Saturday, December 24, 2016

Random Measures of Human Progress... We've got it pretty good in 2016

One of the downsides of success is that people sometimes forget what it took to get there. It’s not usually the people who created the success in the first place who forget it, but rather their progeny or the people who experience the fruits of success without having to have actually achieved it…

Mankind has been on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years. To borrow Carl Sagan’s analogy, if the time mankind has been on earth was a calendar, the time the United States has been in existence might be just one day.

For most of the 365 days on that calendar most humans lived largely in conditions of scarcity, barbarity, poverty and war. For most of human history it was the sword that was the defining element of destiny… either by fighting on the battlefields or as a medium of control over other people.

If the Declaration of Independence is midnight on night of the 30th of December, then the year 1900 might constitute noon on December 31st. To put some perspective on today’s world, let’s look a few of things from the year 1900. At the turn of the century the average life expectancy in the world was 31 years and 35% of all babies never made it to their fifth birthday. Half of the American population worked on farms – one of the most dangerous occupations in the world – or in its ancillary industries and for most of the rest of the world that share was over 90%. Slavery still existed in 15 countries, Jim Crow laws existed throughout the south and the bubonic plague was killing 100,000 people a year worldwide. Flight, radio, and television, had not been invented (nevermind the computer and the Internet) and a three minute long distance call would cost five dollars.

Today most humans live in a different world if not necessarily on a different planet… this is particularly true for people living in the West. On that 365 day calendar the period from 2000 to today might only represent the last hour on the last day of the year. But during that hour life for almost every American would be exponentially better than it had been for our ancestress for the previous 99.99% of human history. Today the average life expectancy worldwide is 64 while in the US it’s 79 years and worldwide less than 5% of babies don’t reach their 5th birthday. War still exists, but it’s different. During the two wars the United States has been involved in since 2001 the number of fatalities is near 8,000 while over a period of just over a dozen years of war during the wars of the 20th century Americans lost over 600,000. Today 91% of Americans have mobile phones while 65% have smartphones that are more powerful than the computers that put a man on the moon. Today 95% of Americans work in areas other than farming… something for which we can thank a man named Cyrus McCormick. In 1831 McCormick invented the mechanical reaper that freed men from the soil and changed the world. McCormick made it so that so that rather than spending their lives toiling on dangerous farms most Americans could spend their lives as teachers, plumbers, programmers, golf professionals, accountants, actors, doctors, marketing executives, YoutTube stars, writers and pretty much anything they might want to do as they no longer were tethered to the farm.

Today we can fly virtually anywhere on the planet in less than 24 hours, we can video chat endlessly with anyone anywhere for free, we can fill up our gas tanks for the equivalent of two hours of work, we can order books or dinner or clothes or furniture online and have them delivered to our door in hours or days and watch new movies from our couches or make them on our computers. Ninety nine percent of American households have TVs, 87% have air conditioning and 86% of households have cars.

All of these random measures showcase why someone plucked from Rome from the year 100 B.C. would have much more in common with someone 2000 years later from Atlanta or New York in 1900 than either would have with the average American today a mere 100 years later. The United States today has enormous problems that must be faced and the world has even more. But we should not let those problems, as real as they are, divert us from recognizing exactly what we have and how far mankind in general and Americans in particular have come. As we celebrate the birth of Christ and look forward to a New Year we should take time to reflect on our good fortune to live in a world as wondrous as ours is in 2016… and perhaps that will give us the strength, confidence and desire to make it even better for our progeny.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ice Rinks, Schools and Gangs: Liberals don't really want to fix problems...

As Donald Trump seeks to throw a wrench in the works of how government works... or more often, doesn't, we should be prepared to listen to Democrats and liberals wail at every move.  Just look at the cries that welcomed the nomination of a climate change skeptic to run the borg known as the EPA.  Remember, Trump's the guy who, after NYC wasted $13 million over two years failing to renovate Wollman Rink, went in and accomplished the task in 4 months for $2.25 million...

The reality is, Democrats and liberals rarely want government to actually improve things or solve problems... Sure, they say they say they want to improve schools, create more jobs, and reduce crime, but, they don’t really. And how do we know this? Because of the policies they advocate.

One place where this is obvious is in education. Liberals constantly advocate for an increase in education budgets, but there is a zero correlation between that spending and better performance. The United States spends more per pupil on education than any country in the developed world other than Switzerland, yet somehow American students rank in the twenties or thirties when compared to that same group.

And this is not new… Between 1970 and 2006 the per student cost of a K-12 education in the United States tripled while test scores remained flat. For the left, improving education means spending more money, not improving the actual education of students. That increase of money involves not only teacher’s and teacher salaries as they would have us think, but more ominously, administrators and non classroom personnel.  Between 1950 and 2009 the number of students in the United States increased by 96% and the number of teachers increased by 386% while the number of administrators increased by 702%! And there’s more! In 21 states across the country, there are actually more non-classroom personnel in schools than there are teachers! In Texas, over the last 20 years while the student population grew by 37% the non-classroom staff grew four times as fast, surging by 172%.

