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Where is the leadership?

Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, March 1, 2013.

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Before we turn to the business at hand, a personal note. The last person I would have expected to see at the final rally of the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign at SMU’s Moody Coliseum in Dallas was a renowned classical pianist. Republicans are not generally big with the glitterati of the arts. But there, directly behind me, sat Van Cliburn.

We claim Van Cliburn as an East Texas favorite son by virtue of his having grown up in Kilgore starting at age six. In 1958, the 23-year old Cliburn burst on to the world stage after having played this piece, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1, to an eight minute standing ovation at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, an event intended to showcase Soviet cultural superiority. Even Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev was on his feet and could offer no objection to giving the first prize in the competition to an American.

This recording of that concerto, made a few weeks later, became the first-ever million-selling classical album and Van Cliburn became a household name.

That Monday evening in November 2004 I found him to be a gracious and kind man with a warm smile and a sunny disposition.

Van Cliburn lost his battle with bone cancer on Wednesday at his home in Ft. Worth. He was 78.

Today marks the culmination of yet another “crisis.” This time, it’s the “sequester” – the name given a series of automatic, blunt force reductions in government spending. The sequester goes into effect today. It is a crisis because it operates, by design, more or less across the board. It was intended to be painful to Democrats because of its impact on spending that Democrats favor, such as social programs; and painful to Republicans because of its impact on Republican-favored spending such as defense.

The president of late has been on the stump warning of everything from mass layoffs of teachers to hours-long flight delays that he says will happen as a result of the sequester.

The sequester came to be as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, itself the culmination of a crisis.

In July 2011 the federal government was on the brink of maxing out the federal credit card. That crisis is called hitting the “debt ceiling.” It’s that point in time when Congress, with its power over the purse, must authorize more borrowing so that the government will have cash to cover payroll and pay bills.

This past December, as we were trying to get in the mood for Christmas, we had the crisis called “the fiscal cliff.” That crisis centered on the fact that the tax rates enacted during the Bush administration were about to revert to those that were in effect during the Clinton years. In simple terms, it meant that every taxpayer was about to get a huge tax increase. At the same time, government spending was set to be slashed by sequestration.

That crisis was averted, in part, by putting off sequestration until today.

(Are you confused yet?)

The good news is that we won’t have a crisis again for another 26 days. That’s when the government again hits the debt ceiling.

The word for all of this is “chaos” and the country is growing weary of it. Chaos has taken the place of energy and direction and national purpose. It is coming to define the Obama presidency.

The president blames Congress; congressional Democrats blame Republicans; Republicans blame Democrats, including the president.

For my part I say a pox on all of their houses, for your part, I invite you to place blame wherever you see fit – with this caveat.

Whenever there is chaos it is appropriate to look to the guy at the top. In this case, that guy is Barack Obama. Above all, it is the president’s job to lead and Barack Obama is choosing not to.

It is hard for me to imagine the country lurching as it is from ceiling to cliff to looming catastrophe under Ronald Reagan. I don’t believe he would have ever let it happen.

But lest you dismiss my belief as that of a partisan, I will go on to say that I don’t think that Bill Clinton would have ever let it happen, either.


  1. Mark Olinger says:

    As a country we have serious challenges ahead of us at the national level. There is a panic bubbling to the surface in Washington, D.C. This panic is being spread by the media and those who hold public office and is being brought about by the so-called sequester (a made up term or gimmick), scheduled to take effect today.

    Instead of urging Senate Democrats to pass a replacement for the upcoming sequester, President Obama traveled everywhere but to the Senate.

    Over the past two weeks, President Obama has traveled more than 5,000 miles across the country on a campaign to raise taxes. In his campaign-style speeches, he denounces the sequester a series of automatic across-the-board spending reductions. The sequester remains a gimmick our elected leaders came up with in 2011 to force themselves to reach some kind of long-term deficit reduction deal.

    The House has passed two replacement plans with smarter spending cuts and reforms. Unfortunately, the President refused to meet with idle Senate Democrats on a replacement plan, choosing to campaign instead for tax hikes; until today.

    Yet the President traveled thousands of miles to push tax increases instead of responsible cuts to replace his sequester.

  2. Linda E. Montrose says:

    obama is doing just as he did in the senate when voting “present”. Course, obama WANTS the US to go over the cliff…so much easier to take over when there is a panic situation. obama never has been a “leader” just as he has never had any business being in the oval office! As far as blame goes…the WHOLE body of congress is responsible for what has happened because NO ONE has done the JOB they were ELECTED to do. First thing was when no one had the backbone to do what was right and investigate obama and his eligibility issues. NOW we are paying the price…and I DO MEAN PAYING the PRICE! That PRICE goes up every day obama remains where he is!

  3. Danny Malone says:

    Paul,

    From my first meeting with you, at the table at the Rotary Club of Tyler, I’ve always been impressed with your intelect.

    I remember you speaking about your first job. When I was speaking about the impact of Obama’s decree about changing overtime rules (sustained by the Supreme Court in 3 separate decisions) I remeber well, “When I got my first opportunity, I gladdly took it, I didn’t care what I got paid. I was happy for the opportunity to learn from someone who could guide my career.”

    I say let the cuts come. Greece is just around the corner for the US, if no person will buy our bonds. Sequestration is difficult, but we must bear it along with other items if we want to fend off the foes our Grandfathers fouught: opresssion from the government that offered the elixer to the masses.

  4. I just think that if this country has a chance we are going to have to start all over again.We have to get rid of these career politicians,judges that have a lifetime appointment on the bench has to be over.Congress should only be allowed 4 2year terms,Senate 2 6 year terms,President 2 4 year terms and judges 2 4 year terms.We have to clean Washington D.C. out of Special Interest.Each and everyone of us has to decide if we love this country or love what the government can give us from the hard work of others.

  5. Dave Wickham says:

    You are right to lay the cause of the current chaos at the feet of the president. However, you should also realize he is doing exactly what he wants to do. Fundamentally transforming our country into a Marxist-lite state. He is successful in his quest, so far. Study Cloward – Piven and Rules For Radicals.

  6. I think the Democrats made a mistake with sequestration. It’s not a real cut in spending. It’s a reduction of an increase in spending and it’s all grand theater. The Dems are weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth and threatening to cut jobs. It’s not necessary. Just leave every department’s budget where it is until the economy turns around. None of the rest of us are getting raises. Why should the government. As it is they still are getting more money, just not as much as they wanted.

    That’s what happens when you blow your budget. You cut back.

    Tom

  7. C M Solomon says:

    “Leadership” is in the eye of the beholder. The Democrat and Socialist believers in the Marxist collective ideology are pleased with ANY method no matter how corrupt, if the advancement of BIG GOVERNMENT to “fix” the “evils” of a free enterprise society can be forced upon the ignorant population that already has too much freedom.

    The normal rules of fiscal responsibility don’t apply if the end game is TOTAL government management of everyday commerce (lifestyles) from cradle to grave. Massive currency devaluation and/or astronomical inflation accelerate the takeover of government financed wealth as personal wealth disappears. This is the “leadership” that is taught in most of the halls of the Liberal/Socialist conclaves that have no problem with tyranny by the “right” rulers.

    Obama’s transformation of the remaining Constitutional American society into a lawless Ruler oriented Collectivist society, i.e., Marxist dominated and managed society, is in fact his well-practiced plan. Just look at history to see how other demagogs have done it.

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