Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category.
In his article Vladimir Putin, Russian Neo-Con Atlantic contributing editor Peter Beinart takes neo-cons to task for exhibiting the same focus on military strength and ignoring economic power as Vladimir Putin. “In his approach to foreign policy, Vladimir Putin has a lot in common with those very American hawks (or “neocons” in popular parlance) who revile him most.”
Neo-cons revile Putin the most? Seriously? Beinart clearly doesn’t understand neo-cons at all.
To put it bluntly hawks respect other hawks not doves.
Neo-cons don’t revile Putin. Sure they think he’s a warmongering Russian leader who must be confronted by a strong American and European response, but “revile” him? Absolutely not. The neo-cons see Putin as a man who has been dealt a very poor hand but who has played it brilliantly. He has maintained power in a country with more ethnic, racial, political, economic, and social fault lines than any other nation on the planet. His opponents are vastly richer than his nation, yet he has been able to divide them in ways that are diabolical or brilliant depending on your perspective. America has the largest standing army on the planet yet Putin has managed to hold it at bay in Syria, and is able to bully and invade his neighbors with impunity as shown in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine today.
This doesn’t mean that neo-cons want to see Putin win in Ukraine or Syria. They still want to see him defeated. But in Putin they see a man who thinks like they do, who feels a deep sense of duty to his country and is willing to do whatever it takes to make his country great again. They may disagree with his actions, but they don’t question his motives.
Neo-cons revile the likes of President Obama and his administration. They detest the thinking so prominent in academia here and among European statesmen that the solution to every problem can be resolved through talking, and that war is an anachronism with no place in the modern world. They hate the assumption that underlays the thinking of the western intelligentsia, that nationalism is dead and borders are the last impediment to a new transnational utopia. And they especially loathe the attitude that words matter more than actions; Obama’s empty rhetoric is despised much more than Putin’s use of his military.
The truth is that if neo-cons could find an American version of Vladimir Putin they would do whatever it took to put him in the White House. Thanks to Putin people fear Russia in ways they no longer fear the United States, a fact that progressives who detest neo-cons don’t quite understand because they don’t see the world as Putin and the neo-cons see it: a zero sum game with winners and losers. Putin will do what it takes to see that Russia wins, and neo-cons respect that.
Zombie has a thought-provoking article on the racist origins of popular progressive dogma. In the article he presents the topic, a neutral description of the topic, the progressive justification for the topic, the conservative thought behind the progressive justification, and the true racist reason underlying the policy. While some of the racist reasons seem a bit over-the-top, most are spot on and worth considering. The best one by far is abortion. Zombie notes:
The movement to legalize abortion was from its inception intended as a way to decrease the black and minority population, and the statistics show that a highly disproportionate percentage of aborted babies are black. The desire to preserve “racial purity” and to prevent over-breeding of the “lower” races and classes was the overt and publicly pronounced goal of the pro-abortion progressive eugenics campaign in the early 20th century; only after eugenics fell from public favor did the leftists devise deceptive new narratives to justify abortion. White progressives still believe that blacks cannot control their sexuality and are too irresponsible to use birth control reliably, so the only way to keep them from overpopulating is to keep abortion legal and cheap or free.
Given that in abortions outnumber live birth in New York City and in the state of Mississippi for blacks, can one be racist for opposing a practice that reduces the African-American population? Margaret Sanger is considered a saint by progressives who vehemently defend her against her own deeds (speaking to the Ku Klux Klan about eugenics and abortion) and her own words supporting race-based eugenics. I in fact view Sanger as a product of her time who should not be judged by today’s standards. Eugenics was commonly accepted across the political spectrum at the time, and her racist attitude didn’t deviate from the norms of her era. But to accept such a notion flies in the face of liberal ideology that disparages historical people by judging them by contemporary liberal standards, outright condemning Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves instead of celebrating his achievement of advancing the cause of Democracy and free thought at a time when both were almost non-existent. So Sanger’s past must be re-written and the lies vigorously defended by all means fair and foul instead of judging her by the standards of her own era which, while nowhere near aa saintly are perhaps also not as diabolical as conservatives would like to believe.
It’s interesting that some people truly believe I am racist because I am troubled by these abortion statistics. I am racist because I believe blacks have the same abilities as I do. I am racist because I believe blacks can achieve more without being under the thumb of the government just as whites can. Even living with blacks in the South or working with them in Africa does not insulate me from the label “racist” tossed at me by people who send their children to private all-white schools and whose friends and neighbors are the same skin color. We truly live in paradoxical times.
Movie mogul and liberal advocate Harvey Weinstein thinks California tax payers should pony up to keep Hollywood moguls like him making movies in California as opposed to places like New Orleans.
Nothing is stopping him from keeping the movies that he funds shooting in Los Angeles. If he wanted to he could pay the higher salaries demanded by movie production teams in Hollywood and support the Californian economy. But to do that he’d lose a few percent of his profits. Weinstein doesn’t want to do that. To keep his profits intact he wants Californian hairdressers, bus drivers, and office workers to pay up so that he can afford to live the life he’s become accustomed to.
Terms like “tax credits” and “tax breaks” are used to soften the blow to taxpayers. They make it sound as if no one’s hurt, that they aren’t somehow “real” and that everyone wins. But what these payments are are bribes to do business in the state. Unlike the federal government states cannot print money to handle short-falls, and must either cut services to citizens or make them pay more for them. The pot of money is fixed. When Hollywood is provided a $100 million tax break, that $100 million must come from somewhere. Someone is going to get laid off; someone is going to have to pay more money come tax time to the State. Rest assured that someone is NOT Harvey Weinstein.
There is no doubt that states are engaged in bribing businesses to come to their state, and a good argument can be made that such bribes should be made illegal by federal law. The problem is that such behavior is so common and is not limited to Hollywood. NFL and MLB teams are wooed with tax payer “incentives” to build stadiums or move teams even though the benefit of such building or moves flows mostly to the Billionaires Club of team owners. States also compete against each other for factories and other economic “engines” from near or far abroad instead of investing in small businesses at home who are unlikely to pull-up stakes when the next big offer comes from a distant right-to-work state.
Weinstein won’t admit it, but the reason California has become uncompetitive to southern states like Georgia and Louisiana where Hollywood is outsourcing much of its production work has to do with the politics that he supports. Economic regulations beloved by liberals of Weinstein’s ilk have driven up the cost of doing business in California to the point where CEOs have ranked the state the worst to do business in – eight times in a row. Weinstein can’t blame Tea Partiers for this because they don’t exist in his state. He can’t blame the GOP because the state has been ruled by Democrats for almost a generation (Schwarzenegger was as much a Republican as Zell Miller was a Democrat).
As a former Californian I am disgusted by what has happened to the state under this political leadership. The state, once a land of opportunity, has become a feudal state of the super-wealthy and the serfs who support them. The middle class no longer exists. Add in the in-bred, monoculture of the leftist leadership of the state which celebrates diversity in everything but political thought, and it’s going to be a very long time before I return to a state that I once taught to foreigners as epitomizing America. Now it’s closer to Putin’s Russia in almost all areas except religion and attitudes towards gays.
I think it’s time Hollywood paid its fare share, but it won’t. Governor Moonbeam will simply pass more taxpayer dosh to his political supporters like Weinstein from the public kitty, then conveniently forget about their cost the next time the state budget has a Arizona-sized hole in it. And liberals like Weinstein will keep spreading the progressive dream from his kingdom to the rest of the country.
I grew up a Democrat, and although my party affiliations have since changed (and may change back given the stupidity shown by the current GOP leadership) certain Democratic ideals and icons still resonate me with. Sure John F. Kennedy cheated on his wife and wasn’t very effective at getting his legislation passed in Congress, but he did inspire generations of people who came after him. He promised to go to the moon by the end of the 1960’s, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” He stood at the erection of the Berlin Wall, saying “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”” just as Reagan would stand a generation later shortly before it’s destruction saying “President Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Growing up in our modest home that my Depression era parents purchased with 90% down (because they feared debt in a way later generations cannot yet fathom), I remember a heavy wrought iron plaque of JFK mixed in with paintings of the Blessed Virgin and Sacred Heart, emblazoned with the words “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” It’s a statement that I know so well I didn’t need to look it up. It’s ingrained in my memory and the memories of many, which shouldn’t be surprising since Kennedy’s Inauguration Speech is considered one of the greatest speeches in American history. It’s not as memorable or brief as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, nor is it as important to our history as the vision laid out in Washington’s Farewell Address, but that single sentence alone catapults it into the pantheon of important and inspiring words for lovers of liberty to know by heart.
I think about Kennedy’s words a lot these days. They came to mind on Friday evening when the Wife was home late from the office after filling out paperwork for some of her Medicaid patients. She has a whole slew of patients who are grossly (in every sense of the word) obese, depressed and on public assistance. She being the liberal care-giver she is does her best to help these people, but she cannot say to them what they truly need to hear: that nearly all of their problems would be solved if they lost weight and got off the taxpayer’s dime.
We did not evolve to become the fat couple I saw at Wal-mart Saturday night: the 400+ lb wife in a scooter-cart being filled by her 300 lb husband. Now I am by no means a food nazi; if you want to drink a gallon of Pepsi flavored with high fructose corn syrup everyday until your toes fall off, then knock yourself out – that is, as long as you’re not on public assistance. If you are, then guess what? People like me have a right to what you shove into your pie hole.
