Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thoughts on the UCSD CR Situation

For background, see these pages:

http://tinyurl.com/c9jsu7

http://tinyurl.com/cdscog

http://tinyurl.com/d2nudo


My name is Michael Knudsen. I'm a recent UCSD College Republican alumni.

Here's what I see, as an alumni.

The CCR Executive Board has given me, and every single solitary UCSD CR alumni, the finger.

You have told us that a 23 year old organization...does not matter.

Nor does anyone now or previously involved in that organization.

http://tinyurl.com/cdscog

For the record, that again is the (now former) UCSD College Republican official response to the board vote.

Of course, in politics, one can't always be certain what the meaning of the word "is" is.

So, apparently, one side's de-chartering is another side's misunderstanding from "disenfranchised opportunists."

(Just as an aside, I thought, as Republicans, disenfranchising people wasn't our thing?)

http://tinyurl.com/d2nudo

"No chapters were un-chartered, and no one removed from the organization. The vote was simply to determine which club was the rightful owner of the original UCSD charter based on the facts presented and the actions of those involved."

Ok...So, if one club is deemed to be the rightful owner of the original UCSD Charter, which the Exec Board said now belongs to the Triton College Republicans (with their proud 50 day old history)...just where, pray tell, does that leave the original UCSD CRs?

The original UCSD Charter, which once belonged to them, now, does not.

“Oh, you weren't un-chartered, guys. You just don't have your charter anymore. Get it?”

And how, pray tell, are alumni supposed to feel about this?

Taking a step back from the entire sorry affair that got us here, what has happened?

Based on the events with ONE class, the Executive Board has summarily dismissed ALL twenty plus years that came before.

By all means, explain to me why this should not be a big deal to alumni. You know, the people who built and made UCSD CRs into an active and successful chapter for two decades.

Explain to me why one of my best friends, Mark Mendoza, who had a fantastic year as UCSD CR Chair, should not care about the Executive Board's vote. Explain to me how this in no way negates his work, and the work of all the other UCSD CR Chairs. Explain to me why Inez shouldn't care about this.

For that matter, tell me what you have to say to those 500+ individuals who are on the UCSD CR mailing list.

Explain to me how your statement to them does NOT go something like this: "Hey, thanks for your involvement and interest in the College Republicans.

Now piss off. You don't matter."

Two plus two is easy math.

In that same vein, it sure looks like there just might have been just a teeny tiny conflict of interest with this board vote.

I mean, what do I know, right? I'm just a dumb UCSD alumni who doesn't matter, and I just don't know what I'm talking about, right?

This decision couldn't possibly have had anything to do with eliminating opposition votes, and anyone who disagrees is obviously listening to that "sniveling weasel" Alec Weisman.

As an alumni, and more importantly, as a friend of Alec's, how the hell am I supposed to take that?

How do you, Mr. Wolf, think that comes across not just to alumni, but to outside observers of this matter?

How are they supposed to take this: "Yes Matt Schenk it is a threat."

You know, when you say that something IS a THREAT, you might not want to act surprised when it is taken as such. Even if you follow with saying that you will "only" embarrass someone, it's pretty hard not to fixate on the acknowledgment that what you just said was INTENDED to be threatening.

And I'm just wondering, is all this honestly your idea of a mature, reasonable way to resolve this matter?

So you're pissed that Alec and the UCSD CRs aired out dirty laundry in front of visitors.

Issuing publicly viewable slurs, harassment, and threats is OBVIOUSLY the best way to show that you know how to resolve a crisis. Way to be a better man. Way to show the world how CCR solves its problems. Threats, insults, and intimidation. Truly, that's an inspiration to the Republican Party.

But I digress.

Back to what I see.

I see a good friend of mine threatened and degraded. Friends of mine, really, including all the current UCSD CRs.

I see an Executive Board flipping off anyone who has ever been involved in UCSD CRs. I see them deciding that an upstart "club" that doesn't even meet matters more than a 23 year old organization.

I see them siding with individuals who, it seems pretty damned clear, tried to manipulate matters within UCSD CRs to get their way. Worse, they lied to UCSD CR members to try and force the issue on Dejah's impeachment.

