massively and doubled the debt during his Presidency. Roosevelt called him out as a socialist. So this writer is already starting from ignorance. But carry on:

• In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.

• In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.

• In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.

• In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.

• Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.

Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.

You see what the problem is? FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY 2009 was not a Bush year. The Democratic Congress did not pass a budget until March 12, 2009. Do you know who was President on March 12, 2009? It was not George W. Bush.

FY2009 also included the stimulus which this analysis now considers part of the baseline — exactly as conservatives warned would happen. Do you know who passed the stimulus? It was not George W. Bush.

You can blame Bush for TARP. But let’s remember that Obama voted for it, used it, expanded it. Two car companies got bailed out on that budget authority. Do you know who bailed those car companies out? It was not George W. Bush. Well, not the big bailout at least.

Look, I’m prepared to bash Bush with the best of them. But this is bullshit. If you’re going to use a baseline for Barack Obama’s spending, maybe you can use $3.1 trillion Bush originally requested. But you can’t use the final budget figures as a comparison. That’s simply cheating.

The author eventually, on page 2, gets around to this, admitting that, at minimum, Obama has increased spending 1.4% per year. But that too is deceptive since many of the Obama “tax cuts” were for people who don’t pay taxes. Moreover, we’ve been winding down two wars, which should have moved the budget closer to balance.

(The New York Times tried this stunt too, gaming the figure so that it looks like Obama has cut spending. Even then, they have to credit him with state spending cuts. I find that ironic since the point of the stimulus was to prevent state spending cuts, but … let’s not interrupt the Times when they’re in the middle of Democratic propaganda.)

Anyway, the idea that Obama has not increased spending is pure garbage. To the extent that he has controlled spending, it has been because of relentless pressure, faceoffs with the GOP and the winding down of two wars. His last two budget were rejected almost unanimously by Congress. He does deserve credit for winding down the wars. I’ll give that to him. But let’s not pretend he’s a model of fiscal restraint.

Smart Asses

Shikha Dalmia had an interesting post up at Reason about why smart presidents do dumb things.

The team of the “best and brightest” that Lyndon Johnson inherited from John F. Kennedy embroiled America in an ignominy like Vietnam—not to mention Medicare, a fiscal quagmire that, unlike Vietnam, the country can neither exit nor fix without courting bankruptcy or seriously screwing over millions of seniors.

Moreover, George W. Bush’s failures resulted not from his alleged stupidity, as his most vitriolic critics believe, but the brainiacs in his Cabinet. Bush himself might have reveled in his Forest Grump image. But he assembled a team of intellectual stars including Dick Cheney, who was so smart that Beltway Republicans and Democrats wished that he had run for president; Paul Wolfowitz, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; Condi Rice, provost of Stanford University; and Donald Rumsfeld, who made his mark in academia, politics, and military service. But this Mensa-worthy team, backed by Ivy League neocon intellectuals, left a legacy of Afghanistan, Iraq, and deficits as far as the eye can see.

The prize for discrediting intelligence, however, goes to President Obama. Unlike Bush, he wore his intellect on his sleeve, raising hopes that he could fix the country with sheer brainpower. But he has presided over a deterioration on every front: Deficits are worse, unemployment is higher, a double dip is imminent, and we have added another foreign misadventure.

She asks why smart people are capable of making such dumb policy and concludes that it’s because they are basically smart enough to talk themselves into anything. I think that grazes the point. It’s not like being smart is an impediment to being a good governor. Chris Christie is pretty smart. So is Paul Ryan. So was Ronald Reagan. Our Founding Fathers were the most educated men of their time.

So why has the concentration of intellect in Washington failed us? It’s because the current generation of intellectual titans are mired in groupthink and unable to accept the verdict of reality. Because they fail to realize that brains are a necessary but not sufficient condition for governance. Because they are, as hist_ed so succinctly put it, “Ivory Tower Dumb”.

The difference between smart people and dumb people is not that smart people have good ideas and dumb people have bad ones (although the former are statistically less likely to have ideas that begin with “Watch this!”) The difference is that smart people have ideas and dumb people don’t. Really smart people — and I’ve been around a few — are fountains of ideas. For a smart person, especially one with Ivy on their degree, all of these ideas seem brilliant.