All of this increase in spending and personnel might be reasonable if students were learning more and scoring better on tests, but they're not, particularly in the biggest urban school districts where most of the money is spent. And of course it’s the big cities where liberals have a virtual stranglehold on education… But then calls for education spending isn’t about education, it’s about government jobs, union dues, and ultimately Democrat campaign contributions.

Another example of liberals not really being interested in the welfare of the people they claim to support can be seen in California where immigration advocates are seeking to have the state destroy CalGang, a database compiled over years that contains the names and information on 150,000 suspected gang members across the state - or at least put it in some inaccessible lockbox.

Why would liberals want this database destroyed? So that Donald Trump can’t access it. Still, why?Because a state auditor observed last year that approximately 13% of the database represented names that were “inappropriately included”. That includes names that should never have been added in the first place, names that should have been taken off for being “inaccurate”, or youths whose parents were not properly notified prior to their being added. In addition the database might be sexist and racist because it’s 93% male and disproportionately minority as 64.9% of its database is Hispanic and 20.5% black.

Activists don’t want Donald Trump to be able to access the information so that hen't can fulfill his campaign promise of deporting illegal aliens who have committed crimes.

Now think about that… this database of gang members, which even by the auditor’s account, is at least 87% accurate, should be “blocked from federal access” because of the possibility someone wrongly included might get deported. Nevermind that being a suspected gang member isn’t sufficient to get someone thrown out of the country. They still need to be here illegally. Nevermind that police agencies across the state are constantly reviewing the database and removing names that are not supposed to be there or no longer supposed to be included. In liberalese, if it’s not 100% perfect then it can’t be used... and even if it were, we can imagine they'd find another rationale for blocking access.

So in a world where gangs are responsible for 80% of all crime and 50% of violent crime, liberals want to mask the membership in gangs of approximately 150,000 Californians so that a president who promised to deport criminal illegal aliens can’t do so because of the possibility that 20,000 of those names maybe shouldn't have been included.  Of course that makes sense in a state where there were 1,861 murders last year... and probably half of those were committed by gangs and gang members.

So here’s the thing… rather than concern themselves with the families of the approximately 1,000 people murdered by gang members in California in 2015, liberal activists would prefer to keep the imperfect database out of the hands of Donald Trump because of the slight chance he might deport someone whose inclusion in the database was possibly erroneous! Liberals would rather protect illegal alien criminals than protect the victims of their crime... most of whom are the same Hispanics they are seeking to "protect" in the first place!  But there's not nearly as much fundraising to be had from advocating for murder victims' families as there is for leading demonstrations against government "injustice" against innocent undocumented workers who went through hell to come to America so they could make a better life for themselves only to be unjustly threatened with deportation by a racist president.  

As the next four years unfold and liberals seek to thwart Donald Trump -  the hero of Wollman Rink - at every juncture, keep in mind that their goal is never really achieving the outcomes they claim to advocate, whether it’s better education, lowering crime or virtually anything else. If it was they would abandon liberal sophistry and start advocating policies that actually work. But as those rarely increase their power, their bank accounts and ultimately their control, so don’t count on it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Donald Trump: Barack Obama Part Deux?

Two of the most dysfunctional areas of the American economy are healthcare and education, not coincidentally, two of the areas of the economy that the government has the most control and influence.

In healthcare, while there is ostensibly some private elements to it, the reality is that government regulations control almost every aspect of it. From the HIPAA forms about sharing your information you sign at the doctor’s office to what services insurance must cover to how much doctors can charge – or more accurately, get reimbursed for – Medicare patients. As much as one might want to point the finger at Obamacare, the reality is, healthcare was a mess long before Barry gave us the disaster that fittingly bears his name.

Much of that dysfunction stems from the fact that in healthcare there is little correlation between what people pay and the services they get. Why? The main reason is because insurance covers almost all of the cost for healthcare, and most Americans get their insurance through their employer, tax free. And why is that? Why isn’t health insurance like car insurance or homeowner’s insurance? Because of the government, of course. It largely started during WWII when wages and price controls were implemented and in 1943 the IRS made health insurance a tax free benefit to employees… and thus employers could offer insurance benefits to attract employees when they had little control over what they could pay. After the war Congress codified the There are other reasons of course, including government regulations that prohibit insurance companies from offering insurance across state lines, a broken tort system, and the general dysfunction in the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

In education the story is a bit different. Government directly controls in excess of 90% of the education spending in the country. Although most of the dollars are spent at the state and local level, the federal government has been seizing more and more control for the last 40 years, particularly after the establishment of the US Department of Education under Jimmy Carter. Add to that the fact that the Democrat party is almost a wholly owned subsidiary of the teacher’s unions and you understand that most large cities, school systems are not about education, but rather they are a jobs program for Democrat politicians and union donors. And the result is an education system that is more expensive than virtually any in the world on a per capita basis, but one that produces students who trail much of the developed world in testing and keeps the most challenged students in the worst performing schools.