Last I checked, there was a word for that. Starts with "C", rhymes with "eruption."

I see my friends and former CR mates trying to exist as a club and move past the strife of this past year, only to be greeted with more threats, intimidation (they'll never work in politics again), and now, disbarment, because these "Triton Republicans" who didn't get what they wanted before, through outright lies and deceit, have some friends in high places.

The "Triton Republicans" didn't get Dejah Stanley kicked out as Chair before, so now, they're taking the ball home, making their own club...and you just gave them our charter. MY charter.

So really, aside from reminding us that we're all stupid friends of the sniveling weasel Alex "Wiseman,” do you have anything else to tell CR Alumni? Care to explain how proud CCR is of its actions? I sure as hell hope you are.

I know this much.

If this action is not reversed, and the original charter is not returned to the UCSD CRs, I will make sure to tell my children not to ever bother becoming California College Republicans.

I will tell them that the organization is a waste of their time. I will tell them that it not only tolerates infighting, it picks sides when it suits those in power.

I will tell my children that there is no point in them devoting their passion and their energy to such an outfit. It will only bring them disillusionment and despair. They won't spend their time actually fighting for what they believe in.

They'll spend time fighting amongst themselves, and the Executive Board will pick who wins. They won't actually be mature adults and solve the problem. Oh, and if my kids are on the wrong side, they'll all be a bunch of sniveling weasels.

My kids deserve better.

Friday, April 3, 2009

In Defense of Blackwater

By Michael Knudsen


On Jan. 29th, 2009, the Iraqi government officially barred the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide from providing security protection for U.S. diplomats. The reasoning behind this decision was that the company had used “excessive force” in carrying out its missions. (1)

Blackwater Worldwide, now renamed Xe (pronounced “Zee”), has become a favorite target of the American Left. (2)

Since an incident in September of 2007 in which 17 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad's Nisoor square, allegedly by Blackwater guards providing security, the company has been maligned as an outfit of mercenary, trigger happy maniacs. (3) (All five former Blackwater employees have pled not guilty to federal charges brought against them stemming from that incident.) (4)

Go to any online news piece regarding Blackwater, and watch the trolls come out in the comments. Take these samples from a Washington Post Article (5):

Commenter Jhiggins: “Blackwater is a criminal enterprise and its evangelical fundamentalist founder, Erik Prince, is a war profiteer. Blackwater is really a danger to our democracy—fifth column, if you will.” *

Commenter BlueTwo1: “We have experienced what it is like to live under evangelical, ultra-right-wing plutocrats. They do what they please. They do it in secret. They flout the laws. They gum up the works so they won't be questioned let alone prosecuted.” *

And in 2004, Democratic strategist Markos Moulitsos Zuniga of the Daily Kos had two choice words for four Blackwater members who were killed, and their bodies mutilated and dragged in Fallujah:

“Screw them.” (6)

This kind of slander is not limited to internet comments.

Trial lawyer Mike Papantonio, Air America (non)radio host and founder of GoLeft.tv, sums up all the leftist Blackwater smears rather neatly in his recent piece for the Pensacola News Journal. (7)

The “mercenary organization” was started by “phenomenally rich multimillionare inheritance baby Erik Prince.”(7)

It has “independent, unchecked power,” and is “creepy” and “unregulated.” (7)

America's military has won “two world wars without the help of American mercenaries.” (7)

And the coup de grace: “Soldiers enlisted in the U.S. military get paid about $70 a day to put themselves in harm's way, while Mr. Prince's private soldier gets about $1,500 a day for facing the same risks.” (7)

Where, oh where, to begin?

A blogger by the handle of Standish has a one-stop shop for rebutting this tripe. (The excellent blog, Blackwater Facts, is well worth your time.)

First and foremost, Blackwater is not a mercenary company. (8)

The international legal definition of the term comes from the 1977 Protocol 1 Amendment to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. There are six elements required for individuals or organizations to be considered mercenary. (8)

Among these are that the individuals must not be “either a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict.” They must “be recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict.” And they must be motivated “essentially by the desire for private gain” and promised “compensation substantially in excess of [that paid] to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party.” (9)

Blackwater's employees are nationals of the United States. Many of them are ex-military.

