Portents of Doom

Wednesday, January 2, AD 2013

Yes, Congress and the White House managed to punt on any real solutions to our ever-growing debt crisis, reaching a deal that raised a lot of taxes but cut no spending. Yet the real signal that we are truly doomed as a country  may have come from a bill that did not pass – not yet. The House of Representatives failed to pass a $60 billion relief bill for Hurricane Sandy, prompting Republican Governor Chris Christie to act like a petulant child who didn’t receive all that he wanted on Christmas morn.

“There is only one group to blame,” Christie said. “The House Majority and John Boehner.”

“Last night, the House Majority failed the basic test of leadership and they did so with callous disregard to the people of my state,” he said. “It was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”

“Shame on you, shame on Congress.”

Following his remarks, Christie doubled down on his criticism in a lengthy — and incredibly candid — press conference in which he laid into House Republicans for putting “palace intrigue” ahead of their actual jobs.

“Our people were played last night as a pawn…and that’s why people hate Washington, D.C.,” Christie said later. “They forget that we’re the ones who sent them there.”

Representative Peter King (“R” – NY) also blasted his party and even threatened quitting in anger – hours before throwing his support for Speaker John Boehner when others within the caucus attempted to oust him from leadership.

But King and Christie are just speaking out for their poor constituents who desperately need federal aid. Ummm, not exactly. Daniel Foster lists some of the items contained in this bill:

•$2 million to repair damage to the roofs of museums in Washington, D.C., while many in Hurricane Sandy’s path still have no roof over their own heads.

•$150 million for fisheries as far away from the storm’s path as Alaska.

•$125 million for the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection program, which helps restore watersheds damaged by wildfires and drought.

•$20 million for a nationwide Water Resources Priorities Study.

•$15 million for NASA facilities, though NASA itself has called its damage from the hurricane ‘minimal.’

•$50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties.

•$336 million for taxpayer-supported AMTRAK without any detailed plan for how the money will be spent.

•$5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers – more than the Corps’ annual budget – with no statement of priorities about how to spend the money.

•$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies, without identifying a single way to pay for it.

As Foster notes, money has already been appropriated to deal with the immediate situation. And as Katrina Trinko adds, only 15 percent of the money allocated in this bill would actually be spent this year. Some emergency funding, huh? But of course the esteemed Senators from Alaska will not tolerate any criticisms of their pork requests.

These are two very real and very serious disasters that Alaskans are facing. The first being the salmon disaster which was declared a disaster by the federal government this past September – Alaskans are still waiting for relief after the devastating impact on fisheries. After Japan’s generous gift of $5 million, the U.S. government needs to step up to the plate as tsunami debris poses serious navigational hazards and risks to coastal communities. Sandy remains the priority in this bill, but given that many of the dollars allocated for debris will go to charting and mapping it, this bill is a more than appropriate vehicle to bring up these disasters which have severely impacted Alaska’s communities.

This fiasco highlights some things you need to know about our government, and why things will never improve. As Senator Begich’s comments illustrate, there is not a dime of federal spending that will not be defended by someone. No matter how trivial, no matter how seemingly wasteful, there will always be someone out there to defend that dollar (or millions) of appropriation.

More importantly, Christie’s childish reaction shows that even s0-called fiscal conservatives cannot be relied upon to remain level-headed. Surely Christie must be aware that some $20 billion or so of this bill is completely unrelated to dealing with the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. Instead of criticizing those in Congress who decided to weigh down this bill with unnecessary measures, Christie decides to demagogue the issue and blame the people who are at least trying to behave responsibly. Surely Christie could have called upon Congress to mass House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers’s much more reasonable disaster relief bill. But that’s not the Blusterer’s style. This was a moment to get on the evening news, and he wouldn’t have done so had he criticized Democrats.

Chris Christie is the golden child of “fiscal conservatives.” If even he is unwilling to patiently await passage of a reasonably considered bill that would focus on actual hurricane relief, but instead would prefer to scream about the need for IMMEDIATE PASSAGE NOW!!!!!!!!! – then what hope is there that we can ever achieve fiscal sanity in this country.

Ace has some sobering words to consider in light of this fiasco.

Watching “fiscal conservative” Chris Christie fail to say one word about those who demand that relief for his state be bought with unrelated spending for their own states, which weren’t hit by catastrophe — shouldn’t it be noted that Lisa Murkowski and Don Young of Alaska won’t vote for those left homeless by Sandy until some local businesses get their “cut”? — it occurs to me that he is accommodating himself to reality.

The reality is vox populi, vox dei — the voice of the people is the voice of God. And the voice of this particular shabby god has decreed that we shall be financially reckless and we should go through a national bankruptcy, and there’s no sense trying to avoid it, so we’ll just run up a huge tab buying multiple 65 inch 3D tvs before we crash.

