Last Deal Gone Down

Looks like a debt ceiling deal is in place, and John Boehner is declaring victory. All I can say is: we'll see. It is reassuring to see House progressives denouncing the deal as a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich." There must be something good in there if it can make someone that mad.

The cuts are of the fictional "slowing the rate of growth" variety, not actual cuts. But, for the first time that I am aware of, the public seems generally aware of the bogusness of the debt "crisis" and of the magic of baseline budgeting, which renders trillion dollar cuts to be evanescent. This is still a "DC" budget agreement, meaning it only really makes sense to budget wonks. (see Verum Serum's explanation for why the "baseline" will and will not prevent the Supercomittee from raising taxes).

I know there will be howls on the Right over the deal, not because they wanted to cause a default, but because there's a sense out there that cuts should be real cuts, not cuts in the rate of growth. And I can understand that. It's what's preventing this from feeling like a victory. But, you know who didn't win this fight? Barack Obama and the American Left. Ol' Golden Throat thought he could intimidate House conservatives by taking his "tax the rich" message to the American public. Well, he made his case ad nauseum, and failed spectacularly. Indeed, it was his arrogant demand for an additional $400 billion in revenue that sent John Boehner back to the Tea Party freshmen, and their allies. Maybe "we" didn't win, but the other guy sure as hell lost, and badly.

One thing that Rush Limbaugh said during the last week that I thought was effective: Republicans should stop acting like losers, and start acting like winners. By that he meant that the post-1994 Republican Congress had continued the Bob Michel mindset that came with 40 years in the House minority. They expected to lose, even though they had won a landslide election in November. At times, Rush seemed more like Mike Singletary, than the titular head of the Republican Party. But, you know, it was effective. When you saw the Democrats revving up their "Republicans are stealing X-mas" talking points for one last go, and the MSM eagerly re-typing DNC memos into front page stories, you had to think many in the GOP flinched. But, in the end, they obtained something of a back bone.

Is the deal perfect? Hell no! We've got this dumb Super-committee that is apparently going to agree on budget cuts. (Hah!) As usual, the only cuts that are imminent are cuts in defense spending, not entitlements. (not to say the Pentagon is sacrosanct. there's plenty of waste, fraud and abuse there. But at least national defense is in the Constitution). And tax increases are still very much in the mix. But, the deal gets us to 2012 with Democrats having failed to do the one thing they hoped to get out of this mess: pin the bad economy on the GOP.

All in all, it was a pretty good day at the office.

Where's The Panic Button?

Hard to believe this story in CNBC is for real. According to John Carney, the adults in the room are expressing frustration with the absence of a stampede for the exits in the markets. As they learned during the TARP voting, there's nothing like a historic drop in the Dow to change a few votes.

I just got off the phone with a source on Capitol Hill who has spent the past few days trying to convince Republicans to vote for a debt ceiling hike.

He told me that the biggest obstacle he faces has been "market complacency."

"Frankly, a bit of panic would be very helpful right now," he said.

As he explained it, lots of people in Washington, D.C. expected that this would be a week marked by panic in the markets. Stocks would tank. Bonds would get clobbered. The dollar would do something dramatic. And all of this would help convince reluctant lawmakers that they had to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling.

Hard to imagine you can improve on the boundless cynicism of the bolded part. But, wait, there's more:

"We were following the script from 2008. When the market collapsed after TARP failed, that spooked everyone enough to get them to fall in line. We thought the same thing would happen this week," he said.

That's the problem. Everyone knows that the TARP vote was indeed induced by a DC-NY axis that threatened Armageddon if a trillion dollars wasn't transferred to every major financial institution in the world by the close of business on Thursday. Ever since then, the Congress simply hasn't been legislating in a normal manner: no budgets for 800 days, endless continuing resolutions, health care reform passed via bribes and procedural tricks, etc., all the while accompanied by apocalyptic pronouncements about a broken "system" and Republican intransigence. At this point, the market has probably priced the cost of liberal governance into its buy-sell decisions, hence the failure to panic.

The markets have been down a little this week, but that is as much due to the increasing rate of bad economic news as it does the parliamentary machinations in DC. And despite the best efforts of the adults in the room, the markets simply don't believe a default is coming because such an event would be due to a willful act of the executive branch, not because of Tea Party extremists in the Legislature.

