Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category.

Keys to the Kingdom Should Not Be Available to the Peasants

NSA officials are considering amnesty for Edward Snowden in exchange for the remaining documents he has in his possession. I don’t think much of Edward Snowden. I’ve called him an idealist and by extension an idiot. But I also don’t think much about an organization that allowed a low-level government contractor access to what the NSA official investigating the theft of secrets called “the keys to the kingdom.”

I’m still trying to wrap my head around an organization that vacuumed up everyone’s personal data in all its forms – phone calls, blog posts, emails, chats – then allowed a low-level contractor access to its methodology and processes for doing it. Either the NSA is lying for some reason only the readers of John Le Carre novel would understand and Snowden doesn’t have such an important cache of data, or he does and the NSA is so desperate it will do anything to get the data back. The Machiavellian inside believes the former but the IT worker in Fortune 500 companies believes the latter. Bureaucracies do stupid stuff all the time, and while it’s possible this is all some kind of kabuki theater meant to mislead Russian and Chinese intelligence sources, Hanlon’s Razor leaves me believing Snowden did in fact do what he says he did and the bureaucrats in the NSA are busy pouring over procedures and decision trees trying to figure out how to handle it.

Regardless I believe Snowden should get amnesty in exchange for what he knows. Allow him to return to the US without fear and sit in front of the House Intelligence Committee to explain how he did what he did. Televise the hearings and let everyone including the Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies know what he knows. Give him the soapbox he craves, and then when he steps down let him slip away into obscurity. Don’t give him a fiery send off like Michael Hastings, it’s not worth feeding the conspiracy trolls on the Internet. Leave him alone.

But as he’s speaking and hogging the limelight, change the locks on the kingdom and hide the keys in a place where the peasants can’t get hold of them.


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?

Sending Legislators To the Unemployment Line

Ever since the government shutdown I have been thinking long and hard about the very nature of government. Are we doomed to become slaves to an increasingly bureaucratic centralized state? The complexity of our society suggests to me that we cannot have no government at all. Although I consider myself a libertarian, I like well-maintained roads and since I live on a river and derive my water source from a well I value clean air and water. Does this mean that I have to give up my freedom to some bureaucrat hundreds or even thousands of miles away?

I have started reading up on the Swiss. One doesn’t hear much about them unless you are in the banking business or are a World War 2 historian, but the more I learn about their government, the more I like. The Swiss pride themselves on having a weak central government with most power residing at the local level. The Swiss also directly participate more in government than any other people. But as the Greeks discovered, direct democracy has limits when government becomes so large and complex that citizens would spend all their time managing the affairs of state and doing nothing else.

As an IT geek it’s easy for me to imagine a technical solution for this situation.

Software vote proxies.

Imagine: Each citizen fills out a questionnaire, quizzing him or her about their attitudes towards topics of the day. The survey would be amendable at any time, and surveys would expire every four years. These surveys would act to create a rules-based engine that would act on behalf of the citizen on existing legislation. Legislation could be proposed by the citizen at any time, and would have to garner support from other proxies before being considered by the entire group. Once reaching that threshold, the legislation would be put to all voters, and the proxies would vote on it based on the rules built from the questionnaire answered by the citizen it represents.

Legislation would have to be simplified. There would be no ““But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it…” excuses from Nancy Pelosi. Legislation would have to be simplified and formatted in a way that would help the proxies act on it.

Algorithms already control  73% of trading volume in the US. This means that software is making the vast majority of the day-t0-day decisions that impact the health of your company and your 401k. One could argue – and many do – that computers already control Wall Street and therefore our economic lives, so why shouldn’t we trust them to manage our political lives? The difference is that each one of us would have our own algorithm – making split-second decisions in favor of us, not Goldman Sachs or a hedge fund.

Would there be problems? Of course, just as there are with using algorithms to manage our economic destiny. Yet these problems haven’t curbed their uses by banks and other financial firms. Additionally it will be much harder for lobbyists to influence policy. Instead of treating a congressman to an all-expenses paid “fact-finding” junket to Aruba, the firm would have to try to sway thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions. It wouldn’t be feasible for all but the largest interest groups to pull off.

Judicial oversight would remain, and perhaps judges could develop their own proxies eventually.

The biggest problem with this system isn’t technological or even political; it’s social. We have outsourced our political responsibilities to a ruling class, one that we believed was more intelligent and savvy than we are. The problem with this is that this class now acts in its own best interests and not in the interests of those who elected it. By doing away with this ruling class each citizen would have an increased responsibility to become more knowledgeable and aware of the world around him or her. That’s a lot to expect at a time when “sheeple” has entered the lexicon of public discourse to describe the supporters of one’s opponents, and when Americans are shown to be statistically as dumb as a box of blocks compared to the citizens of other nations. And it’s also ironic, I suppose to be discussing a software solution to a problem at the same time the government can’t design software to enroll people in health insurance.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Americans aren’t willing to pay attention to what’s happening around them in their communities, then we deserve to lose our freedom. Software vote proxies are the means to gain it back.



Sunday Drive-By – Random Shots

After spending the weekend troubleshooting my own tech gear I’m not sure things have gotten better since my first PC purchase in 1988. That computer lasted until 1997 and could have survived longer if I had access to spare parts in Japan.  The 4 year old PC that I put together using quality enthusiast parts will be lucky to make it another year. And if someone had told me in ‘88 that I would be troubleshooting system interrupts a quarter century later, I think I would have become a Mac fanboi in an instant. I’ve noticed that many of my tech friends have given up on the Wintel platform because of issues like this, and I’m wondering if I should too. Then I look at the cost of a new Mac vs an upgrade to my existing rig and well it looks like I’ll be troubleshooting my kit for another 25 years. Not only am I penny-wise, pound-foolish but I have boxes upon boxes of cables, software and other wintel gear that I’d have to recycle if I ditched the b***h and made the switch.

