Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Mexico - The Not-Too-Exciting Martinez Government

MeanMesa has watched, fascinated, as the new Governor has completed the slow migration from her old role as a failed Democratic candidate to her new one as a well heeled Republican "up and comer."  Once lubricated with immense, admittedly checkered campaign financing, Susana managed to either ride the wave of tea bags or, from an alternate point of view, at least be dragged behind the truck.

Now, of course, she faces the historical curse of Republican campaign victors  everywhere, the apparently incomprehensible task of actually governing.  The "modern question" of the day naturally settles on estimating what the "new girl" will throw together for a new clutch of department secretaries.  The first, unsettling  clues are already at hand.

Governor-elect Susana Martinez (image source)

Of course, ex-Democrat Susana finds herself deeply committed to boosting her resume as a prosecutor as she finds herself facing a rather bleak void in popular name recognition.  After all, the guy she replaces was, during his public service career, not only a governor but also a UN Ambassador, a "go-to" guy for problem dictators, Energy Secretary and Democratic Convention Chairman.

For Martinez, the "prosecutor" persona, when it is the sole identity remaining after the campaign's talking points fade into yesterday's news, will simply have to do.  However, the prospects of good outcomes from effective state government are organically dissimilar to clever presentations in court.

The State of the State

MeanMesa has watched with dismal fascination as the photos of Martinez's nominees have appeared on our favorite "faux news" affiliate (Channel 13, Albuquerque).  Instead of exciting, innovative new faces which might promise refreshed approaches to our New Mexican problems (i.e., a "dancing" deficit which routinely varies from $400 Mn to $700 Mn depending on the news channel source), MeanMesa suspects we should anticipate a very amateurish, one dimensional approach.

Overly negative?   Probably not.  The Republican Great Recession has decimated most of the State's traditional reserves such as pension plans and Legislative "rainy day funds."  The state coffers are so low already that much governmental  innovation now seems firmly beyond the pale of likely possibilities. 

As Martinez turns to her newly embraced Republican play book, the usual reactionary priorities will surface soon enough.  Budget cutting -- especially for  policies which might help politically weaker New Mexicans -- will be one of her first moves.  Redirecting all possible profits to her supporters will follow closely behind the new misery.

Starving the developing film industry and "not moving" the crime lab (discussed below) will be examples of this treatment.   For example, the rate of return on investment in the film industry tax subsidy has always been impressive, but Martinez's problem with the program isn't one concerned with how much additional money the plan injects into the state's economy but rather, who gets it.

The Martinez Nominees

We were all familiar enough with some of the other, more visible characters in the Martinez campaign.  Folks such as the Half-Ex-Governess and Political Wanna-Be, Ms. Palin or the tragically soiled Heather "Halliburton" Wilson, her transition officer.  But so far as most of the nominees, the same question surfaces across the state's coffee tables, "Who, exactly, are these people?"
A quick glance at this collection of desolate, resigned Catholic eyes suggests that a certain, difficult discussion was held just before their announcement as nominees.  Ex-Democrat prosecutor Martinez apparently laid down the law in no uncertain terms -- first to her candidate vetting staff and then later to the, uh, nominees themselves.

Prosecutor Martinez correctly concluded that the re-election problem of the Democrats centered on the relentlessly publicised budgetary peccadilloes of the departing administration.  Thanks to the somewhat less than totally innocent, selective auditing habits of the Richardsonians, every suspicious appointee from  the Demming Dog Catcher to Logan Librarian seemed to have been able to surreptitiously wind up with a six digit personal bank account.

The new "Prosecutora" will have none of this on her watch.  After all, with the state budget in free fall, the most material corruption must be reserved for Susana's best friends in Texas.  It will be a bleak winter indeed for any of the still ambitious, crooked, "little people" who might have quietly survived the "sacred cleansing fire" of Ms. Martinez's very recently adopted political purity campaign.

If there emerges a common thread among all the forlorn new administrators in Susana's nominees, it is one of a suffocatingly over-controlled collection of parochial "pay backs."  As for the citizens of the state, we should probably expect more large scale looting, fewer small scale diversions and very, very few risky new ideas.

The descent to something similar to New Mexico's conditions in the  culture of the 1600's is in full swing.  "Winner take all."

Her well lubricated campaign made a heady brew of state administrators flying to meetings in publicly owned airplanes, insinuating that honest state government travel should be by rusty pick up truck with a lunch packed in a bag.  Of course, her small minded Democratic opponents seemed anxious to "walk into the props" on every possible occasion to grant traction to such claims.

Moving the Crime Lab

Worse, as her first order of business, she finds herself riding a very "embarrassing horse" in the scrap about moving the primitive NM-CSI lab from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  Driving a stake through the already feeble heart of her new image as an "all-business" sort of gal, she has welded herself to the very shaky, furtively darting, paranoid eyes of none other than Darren White.

The budget issue in the matter lands squarely on the fact that the Albuquerque Police Department has found a "life-long-friend" in the financial sponsorship of the crime lab.  The long suffering Albuquerque Public Safety office has generously volunteered to staff and operate the lab at an extensive expense which can only be mitigated by massive subsidies from the state government. 

A very reasonable plan, that is, an "ox to be gored," initiated by those responsible would move the lab -- and its operating costs -- to the control of the state, eliminating the costly "middle men" in the city police force.  In an equally embarrassing effort to fire up the local "hill billies," Mr. White has dramatically bemoaned the damage which will inevitably be done to his "secret evidence" files, claiming that they will be selectively damaged during the one hour journey to the capitol.