Declaring Victory? Not Quite Yet

Looks like even the wise counsel of Thomas Sowell or Ann Coulter has failed to persuade some of the more conservative members of the Republican House Caucus to vote to pass the Boehner plan.

The House postponed a Thursday night vote on Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the federal borrowing limit after he failed to stem a revolt by conservative GOP members. The delay leaves the credit status of the U.S. government in jeopardy with five days remaining before it begins running out of money to pay all its bills

The development came after a two-hour debate on the bill was abruptly ended earlier in the evening. Mr. Boehner, knowing that a rejection could undermine his speakership, then joined other House GOP leaders in trying to pressure party members to reconsider their opposition.

Those efforts fell short and it wasn't clear if the vote would be rescheduled. But the development appeared to hand the initiative for the moment to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who is pushing an alternative version of the debt bill.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats planned to meet Friday morning at 10 a.m. to plan strategy. Republicans will figure out whether, and how, they can move forward.

I have to admit I would not have minded if the Boehner plan was passed, so long as we had some metaphysical certitude in knowing that the GOP would keep the budget cutting heat turned on. But, that's been the problem with past budget deals: lots of promises of cuts in the "out years" that simply never materialize.

Not only that, no budget cutting plan, no matter how "draconian" the media might portray it, has ever dealt with the spending increases built into the budget process by baseline budgeting, a concept that has only been the law since the 1970's, but which apparently is the Alpha and Omega modern legislating.

Either you want to cut spending or you don't. Spending cuts are actual cuts, not reductions in the growth of future spending, or goofy credits for not continuing the Afghan War Surge for another 10 years. (amazing how the "adults in the room" behave, isn't it).

At the moment, the GOP appears to be in disarray, but at least they're trying to put something together. Democrats are literally on the sidelines, screaming insults and announcing imperiously that the latest House offering is DOA. And it's no joke about the insults. Verum Serum has collected some choice bits, all from people in the Dem leadership btw
Tell me again how it works that the left is "winning," even as they are becoming more shill and incoherent by the hour.

Like a lot of people, I was unhappily resigned to yet another short-term fix, but for people like Connie Mack and Rand Paul, going along with this Kabuki was too much for them to stomach. Their constituents sent them to DC to make actual cuts, and so far they are determined to make them. Good for them. America might not have a third party, but the conservative wing of the Republican Party has almost become a third factor in getting anything done in Congress. It's not optimal. It will lead to a million "GOP civil war!" headlines, but the fight is a good one.

UPDATE: looks like they got it done. They added some bit about Congress passing a Balanced Budget Amendment and sending it out to the states. The final bill raises the debt ceiling by $900B and "cuts" (spare me. we know these aren't real cuts) $917B. Now the bill has gone to the Senate where the adults in the room have declared the bill a draconian terrorist act that is dead on arrival.

Declaring Victory

For any fence-sitting Tea Party congressmen out there: I think if Thomas Sowell is urging you to take the sell-out Boehner deal, it's time to sell-out

Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don’t get your heart’s desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.

The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one’spower. Nor is it selling out one’s principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.

That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.

There would not be a United States of America today if George Washington’s army had not retreated and retreated and retreated, in the face of an overwhelmingly more powerful British military force bent on annihilating Washington’s troops.

Later, when the conditions were right for attack, General Washington attacked. But he would have had nothing to attack with if he had wasted his troops in battles that would have wiped them out.

Similar principles apply in politics. As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: “Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors.”

This vote really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's what comes after that matters. If Boehner and other members of the "leadership" - both in Congress and in the GOP Establishment - are unwilling to keep pursuing cuts with the same fervor that the left pursued health care deform, then it really is time for new leadership.

Bird In Hand: Jerry Brown Nominates Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court

Jerry Brown looks to be repeating one of the greatest errors of his first term(s) as governor: appointing a hard leftist to the state Supreme Court. Back in the Seventies it was Rose Bird. In the 21st century, it's Goodwin Liu, last seen being bounced from a federal appeals court nomination.

Goodwin Liu, the UC Berkeley law professor whose federal appeals court appointment was blocked by Republicans, emerged on a judicial forum of at least equal stature Tuesday when he became Gov. Jerry Brown's first nominee to the California Supreme Court.

