Monday, August 31, 2015

Adios America, Europe in Transition & An Enlightened Single Issue Voter

I’ve just returned from two weeks in Europe with our time split between France and Germany. My sleep patterns being off a bit I occupied myself for a few nights reading Ann Coulter’s Adios America. Great book! I highly recommend picking up a copy.

In it she talks about the disaster unfettered immigration from the third world has been for the United States. Essentially Teddy Kennedy’s Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 would set the nation on a path that has gone a long way to transforming it into a banana republic. Where once immigration to the United States was limited and largely drawn from nations that shared similar cultures with the United States – based on a quota system that mirrored the origins of existing Americans – today we have a system where immigrants from largely third world countries, where mores are vastly different than those of traditional America, outnumber immigrants from Europe exponentially.

I found the subject matter of Adios America particularly interesting as we visited Munich, a city I last found myself some 20+ years ago while in the Army... back when it was still called West Germany. The city itself had not changed dramatically. The cathedrals were still beautiful with their stunning Rococo architecture, the Alte Pinakothek still has one of my favorite paintings (The Battle of Alexander at Issus) and the food is still distinctly… bland. There was however one dramatic change that was readily observable two decades later… the demographics. Easily 20% of the people we saw strolling around Marienplatz and the rest of the city were Muslims. Such a preponderance of woman wearing full burkas in Germany was extraordinary and unlike anything I’d seen there before. This change was particularly noteworthy as three Americans had just subdued an Islamic terrorist on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, a truck with the bodies of 71 refugees from Syria had just been discovered across the border in Austria, and the German government was at that very time attempting to force Facebook to remove all “racist” anti refugee posts on its platform.

While we didn’t observe any inappropriate behavior in either France or Germany from anyone, immigrant or otherwise… as tourists sticking to tourist areas we didn't expect to. But there very much is a clash of civilizations going on in the France and Germany and much of the West. Already 10% of France is Muslim while Germany is expected to receive almost a million refugees this year, almost all of whom are coming from war torn Muslim countries. Of course it wouldn’t be a war if the immigrants integrated into and contributed to the larger society. But that’s not happening. In France each New Year is rung in by 1,000 cars being burned by Mulims.  80% of Turks in Germany are on Welfare, Muslim polygamy in rampant in Britain, immigrants have driven Sweden to number three rape country in the world, and in France, where 10% of the population is Muslim Newsweek reports that somehow 16% of the population supports ISIS.

None of this bodes well for the Europe that brought us Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Gutenberg, Voltaire, Locke, Mozart, Churchill or any one of the millions of others that help build western culture into the greatest – if imperfect – culture that we have today.

And just in time for the 2016 US election Coulter does a superb job of documenting exactly how on this side of the Atlantic the United States came to find itself on the cusp of turning the greatest nation in human history into another banana republic failure.  It started with Kennedy and has continued unabated for 50 years with the manipulation of the political classes, cheerleading by the mainstream media and the funding from big business. From gang rape culture and welfare as the norm to lockstep voting for anti American Democrats to eviscerating the middle class and stratospheric murder rates, Coulter articulates in crystal clear language and notes – 280 pages of content backed up by 89 pages of footnotes – the extraordinary costs unfettered immigration has imposed on the United States and its citizens over the last five decades.

This is not some hyper jingoistic screed fixated on anyone not white. On the contrary, in numerous places she highlights the fact that many of those hurt most by the millions of lowskilled workers pouring over the border are blacks and the immigrants who were here before. Nor does she suggest putting every illegal immigrant in a camp or on a bus and shipping them home. What she does suggest however is to stop the flow… then figure out what to do with those here... which would no doubt include sending many home, but would include assimilating many others. Like the Titanic, it makes no sense to rearrange the deck chairs while the gaping hole in the boat is allowing water to flow in freely. Today, with a million or more would be welfare recipients, children in need of education and healthcare, gangsters in waiting crossing the border every year, Coulter does a better job of articulating the problem than virtually any politician has in half a century.

I’ve never been a single issue voter. In fact, I’ve written that single issue voting is stupid and often ends up being a disaster. But that was three years ago, and looking at the last half century in general and the last 6 years in particular; it is now clear that immigration policy has become the hole in the side of the American ship. Immigration is not abortion.  Immigration is not the 2nd Amendment.  Immigration is not tax policy.  Those are deck chairs... immigration is the hull and today there is a hole in it... and the ship is sinking.  If that hole is not plugged, this boat will go down.  At that point there won’t be any individual freedom or limited government or economic prosperity left for conservatives to fight for.  There won't be life to preserve, there won't be a 2nd Amendment to protect, there will not be a tax code to reform.  There will be nothing left of the Constitution and the framework left to us by our Foundng Fathers that set the stage for the greatest advance of the human condition in all of human history.  There will be nothng left of what you know as America.  The only thing left will be to look for a country where those formerly American ideals might still be valued… and things aren’t looking particularly good on that score either… So I'll be looking o the guy who makes this the issue of the campaign.  My money is on Cruz... but one has to recognize that today Trump is the guy on this issue.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kim Kardashian, Robert F. Kennedy and why Donald Trump Scares the Hell out of the GOP

If you ask any American who Kim Kardashian is – other than perhaps one of her 34 million Twitter followers – they’ll likely tell you she is a vapid, self(ie) obsessed brunette with a propensity for public displays of nudity who leads a reality show band of dysfunctional misfits. They’d be right of course, but that wouldn’t be whole story.

