Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category.

Immigration For Idiots

Because Evidently Smart People Have Gotten Really Stupid About the Subject

Imagine you arrive at work one morning to find a group of people standing around your desk or workstation. You notice similar groups standing around the desks of your colleagues. Everyone is perplexed. Finally your boss arrives and explains, “These are your potential replacements.” She points to one, “See Miguel here? He’s actually a harder worker than you are and is willing to work for half of what I pay you. Sure his English isn’t the best, but Rosetta Stone Spanish is half-price on Amazon right now, Eso es mucho, ¿eh Miguel?” Miguel nods vigorously.

“The only thing holding me back from hiring him is immigration reform,” she says, “But since both parties are committed, I guess it’s only a matter of time…” She walks away, then says over her shoulder, “Oh, and until it’s passed you might want to remember Miguel and his amigos when you come to my office for your next evaluation.”

We like to believe we are indispensable in our jobs, that the company cannot run without us. The truth is that unless you work for yourself your company CAN run without you, and in many cases may do so better. The only reason you have a job is that the company you work for gains more from your labor than the cost of employing you. So if it pays you $20 an hour, it expects to make at least that back through your labor. If it doesn’t you won’t have a job for long because the company will go out of business. Say it makes a 25% return on your employment, netting the firm $5 an hour after paying you your wage. Would it pass up an opportunity to pay less for your position, say turning that 25% return into a 100% return by paying $12.50 an hour?

This is an oversimplification of course. Many employees don’t make their firms any money at all. If you are in infrastructure, whether a middle manager or an IT developer, you are only employed until your company figures out how to get rid of your position. Somewhere within your company someone is trying to figure out how to do away with your job in the name of “streamlining” or “efficiency.” It’s no different to what you do at home when you look at your bills and try to figure out how to make your money go farther. Your position is an expense, and right now it’s necessary, but it won’t be forever of course. And in the meantime your firm will do whatever it can to maximize profits while minimizing costs, and your salary or wage is a cost that it will work very hard to minimize.

The Labor Market is no different than any market. The price of anything on the market is determined by its supply and demand. If the supply is plentiful, it’s price will be relatively cheap. As it becomes rarer, the price rises. For those of us who have grown up in free(ish) market economies we take this fact for granted for everything from gasoline to gold. But for some reason when it comes to jobs we get stupid about it.

In a free market whenever there’s a shortage of something, whether it’s pork bellies or Playstations, the price skyrockets. For the past 15 years high tech firms have been complaining about labor shortages in the STEM fields, and call for increased numbers of H-1B and J visas to fill the supposed shortage. If this were true we would expect that the salaries for such jobs would be sky-high.

The Chronicle for Higher Education investigated the STEM field labor shortage claims and concluded the STEM labor shortage is a myth. Salaries in these fields have been stagnant and in many cases, in decline. So why do so many people believe the myth? “The claims about STEM shortages come from employers, along with their lobbyists and trade associations, claims Michael Teitelbaum, who a fellow in science policy at Harvard University and a senior advisor at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”

There is no labor shortage, just a shortage of labor willing to work for the wages set by companies. Companies want to pay their employees less, and the only way to do that in a free(ish) market economy is to boost the potential supply of its workforce. Why wouldn’t it support immigration reform if it meant more aspirants for your job? This potential pool of applicants allows it to find a cheaper replacement for you or at the very least keeps you from asking for a raise.

Why Unions Support Immigration Reform

Today’s unions aren’t your father’s grandfather’s unions. Back in the day unions raised wages and working conditions for their members because they controlled the supply of labor either directly, by determining whether their members worked, or indirectly by making crossing a picket line dangerous to one’s health. They also fiercely resisted immigration, viewing immigrants as increasing the labor supply and driving down wages for their members.