MeanMesa has been here before.  Still reeling from duty as jury foreman on a couple of fatally flawed prosecutions derived from Mr. White's department, we dared write the man a letter with a few suggestions.  Aside from never receiving a reply, MeanMesa watched the local police department's  train wreck continue to careen into Mad Hatter Chaos since then (May, 2010).  Anyone interested can read the entire MeanMesa letter here:

Exposing Darren White as a presumptive White Knight of law and order to too much local television is probably only the first of Susana's meat handed political fumbles.  Even so, just as long as the local cowboy voters remain unwilling to look at the cost of this most recent "flag flying" gambit, the dismal record of failed prosecutions due -- not to her resistance to lab  moving plans -- but to bumbled local police reports will, most likely, not be a real political problem until we are even poorer than we are now.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Republican Audio -- Decoding the Implied and the Hopeless

A MeanMesa visitor, at home after a long day, is pressed by appetite to prepare dinner as quickly as possible.  A quick tap on the kitchen radio brings up the evening news broadcast already in progress.  The full introduction to an audio clip has clearly just begun a few moments before, and only the recorded voice can be heard.  The identity of the speaker, although probably announced in the lead up, is missing.

All we hear is the recorded audio.

(image source)

MeanMesa's question at this point is simple enough.  Is the voice in the recording that of a Republican or a Democrat?  Further, can such a distinction be drawn exclusively from the content of the recording?  The words of the message?

Now, with a set up like this, a rambling, MeanMesa tirade about Republicans probably wouldn't surprise anyone reading further.  However, this posting is hardly intended just another "blog soaking tirade."  This posting is a reader participation exercise, and you, being the reader here, are invited to give it a try.

The answer to the question posed above is a discouraging "yes."  However, that conclusion, especially when only proffered entirely by itself, couldn't have much persuasive weight given the perceptive nature of our visitors.  More "meat" must be introduced if the claim is to be more than simply another empty "bag of bones," that is, an overly dramatic bag of "sour grapes" after the last election.

So, the premise arises from the argument that by simply listening to the words spoken by a politician, even in the case when the identity of the politician is unknown, a careful listener can accurately determine whether he is hearing the voice of a Republican or a Democrat.

Is such a determination actually possible?  And, if so, how exactly can this be done?

Here's the clue.  If the voice is discussing strictly politics, that is, if all the uncertainties posed by the speaker deal exclusively with the "will of the people," "everybody knows," "Americans have spoken" or some similar claim to representational legitimacy, the voice most likely belongs to a Republican.  On the other hand, if the words include phrases such as "I think we ought to...," "The solution I'm coming up with is..." or "one good plan to solve this would be...," then we may conclude that it is a Democrat speaking.

If, per chance, it is one of the recently elected tea bags speaking, the game changes.  The grotesquely unpredictable comments originating from that crowd are so easily identified that the joy of a correct guess loses its shine.

Returning to the utterances of the "power parties," the listener can accurately differentiate between the two possibilities by this simple exercise.  Pay attention not the the message so much as to the exact words which comprise it.  Although the now road weary lament that Republicans have no discernible plan to do anything required for thoughtful government has been bandied about too long already, this simple contextual test puts the "money where the mouth is" on the issue.

MeanMesa mentioned earlier that this was to be a "reader participation" posting, and here's the game.  Even if you, as a player, accidentally know the identity of the speaker before the game begins, you can pretend ignorance.  All the other rules will still apply.

When a politician is scheduled to appear on a talk show or television interview, pay special attention to exactly what is said in the message.

If the content is being constantly "authorized" by political claims of popularity at the expense of the riskier presentation of possible solutions, the speaker is, most likely, a creepy little, risk averse, overly bombastic Republican.

At the counter point, if propositions leading to action -- risky propositions which might, in fact, not even turn out to be good ones -- are presented, the speaker is, most likely, a risk taking Democrat speaking with the intention of solving this problem or that one. 

We have all endured the results of the Rovian "perpetual campaign" waged during the autocracy.  Incredibly wretched, counter productive executive and legislative schemes issued forth like flies on sun-baked potato salad.  Thoughtful, valid plans which might have served the interests of the country were discarded instantly in favor of one liners, talking points and sleazy slogans guaranteed to keep the hill billies and bigots in a "nose bleed" state of half witted, war making, nationalistic frenzy while the Treasury was being looted.

This challenge to the MeanMesa reader is perfumed with an unusual confidence.  Take a moment during the next "news" program, listen carefully in this way to the politicians who speak and test the theory.

In every case, you will detect either politics or statesmanship.

Those are the choices.  Nothing will be easy.  Ever.

Monday, December 27, 2010

MeanMesa E-Book Published on Blog!

MeanMesa visitors may be wondering why the blog was "off the air" for the last week or so.  Well, relaxMeanMesa hasn't been slugging down bon-bons watching Oprah from the couch here.

Short Current Essays has initiated a daughter-blog where the novel, The Secret of Paraneho, will appear, chapter by chapter until the entire book has been posted there.  The delay in posting chapters is necessary for a few final editing tasks which must be applied before the final form can be published, but other than that, we are all ready to go!

The visit the new blog and enjoy the first few chapters of the novel, link to this:

You may wish to log the link into your computer's equivalent of "Most Visited" or, better yet, fire up an RSS feed to make weekly visits to Paraneho more convenient.