The bottom line is that government does very little well, whether it’s education, healthcare or and we’ve come to see, choosing business outcomes. Just look back at Barack Obama’s green energy boondoggles, from Solyndra to Fisker… they are big versions of the failures states and local governments have been making for decades with their various sports stadium financing failures. Government deciding how businesses should be run and getting choosing winners and losers in business is just as much of a failure of what they’ve done with education and healthcare.

But change is in the air. We have a businessman who will be running the country, who will fix things, starting with business… Um… not so much.

Donald Trump, already known as a fan of big government and eminent domain has, even before he’s been sworn in, taken steps to show that we may be looking at four more years of the same thing… only with different oxen being slayed or spared the ax. Rather than talking about making America a place where companies want to invest, hire and operate, rather than talking about America being a place that all companies can make a profit, Donald Trump has been threatening companies who might have the audacity to try and escape America’s confiscatory tax rates by moving jobs overseas. Indeed last week he “saved 1,000 jobs” by meeting with Carrier and… giving them tax breaks from the state that other businesses can’t get!

So here we have a new president who uses the bully pulpit to threaten companies who don’t do what he wants and he uses tax breaks to get others to do so. That sounds very much like Barack Obama eight years ago… and we know how that turned out with lots of debt, failures and a GDP that has averaged under 2%. With Trump, rather than targeting coal and energy companies the bullseye will be on companies who want to make money for shareholders by escaping an uncompetitive business environment in the heavily regulated United States.

Of course Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Maybe this was just a one off with Trump trying to fulfill a very specific campaign pledge. But then again, maybe not. Either way, it doesn’t say much for Donald Trump’s appreciation for free markets or limited government.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donald Trump, Name Calling and Losing Real Friends Over Facebook

I started writing my blog in 2009, the year our first black president was sworn into office. Although I had written pieces previously over the previous eight years, it was not until fall of 2009 that I put pen to paper regularly. Did I mention that when I started we had our first black president?

I mention the fact that Barack Obama is black because for most of the eight years I’ve been writing I’ve been called racist. Never to my face, sometimes on Facebook and not infrequently in the larger sense as someone who supports the Constitution and advocates small government.

In all honesty I’ve probably lost half a dozen friends via Facebook over that exact point. These weren’t just “Facebook friends” but rather people I’ve known for years or even decades, people I’ve worked closely with and some with whom I’ve shared Christmas dinner. Each time it was over an issue that is near and dear to the left such as gay marriage, Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter or some similar issue.

In each case I tried to make my arguments focusing on the facts… slippery slopes, rates of unwed motherhood, government incompetence – such as with Solyndra - economics, etc. Each time while things might start out cordial enough, eventually, because I could not be swayed to my “friend’s” position I was called a racist, sexist, homophobe etc. I was suddenly labeled a hater of whatever group was impacted by the policy we might have been discussing, despite evidence to the contrary! The thing is, it didn’t seem to matter at all what I actually said, the words I actually wrote… if I didn’t agree with the other person’s point of view they seemed to have no problem slapping their label on me and feeling victorious.

It makes you think… if people I know well, people who’ve know me for years and worked with me and socialized with me can suddenly feel comfortable applying these labels to me – albeit on Facebook – because I’ve written about conservative, Constitutional positions – never, ever because of something I’ve actually ever said or done – what kind of debate is even possible? Particularly when some of the people I respect the most and quote most frequently are themselves black such as Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele.

Now we have a white president… but apparently I’m still a racist. Even though there were LOTS of things about Donald Trump I disliked and wrote about, the fact that I actually voted for the guy makes me racist. Interestingly, had I voted for the other white person on the ticket I’d have apparently no longer been a racist…

The funny thing is, the fact that there were two white people to choose from actually drives home the fact that my vote didn’t have any more to do with race than it did when I voted against Barack Obama. I voted against Barack Obama and railed against his policies for eight years not because he’s black, but because he’s a statist. Coincidentally, I voted against Hillary Clinton because she’s a statist. I opposed Barack Obama from day one because he is a progressive who seeks to diminish the United States on the world stage and destroy capitalism and eviscerate freedom. Coincidentally I opposed Hillary Clinton because she is a progressive who seeks to destroy capitalism and eviscerate freedom. Apparently, none of those things matter… once the left has decided their position they feel confident enough that they can label any dissenters as some version of “ist” with little regard for the actual facts.

