Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 12, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 12, 2013 

HOWARD Hays As I See It

It seems we fell off the fiscal cliff but climbed back 
up. Now we face the deficit cliff, off of which 
we careen in 60 days unless the President and 
Congress can reach a compromise. Already, the 
President is posturing to claim what he hopes will 
be the moral high ground. The only problem for 
Obama is in selecting the issue on which he has 
perhaps the least moral authority among a slew 
of issues on which his moral bank account has 
been seriously depleted. His strategy will work 
only if Lincoln was right about being able to fool 
all of the people some of the time.

In commenting on our budget problems, a 
famous and powerful politician once said that 
borrowing more money was “a sign that the 
United States Government can’t pay its own 
bills. Washington is shifting the burden of bad 
choices today onto the backs of our children and 
grandchildren. To leave no doubt as to where 
he stood on the issue, he added, “America has a 
debt problem and a failure of leadership.” Care 
to guess who that powerful politician is? It’s the 
same one who more recently told John Boehner 
that “we don’t have a spending problem”. 

For those with short memories, or who react to 
facts like kryptonite, it is our esteemed president. 
We can thank the Wall Street Journal editorial 
page for digging up those quotes from then- U.S. 
Senator Barak Obama, who led the fight to defeat 
George Bush’s attempt to borrow more money.

One can sense the essence of the President’s 
credibility problem here. 6 years ago, as a Senator, 
he objected morally to borrowing $781 billion 
more to pay for profligacy. He was actually on 
the right side of history and morality at that 
point. Today, he tells the speaker we don’t have 
a spending problem, and then he doubles down 
with the vacuous moral argument that morality 
demands we borrow $1 trillion more to pay for 
profligacy of his own making because Congress 
“should pay the bills that they have already 
racked up”. 

I can’t think of a more glaring example of 
hypocrisy, or a more immoral position than to try 
to justify taking away a massive amount from our 
kids and grandkids because of excess spending 
that this same president advocated. Remember, 
he and his party controlled both houses of 
Congress and the Presidency. This president, and 
no other before him, has spent more money that 
he didn’t have - $3 trillion worth over the last 3 
years with more to come.

President Obama is, of course, trying to paint the 
Republicans as the bad guys – a moral lapse of 
another sort, especially so when he knows that 
the Republicans offered him after the election, 
as a token of good faith, much of the revenue he 
requested. Speaker Boehner went to the White 
House and offered to close loop holes and phase 
out deductions to raise almost all of the extra 
money the President requested. Obama pocketed 
the offer and pressed for more.

Morality aside, I will give 
our president credit for 
getting what he wants. At 
any moment in time, we 
can judge how effective 
someone is by seeing 
what he gets relative to 
what he wants. If the 
strategy employed works, 
well, we have to admit – if 
even grudgingly – that he 
was successful. This begs the question of what 
a president’s goals should be. Should he simply 
try to soak as many people he can tomorrow in 
order to pay for his deficits today? Or, should 
a president have an eye toward the future of the 
great country he wants to lead and to the burden 
he is placing on Americans who will not be able 
to bear that burden easily? 

As should be obvious, the difference between 
political success and moral credibility can be 
significant. President Obama loves the imagery 
of Robin Hood, but he doesn’t define for us who 
the players are in his version of the story. Obama 
Hood is stealing from all Americans of the future 
(our kids and grandkids) to give today to the 
constituencies whose votes he wants to buy. The 
press corps obliges in this deplorable charade by 
not pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. 
Most in the press are fairly smart; they’ve 
graduated from decent journalism programs; 
they know what’s going on; they can do the math; 
they can figure out that there aren’t enough 1%-
ers to pay for the $1 trillion annual deficits, let 
alone the debt being racked up. They, too, are 
complicit in diminishing their own reputations 
and moral credibility. 