If I send you a lengthy email, chances are it’s important and chances are even better that it involves tech. I don’t spam people, and if I need to reach out it won’t take more than a line or two. When I send a multi-paragraph email rest assured that I have spent at least 45-60 minutes writing it and another 15-30 reading and rewriting it, condensing it down to the barest amount of information that is necessary to convey my point. When it’s a reply to your email, it means the answer you are expecting is quite complex. I will do my best to explain that complexity to you in a straightforward manner, but it will take time. The least you can do is read what I’ve written before penning a reply that shows you haven’t read my email at all. There’s a circle in hell awaiting developers who do this to analysts.

What’s in my wallet? Not a Capital One credit card. Alec Baldwin has made a career shilling for these jackals yet sympathizes with the Occupy Wall Street crowd, even penning an article in Huffington Post in support of the anti-capitalism movement. Capital One feeds off the subprime crowd and was sanctioned as recently as last year to the tune of $165 million for deceptive marketing practices. No word if Baldwin’s poor acting skills were part of those practices (I much prefer the Vikings; the goat is particularly a better actor than Baldwin). So I appreciate the delicious irony of Baldwin’s MSNBC show where right out of the gate he deep-throated RCP candidate for NYC mayor, Bill de Blasio. The cognitive dissonance required by Baldwin to hold such leftist positions while being the face of everything they hate should cause his head to explode – but it hasn’t, likely because Alec is not the Baldwin with cognitive functions.

So McCain and McConnell are in negotiation with the President over the debt ceiling and federal government closure. Seems to me it’s the moderate wing of the Democratic Party negotiating with the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party. It just makes me wonder how the Obama administration could be so vicious in domestic politics and such pussies in foreign policy. Either Obama is Machiavellian at least when it comes to domestic politics or the GOP house leadership are the pussies; I’m starting to think its the latter.

That reminds me. Liberals like to talk about the Tea Party “extremists” in the Republican Party, but make no mention of the extremists in the Democratic Party. I hear this everyday from my liberal friends, as does the Wife. With Obamacare the Democrats lead by President Obama subverted the legislative process, using reconciliation, a procedural gimmick used to reconcile bills between House and Senate, to push through it through without a single Republican vote. Had Bush done this I’m sure he would have been impeached, yet this doesn’t strike any Democrats as being even the slightest bit extremist? Then there’s the unprecedented  usage of the IRS to attack administration opponents. Even Nixon avoided using this tactic, but not Obama. Using the IRS as one’s personal assassin isn’t an extremist act? Let’s also remember that prior to the 2010 there were no Tea Partiers in Congress. They didn’t exist until Obamacare became legislation and began to be rammed through Congress. It seems that it’s easy to be an extremist these days: all you have to do is question authority. It wasn’t that long ago when dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now that a liberal is in the White House, dissidents are extremists.

Speaking of idiots, the survey I received from the RNC is in the mail. In it I ask why Reince Priebus and the other geniuses in the RNC haven’t committed seppuku after their continued failures starting in last year’s election. Amount enclosed? $0. The money that would have gone to support the RNC went to this candidate instead.

Finally, China is calling for a de-Americanized world. Fine with me and most Americans. Isolationism is in our DNA, and we’re not keen on being the world’s policeman. But I find it hard to take a government seriously that gets its knickers in a twist over this guy and this guy and this bunch. Don’t you have some islands to invade, or cheap Chinese crap to send our way filled with these bugs in the packaging?


The Razor Celebrates 12 Years Online

Although There Isn’t Much To Celebrate

When this site was started America had just suffered the worst attack on its native soil ever. Although terrified for the future, the tone of the early posts reveals a sense of optimism. There was a sense that America would survive and emerge even stronger than before the attacks because it along with the civilized world would confront and defeat the Evil that lay behind the attack. I had faith in the premise and idea of America, and that having abandoned my faith in a divine being, it would prove to be a decent albeit human-based substitute.

I was wrong.

I was wrong about nearly everything that I wrote in those early days. I was wrong that America and the world would confront radical Islam. It hasn’t and the streets of Zanzibar and Nairobi that I had once wondered freely without fear of anything more than having my pocket picked cannot be walked by an American without fearing an acid attack or al Shaabab version of Jeopardy.

I was wrong that the moral relativism that underpinned leftist thinking would be shaken by the attacks, forcing them to see the enemy was religious in nature as they believe albeit not Christian-based. They haven’t and their enemy still remains their neighbors and colleagues who choose not to think like them. I used to believe that such leftists were misguided, but now I think they are evil and as blameless as the Islamic terrorists they provide comfort to. After all, it’s just returning the favor since most conservatives think liberals are misguided while most liberals think conservatives are evil.

I was wrong that by liberating Iraq we would drain the swamp of extremism. Instead Iraq has become a client state of Iran and a battle ground between Sunni and Shi’a, breeding extremists who will one day take their skills to Tel Aviv, Frankfurt and New York.

I was wrong that America would not choose one of its most inexperienced politicians to lead them, and that once they had, they would avoid electing him to a second term. I was wrong that this president once elected would recognize he governed a center-right nation and would keep the steering wheel centered. Instead he took the wheel, hit the gas and flung the car to the left off a cliff. A blend of two races, instead of uniting them he has divided them and the country in ways not seen in generations.

I was wrong that a country who economy was crashed into the ground by bankers would jail them if not tar and feather them. Instead the president, the man who inspired Occupy Wall Street, invites them to lunch.

I have been told that because of my political views my children should die, and that I should be killed, my body dragged behind a truck. Another man takes to network TV saying he wishes I was dead. Yet when I defend myself against these attacks I’m called an extremist.