Today’s unions are pale shadows of their former selves, representing only a sliver of the non-government workforce. Because they can no longer control the supply of labor in most industries, it only makes sense for them to focus on the low paying service industries where they can still exercise some control. These industries happen to employ the most illegal immigrants, so starting a decade or so ago, the unions gave up their resistance to immigration and embraced it.  Now unions like the SEIU see each illegal immigrant from Honduras or Mexico as a dues paying member. Since the minimum wage provides a floor to wages, the unions no longer have to worry about decreasing labor supply to boost wages; they’ll just push for a higher minimum wage, and that’s exactly what the unions have done. The primary weapon of unions is no longer a picket line, but the cash desperately needed by politicians to win elections.

By expanding their rank and file with immigrants, the unions then have the cash to provide to politicians who can then raise the minimum wage to boost the salaries of its members. From the perspective of the rank and file, the union leadership and the politicians who receive their cash, everybody wins. The only losers are the middle class consumers who pay more for goods and services provided by unionized companies as well as pay the higher taxes required to support the large cheap labor pool, and the constituents of the politicians who are in the pockets of the unions.

 Why Liberals Support Immigration Reform

Let’s face it, these immigrants aren’t coming from places where Ayn Rand and Adam Smith are cultural icons. They are coming from collectivist societies where Che Guevara is more than an image on a t-shirt, used to living under strong states, albeit ones with failed policies bad enough to drive them to risk everything to cross our border. The teeming masses awaken the natural impulse within liberals to help, and that help in the liberal’s mind can only come through a strong, all-encompassing State. Liberals also don’t like borders, viewing nationalism as a scourge that will eventually disappear along with such barbarities as the Plague and GMO food. Modern liberals are by nature trans-nationalists, and nothing is more trans-national than a bunch of brown people who have suffered under the neo-colonial policies of the Western Powers flooding into the USA. Each Mexican or Honduran represents a chicken of past colonial aggression coming home to the United States to roost.

Additionally, hard core Leftists believe the Marxist interpretation of Capitalism that inequality deepens as wealth follows its natural tendency to accumulate with the upper class, and that it’s the job of the State to confiscate that wealth and redistribute it to the lower classes. Marx himself viewed this as an untenable state of affairs that would eventually lead to communism and the concept of wealth would disappear and vegan unicorns would frolic in a low-carbon world.  Until that time the State would tax the bejeezus out of the wealthy and hand it over to the poor in welfare payments. More poor immigrants require more taxes from the wealthy, helping make that Communist Paradise one-step closer to reality.

Of course all liberals aren’t steeped in liberation ideology and the politics of identity. To Democrats each immigrant is a potential Democratic voter. Immigrants traditionally vote Democrat at least for a generation or two until they assimilate. Pew Research finds 31% of illegal immigrants self-identify with the Democratic Party vs. 4% for the Republican Party. Converting those illegal immigrants into voters has the potential to make the Democratic Party the majority party in the US and consign the Republican Party to History’s wastebasket. Given the potential payoff Democrats would be stupid not to support immigration reform, and for all its faults the Democratic Party has never been known for its stupidity.

The Stupid Party of American Politics

And why is the GOP establishment keen on immigration reform? Because the Republican Party is the Stupid Party in American politics. The GOP’s Big Business/Big Government wing is determined to push through reform in order to provide its corporate base with the cheap labor it demands even if it means the party’s suicide. While the libertarian/populist/small government wing of the party fights back in primaries, showing its power in Eric Cantor’s primary loss, the GOP establishment believes that it must pass immigration reform to continue receiving support from its corporate patrons and to counter the Democrats charge of racism. It pins its hopes on the social conservatism of the Hispanic community, that the community will see what swell, non-racist guys the party is and will switch party affiliation. This has about as much chance of happening as Joe Biden winning the presidency in 2016.

So there you have it. Hopefully this article adds some clarity to the issue. Where your opinion falls should reflect whether you compete with immigrants for your job or not. If you don’t, then you should favor their arrival. But if you do, you should think twice about supporting immigration reform you racist.
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In 2003 after being forced to train his own replacement on an H-1B visa, Scott Kirwin made the cover of Wired Magazine and founded the IT Professionals Association of America and worked for 3 years to counter the myth of the high-tech labor shortage. In 2006 he threw up his hands and quit, having received little support from IT professionals and lots of badly written though amusing threats from Indian workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess I Am Racist Too

Allison Pearson writing for the Daily Telegraph lays out the end result of political correctness run amok in her piece, Are We All Racists Now. She starts with a conversation between her children, her mother and herself when  her kids call her mother “racist” for using the term “negro spiritual.”