Given that the people wish to spend money they do not have, and soon will not have (for all the same reasons that people with bad credit can’t rent a car — your ability to borrow is precisely related to your projected future ability to make good on your loans), and will not be diverted from this disastrous course, what can anyone do?

. . .

But for now, let’s go get a few of those sweet 3D TV’s and watch Pirates of the Caribbean IV.

You’ll think I’m a wonderful, well-providing father… for the next month or so.

After that, you may hold a different opinion of me. Major negative changes in circumstance tend to do that.

But for now– 3D TVs. Have you ever seen such a clear, sort of three dimensional picture? Aren’t I your hero? At this moment, I mean.

We deserve the government we have.


Oh, and before I hear from any wiseguys, two of my brothers had to abandon their flooded homes because of the storm.


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9 Responses to Portents of Doom

  • I agree.

    Sixty billion here, sixty billion there – pretty soon you’re talking REAL MONEY.

    The national debt is over 103% of GDP and will shortly hit 130% (then we become Greece) as Obama and Christie are each year spending trillions more than tax receipts. Neither NJ (high tax state) nor the US government can repay their debts.

    And, I live on Long Island. Our Nassau County village had over 140 large trees down and 35 houses severely damaged. We didn’t need to take money from taxpayers in Idaho or from my children and grandchildren to restore eletricity and gas and open our streets. Or, to fix our houses.

    They’re reporting that Bohner pulled the bill b/c Cantor voted “no” on the immense excrement sandwich they call the fiscal cliff deal.

    Anyhow, in a few years it will be all over for the USA.

  • I can think of few politicians who have fallen swifter in my estimation than Chris Christie. I think he is preparing the way for an eventual jump to the Democrats. Good riddance.

  • Despair not: “they can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you.”

    People want to do better. They want to be the people they dream of being.

    During this last snow event (i refuse to call 5 inches of snow a “storm”) i cleared the opening to a shared alley. A neighbor who was finishing his sidewalk headed into the house, only to return five minute later to help. 10 minutes later, another neighbor joined. Within an hour, there were six of us clearing the alley, and then the intersection, and then the road. By the time the plow came through, there was nothing for him to do.

    My point is that we can be Franciscan about this: preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words.

  • “preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words.”

    A good story G-Veg, but I wish to point out that Saint Francis never said that. That is a modern formulation from the 1990s.


  • I really don’t know what’s up with the US money-go-round. The largest economy and arguably the wealthiest nation in history is broke – with govt. debt 103% of GDP.
    While our little country – admittedly a little more socialised than I personally would like. but our debt is 41% of GDP – we have an adequate welfare system – some say too generous – unemployment is high at 6.9 % in a relatively small export led economy, and 4.5 million people. Maybe its our small size that makes things easier – but we , under the present govt – unlike the Helen Clark Labour govt -just don’t cave in to every bludger wanting a hand out ( except we are being over-generous to the Maori Greivance Gravy Train)
    And we’ll be back in surplus projected at 2015. Maybe you should get our guys to handle your purse strings 😉

  • St. Francis may not have sai it but I like the articulation so I think I’ll keep it as is.

    With regards to the US economy, the US spent an obscene amount on war and then threw away the stimulus mony. That is at least part of the difference you see.

  • “the US spent an obscene amount on war”

    Disagree vigorously G-Veg. Any money that is used to keep my family safer I do not regard in any way as “obscene”. I fear that we will soon get to see that perhaps we failed to allocate sufficient funds for defense considering the number of hot spots that are beginning to glow around the globe.

    “St. Francis may not have said it”

    No may about it, he did not say it. This popped up in the 1990s and you now see it repeated endlessly throughout Saint Blogs.

    Fake quotes are abhorrent to me since they lend authority to a phrase to which it is not entitled. With the advent of the internet fake quotes gain credence because so many people repeat them. Three examples: “We sleep safely in our beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” attributed to George Orwell is a fake quote that is repeated endlessly. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” is a favorite George Washington quote that he never uttered. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” was never said by Edmund Burke.

  • Yeah, I’d say a “phenomenal” amount on defense, not “obscene”. The benefits we get from it include secure international trade, so it’s probably a net gain, but it’d sure be nice if someone else picked up the check every once in a while. (And that’s not even considering the moral consequences.)

    I think that Christie looked particularly good to Republicans back when their bench was weaker. As the years roll by, there’s a natural sorting process, and the new generation will be tested. Paul, Brown, McDonnell, Rubio, and Ayotte, and going back a little further, Palin, Ryan, and Jindal. There will be sex scandals, and words like “macaca”, and random bad luck, and a lot of rising stars will fall. Some will succeed. Two new ones to watch: Ted Cruz in the Senate and Tom Cotton in the House. Great early press.