That characterization would miss the fact that she is a brilliant marketer and businesswoman who has successfully harnessed rapidly evolving social media for a decade, and in turn attracted the attention of millions of young fans at a time when young people are notorious for having short attention spans. She has in turn turned those millions of fans into hundreds of millions of dollars not only for herself and her family, but for E! and a wide swath of the American publishing industry.

Good or bad, Kim Kardashian is an American cultural icon. So too is Donald Trump. When it comes to self promotion, Kim’s a piker as Trump has been at it for almost four decades – although she has ten times as many Twitter followers.

And now, in perhaps the greatest example of self promotion in human history, Donald Trump is running for President. And he just might win. In the world of political media, where seasoned politicians have spent years cultivating messages and controlling coverage, Trump is running the table. Although there are currently 17 candidates for the GOP nomination, from a media perspective there is really only one. He is sucking all of the oxygen out of the room… and as a result many seasoned and successful politicians will not survive for long.

And he’s doing it on someone else’s dime, despite the fact that he could afford to spend 10 times what everyone else in the field could, combined. Just as Kim Kardashian has leveraged the media to benefit herself, Donald trump has leveraged the media to put himself at the front of the pack. While Rick Perry, the extraordinarily successful governor of Texas is eliminating the paychecks of his staff, Trump has spent nary a dime advertising his campaign. Just as you may not like the way Kardashian gets coverage, she’s very good at it… and so is Trump. It’s neither the fault of Kardashian or Trump that America is celebrity obsessed. They simply take advantage of it.

But to write Trump off as a mere celebrity would be a mistake. He’s that, but much more. He is a consummate operator. Although he was born with a quarter billion dollar silver spoon in his mouth, to his credit he has improved on what he was born with twenty fold. Certainly there have been very public stumbles along the way, but each time he has recovered, spectacularly.

For those gnashing their teeth as to how it’s possible that a celebrity, with what might charitably called shaky conservative principals, could be leading the GOP field, they’re missing the forest for the trees. Donald Trump is not leading the field just because he’s a celebrity. He’s not leading the field because he said Mexico is operating a modern day Mariel boatlift and he’s going to build a wall to stop it. He’s not leading because he said something rude about Megyn Kelly. While those all have contributed, he’s leading because Americans think he can and will get something done… particularly building the wall.

In A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House Arthur M. Schlesinger recounts a story about the president’s brother Robert F. Kennedy… if I remember it correctly! As Attorney General RFK noticed a sign on the GW Parkway indicating the exit for CIA headquarters. He called someone in charge to get the sign removed. Months later the sign was still there. He called again. Months later the wheels of bureaucracy had still not turned and the sign was still there. Finally Kennedy called the Parkway gardener and told him to take it down personally… and it was gone.

Americans see that nothing works in Washington. America has become that sign. Cameras catch thousands of illegals crossing into the country every single day for decades and yet Washington can do nothing. Regardless of how much money is spent on welfare it keeps growing. The tax code is so complex that the people who wrote it don’t even understand it. Government has become V’Ger from the first Star Trek movie; it’s taken on a life of its own, with no master.

Rightly or wrongly, Americans think that Trump can be government’s master. He may not say the right things, he may be a crony capitalist of the highest order, he may have an ego the size of the Empire State Building… but he gets things done. America sees itself as the Wolman Rink of the world, and the Washington establishment is the Koch administration.

Sadly, the GOP establishment and the media don’t get that. In what is perhaps the most inane interview in political history, Bradley Blakeman, a former Bush administration official complained that Trump doesn’t have the infrastructure, the boots on the ground that campaigns usually have. He decries the fact that Trump has not announced who his advisors are, hasn’t spent any money on a campaign and doesn’t have what’s necessary to get voters out to the primaries. Americans don’t care if Trump spends a dollar on his campaign. They don’t care that he doesn’t have an army of advisors telling him the right thing to say, the name of the president of Burundi or what the new EPA regulations stipulate about CO2 emissions. Americans don’t want someone who can ace a civics test. They want someone who can get things done. Trump does that.