“Grandma is not racist…“Heinrich Himmler is a racist. Grandma, not so much.”

“Who’s Henry Himmer?”

“Heinrich HIMMLER was a foul, Jew-exterminating, Nazi fiend whom your grandmother’s parents and their whole generation fought a world war to defeat in order that she could sit here 70 years later and be called racist by her sanctimonious and ungrateful grandchildren. Anyone for crumble?”

She then takes on the rising tide of the European Right which makes me wonder whether Great Britain’s experience be the future of America’s.

As shell-shocked politicians from the main parties struggle to discern the causes of Ukip’s deafening electoral success, here’s a tip: look in the mirror, chaps! It is politicians, not the British people, who are to blame for a resurgence in racism; politicians who have ignored public opinion and created the conditions in which resentments fester and grow. Specifically, though not exclusively, it is New Labour who welcomed workers from the new, accession countries of the EU at a time when countries such as France and Germany wisely exercised their right to keep them out for another seven years. According to Jack Straw, this was a “spectacular” error. And Jack should know, because he was Home Secretary at the time. The plan of Tony Blair’s government, as laid bare by Andrew Neather, then a Blair speechwriter, was to banish that old, hideously white, retrograde England and usher in a new, vibrant, multicultural country which, rather conveniently, would vote Labour. Mr Blair now works in international conflict resolution, having stored up enough conflict in his homeland to keep future generations busy for centuries.

America appears to be on the cusp of granting millions citizenship. The government is scrambling to care for tens of thousands of children crossing illegally into the US apparently in the hope of being granted citizenship. Pearson suggests that the elites in Europe have lost touch with the common people, and that the common people are beginning to revolt. And the Democrats and their Republican allies aren’t ready for it.

The Democrats see the demographics of the immigrants and become positively giddy. These immigrants aren’t coming from libertarian meccas like Switzerland. They are coming from collectivist societies where they were taken care of by the government so they’re expected to vote Democrat, although if that worked so well, why are they leaving? Big labor sees more dues paying members in the few remaining private sector unions.  The GOP supporters are in the pockets of big business. They see the world in purely supply and demand terms. By boosting the supply of workers the cost of labor will go down, which is just peachy for businesses that employ lots of low-skilled labor in the food processing, service and manufacturing industries.

Because of the demographics in my area, I tend to associate with some very decent people from humble circumstances. These people will be directly impacted by the immigrants. They will compete directly with them for jobs and will have to suffer lower wages as a result of the increased supply of labor. At the same time their taxes will go up to pay for the increased services consumed by the newcomers. Now imagine a situation where America was flooded by lawyers, businessmen and wealthy immigrants. The price of attorneys and salaries of company leaders would tumble, while at the same time the costs of beach homes in the Outer Banks and prime properties in the Hamptons and Cape Cod would skyrocket. One wonders whether the elites would brand themselves as “racist” for questioning the flood of immigrants as those on the Right here and in Europe have been.

Such a wave of high-skilled, wealthy immigrants isn’t possible. The door has always been open for those, and there simply is fewer of those than there are low-skilled and unskilled poor people in the world. But it would be nice if the elites experienced life as an ordinary citizen or even TRIED to imagine life. I suppose it’s much easier to turn them into non-entities, vaporizing them in a flash from their thoughts with the term “racist.”

On Kirsten Powers

Recently a very good friend of mine asked me about some statements I’ve made about Kirsten Powers’s conversion to evangelical Christianity. I enjoyed her role as the lone lefty Special Report with Bret Baier on Fox News. I’ve always found that position to be a tough one and tend to respect the liberal who is willing to sit there (I’m also a fan of Juan Williams who has appeared there numerous times).