They are contracted by the U.S. State Department not to fight, but to “do security guard, logistics work, training and related jobs abroad.” (8)

In the words of Erik Prince (a former Navy Seal) himself, “We perform no offensive missions.” (10)

(The man was a Navy Seal, the elitist of the elite amongst our brave men and women in uniform. But obviously, to the Left, he's living from the silver spoon because he created an international security company. The notion is so ludicrous it would be laughable...were it not so detestable.)

Furthermore, consider these words of a Blackwater official (emphasis mine):

[Blackwater] is a company that was founded and exists to save lives. Everything is done in the interest of safety: training troops to defend themselves; building armored personnel carriers to keep troops alive in battle; building airships for surveillance to detect the bad guys; teaching cops how to effectively and safely rescue a hostage; helping people in executive-protection roles avoid an ambush in a vehicle; building an aviation division capable of performing rescue missions in war zones and natural disasters...In Katrina alone, 128 people were pulled to safety before a contract was ever awarded. In more than 20,000 diplomatic missions, no one protected by Blackwater has ever been seriously injured. (10)


Sure. Screw them. Right, Daily Kos?

(Remind me again, aren't we still stuck on the terrible response to Katrina, and by the way, how it was ALL Bush's fault?

Guess we all know the rules here. We can't give any credit to heroes who saved lives, or anything that went right in the hurricane's aftermath. Especially when, you know, the life savers are crazy right wing trigger happy monsters....)

And with regards to the motivations of Blackwater employees, and their supposedly outlandish pay?

Here's Standish on the former:

...Papantonio is slandering American veterans who return from their private lives to serve their country again in wartime. The story of helicopter pilot Art Laguna, who gave his life in defense of a trapped diplomat US diplomat in Iraq two years ago, shows the caliber of the military vets who join Blackwater: Unusually dedicated people. (8)


And concerning the money these “mercenaries” are supposedly rolling in?

This is nonsense, an allegation that was debunked during a congressional hearing nearly a year-and-a-half ago, and by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in August 2008. Blackwater guards make only a fraction [of $1,500 a day], and they have to pay their own expenses, from food, housing and healthcare to self-employment taxes and other items that soldiers receive as part of their non-taxable benefits. (8)


Mr. Papantonio's knowledge of American history is lacking as well.

The use of private contractors by the U.S. in wartime is hardly unique to Iraq.

The American Volunteer Group (AVG), i.e. the “Flying Tigers,” led by Claire Chennault, were “a private air force of American aviators who fought the Japanese in Burma, China, and Australia” in World War II. (8)

Washington and Jefferson both dabbled in private military companies, the former for the Revolutionary War, the latter to assist the Marines and Navy in engaging the Barbury Coast Pirates. (8)

“Privateering is one of the few businesses specifically authorized in the US Constitution, under the 'letters of marque and reprisal' clause in Article I, Section 8. Papantonio is a trial lawyer who doesn't even know the Constitution.” (8)

Oh, and since Mr. Papantonio has already changed the meaning of the word “mercenary,” perhaps he will be kind enough to provide us with a new definition of the word “unchecked.” As in “unchecked power.” Seeing as the State Department, the Justice Department, the Commerce Department and the Defense Department all have authority over Blackwater, I would be interested to know what “checked power” is. (8)

Now as to the tragic Sept. 2007 incident in which 17 Iraqis were killed. (“Screw them” when Blackwater employees die, string 'em up without a trial when they stand accused. Lovely standard we have for them, isn't it?)

First of all, Blackwater was accused of firing first without motive or provocation by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. (11)

As Chris Taylor wrote in 2007:

The MoI is the same organization the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq only two weeks ago called a 'ministry in name only' because it is ineffectual, inefficient, and sectarian. It is common knowledge that the MoI, infested with corruption and extortion, is now fully infiltrated by Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. (11)


So, we should trust that fine, upstanding civic organization instead of our own men who were fired upon, according to your Justice Department.

There's more.