Liu's appointment to the court comes two months after his nomination to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was scuttled by Senate filibuster. He would succeed Carlos Moreno, who retired in February as the only Democratic appointee on the seven-member state court.

Liu has "the background, the intellect and the vision to really help our California Supreme Court again be one of the great courts in the nation," Brown said at a news conference. He said the only criticism of Liu has come from "some of the more fanatical Republicans ... the ideologues on the right."

Interestingly, Liu's nomination will give the California Supreme Court an Asian-American majority. California's Latino community, or at least those members of the "community" who keep track of the spoils system, are already bitching and moaning.

The governor had widely been expected to name a Latino. The state high court has no Latino or African American justices.

The new appointment would fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Carlos R. Moreno, 62, the only Latino and only Democrat on the court. Moreno was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.

Some Latino bar leaders expressed anger and disappointment at Liu’s selection.

“It should have been a Latino and somebody who was native to Southern California,” said Victor Acevedo, president of the Mexican-American Bar Assn.

“We are almost the majority of the people of the state of California, and for the governor to say there isn’t one Latino who is qualified to serve on the court is extremely troubling,” he said. “That to me is like the governor turning a cold shoulder to the Latino community in Southern California.”

The court has no justices who currently reside in Southern California since the retirements of Moreno and Chief Justice Ronald M. George.

Eh, Moreno was probably the least distinguished member of the CASC. Brown, at least, is naming a progressive superstar, which is more useful to his long-term goals than seeking out some mediocrity to fill a "Latino seat." Supposedly, he considered Thomas Saenz, but that worthy was held to be "too liberal." I shudder to think what level of leftist you have to be too liberal for Jerry Brown, such that Goodwin Liu seemed the reasonable choice by comparison.

It may also be hard to believe, but Liu will also be the only Democrat-appointed justice on the CASC. That's right the "liberal" California Supreme Court is made up almost exclusively of Republican appointees. Not that this has made a lick of difference.

Presidential Courage

Former George W Bush speech-writer Bill McGurn writes that he is constantly asked whether his former boss was "smart" (Answer: of course, he is). McGurn says the more important question was whether W was courageous. Do you really need to wonder about the answer?

I saw another version of courage in President Bush. My time in the White House coincided with the worst times of the Iraq War. Each day seemed to bring news of good Americans dying for no appreciable gain, of Baghdad descending into hell, of some congressman or senator who had supported the effort in easier times now calling for America to cut and run.

More than once President Bush told me, "We are not going to lose our nerve and abandon the people of Iraq the way we did the people of Vietnam, from an embassy rooftop." It made for a lonely presidency. Rather than accept defeat, he ordered a surge that almost no one—including some around him—wanted: not the Pentagon, not a weary American public, certainly not Republicans or Democrats in Congress.

The night he gave that speech, Jan. 10, 2007, did not go well. The network gummed up the news feed. The president looked stiff and uncomfortable. Scarcely before he'd finished, the glib and gifted were on television declaring it a flop. The president expected as much. He did what he had to do anyway.

So successful was the surge that today we take it for granted. The progress we see in Iraq, and even the progress President Obama has made in Afghanistan, would not have been possible but for that surge. That surge would not have happened but for President Bush's will

Why bring this up now? Well, we've been hearing a lot of talk from today's White House about a different kind of courage; that "we" must all work together to share the sacrifice in raising taxes to fund a grossly swollen federal government. The overhanging threat is that of default, loss of our AAA credit rating, and a ruined economy. Better to deal rather than face that, right? But, the White House is telling a different story to the banks. There's not going to be any default on August 2:

While officials from the Obama Administration raised their rhetoric over the weekend about the possibility of a debt default if the debt ceiling isn't raised, they privately have been telling top executives at major U.S. banks that such an event won’t happen, FOX Business has learned.

In a series of phone calls, administration officials have told bankers that the administration will not allow a default to happen even if the debt cap isn't raised by the August 2 date Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the government will run out of money to pay all its bills, including obligations to bond holders. Geithner made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows saying a default is imminent if the debt ceiling isn't raised, and President Obama issued a similar warning during a Friday press conference after budget negotiations with House Republicans broke down.

If you are a Democrat, courage is threatening a market collapse through a strategic default, all the while assuring Wall Street that all the apocalyptic talk is just to scare the rubes and hicks who dared to send conservatives to Congress.