My country, the land of my birth which my father risked his life defending in the Philippine jungles in 1944-45, has developed a government that flouts its own rules, viewing its own citizens as threats to its existence. Instead of the government being of the people and serving their needs, the American people are viewed as existing for the benefit of the State. The concept of citizen loses it’s meaning in such a situation, so the State opens the borders to allow anyone to arrive and feed it. Foreign spying programs are turned inward, and everyone becomes a potential terrorist. Those whose political beliefs are antagonistic to the State then become subject to the monopoly of coercion and violence the State enjoys. Openly criticize the President at a prayer breakfast, expect a visit by IRS auditors.

Over the past twelve years I have gone from a Democrat to Independent to Republican and now a self-identifying (small “l”) libertarian. I have gone from the parent of a toddler to a parent of a teen. I went from living in one of the largest metropolitan areas on the world to one of the country’s most rural and empty, and I like it. I went from wanting to be liked and popular to wanting to be left alone. This journal mirrors those transformations. I don’t write anymore hoping to be discovered like Michelle Malkin or Andrew Breitbart, I write because if I don’t I’m afraid I’ll die inside even more than I already have.


Mint Press Exposed

In the days after the Sarin gas attack in the Damascus Suburbs in August 2013, a news story began making the rounds of the Internet that the chemical weapons attack had been an accidental release of chemical weapons by the rebels. This story was picked up by ZeroHedge, a website frequented by economically-minded  paleo-conservatives, isolationist libertarians, and anarchists.

The story was sourced from Mint Press and written by Dale Gavlak, an Associated Press stringer and NPR correspondent. It claimed the chemical weapons were provided by the Saudis and that the release of the chemical weapons was accidental:


“Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack. “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.
“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.


The story was widely quoted, and passed quickly through the anti-war groups naturally suspicious of false flag operations that could lead to western involvement in Syria. The problem for these groups is that the facts in the story were not corroborated by other news organizations, are likely fictions spread by the Iranian sympathizing owners of Mint Press. BuzzFeed covers the scandal here in its piece “The Inside Story of One Website’s Defense of Assad”.

It’s relatively easy to take down an outfit like Mint Press.  It’s much more difficult to prove propaganda charges spread by the likes of the Washington Post, New York Times and NBC News. Nevertheless these organizations are just as slanted in their reporting in support of Democrat administrations and antagonistic to Republican ones. The only real difference between them and Mint Press is their size.

Hat-tip: SimplyJews

Gov’t Shutdown Causes Widespread Panic, Anarchy In Streets

Just kidding… That’s actually a picture of riots in France.

Anyone notice anything different? Me neither.

Obama’s Leadership Failure

Over the past five years I have watched the collapse of American prestige in the world. I have come to terms with this loss, recognizing that such things are reversible and that a new administration will one day take over and reverse the decline. But as we learned during the Carter era, reinforced by Reagan’s retreat from Lebanon after 242 US Marines were killed in 1983 and later Clinton’s Somalia fiasco, such a loss resonates into the future. The prime example of this was Osama Bin Laden’s recognition of these failures as signs of America’ s loss of will, making it the “weak horse” which would collapse by the addition of a grain of salt on its back. One by one grains were added, the 1993 WTC attack, the Khobar bombings in Saudi Arabia, the Embassy Bombings of 1998, and the USS Cole attack of 2000, and the horse failed to fall. The 9-11 attacks were just more of the same, more grains of salt added to the horse’s back from Bin Laden’s perspective. But instead of collapsing under the strain Bin Laden’s metaphor collapsed, and he and his organization found itself on the defensive against a determined foe, one that eventually turned him into fish food in the Indian Ocean.

We are repeating history, and in this sequel we are much closer in time to Carter’s 1980 failed hostage rescue mission than we are to Tora Bora. President Obama’s core belief that words matter, that diplomacy can solve every crisis and that the military option is only resorted to by leaders less intelligent than himself, has been shown a failure to everyone outside his inner circle. Over the past 5 years (I include Obama’s promises in the final stage of the 2008 campaign as well as the self-importance he attached to his president-elect status after the 2008 election and before the 2009 inauguration) Obama has used promises and threats instead of deeds and action to guide US foreign policy. There was some success at first as allies took his word for the former and our enemies heeded the latter, but as the world changed the promises weren’t met and the threats weren’t acted upon, our allies became disheartened while our enemies were encouraged. Such mistakes must have come as a surprise to both, to see the most powerful and influential nation on earth run by an administration filled with the best and brightest progressive leaders the country had to offer acting like an impoverished, helpless and morally bankrupt banana republic on the world’s stage.

Nations adjusted accordingly. China has become more aggressive in its territorial claims. North Korea continues to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation with impunity. Iran has taken the success of North Korea to heart and vigorously pursues the Bomb. While the Obama administration spoke about the decimation of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization proved powerful enough to kill an American ambassador, the first in thirty years, take over leadership of the rebellion in Syria, turn Iraq into a killing zone,  and scare the administration into closing a score of embassies throughout the Middle East. Not bad for an organization that the administration has said is “on the run.” Clearly al Qaeda accomplishes more in retreat than many armies do on the offensive.

Then there is Russia.  It’s ironic that President Obama treats Vladimir Putin as his equal and Russia as a superpower by giving it veto power over American actions in the Middle East and throughout Asia. In effect Obama elevates the status of Russia while subverting American interests abroad. Such actions must demoralize nations in the former Russian sphere of influence like Poland and the Czech Republic, while encouraging our friends in the Middle East such as Israel and Saudi Arabia to begin to cut their own deals with Russia.

