When the World Gets You Down, Perhaps a Visit from the Dalai Lama Will Perk You Up.

Over two weeks have passed since my previous post.    Seldom am I this slow to return.  It’s not that I haven’t tried.   For example, I spent a few hours working on a piece on immigration reform before I reached the conclusion:  Who cares?  It’s not going to happen anytime soon. In fact, nothing much is going to happen anytime soon in Congress, not until after the mid-term elections in the fall.  And after that who knows?

How to See Yourself As You Really Are

How to See Yourself As You Really Are (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suffer from  cognitive dissonance between what I sense as reality and what is happening politically.   The reality is we have ever growing problems as a nation while the politics is mostly theatrical posturing, with both parties spinning everything to suit the narrative they want to firmly implant in us by the mid-term elections in the fall.

And, since it seems a given according to the pundits that the House will safely remain in Republican hands, it is all about which side will win the Senate this time around.

But what does this have to do with anything in the real world?   If the Democrats hold the Senate, how will that change anything for the good.  And if the Republicans take the Senate what can that produce beyond more gridlock and even more investigations of the White House through Senate committees with the same inquisitorial zeal of Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Issa begins his fact finding missions by declaring something to be scandalous and then tirelessly going about trying to prove his accusations, not interested in information to the contrary.  I haven’t seen him “prove” much of anything, but with all his posturing, he captures a lot of theatrical time propping up the Republican narrative that the Obama administration is both incompetent and untrustworthy.

With so little real going on in national politics, pundits like to concentrate on the 2016 presidential elections, otherwise known as the coronation of Hillary.  I have much respect for Ms. Clinton, but what can any president achieve in today’s deeply divided political atmosphere while facing  a world made mind-boggling complex through economic  globalization tied to instant connectivity to almost everywhere?   It seemed so much more simple in the good old days when our foreign policy was  shaped by the struggle between the evil empire and our white hat wearing selves.

Given a burgeoning chaos in the Greater Middle East and tensions between China and other nations in the Far East who can say what this world will look like in 2016?   International crises seem to be simmering to a boil all over the place.  The Ukraine, Syria, Iran, North Korea come first to mind, and those threats should prompt us to come together, but instead act as  more grist for political theater.    In terms of unity, the best our government  can do is keep the doors open for business by passing a budget for a change and not precipitate untold economic harm  by a refusal to raise the debt ceiling, which would have left  the world’s “full faith” in our stability further diminished.

You might be asking at this point:  Where does the Dalai Lama fit into this?   Well, given what I have written, you can see why I would love to get a fresh perspective on the world’s problems.  To my surprise, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a generally respected conservative think tank (in contrast to Heritage Foundation) apparently has felt a need to get a fresh approach, too, as they recently “hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama for two remarkable conversations about human happiness, economics, and the moral core of free enterprise.”

I could use a boost from a remarkable conversation.   Care to join me at this link?

Hitting Our Heads on the Debt Ceiling Yet Again

Once again the question of raising the central government debt ceiling, last raised in October, is on the table, supposedly having a deadline tomorrow, but treasury can pull various strings to delay the real deadline to the end of the month, and some on the right think they could extend it a lot longer with no harm.   I call the latter:  big gamblers.

English: U.S. President is greeted by Speaker ...

English: U.S. President is greeted by Speaker of the House before delivering the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it a safe bet they will raise the debt ceiling once again over the next few weeks, but not before there is much sound and fury signifying nothing, to borrow a phrase from a fellow name Faulkner.

The deadline will be raised again because Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has said “nobody wants the government to default on its debt” and since all he has to do is allow a bill to come to the floor of the house where the Democrats will push it to victory, he is the most important nobody of all.

So, why all the huffing and puffing in the interim?   The Republicans want to keep hammering home the issue of the ever accumulating national debt as our biggest national problem that we must deal with right now, so at least something should be cut if we are to raise the debt ceiling again.

Since the party has wandered far from its tradition of unity and discipline during the Obama years, actually having more voices demanding to be heard than the Democrats for a change, it never hurts to band together to pan Obama and those big spending Democrats one more time.

Also, I imagine Republican strategists have keyed into evidence that a majority of Americans like the idea of curbing spending, reducing the number of government workers, getting our house in order so to speak.   I don’t have the exact facts at my finger tips (meaning I can’t recall where I got them), but there was a study last fall indicating that Americans are not as divided as commonly conceived, that there is a large middling majority that more or less agree upon most issues.    The issue that struck me most was that a large majority of this majority favored a balanced budget amendment.

Of course, if you took a poll as to how they would balance the budget, they might be all over the place, but it just seems a common sense thing to do.   Well, that’s true for your family but the national government has  never operated like anybody’s family.  Deficit spending has been the norm and it has worked well because our economy has regularly grown so it can carry large deficits as long as that per cent of GDP remains relatively low…..  At this point, I’m sorry I got into this…..

My point is, whether right or wrong,  about half the voters want a smaller less regulatory government, in theory at least.   And despite a large majority of knowledgeable opinion to the contrary, many Americans seem willing to gamble with the debt ceiling.  No doubt Republican strategists recall a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last fall in which 44% of those polled were against raising the debt ceiling to 22% who were for it, leaving 34% unaccounted for, at least in the article.

“People’s first instinct is how fed up they are with Washington and spending,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the poll with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. “This is a very difficult issue in terms of public opinion.”

So, all the ongoing sound and fury may signify something, keeping the heat up on general American resentment towards big government (except for individual programs we each love, of course).   As long as the right doesn’t go over board and makes the world economy nervous, all their belt tightening chatter may help Republicans in the mid-term elections next fall and that is what all the political posturing is aimed at now and for months to come.

Isn’t that right?

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