I do like Powers, particularly for her work on the Kermit Gosnell case. Although I am both pro-choice and pro-life (it’s not as untenable a position as either side thinks) I found the MSM’s avoidance of reporting on the case typical. Powers’s reporting was necessary and must have been tough for her, and I wonder if her experience sitting in the courtroom and seeing pictures and video of Gosnell’s atrocities played a role in her conversion.

As I’ve grown older I’ve tended to avoid images of brutality. When I was younger I could stomach the horrors of concentration camp movie reel footage, but now when I happen upon these images today I simply lack the stomach for it. I feel that because of my past exposure I don’t need to see such imagery again. I haven’t forgotten the suffering of the Holocaust, and it shows through my unwavering support of Israel and the Jewish people. Yesterday I caught Nazi newsreel footage of Jews being herded into cattle cars, then their processing upon arrival in the concentration camps, cans of zyklon B, a still smouldering skeleton in a crematorium. I cannot learn anything more from these images except to deeply despise idiots like Toure Neblet for suggesting the Jews survived the concentration camps and came to the US because of the  “power of whiteness.”

As for Christianity,  I’m still an agnostic on my best days, atheist on my worst. But I do not share the Left’s animus against Christianity, especially considering the latitude it gives Islam. Only the Left’s rejection of Christianity can explain its alliance with political Islam, a religion that has no divide between church and state, treats women poorly and executes homosexuals, though I am somewhat encouraged by the Left’s boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

But I am still what the Jesuits educated me to be: suspicious of organized religion of all types just some more than others. Boko Haram, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al-Qaeda. These are not Christian outfits, and the best the Left can come up with is Westboro Baptist Church – which hasn’t exploded any airplanes, thrown grenades in any markets, or fired any missiles. When evangelical Christians start kidnapping girls and firing rockets into Israel, perhaps I’ll reconsider my view that they are relatively harmless.

Shifting Political Alliances and Friendships

Since most of my Facebook friends are liberals (about 2/3rds at last count), my newsfeed on Facebook provides me with a steady stream of consciousness from the liberal perspective. Take for example a friend of mine who lives and works in Hollywood. He takes predictable positions on issues and inevitably concludes that all problems in our society are caused by the opponents of the progressive agenda. I hold my tongue. When the Occupy movement was in full-swing, his posts and the comments of his friends (he has 6x the number of friends than I do on FB) demonized the 1% and belittled anyone else who questioned the authenticity of the Occupy crowd or the intelligence of its slogans. Fast forward two years later, and the same friend who demonized the 1% supports tax breaks for millionaires in the form of subsidies encouraging liberal movie moguls like Harvey Weinstein to keep movie production in California.

I am not pointing this out to show how stupid my friend is. Quite the opposite. He’s an intelligent man who has built a very successful life for himself. There is nothing wrong with pursuing policies that are in our own self-interest as long as we don’t start believing that our motives are purely altruistic. As for supporting tax breaks for millionaires while at the same time demanding for them to “pay their fair share,” we are all prone to cognitive dissonance regardless of our ideology and more importantly we are all manipulated by our leaders, although some more than others. It is our job as social beings living in modern society to be naturally skeptical of what we are told, and to also question as objectively as possible our own deeply held beliefs. I have my blind spots just as he his, but at heart I believe he is a good person even if he does spout off like an idiot sometimes*.

After my personal beliefs have moved through the ideological spectrum I am becoming increasingly aware of the limits of our two-party system. Take for example the Republican Party, the one I am currently registered with. Within the party there are people who have chosen the party because it reflects their beliefs. I am one of these people. While I don’t subscribe to everything the party stands for, I believe that it reflects my views at this time better than the other party. But that could change.