Speaking of friends, we once had one in Egypt. It was a typical Middle Eastern friend. It took gobs of money from us then fed the masses a steady diet of anti-American propaganda that encouraged Islamic terrorism. But the Egyptian regime was successful for the most part. It kept itself in power, maintained the peace – albeit a cold one – with Israel, and kept the foreign currency flowing into Egypt from European and American tourists. Make no mistake Hosni Mubarak was no Winston Churchill, and the Egyptian regime never had our back the way Australia always has, but to expect anything more from Arabs in the Middle East requires complete ignorance of the culture and history of the area. Nevertheless the Obama administration and the State Department under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, a woman whose resume highlight for the job included hosting dinners as the First Lady in the White House for eight years, proved through their actions (and inactions) that for all their supposed brilliance, they were at heart as dumb as a box of blocks when it came to Egypt.

First the administration saw the Arab Spring as a revolutionary moment for liberalism in the country, forgetting that Egypt has been ruled throughout its five thousand year history by pharaohs, kings and military juntas when independent and by Rome, the Ottoman Empire or France when not. Although Egypt lacked any democratic culture or institutions, the Obama administration happily threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus, thinking that he would be replaced by a liberal Democrat they had met at a Washington DC state dinner, Mohamed ElBaradei. The Obama administration didn’t understand what was really happening in Egypt during the Arab Spring: the military junta had stopped supporting Mubarak when he attempted to turn over power to his son and make the presidency a dynasty. Elections were held and the masses didn’t vote for a familiar face in the DC dinner circuit; instead they elected the front of a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the United States, and the ideological parent organization of both Hamas and al Qaeda.

Maybe the Obama administration and the State Department thought they were dealing with the Egyptian equivalent of Sinn Fein, and that like the IRA in Ireland, the terrorists in Egypt would lay down their arms and take up the ballot box to achieve their aims of global conquest. Many on the Right questioned the administration support for the Brotherhood as being more diabolical, and that some great conspiracy lay behind American support of the Brotherhood even when it became obvious that it was trying to turn Egypt into an Islamic state like Iran. Although I doubt that Obama is a closet Muslim, or that Hillary’s “special friend” Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood dictated our policy towards Egypt, nothing but sheer stupidity successfully explains our support of the organization as it attempted to wrest control of the state from the military. The military reacted and said “Enough,” taking power away from the Islamists and restoring the status quo of a generation ago when Mubarak ruled Egypt with military support and the Muslim Brotherhood conspired to take power from behind bars. The result of this episode in Middle Eastern foreign policy is the brilliant progressive leaders of the Obama Administration and State Department have angered all sides in Egypt.

For perhaps the first time in his life Obama will be judged not by his words but his actions. No speech he gives will excuse the failure of his leadership on foreign policy, particularly on Syria. It is ironic that the words so prized by Obama and his followers are what has boxed him into a corner in the first place. His team knew the ad libbed term “red line” would prove disastrous. Now he is so desperate he is begging Republicans like former foe Senator John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner to save him. Given the stupidity of the GOP it’s quite possible they just will, providing him the option he needs so that when things get worse in Syria he can blame them. Unlike McCain and Boehner I can live with an America that cannot be trusted by its friends and is no longer feared by its enemies – at least until January 2017. The progressives and Obama believed they knew best and elections have consequences. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, they chose this path, and they must walk it.


Car Rescues: Zimmerman 1, Kennedy 0

The Liberal Fetish For Elections

The Economist cover this week shows a man whose face is painted with the colors of the Egyptian flag under the words “Egypt’s Tragedy.” Writing that while  Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood he represented “politics (as) subsidiary to religion, and are downright hostile to the attitudes towards women and minorities that pervade the Islamist movement,” the magazine worries that their ouster “sets a dreadful precedent for the region.”

Many dictators have taken power through the ballot box yet few have given up power that way. Both the Greeks and the Romans elected leaders who later became tyrants and seized power.  Two millennia later both Hitler and Benito Mussolini were democratically elected to their nation’s highest offices. Fidel Castro used the power of his rebel army to guarantee his election as Prime Minister of Cuba in 1959. More recently the Iranian regime took power in elections after the fall of the Shah in 1979, and haven’t had a free and open election since. Hugo Chavez. Hamas in Gaza. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Dictators throughout history and around the world have found using elections to gain power is much easier than taking power by force.

Yet the list of dictatorships that lost an election and ceded power as a result is quite short. There surely must be one, but I can’t think of any. The ruling South African National party lost the 1994 election in which Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, but while the National Party excluded blacks from the vote, it was still a Democratic regime. The revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in 1989 from East Germany to the Soviet Union came about after massive protests, and the elections of Lech Walesa and Vaclev Havel and other opposition leaders and parties in the former Soviet Bloc resulted from these protests not through constitutional elections. When dictatorial regimes take power, they mean to keep it, and one of the first things they do is rig the Law to insure their place at the top of society in perpetuity.

So why do liberals hold elections in such high regard, resulting in farcical acts such as former president Jimmy Carter certifying the election of Hamas in Gaza or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? One man one vote is a pervasive ideal that cuts across ideologies and forms of government. It is the start of the Republican form, and is found in everything from pure Democracy (think Switzerland), Socialism, Communism and Anarchism. Because casting a vote ideally represents an individual’s free will, the resulting form of government is thereby a legitimate expression of the voter’s intent. But history is replete with examples proving  such an ideal is a complete fallacy. Voters may believe they are electing a protector of democracy only to see him become a tyrant after taking power. Or voters may use the opportunity to choose a non-democratic regime as has happened in Iran and Gaza.

What an election can do though is confer the mantle of legitimacy upon a dictatorship, and in Marxist philosophy such a dictatorship (by the proletariat) is necessary to reach the higher stages of communist development. Could this explain the progressive movement’s obsession with ballots? Honestly I’d be surprised if progressives thought that far ahead so other reasons must underlay the obsession.