Blakeman, like the GOP establishment, misses the fundamental point. The point of campaigns is to get voters excited and get them to vote, not to build infrastructure or hire campaign strategists. The establishment fears Trump because he can win without them. He doesn’t need them or their cabal to succeed. Like Ronald Reagan before him, Trump can and does take his case directly to the American people. And if a president doesn't need the establishment... their power is gone… and with it their privilege. Then they will have to figure out how to compete in the real world, where effort and results drive success, something they are not particularly accustomed to doing.

Of course, Reagan had a long track record of success in government experience before he entered the White House. Trump does not. For six years we’ve lived with the consequences of a president who has no executive experience in government. It’s been a disaster. But it’s been a disaster not because Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing, but rather because Barack Obama is an anti-American anti-free market narcissist with dictatorial proclivities. Donald Trump too is a narcissist and may have dictatorial proclivities and isn't exactly Adam Smith... but he’s nothing if not rabidly pro-American.

Actual voting is still months away and by January Trump may have faded from view like most of the males who enter the Kardashian universe. But until then, Donald Trump is giving Americans something they crave, someone who promises to go to Washington and change the rules, break the bureaucracy and get something done. In the process he’s doing the nation a great service that hopefully will outlive his campaign… reminding Americans that that the business of Washington isn’t to perpetuate its own power, but rather to serve at the behest of the people.

Monday, August 10, 2015

On the Anniversary of Michael Brown's Death The Washington Post Does its Best to Raise Tensions and Help the Democrat Cause

The Washington Post does its part to continue the collapse in race relations in the United States… and in the process diverts attention from the real issues facing Americans of all stripes such as an anemic economy, a disastrous Iran deal and a feckless administration that can’t seem to do anything right.

On Sunday the paper ran a piece with the following title: A year after Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire. It then proceeds to discuss the deaths of a number of unarmed black men who were killed by police since the Michael Brown case one year ago. The paper helpfully notes:
“Black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population.”
While those figures might be startling, out of context they mean nothing. Certainly the fact that black men accounted for 40% of the 60 unarmed deaths is astonishing given their 6% of the population. But it doesn’t seem quite so startling when one notes that, according to the FBI, in 2012 black men were charged with 38.5% of violent crime; “even though they make up just 6% of the U.S. population.” In addition, of those under the age of 18 charged with violent crimes, 51.5% of them are black males. (Note, in both these cases the FBI stats don’t break down by sex, but according to their statistics men are 10X more likely than women to commit violent crimes such as murder.)

And the word unarmed does not mean someone is not dangerous. Of the six main men profiled in the piece, one of was high on Cocaine and attacking an officer, another led police on a high speed chase and was shot when police thought he was reaching for a weapon after his vehicle was immobilized, while another, according to police, was shot while trying to run arresting officers over.

None of this is to suggest that there are not bad police out there or that black men are never wrongly killed by police. We know it happens, as the killing of Walter Scott show. But thankfully, that is the exception rather than the rule. But that’s not the message the Washington Post is seeking to communicate. As troubling as even one wrongful death is, in a nation of 320 million people, with almost a million police and over a million violent crimes each year, context is everything.

The Washington Post could have used the same data to make the following headline: “Black men, who were charged with almost 40% of violent crime in America, accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths at the hands of police.” But that wouldn’t have moved forward their narrative that the police are racists. They also could have used the total number of people killed by police, 585, to begin a discussion about excessive force, but that too would have missed the mark of their police are racists mark as well, particularly as the number of citizens killed by police is extraordinarily low by historic standards. (In 1971 NYC police killed 91 people vs. 8 in 2013)  Finally, they could have used that same 585 number of people killed by police to begin a discussion on the number of lives saved by the actions of the police. But that too would have been completely incongruent with their narrative.

The point here isn’t that shootings by police are not an important issue. On the contrary, they are and it’s a very important issue as the government, usually in the form of police, is the only entity legally empowered to take your liberty. The point is the value of picking up a copy of  the Washington Post or clicking on one of its links.  Is the supposed leading national paper on politics a source of news or is it a shill for the Democrat party with the objective of helping to get Democrats elected?

While there is no mention of politics in the story one way or another, it's obviously biased with the goal of inflaming racial tensions across the country… at a time where they are already at the lowest point in decades. That of course helps Democrats who built their modern party on identity politics.

Sadly, if the Washington Post were to do some real reporting on violence and murder in black America and the policies that propagate it, the impact would likely send black Americans running from the Democrat party like the plague.  But as 2016 will be a make or break election between the continuation of the march of progressivism or a sharp turn to a conservative reversal, don’t expect the Washington Post to do any actual reporting. Just look for the Democrat label. You won’t see it on the masthead, but you can be sure it’s there nonetheless.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Of Cute Babies and Stuffed Lions... Why Cecil Gets All The Attention

Last week it was almost impossible to escape pictures of Cecil the Lion King and the Minnesota dentist who killed him. The dentist received death threats and had to go into hiding. The story was indeed sad. The lion was lured out of the sanctuary and shot with a bow in the middle of the night… and then suffered for 40 hours before he was finally shot dead.