Courage is threatening to refuse to send checks to seniors and the military, while making sure that the Planned Parenthoods and ACORN's of the world get their gov't $$ on time and without interruption.

Courage is demanding your opposition compromise while you present nothing but "non-negotiables."

Courage is making bad faith arguments about "millionaires & billionaires" and corporate jet owners while being the number-one recipient of donations from these targets.

And courage is making all manner of demagogic attacks while hiding behind the poodle skirts of a news media you know will present everything you do in the best possible light, all the while frowning and fussing that Republicans will be "blamed" for every ill that might flow from a default even as you are the one who is actively seeking to bring it about.

Democrats obviously think they are arguing from a position of strength. But they are hardly fighting this fight in a courageous manner.

Sealing Our Fate: Suddenly the Debt Deadline Is 1 PM PST

Word is that Congressional leaders are working around the clock to have some sort of debt ceiling deal, whether short-, medium-or long-term, in place before the Asian markets open. If you are getting a queasy Lehman feeling, you are probably right.

House Speaker John Boehner hopes to have a framework for a debt-limit plan in place by Sunday afternoon to avoid roiling the Asian markets, he told colleagues on a Saturday conference call.

An immediate deal would raise the debt ceiling and cut spending, Boehner said, and there are still options on the table for more comprehensive deficit reduction of $3 trillion to $5 trillion, according to GOP sources on the call. He is also aiming for a framework in the form of Cut, Cap and Balance — the plan that has failed in the Senate, Obama has threatened to veto but House Republicans passed overwhelmingly

Boehner apparently also said this to the president before walking out on talks with the White House.

“As I read the Constitution, the Congress writes the laws and you get to decide what you want to sign,” Boehner said, recounting what he told the president, according to two sources.

You have to feel for Boehner. While he has taken flak from the right for even negotiating a deal, he is also dealing with a disingenuous leftist who simply doesn't want to abide by the Constitution, but only wants to lock in the trillion dollar deficits of the last two years, the voters be damned.

Republicans are under enormous media and political pressure to agree to raise taxes. But, why should they? Their constituents explicitly sent them to DC to hold the line on taxes and reduce the size of government. Who out there can Obama can point to that wants to raise taxes and increase gov't spending, and is demanding it as explicitly as conservatives are demanding the opposite?

A Busy Saturday

Saturday is normally a quiet news day, but not today.

1. Did anyone actually go to the White House at 11 AM like the president ordered? Supposedly the Senate and House were negotiating a short-term deal, but that seems to have fallen apart as well.

A correspondent of Instapundit's offers this sobering thought: what if Obama and the Democrats are flirting with a market panic because they don't realize that the US is really out of $$ to fund all of their brilliant ideas?
What has me worried is the idea that the Democrats ACTUALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS IS THE END OF THE ROAD. What if they actually aren’t capable of recognizing when they’ve lost? Or when we’ve run out of other people’s money? None of these people work for a living. Their concept of where money comes from and how wealth is created (and destroyed) is completely divorced from reality because they live in a government bubble. And the very small minority among them that do understand this from previous jobs and experience are okay with Progressive policies aimed at leveling/equalizing/delivering-economic-justice because they just assume that the economy can handle some siphoning. And usually it can. But not at this volume or for this time scale.
Monday should be fun.

2. Norway looks like it has been the victim of right-wing terrorism of the sort the left has been dreaming about for years. I don't think you can get away with saying Anders Breivik was crazy. The amount of planning that went into this event, and the length of time he spent carrying out his plans, belies any claim of craziness. He was simply evil incarnate. I mean, what kind of person deliberately targets children, shooting them point-blank while they beg for their lives?

A grim thought: I have no doubt that Breivik is an outlier, and that the right-wing in Norway is no more prone to violence than anyone else. But, it had to have crossed his mind that violence was the only way he could get his message out, given the appeasement offered in the face of jihadi violence.

Regardless of ideology, it's incredible the amount of destruction that one man was able to wreak in such a short time. It's also incredible how long his rampage at the youth camp was able to last. No one there seems to have had a gun or a means of quickly communicating with the police, something that is very hard to imagine in the United States.

btw, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Norwegian police have labeled Berwik's crimes to be acts of terrorism punishable by up to 21 years in prison. Gotta love enlightened Europe's approach to crime.