Having an election does not guarantee a country is a liberal democracy. Such a belief that it does is yet another example of liberal magical thinking that confuses actions and results. An election cannot guarantee a functioning democracy just as a single battle cannot determine the outcome of a war. Democracy only has a long history on the European continent, and even there it is only within the last 50 years that democratic institutions have developed roots that can withstand the changes wrought when one regime leaves power and another replaces it. Even there a democratic Germany had to be restored through force of arms, Spain has only become democratic within the past 30 years, and the continent itself cannot decide how to govern itself at all levels, from the local through national to the international (the EU is far from being the pinnacle of Democracy).

Instead Democracy is a long process and casting ballots in an election has more symbol than substance. A free and fair election is meaningful only when institutions exist to support the results such as a free press, an independent judiciary and a military firmly under civilian authority. It is much more difficult to create these institutions from scratch than it is to throw an election without them. The American Occupation authorities in post-war Japan found this out the hard way when it allowed local and national elections in the aftermath of the war and watched the well-organized (and Soviet provisioned) Communist Party win them. Instead of ceding Japan to the Soviets, it annulled the elections and focused on creating the conditions necessary for democracy to eventually take root and Japan is better off today than it would have been otherwise. The US exercised a degree of authoritarian control in Japan and to a lesser extent in post-war West Germany that would be difficult to replicate in today’s politically correct times where “all cultures are equal” including those without any understanding of or foundation in Democracy.

Egypt’s democratic history is scant, it’s institutions non-existent. Any election Egypt holds is not going to usher in a democracy, it will instead legitimize and autocracy. Is a Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship better for Egypt and the world than a military one? It is difficult to judge, but there are more instances of the army returning to their barracks and ceding power to civilian authority than there are of clerics returning to the mosques and doing the same. A magazine as venerable as The Economist should know this more than anyone.

Why Liberals Should Oppose The Surveillance State (But Won’t)

In a little bit less than 3 1/2 years it is very likely the surveillance state built by the Republicans and expanded by the Democrats will return once again into conservative hands. The IRS can then be used to harass progressive organizations and anyone who supports them just like it has Tea Party organizations and even Pro-Israel organizations, whom it has referred to the anti-terror section. The NSA can break into the computers of progressive reporters seeking out stories attacking the conservative administration just as it has done with a conservative reporter at CBS News. They will also be investigated as co-conspirators as Fox News James Rosen has been. Meanwhile everyone will be treated as a potential terrorist, unless you happen to attend a mosque in which case the government will avert its eyes towards a Tea Party supporter, thereby missing the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects.

So if you aren’t bothered by the current scandals rocking the administration, just remember that Life is like a wheel; it all comes round and when it does you just might be crushed beneath it.

Update: In the comments AceThePug isn’t as sanguine about the future as I am:

It won’t entirely work that way, even if a Republican takes the White House in 2016 (from your mouth to God’s ears on that, by the way).

Obama is getting away with this, while still declaring the War on Terror (without actually CALLING it that) over and stating that there are no terrorist cells in the Western Hemisphere, because a vast majority of people in government share his Leftist views.

I envision a lot of the IRS, EPA and DOJ harrassment as a “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest” moment. Obama didn’t explicitly send a memo or give a direct order. He simply continued the same rhetoric about how his political opponents are evil, and people took the ball and ran with it.

I’m sure those hundred-fifty plus meetings at the White House talked about the idea, but if most of the people involved didn’t share Obama’s opinion of Conservatives, Fox, and the Tea Party as non- or sub-humans, it wouldn’t have gone as far as it did.

Nixon was impeached for even THINKING of using the IRS as Obama has actually used it. The IRS didn’t do what Nixon wanted, and I would bet that, unless there is a massive house-cleaning (or outright dissolution), the agency will remain largely Leftist.

The NSA might do the same things under a Republican, but even if they do, the Press will suddenly have a “change of heart,” and start opposing the Administration and zealously start “reporting” again—something they have magically not done in order to get Obama elected and re-elected.

I agree with your overall point, that it will be awfully hard for Dems to complain legitimately when and if their ox gets gored—but let’s be honest. Given all the wailing, caterwauling, and screaming they did over Bush’s actions, and the overall silence from the vast, VAST majority of them now that Obama is doing all that and more; well, calling them shameless hypocrites would be an insult to hypocrites :)

But unless there is a huge philosophical change in the nation, a Republican President will NEVER get the grotesquely favorable, outright propoganda-ish coverage from the Media that Obama has had (and continues to have, despite the AP scandal).

I think, though, what is most damning, and what would be pointed out if we had an honest Press, is the mosques being exempt from the intelligence-gathering. The Boston Marathon bombings should NEVER have happened (hell, even the Russians sent information that they should be watched—why weren’t they?), and the fact that they did with all this surveillance in place, is a pretty strong indicator that these programs under Obama are not about keeping the public safe, but about keeping the public under scrutiny.

IRS Admits Targeting Obama Opponents

Yes, even paranoids have enemies, very real, very dangerous, very powerful enemies.

The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

My liberal friends and colleagues think conservatives and libertarians are paranoid. Little do they understand that it’s only paranoia if they AREN’T out to get you.

UPDATE: Here are the IRS excuses reported by WaPo reporter Zach Goldfarb:

The senior IRS official briefing the press just said: “I’m not good at math.”
In her defense, the IRS official, explained: “I’m a lawyer.”
The operative question to the IRS official is: What is one-quarter of 300?

You know, for a government of supposedly intelligent people they sure are pretty stupid.

UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting things are much worse than the initial story above…

At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.
The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.


Update: Contrary to initial reports AP is reporting the acting head of the IRS Steven Miller knew about conservative groups being targeted and lied to Congress denying they were.