It's free, and it's fun!  Great fun!


Now, with this little task under way,  MeanMesa can return to our "duty station" for more, up-to-the-minute commentary on the political world we inhabit!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Great News - Tea Bags Have Already "Reformed" the "Governemnt!"

Ever wonder what, exactly, all your Tea Bag friends are thinking about what's going on in Washington?  Even spookier, have you ever wondered why they are thinking those things?

For a "journey into weird," take a look at a couple of "news" items MeanMesa has extracted from the most recent Freedom Works "Newsletter."

Aside from the fact that what is said here is not true, the "word salad" is just sophisticated enough to be not only barely palatable, but out rightly delicious to the hill billies on the Freedom Werks email list.  Once their sweet little bellies are properly filled with this drivel, this bunch of hill billies will be on their way to "fixing" the entire country.

For them, the good news is two fold.  First, there's no need to actually know what's happening to any extent beyond the Freedom Works-Glenn Beck-Sarah Palin "talking points."  Second, everything, absolutely everything, which must be done to get us out of this mess is so simple even a third grader could solve it!

Oink! (image source) (NOT Photoshopped!)

Of interest here, notice that the road weary, inflammatory Tea Bag statements in this  excepted material are entirely consumed with politics at the exclusion of problems or policy, not to mention accuracy.

From Freedom Works, "Freedom Working" Newsletter

Friday, December 17, 2010
Tea Party Stops $1.3 Trillion Pork Bill
Yesterday, on the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, pressure from grassroots activists forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to withdraw his pork-laden Omnibus spending bill (1) from further consideration. Not only was the bill chock-full of earmarks, but it also sought to provide funding to key provisions of Obama's health care law. Its defeat was an early holiday gift and a story Hollywood couldn't have scripted any better.

When the Sons of Liberty stormed Boston Harbor that 16th day of December in 1773, they set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the American Revolution. This year, the Tea Party movement proved that there has been a seismic shift in the politics of spending.

This victory wouldn't have been possible, of course, without the tireless efforts of activists like you, who helped usher in November's congressional landslide. Your desire to fulfill the timeless vision of the Boston Tea Party continues to sustain and grow this decentralized, grassroots movement. Read More >>
Federal Judge: Obamacare Is Unconstitutional
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson struck down the individual mandate of Obama's health care (2) law on Monday, finding the measure which requires citizens to purchase health care by 2014 to be unconstitutional. This is a big early victory in a long fight which will now move to federal appeals court and will likely be finally decided by the Supreme Court.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who spoke at FreedomWorks' 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington, has been instrumental in the fight against Obamacare.

"I am gratified we prevailed," Cuccinelli told CNN. "This won't be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution."

Already, support for Cuccinelli has been voiced by thousands on our FreedomWorks Facebook page. Please become a fan of FreedomWorks on Facebook to "like", "comment" and "share" our stories. Don't forget to click the suggest friends link to invite your friends to join our page. This is critical in helping us spread the word about lower taxes, less government and more freedom. Read More >>

Friday, December 17, 2010

How It's Done - Poisoning the Well - Words Matter

Some time ago, an anonymous individual -- perhaps a "one time visitor" to MeanMesa -- submitted a subscription to Hillsdale College for the monthly publication of the college, "Imprimis."  The "complete anonymity" of this benefactor of ours who took the time and made the effort to accomplish this task may, in fact, not actually been as "complete" as it first appeared.  The "snail mail" mailing address of MeanMesa's Galactic Headquarters was also furnished to the, uh, Hillsdale College publishers, suggesting that this otherwise robust "blanket of anonymity" may have had a few "thread bare" patches in it.

Oh well, as Una Mae would say, "No one's cut up and bleeding."  

However, this little jewel carries within it a few subtle undercurrents of less than scholarly, literary excess, that is, "undercurrents" which might, in a more frank literary arena, be considered little more than an odorous flood of "trailer park talking points."  Notably, in this case, those "undercurrents" are very craftily (in fact if there is, actually, such a condition, we might go so far as to deem their insertion "remarkably craftily") juxtaposed among the material words of this superficially scholarly writing.

All these critical comments would mean nothing to a MeanMesa visitor if the actual content of the article were not also presented here.  Consequently, what follows is precisely that presentation, copied from the HIllsdale College's Imprimis information site.

The conceptual justification of all this attention would be shallow indeed if it were the intention of MeanMesa to simply ridicule the efforts of this one case.  Instead, the facts are that it is the intention of MeanMesa to present this case as  something of an example in hopes that visitors who consider it will become even more objectively perceptive when they might encounter other, similar "Captain's Lizards in the grass."

There are plenty.

(source MeanMesa)

Let's take a look at the first few paragraphs of this latest Imprimis offering.  (Full text here )


About Imprimis

Imprimis is the free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College and is dedicated to educating citizens and promoting civil and religious liberty by covering cultural, economic, political and educational issues of enduring significance.  The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events, both on-campus and off-campus.  First published in 1972, Imprimis is one of the most widely circulated opinion publications in the nation with over 1.9 million subscribers.

November 2010
Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College

Outline of a Platform for Constitutional Government

Larry P. Arnn, the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute, an education and research organization based in Southern California. In 1996, he was the founding chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative, the voter-approved ballot initiative that prohibited racial preferences in state employment, education, and contracting. He sits on the board of directors of several organizations, including the Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education.