3. Cong. David Wu (D-Oregon) has been accused of making an inappropriate sexual advance towards - or having a sexual relationship of some sorts with - the barely-legal daughter of one of his donors. You may recall Wu's election campaign, which was suspended by his own staff the week before the election because of concerns about his mental health. Naturally, the very sophisticated voters in Wu's district returned him to office.

Althouse offers a dissent from right-wing crowing over yet another creepy lefty sex scandal.
At this point, we hear about "erratic" behavior that doesn't ostensibly involve sex. What exactly are the "new questions"? This is a cheap and ridiculous article in my view. A woman who is unhappy with her sexual relationship with Wu has called his office but has not called the police, and now we're supposed to review everything else we know about him in some new context? Is this the way we are to do politics in America now?

Note that the woman who has brought this chaos into Wu's career is shielded by the newspaper's policy not to "use the names of victims of sexual assault without their permission." That's convenient. I think if you are going to have a policy like that, you should not report at all unless the alleged victim has reported a crime to the police. It's not fair.
I was at a San Francisco French bistro a couple weeks ago. The place has racks of European and French magazines, one of which had a big cover story about the aftermath of the DSK rape case. They had published several pictures of the accuser, as well as her name, (which I don't remember), of course. And it made sense. It was, after all, a part of the story. The practice of maintaining the anonymity of rape accusers makes less and less sense.

4. China's high speed rail, which the American left from Obama to Thomas Friedman to Arnold Schwarzenegger has been touting as the wave of the future, has gone from triumph to triumph. First the trains were slowed down to "normal" speeds. Now there has been a spectacular accident, triggered by a lightning strike (wah?), leading to the deaths of 32 people.

At least 32 people died when a high-speed train smashed into a stalled train in China's eastern Zhejiang province Saturday, state media said, raising new questions about the safety of the fast-growing rail network.

The accident occurred on a bridge near the city of Wenzhou after the first train lost power due to a lightning strike and a bullet train following behind crashed into it, state television said.

The total power failure rendered useless an electronic safety system designed to warn following trains of stalled trains on the tracks up ahead, and automatically halt them before a collision can occur, the report added.

It showed one or possibly two carriages on the ground under the bridge, with another hanging above it. Several other carriages derailed in the accident near Wenzhou, some 860 miles south of Beijing.

More than 200 people have been taken to hospital, the official Xinhua news agency added.

One train was heading from Beijing to the coastal city of Fuzhou, the other was running from Zhejiang provincial capital Hangzhou, also to Fuzhou.

"The train suddenly shook violently, casting luggage all around," Xinhua quoted survivor Liu Hongtao as saying.

"Passengers cried for help but no crew responded."

In a command economy, you can command something to be done, but you can't command it to work.

5. Amy Winehouse has, not surprisingly, died. It's not just that she was well known for being a heavy drug user. Her entire image, and career, was defined by drug use. The expectation was that she would die. Perhaps there were performance incentives in her contract with a big pay-out to her heirs.

One thing I've never understood about pop stars and drug use. Why is it that the people making money off of them - i.e. their managers and the suits at the record label - don't make more of an effort to protect their investment from destruction? Winehouse's big breakthrough was in 2006, and since then she's been little more than a tabloid feature more than a singer. Did the A&R people at her label realize that, maybe she should have been making music instead of headlines? Keith Richards never let drug use or police raids stop his music making, after all.

Britney Spears, of all people, is the exception to this depressing rule. When she was on the road to oblivion, the suits and her family stepped in to

Along those lines, I remember an interview where Clive Davis lamented the early death of Janis Joplin, and said he regretted not stepping in when he saw that she had a serious drinking problem. Got that right. Can you imagine how much more music (and money) Davis would have gotten out of her if she'd just stayed alive?

Worker's Of America: Your "Free" Health Care Is Going To Cost More Than Originally Expected

I know I should be writing about Speaker Boehner's "dramatic" walk-away from debt ceiling talks (and Obama's equally "dramatic" call for the congressional leadership to come to the White House at 11 AM tomorrow), but I wanted to make sure to highlight the latest example of just how f*ckd up Obamacare has turned out to be:

A major provision of the healthcare reform law designed to prevent businesses from dropping coverage for their workers could inadvertently leave families without access to subsidized health insurance.

