The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 11, 2008


We hear it mentioned on every media outlet. Barack Obama uses it on his campaign posters and talks about it endlessly, promising to ”change” Washington. All we have to do is “act now” and instill “hope.” His pitch, beautifully timed and charismatically delivered, hits a chord with younger people and the true idealists among us. Too bad it’s nonsense.

In a wonderfully honest article, former Congressman J.C. Watts states:
I would remind those among the remaining 56 percent that believe that a President [Obama?] can change Washington, having been there and done that as a member of Congress for eight years, I regretfully believe it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change Washington regardless of who the president is.

Please take your seats, class, as I give you a lesson in Washington 101. This isn't pretty.

First, we have an appropriations process that, by its very definition, is designed to spend money, not save money.

Ap?pro?pri?a?tion n. A legislative act authorizing the expenditure of a designated amount of public funds for a specific purpose.

The key word here is "expenditure." You will never hear of any group in America that receives appropriated dollars saying to any member of Congress, "Don't give me as much money this year as you gave last year," or "It's OK with me if you reduce my appropriations by 3 percent from last year."

Not going to happen. I've never seen any group -- liberal or conservative -- that receives government money show such magnanimity.

Add to that equation the legion of lobbyists who are paid millions of dollars every year to protect labor and corporate interests and make sure their clients' appropriations maintain an upward trajectory.

There is no incentive to reduce spending. How about this: incent members of congress to save money. Start with last year’s federal budget. If congress brings in next year’s budget with fewer dollars, they should share the savings with the taxpayer. Every member gets a cut. If that makes every member an instant multi-millionaire, we’d still be ahead of the game. Nah … that’s too easy, it can’t possibly work.

Watts continues:
Second, Washington plays a legalistic game of politics whereby the Left and the Right expect their candidates to stay in a certain box. If they venture out of their box, they become impure and unacceptable to their respective political gods.

I still cannot reconcile how some conservatives overlook Sen. John McCain as a presidential candidate in favor of Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani when McCain has a lifetime record of being anti-pork, pro-life and pro-marriage, while Giuliani and Romney have histories of supporting abortion and same-sex marriage, while remaining largely mute on the subject of pork for most of the presidential campaign.

Could it be that McCain is not as interested in protecting their deal?

Liberals and conservatives raise millions of dollars on push-button issues like life, marriage and tax cuts on the right; and choice, same sex marriage or higher taxes on the left. Money doesn't flow into their coffers if these issues are resolved.

It’s Watts’ last coment that goes to the truth of things. Liberal and conservatives need boogy men and they act like irrational idiots in order to maintain the hatred of the other side. It ain’t gonna change.

Watt’s final truth:
A final reason I find myself firmly ensconced in the 44 percent category [believing that "change" is not going to happen] is the fact that 65 percent of the money spent in Washington is mandatory spending. It is generously called "entitlement" spending.

The entitlement mentality is killing our government.

That means that 65 cents of every dollar we spend is on auto-pilot. It will be spent on 35- to 40-year-old models of delivering government services that are terribly outdated, wasteful and inefficient. But they are sacred-cow programs that few Republicans or Democrats are willing to touch.

Until we have the political courage to take on mandatory spending reforms -- which not many presidents are going to be willing to do -- there will never be change.

President Bush took a stab at reforming Social Security and got stabbed right back by Republicans and Democrats alike. So we continue to waste good money in bad models of delivery.

That’s the harsh reality of Washington. It’s also the reason why soaring claims that “change” will happen (if you elect me) are not only ridiculous, but dishonest. Worse, they play on the naïve idealism of those who are unaware of the realities of Washington and those who refuse to accept those realities because they’d rather wallow in self-delusion.