The “hunter” defends his actions, saying he thought what he was doing was legal. The reality is, what he was doing was neither legal nor hunting. It was killing for fun and he used it to try and impress a girl - apparently he failed. It was the lion equivalent of hunting fish in a barrel. I don’t hunt, and I think people who kill great animals for “sport” are probably a bit off kilter. Nonetheless, limited “sport” hunting, as repugnant as it is, can actually help save endangered species. (more)  That was not the case with Cecil however.

During the same week, unless you were listening to, watching or reading conservative media, you might have missed much of the Planned Parenthood news where officials were caught on tape discussing the sale of fetus parts. Many in the conservative media rightly decried the lopsided coverage of the death of a lion vs. the death of hundreds of thousands or millions of babies. Indeed, many who expressed angst with the death of Cecil were branded hypocrites because they eat meat or wear leather.

That is a false and disingenuous assertion. Most Americans eat meat, and as Sean Hannity rightly pointed out, they outsource the murder of cows, chickens and turkeys to others. The acceptance of and participation in an economic machine that puts food on one’s table is not the equivalent of condoning the unlawful killing of a protected member of an endangered species. It is possible to logically eat meat from animals killed in a slaughterhouse and still decry the murder of Cecil.

As for decrying the lack of a similar outcry on the Planned Parenthood story, the issue is not a matter of the public reacting… rather it is a matter of the mainstream media simply burying the story. Americans react to a wide variety of media stimuli. The problem is, the media they react to is usually TMZ, the New York Times, Cosmo, MSNBC and the rest of the liberal cabal that have zero interest in covering anything that showcases the dark side of abortion. Indeed, in 2013 the networks gave Wendy "Abortion Barbie" Davis three times the coverage as they did the murderer Kermit Gosnell.

Cecil is the Lion King, while the nameless, faceless aborted babies don’t have Disney movies made about them or have their likeness turned into stuffed animals. Does one imagine if Disney were to put its marketing blitz behind a movie following the 9 month journey of a baby from conception to birth that abortion and Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be on the ropes. Of course they would, but don't hold your breath.

That’s the problem… it’s not that Americans care more about lions than babies. It’s that babies (at least unborn ones) don’t have a media savvy presence that pulls on the heartstrings from before we can read or walk. In addition, there’s something working against unborn babies that seems almost counter intuitive. In his brilliant standup show “Dress to Kill” Eddie Izzard talks about the scale of murder. When the numbers are relatively small, three, eight, a dozen, we can viscerally connect with them because they are real, they are tangible, they are numbers we can get our heads around. When a tyrant like Pol Pot or Hitler Stalin kills millions or tens of millions we have a hard time humanizing it because the sheer numbers overwhelm our ability to comprehend or connect. So too with abortion. The hundreds of thousands of babies aborted each year, maybe 30 million since Roe v. Wade, make the entire issue almost beyond comprehension. Combine that with the sterile outpatient nature of the “procedure” and the arguments that it’s just a bunch of cells and it’s difficult to connect with people’s hearts… and like it or not, that’s what animates issues.

Although many want to conflate what Planned Parenthood is doing and the larger abortion issue in general, they are two different things. For instance, I find myself conflicted about abortion. While I have no problem with the morning after pill, I’m certain that at 5 months in it’s a baby… My conflict comes from whether the line of demarcation is 4 months or 3 months or wherever it is, I'm not sure, but I’m certainly in favor of erring on the side of earlier. That being said, the Planned Parenthood videos have brought a welcome voice to an issue that has languished for years because no one ever talked about it.

Late term abortion is nothing less than killing a child. Most Americans get that… but President Obama and most Democrat politicians don’t. (Even 79% of ProChoice supporters recognize that!) But because the issue is typically couched in clinical terms or in terms of woman’s choice… few respond the way that we have seen respond to Cecil’s death. If the goal is to outlaw this barbaric practice, to close the marketplace for baby limbs and organs, to stop the murder of innocents, then the effort must be to connect voters with the babies… and not with the grotesque images that so often cause people to turn their heads in horror. Yes, while the images are horrible, the “procedure” itself is horrible too, but if such images so repulse voters that they disengage from the issue and grow angry at the messenger, that’s counterproductive.

If we are interested in stopping this inhuman practice, we have to figure out how to make a five month old fetus human… to other humans. Make it cute, adorable and cuddly, but most of all connect him or her with the heartstrings of the average American so that they understand that when politicians or progressives talk about a “procedure” they aren’t talking about Petri dishes and slides, they are talking about ending a life of a baby that is every bit as cute as the Lion King.