The problem is a huge headache for the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, because it could leave families unable to buy affordable health insurance when the healthcare law requires that everyone be insured starting in 2014.

Some of the administration’s closest allies on healthcare reform warn this situation could dramatically undercut support for the law, which already is unpopular with many voters and contributed to Democrats losing the House in the 2010 midterm elections.

Yes, the top-down legislated mandate that health insurance be affordable may render insurance unaffordable for the regular folks whom liberals claim to be acting. The reason is a little complicated but The Hill summarizes it well:
At issue is a so-called firewall in the law that denies subsidies to workers whose employers offer quality, affordable coverage.

The firewall applies to plans with premiums that cost less than 9.5 percent of a worker’s income. If a worker has to dole out more than that amount to buy coverage, the employer coverage is considered unaffordable and the worker is eligible for subsidies to buy coverage on the new exchanges.

Initially, advocates thought the threshold also applied to family coverage. If premium costs paid to cover a worker’s family cost 20 percent of a worker’s income, for example, the worker and his or her family should be eligible for subsidies.

But in calculating the bill’s cost last year, Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) took the law to mean that employers and their families aren’t eligible for subsidies as long as the individual plan is affordable — regardless of the price of the family plan.

This means the costs to an employee for covering his or her family could be too high to afford for many working families.

If you’ve got employer-based coverage that’s affordable for the employee only, Guyer said, the family is expected to take the employer coverage even if its totally unaffordable and no one in the family is eligible for the exchange subsidies.

And, of course, you can't go shopping for something more affordable because Obamacare has thoughtfully grandfathered you in to the insurance you had prior to its passage. That was the promise after all: if you like your current plan, you can keep it.

There's the inevitable talk in the article that Congress or Obama will have to "fix" this, and I suppose they will. But, I'm guessing that Obamacare was able to be scored as deficit neutral by way of the assumption laid out above; namely that families would pay for the employer coverage even if they couldn't afford it.

And, this is one of many landmines contained in the Obamacare bill. The Free Will Wife, who is a psychologist by trade, was just complaining yesterday that she has had a difficult time becoming a provider for many insurance companies because most of them stopped taking on new providers after the health care law went into effect. This makes it difficult for her to attract clients since many of them want to use their insurance to pay for sessions. You bet she's beyond irritated. As soon as she gets her citizenship, I guarantee she won't be registering as a Democrat.

I won't even mention the death panels which have gone from "Palinesque hysterics" to approved Krugman talking point to official policy in short order.

This is one of many elements of government spending that Democrats have declared to be sacrosanct, an interesting position given how unpopular Obamacare already is, and how unpopular it will become as Americans at all income levels find their health care becoming more expensive even as it becomes more difficult to obtain. We have now seen what's in the bill, and it's worse than we could have imagined.

But, the Republican Establishment, not to say moderate Democrats, seem to have already decided that repeal is impossible.

And we are the radical fringe.

And Michelle Bachmann has migraines.

We are in a race against time here, and victory in next year's presidential election is the only acceptable result.

Little Depression Blues

The Little Depression got a little more depressing this week as some high profile companies announced thousands of lay-offs (essentially wiping out the pitiful gains of the last couple months). There are still mainstream economists out there forecasting that the second half of the year will see stronger growth, but...I just don't see how that's possible.

Cisco Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and troubled bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. are among those that have recently announced hefty cuts, while recent government numbers underscore how companies have shifted toward cutting jobs.

The increase in layoffs is a key reason why the U.S. recorded an average of only 21,500 new jobs over the past two months, far below the level needed to bring down unemployment, which now stands at 9.2%.

The cuts also reflect the shifting outlook of employers, many of whom had expected the economy to gain speed as the year progressed. Instead, growth has faltered. If the pace continues to disappoint, more companies will feel pressure to pull back. "Layoffs have played a big role [in weak job growth] over the last few months," said Mike Montgomery, an economist at IHS Global Insight. "The soft patch is more layoffs and nothing else to pick up the slack."

Like I say, it's depressing. And it's even more depressing to contemplate the head-long rush among the Big Government branch of the DC political class to reach a debt ceiling deal that will lock in the sort of trillion-dollar-deficit spending that has done so much to kill the economy.