The following is largely adapted from remarks delivered on September 17, 2010, at the dedication of Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

TODAY IS THE 223RD anniversary of the submission of the Constitution of the United States for ratification. It is the greatest governing document in human history. And on this day we dedicate our Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship near Capitol Hill here in Washington. Let me explain briefly why we are launching this center. The reason has to do with the times in which we live, and it has to do with the purposes of Hillsdale College.

The times are pretty easy to estimate. I’ll just mention two things about them that are astonishing and fearful. The first is that we have managed, in about the last 30 years of relative peace and unprecedented prosperity, to pile up a debt that rivals the one we piled up while winning the Second World War, the most disastrous and largest war in human history. And this debt is of a different character. The Second World War was going to end at some point, and we were either going to win and go back to living and working and pay off the debt—which is what happened—or else we were going to lose and then the debt would never be paid. In contrast, our debt today has become the ordinary way our government and our country operate. As my father, a schoolteacher in Arkansas and a wise man, used to say, it is the kind of debt that means it really doesn’t matter how rich we’ve become, because we can waste money faster.

The second sign of the times that I’ll mention is this: We have now a figure in the American government called the regulatory czar. Not only is it shameful and wrong for anybody in America to let himself be called that, he takes the title seriously. Indeed, he writes that some people should be allowed to regulate speech rights—to redistribute them, much as the government redistributes wealth—in the name of what he and his political allies regard as fairness. His is a far different kind of argument about speech than the one our Founders made, which was that speech is an individual right. His argument not only opposes the prohibition the founders placed in the First Amendment, which says that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” it rejects the understanding of human nature that grounds the very idea of constitutionalism. James Madison summarized that understanding when he wrote in Federalist 51 that because men are not angels, they need government, but that government must be controlled and limited for the same reason. Because those in our government are men rather than angels, we must not allow them the kind of power that this regulatory czar desires and claims.

There needs to be an argument about whether Madison and the founders are right or this bureaucratic czar and his allies are right with regard to civil liberties, just as there needs to be an argument about whether our nation should keep piling up unsustainable debt. There is going to be an argument about these and other big questions in this city in coming years, and the Kirby Center will have a hand in that argument.

What then of the purposes of Hillsdale College? Those purposes do not change. The College was built in 1844. Just yesterday we had a meeting of our Board of Trustees, and we began that meeting, as we begin every meeting, by reading from the College’s Articles of Association. Those articles commit us to two things. The first is “sound learning,” learning in the liberal arts. This is the kind of learning that lets us answer such questions as: What do we mean by “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”? Who is this God? What is He like? What is man? What is he like? What do we mean by “nature”? These are the ultimate questions. They are the questions in virtue of which ultimately all of our choices are made. And it just so happens that human beings, ever since they have been writing things down, have been writing beautiful things about these questions, things collected in old books. The founders of our country, like the founders of Hillsdale College, thought that if we were to be able to read the Declaration of Independence, and follow its arguments, we would need to read some of these old books. We have always read them at our College. We are not only devoted, we are chained to the reading of them. They are in our core curriculum. There is no escaping them at Hillsdale.

So that’s one thing about the College. And the second is, as they say in the Bible, like unto it. The College is devoted in the first sentence of its Articles of Association to the principles of “civil and religious liberty.” These principles are America’s gift to the world. We are all of us products of that gift. We are not sons of dukes and earls—or of czars. We are Americans because of this gift. And signs are lately that Americans do not much want to give it up. This is a very hopeful thing.

Hillsdale College has always taught the Constitution and has always fought for it. Our teaching of it is intense, difficult, challenging. As for fighting, we are famous in modern times for a decade-long lawsuit against the federal government, and for the fact that we refuse to take money from that government. It is expensive these days, indeed increasingly so, for a college not to take federal money. But we believe that the price of taking it is dearer still. 

No one should think, however, that in refusing money from the modern bureaucratic form of government that exists in this city today, we have forgotten our loyalty to the constitutional form that flourished here for so long.

There is only one way to return to living under the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the institutions of the Constitution. We must come to love those things again. And if we love them, then we will serve them. But we cannot love them until we understand them. And we cannot understand them until we know them. So the first step is to study them and teach them, and Hillsdale College comes to Washington meaning to do that. We aim to create an atmosphere in this city of the study and knowledge and understanding and love of the principles of America. 

For one last "editorial" note before we begin to boil Dr. Arnn's essay "down to the bones,"  you may be interested in knowing a little more about Hillsdale College and its "educational project," the Kirby Center.  Hillsdale itself is in the green woods of rural Michigan.  The Kirby Center is in Washington, DC.  The Google provides a very revealing "About Us" site for each one.

Hillsdale College -
The Kirby Center -

Now, to the details noted in (orange highlight) President Arnn's paper.  MeanMesa's position on each of these follows.

We have now a figure in the American government called the regulatory czar. Not only is it shameful and wrong for anybody in America to let himself be called that, he (1) takes the title seriously. Indeed, he writes that some people should be allowed to regulate speech rights—to redistribute them, much as the government redistributes wealth(2) —in the name of what he and his political allies regard as fairness(3). His is a far different kind of argument about speech than the one our Founders made, which was that speech is an individual right. His argument not only opposes the prohibition the founders placed in the First Amendment, which says that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” it rejects the understanding of human nature that grounds the very idea of constitutionalism. James Madison summarized that understanding when he wrote in Federalist 51 that because men are not angels, they need government, but that government must be controlled and limited for the same reason. Because those in our government are men rather than angels, we must not allow them the kind of power that this regulatory czar desires and claims(4).