If you weigh over 300 lbs and aren’t a Sumo wrestler, a linebacker or over 7 feet tall, you’ve got a problem. A weight problem. No amount of anti-depressants that doctors like my wife prescribe is going to make you happy; no windfall from the Federal Government will ever be enough to make you feel good about yourself. We evolved in the African savannah and prospered in Asia, Europe and the Americas because we could move and fend for ourselves. Spear a mammoth and running it down with your buddies provided immense personal satisfaction. Finding a hidden supply of food in the forest and giving it to your kids went a long way to chase away the blues. Our Pleistocene ancestors didn’t have paxil, klonopin, or xanax. They moved their bodies. They walked, ran, lifted, hefted, jumped, threw, stooped, crawled, jogged, swam, and swung. They were highly motivated: If they didn’t something ate them.
When I watched the fat guy waddle down the aisle and knock a box of powdered donuts into his wife’s scooter-cart with a laugh and what appeared to me to be some type of satisfaction over his athletic prowess, I didn’t feel the pity that my wife feels for her obese patients. I felt anger. It’s not a secret that sugar soft drinks and sweets make it easy to pack on the pounds, and it’s not Wal-Mart’s job to keep the junk off the shelves. You can become as fat as you want, but don’t expect to be happy. Nothing my wife prescribes will do more than take the edge off your sadness and self-hatred. And here’s where Kennedy comes back into my screed.
Kennedy saw the wisdom of service. He didn’t say the reverse, “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.” This is exactly what the Democratic Party has evolved into and one of the reasons I left it. We as free human beings are not meant to be served, we are meant to serve. It’s healthier to think about and fulfill the needs of others than it is to focus on one’s own self, a fact lost in today’s narcissistic culture. I still remember the day I truly became an adult. It was the day that I accepted I was going to become a father. Prior to that day my life had been about me; after it my life revolved around my child and the family that supported him. After that everything became different; I saw the world in a completely new way and was a better man for it. Thinking about others and doing for others won’t cure all of one’s ills, but it’s a start. Given studies have shown antidepressants to be only slightly better than placebos at best and sometimes make depression worse for some, building a life focused on service is a cheap way to fight depression and anxiety.
Notice how Kennedy did not use the word government either. He didn’t say, “Ask what you can do for your government.” Since taking over the White House the Democratic Party has worked overtime to equate the two in our minds, labeling Tea Party supporters and others opposed to the current regime as racist, extremist or unpatriotic. It’s not much different from what the Bush White House and the GOP did for those opposed to the war in Iraq, so both parties will wrap themselves in the mantle of “country” if we let them.
But America is bigger than our government and Kennedy knew it. America is a country that doesn’t exclude anyone. It transcends any divide that we throw at it. Gays or Straights? Americans. Muslims or Jews? Americans. Tobacco-spitting Rednecks or Arugula Eating Vegans? Americans. He wasn’t asking for each of us to serve our government, or our particular social group. He was asking us to serve America, to act and make our country with all its diversity and differences better. Action. Movement. Doing these it’s hard to be fat, but doing nothing, sitting back and waiting for the government to give us “free s**t” will deaden our souls.
I truly believe our nation under the Democrats has lost its way. John F. Kennedy was a Democrat yet his message today transcends both parties. Asking what one can do for one’s country sounds positively subversive these days when we don’t equate “country” with “government”. Such statements are only found among Tea Partiers, and both parties loath them. After all the GOP has not tasked us to act to make America better; they’re just looking to switch out the Democrats in Washington DC and get the same perks the current administration has.
But we Americans can do better than that. We can serve one another with a spirit that Kennedy believed when he said those words and Americans of all political stripes can share. We just need to get off our butts and move. For years we’ve grown flabby; it’s time we acted.
A long time ago I wrote a fiction novel. 120,000 words whittled down from about 175k. It turns out it wasn’t any good although looking at it now some 20 years later it does have its moments. A nice turn of phrase here, an interesting description there. Although it was never published it was written and stands complete. For a week I outlined the novel, sometimes working on chunks then arranging those into a puzzle with pieces missing. I then added scenes to link these chunks together to create a narrative that I thought made sense. After another week or so of arranging the outline, I sat down and every day wrote 2,500-4,000 words, starting at one in the outline and ending at the next. By following the outline and writing from one element to the next, focusing only on the goals laid out in the outline while avoiding detours caused by tangents that weren’t relevant to the plot or the characters, within eight weeks I had completed a rough draft of the novel. I then spent the next four years editing and revising it, reviewing and rereading and re-everything , doing anything I could think of to make the novel shine. But it never did. It was still terrible. Hackneyed and predictable plot. Unbelievable characters who would be complimented by being called “two dimensional.”
Fast forward two decades and I’ve achieved my dream of being a paid writer. Sort of. As a systems analyst in the financial industry I am paid to write requirements documents and detailed software specifications. I have put together specs longer than my novel that could be measured by their thickness in inches if anyone dared print them out (people stopped doing that about 10 years ag0.) I have also put together specs that could fit into a PowerPoint presentation with enough space for goofy stick figure clip art. What differentiates the two is not my writing skills or even the size of the project: it’s the software methodology used by the institution.
Basic software design follows this process: People get together and decide on a solution to a problem they have and create a set of business objectives. A typical business objective that I deal with might be, “Let’s cut down the time it takes to report on delinquent accounts to senior management.” These objectives then determine the business requirements (the “what” of the project) which determine the functional requirements (“how” the business requirements are achieved), followed by the detailed design specs which tell the developers and coders what they need to build. The coders then code following the design spec and afterward conduct basic tests on their code to make sure it functions. The testers then work backwards, creating a test plan based on the functional requirements, then actually test what has been coded to make sure what the developers and coders coded actually matches what was laid out in the functional requirements specifications. Wrap the whole thing in a traceability matrix that ties the project objectives to the business requirements to the functional requirements to the tech specs to the testing documents, add in issues tracking for the inevitable bugs found and corrected before rollout, and you have a software project.
In software design there are two fundamental methodologies: “waterfall” and “iterative.” Waterfall methodology uses the metaphor of a series of waterfalls with one waterfall feeding another downstream. This requires all the project objectives to be clearly defined at the beginning of the project, the “waterfall top.” It assumes that you know everything there is to no about your business environment and needs up-front. The objectives cascade down to the business analysts who develop the business requirements before passing the documentation to the systems analysts, who produce the functional specs. Each team member does his or her assigned task without input from those who created the documentation “up stream” and is not involved in the consumption of the spec s/he creates by “downstream” developers, coders and testers. Once you produce your delivery artifact, the requirements document or functional spec for example, your role on that project is complete and the documents you created are expected not to change.
The iterative methodology starts with the business objectives, but instead of defining them all so that they can be codified into requirements, the expectation is that they will change and be added to throughout the process. In contrast to the waterfall methodology, the expectation is built into the process that you do not know everything about a particular system or business process at the project’s beginning, and you will learn as you go along. Documentation for these types of projects tend to be brief with lots of edits and versioning.
There are several different types within each methodology. Common iterative approaches are “Agile“, the first true iterative methodology developed in the early 1970s and “Extreme Programming,” developed in the 1990s but based on lessons learned during the Apollo space program. Some try to combine aspects of both methodologies. For example Scrum, an iterative methodology, takes what I consider a more waterfall approach by breaking up business objectives and spreading them throughout a project. This provides a more flexible approach to meeting a particular business requirement without changing the business objectives set at the project beginning which do not change through the project.
Most software projects fail. The reasons for these failures depend on who you talk to. As an analyst I often blame poor requirements documentation and questionable analytical techniques as well as spaghetti coding by developers who never invested time in reading the requirements and testers who were more concerned about ticking off check boxes than they were in actually using their brains and finding errors. But by far the greatest source of project failure is upstream with the decisions made by the business at the project’s inception.
What got me thinking about all this was an excellent piece by Clay Shirky on the failure of the Obamacare website. He cites Waterfall methodology. “The preferred method for implementing large technology projects in Washington is to write the plans up front, break them into increasingly detailed specifications, then build what the specifications call for. It’s often called the waterfall method, because on a timeline the project cascades from planning, at the top left of the chart, down to implementation, on the bottom right.”
Waterfall methodology has its place, although where that place is eludes me right now. The problem I have with waterfall is that it’s great for simple projects with a small set of clearly definable project goals and requirements. But complexity demands too much from the methodology which is why I find its pure form so rarely used in design these days. Most projects I’m involved are huge project impacting numerous business lines, data warehouses, and outside vendors. It is impossible for management to know all there is to know about their own business processes and systems, and the smart managers don’t even try. They speak in very broad, general terms and leave the impacted technical teams to hash out the details. That “hashing out” usually requires in depth analysis and reverse-engineering of the impacted systems designed by developer no longer with the institution from poorly detailed and written specs that were stored on someone’s hard drive that got wiped once they quit.
Shirky continues, writing, “By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.”
This is a particular conceit of the Obama administration and bureaucrats in particular. One of my core beliefs is that the Law should leave a “light footprint” on a free society. It is impossible for legislators to write laws that are capable of responding to every circumstance, therefore laws should be written carefully to give the citizenry the benefit of the doubt, and give prosecutors and judges latitude to decide violations of the law on a case-by-case basis. It’s one reason why I oppose mandatory sentencing rules and making abortion illegal even though I recognize it as murder. Unfortunately legislators and bureaucrats don’t see their job that way. They strive to make new laws and write new regulations instead of making those that exist more effective and less onerous on the citizenry.