Of course that’s the point… with the left, reality and facts rarely matter. Whether it’s the connection between unwed mothers and crime, or between a higher minimum wage and higher unemployment among the unskilled workers, or between increased regulation and lower GDP growth. the only important thing is what politicians say and who they offer the most goodies to, it’s never what actually happens. And it holds true not only in politics, but in real life as well. And sometimes it’s more than just losing a couple of friends. Remember a few years ago when the left wanted New York-Presbyterian Hospital to refuse a $100 million donation because it came from the Koch brothers?

Will we ever get back to a point where political discussions are separate from individual emotions and passions and we can focus on facts rather than name calling? With the media in general and social media in particular fanning the flames of narcissism, unwarranted self esteem and the primacy of the “right” to be free from offense over individual freedom and limited government, don’t expect a turnaround anytime soon. But at least with Trump there is a glimmer of hope. He may be a lot of things, but something he's not is a socialist who loves regulation and high taxes. Those three things alone will be a 180 degree change from what we’ve had for the last eight years. One wonders if the economy finally pulls itself out of the 1.5% malaise it’s been in since Barack Obama became president and starts to actually grow to its potential, how many of today’s lefties will start separating fact from fiction when they see incomes rising, opportunities increasing and having a bit extra in their pockets at the end of the month?  There may be hope... After all, Ronald Reagan who was much vilified by the left finished his second term with an approval rating of almost 65%.

Monday, November 7, 2016

"Conservative Media" Bootlickers for a President Trump?

As we head into the end of the most heartbreaking presidential cycle in American history my guess is that we will be talking about “President Elect Trump” at the end of the week. Of course I say that having thought Mitt Romney was going to beat Barack Obama 4 years ago…

A President Trump will present the nation with a raft of challenges… The first is the hope that his thin skin and short temper or his mancrush on Vladimir Putin don’t get us into a war. Beyond that, there are countless other things we hope he gets right, such as the Supreme Court, actually building a wall and streamlining the tax code. I say hope because if Donald Trump has shown us one thing, it’s been that he’ll say whatever he thinks will get him what he wants, and that his words and his deeds are often different by galactic proportions.

But this piece isn’t about Donald Trump… This piece is about the so called “conservative media” such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, Drudge, etc. For decades we’ve listened to these people or outlets tell us that the mainstream media is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Democrat party. They’ve shown us, time and time again the hypocrisy of the New York Times, CNBC, the AP, CBS and the rest. And they’ve largely been right. If it’s Scooter Libby being falsely accused of leaking secrets he’s enemy number 1, but if it’s Hillary Clinton leaving classified information on a deliberately unsecure server open to hacking, it’s nothing more than the Republicans trying to destroy a strong woman for a minor oversight.

The question is, will the “conservative” media be half or even a quarter as objective when it comes to a President Trump? Frankly, I doubt it. Thus far, through the election cycle, Breitbart, Drudge, Rush and most of all Sean Hannity have been nothing more than bootlickers for Donald Trump. Can you imagine their response if Harry Reid had been caught on tape talking about grabbing women the way Donald Trump was? Can you imagine what their response would have been had Nancy Pelosi said that he could stand in the middle of the street and shoot someone and get away with it? What would their response be if Barack Obama had refused to release his tax returns or if the claims of charitable giving and the reality had been as different as it appears to be with Donald Trump? My guess is that the conservative media would have had a field day with all of that. But Donald Trump gets a pass on that and much more.

We already know that the mainstream media will vilify a President Trump at every turn. But that, frankly, is unimportant. Why? Because we already know that the mainstream media is indeed a Democrat tool, and, more importantly, their decades of hyperbole as it relates to Republicans have caused a significant segment of the population to simply tune them out. When the Democrat media painted Mitt Romney as a horrible human being who abused dogs and let family members of employees die, you knew they were utterly worthless. There were many things with which one could disagree with Romney on, but he is fundamentally a good man and most Americans recognize that. As such, when a mere four years later the media started to try and flail Donald Trump, who is much closer to actually being a vile human being, many people brushed it off as just more of the same.

With much of the public the mainstream media has zero credibility as a source of actual, factual news. Although a President Trump may give them much fodder to work with that is demonstrably true, like the boy who cried wolf, a significant portion of the population will dismiss it simply because of their long history of past cries. And so we are left with a conservative media to keep a President Trump and his ego in check. Two years ago I would have bet that it was possible to depend on Rush, Matt and Breitbart to keep an errant GOP president in check, but today I have grave doubts… and that’s a problem, particularly for a GOP president who has such a big ego, so few morals and almost no concept of limited government or understanding of the Constitution.

If the United States emerges from Donald Trump’s first – and likely only – term as a functioning republic, it will only be because somehow some conservative voice or voices decided that the Constitution was more important than being part of Team Trump and willingly stood up to the populist mob. The reality is, Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Constitution’s separation of powers, his fundamental understanding of the 10th Amendment and his dedication to individual liberty are no greater than Barack Obama’s are. But Barack Obama had conservatives who challenged his usurping of power, even if Congress and the Courts didn’t. Donald Trump will not have that thorn.