The President will spend much of the next 60 days 
trying to paint the Republicans as the villains for 
not being willing to raise the debt ceiling and/
or for being willing to cut spending. This is the 
other moral failing I mentioned. Committing a 
sin is a sin. No surprise here. Blaming someone 
else for that sin and letting them take the fall is 
another. I would argue that it is worse because it 
damages reputations and the fabric of our nation 
so much more. Reputations of decent men and 
women in Congress are being besmirched, and 
public trust is being destroyed. Four more years 
of this guy will be a nightmare.

I wish I could let the Republicans off the hook 
entirely, but when I hear nothing from them 
claiming the legitimate moral high ground that 
is theirs in this debate – they being the ones who 
don’t want to steal from future generations – I 
wonder if they, too, think that Americans are 
simply fools and thus unworthy of the effort. 

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance 
writer and has spoken to several civic and religious 
organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives 
in the Pasadena area with his wife and 3 children 
and is active in the community. He can be reached at


GREG Welborn

“An M4 Carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 mm at about 3,000 feet per 
second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed for that 
... I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and 
particularly around the schools in America ... we’ve got to protect our children, we’ve 
got to protect our police, we’ve got to protect our population ... ”

 - Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of US and NATO forces in 
Afghanistan, on the military version of the AR-15 used in the Aurora, CO and 
Newtown, CT massacres


 What do head lice, root canals, cockroaches, traffic jams, NFL replacement refs, 
used car salesmen and Genghis Kahn have in common? According to a recent Public 
Policy Polling survey, Americans hold a “higher opinion” of each of them than they do of Congress. 
(To be fair, Congress did come out ahead of North Korea, gonorrhea, meth labs and the Kardashians.)

 Providing a partial explanation for this abysmal lack of esteem is last week’s column in USA 
Today from former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and husband Mark Kelly (former astronaut and 
decorated navy pilot with forty combat missions in the Gulf War), which begins:

 “In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized 
tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking 
lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary — nothing at all.”

 They mention the “11 mass murders” since the wounding of Rep. Giffords and the murder of 
six others in Tucson exactly two years ago, and blame a gutless Congress for the fact “we are more 
vulnerable to gun violence. Weapons designed for the battlefield have a home in our streets. Criminals 
and the mentally ill can easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks. Firearm accessories 
designed for killing at a high rate are legal and widely available. And gun owners are less responsible 
for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles.”

 The survey reflects a mainstream America fed-up with purchased politicians dutifully reciting 
marketing slogans from the gun industry. They see paralysis in dealing with such common-sense 
measures as criminal background checks for gun owners, mandatory reporting of stolen firearms and 
prohibiting those on the terrorist watch list from acquiring guns; measures opposed by the N.R.A. but 
which, according to recent polling, have majority support of 74%, 64% and 71%, respectively – among 
N.R.A. members.

 While in the House they’re dismissing the arguments of service veterans McChrystal and Kelly, 
in the Senate they’re going after another decorated veteran, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who 
served as an enlistee infantry sergeant in Vietnam. Sgt. Hagel had the job of “walking point”, being 
the one most likely to step on a landmine as his men made their way through the jungle. Hagel 
witnessed at least one fellow soldier blown apart performing that same job. As President Obama’s 
nominee for Secretary of Defense, he would be the first enlistee combat NCO to hold the position. 

 Hagel served in the Veterans Administration under President Reagan, but resigned when the V.A. 
Administrator described veteran groups as “greedy”, and compared the effects of Agent Orange to a 
“little teenage acne”. He made clear his own perspective on war while serving in the Senate under 
President Bush, openly deriding Vice President (and draft dodger) Dick Cheney’s assertion that the 
Iraq insurgency was in its “last throes”. He later commented, “These young men and women that we 
put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad, are not beans. They’re real lives. And we better be damn 
sure we know what we’re doing”.

 Commenting on the propriety of a Republican senator criticizing a Republican administration, 
Hagel insisted, “To question your government is not unpatriotic – to not question your government 
is unpatriotic.” And, he reminded, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution. I didn’t take an oath 
of office to my party or my president.”