Ralph Nader is proposing a libertarian/progressive alliance. Under such an alliance my progressive friend and I would be united under the same banner. It’s an interesting idea to consider especially since the top GOP candidate that he mentions, Rand Paul, is one of my current favorites. I noted that at a recent speech at UC-Berkeley Paul received a standing ovation from the crowd. That told me that perhaps there was an awareness among the left of the common ground the two groups shared. After all drug decriminalization, the expansion of individual freedom and an end to crony capitalism were once celebrated by the progressives of  the 1960s. Today this mantle has passed to the libertarians who now find themselves a home in the Republican Party of all places, the more accommodating of the two parties.

Such an alliance would shatter both parties but in my view they deserve such fates. The GOP leadership has shown little interest in the ideas of the libertarians or other ideologues in their party, choosing instead to sideline anyone who dares question their authority (like the grassroots Tea Party organizations). It seems to me the only thing that John Boehner and his ilk care about is taking power, and they will do anything, say anything to keep it.

The Democrats now act like the Republicans of the 1970s and 1980s. They stifle thought and expression through politically correct dogma just as the GOP did when the Moral Majority called the shots back in the Reagan-Bush era. Is selling arms to Iran to pay for guns for the Contras any worse than the NSA spying scandal under this administration? Is Watergate really worse than using the IRS to target administration enemies like Tea Party members? Is the Meese Commission any different from the anti-pornography crusade by Obama’s Department of Justice?

What’s the difference exactly between John Boehner and Harry Reid, or Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? One party wants the government to  control your life and is in power, the other wants the government to control your life and is out of power. Both parties want tax breaks for their friends and to end tax breaks for the friends of the other party. The only difference is the libertarian wing of the GOP and a small cohort of progressives who recognize the danger of government as exemplified by the IRS and NSA scandals.

Will such an alliance happen? It is impossible to say. Everything changes and what may seem impossible today becomes inevitable tomorrow. All I can say for sure that it’s in the best interest of my Facebook friend and myself to stay friends, to let the rants slide, and to never forget what bound us together in the first place.
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  • Note: It’s been said that conservatives think liberals are misguided while liberals think conservatives are evil. The above essay reflects this, and it would be interesting to hear what my Fb friend thought of me. Does he think I’m evil because I support the Tea Party and am a die-hard non-Jewish Zionist? In order for an alliance between Left/Right to take hold both sides must stop demonizing the other. It’s not possible if either side continues taking the low road, and so far I’ve seen similar essays as the above written by conservatives and libertarians but as yet to have seen one reaching out to the Right from the Left.

The Spark in Nevada

Lenin and the early Bolsheviks believed the world had gotten to a point in its history that the proletariat would revolt. Like a forest full of dried timber baking in the hot sun all that was needed for the Communist Revolution they so desired was for a spark, iskra, to set the forest ablaze. The concept was so important to Lenin that he named his newspaper after it while he lived in exile. It was a continuation of Marx’s belief in the evolution of control over the means of production. Marx looked at the world around him at the height of the Industrial Revolution and saw the dehumanizing impact of life living in the crowded cities and working in the factories. To him this was a natural progression from the dawn of civilization that would inevitably lead to the rising up of the working class to take ownership of the factories they slaved in. Marx expected this revolution to occur in countries on the vanguard of the industrial revolution such as Prussia, France and Great Britain, but except for the brief interlude of the Paris Commune in 1848, socialist uprisings failed to materialize in these countries.

The United States has always had a small contingents of people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. During the colonial period various groups came to America fleeing religious persecution in continental Europe. The expansion of America westward was led by individualists like Daniel Boone and religious heretics like the Mormons followed by vast waves of immigrants seeking better lives after escaping oppressive regimes in Ireland, Central Europe and Russia. Each individual of that time left a legacy that is written in our DNA as a people. Echoes of the suffering of each Russian Jew arriving penniless in New York City or illiterate Irish woman sleeping with her children on the deck of steamer paddling up the Mississippi from New Orleans can be heard as whispers in our collective unconscious. These unique experiences are why we so frustrate our allies and enemies alike. It is impossible for a Brit to truly understand why Americans instinctively abhor collectivism and celebrate the codified rights of the Constitution that protecting individual liberty. The divisiveness that comes with individual rights also encourages our enemies to see America as a “paper tiger” that will explode into confetti with the right spark, be that a sneak attack on the Pacific fleet while in port or twin skyscrapers in Manhattan.