In the case of Obamacare the Obama administration thought it understood how to design software. It is a typical show of arrogance coming from the administration who brought us the “Reset with Russia” resulting in a new Cold War, supported the Arab Spring which has resulted in everyone in Egypt hating America instead of the two-thirds of Egyptians who hated us prior to the Obama administration, and now the Iranian Nuke Deal which results in Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Giving this administration power was like giving hookers, cocaine, cars and guns to a group of teenagers. It’s going to take decades to undo the damage this administration has caused.
But in the meantime we have Obamacare. As the one lemming said to the others, “Forward!”
Man I love liberals. Seriously. They are so cute when they are being stupid.
Take for example the New York Times and the issue of the filibuster. The filibuster is a Senate rule that requires a “super-majority” of 60% or higher to pass legislation. The filibuster has existed for 225 years for presidential nominations as the Washington Post notes, but the Democratic-controlled Senate is about to end that precedent.
Today the New York Times editorial page supports this “return to Democracy,” writing, “Democrats made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.”
Of course Matt Drudge links immediately below this story to another New York Times editorial, this one from March 29, 2005, when the Republicans controlled the Senate and the Democrats were in the minority. In 2005 the New York Times editorial board wrote that it had made a mistake when it supported ending the filibuster in 1994. That year the Democrats also controlled the Senate and the Republican minority used the filibuster to throw out judicial appointments made by President Clinton. The 2005 New York Times wrote, “A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the “nuclear option” in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton’s early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it’s obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.”
So think about it: The New York Times supports decreasing the power of the minority when that minority is the Democratic Party. When the Democrats are in the majority, let majority rule!
I personally believe the Republicans should not make much out of this change at this time. Why? Because I expect the GOP to retake the Senate after next year’s election, and making too much noise detracts from the ongoing White House scandals and the debacle of Obamacare.
Think about it: in less than 1 1/2 years the Republicans will not only get the Senate majority, they will get the new Senate Majority 2.0 thanks to the actions of the current majority Democrats. It’s a gift the GOP should thank their Democratic colleagues in private for all the while publicly denouncing – just not too loudly.
The recent government shutdown once again raised the idea of a Republican Civil War between moderates and conservatives within the party. This idea is carried forward in a profile of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie written by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough for Time Magazine. He argues that Christie’s cake-walk re-election this week came about because he “dominated the middle of a Democratic electorate.”
To win again—to make America great and growing again—requires a return to the spirit and substance of Eisenhower and Reagan. We Republicans will not win national elections if we do not broaden our appeal in the way these giants did. Nor will we govern well if we refuse to make principled compromises when necessary, the kinds of compromises that led Ike and Reagan to historical greatness.
Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage Mag disagrees with this approach, writing, “The Republican Party has allowed its enemies to define it. Its moderation has convinced voters that it’s crazy and dangerous because without raising its voice and fighting back, the only things they know about it comes from its enemies.”
Who is right? Should the Republican Party abandon its conservative Tea Party base and embrace moderation, by supporting a liberal Republican like Christie, or should the Party ignore the calls for moderation and follow a more ideological path by selecting a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz to bear the party’s standard in 2016?
Let me begin by stating I like Chris Christie. I disagree with him on many issues, in particularly his stance on guns, but if he’s the nominee I will support him, and not because I’m a good little Republican. I like his willingness, eagerness really, to bait his opponents in a fight. His aggression is something we have lacked in candidates with a few flashes from Michelle Bachmann, and the exception of Newt Gingrich, who catapulted himself to front-runner status after taking on CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a debate Cooper was moderating. The GOP base feels that the Republican Party establishment has been playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules in a street fight. Somewhere along the line, I’d guess the death of Lee Atwater, the Republican Party lost the stomach to do anything and everything to win an election. This spirit is not lacking in their Democratic opponents. The Democrats will do anything to attain and keep power. It’s like a football game between the New England Patriots and your local high school’s JV team. You can show all the heart on the field you want, but you’re still going to lose. Christie has that heart but he also knows the sport and plays it like a professional. He doesn’t just respond, he eviscerates. He uses both his size and his New Jersey accent as weapons, and he would shred just about any Democratic candidate in the debates.
But I am not convinced picking Christie as the nominee will win the GOP the White House.
The problem as I see it is that while he might may have dominated a Democratic electorate in New Jersey in his 2013 re-election, he likely won’t do the same nationally in 2016. The Democrats knew he had a lock on the governorship, which is why they didn’t put up much of a fight or waste money supporting his challenger. This will not be the case in 2016. Then he will face a Democratic electorate unified in its quest to control the White House for another 8 years. Liberal interest groups will open their checkbooks, as will billionaires like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg. And unless the Republican party and its allies mount an effective campaign to neutralize the air cover provided by the mainstream media for the Democratic candidate as Bill Whittle at Bamboo Spears warns, the Democratic Party will control the public perception of the Republican nominee. Whittle writes, “If you are fighting a conventional war and you do not own the skies, you are going to lose.” Picking Christie would be fighting a conventional war.
Today Christie is perceived by the media as a tough talking leader of a tough state, able to twist arms and get things done. Come election day 2016, he will be a “racist, 1% supporting, woman hating, gay bashing, right wing extremist. Did we mention he was fat? Gross…” Can’t happen? It already has. The Democrats and their allies in the media took a popular liberal Republican governor of a Blue State with the same “bipartisan” getting things done record and turned him into a caricature that Romney himself didn’t recognize. In fact, it’s the same playbook used against John McCain in 2008 except that McCain’s bipartisan record and legislative successes occurred in the Senate and not the state house. There’s already proof it’s happening as John Nolte at Breitbart.com noticed with the “Elephant in the Room” Time cover, concerns about his health, and weight jokes. “The media love Christie when he is hugging Barack Obama and trashing conservatives. But the media also know that he is about to threaten Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the White House. By laying the groundwork with the weight issue now, the media hope to turn Christie into a national fat joke as a way to undermine his candidacy.”
And before I go much further let’s stop the pretense. No more “Democratic candidate;” everyone knows that the Democratic candidate will be Hillary Clinton. The time has finally come for the Democratic Party to wield that old battle axe in battle that it has been itching to do since 2000.
The Democratic Party Lesson
The success of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 began on January 19, 2004 in West Des Moines Iowa with a concession speech by Howard Dean. Dean, recovering from a severe bout of the flu, was shouting over the cheers of his audience using a uni-directional microphone that filtered out the sound of the audience. In the speech Dean sounded possessed, his voice cracking when he screamed “Yeah!” at the end became known as the “Dean Scream.” Howard Dean, who had run an insurgent, grass-roots campaign against the Democratic establishment candidates of John Kerry and John Edwards, was left vulnerable.
Dean had raised millions through small internet donations, a first in a presidential election in the United States. He energized the liberal base of the party who had always opposed the Iraq War that both Kerry and Edwards had voted for in 2002. His supporters and volunteers were young and enthusiastic, striking some in the establishment as almost “cult-like”. Deans meteoric rise in the fall of 2003 scared the Democratic establishment. They saw Dean as unelectable in the general election, an extremist that President Bush would turn into a George McGovern surrogate in a re-run of the 1972 election. Dean had to be stopped, so the establishment began leaking unflattering stories to the press, blunting Dean’s candidacy around the holiday season. But the Deaniacs remained devoted, distrusting the Democratic Party establishment just as much as the Tea Partiers dislike the GOP establishment today.
When Dean screamed, the Democratic establishment pounced, and within days Howard Dean had flamed out. With Howard Dean gone, so was the enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, culminating in the awkward “Reporting for duty” quip by John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The establishment ran an establishment-designed and executed campaign, and the base never got behind it. Kerry lost.
But Howard Dean wasn’t done. Within weeks of the inauguration of President George W. Bush to a second term, Dean focused on becoming the chairman of the DNC. Again the Democratic establishment opposed him in his effort; rumors are both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi fought his candidacy. But Dean had the votes this time, and he won. Suddenly the candidate of the liberal grassroots, the outsiders arrayed against the establishment, became the establishment.
Dean took the party’s apparatus and immediately put it to work. He focused on the grassroots, ironically using a strategy first employed by the Republican Party regrouping after Vietnam and the Nixon resignation in the 1970s known as the “50 State Strategy.” This channeled the energy of the grassroots to the benefit of all political levels within each state. A feature of this strategy was to replace moderates and conservatives within the party who tended towards compromise or bi-partisan solutions with dogmatic liberals dedicated to pushing the liberal agenda beloved by the grassroots. The result was a party purged of its pro-life, pro-2nd amendment, free-trade and middle-class supporting, environmentally-agnostic members. Losing conservative and members of the party shifted its balance ideologically from center-left to the hard left, leaving the Democratic Party today more liberal than at any time in its history.
It worked. Not only did Dean’s strategy net the party the White House in 2008, it also gained them both houses of Congress. The Democratic Party did not gain control of two of the three branches of American government by running the most moderate or conservative candidates: it won by running the most liberal politicians dedicated to the principles of the Party. For the presidency the extremists who had lost in 2004 had backed Barack Obama by almost 2-1 versus the more moderate John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Obama’s election, engineered by Howard Dean’s amazing rebound after his early 2004 collapse, stands as one of the greatest examples of a grassroots movement outwitting the establishment and achieving victory in recent history.