 While it’s certain that the mainstream media will hold his feet to the fire, their credibility is gone. It will only be conservatives who point to the Constitution as the fount of – and yoke on – government power who will have the credibility to objectively challenge his actions. The behavior of the “conservative” media over the last year one does have inspire great confidence that they will challenge President Trump as he seeks to turn Washington into his personal fiefdom. But I'm open to being pleasantly surprised.  Let’s hope that somewhere there emerges a voice who will not fall under the spell of the next Narcissist in Chief when he succeeds our current one.  Maybe then the discussion can get back to limiting government to only those things it's actually empowered to do rather than the things that the strongman in the White House wants it to do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rome Long Survived Countless Incompetent, Narcissistic Emperors, Will America Survive Barack Obama and His Successor?

I'm writing this while sitting on a cruise ship that’s docked in Mallorca, Spain. I'm heading to France and have just spent 4 days in Italy. I've only had a cursory look at the news from home, and what I've caught has been depressing, like this entire election cycle.

One of the most interesting things about this trip thus far - other than the obvious visits to Pompeii, the Coliseum and St. Peter's - has been observing how things work - or don't - and talking with people who live in Italy. The first thing you discover in Naples is that the place is absolute chaos. Driving is life threatening, things are expensive and the trash situation is a disaster. And that is from a tourist perspective, and we get to see the city's good side! For Italians it's far worse, particularly businesses, and it's not just Naples. The Italian government takes half of your REVENUE, strangles you with regulations and can’t provide basic services for anyone. At our Rome hotel our host asked us to make sure we turned off the light in the room because electricity is so expensive it might be the difference between his breaking even or taking a loss on our stay. A friend living in Naples told us that Italians rarely turn on heat in winter because the price of gas is too high.

This all comes on the heels of my having listened earlier this year to the History of Rome podcast. The most interesting thing about that history was the fact that the Roman Empire lasted for over 500 years... Or 1,500 years if you count the Eastern Empire. They had some spectacular rulers such as Augustus, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius, and some of the worst in Caligula, Nero and Domitian. You would somehow think the Empire couldn't survive such incompetence and perniciousness, but somehow it would. So you ask yourself, cannot America survive whichever disastrous candidate emerges victorious from the 2016 election? If the Roman Empire could survive 500 years can't the US survive Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? The truth is, I'm not sure, and I lean towards no...

Rome may have been a sophisticated empire, may have built thousands of structures that have survived two millennia, but make no mistake, the Rome that built an Empire and ruled the known world was a brute power. They survived by waging war on their enemies and taking their resources. As long as Rome was at war and winning, it was (mostly) strong. What's more, the Roman Empire was a dictatorship. The position of Emperor was usually passed from Father to son - sometimes adopted for that specific purpose - but there were countless coups where the resulting emperor was the man who controlled the most powerful legions or the one who bribed the Praetorian Guard. In essence Rome was a dictatorship that survived by taking the resources of its neighbors and supplicants.

But America is not that. Although the United States did grow partially by winning wars against the British, Indians, and others, geographically it has been largely static for over a century. We even gave up wide swaths of land – or more accurately, didn’t take them – after having won wars across the planet. In addition, the United States has never been a dictatorship. It has always been a nation where the leader has been elected by citizens, if indirectly. More importantly however, it has been a nation where the Constitution reigned supreme. From John Adams to Abraham Lincoln to Richard Nixon, the Constitution ultimately ruled the day. The limited government based on that Constitution is what has made America the most powerful and important nation in human history. We’ve sat atop of the world's hierarchy of power and influence for over half a century not because we subjugated our neighbors but because we inspired the world with individual freedom and economic opportunity that were based on that limited government. At the same time the economic prosperity sown by our freedom was coupled with a military position that largely dissuaded enemies from attacking us and our allies and gave much of the world confidence to trade somewhat freely with one another.

In November of 2016 however we find ourselves at a point where everything that has made America great is in peril, and the wound is self inflicted. At least the Roman people had the "excuse" that they lived in a dictatorship. Americans don't have that excuse. Not only is the culture under assault from within and without, far more importantly, the primary notion that government is limited to only those things it is specifically empowered to do is lost. Today the government is involved in virtually every aspect of American's lives. That is a recipe for economic stagnation and political ruin. Take a look at the remains of the Roman Empire to see the future of America... Italy – and much of Europe – is an economic basket case and quickly becoming a cultural one as well.