There needs to be an argument about whether Madison and the founders are right or this bureaucratic czar(5) and his allies are right with regard to civil liberties, just as there needs to be an argument about whether our nation should keep piling up unsustainable debt.(6)

1. The implication here is, of course, that President Obama is the "regulatory czar."  Even after the recent violence done to the economy, Dr. Arnn's patrons must find themselves somewhat miffed at the idea of regulating bankers, hedge fund executives and Wall Street brokers.

2. Dr. Arnn's comparative extension of the process of "redistributing speech rights" to the process of "redistributing wealth" is an interesting one.  This is precisely the basis of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the Citizens United case.  That decision defined the expenditure of corporate money to control the residents of the Senate and House as a  valid form of "free speech," protected under the freedom of speech provision in First Amendment to our Constitution.  As for "redistributing wealth," this is a process which has now been completed.  The richest .5% of Americans now control wealth equal to that of the lowest 50% of Americans.

3. The choice of the word "fairness" is of interest here.  The reference is to the deeply hated and feared (by those with aThis is the kind of learning that lets us answer such questions as: What do we mean by “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”? Who is this God? What is He like? What is man? What is he like? What do we mean by “nature”? These are the ultimate questions. They are the questions in virtue of which ultimately all of our choices are made.n interest other than fairness) "fairness doctrine" which might have required the use of public air waves to serve some public interest.

4.  Here, Dr. Arnn refers to our legally elected President directly with the term "regulatory czar."  (MeanMesa suspects that the term "regulatory czar" could have, in more private gatherings, been replaced with the term "Negro.")

5.  The person Dr. Arnn cites as "this bureaucratic czar" refers to the President of the United States.

6. The threatening phrase "keep piling up unsustainable debt" is an interesting one.  If the role of the "bureaucratic czar" is to be called into question with respect to the "unsustainable debt," does this imply that the most recent alternative to the present "bureaucratic czar" was somehow not responsible for most of the "unsustainable debt?"  Dr. Arnn must be "banking on the hope" that the "critical thinkers" among the "1,900,000 recipients" of his essay have done absolutely no research on the question whatsoever.  MeanMesa's proposition is that it would actually be quite difficult to never encounter the facts concerning the actual origin of the "unsustainable debt."

The second of the highlighted sections.
This is the kind of learning that lets us answer such questions as: What do we mean by “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”? Who is this God? What is He like? What is man? What is he like? What do we mean by “nature”? These are the ultimate questions. They are the questions in virtue of which ultimately all of our choices are made.(7)

7.This section of Dr. Arnn's essay is prefaced with reference to Hillsdale College as a liberal arts college.  The following text is an interesting mixture of deific determinism, the nature of man and the political "choices" which will be defined by such "virtue" and will derive from such an authoritarian, supernatural  amalgam.  Here, Dr. Arnn, perhaps over generously, describes such an education as a "liberal arts education,"  suggesting that he may have not received the memo that all things "liberal" are vile.

And the second is, as they say in the Bible, like unto it. The College is devoted in the first sentence of its Articles of Association to the principles of “civil and religious liberty.” These principles are America’s gift to the world. We are all of us products of that gift.(8)

8. The emboldened version of "religious liberty" President Arnn cites in this statement empowers him to mix "religious" implications with political ad hominems into a new, heady version of "civil liberty."  

This tragedy is not a lament on the invocation of his Constitutional rights to free speech so much as the implied authority of his words, the lack of logical support for the subtle claims he makes and the quiet suggestion that those claims are made legitimate by "religious liberty" rather than issues derived from a separated church and state.  

We must come to love those things again. And if we love them, then we will serve them. But we cannot love them until we understand them. And we cannot understand them until we know them.(9)

9.  Is President Arnn suggesting that rational, common sense Americans support the "principles of the Declaration of Independence and the institutions of the Constitution" because they "love" them?  Worse, is the "love" of such ideals the exclusive condition of "serving them?"  The "principles of the Declaration of Independence and the institutions of the Constitution" are designed to serve us!  These represent an undeniably important "asset" we as citizens enjoy under the definition of the Constitution as a "social contract."

As Americans of course we can "love" our country.  As for our Constitution, we support and defend it because we love ourselves!  MeanMesa is not impressed with Dr. Arnn's version's final claim that "we cannot understand them until we know them."  At this point, President Arnn's message becomes simply too creepy.

So, is MeanMesa "beating up" on Hillsdale's Imprimis unfairly?  Hardly.  In fact, although both HIllsdale College and Imprimis deserve all this battering for the drivel on its pages, this case is only the tip of the ice burg.  Not only does the heavily soiled Imprimis deserve this treatment, every similar case of endless, repetitive, twisted "word salad" deserves it just as much.

The wrenching thought of hundreds of young students trapped in this Goebbel's style merry-go-round year after year when they should have been receiving some sort of actual education is troubling, indeed.  The fate of these little "torpedoes" into the future has been utterly and completely sacrificed by the cynicism of men such as the good Doctor.

The future of the students -- and of the country -- has been selfishly sacrificed on this Limbaugh-like altar, gleefully exploited to guarantee the continuing viability of this sick little, pseudo-Christian tantrum while, in the constant "meantime," the whole rancid affair pipes the empty tune of "True Americans."  