Republicans would be stupid not to heed it, but we all know who the stupid party is in American politics.
The Game Changer
Charles Krauthammer believes soul searching by the Republican Party isn’t necessary. Its principles are sound; there is no need to kick the Tea Party caucus out of the party and reinvent itself.
The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.
Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!
More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.
Krauthammer recommends a single policy change. Embrace amnesty for illegal immigrants but do so after securing the border. Announce complete amnesty; anyone here will become citizen no fine print, no qualifiers. The only string is that the border must be secured first and it has to be secured properly. The Israelis have done it on a smaller scale using walls, electronic sensors and drones. We could do the same, and once that is done if you are here that’s it: You’re a citizen.
Living with Hispanics as I do in rural North Carolina I’m amazed the Democratic Party thinks they are natural Democrats. Hispanics are culturally conservative, more conservative in some respects than red-necks and the NASCAR crowd the liberal elite likes to make fun of. They are religious and family-centric. They are industrious and have an innate distrust of the government after having experienced the ineffectual, corrupt and oppressive governments in Central America. In short they are natural Republicans. But they have voted Democratic because of the Republican stance on illegal immigration and because the GOP has bought the Democrat’s narrative that they own that minority.
So change the political dynamic using the Secure-Amnesty approach. It would be a classic bit of political jujitsu; all the effort the Democratic Party has put into securing Hispanic votes suddenly is used against them. It would change the dynamic between the parties for generations. And that’s what a living party does: it evolves and grows while remaining true to its core beliefs. Immigration policy isn’t a core Republican belief; fix it and move on.
Let the Democrats Drink Kool-aid, the GOP Should Stick to Tea
Those who advise the GOP to select a moderate candidate with a record of “reaching across the aisle” is either a Democratic consultant or a self-hating Republican like Mr. Scarborough who probably needs to change his party affiliation (I think he’s been breathing the air at MSNBC too long.) Anyone the GOP nominates will be portrayed as racist, xenophobic, homophobic right wing zealot guilty of waging a war on women. It could put up the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the party would be accused by the Democrats and their lapdog press of being in the pocket of agribusiness and guilty of poisoning the food supply with gluten.
The only solution is to simply ignore the other side. Sure it’s great if the GOP can bring back some of the Reagan Democrats who haven’t died or converted into Republicans already, but the deciding factors should all be internal.
Does the nominee excite the base? The GOP primaries of 2011-12 seem like happening so long ago, but it’s worth remembering who got Republicans excited. First there was Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, Herman Cain and finally, almost in desperation, there was Newt Gingrich. None of these four had the ability to maintain interest, and as a result the love affairs with each were intense but brief. When all these suitors were dropped, there was only Mitt Romney, and honestly the base just wasn’t into him. Choosing Romney was a chore for the base, and no matter how much the establishment promised he had what it took to beat Obama, it never warmed to him. As a result Romney got 2 million few votes than McCain in a contest decided by 3 million votes.
Did the nominee get wealthy through means other than finance? I doubt paupers will be serious primary candidates, but there is wealth achieved by what most Americans consider to be hard work, and there’s wealth that’s perceived to be ill-gotten. Getting wealthy in the financial industry makes one immediately suspect. Romney never escaped Bain Capital, and if the GOP picks Christie everyone will soon discover that he made his wealth at Goldman Sachs, known as the “Vampire Squid” in a 2009 article by Rolling Stones writer Matt Taibbi, by stealing old people’s pensions and drinking the carbonated tears of orphans. Christie has so many skeletons in his closet that Romney slammed the door in terror, and he selected Paul Ryan as his running mate instead. Rest assured that somewhere one of Hillary Clinton’s staff is devouring and the book behind the accusations, and the more likely Christie will become the GOP standard-bearer the more the public will find them on public display.
Does the nominee really want the job and have “fire in the belly” to prove it? McCain really wanted to be president in 2000, but by the time it was his turn in 2008 his candidacy lacked the fire of his days in the “Straight-talk Express,” and obviously so did his belly. Had Bush had less luck and McCain more I’m convinced he would have won in 2000 against Gore by a wide margin. Romney seemed to have it in the primaries when he was fighting for the nomination, but seemed exhausted of both ideas, spirit and worse, fight by the Labor Day 2012 rolled around the partisan battle started in earnest. Running for president takes a level of courage, stamina, egotism and even insanity that normal people do not have. Their past should reflect a constant striving for the ultimate job, their decisions made at all levels of their career with the knowledge that someday they would have to justify them. They don’t need to be perfect, just justifiable, and the more honest the answers the better.
All candidates in the mix currently meet these criteria with the exception of Christie (missing 1, 2) and Rubio (missing 1). Three years out it’s impossible to say who will win the primaries in 2016 and become the GOP nominee, but here’s my take. Ted Cruz: Too inexperienced. Rand Paul: The sane Ron Paul, but can’t we nominate a governor please after suffering a crappy senator for 8 years? Rick Perry: An early favorite as long as his wooden demeanor comes across as presidential timber. It didn’t in 2012. Sarah Palin: Worth nominating just to see liberal heads explode. Cat-fight for the Presidency would make a WWF cage-match look like tea at Downton Abbey. Someone else? As the year ends and 2014 begins, it will increasingly look unlikely for another player to appear. I’d give the odds at 60-40 in favor today, declining to 50-50 in Feb 2014 (two years ahead of New Hampshire Primary) and 40-60 against in Summer 2014.
I’m fascinated by disaster and failure. I’m not talking natural disaster; although fascinating in themselves (who around back then does not recall when Mount St. Helens blew up in 1980?) natural disasters don’t provide teachable moments the way a man-made failure or disaster does. Soon the Discovery Channel and The Science Channel will simulcast a scripted movie about the Challenger disaster. The movie is based on Dr. Richard Feynman’s memoir “What Do You Care What Other People Think” and will invariably show how Science and the human analytical mind went from a cloud of smoke and debris at 50,000 feet to the reason for the disaster: an O-ring seal in a solid rocket booster. Such failure analysis is why travel on large aluminum jets is the safest method of transportation in human history, going from perhaps the deadliest form of transport to the safest in less than a century. Such success came about through hard detective work the scene of each disaster, followed by a long period of investigation and analysis where the failure was pinpointed and most importantly, having the lessons learned applied to the rest of the industry.
The bible for those interested in the study of failure is German professor Dietrich Dorner’s 1996 book, The Logic of Failure. The book is based on a set of cognitive experiments done with software simulating a small town’s society in the US, and a fictional area in the Sahel. The studies found that while participants came from varied walks of life and backgrounds, “People court failure in predictable ways.” It then ties the experiments to real life failures such as the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl. As a systems analyst involved with complex multi-million dollar software development programs, I consider the book “must reading” for everyone in IT. Feel free to pass along a copy to those behind the Obamacare rollout.
Five years ago the people of Iraq had, thanks to the blood of thousands of American and allied soldiers, achieved a level of freedom unparalleled in their history. The national sport of kite flying was legal again and girls headed to school in Afghanistan. al Qaeda and its affiliates were on the run and confined to lawless patches in northern Pakistan, northern Nigeria and Somalia. Iran was boxed in between biting sanctions that undermined the regime internally, successful American military operations on either side of it, and an Israel ready, willing and backed by American leadership to attack Iran to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons. China was busy flooding the world with cheap crap, content to use North Korea as its proxy to stir up trouble in favor of the regime in Beijing. Our relationship with Russia had begun drifting away from engagement towards confrontation over its aggression towards Georgia, but Russia was clearly a state in decline both internally and internationally. Even Syria was seen as a player, with Democrats having genuflected at Bashir Assad’s feet, Nancy Pelosi having claimed “the road to peace begins in Damascus” in 2007, four years before Vogue’s schmaltzy interview with the Assad family, “A Rose In the Desert.”
Today Iraq is a client state of Iran, its skies filled with Iranian cargo planes resupplying the Assad regime in Syria and Hezballah in Lebanon, its social fabric once again ripped by car bombs as the Sunni/Shi’a war rages on the ground. The Obama administration, convinced of its failure before it took office walked away from American success in Iraq by its refusal to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Baghdad. Historians will one day ask “Who lost Iraq?” and the answer will be Barack Obama. Immediately after setting up their base in Afghanistan in 2001, the Marines buried a piece of steel taken from the World Trade Center rubble on the site. Soon the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies will reclaim this as a war trophy as the kites and girls disappear from the streets, and the music that has filled the air in Kabul since 2001 will be replaced once again with silence punctuated by gunfire and explosions. Again historians will ask “Who condemned these people to savagery? Who lost Afghanistan?” Again the answer will be President Obama, a man who once called Afghanistan “the good war.”
After taking power President Obama fluttered around the world on what critics like me called his “Apology tour,” apologizing for American misdeeds both real and imagined, in the belief that the new-found humility would please our friends and sway our enemies. The Obama Administration has accomplished exactly the opposite. Today Iran is expanding its “Shi’a Crescent” throughout the Middle East, and the only ones standing in the way is Israel in an unlikely (and unspoken) alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. This after a popular rebellion took the streets in 2009 that could have changed the course of History, but it received no hint of support or backing from the Obama administration and it was ruthlessly crushed. It will be decades before the people rise up against the theocracy, if they ever do.