Anyone wondering what life was like in the Nixon years, well this is what it was like.

Obama Nixon

Benghazi and the Left’s Watergate

TownHall writes about CBS news bosses trying to undermine their own reporter’s efforts to uncover the truth in the murder of four Americans including the US Ambassador to Libya at Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. Sharyl Attkisson is finding life difficult at her job after reporting on the story, with her bosses cutting back her stories and underutilizing her after she has doggedly pursued a story that all mainstream media outlets have studiously ignored. Over the past few months I have been surprised to see such work coming out of CBS News having long given up on the outlet after Dan Rather and his bosses accused Bush two months before the 2004 election of benefiting from favoritism during the Vietnam War in a series of letters that were quickly exposed as fakes. So I was somewhat surprised to see CBS News leading the investigation into the incident. But I guess it’s no surprise to discover such reporting is an aberration, as CBS News cuts the legs out from under their own reporter in order to preserve their left wing bias.

As a child while other kids played outside or watched cartoons, I watched the Watergate hearings. Those hearings brought about by the reporting of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein left me with a deep appreciation for the role of the media as antagonistic to whomever is in power, Republican or Democrat. As a political realist I recognize the truth of Lord Acton’s adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of which political faction is in power, so the role of the media in a free society should be to act as a watchdog and expose corruption in order to benefit the People and protect the Republic. So I am deeply saddened to watch the media doggedly pursue any and every story against any centerist, conservative or libertarian politician while allowing leftist politicians to go unmolested.

Thankfully we have the rise of non-mainstream media such as Drudge Report, talk radio, and Fox News, but as AllahPundit notes, in response the leftist mainstream media has attempted to “ghettoize” these news sources by portraying them as biased advocates while portraying leftist mainstream media as unbiased. The sinking ratings and circulations of these mainstream outlets brings to mind Gandhi’s quote “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” The left must feel extremely threatened by these non-leftist sources as it has ignored, laughed at, and fought them every step of the way.

But the Truth has a way of coming out regardless of whether it is convenient for the Left or not. Lefties may choose to believe that the non-Left is focusing on Benghazi as part of a continuation of the “vast right wing conspiracy” against the Clintons, but doing so forces the left to employ cognitive dissonance by suppressing the fact that the story hit during the 2012 election when Obama was running for re-election. The left may also swallow the administration line that at the time the administration blamed the Nakoula video based on initial intelligence reports, but those reports did not suggest the video had anything to do with the attack and the video excuse was added by administration officials. So you can’t blame the intelligence community for something it did not report and that was only fabricated later by the administration.

This story will continue, and Clinton’s run the White House will guarantee it does. The leftist media can ignore, laugh at, and stamp its feet all it wants, but the fact remains its darling in the White House lied to the American people and attempted to cover it up. I’m sure somewhere in Hell Nixon is laughing.

Guns Don’t Kill People – Baby Boomers Do

So the LA Times reports a Pew Study finds gun crime has plunged even while American perceptions of it assumes it has risen. Setting aside the obvious issue of what is driving Americans to one conclusion while the facts lead to another, the study raises some other, less obvious issues.

If guns are to blame for violent gun crimes, one would have to assume by the study that the number of guns in American hands have fallen. Yet the opposite appears to be the case, with the highest per capita gun ownership in the US, with roughly one gun for every American man, woman, and child. Over the past four years guns have flown off the shelves, and it is likely there are more guns in private hands today than there were four years ago, although the exact number is difficult to know since such records are not kept. But gun manufacturers are working overtime to fill order backlogs, and the most popular weapons such as AR-15 “assault rifles” are hard to come by. Gun prices have risen as demand has outstripped supply, yet fewer of these weapons are being put to criminal use.


Because as gun rights supporters have been saying for years, guns don’t kill people, people do. If the opposite was the case American streets should be awash in blood, but they aren’t as writer Barry Snell notes. As as the Pew Study shows, American streets are safer today than they were a generation ago.

So while the Pew Study punctures the liberal myth that guns cause violence, it also pokes a hole in the conservative myth that the breakdown of the traditional family is the root of violent crime. During the same period of the study, the number of out-of-wedlock births has risen. Non-traditional marriages such as those between homosexuals have become more accepted. There are record numbers of people cohabitating. If the breakdown of the family was supposed to lead to a more violent society, it hasn’t.

More likely it’s demographics. Crime spiked in the 1960-80 period as the Baby Boomer generation reached their teens and twenties, the peak time for criminality. As people age they become less impulsive and their criminal behavior is either held in check or condoned in jobs like Federal Reserve Chairman or Goldman Sachs executive. Of course the demographic news isn’t entirely good. While the Baby Boomer generation is less criminal, it is older and requires the smaller cohorts of younger generations to support it in its old age. So younger people might have less chance of being mugged in New York City than their grandparents did, but they’ll be mugged by the taxman. This could explain why suicide rates are spiking among middle aged Americans – proving that guns don’t kill people, aging hippies do.

We Are Idiots

In 2008-9 our country experienced an unprecedented meltdown of its financial system brought on by the cosy relationships between government regulators, politicians and bureaucrats. In response the Federal Reserve embarked on a program whereby the it stole money from the bank accounts of 98% of the country and shifted it to the wealthiest of American society through depressing interest rates paid to savers on their accounts below the rate of inflation, meaning that for every $1,000 in your bank account you lose $30 every year to inflation. This subsidized those with money by providing them with low borrowing costs, allowing them to leverage their wealth for even greater gains in the stock market. It’s not good enough that a billionaire invests $100 million in the market; no, he must use that $100m as leverage to control a billion dollars worth of stock. The stock market has become a casino where small investors are left to chase nickels in front of steam rollers while the government funds the wealthiest segment of society. Worse, the Cyprus Model has put paid to the idea that bank savings are property and protected by the law. Instead savers have become “speculators” and their savings “investments” to be wiped out whenever banks need a bailout. It must not be forgotten that the initial bank bailout, the first put forward by the European Union, looked to steal 6.7% of guaranteed savings below 100,000 Euro. The European Union isn’t exactly communist China or Soviet Russia yet it completely ignored its own law of guaranteed deposits (the EU FDIC) and took the money. Is such an event possible in the United States? Yes. Unlikely perhaps at this point, but still possible.