Here, MeanMesa must apologize for the hard facts of reality confronting us.  Poisonous messages of precisely the same ilk as these words from Dr. Arnn are literally gushing out of blogs, print and air waves alike.  In every case we are responsible for "noticing" the stench before we contentedly "open our mouths wide" to blindly consume it.

Post posting post script:  We understand that this "detail grinding" post has gone on way too far for convenient reading.  However, the point to be made here is not sufficiently visible without a "blow-by-blow" analysis.  If it were an easy point to make, it wouldn't appear on Short Current Essays.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Part 2: Heinrich (D-NM) Weighs In on the Tax Bill

News From Washington to New Mexico
The following email  was sent to MeanMesa's Galactic Headquarters from our District 1 Congressman, Martin Heinrich.  It is presented here in its entirety for MeanMesa visitors who may not have received it otherwise.  Although MeanMesa is on record -- just barely -- in favor of passing the bill, Heinrich's comments are of value -- these are the words from the "horse's mouth."

Whether we agree or disagree with the prospect of "paying off" the neo-con thugs to maintain unemployment benefits for the next months, we can be somewhat reassured that our Representative is not taking the matter lightly.  This is the second of two such postings.  The first is from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D- NM) and is posted at Part 1: Why Bingaman (D-NM) Votes "No" on MeanMesa - Short Current Essays.

Democratic Representative Martin Heinrich (NM) (image source)

December 16, 2010

Dear MeanMesa,

Thank you for contacting me regarding federal spending, tax policy, and the national debt.  Like you I am concerned by the budget deficit and the national debt.

As I am sure you know, the gross federal debt now totals more than $13 trillion. Prior to World War II, the federal budget was in surplus about as often as it was in deficit. Some of the largest increases in the debt resulted from wartime spending, and in fact, there were large increases in the debt held by the public related to the Civil War and also to World War I. One hundred years ago, the national debt was $2.6 billion. By 1980, the debt stood at $909 billion and grew to $3.2 trillion by 1990. By the turn of the 21st century, our national debt was $5.7 trillion.

In light of these fiscal challenges, I was pleased to see President Barack Obama charge the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with the important task of reducing our medium term debt and balancing the federal budget.  I look forward to reviewing the commission's proposals. 

At least one thing is abundantly clear about our fiscal condition: we must have a sensible tax policy if we ever expect to balance our budget and reduce our deficit. 

Between 1945 and 1986, the average top marginal income tax rate was 76.9 percent, with a high of 91 percent during the Eisenhower Administration (1953-1961) and a low of 50 percent during the Reagan Administration (1982-1986).   After the 1986 tax reform efforts, the top marginal rate decreased to 28 percent (1988-1990). 

The federal budget deficit and national debt increased dramatically during the 1980's, as President Ronald Reagan worked to cut income taxes and pursued an expensive military buildup that contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union.  As the Cold War ended, President Bill Clinton pushed for an income tax increase to balance the budget and pay down the national debt.  In 1993, Congress passed a budget that increased the top marginal rate to 39.6 percent (1993-2000), just slightly more than half the rate high income individuals paid during most of the 20th Century.  In 1998, for the first time in more than a generation, Congress balanced the federal budget and began paying down the national debt with "surplus" revenue. 

In 2001, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion tax cut aimed primarily at the wealthiest Americans and allowed Pay-As-You-Go to expire.  As a result, the national debt doubled between 2000 and 2009, from $5.7 to $11.9 trillion.

We've seen the results of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthy--record deficits and a tax code that encourages wealth stagnation rather than innovation.  Returning to the same failed policies of the Bush administration, which took our country from surpluses to record debt, is completely unacceptable.  Instead, I support cutting taxes for middle-class working families, seniors, and small business owners.

On December 2, 2010, I voted for H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010.  This tax cut package would extend the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts for families making $250,000 or less and individuals making $200,000 or less.  This would mean 98.1 percent of all New Mexicans will see their taxes stay level or decrease. It also includes a two-year extension of alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief, increasing the AMT exemption amount to $72,450 for families and $47,450 for individuals, protecting approximately 25 million Americans from the AMT.

I do not believe we should extend tax cuts for wealthy Americans when we have an alarming national debt, crumbling infrastructure, and troops deployed overseas.  Extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy would cost $700 billion.  Contrary to what some folks say and believe, these tax cuts do not stimulate the economy or increase tax receipts.  They merely create an incentive to stage taxable events within the window of time during which taxes are unusually low, giving the illusion of increased economic activity and tax receipts.  In most cases, this is simply robbing from future economic growth.

I am working to build a strong foundation for long-term fiscal responsibility.  We cannot continue enacting policies that we know from history will lead to deficit and debt, expecting a different result. 

Again, thank you for contacting me.  For more information and additional details about legislation, please visit my website,  While you are there, you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on my work in Congress. 

As always, I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you.


Martin Heinrich
Member of Congress

Post posting, post script:  MeanMesa's most favorite deficit and debt chart. 


Part 1: Why Bingaman (D-NM) Votes "No"

News From Washington to New Mexico

The following email  was sent to MeanMesa's Galactic Headquarters from New Mexico Senator, Jeff Bingaman.  It is presented here in its entirety for MeanMesa visitors who may not be on the Senator's mailing list.  On this tax issue, MeanMesa lands -- somewhat precariously -- on the side so eloquently explained by one of our favorite radio friends, Randi Rhodes (The Randi Rhodes Show, AM1350 KABQ, Albuquerque, 1-4 PM weekdays).