Today from Morocco across northern Africa to the Sinai, and from Nigeria across the continent to Somalia Africa burns with Muslim extremists allied with al Qaeda. Obama’s support of the rebellion to replace Mohammar Khaddafi in Libya has opened a Pandora’s Box of weaponry built over decades by Libya’s Great Loon, handing AK-47s, RPGs, and anti-aircraft missiles to everyone with an axe to grind and a Koran burning a hole in their hearts. Where there had been one failed state 5 years ago, Somalia, there are now at least 3 (Somalia, Mali, Libya) with numerous others (Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Western Sahara) circling the drain. After Khaddafi’s fall al Qaeda training camps sprouted like mushrooms across North Africa and the Sub-Sahara, breathing the lawlessness that the Libyan Debacle created, and repaying the Obama administration for its “lead from behind” strategy by killing an American ambassador and his three bodyguards in the first such incident in 30 years.
Although the administration’s failure vis-a-vis China is not as bad as the disaster it has created in the Middle East, the Obama Doctrine of placating our foes while dissing our friends has been noticed in Asian capitals. South Korea is developing closer ties with China at the same time Japan rearms and prepares to ditch its anti-war constitution ghost written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Nations like Pakistan who haven’t really decided whether they are American allies or its enemies see no downside to throwing their lots in with the Chinese or Iranians. Pakistan even provides China the tail-section of a top-secret stealth helicopter used in the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden, America’s enemy number 1 watching porn in air conditioned comfort on Pakistani soil. There is no blow-back, no consequences suffered for entertaining the man responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans, and none for handing over the tail rotor section to America’s greatest military adversary. And to top it off, the true hero of the event, a local doctor who had the guts to help the Americans confirm Bin Laden’s identity, sits in jail as a traitor to his people. If anything playing up to America’s adversaries almost wins respect from the Obama administration itself. China understands this best, waging a cyber war against the US government and private industry without retribution.
Then there’s Europe. When the Obama Administration hasn’t sacrificed its allies to appease its enemies in Teheran and Moscow, it bugged their phones, proving yet again this administration’s inability to differentiate friend from foe. “Everyone does it,” is not an acceptable excuse for a superpower. There is absolutely no reason the US should be bugging Angela Merkel’s phone just as there is no reason it should be spying on 10 Downing Street. Perhaps the mushy-headedness that comes with moral relativism has blinded the administration to the differences of say, between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, or David Cameron and Ayatollah Khamenei. The “Special Relationship” with the UK is special for a reason, one that is much older than the inhabitants of the West Wing and much more sublime than the political wonks can comprehend. Ditto the German Chancellor. Frau Merkel was born in East Germany and has first hand experience with illegal and unjustified surveillance. Unlike some of her predecessors, she has not risen to power on an anti-American platform, and has done an exemplary job of aligning the interests of Germany with the broader interests of Europe and the United States. Spying on her was a stupid idea that should never have been approved, and once approved, it should have been cancelled, and if not cancelled it should never have been revealed. Yet a contract DBA waltzed off with the keys to the entire American Intelligence in the worst espionage failure since Klaus Fuchs handed the Soviets the Bomb. Again, no consequences. No one fired let alone jailed.
Many on the right have concluded that this is all by plan, that the Obama administration and his Democratic party supporters have been intent on taking the ship of state and intentionally running it aground because they are socialists or communists. In the Irving Kristol Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute on February 10, 2004 Charles Krauthammer suggests it is more complex and subtle than that:
“What I do know is that today it is a mistake to see liberal foreign policy as deriving from anti-Americanism or lack of patriotism or a late efflorescence of 1960s radicalism.
On the contrary. The liberal aversion to national interest stems from an idealism, a larger vision of country, a vision of some ambition and nobility – the ideal of a true international community. And that is: To transform the international system from the Hobbesian universe into a Lockean universe. To turn the state of nature into a norm-driven community. To turn the law of the jungle into the rule of law – of treaties and contracts and UN resolutions. In short, to remake the international system in the image of domestic civil society…
And to create such a true international community, you have to temper, transcend and, in the end, abolish the very idea of state power and national interest. Hence the antipathy to American hegemony and American power. If you are going to break the international arena to the mold of domestic society, you have to domesticate its single most powerful actor. You have to abolish American dominance, not only as an affront to fairness but also as the greatest obstacle on the whole planet to democratized international system where all live under self-governing international institutions and self-enforcing international norms.” – Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passion, Pastimes and Politics
Seen in this light, Obama’s foreign policy has not been a failure at all. It has accomplished exactly what it was intended to do. It has weakened America’s foreign policy hand across the board. America’s military is weakened through political purges of its officer corps, lack of direction and budget cuts. Its diplomatic corps is undermined by the lack of protection of its staff, as proven in Benghazi, by the White House’s high-handedness shown towards America’s closest friends the UK and Israel, and the spying program targeting American allies as well as its enemies that State Department personnel are forced to explain in their host countries. Its adversaries Syria, Iran and North Korea are all in better positions than they were five years ago. Ditto China and Russia. As the US weakens its enemies strengthen, and its allies are then forced to either band together (EU standing up to Russia and encouraging Ukraine to join, ASEAN nations co-coordinating efforts to balance China) or leave its sphere of influence entirely (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and perhaps Israel in the Middle East, South Korea in East Asia).
Obama has domesticated America on the international stage, to use Krauthammer’s term: so now what? Where is the Golden Age promised by Locke and the internationalists? If they are correct, a humbled America should encourage its enemies to stop their own military buildups (they don’t need offensive military capability with America’s gone). North Korea and Iran no longer need nukes now that American nukes are rusting away awaiting destruction as Obama unilaterally disarms. Without American backing Israel should engage its enemies diplomatically in a desperate bid to secure peace with the Palestinians. The world should be much better today than it was five years ago.
Is it? I suppose that depends on your perspective. Five years ago Americans could have traveled safely throughout Africa except for one nation Somalia. Today I’d hesitate to walk through the narrow streets of Zanzibar as I once did freely nearly two decades ago, and have struck Valley of the Kings in Egypt off my bucket list until further notice. Northern Kenya, Mali, Eritrea, Mauritania, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Western Sahara, and Libya are now no-go areas for Westerners. I suppose that’s great if you can’t help but shout Allahu Akhbar every time you touch an AK-47, but for the rest of us things have gotten worse not better under the new regime.
Dietrich Doerner writes, “For them (people who failed most often at complex analytical tests) to propose a hypothesis was to understand reality; testing that hypothesis was unnecessary. Instead of generating hypotheses, they generated ‘truths’.” The Obama administration came to power proposing a hypothesis, that the world would be a better place with the United States weakened. It treated this hypothesis as a truth, steadfastly refusing to let go of it, sacrificing ambassadors, diplomatic relationships built over generations, and American influence in the process. When Doerner’s study participants failed, they invariably blamed others for their failures just as the Administration has focused the blame on the GOP.
When the Obama administration took power I and many others had hoped it would govern from the center, that things wouldn’t be as dire as we had feared. We hoped that it would try its crazy ideas, learn they didn’t work, then try something else. But they didn’t learn. They stuck to their “truths.” Five years on our foreign policy is a shambles, America weaker and friendless as it has been at no other time in its history. The disaster is worse than we expected, and we still have 3 full years left in this president’s term.
Will America be able to survive this epic failure? Thirty-two years ago Ronald Reagan took power and turned around foreign policy debacles of the previous Carter administration pretty quickly. Will a Republican president be able to do the same after eight years of disaster? And what if the GOP selects the wrong candidate and Hillary Clinton wins in 2016? How much failure can this country accept and still survive?
Like many others I’ve recently been notified that my current health insurance policy will be cancelled and I will have to find another.
Thank you President Obama and his Democratic Party.
Hat tip: Snoop the Goon
Over the past five years I have watched the collapse of American prestige in the world. I have come to terms with this loss, recognizing that such things are reversible and that a new administration will one day take over and reverse the decline. But as we learned during the Carter era, reinforced by Reagan’s retreat from Lebanon after 242 US Marines were killed in 1983 and later Clinton’s Somalia fiasco, such a loss resonates into the future. The prime example of this was Osama Bin Laden’s recognition of these failures as signs of America’ s loss of will, making it the “weak horse” which would collapse by the addition of a grain of salt on its back. One by one grains were added, the 1993 WTC attack, the Khobar bombings in Saudi Arabia, the Embassy Bombings of 1998, and the USS Cole attack of 2000, and the horse failed to fall. The 9-11 attacks were just more of the same, more grains of salt added to the horse’s back from Bin Laden’s perspective. But instead of collapsing under the strain Bin Laden’s metaphor collapsed, and he and his organization found itself on the defensive against a determined foe, one that eventually turned him into fish food in the Indian Ocean.