Radio recordings and transcripts from the incident clearly indicate a prevalent use of the word “Contact!” just prior to the exchange of fire. “Contact” is a term for coming under enemy attack. The gunfire from said enemy was audible on the radio as well. (12, 13)

There are those bullet holes that magically found their way into all four vehicles of the convoy. (12)

There is the lead vehicle that somehow managed to be disabled by this “nonexistent” enemy fire. (13)

And there is the fact that the prosecution's star witness, an ex-Blackwater employee who admitted to killing civilians, did so in exchange for a lighter sentence. (14) As Standish writes, the prosecutors don't even know who shot whom, and yet all five men in this case are each charged with fourteen counts of manslaughter. (4)

Finally, about Blackwater's “excessive force"?

As of October 2007, through over 16,000 diplomatic movements, Blackwater employees had discharged their firearms a mere 195 times. (11)

And their rules of engagement were given to them by the State Department. It's all in the contract.

As R.J. Hillhouse wrote for the Christian Science Monitor:

“The State Department Diplomatic Security Service set up aggressive rules for the use of force for its contractors in what's called the Mission Firearms Policy. These rules are more aggressive than those used by the military for its contracted forces.” (15)

Those aggressive rules were put in place in order to make it easier to protect important diplomats and government officials, Iraqi and American alike. And as Chris Taylor notes, Blackwater for years has appealed to Congress to make nebulous elements of these combat protocols more specific, to improve accountability and lessen the chances of collateral damage. (11)

What happened at Nisoor Square was a tragedy, no question, and the loss of life must not be trivialized.

But what must also not be trivialized is the sacrifice, bravery, heroism, and valor of the men and women of Blackwater and many other private security companies.

They saved people in Katrina, and the Left spits on them.

Former soldiers volunteer to go back and place themselves directly in danger's path to protect people, and the Left calls them murderers and mercenaries.

They are our fellow American brothers and sisters, but to some, they don't deserve even a day in court.

Marybeth Laguna, widow of helicopter pilot Art Laguna, summed it up thus:

Just like soldiers, security contractors based in Iraq face daily threats to their lives. Rather than demonizing these men and women, we should be thanking them for the essential service they provide. Whether they are working for Blackwater or directly for the U.S. military, they are all risking their lives to work for the United States. And they deserve our respect. (16)


Truer words were never written.

Least we could do.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


ARTICLES AND WEBPAGES CITED

1. Associated Press, A look at Blackwater in Iraq during the war, http://townhall.com/news/world/2009/01/29/a_look_at_blackwater_in_iraq_during_the_war (Jan. 29, 2009).

2. Standish, Blackwater Facts, Blackwater Retires Brand, Re-Names Its Units, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2009/02/blackwater-retires-brand-re-names-its.html (Feb. 17, 2009).

3. CBS News, Blackwater Guards Indicted for Shooting, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/05/national/main4649532.shtml?tag=topHome;topStories (Dec. 5, 2008).

4. Standish, Blackwater Facts, “NOT GUILTY”, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2009/01/not-guilty.html (Jan. 6, 2009).

5. Robert O'Harrow Jr., State Department Cancels Iraq Contract With Blackwater,
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/government-inc/2009/01/state_department_to_blackwater.html?wprss=government-inc (Jan. 30, 2009).

* These comments were placed on the above cited web article.

6. Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com, “SCREW THEM:” NOT A JOKE, http://michellemalkin.com/2005/04/01/screw-them-not-a-joke/ (Apr. 1, 2005).

7. Mike Papantonio, Blackwater quietly expanding its reach, http://www.pnj.com/article/20090121/OPINION/901210303/1161/NEWS01 (Jan. 21, 2009).

8. Standish, Blackwater Facts, Out of Control Buffoonery- Trial Lawyer Embarrasses Himself with Ill-Informed Hit Piece, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2009/01/out-of-control-buffoonery-trial-lawyer.html (Jan. 23, 3009).

9. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts Art. 47.2 (June 8, 1977), http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/470?OpenDocument.

10. John McCaslin, Into Blackwater, http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnMcCaslin/2008/11/11/into_blackwater?page=1 (Nov. 11, 2008).

11. Chris Taylor, The Blackwater Bandwagon, http://townhall.com/columnists/ChrisTaylor/2007/10/04/the_blackwater_bandwagon (Oct. 7, 2007).