Meanwhile, you know what state, besides Texas, is now seeing job growth? Wisconsin, which has seen 12,900 jobs created in the last month (Gateway Pundit says this is half the jobs created in the United States during that time). You may remember the last time the Dairy State was in the news. That was when leftists rallied to stop a budget-cutting, union-taming Republican governor from destroying the middle class. Scott Walker - an inoffensive midwesterner in the Pawlenty mould - got the full Palin/Bachmann treatment. A typical left-wing attack on a GOP politician, and one that is looking hysterically, not to mention historically, wrong.

The GOP is never going to get favorable press treatment. It is never going to have the songs and the sentiment that the grievance class enjoys. But what the GOP can get is results. But, those results only come when Republican politicians govern according to conservative principles, consistently applied. But, as we've seen this week, such politicians are damn hard to find, even when congressional majorities are handed to them on a silver platter with the simple instruction that they cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government.

The left must know that their plans and plots can never lead to the sort of economic dynamism that the average American sees as their birthright, and which is not that far out of reach. But, for all of their protestations that they are working for the middle class and/or the Little Guy, leftists govern in a manner that hurts everybody's interests except their own. They would rather preside over a "growthless recovery" than go against their ideology in order to truly turn the economy around.

Do The Dumb Thing: A Death In Bayview

San Francisco's Bayview/Hunter's Point neighborhood has been up in arms after a 19 year old kid died in a firefight with police. Kenneth Harding was a parolee who shot first and was from Seattle (i.e. not really a member of the "community"). And, on top of all that, the fatal bullet came from Harding's own weapon (!) as Mr. Thugg Life was apparently firing wildly in all directions. Nonetheless SFPD police chief Greg Suhr finds himself facing hostile questions from community activists and unflattering media portraits from local journalists.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr faced his first big test as the department's leader when he appeared before hundreds of people in the Bayview on Wednesday night to quell anger over Saturday's fatal shooting of a man by police officers.

But within 30 minutes, the forum fell apart.

More than 300 people packed into the Bayview Opera House to weigh in on the shooting Saturday, when Kenneth Wade Harding, a 19-year-old Washington state parolee, was shot and killed after he allegedly fired at two officers. But Wednesday, people in the opera house booed Suhr and repeatedly interrupted his address. Things didn't improve when the chief gave up and opened up the floor to questions: Those trying to question the officials could barely be heard above the crowd's cries of outrage.

Suhr stepped off to the side for a bit, then returned to the microphone to continue answering questions.

"I get how upset everyone is, but everyone came here to talk to me, and I came here to listen," he said. "I don't care if you disrespect me, but don't disrespect the people who came to talk."

Afterward, he said the reaction was what he expected.

"Everybody is upset. Everybody wants to vent," Suhr said. "They want to see me and have a conversation in their community. Here I am. I love this community, and I'm telling you right now, there are some hurting people in there, and they needed to hear us say, 'Here we are.'

"They shouted me down - that just means I've got to come back again," he added.

There's all sorts of moaning about how young black men are being "murdered" by the police and by one another. No one seems to have thought to educate these mopes that pulling a gun on the police is a bad career move regardless of your age or race. That, of course, is not going to stop ghetto activists/hustlers from whipping up a mob, and it certainly won't stop journalists from following the hoary "Cops Oppressing Minorities" storyline, regardless of how much Harding deserved his sorry fate.

Gang Of 6 Trillion: The Senate Tries To Solve All of Our Problems

Are you sick of hearing about the Gang of Six yet? I sure am. And now that I know that their ballyhooed proposal will not be ready, legislatively speaking, by the August 2 deadline, I am officially sickened:

Key Senate Democrats on Tuesday said the Gang of Six’s $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction proposal could not be included in a package to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), a member of the Gang of Six, said Tuesday the group’s plan is not ready to be attached to legislation to increase the debt limit.

“The Gang of Six plan has not been drafted nor has it been scored by the CBO — it’s not ready for prime time,” Durbin said, making reference to the Congressional Budget Office. “But as a concept, I think we have the starting concepts together, and that’s what we presented today.

Is this a joke??!! All I've seen in the media is one hosanna after another about how this "tax now, cut later" plan is the only one that can pass, and the one that the president can "get behind" (where he has been leading all along), and now we're told that it can't pass by the artificial deadline for fiscal Armageddon? What's coming is as obvious as it is inevitable: the hastily thrown together "I haven't read the bill" which everyone will will be bullied into voting on without reading it. And then when Michelle Bachmann and others rise up against it, we'll be hearing about "cult fringes" and migraines.