We are repeating history, and in this sequel we are much closer in time to Carter’s 1980 failed hostage rescue mission than we are to Tora Bora. President Obama’s core belief that words matter, that diplomacy can solve every crisis and that the military option is only resorted to by leaders less intelligent than himself, has been shown a failure to everyone outside his inner circle. Over the past 5 years (I include Obama’s promises in the final stage of the 2008 campaign as well as the self-importance he attached to his president-elect status after the 2008 election and before the 2009 inauguration) Obama has used promises and threats instead of deeds and action to guide US foreign policy. There was some success at first as allies took his word for the former and our enemies heeded the latter, but as the world changed the promises weren’t met and the threats weren’t acted upon, our allies became disheartened while our enemies were encouraged. Such mistakes must have come as a surprise to both, to see the most powerful and influential nation on earth run by an administration filled with the best and brightest progressive leaders the country had to offer acting like an impoverished, helpless and morally bankrupt banana republic on the world’s stage.
Nations adjusted accordingly. China has become more aggressive in its territorial claims. North Korea continues to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation with impunity. Iran has taken the success of North Korea to heart and vigorously pursues the Bomb. While the Obama administration spoke about the decimation of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization proved powerful enough to kill an American ambassador, the first in thirty years, take over leadership of the rebellion in Syria, turn Iraq into a killing zone, and scare the administration into closing a score of embassies throughout the Middle East. Not bad for an organization that the administration has said is “on the run.” Clearly al Qaeda accomplishes more in retreat than many armies do on the offensive.
Then there is Russia. It’s ironic that President Obama treats Vladimir Putin as his equal and Russia as a superpower by giving it veto power over American actions in the Middle East and throughout Asia. In effect Obama elevates the status of Russia while subverting American interests abroad. Such actions must demoralize nations in the former Russian sphere of influence like Poland and the Czech Republic, while encouraging our friends in the Middle East such as Israel and Saudi Arabia to begin to cut their own deals with Russia.
Speaking of friends, we once had one in Egypt. It was a typical Middle Eastern friend. It took gobs of money from us then fed the masses a steady diet of anti-American propaganda that encouraged Islamic terrorism. But the Egyptian regime was successful for the most part. It kept itself in power, maintained the peace – albeit a cold one – with Israel, and kept the foreign currency flowing into Egypt from European and American tourists. Make no mistake Hosni Mubarak was no Winston Churchill, and the Egyptian regime never had our back the way Australia always has, but to expect anything more from Arabs in the Middle East requires complete ignorance of the culture and history of the area. Nevertheless the Obama administration and the State Department under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, a woman whose resume highlight for the job included hosting dinners as the First Lady in the White House for eight years, proved through their actions (and inactions) that for all their supposed brilliance, they were at heart as dumb as a box of blocks when it came to Egypt.
First the administration saw the Arab Spring as a revolutionary moment for liberalism in the country, forgetting that Egypt has been ruled throughout its five thousand year history by pharaohs, kings and military juntas when independent and by Rome, the Ottoman Empire or France when not. Although Egypt lacked any democratic culture or institutions, the Obama administration happily threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus, thinking that he would be replaced by a liberal Democrat they had met at a Washington DC state dinner, Mohamed ElBaradei. The Obama administration didn’t understand what was really happening in Egypt during the Arab Spring: the military junta had stopped supporting Mubarak when he attempted to turn over power to his son and make the presidency a dynasty. Elections were held and the masses didn’t vote for a familiar face in the DC dinner circuit; instead they elected the front of a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the United States, and the ideological parent organization of both Hamas and al Qaeda.
Maybe the Obama administration and the State Department thought they were dealing with the Egyptian equivalent of Sinn Fein, and that like the IRA in Ireland, the terrorists in Egypt would lay down their arms and take up the ballot box to achieve their aims of global conquest. Many on the Right questioned the administration support for the Brotherhood as being more diabolical, and that some great conspiracy lay behind American support of the Brotherhood even when it became obvious that it was trying to turn Egypt into an Islamic state like Iran. Although I doubt that Obama is a closet Muslim, or that Hillary’s “special friend” Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood dictated our policy towards Egypt, nothing but sheer stupidity successfully explains our support of the organization as it attempted to wrest control of the state from the military. The military reacted and said “Enough,” taking power away from the Islamists and restoring the status quo of a generation ago when Mubarak ruled Egypt with military support and the Muslim Brotherhood conspired to take power from behind bars. The result of this episode in Middle Eastern foreign policy is the brilliant progressive leaders of the Obama Administration and State Department have angered all sides in Egypt.
For perhaps the first time in his life Obama will be judged not by his words but his actions. No speech he gives will excuse the failure of his leadership on foreign policy, particularly on Syria. It is ironic that the words so prized by Obama and his followers are what has boxed him into a corner in the first place. His team knew the ad libbed term “red line” would prove disastrous. Now he is so desperate he is begging Republicans like former foe Senator John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner to save him. Given the stupidity of the GOP it’s quite possible they just will, providing him the option he needs so that when things get worse in Syria he can blame them. Unlike McCain and Boehner I can live with an America that cannot be trusted by its friends and is no longer feared by its enemies – at least until January 2017. The progressives and Obama believed they knew best and elections have consequences. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, they chose this path, and they must walk it.
The unemployment rate is down to 7.6%, it’s lowest in 4 years. Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, writes “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are helping to build an economy that creates jobs and works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.”
So, happy days are here again? Only if you are drinking the kool-aid at the White House. Every month roughly 150,000 more people join the workforce as they come of age or arrive on our shores as immigrants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that payrolls expanded by 88,000 people last month. So why did the unemployment rate drop to 7.6%?
A record 663,000 people gave up trying to find a job and left the workforce. These people are not counted in the BLS employment statistics; only those that are working or actively seeking employment within 2 years of having a job are counted. Anyone beyond that 2 year mark is simply dropped from the statistics, as is anyone who applied for and received disability, or moved back to live with their parents while attending school.
So is this statistic really indicative of a healthy economy?
Consider the following thought experiment:
In 2017 a Republican moves into the White House. Within a few months of taking office, her policies begin to have an effect on the economy and it starts to boom. Businesses start hiring, the economy picks up, and wages rise. At the same time social programs are cut back by the Republican administration and its allies forcing those on the dole to return to the work force.
What happens as these people reenter the workforce?
The BLS begins to include them back into their statistics because they are actively looking for work. If the number of jobs is growing but the number of job seekers is growing faster because they are being forced to get a job or encouraged by the success of friends and family to get one, what happens to the unemployment rate? It rises as the number of people outside the workforce shrinks, the exact opposite of the situation today. Do you think the mainstream media will trumpet the expanding economy sucking people off their couches and back into the workforce?
Happy days aren’t here again, and won’t be while leftist ideology trumps job creation, and crony capitalism allows the wealthy to benefit from the Left’s War on Poverty.
Americans have been conditioned to believe that a low unemployment figure is good while a higher unemployment figure is bad. Such simple notions used to be true until economists and their political patrons realized it provided them with a tool to support their favored policies. They then began manipulating the figures, including this while excluding that in order to support their favored legislative agenda. A century and a half ago Mark Twain recognized the danger of statistics who wrote “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” But today our political leaders have gone beyond lies with their manipulation of statistics, whether damned or not, into the realm of pure propaganda.
In 2008-9 our country experienced an unprecedented meltdown of its financial system brought on by the cosy relationships between government regulators, politicians and bureaucrats. In response the Federal Reserve embarked on a program whereby the it stole money from the bank accounts of 98% of the country and shifted it to the wealthiest of American society through depressing interest rates paid to savers on their accounts below the rate of inflation, meaning that for every $1,000 in your bank account you lose $30 every year to inflation. This subsidized those with money by providing them with low borrowing costs, allowing them to leverage their wealth for even greater gains in the stock market. It’s not good enough that a billionaire invests $100 million in the market; no, he must use that $100m as leverage to control a billion dollars worth of stock. The stock market has become a casino where small investors are left to chase nickels in front of steam rollers while the government funds the wealthiest segment of society. Worse, the Cyprus Model has put paid to the idea that bank savings are property and protected by the law. Instead savers have become “speculators” and their savings “investments” to be wiped out whenever banks need a bailout. It must not be forgotten that the initial bank bailout, the first put forward by the European Union, looked to steal 6.7% of guaranteed savings below 100,000 Euro. The European Union isn’t exactly communist China or Soviet Russia yet it completely ignored its own law of guaranteed deposits (the EU FDIC) and took the money. Is such an event possible in the United States? Yes. Unlikely perhaps at this point, but still possible.
To support this stock market bubble the federal reserve has flooded the markets with currency yet denied such actions, euphemistically called “quantitative easing”, are inflationary. Government bureaucracies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) manipulate employment statistics to make it appear as if good times are here to stay by excluding the long-term unemployed and those who have given up on finding a job, meaning that if your wife is working and you’re looking for a job, our economy will improve by you staying at home and watching daytime TV since your household will go from 50% unemployment to 0% unemployment. Similarly the BLS manipulates inflation rates by discounting the volatility of food and fuel, the largest categories all but the very wealthiest people spend their money on besides taxes and housing, and making “qualitative adjustments” that hide inflation. In addition companies are passing on higher production costs to consumer through stealth inflation, providing less product for the same money. The profusion of dollar stores are proof of the success of this strategy since shoppers at these stores believing they are getting a bargain while in reality they are paying more per unit of good than at other stores. 4 loads of Tide for a $1 might seem a deal until one goes to a supermarket and finds a 40 load box of the detergent for $7.