Government is a borg that grows until it is stopped. Our Constitution used to do that. Today it no longer does. Unlike the Roman citizenry who often found themselves ruled at the end of a sword, Americans have willingly put themselves in this position. Not only by putting two reprehensible human beings, two power hungry narcissists in a position to rule the country, but by buying into the notion that the government is the first and best vehicle for solving virtually every problem. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and there is the core problem: Americans, or an increasingly large portion of them want the government to take care of them, from cradle to grave and everywhere in between. Whether it’s providing them with an income, protecting them from evil businesses or limiting the offensive speech of others, we have become a nation of citizens who can no longer take care of themselves or aren’t willing to do so. Either way, with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House individual freedom and economic liberty will continue to shrink. So too will prosperity and much of what remains of the American Dream. One wonders what will be the legacy of America in 2,000 years. No doubt, if someone is writing a history of America and chronicles her demise they will surely include Barack Obama and his successor as key players to her downfall, but the primary culprit will have been the American people, who voted to have the government replace individual liberty, individual responsibility and common sense.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sure, Donald Trump may shiv us... but the country can't survive Hillary Clinton's thugs

Jonah Goldberg had a great piece over at National Review on Saturday. The title was: If Candidate Trump Can’t Be Managed, What Makes You Think President Trump Could Be? He makes a strong argument that a President Trump is going to be a disaster for the country, the Republican party, and particularly conservatives. He suggests that a President Trump will lie, obfuscate and essentially rule as the liberal Democrat he’s been his entire life. He makes a particularly strong argument that Trump will renege on his promise to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court.

His critique of Trump should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Hillary Clinton however, because it’s not. He dislikes Hillary Clinton seemingly almost as much as he despises Trump. Here however is the crux of the piece: “But here’s the thing: Conservatives know how to oppose Clinton, who will come into office the most damaged and unpopular president in American history, having fulfilled her mandate to not be Trump on Day One. But it’s already very clear they do not know how to oppose Trump.

Goldberg believes that America can survive another 4 years of fascist liberalism building on the last 8 from Barack Obama. This, largely because the GOP would fight her tooth and nail at virtually every point. He doesn’t believe however that conservatism can survive 4 years of President Trump because erstwhile conservatives will simply become lapdogs for a GOP president, even if he doesn’t govern like one.

I agree with almost every word of his piece, but I disagree with his conclusion. I agree that the GOP will more easily fight a Democrat president than they will a GOP president, but the fact of the matter is, that the reason we’re in this spot in the first place is because the GOP establishment did virtually nothing to stop Barack Obama from doing anything he wanted to. The GOP establishment has spent much of the last eight years rolling out the red carpet of acquiescence to Barack Obama simply out of fear that they would be called racists for doing so – or, in the case of immigration, because they agreed with him. What makes Goldberg think that they will be any less likely to push back on Hillary’s policies when Democrats start accusing them of being sexist in a country where 54% of voters are women?

Sure, she’s less popular than Obama is, but the GOP establishment is fundamentally made up of squishes who cry at the first boo. Imagine, they couldn’t even get up the courage to stop Obama from giving away control of the Internet, arguably the single most important economic, political and social tool developed in the last half century, to organizations run by tyrants and third world dictators, what makes Goldberg think they will fight Clinton on tax rates for “the rich” or regulations “insuring the uninsured”?

At the end of the day I have no illusions about Donald Trump being a good president. Goldberg’s right, he’s a liberal Democrat and will likely govern as such. But sadly, the choice we have isn’t between a liberal Democrat and a conservative. That ship sailed when the Democrats, the media and the GOP establishment pushed Ted Cruz over the side. No, we’ve got a choice between two liberal Democrats, albeit with one who is arguably slightly less liberal.

But here’s the thing… Goldberg says that the US can survive 4 more years of Barack Obama’s policies because the GOP will fight his heir. Neither the premise nor the conclusion of that statement are true. The GOP will not fight, and the country may not survive, at least not as a republic governed by the Constitution. Four more years of unfettered immigration and filling the courts with treacherous liberals will be enough to eviscerate any chance conservatives have to pull the country back from the abyss of progressive socialism and unfettered government intervention in every aspect of our lives. Adding millions of voters from Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Middle East and Africa will result in Democrats becoming the ruling party of record for literally generations. At a time when Republicans control record levels of government at the state level – in 23 states they control the governor’s office AND both houses of the legislature vs. 7 states for the Democrats – they have spent the last 8 years getting steamrolled by Democrats in Washington. Between the cancer of liberals on the courts and the extra constitutional operations of the Obama administration and the Washington bureaucracy, the chances of reining in Washington grows ever more remote.

Today, with possibly the most flawed candidate ever to run on a major party ticket, the Democrats are still poised to win the White house. Fast forward to 2020 after Hillary Clinton has expanded immigration from 3rd world banana republics from around the world and given millions of “new Americans” voting rights. Will there ever be another election as close as Bush Gore? No. Will the spineless GOP establishment ever have the stones to allow the nomination of an actual conservative? No. Will conservatism, limited government and individual freedom survive? No?

Goldberg suggests the country can survive another 4 years. He’s wrong. In four years the Democrats will have a virtual supermajority of takers and that spells the end of freedom and limited government as we know it. Trump may betray voters on every promise he’s ever made, including on the border and the courts… that would not surprise me. But on the other hand, he may not.