When people talk about the terrible precedent of the TARP vote, this is what they mean. The government is simply no longer legislating in a normal manner. Oh, sure, the House has passed not one, but two, proposals for raising the debt ceiling but these apparently "don't count." That's because the Senate no longer drafts bills in a manner that would be recognizable to Lyndon Johnson. Instead of committees holding hearings and marking up bills, we have an d hoc "gang" negotiating over God knows what with numbers thrown around like lawn darts, with about as much accuracy.

At least with TARP there was an actual crisis. This time the crisis is entirely the creation of the people who are now demanding that the GOP go along with tax increases or have the "blame" for a debt default foisted on them by the conventional wisdom. Why any Republican would go along with this is beyond me.

UPDATE: Keith Hennessey offers 17 reasons to oppose the Gang of Six plan, but all you really need to know is this: the only specifics in the plan are tax increases and cuts in defense spending. Everything else is aspirational.

A-Duh-A-Duh-A-Duh: Liberals Facing The Myth of the Social Security Lock Box

You have to listen to this entertaining interview between Cong. Jan Schakowsky (D-Socialism) and a couple NPR talking heads over Obama's seemingly inadvertent admission that there is no Social Security "lock box" to pay out benefits without interruption.

"Why is the president threatening this?"

"He just admitted there's no lock box"

"There's the president telling us we're too stupid to understand."

That's the sound of a couple of liberals waking up to reality. And, this time there are no Republicans available to take incoming demagoguery. Shakowsky keeps saying "you don't understand" how Social Security works. Sounds like these folks do understand too well.

Btw, the woman NPR-er keeps asking "Why is he threatening this?" Uh, because he's an a**hole?

San Diego Confidential: Tabloid-Ready Deaths In SoCal

Odd doings in one of California's Sprekel's Mansions as first a pharmaceutical company's CEO girlfriend, and now his son, have died under mysterious circumstances. How long can Nancy Grace stay away?

The 6-year-old son of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. founder and Chief Executive Jonah Shacknai has died from injuries suffered in an accident in his California home last week, two days before Mr. Shacknai's girlfriend was found dead at the same property.

The news came in a joint statement late Sunday from the 54-year-old Mr. Shacknai and his ex-wife, Dina, the mother of Max Shacknai. In the statement, they asked that the public respect the privacy of the families and expressed gratitude for "the tremendous outpouring of support provided during this very difficult time."

Medicis makes dermatological and aesthetic drugs, including acne treatment Solodyn as well as Dysport, which competes with Allergan Inc.'s Botox. The Scottsdale, Ariz., company had $700 million in revenue last year.

Max was severely injured after falling down the stairs at the Shacknais' California home last Monday. Two days later, his father's 32-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca Nalepa, was found dead in a case that authorities described as bizarre and unusual. Ms. Nalepa was discovered nude with a rope around her neck, hanging from a balcony off the main house, with her hands and feet bound.

Authorities have said there is no investigation into Max's fall in the house and there has been no connection made between the two incidents.

Uh, you guys sure you want to stick with the "no connection" line of investigation?

The son's fatal injuries occurred before the girlfriend - who has been identified alternatively as "Rebecca Nalepa" and "Rebecca Zahau" - died, but the boy managed to linger for a week. Apparently Nalepa/Zahau was alone in the house with Max when the boy fell down the stairs, while Shaknai's brother was alone in the house with Nalepa/Zahau when she died. The police say they are "comfortable" in knowing Shaknai's location on the days his son and girlfriend suffered their fatal injuries, so that wraps that up, I guess. Anyone comfortable with a 6-year old being left alone with his dad's girlfriend? The obvious suspect in Zahau's death is the brother who was "living in a guesthouse" - can you say wastrel sibling? - while all of this was going on, but right now no one knows if the girlfriend's death was a homicide or a suicide.

All of this looks, not just mysterious, but also convenient with two deaths in the home of someone who wasn't there, and whom the police are going out of their way to handle with care. After the DSK fiasco, it's probably best to not send a prominent person out for a light perp walk, but I hope the police aren't leaving anyone off of their list of suspects.

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