Not one person from the banking crisis has been indicted or prosecuted by the Obama administration or Congress, a fact that spawned a PBS Frontline show “The Untouchables.” Could this be because the federal government would be prosecuting it’s own? Former SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro resigned and has taken a position at Promontory Financial Group, a bank consulting group, but promises not to lobby the government she once worked for. That has led to Forbes wondering what other of her qualifications Promontory is willing to bill $1,000 – $10,000 an hour for. She’s among numerous ex-federal employees at her new digs. Check out the nifty graphic at ZeroHedge listing Promontory employees and their former positions in the government. Yet we are supposed to believe this revolving door between regulators and those they regulate is free from moral hazard. In the comments at ZeroHedge someone calls the place a “high end whorehouse.” It it were taxpayers wouldn’t be the ones being screwed.
Banks like JP Morgan-Chase and investment firms like Goldman Sachs are considered too big to fail, taking their “skin” out of the game and replacing it with the American taxpayer’s. If JPMC or Goldman’s risky investments turn out well, it’s “capitalism” and their corporate managers and shareholders are rewarded; if they bomb it’s no big deal. The shareholders or managers are still rewarded as they were in January 2010 when banker bonuses were “bigger than ever” according to the New York Times even after the economic collapse of 2008-9. The American worker will simply work a few hours to provide the taxes the firms need to be bailed out, that is if she has a job. It’s a great system if you are Lloyd Blankfein GS’s CEO who earns upwards of $100 million a year at Goldman Sachs. It benefits Democratic politicians like Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama too since Blankfein is a large donor to the Democratic party.
Then there’s the debt. To call it a “mountain of debt” is to betray a shallow awareness of the world’s topography. Here are some neat visualizations of our debt in $100 bills, and an impressive sounding statistic that’s hard to visual: a line of $1 bills would stretch from the Earth to Uranus. We’ve reached a point where analogies lose their meaning, although the current debt being greater than the country’s entire output in 2011 must be at least a bit sobering to even the drunkest Keynesian economist. The best way to consider the debt is by making it personal. Since 2008 the debt has expanded by $26,000 per person. Multiply that number by those in your household and ask yourself if you feel that amount richer over the past 4 years. That would mean an extra $78k for my household, enough to drop the Wife’s med school debt by 40% or replace our aging cars, each with over 150k miles on them, as well as buy a new car for the Kid. If you don’t see that money, where did it go? Ask yourself: are you better off today than you were 4 years ago? Then ask Lloyd whether he is.
The system is corrupt yet we do nothing about it. We are told happy days are here again, that the stockmarket is at record highs, yet those of us who dabbled in the market prior to 2009 have still not recovered from the losses suffered then, leaving us on the sidelines of this rally. Small investors piled into the market and out of the market late back then, proving they were the “greater fools” and some are doing so today as the market skyrockets and smart money looks for the exits. Sure our 401K’s are expanding, but the numbers are meaningless for anyone other than those planning to retire in the coming months before this bubble bursts. Self employed people and contractors like myself don’t have 401K’s, we just have our wits and an ever sharpening skill set that we use to stay employed, but both are slowly being eroded by time as we age and the younger cohorts below us grow hungrier and more competitive. Time will unravel us, and when it does we will be poor and destitute, remembering the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxes paid that could have gone, should have gone, into our retirement funds but didn’t. At that point we’ll be on the side of the 47% who don’t pay taxes, but by then the government will be completely broke. We shouldn’t expect any sympathy from the generations coming up in our shadows, since both Left and Right are in agreement that theirs will be the first generations to have lower living standards than preceding generations. It doesn’t help that we’ve sent them to substandard schools whose sole purpose seems to be to employ Masters of Education degree holders instead of actually teaching our children the skills they need to succeed in life.
The collapse of our education system is proof of our sick society, one that raids the education budgets for the young to pay for the guaranteed pensions of the old, one in which the only people who treasure marriage these days are gay and everyone else hooks up like a shed-full of feral cats in heat, with an increasing percetage of the products of these unions are on ADHD medication. I’d need to be medicated too if I was forced to sit still with a body full of hormones and brimming with youthful energy, taught by teachers who, like the children of Lake Wobegon, are all above average, all 98% of them. Conversely, Walter Russell Mead points out ”only 78.2 percent of American students graduated high school in 2010. Sixty-seven percent of all fourth graders could not read at grade level in 2009. And only 32 percent of eighth graders and 38 percent of twelfth graders were reading at or above grade level that same year.” Of course if we measured education aptitude by the number of body piercings and tattoos we’d lead the world.
David Stockman, former Reagan budget director, is getting beaten up in the press for his book The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America. Journalists, products of the Masters of Education employment entities described above, look at the highs of the Dow and discount Stockman’s thesis that the system we have today is more akin to the monopolies and crony capitalists that spawned the progressive movement over a century ago rather than some Randist free market anarchic paradise that they instinctively fear. The treatment of Stockman is similar to that shoveled out to Bob Woodward for daring to criticize President Obama game of chicken with the sequester, as J-school graduates leaped in defense of their icon in the White House attacking Woodward with various ad hominems that any of the profs would have failed them for had they used them in class (or rather, a class where failure was an option – evidently a rarity these days where students can pass without actually studying.) Watching Woodward, a man whose politics I disagree with yet whom I respect for helping pull off the greatest journalistic story of the century, being attacked by the likes of Andrew “I’m here, I’m queer, blah blah blah” Sullivan was like watching a fine thoroughbred horse attacked by a swarm of flies fresh from their home in a dung pile. But such is the fate for anyone who dares call “shenanigans” in the current climate where anyone who can’t continue deceiving themselves is lampooned, debased, or in the case of Woodward, threatened.
Our problems aren’t just economic either. The Obama administration has fled the Middle East and attempts to appease Iran by refusing to support the rebellion against the Assad regime in Syria.
“I think that the United States has not taken a more active role in Syria from the beginning because they didn’t want to disturb the possibility, to give them space, to negotiate with Iran,” Javier Solana, the former European Union foreign policy chief, said Monday at a Brookings Institution discussion about this week’s talks. Solana, who was a top negotiator with Tehran in the nuclear program until 2009, added, “They probably knew that getting very engaged against Assad, engaged even militarily, could contribute to a break in the potential negotiations with Tehran.”
As Walter Russell Mead notes this could be a catastrophic mistake.
If Solana is right that this policy has been driving the White House all along, this is Obama’s initial Iran failure—remaining silent during the 2009 Green Revolution—on steroids. Weakness doesn’t win you the friendship of bullies. And if this dispatch is right, we should expect some ugly repercussions from the Sunni Arabs, the Israelis and the Turks. All these powers want to see Iran’s claws clipped and they want Assad to go; all of these powers chiefly view the value of their US ties at the moment in the light of the confrontation with Iran. If they come to feel that the United States is willing to throw the Syrian lamb to the Iranian tiger, their trust and confidence in the United States, and consequentially America’s power to get things done in the region, would go into a deep eclipse.
Things don’t look any better on the other side of Asia with North Korea promising to attack the United States. So far the US response has been mild, yet that hasn’t stopped the press from asking White House spokesman Jay Carney if that hasn’t provoked a communist dictatorship whose people are being starved to death on a steady diet of leftist propaganda and grass. But their carbon footprints are tiny, for now. How much carbon will be released by a nuclear strike on Osaka or Guam? Quite a bit I suppose. In any event we soon might find out if North Korea acts on its threats.
A whole industry is set up to use imagery and fantasy to modify our behavior so that we buy something, yet somehow a related industry employing the same techniques but for entertainment purposes ie exempt from responsibility when an admittedly sick individual dresses up as villain of the violent movie being shown to the audience he then commences to massacre. The Roman Catholic Pope is labeled as an extremist for calling abortion murder while a doctor who performs late term abortions and keeps the tiny feet of his victims in a jar as memento mori is lauded as a hero. The billionaire mayor of New York City makes it his personal mission to rid the city of large soft drinks while the city’s crime rate rises and the city becomes less friendly to all but society’s richest and poorest.
But when all is said and done, who is to blame for this mess that we find ourselves in? We are.
We didn’t demand for the bankers to be tarred and feathered (well, we did but failed to hold our elected leaders accountable for allowing the bankers off scot-free.). We continually vote in the politicians who offer us platitudes instead of common sense and plunder the public purse for the benefit of the monied elite regardless of their party affiliation. We engage in bitter fights over issues that don’t impact us directly (I’m not gay, on medicaid and I can’t get pregnant, so honestly just how worked up can I get about gay marriage, social programs and abortion?), yet ignore the issues that unite us and affect our daily lives. We vilify other Americans for their differences yet are willfully blind to the commonalities. Intellectual laziness encourages us to accept stereotypes and straw men built by those who feed on hatred the way a maggot feeds on the flesh of an open wound instead of putting ourselves in the other’s position, or to use an old cliche, “walking a mile in the other man’s moccasins.” We have Obama himself saying, “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” accepting a stereotype and succumbing to a form of elitism and intellectual laziness by belittling his opponents instead of attempting to understand them and winning them over. We’ve accepted the low standards of education because we’ve been trained that “fighting city hall” or in this case the school board is futile. So our kids read less than we do, they can text faster and know the special combo to beat the god Zeus in the “God of War” video game. They’ll be alright. Right? We keep our heads down, do what we are told and hope that our dreams come true, the way they do on TV between the ads for drugs to help men get it up and women feel not so down.