Yes, we know that Donald Trump may shiv us in the shower, but there’s a chance he won’t. With Hillary Clinton there is no such chance. Not will she shiv us, she’ll bring her gang of thugs with her to make sure that the job gets done and conservatism is left bleeding and dying on the floor, never again to see the light of day.

Goldberg is right, Trump would be a terrible, horrible, liberal president… but on the two most important issues of our time, the courts and immigration, there is a speck of hope that he will do the right thing. With Clinton there is none, and the country can’t survive to lose on them.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Identity Politics - Barack Obama Fails Black America With Liberalism

In 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, much of America – including millions of white people – thought the election of a black man to the presidency would prove that America had finally overcome its racist past and truly become a colorblind nation. Alas, that was not to be.

Not surprisingly, after almost eight years of America’s first black president, America is still a racist place… maybe even more of one. At least in the eyes of the Black Lives Matter movement, Colin Kaepernick and thousands of “protesters” around the country and their millions of fans.

The reality is, the United States is fundamentally not a racist place. It does have some elements of a racist past, (as do most countries) and there indeed may be vestiges of racism that remain, but they are largely gone from the public square. Much of what passes for racism today is nothing of the sort. Constantly we hear community activists – including the one in the White House – tell us that high unemployment in the black community is indicative of racism, that higher incarceration rates among black men is indicative of racism, that poor inner city schools are indicative of racism.

None of those things are true. All of those things are problems, but they are not signs of racism. They are mostly signs of bad decisions by the people living in black communities… mostly in the form of voting for Democrats and liberals, who've long run most of the nation’s largest cities where a majority of black Americans live.

While slavery and Jim Crow most certainly are stains on American history, the problems bedeviling black America today are not the vestiges of some racist system stacked against it. No, a significant number of the problems disproportionately impacting black Americans are the result of liberalism. Union and Democrat control keep urban students stuck in expensive, failing schools. Increases in minimum wage rates keep unskilled and poorly educated black youth unemployed and without work experience. Welfare programs encouraging single motherhood have pushed the rate at which black babies are born to unwed mothers from 20% in 1960 to almost 75% today. The brilliant Thomas Sowell states: The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life. And with the breakdown of the family came an increase in crime and social unrest. Combined with the destruction of education and a regulatory leviathan that suffocates entrepreneurship, blacks in America face daunting challenges. But it is big government liberalism that keeps the deck stacked against them, not racism.

And Barack Obama has been nothing if not a paragon of liberalism. Not only has he dramatically increased both government spending and costly regulation, but he has also been a champion of identity politics. And divisive identity politics has not worked out well for black Americans under Barack Obama. By many objective measures black Americans are worse off today than they were before Barack Obama became president: Black incomes are down since 2008 and poverty rates are up. Black homeownership is down and while unemployment rates are ostensibly lower, factoring in the lower Labor Force Participation Rates makes it a wash. And most tragically of all, murders are up since Barack Obama became president, with 6,782 black Americans murdered in 2008 vs. 7,039 in 2015.

All of this on the backdrop of a presidency that has at its core race. By putting race and “racism” front and center of his presidency, Barack Obama failed the country, and most of all black Americans who looked for him to bring about positive change. His big government policies have dramatically slowed economic recovery and hindered growth, the two keys to prosperity for all Americans, black and white. His constant focus on race has divided the nation more than at any point since the 1960’s. His promises that to improve the lot of black Americans while simultaneously implementing programs that make their success that much more difficult has created a level of frustration not seen in decades. His constant embrace of the social justice perspective against that of law and order has brought back the riots on a scale not seen since the 1960s and a dramatic increase in lawlessness that disproportionately impacts communities of color around the country.

At the end of the day, Barack Obama’s presidency has been an abject failure, for the country in general and for black Americans in particular. Identity politics may play well in the media and in the streets, and sometimes at the ballot box. But alas, where it counts most, economic freedom and prosperity, it never works. Barack Obama was once heralded as the poster child for opportunity in a post racial nation. Now he is a poster child for the failure of identity politics. Economic freedom, opportunity and prosperity don’t care about your race, your sex your religion or your sexuality… they seek limited government and laws that apply to everyone equally. None of which applies to liberalism and identity politics. Let’s hope that history records the failed presidency of Barack Obama is the high point of those cancerous ideologies…

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fifteen Years Later: The 9-11 Attacks and the Silver Lining Found Within

Yesterday was of course the 15th anniversary of the attacks of 9-11. Like most people, I remember that day, that moment when I realized the nation was under attack like no other day in my life. I remember walking into a practically deserted Kroger supermarket near midnight to get some food as I hadn’t eaten much of anything all day and had nothing in the house. It was somber and no one really spoke other than some torpid greeting and a forced smile.

