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Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

As the seasons turn from summer to fall, there are some things we can depend on. Kids going back to school. Leaves turning colors. And discussions about the debt ceiling.

Recently, President Donald Trump spoke to House Minority Leader Nancy “Joan Rivers Was a Piker Compared to Me” Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Charles “Don’t Get Between Me and a Microphone” Schumer and agreed to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for concessions on disaster relief. Yeah, I know. Debt ceiling talk is so sexy, right? Well, get ready to get really hot because here we go!

debt ceiling

What the Left believes it means – a budgetary procedure to ensure the government can pay its debts without shutting down

What it really means – giving the least fiscally responsible entity on Earth a pass on bad spending.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to pay the debts of the country, including the debts they themselves rack up allegedly representing the county. Usually, this gets done through the budget process, where the House, the Senate, and the President try to hammer out a vision for what needs to get paid and by whom. There’s a tiny snag with this currently: we haven’t actually had a budget since 2006. The way Congress has done around this detail has been to raise the debt ceiling, which allows the government to pay debts. A necessary evil, right?

Not quite.

Let’s say you have a credit card that you max out on a trip to Las Vegas. You may be able to skate by for a while, but eventually you are going to have to make a payment. Then, instead of making a payment, you request raising your credit line. The credit card company agrees, and you go back to Vegas to max out your card again. Then, payment time rolls around again, and you request yet another credit line extension. The credit card company agrees, and the process continues.

There’s no way this can end badly, right?

Actually, there is no way this can’t end badly. With a budget, Congress has a framework for how to proceed. Without a budget, Congress can spend and spend without much oversight. Wait…did we just stumble onto the reason we haven’t had a budget in 11 years? Why, yes, yes, we did!

Under the typical budget process, the House comes up with a budget and gives it to the Senate to look over and either approve as-is or offer changes. If there are changes, the House and Senate come together and work out the differences before sending it to the President to sign. Then, if the President vetoes it, the budget proposal goes back to Congress to either fix the proposal or override the veto. In short, there are checkpoints at every stage of the budget process to prevent one side or the other from running roughshod over the other and to put limits on what is to be spent. By simply agreeing to forego the normal budget process and raise the debt ceiling, those safeguards are as reliable as the TSA.

If America had her financial house in order, raising the debt ceiling might not be an issue. After all, we’ve accrued debt in the past for noble purposes, like fighting a war. However, America is spending like a drunken sailor these days. Okay, that may have been out of line. After all, drunken sailors have a bit more fiscal responsibility than the average Congrescritter. I mean, when was the last time you saw a drunken sailor spend money to watch shrimp on a treadmill?

Complicating matters further is the fact America doesn’t own all of its debt. We have issued bonds for our debt for various parties to buy. And guess who owns a good chunk of those bonds. China. Yeah, that country that hasn’t quite gotten over the Cold War and has a penchant for trying to handicap America whenever it can. And we gave them Most Favored Nation status in the 1990s! And how do they repay us? Sending toys with lead paint and dog food that actually kills dogs.

But I’m sure they’ll do us right this time!

All it takes for our fiscal house of cards to come tumbling down is for China to say, “Yeah, we kinda want our money back because we don’t think you can pay us back.” If you thought the financial crisis in 2008 was bad, this will make that look like “Heidi.” (For you Leftists out there reading this, that is a bad thing.) And if that happens, we have Democrats and Republicans to blame. Our representatives decided that spending money is more important than fiscal security. Even when we get representatives elected who promise to keep us on budget, those voices are either drowned out or sold out by those who think we can print enough money to keep ourselves afloat. Spoiler Alert: we can’t. The more money we print, the less valuable the money we have becomes. That isn’t a recipe for success, kids.

So, how do we fix it? Outside of a Congressional enema, we’re stuck until our representatives figure out raising the debt ceiling without a reason will cost us more than the ability to spend money we don’t have on crap that has no real purpose.

Like shrimp on treadmills.

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Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t associate with the Democrats or the Republicans. Usually, I give an answer about how the two major parties are too much alike for my tastes. And after this past week, I have another example.

To say President Donald Trump has critics in both major parties is an understatement of Rosie O’Donnell sized proportions. Two such critics are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Lindsey Graham. On paper, these two should be fighting like cats and dogs, but when it comes to the deficiencies in the Trump Administration (in their opinions), they are practically inseparable. One is a whiny partisan hack who wears a dress, and the other is Nancy Pelosi.

Recently, both Pelosi and Graham urged President Trump to not only beef up our military, but to beef up our diplomatic power. Both of them referred to the latter as “soft power.” And when two Leftists use the same term, it piques my interest.

soft power

What the Left believes it means – power that derives from peaceful endeavors

What it really means – using words when force would work better

I am not a violent man by nature, but there are times when even I recognize extending an olive branch will not make the other side stop wanting to shoot your hand off. Take ISIS/ISIL, for example. They have a massive hard-on to destroy us, so inviting them over for tea really isn’t an option. Not to mention, their preferred tea is of the TN variety.

This is a problem the Left doesn’t quite understand when it comes to using soft power: not everyone is open to negotiation. When two parties enter into a negotiation, they have goals they want to meet if at all possible. Between countries, these goals typically revolve around not going to war over trifles. Between people, these goals may involve sharing of ideas and profits. Put another way, negotiation requires all parties involved to have a sense of self-interest to avoid conflict.

Now, what if one side doesn’t want to avoid conflict? All the talking in the world won’t make them come to the table and reject their nature, so there needs to be hard power to back up the soft power. Think of a biker who loves getting into a fight. If he has his gang to get his back, he’s going to get what he wants. If he’s flying solo, he might be more willing to listen to reason if he’s faced with a gang armed with sawed-off shotguns, but he might also choose to fight. And that biker happens to be Wolverine…

From a political perspective, having hard power and soft power at your disposal is a good thing, as long as the use of those powers are consistent. And that’s where the current political environment goes off the rails like Joseph Hazelwood running an Amtrak line on the San Andreas Fault. For the past couple of decades, our diplomats have taken the position that being American means always having to say you’re sorry. Even when we’re in the right, our diplomats are apologizing for us being Americans. If we apologize any more, Canada is going to annex us.

So, what happens when the soft power and hard power are at odds with each other? That depends on the leadership of the President. If he leans more towards using hard power, diplomacy will be used only when absolutely necessary. Think of it as the shoot first and ask questions later approach. When the President decides using diplomacy would accomplish more than blowing up the other party’s stuff, words become the ammunition.

Guess what kind of power the previous Administration relied on most. I mean, aside from capitulating to the wrong people while isolating our allies.

With a new President comes a new approach. Donald Trump has already stated he will rebuild our military strength and restore our standing around the world. If he sticks with the approach that won him the Presidency, we’ll see a heavier reliance on hard power, which is not necessarily a bad thing after spending years as the geopolitical equivalent of a 98 pound weakling. I would urge the President not to neglect soft power, but not to let people like Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham make the decisions on where and when to use it.

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