 This didn’t sit well with Republican colleagues in the Senate, many of whom are still there – 
and see his nomination by the president as an opportunity to settle old scores. Chuck Hagel has 
made his views known that the Iraq War was a mistake, negotiations are preferable to committing 
troops, unilateral sanctions (as in the case of Iran) are less effective than multi-national efforts, and 
the interests of the United States must override any other government’s wish-list – including that of 
the right-wingers in Israel.

 Republican Senators see such views as “controversial” and “in-your-face”. Most Americans see 
them as “mainstream”.

 In the Senate, they’re using the office of Secretary of Defense as a means of needling the president 
and getting back at a former colleague. In the House, they’re putting profitability of the gun industry 
over the safety of our citizens. And, they’re suggesting a legitimate means of attacking the budget 
deficit is to simply refuse to pay the bills they’ve already racked up. 

 Over the past couple of weeks, House Republicans have insisted there wasn’t time to address 
the needs of the tens of thousands in New York and New Jersey still suffering from the effects of 
Hurricane Sandy - but there was time for Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) to introduce (for the 34th 
time) a measure to repeal “Obamacare”.

 Last week, Rep. Bachmann was reappointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on 

 The question is not why Americans rank Congress below cockroaches and Genghis Kahn; the 
question is why it’s still ranked higher than the Kardashians. 

TINA Dupay


Are the left and the right in this country pretty much the same except 
for ideology? Are liberals and conservatives basically two sides of the 
same coin? One side you have one opinion, the other side an opposing 
view. Are the parties in America symmetrical?

Only the right wing will say yes.

It’s a go-to (think lazy) response to any criticism of the right: The left 
does it too. Even more so, probably.

If you say the right is still utilizing the Southern Strategy while trying 
to disenfranchise African-Americans, they’ll say the left are the real racists. James Taranto of WSJ.
com wrote, “To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep 
alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party … as racist.” 
According to conservatives, liberals are the ones who really have a war on women. (Republicans 
just want to nationalize their wombs.) Democrats are the ones who really don’t want diversity. 
(All the old white men in the Republican Party are just a coincidence.) It’s not Mitt Romney who 
was shockingly untethered from facts in the most suspended-reality campaign in modern history; 
Obama lied about closing Guantanamo!

Yes, Republicans are rubber, Democrats are glue…

Whatever you say about Republicans they’ll try to pin that tail on the donkey.

This false equivalency benefits the right. A pox on both your houses disengages people from the 
political process and that helps Republicans. As we’ve seen in the midterms: When fewer people 
vote, more Republicans get into office.

The two parties are not, as we say in math, opposite equals. At all. Especially in math. As Bill Clinton 
said in his 2012 DNC speech, “Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in 
a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”

When Republicans were in charge they started two unfunded wars and took the unprecedented 
(for a reason) step of giving deep tax cuts – also unfunded – during a time of war(s). They spent 
like proverbial (and literal) drunken sailors. They increased the size of government (Department of 
Homeland Security) and increased the deficit while decreasing revenue. That’s what Republicans did 
when they could do everything they’d always hoped for: They made a mess of the place.

Now Republicans are shocked! Shocked by the state of their beloved country! It’s a disaster!

Republicans are aghast and determined to find someone (non-Republican) to blame: illegal 
immigrants, single mothers, “Washington,” Pelosi, Obama, ACORN, New Black Panthers, Old 
Black Panthers, Planned Parenthood. Maybe if they just habitually say “Benghazi” no one will pay 
attention to what Republicans do when they’re in power.

Oh and all this spending – it’s akin to sin and treason and everything distasteful now that Republicans 
no longer in the Oval Office. The phony outrage is palpable. As Speaker of the House John Boehner 
tweeted, “Too many Americans are still out of work & Washington still spends too much, taxes too 
much & borrows too much.”

If you ask a Republican, Democrats are responsible 
too. Yes, Democrats didn’t shut down the government 
when the first and second unpaid-for Bush tax cuts 
were up for a vote. They didn’t abuse the filibuster to 
stop Republicans from passing (the also unpaid-for) 
Medicare Part D. They didn’t impeach Bush when 
they had the votes. In short: Democrats didn’t act 
like Republicans act when they’re in the minority 
so they didn’t try hard enough to keep Republicans 
from melting the world’s economy.