12. Standish, Blackwater Facts, Independent Source Verifies Blackwater Team Was Under Fire at Nisoor Square, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2008/12/independent-source-verifies-blackwater.html (Dec. 22, 2008).

13. Standish, Blackwater Facts, Radio Logs Prove Blackwater Convoy Was Under Fire at Nisoor Square, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2008/12/radio-logs-prove-blackwater-convoy-was.html (Dec. 21, 2008).

14. Standish. Blackwater Facts, AP Says New Evidence Discredits Federal Case Against Ex-Blackwater Guards, http://blackblawg.blogspot.com/2008/12/ap-says-new-evidence-discredits-federal.html (Dec. 21, 2008).

15. R.J. Hillhouse, Don't Blame Blackwater, http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1102/p09s01-coop.html (Nov. 2, 2007).

16. Marybeth Laguna, My Husband Was a Blackwater Hero, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802283.html (Nov. 30, 2008).

Survey of Shortfall

By Michael Knudsen

* Author's note: This piece was originally written in January of 2009. Some of the contents is out of date as a result. For example, California's budget has now passed (although it still has a shortfall.) The $40 billion deficit figure was from prior to its passing.


Our states' budgets are in trouble.

Big trouble.

According to CNN Money, no less than 43 of these United States are facing budget shortfalls. (1)

And we're not talking chump change here on dollar amounts.

“At the end of the last fiscal year, 29 states had shortfalls topping $48 billion.” (1)

That's a big number, but apparently, we ain't seen nothin' yet.

“The report suggests that because the current recession is worse than the previous recession, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projected that nearly all states will face shortfalls, and the deficits should end up totaling over $100 billion [emphasis mine] in fiscal year 2010.” (1)

The billions and trillions that the Federal Government has been throwing around in economic stimuli packages have made us a bit numb to these big numbers. Our minds are incapable of processing them.

Here's my favorite means of putting this into perspective: A trillion seconds is 33,000 years.

So, if the Center's report is to be believed, the aggregate state budget deficit will be the number of seconds in 3,300 years by 2010.

Yikes.

In Ohio, their budget scenario is described as “the outline for a near-meltdown of state government services.” It amounts to “six prisons and several other corrections facilities shut down, the state parks system closed, a likely $2,000 tuition hike at state universities, all state agencies cut by 25 percent, and much more.” Governor Ted Strickland projects a cumulative $7.3 billion budget deficit by the end of 2011. (This number assumes that Ohio continues spending at its current level, receives no federal aid, and that the U.S. economy suffers a “severe manufacturing and financial contraction.” Absent these three factors, the Cincinnati Enquirer points out that the number should be closer to $4 billion.

I'm sure Ohioans feel much better now.) (2)

In Wisconsin, Governor Doyle in October described the budget hurdles as “very severe” for his state, a possible $3 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget. (3)

In Arizona, the red ink began even before Wall Street tanked in September. As of January last year, this amounted to $900 million in deficit funds for the 2008 fiscal year. (4)

Then, there's....California.

Oh, is there ever.

My fair state has a two year gap in revenue to the tune of $41.6 billion (that's billion with a “b”), according to Governor Schwarzenegger. (5)

Our budget deficit is bigger than the entire government doles of most other states combined.

It's gotten so bad here that the state will have to issue “I owe you”s on tax refunds, welfare checks, and student grants. (Hey, this would be fun. How 'bout taxpayers try doing the same to the collector?)
(6)

Naturally, when the government takes in less money than it wants to spend, the debate about where to make cuts, and whether or not to raise taxes, begins.

So what's the incoming California legislature's big idea for getting us out of this mess?

“[Assemblyman John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles)] said his priorities include an end to the two-thirds vote requirement for passing budgets and raising taxes, and changing the way that taxes are divided between the state and local governments to provide more stability to municipalities.” (7)

Translation: The Republican minority always just gets in the way. Let's make sure they don't get any say at all in blocking tax increases.

(And to be fair, CA voters recalled Gray Davis, a Democrat, and installed Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and here we are.

Smile. You're on Disillusioned Voter Camera.)

Three things are now commonplace in California: bad budgets, higher taxes, and native Californians leaving.