To support this stock market bubble the federal reserve has flooded the markets with currency yet denied such actions, euphemistically called “quantitative easing”, are inflationary. Government bureaucracies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) manipulate employment statistics to make it appear as if good times are here to stay by excluding the long-term unemployed and those who have given up on finding a job, meaning that if your wife is working and you’re looking for a job, our economy will improve by you staying at home and watching daytime TV since your household will go from 50% unemployment to 0% unemployment. Similarly the BLS manipulates inflation rates by discounting the volatility of food and fuel, the largest categories all but the very wealthiest people spend their money on besides taxes and housing, and making “qualitative adjustments” that hide inflation. In addition companies are passing on higher production costs to consumer through stealth inflation, providing less product for the same money. The profusion of dollar stores are proof of the success of this strategy since shoppers at these stores believing they are getting a bargain while in reality they are paying more per unit of good than at other stores. 4 loads of Tide for a $1 might seem a deal until one goes to a supermarket and finds a 40 load box of the detergent for $7.

Not one person from the banking crisis has been indicted or prosecuted by the Obama administration or Congress, a fact that spawned a PBS Frontline show “The Untouchables.” Could this be because the federal government would be prosecuting it’s own? Former SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro resigned and has taken a position at Promontory Financial Group, a bank consulting group, but promises not to lobby the government she once worked for. That has led to Forbes wondering what other of her qualifications Promontory is willing to bill $1,000 – $10,000 an hour for. She’s among numerous ex-federal employees at her new digs. Check out the nifty graphic at ZeroHedge listing Promontory employees and their former positions in the government. Yet we are supposed to believe this revolving door between regulators and those they regulate is free from moral hazard. In the comments at ZeroHedge someone calls the place a “high end whorehouse.” It it were taxpayers wouldn’t be the ones being screwed.

Banks like JP Morgan-Chase and investment firms like Goldman Sachs are considered too big to fail, taking their “skin” out of the game and replacing it with the American taxpayer’s. If JPMC or Goldman’s risky investments turn out well, it’s “capitalism” and their corporate managers and shareholders are rewarded; if they bomb it’s no big deal. The shareholders or managers are still rewarded as they were in January 2010 when banker bonuses were “bigger than ever” according to the New York Times even after the economic collapse of 2008-9. The American worker will simply work a few hours to provide the taxes the firms need to be bailed out, that is if she has a job. It’s a great system if you are Lloyd Blankfein GS’s CEO who earns upwards of $100 million a year at Goldman Sachs. It benefits Democratic politicians like Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama too since Blankfein is a large donor to the Democratic party.

Then there’s the debt. To call it a “mountain of debt” is to betray a shallow awareness of the world’s topography. Here are some neat visualizations of our debt in $100 bills, and an impressive sounding statistic that’s hard to visual: a line of $1 bills would stretch from the Earth to Uranus. We’ve reached a point where analogies lose their meaning, although the current debt being greater than the country’s entire output in 2011 must be at least a bit sobering to even the drunkest Keynesian economist. The best way to consider the debt is by making it personal. Since 2008 the debt has expanded by $26,000 per person. Multiply that number by those in your household and ask yourself if you feel that amount richer over the past 4 years. That would mean an extra $78k for my household, enough to drop the Wife’s med school debt by 40% or replace our aging cars, each with over 150k miles on them, as well as buy a new car for the Kid. If you don’t see that money, where did it go? Ask yourself: are you better off today than you were 4 years ago? Then ask Lloyd whether he is.

The system is corrupt yet we do nothing about it. We are told happy days are here again, that the stockmarket is at record highs, yet those of us who dabbled in the market prior to 2009 have still not recovered from the losses suffered then, leaving us on the sidelines of this rally. Small investors piled into the market and out of the market late back then, proving they were the “greater fools” and some are doing so today as the market skyrockets and smart money looks for the exits. Sure our 401K’s are expanding, but the numbers are meaningless for anyone other than those planning to retire in the coming months before this bubble bursts. Self employed people and contractors like myself don’t have 401K’s, we just have our wits and an ever sharpening skill set that we use to stay employed, but both are slowly being eroded by time as we age and the younger cohorts below us grow hungrier and more competitive. Time will unravel us, and when it does we will be poor and destitute, remembering the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxes paid that could have gone, should have gone, into our retirement funds but didn’t. At that point we’ll be on the side of the 47% who don’t pay taxes, but by then the government will be completely broke. We shouldn’t expect any sympathy from the generations coming up in our shadows, since both Left and Right are in agreement that theirs will be the first generations to have lower living standards than preceding generations. It doesn’t help that we’ve sent them to substandard schools whose sole purpose seems to be to employ Masters of Education degree holders instead of actually teaching our children the skills they need to succeed in life.

The collapse of our education system is proof of our sick society, one that raids the education budgets for the young to pay for the guaranteed pensions of the old, one in which the only people who treasure marriage these days are gay and everyone else hooks up like a shed-full of feral cats in heat, with an increasing percetage of the products of these unions are on ADHD medication. I’d need to be medicated too if I was forced to sit still with a body full of hormones and brimming with youthful energy, taught by teachers who, like the children of Lake Wobegon, are all above average, all 98% of them. Conversely, Walter Russell Mead points out ”only 78.2 percent of American students graduated high school in 2010. Sixty-seven percent of all fourth graders could not read at grade level in 2009. And only 32 percent of eighth graders and 38 percent of twelfth graders were reading at or above grade level that same year.” Of course if we measured education aptitude by the number of body piercings and tattoos we’d lead the world.

