Thursday, December 20, 2012

As We Fearfully Prepare to Fall Off Mayan Cliffs . . .

Fear mongers are busy during this holiday season. Spreading fear and blaming others. I have my own thoughts who the most fearsome fear mongers are. I'll save them for the end of this article.

A few burning questions, so few answers, as the end of the year or the end mankind approaches, depending upon your beliefs:

Electoral Mandates

What is it about Illinois Democratic politicians who think they have a mandate after narrowly winning the popular vote in elections? President Obama wins 53% of the popular vote and suddenly the White House feels he has a mandate. His negotiating tactics during the "Fiscal Cliff" fiasco, which he insisted be negotiated after the election in the grand spirit of Illinois lameduckitis, has been basically to demand that the other political party fall to their knees and surrender in utter and complete humiliation. Well, they haven't done that. Who really was naive enough to expect that, other than those fearfully staring down a Mayan calendar?

Is this how he plans to govern the next two years?

Governor Quinn two years squeaked out a victory and also declared it to be a mandate. The rest of the political class in Springfield continued to treat him like an annoyance.

Perhaps Speaker Boehner should adopt those Springfield tactics used against Governor Quinn?

Beloved or Hated Tax Cuts

President Obama forcefully demanded the end of the "Bush Tax Cuts" during his first campaign. After his election, he permitted those tax cuts to be extended. This campaign he railed against the rich and demanded forcefully that the "Bush Tax Cuts" remain in place for everyone else. The President defines "rich" as those earning $200,000 a year, or families earning $250,000.  Now a Republican proposal to tax wealthier individuals at a higher rate, or $400,000 in income, is labeled a "non-starter."

The question no one seems to be asking: "Is this President still philosophically opposed to the Bush Tax Cuts?" Some conspiracy theorists seem to feel that he really wants those cuts to expire across the board, as taxing the rich will not solve the revenue problems of the Federal Government.

In Springfield, tax cuts are not even being mentioned. The world would truly end if Springfield were to roll back taxes, Mayans or no Mayans.

Spending Cuts

The Simpson-Bowles Commission report has clearly frightened both political parties with their mandated spending cuts and tax increases. President Obama hasn't really proposed any spending cuts, but is somewhat willing to change the formula to more restrictive cost of living increases retirees get under Social Security. Current spending, no. Curb future spending and call it savings.

Once upon a time "savings" meant the monies left over after you paid all your bills, and you put those savings away somewhere for a rainy day. Now it means not spending money you never had?

In our state, Illinois spending cuts are designed to frighten everyone into paying higher taxes. Slashing monies for mental health facilities and mental health patients? Closing prisons and earlier releases of prisoners? Slashing education budgets? Illinoisans are so immune to those tactics that they are more terrified of first seasonal snowstorms.

Bond rating agencies no longer believe Illinois is seriously tackling their budget and pension crises, which are now over a decade old. They are warning of another rating reduction, making things even more expensive when Illinois needs to borrow money.

Maybe the Mayans meant Illinois?

Press Conferences

President Obama actually held a press conference yesterday. His appearances at press conferences have been so infrequent we should rename him President Haley's Comet.  

In Illinois, Speaker Madigan in Springfield seems to talk to the press more frequently.

But something strange happened at Obama's press conference yesterday. The docile press began asking some rather tough questions. No giggling school girl questions like the press conference held just after the election. Maybe the world is coming to an end.

Gun Control

The President appeared genuinely miffed when following his big gun control announcement, the first three questions tossed at him by the usually adoring press concerned the fiscal cliff negotiations. Maybe the press didn't take seriously the appointment of Vice-President Biden to oversee that blue ribbon type of panel. Towards the end of the conference, a reporter from ABC news asked him where he has been on gun control issues the past four years, one of those where have you been hiding type of questions? The President looked upset. Simply put, on gun control issues, he has been very quiet since he first emerged on the national scene back in 2008.

I just saw a video of Rahm Emmanuel on a morning newscast stammering over why he demanded no gun control legislation be considered during Obama's first term. Now that he is Mayor of Chicago, he is Mr. Gun Control.

If the press had bothered to field a Benghazi question about the murder of four Americans overseas, it would have ruined Obama's day even more. Independent report, resignations in the State Department, a clear failure to heed strong warnings that placed Americans in harms way. The Mayan calendar is getting more press than that independent report.

Debt Ceilings

President Obama as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations is demanding the right to raise the debt ceiling without the consent of Congress.

The very same president who quadrupled the public debt in less than four years? The very same president who set a record in spending? Fill in your own punchlines, with or without Mayans.

The End of the World

As a die-hard Republican, I thought the world ended on November 6, 2012. It didn't.

Now, according to some Mayan Calendar, the world or the human race is ending sometime today. It won't.

Today, the greatest fear mongers the world has ever produced, weather reporters, are breathlessly reporting the first snow of winter. It will be a blizzard, snowstorm, snow shower, a snow something. Snow! They will wear heavy parkas and look miserably into cameras to tell us how the latest snowflake looks, with the standard snow blowing and snow plowing videos along with stuck traffic and unfortunates struggling to walk. My late restaurant owning father used to despise those fear mongers, as they advised everyone to stay home, instead of visiting their neighborhood eatery during storms.

Our political fear mongering types can't even compare to The Weather Reporter.  

Remember that as we prepare to fall off whatever cliffs are placed in front of us. With or without Mayan calendars.

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