Take a few minutes to read what the Senator thinks and the decision he has made.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) (image source)

 Newsletter Update from U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman - December 15, 2010

Today, I voted against an $857 billion tax package that I believe will unnecessarily add to our nation’s growing deficit. It does so by extending deep tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

My preference is to extend tax cuts to all Americans on the first $200,000 of income earned by a single wage earner, and $250,000 per couple. But in the spirit of compromise, I voted for a proposal that would have extended tax cuts on the first $1 million. I was disappointed when those proposals failed when they were put to a vote earlier this month.

In my view, borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars and adding to an already out of control deficit in order to pay for tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans is both unaffordable and irresponsible.

Below is a speech I delivered to the Senate outlining my concerns with this tax cut plan. If you prefer, you can watch the speech on my YouTube page.

"Yesterday the Senate voted on proceeding to an $857 billion package that would: extend all personal income tax rates for two years; substantially reduce the estate tax; and establish or extend a host of tax incentives for American families and businesses. This package should be evaluated on how it deals with our two biggest economic problems: strengthening recovery from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and setting us on a long-term course to achieve fiscal stability.

On the first issue, economic recovery, there is much in this package that I strongly support. We should protect 98% of American households from any tax increase. We should extend benefits to our fellow Americans unable to find jobs in this period of stubbornly high unemployment. And we should continue key business incentives like the Section 1603 program, which has provided a critical lifeline to our renewable energy industries. If the only economic imperative were recovery from the downturn, I would have voted for this package.

But as I said at the outset, this is not our only economic imperative. Our dire fiscal condition requires us to adopt a strategy that will dramatically reduce deficits in the coming years. And frankly, I'm disappointed by the plan's shortsightedness on this dimension. And therefore, I opposed the cloture motion.

If we are serious about addressing the deficit, we must admit that we cannot afford this package.

In 2001, I came to the floor to explain my opposition to enacting the so-called "Bush tax cuts." At the time, CBO was actually projecting budget surpluses. But as I explained then, I viewed the 2001 tax cuts as carrying a higher price tag than we could afford. The 2001 cuts, which were accelerated in 2003, reduced the stream of revenue to the federal government by an amount that virtually guaranteed the elimination of our anticipated budget surplus, and ensured that substantial deficits would once again become the norm in our federal budget.

The results – a federal debt that today nears $14 trillion – could have been avoided under the Bush tax structure only if there had been major cuts in spending at the same time. But as we all know, no such cuts in spending were proposed by the President or adopted by the Congress. In fact, in the years following the Bush tax cuts, spending increased greatly. The Bush tax cuts were larger than we could afford when they were adopted. Including interest costs, those tax cuts account for nearly 55% of the deficit projected for the end of the next decade. And once again, we cannot afford to extend them.

The nation's debt now stands at 62% of GDP. CBO says that if we continue on our current course, the debt will reach 90% by 2020, and 185% of GDP by 2035. This concern is not merely academic. Our growing deficit has stark consequences for our government's ability to meet essential priorities. At current levels, government revenue in 2025 will be enough only to cover interest on debt, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And the threat to American prosperity is severe: By 2035, rising debt could reduce per-capita GDP by as much as 15%.

In recent weeks, we've had several expert commissions tell us that we need to get the debt under control – and they have offered thoughtful, practical proposals to do so. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released a six-part plan that would achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reductions through 2020. Five of the six Senators on that Commission supported the plan. Two weeks earlier, a bipartisan commission headed by former CBO Director Alice Rivlin and my former colleague Pete Domenici issued their own report. Both bipartisan groups concluded that to be credible, any deficit reduction plan must impose limits on spending and increase revenue. For much of this Congress, the excuse for deferring serious action on deficits and debt has been "Let's wait and see what these commissions decide." Well, now these commissions have finished their tasks of issuing proposals. This bill is our first chance to begin considering their recommendations, and I see no evidence that we have done so.

I understand that we cannot tackle both tasks – stimulating the economy and reducing the deficit – with equal force at the same time. The decision, which I have supported, has been to focus first on stimulating the economy. But that focus does not excuse us from also taking the relatively easy first steps to reduce future deficits. I agree with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, whose leaders argue that "the critical objective is to pair any stimulus for the short-term with a credible plan to reduce the debt in the medium- and long-term. We should be talking about what triggers to attach, how to pay for this new package over the decade, and what spending cuts and tax reforms to make." It is unfortunate that no such conversation has taken place.

And because the cost of this package is not offset, it has been larded up with wasteful provisions that will do little for the economy. Most problematic is the $129 billion this package would spend to extend tax cuts that benefit only the very highest-income American households and reduce the estate tax below 2009 rates. Proponents of this bill say because the economy is weak, now is not the time to allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest households to expire. But a CBO report issued earlier this year tears down this argument. Examining 11 options to stimulate growth and job creation, CBO ranked extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts dead last. CBO further found that extending the tax cuts for high-income households in particular would rate lower in effectiveness than extending all of the tax cuts because, and I quote, "higher-income households … would probably save a larger fraction of their increase in after-tax income." We know that a recovering economy needs more spending. If government spending is to facilitate the transition to recovery, then we should put money into hands of those who will spend it. But the wealthiest among us are likely to save most of any additional income they receive. This is not effective stimulus.