David Stockman, former Reagan budget director, is getting beaten up in the press for his book The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America. Journalists, products of the Masters of Education employment entities described above, look at the highs of the Dow and discount Stockman’s thesis that the system we have today is more akin to the monopolies and crony capitalists that spawned the progressive movement over a century ago rather than some Randist free market anarchic paradise that they instinctively fear. The treatment of Stockman is similar to that shoveled out to Bob Woodward for daring to criticize President Obama game of chicken with the sequester, as J-school graduates leaped in defense of their icon in the White House attacking Woodward with various ad hominems that any of the profs would have failed them for had they used them in class (or rather, a class where failure was an option – evidently a rarity these days where students can pass without actually studying.) Watching Woodward, a man whose politics I disagree with yet whom I respect for helping pull off the greatest journalistic story of the century, being attacked by the likes of Andrew “I’m here, I’m queer, blah blah blah” Sullivan was like watching a fine thoroughbred horse attacked by a swarm of flies fresh from their home in a dung pile. But such is the fate for anyone who dares call “shenanigans” in the current climate where anyone who can’t continue deceiving themselves is lampooned, debased, or in the case of Woodward, threatened.

Our problems aren’t just economic either. The Obama administration has fled the Middle East and attempts to appease Iran by refusing to support the rebellion against the Assad regime in Syria.

“I think that the United States has not taken a more active role in Syria from the beginning because they didn’t want to disturb the possibility, to give them space, to negotiate with Iran,” Javier Solana, the former European Union foreign policy chief, said Monday at a Brookings Institution discussion about this week’s talks. Solana, who was a top negotiator with Tehran in the nuclear program until 2009, added, “They probably knew that getting very engaged against Assad, engaged even militarily, could contribute to a break in the potential negotiations with Tehran.”

As Walter Russell Mead notes this could be a catastrophic mistake.

If Solana is right that this policy has been driving the White House all along, this is Obama’s initial Iran failure—remaining silent during the 2009 Green Revolution—on steroids. Weakness doesn’t win you the friendship of bullies. And if this dispatch is right, we should expect some ugly repercussions from the Sunni Arabs, the Israelis and the Turks. All these powers want to see Iran’s claws clipped and they want Assad to go; all of these powers chiefly view the value of their US ties at the moment in the light of the confrontation with Iran. If they come to feel that the United States is willing to throw the Syrian lamb to the Iranian tiger, their trust and confidence in the United States, and consequentially America’s power to get things done in the region, would go into a deep eclipse.

Things don’t look any better on the other side of Asia with North Korea promising to attack the United States. So far the US response has been mild, yet that hasn’t stopped the press from asking White House spokesman Jay Carney if that hasn’t provoked a communist dictatorship whose people are being starved to death on a steady diet of leftist propaganda and grass. But their carbon footprints are tiny, for now. How much carbon will be released by a nuclear strike on Osaka or Guam? Quite a bit I suppose. In any event we soon might find out if North Korea acts on its threats.

A whole industry is set up to use imagery and fantasy to modify our behavior so that we buy something, yet somehow a related industry employing the same techniques but for entertainment purposes ie exempt from responsibility when an admittedly sick individual dresses up as villain of the violent movie being shown to the audience he then commences to massacre. The Roman Catholic Pope is labeled as an extremist for calling abortion murder while a doctor who performs late term abortions and keeps the tiny feet of his victims in a jar as memento mori is lauded as a hero. The billionaire mayor of New York City makes it his personal mission to rid the city of large soft drinks while the city’s crime rate rises and the city becomes less friendly to all but society’s richest and poorest.

But when all is said and done, who is to blame for this mess that we find ourselves in? We are.

We didn’t demand for the bankers to be tarred and feathered (well, we did but failed to hold our elected leaders accountable for allowing the bankers off scot-free.). We continually vote in the politicians who offer us platitudes instead of common sense and plunder the public purse for the benefit of the monied elite regardless of their party affiliation. We engage in bitter fights over issues that don’t impact us directly (I’m not gay, on medicaid and I can’t get pregnant, so honestly just how worked up can I get about gay marriage, social programs and abortion?), yet ignore the issues that unite us and affect our daily lives. We vilify other Americans for their differences yet are willfully blind to the commonalities. Intellectual laziness encourages us to accept stereotypes and straw men built by those who feed on hatred the way a maggot feeds on the flesh of an open wound instead of putting ourselves in the other’s position, or to use an old cliche, “walking a mile in the other man’s moccasins.” We have Obama himself saying, “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” accepting a stereotype and succumbing to a form of elitism and intellectual laziness by belittling his opponents instead of attempting to understand them and winning them over. We’ve accepted the low standards of education because we’ve been trained that “fighting city hall” or in this case the school board is futile. So our kids read less than we do, they can text faster and know the special combo to beat the god Zeus in the “God of War” video game. They’ll be alright. Right? We keep our heads down, do what we are told and hope that our dreams come true, the way they do on TV between the ads for drugs to help men get it up and women feel not so down.

We should be ashamed for what we’ve done, or more importantly, not done, expending the effort to fight for accountability from our elected officials and receiving their heads in baskets after they ignored us 4 years ago. Today the problems are even worse, the threats greater, yet we continue on the way we did before the 2008 financial meltdown and on September 10, 2001, fighting among ourselves without giving the other the benefit of the doubt or the dignity our opponent deserves. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, we chose this path, and we did so because we are idiots.