But they’re not. Most ideas, no matter how beautiful they seem and no matter how much intellectual firepower is behind them, suck. The only way to tell the good ideas from the bad ideas is to try them out on reality, accept reality’s verdict and use any failure to inform better ideas.

Almost every business owner in America has had a business fail. Steve Jobs, memorialized last week as the most brilliant businessman in America, had numerous mis-steps along the way. Netflix, a smart company, just reversed course on an incredibly dumb business decision (hopefully not too late to save the company). When you look at some of the worst business decisions in history, you’ll frequently find they were dreamt up by smart people. The guys who made New Coke weren’t morons; they were smart people who were dead wrong, who extrapolated an idea badly because they were missing information.

For every scientific theory supported by acres of evidence, there are a dozen that not only failed, but failed badly. When I was a graduate student, all smart people regarded the cosmological constant as Einstein’s biggest blunder. Now it’s cannon. And Einstein himself was wrong about quantum mechanics. Robert Millikan, a brilliant physicist, famously predicted that the atom would not produce enough energy to blow the whistle on a peanut vendor’s cart. Kepler said he stumbled on the Laws of Planetary Motion only by exhausting every other possibility. Edison failed a hundred times as often as he succeeded.

Communism and fascism had tons of smart people who thought they were great ideas. Both Keynesian and Austrian economics have geniuses supporting them. There’s not a failed political idea out there that hasn’t had a team of PhD’s, Ivy League professors and Rhodes Scholars insisting it was awesome.

Americans especially can get fooled by smart people because the smart men who founded our country got it right (mostly). But that had less to do with genius than with collaboration. As individuals, they were perfectly capable of idiocy. Jefferson opposed industrialization; Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts; Hamilton tried to get us into dumb wars; Burr killed Hamilton; Franklin wanted all blacks sent back to Africa. They achieved great things because they argued out their ideas, made compromises and ultimately yielded when reality issued is verdict. They amended the Constitution twice immediately after it passed to correct blunders.

One of the most important books of the last decade or so is James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. He demonstrates the way that smart people get lost in bad ideas. Using the Columbia disaster, where a bunch of brilliant engineers signed off on a re-entry that killed seven people, he shows the two flaws that make smart people do stupid things: groupthink and stubbornness; a tendency for people to start to all think alike under peer pressure and a refusal to admit when a mistake has been made. The former is a big reason, incidentally, that academia is so liberal. When you’re surrounded by like-thinking people, it’s hard to go against the grain.

Ideas are great. But they ultimately have to be tested against reality and you have to accept reality’s verdict. I’ve been harping on liberals lately for refusing to admit their Keynesian stimulus didn’t work, so I’ll take a swipe at conservatives. It has become cannon that tax cuts are needed to stimulate the economy. This is despite a lost decade in which taxes were the lowest since before World War II, but jobs grew slowly, incomes stagnated and we ended up making almost no progress. This is despite four separate waves of tax cuts aimed specifically at this recession. But groupthink and stubbornness keeps smart conservatives from acknowledging that tax cuts may not be the answer. Hell, I don’t want to acknowledge that myself. I still think a payroll taxcut isn’t a bad idea.

That’s what I think we need to look for in politicians in general and a President in particular. A willingness to acknowledge mis-steps, to go against the grain and to acknowledge reality’s verdict on seemingly good ideas. I had hoped that Obama would be that way, but his stubbornness on Keynesian economics is just the latest illustration of his refusal to acknowledge reality. Of course, I don’t know that any of the GOP field feel bound by reality.

To me, this is one of conservatism’s core values: a willingness to acknowledge reality over dogma. Reagan reversed course on taxes when the deficit got big, reversed course on nuclear talks when the landscape changed and reversed course on Catastrophic Care when seniors went into open rebellion. Now this would be seen as flip-flopping. Then it was seen as a virtue: changing your opinion when the facts changed. Today’s slate — both liberal and conservative — seem more interested in just ignoring the facts. And all the brains in the world can’t overcome that.

Leftist scumbag fails to see the irony of his own pronouncement

Krugman, that jackass that was given a Nobel prize in Eonomics for being a good old fashioned Keynesian idiot and the politics that permeate the entire Nobel prize process, is out with another doozy. This time it isn’t some economic idiocy, but him saying that Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror.

I am not surprised Krugman feels this way. I recall some democrats, and it was more than one of them, feeling all down and miserable that 9-11 had not happened when Bill Clinton was president, because that would have let the man show how great of a “leader” – yes, that’s in quotations because this is coming from the idiot farm that thinks a slimy, smooth talking, used car salesman, conman, or an articulate minority community organizer equates to leadership – and now Bush was going to cash in on that.

Basically Krugman, like all these democrats are heartbroken this national tragedy didn’t happen when one of their own could take advantage of it are all thinking what Rham Emmanuel so aptly said in the below video, and projecting their own baser instincts and disgusting sense of morality on others.

Seriously, is there nothing these scumbags like Krugman and the other elitist academics that comprise the elite progressive ruling class hold sacred other than taking absolute and total control of every aspect and minutia of the lives of all of us serfs? For our own good of course. And yet, for some unexplainable reason, there are so many drones out there that actually believe these people mean well. Yeah, they mean as well as Mengele did. Of course having a complicit media sure helps.

Anyway, thanks for validating my opion of you Paul, and making me think I should have actually consider you to be an even bigger scumbag than I already do. The left prjecting what they really believe and do on others is a godsent.

The Big Graph

The NYT ran this graph yesterday, showing the cause of the debt we have and our piling up this century.

A number of thoughts:

First, several policies are placed entirely in the Bush column that should really be shared. Barack Obama owns the wars and the tax cuts now, having continued both. Obama supported TARP and has only expanded Medicare D.

I do think it’s a good illustration of which policies are driving the debt. I’ve been encountering way too many people who think the debt is being driven by stimulus spending or Obamacare. But these are dwarfed by the war and the tax cuts (so far). Still … it’s been 2.5 years. Obama has not stopped any of the policies driving the debt. Blaming Bush can only go so far.

I would also point out that the graph represent eight years of actual spending from Bush against eight years of assumed spending from Obama. But even now, there is huge resistance to cutting spending down to pre-stimulus levels, as all the budget projections assume will happen. Obamacare is supposed to cut spending; but most people are extremely skeptical. And there is no accounting in that tally for unexpected spending, such as from a major natural disaster.

We’ll see how it works out in reality. Bu remember — almost all projected budgets are optimistic.

Second, the biggest contributor to the debt they list is the Bush tax cuts, which currently have the fed a 15% of GDP, eight points below its spending and three points below Cut, Cap and Balance. Ed Morrissey tries very hard to argue that the tax cuts have actually increased revenues. To my mind, it doesn’t work. The tax cuts corresponded to the biggest drop in revenue since the end of World War II. After a brief “recovery”, driven mostly by the housing bubble, we fell back down to revenue levels close to what we were getting 15 years ago. I’m all in favor of keeping taxes low, but the Laffer Curve is not a line. And “starve the beast” never works. On the contrary, it makes the public more receptive to new spending because they are getting it at a discount.

Third, the NYT leaves off the biggest contributor to the debt, which is the economy. I’ll let you argue amongst yourselves who is to blame for that. I think there may be about two people in Washington who bear no responsibility.

Finally, I’m not sure what the point of this is. As I said on Twitter:

Once again, it’s not all Obama’s fault. And once again, the problem is the problem, however we got there.

What matters now is how we move forward. If we need higher taxes to pay for our commitments, we need higher taxes. We do not need higher taxes just because Bush cut them. If we need to cut spending, defense and entitlements are the place to start immaterial of who spent what on whom and why.

Democrats and Republicans don’t get their own separate economies. We’re all in his foxhole together. If Bush fucked things up beyond all recognition, Obama chose to become Presidet under those circumstances and has chosen to do nothing to right the ship so far. He hasn’t knocked as many holes in the hull, yes. But then again, he hasn’t had as much time to. If the Democrats had won in 2010, we might — God help us — be talking about Stimulus IV: the Search for More Debt. And that graph would be even more irrelevant.

How we got here is interesting in an academic and political sense. But right now, I’m interested in how we get out.