See? Democrats had the power to be just as 
disruptive, cantankerous and disrespectful of the 
process when they were in the minority. Therefore, 
both parties (can) do it.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. The whole 
thing is disgusting. They’re all crooks. You shouldn’t 
even bother to vote or be involved. You should 
just look away. That’s how Republicans like it.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the 
editor-in-chief of Tina can be 
reached at

JOE GANDELMAN Independent’s Eye


Will the Republican 
Party’s 2012 national 
rout have an impact? 
Will it become more 
a moderate (excuse 
the “dirty” word) 
conservative party that 
tries to inch back to George W. Bush’s stated 
goal of a more “compassionate conservatism” 
that would appeal to growing, Democratic-
inclined demographics? As Tony Soprano said: 

Amid signs of looming Republican political civil 
war between purity-demanding conservative 
activists and a political establishment that 
seeks to enlarge the party’s current perceived 
“MEMBERS ONLY” tent, there seems to be a 
race among Republicans to prove who has the 
least empathy and who will be tougher, no matter 
what the consequences (to groups that don’t vote 
overwhelming Republican). 

Ronald Reagan’s smiling “Shining City On the 
Hill” has been replaced by a scowling “You Give 
Us What We Want or We’ll Level that Hill.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham blasts President Barack 
Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. 
Chuck Hagel as an “in your face nomination,” 
but the reality is this: to millions of Americans, 
today’s Republican Party has become the 24/7 
“in-your-face” political party. 

Many American independents, centrists, 
moderates and 20th century style conservatives 
are now in a state of near political grief. They 
sadly watch as a party that offered substantive 
alternatives to govern is morphing into a political 
party seemingly in a state of perpetual filibuster, 
seeking ways to provoke political brinksmanship, 
looking for ways to confront – while appearing 
to kowtow to its most ideologically intolerant 
rightward faction and polarizing conservative 
talk show hosts. 

A government shutdown? Give us what we 
want, or it’s about time we had another one 
(forget abut the chaos it’d mean to not just the 
government but government services, funding 
and to millions of Americans). Default on the 
debt limit? Slash spending the way we want or 
those bills won’t be paid – and it won’t be as bad 
as you “libruls” think and might event help the 
country (forget about the wide variety of experts, 
including conservative economists, who predict 
it’d be catastrophic to the American and world 

The problem for the GOP is that its courage-
challenged politicians won’t stand up to the Tea 
Party, so the soggy tea bag is waving the elephant. 
According to Rasmussen, only 8 percent of voters 
now say they are members of the Tea Party, down 
from a high of 24 percent in April 2010. The Tea 
Party now has a limp 30 percent favorable rating 
and an unhealthy 45 percent unfavorable rating.

Some traditional conservatives are increasingly 
alarmed by the nihilistic tone of their party and 
they’re speaking out. For instance, conservative 
blogger Doug Mataconis writes that his party 
now offers two choices: “Either the nation 
moves in the direction that those who advocate 
it want it to, or it burns. There’s no room for 
compromise, no room for debate other than on 
the terms already set. This is not the philosophy 
of a party that wants to govern, and it’s not the 
philosophy of a party that is going to last for an 
extended period of time in its present form. It is, 
in the end, a philosophy of anarchism in which 
one really doesn’t care what happens.”

Hint to the GOP: If politics ain’t bean ball, the 
debt ceiling ain’t the fiscal cliff. It’s the fiscal 
Grand Canyon. The debt ceiling is where craven 
political gamesmanship and blatant partisan 
power-plays can shove the United States and the 
world into a major financial setback.

If that happens, then in future national elections 
all of Rush Limbaugh’s listeners and all of the Tea 
Party’s activists won’t be able put the tea-guzzling 
Elephant Dumpty back together again.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for 
newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared 
on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of 
The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists 
and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 
25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators.