While Media Celebrate End of Shutdown, Hangover Sets In

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The Democrats and their allies in the media are celebrating a successfully ended partial government shutdown, one where few to no concessions were required of President Obama. Meanwhile, Obamacare remains intact, despite the fact that private-sector estimates show that less than 1%—a total of 36,000 people so far—of those entering the registration area of Healthcare.gov actually enrolled. But should Democrats really be celebrating? After all, they fought for the right to own Obamacare, with all its flaws, and more national debt with no new spending restraints.

The bill to end the shutdown, signed by President Obama, contains considerable pork barrel spending. It includes funds to fix roads in flooded Colorado, increased authorization for spending on construction on the lower Ohio River in Illinois and Kentucky, and “a one-time payment to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who died over the summer,” according to The Hill. It also includes “extra money to help the Veterans Affairs Department whittle down a backlog of disabilities claims,” according to an Associated Press article, which cited a list of other examples of pork that were included. With the administration’s record on handling veterans’ disability claims, it’s hard to argue with that particular item.

“A draft of the bill began circulating in the early evening, and a final version was released by Senate Democratic staff just before 6 p.m.” on Wednesday, reported The Hill. The final vote in the Senate that night was 81-18, and in the House, 285-144, thus ending the drama—at least for the time being.

Indeed, if NBC News is to be believed, a beleaguered Speaker of the House John Boehner will have his leadership questioned after this saga. In their piece, “GOP takes biggest hits from Washington standoff,” they argue that their flawed NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows “The standoff has nicked every Washington politician to some extent but it’s Republican leaders and the Tea Party who took the biggest hits.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie called the results of the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll “absolutely devastating to Republicans.”

There’s just one or two catches. First, as Bryan Preston of PJ Media pointed out, the poll grossly oversampled those with a connection to government, with 20% of respondents connected to government instead of the 8% nationwide average. In the question, “Do you or an immediate family member living with you work for the federal government or a state or local government?” 20% of those polled answered “Yes.”

After all, in a government shutdown poll, that doubling is going to make quite difference. Imagine if your wife or husband were furloughed, not to mention yourself. Wouldn’t that affect your opinion?

In addition, in weighting the poll even more than usual, 43% of the respondents self-identified as Democrats, and only 32% as Republicans, with 19% claiming to be “strictly Independent.”

And according to the liberal Huffington Post writers Mark Blumenthal and Emily Swanson, the question of “who is to blame” for the shutdown may “be the least reliable gauge of public opinion about the ongoing crisis.” The recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, allowed respondents to “‘check all that apply’ from a list of three choices: President Barack Obama, Republicans in Congress, and Democrats in Congress.”

“Initially, slightly more checked only Republicans (38 percent) than checked only Obama, only Democrats or both (34 percent),” they wrote. “After a follow-up probed further for the most responsible party, Americans split evenly (43 percent each) on whether Republicans or Democrats were to blame” (emphasis added). In other words, The Huffington Post found the American people divided over whom to blame for the shutdown. That’s after the biased media coverage in favor of Obama’s shenanigans and the media’s focus on Republican stonewalling by not pushing forward a budget deal.

“In the HuffPost/YouGov poll, 62 percent disapproved of Republicans in Congress, while 54 percent disapproved of Democrats in Congress and 53 percent said the same of Obama,” report Blumenthal and Swanson. While pundits are talking about how unpopular the Republican brand is, it should be remembered that in 2010, when Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress, and had passed Obamacare earlier in the year, Gallup showed Congress’s approval rating at 13%, at the time, “the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.” And that was when there was no gridlock. The Democrats had the run of the place.

But the biggest damage is to Speaker Boehner, according to NBC, which pronounces: “Boehner emerges from the ordeal mostly as he went in: his leadership hobbled and his credibility tarnished in the eyes of congressional Democrats and Obama. He refused to seek Democratic support for legislation to avoid or end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, instead choosing conservative proposals that prolonged the stalemate. While House conservatives show no signs of overthrowing their beleaguered speaker, Boehner’s ability to cut a deal and deliver Republican votes will be questioned for however long he hangs onto his gavel.”

What about Democrat stonewalling? And what about President Obama’s refusal to bargain? These are missing from NBC’s false narrative, which hangs all the blame around the Speaker’s and Congressional Republicans’ necks.

It is not for nothing that the New York Post reported on October 15 that close Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett is known as the “architect” of the shutdown. “It was Jarrett who advised Obama that voters would mostly blame Republicans if the federal government ground to a halt, providing a golden opportunity to swing back control of the House to Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections, according to [author Ed] Klein,” reports the Post.

What if the Republicans gain seats in the 2014 elections? What message will that send?

“She convinced the president that a government shutdown and default offered a great opportunity to demonize the Republicans and help the Democrats win back a majority in the House of Representatives in 2014,” said Klein, according to the Post.

As I pointed out in a previous column, The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior administration official as saying, “‘We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us’ how long the shutdown lasts ‘because what matters is the end result.’” This is hardly a conciliatory story from the side of Democrats; Senator Harry Reid shot down a number of bills from Republican House Members, bills that would have funded parts of the government during the shutdown. The President insisted on a “clean” bill before he would do any bargaining. And remember, the shutdown amounted to 17% of the federal government.