We should be ashamed for what we’ve done, or more importantly, not done, expending the effort to fight for accountability from our elected officials and receiving their heads in baskets after they ignored us 4 years ago. Today the problems are even worse, the threats greater, yet we continue on the way we did before the 2008 financial meltdown and on September 10, 2001, fighting among ourselves without giving the other the benefit of the doubt or the dignity our opponent deserves. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, we chose this path, and we did so because we are idiots.
After introducing a plan to ban 150 different types of guns and high capacity magazines, Sen Diane Feinstein tweeted, “The bill will NOT affect hunting or sporting firearms. Instead, the bill protects hunters and sportsmen.” Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) , speaking on Face the Nation, defended the legislation, saying he didn’t need an assault rifle to shoot a duck. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) also supports the legislation saying hunters don’t require assault rifles to kill game.
I’m always somewhat bemused when gun control advocates talk about hunting, as if the 2nd amendment is the right to eat meat, while the word “hunt” or “hunting” does not appear anywhere in the Bill of Rights. In fact by that logic one doesn’t need any type of gun to hunt; a bow and arrow or a flint-tipped spear can take down a deer just as effectively. The 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with hunting; it is much more powerful than that.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Never has a single sentence caused so much controversy. The late SCOTUS Chief Justice Warren Burger once criticized the amendment on the MacNeil-Lehrer news hour, claiming it was poorly written and a disaster for the country. Like many liberals he believed the amendment applied to organized state militias such as the National Guard. The original Bill of Rights lays out the rights granted to the People of the United States by the Creator, it does not give rights to government, whether state, local or federal. As for the definition of militia, Buckhorn provides reference to Title 10 United States Code section 311:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are – (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
So if you are a male American between the ages of 17 and 45, guess what? You’re part of the militia, and while Title 10 USC Sec 311 defines the National Guard and Naval Militia as “organized,” the 2nd Amendment does not begin “A well organized Militia.” Besides the “unorganized militia” is just a class of militia according to Title 10 USC Sec 311 so we don’t have a situation where one group of people bears arms and another does not. And better yet, like all the Bill of Rights the “right of the people” derives not from government or any sovereign, but from God – just as the rights to assembly, free speech and freedom of religion do. That undermines the idea put forward by gun control advocates that the term “well regulated” grants power to the government to control arms. The word “regulated” today isn’t the same as it was in 1789, and replacing the Framer’s word with modern usage would make the amendment nonsensical. How could a right granted by God be controlled by a government of man? A better modern word would be “trained” or “provisioned”, but it’s unfair to blame the Founders for failing to anticipate the evolution of English after they have succeeded in creating a document that has withstood the test of time so well.
Reams of paper have been produced supporting or disparaging this or that about the 2nd Amendment, and brighter men than me have argued both for and against it, but my view is that the Founders of the Republic had a nation like Switzerland in mind. While gun control advocates are keen on comparing the US to the UK, Canada and Australia, nations that ban guns in most cases, they tend to ignore Switzerland. Switzerland does not have a professional army and instead relies upon civilians to participate and train in a militia. The Swiss are issued an assault rifle, currently the SIG SG 550, a fully automatic weapons that even US gun nuts can’t easily get their hands on*. The Swiss also have a very weak central government, something I believe the Founders preferred but became an idea that got lost after the North won the Civil War.
So the purpose of the militia isn’t to hunt, it’s not target-shooting, or even self-protection: it’s to level the playing field between the People and a tyrannical regime. This is something I hadn’t even realized myself until recently. In the past I’ve argued in support of gun ownership on the basis that self defense is a human right. I even have a bumper sticker on my car to that effect. But the 2nd Amendment is much more sublime. The amendment does not specify what kind of threat requires an armed population. It doesn’t say it’s necessary to protect against a foreign power, Indians, or the forces of mad King George V. It simply states that a militia is necessary for the security of a free state, and freedom is thread that is consistent throughout the documents of the period from the Declaration of Independence through the Articles of Confederation and finally, the Bill of Rights. That free state is so important that is requires a well trained and provisioned militia to secure it.
Could that threat be the tyranny of our own government? Why do you think the Founders placed it so high up in the Bill of Rights? They weren’t fools. They knew that tyrants often take power through democratic means. They recognized that power corrupts and over time any government can be corrupted from within, presenting a danger just as great as invasion from without. The 2nd Amendment therefore provides Americans with a “reset button,” allowing its citizens to resort to force of arms to remove any tyrannical government that comes to power. Such a government would possess the means of the state – billions of dollars, tanks, warplanes, and other tools of war to subjugate the citizenry, but as the American Revolution proved, and as shown by every counter-insurgency the US has participated in from the Philippine Rebellion of the 1920’s to Vietnam of the 1960’s and Afghanistan of today, superior men, arms and material do not in themselves guarantee victory.
The reality of this statement means that Americans would be fighting Americans. It wouldn’t be the first time; the greatest calamity ever to befall our nation was the Civil War, killing 620,000, the equivalent of 5.2 million Americans today, and setting the development of our nation back decades. The idea of Americans killing Americans repulses me in a way that is hard to describe. The extremes of Right and Left both celebrate the idea for the advancement of their own particular causes, and yet the very thought just makes me want to puke.
The best thing about having a “reset button” such as the 2nd Amendment is that it makes such scenarios unlikely. As my good Watcher’s colleague Joshupundit pointed out in a personal communication, extremists like Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam demand gun control because it makes it easier for them to impose their will on the majority of Americans once Americans are disarmed. “He (Farrakhan) likes the idea of gun control because the [Nation of Islam] has it’s own channels to obtain firearms if they need them.” Ditto the American Communist Party. The masses will be disarmed but the extremists, whether inside the government or at society’s fringes, won’t be and their path to power will be unobstructed.
This reset button comes at a price. Every year Americans die by guns who would otherwise not, and it would be a grievous insult to comfort a parent who has lost a child to gunfire by saying that his or her life is the price we pay to guarantee freedom. But if we are to consider those lost by gun violence today, we also must consider those who would die under dictatorship. The 2nd Amendment minimizes the losses and insures our government’s, and by extension our society’s stability by making any serious attempt at destroying our democracy impossible due to the hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of 80 million Americans who bear them responsibly and vigilantly.
Most people who aren’t familiar with guns don’t understand the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons; at least I didn’t until I started educating myself about guns and owning them. An automatic weapon is one that continuously fires until the magazine is empty after the trigger is pulled once. A semi-automatic fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. Assault rifles can be semi-auto or full auto, but those under consideration for banning are semi-auto because full auto versions are highly restricted.
Automatic weapons are for all intents and purposes banned from private ownership in the US. While it is possible to get a license for one, the guns are expensive and highly regulated. Most of those I have seen in action are rented at gun ranges by guys with more testosterone than sense. Want to blow $30 in 5 seconds? You can by firing an AK-47 at full auto. In the process you’ll pretty much hit everything BUT the target you are aiming for which is why I don’t see a need for a fully auto weapon. A gun on full auto will pull up and controlling it becomes like wrestling a python, but some guys like to show off at the ranges by making noise. It makes a lot of money for the ranges and ammo manufacturers, but honestly I prefer the maxim “One shot one kill,” myself. As a result I don’t believe a ban on them tilts the playing field towards tyranny the way a ban on assault rifles would.
The Buddha taught everything changes, and that the root of human suffering was our resistance to the acceptance of this reality. Congress could use a few Buddhists right now because the way both parties are acting one would think that we’ve achieved some sort of permanent status in Washington DC.
The Republican Party lost its mojo last election after drinking tea to victory in 2010, and is acting like it will never be in power again. Likewise the Democrats are acting as if they will be the majority party in perpetuity and Obama won with a landslide last November even though he won fewer votes in ‘12 than he did in ‘08. Both statements would be true if time stopped today and never flowed again, but that isn’t its nature. The former prince of a tiny kingdom in India 2,500 years ago understood that and did so without polls, political consultants or reading op-ed pieces in the Washington Post.
Republicans today should be proposing legislation that benefits the majority party. Why? Because things change. It will find its groove again will likely retake the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. In order to prepare for that day, they should be agreeing to the legislation being put forth by the Democrats. End the filibuster? Absolutely. Expand Executive orders? Yes. Give the president the power to raise the debt ceiling? We’re on board. Today the President talks of using an executive order to restrict gun rights. That will set a precedent for a Republican president in four years time to use an executive order to restrict abortion rights, so the GOP should cheer and the Dems should reconsider their support of such an expansion of executive power.
Similarly the Democrats should be proposing legislation that protects the minority power because it is likely they will become that in two years time and it takes time for laws to be legislated and put into place. They also should be putting into place laws that build strengthen the legislative branch over the executive because it is likely they will return to Congress under a Republican president.
Of course neither party is willing to do this because it would appear they are giving in to the other, but back in the day party leaders like Tip O’Neil and James Baker would have had the foresight to see an election or two down the road and recognize the rhythm of American politics, the pendulum that swings from the left to the right and back again, marking the passage of time in the Republic. For Republicans today it’s hard not to despair, but to quote from another great man a few thousand miles to the west of the Buddha (although only a few hundred years before Him), King Solomon who pondered the eternal truth of the statement, “This too shall pass.” And the Democrats who are exultant and ready to remake history as Progressive ideals conquer all, a reminder: “This too shall pass.”
It would behoove both Democrats and Republicans to prepare for today’s passing because as the Buddha taught, whether or not we like it, it will.