Political Hits — 10-23-2010October 23rd, 2010 by Lee Eldridge
Lots of subjects to touch on today, so let’s jump right in.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
The majority of Americans want Washington to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I think the administration has the right approach on this one. They would prefer we settle this in Congress than in the courts. I’ve been a longtime supporter of gay rights, and hope that we’ll do the right thing by repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But doing so through legislation in the Congress is a much better course of action than allowing our courts to make this decision for us. Now if only Congress would do the right thing.
Thoughts on Juan Williams and NPR
I’m a fan of NPR. I think in many respects they do a tremendous job with their reporting. I’ve listened to their morning broadcast on KPR literally thousands of times — almost every weekday morning for the last 15 years. As a former employer and business owner myself, I have had to hire and fire a lot of people over the years. Let me tell you, firing people sucks. I will defend NPR’s right to fire people all day long. But I want to make a couple points.
1. If you listen to the entire exchange between Juan Williams and Bill O’Reilly, it’s very clear (at least to me) that Williams is not an “islamophob”. He certainly said something that can easily be taken out of context without hearing the full exchange. And he said something that’s not “politically correct”. It made me cringe the first time I heard it. But I’ve seen enough of Williams over the years to be confident that he’s not prejudice against Muslims.
2. NPR did not fire Williams because he expressed an opinion (and technically, this was not an opinion, but a personal feeling). NPR has long allowed their reporters to express opinions in the media. CEO Vivian Schiller never bothered to speak with Williams directly before making her decision, or after.
3. Schiller’s public comments were reprehensible. Did you see her quote? Schiller told an audience in Atlanta on Thursday that Williams should have kept his comments about Muslims between “himself and his psychiatrist.” The feedback against Schiller and NPR has been substantial. Schiller later apologized for her comments, but never apologized to Williams directly. (This is called “cover your ass” in legalese.) As a former employer myself, I can tell you that this is complete incompetence. You should NEVER make a comment like this about a former employee.
4. So why was Williams fired? NPR has long disliked Williams’ association with Fox News. Williams, an admitted liberal, does not neatly fit into NPR’s perception of what a liberal should be. I suspect that NPR has long considered firing Williams, and was waiting for the right opportunity. And they quickly pounced on Williams’ “politically incorrect” statement.
5. People will argue that Williams is an islamophob and deserved to be fired for his comments. But when I see such broad support for Williams, I wonder who was really offended by his comments? I’ve seen support on the left from people such as Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Beckel. I’ve seen support on the right from people like Karl Rove. I’ve seen support from moderate Muslims. From Republicans and Democrats alike. And if the reactions among NPR’s own audience is any indication, then NPR has a big problem on their hands.
6. I’ve long believed that we should eliminate public funding for the media. We’ll see if this becomes the triggering point for defunding NPR and all publicly funded media.
I’ve been following the polls, but find it difficult to predict what the outcome will be in the upcoming election. So I’m not going to try. The general consensus is that Republicans stand a good chance of taking back the House, and a much slimmer chance of taking back the Senate. The polls attempt to determine “likely voters”, but with a midterm election, that’s a tough thing to determine. Dick Morris generally has a pretty keen insight into the polls and voter behavior. He predicted months ago that the Republicans would win huge gains this election cycle, and take back both the House and the Senate. We’ll see. That might prove to be hopeful thinking on his part. Morris has become a very outspoken critic of the left.
I wrote a post back in January about how Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts could help President Obama win a second term. My comments still seem relevant given the likelihood that Republicans will make gains in Congress. If you missed it the first time, you can read it here.
Are you watching the meltdown in Europe? This has been building for months. In France, the government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. And the unions are rioting in the streets. But it’s not just France. Several countries in Europe have all come to the same conclusion — that an entitlement society is financially unsustainable. Countries across Europe are enacting huge cuts in benefits and spending, and are eliminating hundreds (if not thousands) of government programs.
I’ve long considered writing a post explaining that socialism is a failed economic model, but just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s the road that the President and Congress have been taking us down these last two years. Though technically, state capitalism is a better description of what we’re becoming than socialism.
The same thing could happen here if Congress ever decides to restore fiscal discipline.
The Federal Budget
I find it incredibly irresponsible that Congress has failed to pass a budget for 2011. And it’s not just that they failed to pass a budget. They didn’t even attempt to pass a budget. Many have predicted that the Democrats will pass a budget after the midterm elections when they return in December. The thought being that passing a budget before the elections would only hurt the Democrats at the voter booth.
My take? I don’t expect them to pass a budget in December either.
Why? Because they don’t want to be on the hook for what comes next. Once a budget is passed, then we’ll compute the upcoming budget deficit for 2011. There is no way to avoid a budget deficit next year. As our national debt increases, we will soon be approaching our national debt ceiling again. (Last January I wrote about Congress raising the debt ceiling by $2 trillion in order to push that next increase beyond the 2010 midterm elections. I was right.)
So what happens next? Call my cynical, but I think this has been the plan all year. Let’s assume that the Republicans take back the House and the Senate. One of the first things they’ll have to do is pass a budget for 2011. And unless their initial budget includes SIGNIFICANT spending cuts (which the President will never sign), then Congress will soon be faced with another vote on the debt ceiling. There will be no way around raising the debt ceiling again.
The Democrats will then scream “See, they’re the same old Republicans”.
What comes next? Have you been watching Europe?