This is also a lesson that the American left socialized on European collectivist thought has forgotten over the past generation. The American Left has always looked towards the Continent for inspiration but that had been tempered at least somewhat by the home-grown anarchism of Henry David Thoreau and at least found common cause with American libertarians. But sometime over the past forty years being a socialist or progressive has meant believing in the power of the State. This reflects an acceptance by the American Left of “Big Government” European-style Socialism which ironically is in decline in the Scandinavian countries, the UK and Germany. As a consequence anarchists and libertarians who once were considered extreme leftists are now viewed by the American Left as extremist members of the right wing.

Today’s American Left wing now sees the State as its salvation and protector. Unions in the private sector have almost disappeared yet the public sector unions are thriving. In 2011 the Economist reported, “government unionisation has risen from 23% in 1973 to 36% today, while private-sector unionisation has declined from 24% in 1973 to 7% today.” Challenges to state power are no longer coming from the Left as they did in the 1960, but from the Right as exemplified today by the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada.

In this dispute the Left stands with the federal government while the Right including the libertarians side with the Bundy family. Progressive groups have gone on the attack including calling for the silencing of Tea Partiers and other supporters of the Bundy family. In It’s Time to be Honest: The Tea Party Has Become a Terrorist Group, Allen Clifton writes,

But the longer these people are given a voice, the more they’ve moved from a political movement to a domestic terrorist organization.  In politics, they’re doing everything possible to sabotage our country for political gain while outside of politics they’re becoming even more brazenly radical than ever before.

And much like traditional terrorists, these domestic tea party terrorists have a main goal of demonizing and destroying the United States government.


Burning Man founder and liberal activist Sean Shealy plans to hold “Bundyfest” promising 30 days of anarchy across from the Bundy Ranch. In a Facebook post Shealy pokes fun at Bundy then ends, “Get a grip, folks. It’s about some cranky old dude and some cows in the middle of a barren desert. And the rule of law.” Rule of law? Coming from the organizer of the largest LSD and Ecstasy bash in the country it’s nice to know Shealy has some boundaries. It would be nice if he turned himself in for promoting illicit drug use at his bashes, but I’m not holding my breath. The Left has come a long way from getting their heads bashed in Chicago in 1968 by the police force of Mayor Richard “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder,” Daly.

The Bundy standoff has shown the true face of the American Left. Transport the hippies of 1967 through Time to today and it’s unlikely they’d find the federal government all that groovy. The anti-establishment of that era has become the Establishment.

So now it’s up to the right wing and its individualist supporters to take up the idea of “iskra.” The right wing and old-school libertarians have always had a paranoid fringe, but Edward Snowden’s  revelations of domestic spying along with the IRS persecution of conservative groups exacerbated by the government takeover of health care proves the wisdom of Henry Kissinger’s quote that even paranoids have enemies. Could Bundy be that spark that ignites the conservative base into open revolt?

Cliven Bundy is not a natural leader for everyone who distrusts the government, nor is his issue with the federal government a clear-cut case of abuse of the individual by the State. It would be nice if there was a more appealing leader than a Mormon rancher, and a more obvious case of government persecution, but the mere fact that the Bundy Ranch dispute continues making headlines on both sides of the political divide shows the there is plenty of tinder in the forest. Only time will tell if the Bundy standoff will set it ablaze.

The Real Reason Behind the BLM Attack on the Bundy Ranch

Neo-Cons Revile Obama Not Putin

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.

The Racist Roots of Progressive Thought

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.

Occupy Hollywood

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.

A Republican Reflects On A Kennedy

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.

 

Would a Different Software Methodology Have Saved Obamacare?

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!”

 

New York Times Supports/Opposes/Supports Ending Filibuster

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 Siren Song of the Moderate Republican Presidential Candidate

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.

 

Failure – The Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Legacy

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?

Yet Another Victim of a Lie: Me

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