    The New Year does not bode well for our amoral nation.
    America has become a godless imitation.
    How many more will lose life, liberty, and survival?
    The Constitution and rights must have serious revival.

    The religious freedom we once had is now being denied.
    Objections by religious leaders are being defied.
    The God of Abraham was once our nation’s guiding light.
    Immorality has almost become a legal right.

    Marriage of a man and woman is God’s moral demand.
    Will the Supreme Court now deny His eternal command?
    The American people are enemy number one.
    Our religious liberty and freedoms they have undone.

    Our nation has grown cold to God’s love – we are divided.
    The Ten Commandments are being openly derided.
    Those who do not trust God have misplaced their intended goal.
    They alone have the power to rescue their eternal soul.

    As light fades, what we so proudly hailed no one can now see.
    The ramparts were not watched – we are no longer free.
    The future of America has never seemed so bleak.
    Hope is possible only if the Son of God we seek.

    Bob Rowland

Priorities (Updated)

Friday, November 2, AD 2012

This is a Catholic blog, so I am not capable of fully sharing my feelings regarding Mayor Michael Bloomberg right now. The man who has spent a good chunk of his mayoralty sticking his nose in the lifestyle choices of his citizenry, supposedly out of concern for their health, doesn’t seem very interested that some of them are lying dead or are missing. No, it’s not as important as making sure this crucial marathon is run.

As Drew M says, the “getting back to normal” thing doesn’t start until relief efforts are fully exhausted and there’s a full accounting of the damage, and all the missing have been accounted for. The idea that they’re going to divert resources away from Staten Island and other parts of the city in order to accommodate a bunch of people who want to run a long distance is sickening. Staten Island is fairly large, but there are few means of getting in and out of the island. Closing down the primary means of getting to the island and delivering relief items for any amount of time is criminally insane.

What a disgrace.

Edited to add: If anyone wonders why this is madness, read this:

 As hundreds of thousands of Big Apple residents suffer in homes left without power by Hurricane Sandy, two massive generators are being run 24/7 in Central Park — to juice a media tent for Sunday’s New York City Marathon.

And a third “backup” unit sits idle, in case one of the generators fails.

The three diesel-powered generators crank out 800 kilowatts — enough to power 400 homes in ravaged areas like Staten Island, the Rockaways and downtown Manhattan.

As of Friday morning, 11 generators sat outside of the park and a food services truck dropped off hundreds of cases of water, sparking angered responses from hurricane victims.

Update: They finally came to their senses and cancelled.

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13 Responses to Priorities (Updated)

  • Let me explain this in very simple terms……

    Bloomberg is a L-I-B-E-R-A-L. Kill the babies, save the trees is their mind-set, this ain’t exactly a surprise.

  • As a person who ran the NYC Marathan in 3 hours and 5 minutes more than two decades ago, I agree 100% with Paul Zummo. And I would have back then, too.

  • Reminds me of the Roman Coliseum and the crowds cheering on the Gladiators as the Christians lay dying. We must have entertainment or we will perish. New York, New York; it’s a happening town. Let the games begin.

  • He found time to endorse Obama after Sandy on the grounds of global warming. The man is a complete idiot and a complete joke.

  • The runners should each carry some water and food –
    as they change course to Staten Island and up into high rises where elderly and others are trapped or be ashamed of the vanity.

  • Mr Malone forgot to add one thing to his list: Grub for money. The marathon provides payola while the residents are an expense item. Think of this as a “wet run” for Obamacare’s expense calculating panels. Of course liberals care and conservatives are heartless. Elections have consequences as these people are finding out first hand. They should have been warned when Bloomberg couldn’t even clear the streets after a normal snowstorm. Sadly I don’t expect these voters to figure out what 2+2 is or, more aptly, 2-2. They will vote for someone even more Leftist as the French did.

  • This is what liberals do

    No surprises


  • The man is a complete idiot and a complete joke.

    He built a megabusiness, so, no. It is amazing the degree to which his mayoralty is littered with unforced errors and silly asides.

  • Every time I think of Mayor Bloomberg I want to chant RUDY, RUDY, RUDY. Whatever flaws Guiliani has, his kind of leadership is much in NYC today.

  • “He built a megabusiness”

    Bloomberg demonstrates Art that one may have good fortune in one area of life and remain a complete idiot in others, along with being a complete joke.

  • Paul Zummo-
    Your first sentence is great.
    So hard to bit the lip sometimes.
    I find it interesting that New Orleans was visited twice in one decade by hurricanes during the beginning of Sodomy Fest!
    Some folks just can’t see.

  • See update – they finally cancelled.

  • PZ says “They finally came to their senses and cancelled.”

    Does anyone really believe they “came to their senses”. That implies a self realization that all these folks are manifestly incapable of. To be forced, probably by both the governor and some of the runners themselves is simply backing down.