Ringling Bros. Republican and Democrat

Or, why the last thing you’ll learn about watching the forthcoming “debates” will be anything of substance about either candidate.

What will happen will be that mainstream media folks, pretty much every one of which is in the tank for the incumbent, will lob meatballs to him and will expend enormous effort to prevent the challenger from addressing any of the administration’s failures over the past four years.  I’ll go ahead and hazard a list of topics that will either not be mentioned at all, or if they are mentioned, will be brought up in a fashion that presupposes the validity of Dear Leader’s favorite pastime of it’s-someone-else’s-fault (e.g. “Mr. President, as we’re all aware the former Republican administration is ultimately the cause of why gasoline prices are almost $4.00 per gallon over much of the country; could you elaborate about to what extent Dick Cheney was in the pocket of the oil industry all along?”)  So here goes my humble little list:

  1. The 43 consecutive months that nominal unemployment has exceeded 8%;
  2. The 2009 promise that with the $780+ billion “stimulus” program unemployment would not crack 9% and by now would be back down in the 5-6% range;
  3. The U-6 unemployment measure, which includes the involuntarily under-employed, and which is in the 14% range, where it has been for months;
  4. The current labor force participation rate of roughly 63%, the lowest it’s been in 35-plus years;
  5. The assertion by a sitting president that he has the unilateral authority to order the targeted killing of even American citizens overseas; 
  6. The failure to secure the Benghazi consulate notwithstanding six months of known deteriorating security conditions and repeated requests by the (now-murdered) ambassador to Libya to beef up security at Benghazi;
  7. The crony capitalism of “loans” such as the $535 million to Solyndra, owned by major campaign bundlers for the administration and its party, to whose equity in the company the administration’s Department of Energy subordinated the taxpayers’ “loan,” which has now gone bad to the tune of over a half-billion dollars;
  8. The administration’s implementing, without the knowledge or consent of the government of a neighboring sovereign state, a program of intentionally permitting illegal sales of firearms, with the expectation and even desire that they be used by drug cartels within that neighboring state, but without making any arrangements to track those weapons past the common border;
  9. The administration’s claim that it has the right and power to compel private citizens to purchase any product or service the federal government decrees, through the device of a tax to penalize the failure to make the purchase;
  10. The wholesale selective enforcement of laws, such as granting “exemptions” from the new healthcare law to . . . surprise! wealthy entities in political allies’ home districts (e.g. the numerous swanky restaurants and bars in Nancy Pelosi’s district which have received ObamaCare waivers from Kathleen Sibelius’s office);
  11. The announcement that the administration will simply refuse to enforce those provisions of duly adopted statutes which might, theoretically, have the result of depressing the numbers of anticipated political supporters (e.g. refusing to enforce immigration laws against entire classes of illegal immigrants);
  12. Any inquiry into what, precisely, the president meant when he asked Vladimir Putin to go easy on him until after the election, after which time he would have “more flexibility” to accommodate Putin’s wishes;
  13. Any inquiry into why Iran has been permitted to continue its nuclear weapons development when its announced intention is to obliterate a United States ally (Israel) from the map;
  14. Whether there is a point at which the Federal Reserve ought to discontinue infinite expansion of the money supply by unlimited purchases of Treasury paper, and what are the administration’s plans to deal with the inflation that is headed this way now;
  15. What exactly are the environmental reasons that the Keystone XL pipeline ought not be constructed, when that portion of the country is already a spider-web of long-distance oil and gas pipelines;
  16. Why the federal government has refused to issue any new drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico for over two years now, notwithstanding a court’s order that it do so; or,
  17. Why the federal government has gone over three years now without a federal budget.

Of course, one could go on almost indefinitely.  No.  What we’re going to hear about is how the wife of a fellow who didn’t even ever work for a steel company that was sold by Bain Capital after Mitt Romney had left active management in that company, but rather who was a union organizer sent to organize the workers at the company, had a wife who had her own medical insurance through her own employer and who well after Bain sold the corporation her husband did not work for was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and died less than four weeks later.  Of course, that’s not how it will be presented.  We can anticipate questions like this:  “Governor Romney, exactly why did you kill the wife of that man who used to work for your company?”

Knowing he was in for that sort of treatment, why in the world would Mitt Romney, or anyone else in his position, agree to a “debate” that is to be “moderated” by people who consider themselves unpaid operatives for the other side?  That’s just crazy.  Irrespective of which side one supports, that’s just a kooky tactical decision.  Poor coaching.