There is one comparison that puts this sharply into perspective. Last month, the President announced that because of concerns about the deficit he will freeze all civilian federal salaries, at a savings of about $2.5 billion per year. I stated at the time that I supported his decisions. But we erase those savings nearly three times over with this package's reduction in the estate tax from the 2009 parameters. Is it not enough to reinstate the 2009 parameters, which exempt $7 million in assets per couple and tax amounts above that at 45%? Under this package, the exemption is dialed up to $10 million per couple and the rate reduced to 35%. So instead of reaching only 1 out of 400 Americans, this plan will subject only 1 out of 1000 estates to any tax whatsoever. So while a GS3 clerk at a USDA office in Albuquerque will have her salary frozen in the name of fiscal responsibility, the heirs of a $50 million estate save $5.35 million. This unwarranted generosity costs our Treasury an added $7 billion a year. Americans are right to question how we can possibly be serious about reducing the deficit when we are ready to give wealthy heirs a windfall, with no benefit whatsoever to the economic recovery. Do we really believe the question of "What's another $7 billion" is merely a rhetorical one?

Those who rate our debt do not view this rhetorically. In fact, after yesterday's vote, Moody's announced that the plan before us could endanger our vaunted Triple-A credit rating.

I am also troubled that this package makes the tax code permanently temporary – and falsely assumes that we will be able to achieve a different outcome in two years' time.

The cover of today's (12/14/2010) Wall Street Journal points this out, in a story "'Temporary' Tax Code Puts Nation in a Lasting Bind." The piece opens: "Welcome to the world of the temporary tax code."

A main argument being used in support of this temporary extension is that it is the only proposal we can get the Republicans to agree to. But I am concerned that this framework will make it more difficult to muster the political courage to reduce the deficit when these tax provisions again expire in two years.

The reason? Democrats are trying to ensure that all but the wealthiest 2% of taxpayers do not see their taxes go up on January 1. But we are told that Republicans are willing to accept tax increases on middle class Americans in order to protect the very highest income Americans. And so, the logic goes, while we don't agree with Republican demands, their willingness to punish 98% of Americans to get their way gives us no choice but to accept this quote "deal."

Frankly, that argument assumes a less generous view of our Republican colleagues than I am willing to embrace. I agree with President Obama that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to see taxes increase on January 1 on the overwhelming majority of Americans. To avoid that result, I believe Republicans would be willing to support a more responsible tax proposal along the lines of the tax proposals put forward by Senators Baucus and Schumer that I voted for last week. Those proposals would have shielded all families from any tax increase on their first $250,000 or $1 million in income. The fact that not a single Republican supported either proposal results from their expectation – apparently accurate – that if they remained intransigent, Democrats would give in to their demands. But those demands, reflected in the bill now before us, do not acknowledge the serious problem of the deficits. Retaining Bush tax rates on income over $1 million, reducing the estate tax to the level it was in 1931, and continuing the full ethanol subsidy of 45 cents per gallon are examples of provisions that do little to stimulate the economy but abdicate our responsibility to address our dangerous deficit. Some say that in two years, when the economy has recovered, we will be able to stop another extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest income Americans. I question the wisdom in that argument. Having achieved all of these wishes now will only embolden the Republican minority to adopt a similar hard line stand on extending the Bush tax cuts when the issue arises again in two years.

Failing to extend provisions with proven effectiveness merely because they were originated with the Recovery Act is terribly misguided.

Finally, I wish to note my deep disappointment with political posturing that has led to the cancellation of nearly every innovation under the Recovery Act. Even though it is the largest revenue measure to be considered in the 110th Congress, this package was negotiated behind closed doors. And I am informed that the Republican leaders demanded that no provision enacted under the Recovery Act be extended. Now I can understand that certain Recovery Act provisions might not warrant extension. But this opposition is purely political, driven by a desire to deny merit to the Recovery Act, which added 2.7% to third-quarter GDP growth and raised employment by 2.7 million to 3.7 million jobs. And so the package chokes off the Build America Bonds program, which has provided crucial support for municipal governments during a period of sustained challenges in raising funds to meet infrastructure needs. The package also ends a provision that Senators Crapo, Grassley, and I fought to include in ARRA, which raises the bank qualified limit, last adjusted in 1986, for small municipalities that sell debt to community banks – and which has significantly reduced rural governments' borrowing costs while creating jobs and needed infrastructure improvements for thousands of communities.

And because of the other side's reflexive anti-Recovery Act position, this bill relies intentionally upon outmoded, ineffective incentives for clean energy deployment. We fail to extend the advanced energy project or 48C credit, which allows qualifying companies to claim a credit for 30% of the cost of creating, expanding, or re-equipping facilities to manufacture clean energy technologies. The credit's vast oversubscription is a powerful demonstration of the potential for clean energy manufacturing in our country. But it, too, is allowed to die – which is all the more appalling given that the ethanol blenders' credit is extended again at 45 cents, even though the House negotiators and industry reached a consensus on reducing the credit by 20%. Had we done the same, we could have used the savings to implement a suite of energy incentives that would dramatically improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and enhance domestic manufacturing competitiveness. And I have filed an amendment with Senator Snowe to do just that. Unfortunately, this bill is closed to amendments.

In spite of its positive provisions to strengthen the economic recovery, the bill moves us in the wrong direction with regard to our other major problem of budget deficits. On that issue, it will start the 112th Congress off on the wrong track. For those reasons, I oppose going forward with this bill."