The end result, according to the liberal echo-chamber, is that Democrats won, and Republicans lost.

That does seem to be the case, given that the only concession Republicans reportedly received is that, according to The Hill, the law “including new rules for verifying household income to determine eligibility for subsidies to buy health insurance under ObamaCare…specifically requires the government to ‘certify to the Congress that the Exchanges verify such eligibility.’” But The Los Angeles Times reports that even that is an illusion, as the law’s actual deal on “income verification,” is that it “requires only that the secretary of Health and Human Services report to Congress by January 1, 2014 on the ‘procedures’ in place to verify eligibility for the subsidies, and by next July 1 report on their effectiveness.” And worse than that is the fact that the debt-ceiling hike is for a date, February 7th, not an amount that limits borrowing to a specific dollar amount. Instead, according to The Daily Caller, it just temporarily suspends enforcement of it until February 7th.

But this may turn out to be a short-term political victory. Again, it showed how uncompromising Obama was, that he led the world to believe he might default on our debts, and then cherry-picked items to shut down based on what he believed would cause the public the most pain. And of course he knew he could count on the media to embrace his narrative—that it was the Republicans who not only caused, but wanted the shutdown. In an article in Politico, titled “Anatomy of a Shutdown,” they cited Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as urging President Obama to not negotiate. “Reid nixed an idea in mid-September to invite the congressional leaders over to the White House for a talk. It sends the wrong message, Reid argued to Obama in a call. We shouldn’t even create the appearance of a negotiation.”

As argued before, default was never an option—and shouldn’t have been on the table, if Obama had been interested in furthering confidence in the markets. He could have guaranteed that the Treasury would have used its available cash to pay bondholders, regardless of the failure to extend the debt ceiling limit. But then, again, I guess I must be what Paul Krugman has been calling a “default denier.”

The big questions remain unanswered. Has Obama so burned the bridge with House Republicans, that he is effectively a lame duck? Is Obamacare such a “train wreck” and job destroying program that it will weigh so heavily for Democrats in the 2014 elections that Republicans gain seats in the House and take control of the Senate? Stay tuned.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.


Mark Levin – The Liberty Amendments – A Review

By: Gerald Loeffers

Hello everyone! I thought I would do my first book review. I just finished reading Mark Levin’s new book about upgrading the Constitution with more government restricting amendments — with the dreaded term limits included in these suggestions (about time). Now, I don’t know Mark Levin all that well, but what I do know of him is that he has studied and read a lot of the same histories and information that I have and he applies it to his everyday life. This new work of his has stirred up a major controversy which in this case should, but not in the way you think. These suggested new amendments would make a politician’s job a lot harder and less profitable and would keep his actions even more in check and in line as a public servant.

Mark has in his book 50 separate amendments that would add maybe 4 more pages to the Constitution. It starts with Terms limits and ends with voting procedures, and each one has historical background and research done to back them up. It shows the reasons why they’re necessary and even shows why due to the corrupt actions of both Congress and the courts. The book showcases some of the most unprecedented violations of the Constitution in the past 10 years alone. All of Levin’s arguments for each of the proposed amendments are very well thought out and footnoted with his vast knowledge of both recent and the Founder’s history exposing and giving all of his arguments clarity.

There are already critics on both sides that are pissed off at his new work… citing from the Conservative side, it is put forth that this will shred the Constitution, when in fact, it’s made only to simply upgrade without destroying it. These new amendments would give it strength and give the power back to the people as it should belong and not to the elite in Washington. Liberals are terrified of course of losing this power and reading this book made them know that the gig was up and that Levin had their number. So, of course they feared and loathed this book, which is full of empowering ideas that free up the people and give the Liberals pause.

What do you think? Do you think it’s time for a second Constitutional Convention and that we need to hammer out these new amendments and maybe give the people and the states their individual rights and powers back as the original intent was designed? I am still thinking on that myself, but I also know how slow things work and how many people enjoy sitting on a fence post for long periods of time. To be honest, trying to get this hammered out through Capitol Hill would take way too long and the ugly face of partisanship would show up and grind everything to a halt. We would need to get this done fast, but now the way things are, we have no time, unfortunately.


Dragon Day: Red Dawn for Intellectuals

By: James Simpson
American Thinker

China, by far the largest single owner of U.S. Treasury debt, has been abandoning Treasury bonds to invest directly in U.S. land, building and businesses. Recently, China entered an agreement with the European Union to swap currencies, forgoing purchases of U.S. dollars — the world’s reserve currency — to finance transactions. Both of these activities are a consequence of the risk associated with astronomical U.S. debt, almost doubled since President Obama took office. On October 11, China called for the world to be “de-Americanized,” its leaders ridiculing Washington over the shutdown impasse.