Regarding bad budgets, the San Diego Union Tribune's Chris Reed summed it up. “This is what it's come to for journos who cover Sacramento: surveying all the horrible budgets of the past and trying to figure out which was the worst of all.” (8)

Regarding higher taxes, consider that we've the six highest tax burden per capita among states. (9)

And regarding people leaving, 144,000 people found the exit last year, more than any other state. (And this was the fourth year in a row.) (10) Can't really blame them. Third highest unemployment in the nation, to top it all off. (9)

I don't think this was the “California Dreamin'” that The Mamas & The Papas had in mind.

In South Carolina, where its budget had to be pared by over $621 million, the exemption on grocery sales taxes took the blame for the shortfall from state economists.

“'There's a lot of states that don't tax groceries,' said Rep. James Smith, D-Richland. 'I don't think we can blame it entirely on the sales tax.'” (11)

(Defending tax cuts...from a Democrat? Don't hear that too often, at least not in California. But then again, South Carolina's 2009-10 budget is actually balanced, which NEVER happens here either.) (12)

In Wisconsin?

“But [Gov. Jim Doyle] made it clear he would seek other more targeted tax increases, including a tax on hospitals defeated by Republicans last year...”

Over to you, Republican Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch.

“'We need to make sure that families' budgets are strong and that they are sound,' Huebsch said in an interview. 'If we have a budget shortfall, it's not because we're taxing too little, it's because we're spending too much.'” (3)

(His second sentence is from the classic Reagan play book. But I do have to wonder what the citizens' budgets have to do with balancing the state budget. Nice sound byte, but the government has only the power to fix the latter. )

In Arizona, the two parties, as is typical, disagreed on a budget solution. Once again, the clever sound bytes came in.

“Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and two key Republicans in the Legislature are far apart in their proposals to balance the budget. They don't even agree on the amount to cut. The governor proposes $870 million and the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees put the number at $970 million.”

What say you, Governor's aide?

“'You don't have to take a meat ax to the budget to balance it,' said George Cunningham, Napolitano's budget chief.”(4)

Apparently, going from $870 to $970 million turns the cuts into a “meat ax.” (I guess the Democrat proposal was just a hair trimmer.)

Smelling funding cuts in the air, the University of Arizona had something to say.

“'If we continue to lose top faculty, the return on investment the state expects of us will not be realized,' [University of Arizona President Robert] Shelton said.” (4)

(Insert cheap shot about those poor old lifetime tenured professors who surely will go hungry with reductions of their six figure salaries here.)

Much harder to roll one's eyes at, or justify politically, are cuts in programs aimed at “the needy,” “the children,” or any combination thereof.

“'We want to make sure that [Arizona] doesn't balance its budget on the backs of children,' said Dana Wolfe Naimark, executive director of the Children's Action Alliance.” (4)

Back to Ohio: “[Gov. Strickland] also is making a persuasive case for specific, targeted aid- for Medicaid, unemployment assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other programs. That would help greatly, and we can be sure President-elect Barack Obama is listening to Strickland.” (2)

Back to Wisconsin: That $3 billion shortfall could lead to “job cuts, delays of approved expansions in health programs for the needy [emphasis mine] and scaling back new state money for public schools and universities. (3)

Even here in California, where the state already can't pay its bills, voters just approved Prop 3, a $980 million bond issue for Children's Hospital. (13, 14)

(We also approved Prop 1A, a “just shy of $10 billion” obligation for a high speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I am reminded of the classic episode of The Simpsons where Springfield gets conned, “Music Man” style, into giving money for a non-existent monorail.) (15, 16)

Beyond the taxation and spending debates, the more fundamental issue here is this age-old battle between liberals and conservatives.

The former argue that the government can and should take care of the people, and can always tax more if need be to do so.

Mean ole' conservative curmudgeons like me argue that these programs, while well intentioned, usually can't be funded, are awash in wasteful spending, and often don't work as well as the private sector. (I would add also that we get so used to good economies, that we forget to plan for the inevitable bad ones.)

It's far easier to note what's wrong in government than to fix it. Far easier to play armchair governor, than to actually run things.

But that said, consider the following:

We have been here before.