One has to wonder what would have been the upshot of this response by the Romney campaign:  “We will agree to debate the opposing ticket upon terms and in a format identical to the Lincoln-Douglas debates.”  I mean, if it was good enough for the consensus greatest president we’ve ever had (barring possibly Washington), certainly it’s good enough for this fellow, even if Dear Leader doesn’t really consider Lincoln his equal.  Lincoln and Douglas debated on six or seven occasions; the first speaker had 60 minutes, the response was 90, and the reply 30.  If you really wanted to dumb it down shorten it for the attention span of several generations raised on television, you could cut it to 30, 40, and 10.  That would still give one hour and twenty minutes of solid, substantive debate.  Debate that could not be papered over with a Telepromptr (in fact one could ban them from the format), debate that could not be run past a focus group.

And I think the format is appropriate to the times.  Lincoln and Douglas were debating first and foremost the subject of slavery and its extension into areas of the country outside its origins.  This was, to put it mildly, a subject that went to the very heart of what the United States was supposed to be about.  It really, honestly did raise implications for whether Americans would “nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of the earth.” 

This administration and its allies in Congress have proposed a fundamental alteration of the relationship between citizen and federal government.  No longer is the citizen to be a free agent who merely hires government to accomplish certain ends which he cannot attend to himself.  He is now to be a client of the state in the most intimate details of his physical existence.  Citizens no more have any colorable claim to sovereignty left, now that the government can by virtue of adopting a “tax” force the citizen to do whatever government decides he needs to do for his own good or that of his fellow citizens.  The citizen is now merely a marker, a bargaining chip, a utensil in the pursuit of whatever a governing faction happens at that moment to deem to be “social justice” or whatever label one wishes to slap on it.

Every human requires clothing (I’ve put on my pants quite a bit more frequently than I’ve dropped them at the doctor’s); clothing is therefore self-evidently a human right.  Textiles and clothing are therefore extremely important industries.  Congress decides that, in order to ensure that the American textile and clothing industries can operate at economical levels of turnover, every American must buy 15 new “eligible shirts” per year from — oh, let’s define this in language you might find in the Internal Revenue Code — “qualifying domestic clothing providers,” and then Congress defines what is an “eligible shirt” and what a “qualifying domestic clothing provider.”  It reserves to the Secretary of HHS the right to grant waivers to manufacturers of clothing as to what is or is not an “eligible shirt,” or to waive some portion or all of the number of shirts any individual or group must purchase.  But wait!  People need shoes, too.  And so on.

People need personal transportation (99% of the population needs to get from point A to point B a helluva lot more urgently than they need a health insurance policy).  The United States happens to own an automobile manufacturer that’s already gone bankrupt.  The administration stole that company from its secured creditors and handed it over to its labor union supporters.  It can’t very well steal it again.  The government’s hopelessly upside-down in its “investment.”  It will never get well unless the stock price rises, which will never happen until the company begins consistently to operate at a profit, which will not happen so long as people are free to choose a competing product.  Think about it:  Congress has established a principle, and the Supreme Court has blessed it, under which each American can be forced to buy a “qualifying domestic automotive product” from Government Motors ever two or three years, under penalty of, say, a $30,000 per year surtax for every year beyond two or three since the last “qualifying purchase.”  And of course government can now simply decree that since it’s really swell to have such things in a car, and for some people actually necessary, every “qualifying domestic automotive product” must have certain features, like, oh, say, heads-up display, or all-wheel drive, or a minimum of X cubic feet of storage space, or premium sound packages, or whatever.

The above situation is now perfectly possible, and legal.  There is no way, simply no honest way, to argue that this relationship of the state to the citizen, as such and upon the mere premise of existence (and not as the pursuer of a particular livelihood, e.g. merchant seaman), is not new.  The American people deserve to hear both sides of the argument about why this new state of affairs is or is not desirable.  If life in a European-style top-down world is truly preferable to what we’ve known for 220-plus years, then make the case for it.  We’ll listen, no kidding; some of us will even agree with you, whichever side you argue.  Americans can listen and decide for themselves (subject to any tax Congress may decide to impose for voting the wrong way).

And that’s just not going to happen in tomorrow’s debate or any other.  It will not happen because those “moderating” the “debate” have determined that the question should not be put to us.

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