It is against this backdrop of real events that Dragon Day, a tense thriller set to release November 1st, depicts a Chinese takeover of the U.S. after our government defaults on its debt. Dragon Day Director Jeffrey Travis says, “When I would pitch the film to people, I could rarely finish the logline before the reaction was “Oh my God, that’s really going to happen”. Our joke was we had to finish the film before it became a documentary.

Given where we are today, that may not be so funny.

The story begins with Ex-NSA engineer Duke Evans, who has lost his job due to the continuing financial crisis. Forced to foreclose on his home, he resettles his family (wife, daughter and sister) in a mountain cabin inherited from his recently deceased grandfather. They have barely gotten in the door when things start happening. Lights go out, the TV goes blank and a huge airliner swoops by at treetop level, erupting in a fireball on the next mountain.

The Chinese have launched a cyber attack. A secret computer virus embedded in Chinese manufactured computer chips has allowed the Chinese military to turn them off remotely. America’s entire computer-based infrastructure comes screeching to a halt: power goes off, lights go out, autos and trucks stall, trains go off the rails and planes fall out of the sky.

Evans quickly understands what has happened. He was the NSA engineer who designed a secret government cyber warfare program he now realizes was compromised. He thought he was doing this for his country, but it turns out that many in government have been secretly working for the other side all along. TV service is temporarily restored, and the President announces what has happened, followed by an eerie red screen with the enemy flag symbol and announcement:

Evans destroys cell phones and anything else that can lead the enemy to his hideaway. The country quickly reverts to pre-industrial conditions, and the movie offers a fairly realistic window into what would actually happen in such a situation. Stores are ransacked. People begin to starve and die of thirst. Roving bands of thugs begin robbing and murdering.

Anarchy rules. But you are offered escape. If you willingly attach a “Citizen’s Freedom Band”, presumably you will be spared further anguish. Urgently needed food and water are just around the corner, so you think. But instead it proves to be a high tech dog collar which will kill you if you move out of your assigned zone. Surprisingly, the local sheriff’s office has a large supply of these, obviously obtained before the attack occurred.

Unlike Red Dawn and similar fare, there are no absurd heroics, or unrealistic depictions of the town forming a militia to fight off the Chinese hoards. This feels much more authentic. It depicts the kind of anarchy that reigns following major natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina. Individuals and small groups might band together for good or ill, but organized resistance is nil.

There is no ability to communicate or travel, and food and water are almost nonexistent. Many people do what average citizens would do facing starvation and uncertainty, they put on the bracelets. It becomes obvious that many within government at all levels have conspired with the enemy, but it also becomes obvious that for most, their treason will not pay off.

While some might take comfort in the fact that this is “just a movie,” according to Defense Tech, an American-designed, Chinese-made microchip used in defense applications was recently discovered to have a virus hardwired into it. The article states:

Basically, Chinese cyber spies can use the chip’s built-in malware to decipher military passcodes and gain remote access to the chip and reprogram it to do their bidding; ‘permitting a new and disturbing possibility of a large-scale Stuxnet-type attack via a network or the Internet on the silicon itself,’…

This discovery has led experts to worry that all Chinese manufactured chips may have similar vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, the events depicted in the movie are almost indistinguishable from what would happen following an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. EMP is the result of either an unusually large solar storm or high altitude detonation of an atomic bomb. It roasts electrical circuitry. As in the movie, aircraft would fall from the sky, transportation would cease, and energy, food and water supplies would vanish. Iran has conducted missile tests believed to be test runs for EMP attacks.

Evans’ neighbor Albert, a good friend of his deceased grandfather, has the only vehicle that still works, an old 1976 Ford truck, built before computer chips were used in autos, but this is quickly commandeered by the local police. Like most good characters in a movie however, the truck makes a reappearance later on.

There are some gimmicks the tech-savvy will enjoy. Albert brings over an old short wave radio, but the battery is dead. If Evans can just reach his old NSA boss, he knows he can get help. He rigs up a potato battery to run the radio. Don’t laugh; they work! The only thing that bothered me was where the heck did he get all those potatoes?

It also bothered me that they didn’t appear to be using the apparently plentiful potatoes as a source of food or water when these ran short. They could have, and did give a few potatoes to two kids who came to the door begging.

But this was a small detail. The movie was fast moving and kept me on the edge of my seat. I appreciated the realism. While watching Communist thugs getting blown away by vengeful high school kids in Red Dawn was gratifying, it was also unrealistic.

A genuine takeover would not go well for such resistors. Dragon Day depicted more of the things that would really happen: friends, neighbors and authorities turning against you — even the U.S. military, I am afraid to say, as would likely happen in such a situation. At least it would now that Obama has purged patriotic leaders from the military. This movie showed a family doing its best to innovate and survive in a chaotic situation — much more believable.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of it for you so I’ll just leave it there. If you are into this kind of survivalist, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it type film, Dragon Day will not disappoint. The acting is convincing and the entire storyline, right down to the way different people might react in such a situation, really rings true. With all the stuff going on around us in the real world, this movie is all the more frightening.

No sugarcoats here. See it in theaters November 1st. You can also get it on DVD, Blu-ray or USB wristband. They even have a “Government Shutdown” special!