“Squeezed by the worst budget crunch in almost a decade, states are scrambling to cut spending, avoid raising taxes and spare education.” (17)

Guess when that was written.

2008?

Nope. 2001.

Here's more from that same article: “According to a survey being released today, 35 states face a total budget shortfall or more than $25 billion for this fiscal year- the worst since 1992.” (17)

Sound familiar?

Economies go up, and economies go down. The same is true of government revenues.

It seems of late, however, that the solution is the same whenever both are on the wane.

“The [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] report... suggest[s] that the federal government provide states with stimulus money soon, instead of waiting for states to get further in trouble, and that the aid should be larger than the amount of money given to states in 2003, following the previous recession.” [Emphasis mine.] (1)

Why worry about balancing the budget and making a state government work when Uncle Sam can bail you out?

As one Maryland State Senator put it recently: “It doesn't matter if Maryland's broke, as long as Obama's President.” (18)

Why worry, indeed.

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ARTICLES AND WEBPAGES CITED

1. Catherine Clifford, 43 states in financial trouble, http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/10/news/economy/state_budgets/index.htm?postversion=2008121016, (last updated Dec. 10, 2008).

2. Cinncinati.com, Strickland's bleak picture of Ohio, http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20081214/EDIT01/812140365/1019/EDIT, (last updated Dec. 14, 2008).

3. Jason Stein, Doyle Predicts $3 billion shortfall, http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local/30967, (Oct. 16, 2008).

4. Blake Murlock, State budget crunch: UA, social agencies, schools brace for worst, http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/local/73346.php,
(Jan. 6, 2008).

5. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Budget Summary: Governor's Message, http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/GovernorsMessage.pdf, (Jan. 9, 2009).


6. Allahpundit, HotAir.com, California goes bust: Tax refunds to be delayed, http://hotair.com/archives/2009/01/16/california-goes-bust-tax-refunds-to-be-delayed/, (Jan. 16th, 2009).

7. Patrick McGreevy, Welcome to Sacramento, and good luck, http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-me-legis1-2008dec01,0,5967301.story, (Dec. 1, 2008).

8. Chris Reed, U-T Opinion Online: America's Finest Blog, Tiny consolation: It's not the worst state budget ever, http://weblog.signonsandiego.com/weblogs/afb/archives/027502.html, (Sept. 16, 2008).

9. Ed Morissey, HotAir.com, California Joblessness Now Third in the Nation, http://hotair.com/archives/2008/11/22/california-joblessness-now-third-in-nation/, (Nov. 22, 2008).

10. Michael R. Blood, Go East, young man? Californians look for the exit, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090112/ap_on_re_us/fleeing_california_3, (Jan. 12, 2009).

11. John O'Connor, S.C. tax cuts get blame for budget woes, http://www.thestate.com/local/story/609108.html, (Dec. 3, 2008).

12. South Carolina Office of the Governor, Gov. Sanford Unveils 2009-10 Executive Budget, http://www.scgovernor.com/news/releases/01-09-09.htm, (Jan. 9, 2009).

13. Office of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008- Election Night Results- Proposition 3- Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program, http://vote.sos.ca.gov/Returns/props/map190000000003.htm (last Updated Nov. 26, 2008).

14. Office of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Voter Information Guide- Prop 3 Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program Initiative Statute, http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/title-sum/prop3-title-sum.htm (accessed Jan. 19, 2009).

15. Office of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008- Election Night Results- Proposition 1A- Safe, Reliable High-Speed Train Bond Act, http://vote.sos.ca.gov/Returns/props/map19000000001A.htm, (last updated Nov. 26, 2008).

16. Office of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Voter Information Guide- Prop 1 High Speed Rail Bonds Legislative Initiative Amendment, http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/title-sum/prop1-title-sum.htm, (accessed Jan. 19, 2009).

17. Haya El Nasser, Red ink overtakes state budgets, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2001/12/10/statebudgets-usat.htm, (last updated Dec. 9, 2001).

18. Allahpundit, Hotair.com, State senator: It doesn't matter if Maryland is broke as long as Obama's President, http://hotair.com/archives/2009/01/17/state-senator-it-doesnt-matter-if-marylands-broke-as-long-as-obamas-president/, (Jan. 17, 2009).