It was literally like the foundations of one’s being had been shaken. War was something you read about in history books… something FDR or LBJ talked about, not something you watched live on your TV on some random Tuesday morning in September. War was something that happened on battlefields in other countries in places where Americans often can’t pronounce or sometimes can’t find on a map, not in New York City and Washington, DC. We had won the Cold War and peace was overtaking the planet. The booming economy of the 1990’s was said to be the direct result of the “Peace Dividend” brought about by Ronald Reagan’s victory. How was something like this even possible?

On Monday America was a bustling marketplace of ideas and commerce combined with might and virtue that was leading the world into its post history phase, one where freedom and free trade and prosperity were things to be striven for, if not always achieved. On Tuesday America was on her knees having been sucker punched in the head and gut while leading the parade of nations towards prosperity. As is often the case with history, it sneaks up from behind and takes hold of your world and rips you from your path and puts you on hers.

Here, fifteen years later I can say that the attacks of 9-11 are one of the most defining moments of my life. Not because I lost any members of my family or any friends or even had my way of life changed significantly. No, the thing I lost was my innocence. For me, September 11th was like some macabre combination of discovering there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy all on the same day that you discover that you’re adopted, your wife’s cheating on you with your best friend, your religion is actually a cult and your accountant has stolen all your money. Having grown up on living on military bases around the world and been in the Army myself, I had this illusion that the United States was surrounded by some force field of grace that protected it from such attacks. Of course that force field was made up of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who worked diligently to protect the country, but those were the machinations that went on behind the curtain while we citizens celebrated holidays, watched football and went about our daily lives.

After 9-11 that all changed. As the truth about the origin of the attacks became clear, as the realization that the United States was not unambiguously seen around the world as a force for good, it became necessary to do some introspection. And I did. And the result is probably not what Osama Bin Laden wanted… at least not with me.

I started writing my blog in 2009 soon after our socialist / fascist president, Barack Obama, began his quest to destroy the United States as the leader of the world. I was sufficiently motivated to do so largely because of 9-11. Why? Because 9-11 forced me to reexamine what I “knew” to be true about my country. I’d grown up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school, I’d grown up saluting or putting my hand on my heart whenever the National Anthem was played, I’d grown up reading about the United States twice saving the world from world wars that were started elsewhere. I’d grown up knowing that the United States was a force for good.

But having someone viciously attack your country’s two most important cities makes you wonder about that. Watching as millions of people around the world cheered that attack and support its motivations makes you wonder about that. Having millions of Americans agree with the basic premise behind the attacks – although in most cases not the attacks themselves – makes you wonder about America’s goodness.

For me that introspection forced me to question everything that I had believed my whole life… but the funny thing is, that introspection didn’t lead me to hate my country. It didn’t cause me to decide that America was in reality a dark force seeking to pillage and control the entire world. No, in fact, 9-11 forced me to examine the history and nature of the United States and as a result, while I recognize that she is indeed imperfect, it turns out that the United States has been the greatest force for good in all of human history. (Read Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People)

The American Constitution and the freedoms protected within, along with the theory of free markets championed by our founders have brought about more freedom and more prosperity than has ever existed. The history of man is largely one of war, bare sustenance if not abject poverty and of course, oppression. The United States has – as a part of, then the leader of the “West” – helped change that reality for billions of people around the world. The United States has indeed saved the world from two hot world wars, won another cold one, and provided a beacon of hope to people around the world. Millions of people have come to America seeking her freedoms and prosperity while tens of millions more are inspired to try and reproduce some aspects of our experiment in their own nations.

And so it goes that, thankfully, for myself and millions of others, the attacks of 9-11 did the exact opposite of what they were intended to do. They inspired many Americans to reexamine their history and rediscover the moral good that the United States stands for, the economic opportunity she stands for and the framework for freedom our Constitution supports. While I cannot be thankful for the events that occurred 15 years ago or for the carnage that has followed, I take joy in the fact that they reinvigorated a patriotism that had become mundane, they forced me to cherish not only our freedoms but the mechanisms by which they came to be and how they are secured.  And perhaps most of all they forced me to recognize that such freedoms, while granted by God, exist in a world of men and must be prized, protected and promoted in order to endure.  And I'm not alone.  That's what you call a silver lining...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Need help deciding who to vote for in 2016? Imperfect America's Election Decision Engine

I for one am dismayed beyond imagination about the political situation the United States finds itself in today. We may be seeing the worst pair of candidates to grace the top of the main party tickets in the history of the country. Both are morally corrupt. Both are arrogant, self centered and greedy. Both are incompetent when it comes to foreign affairs.

We can't really blame the Democrats' fault for nominating Hillary Clinton. Modern Democrats are hybrid socialists / Communists / fascists by nature and they simply want more of what they’ve gotten for eight years with their strongman, Barack Obama. To expect them to want something else is simply foolish. It’s really the Republicans who have caused this angst as they wasted the opportunity to make this an historic election in terms of salvaging the country. But alas, they failed to do so because they were (willingly) led astray by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, two men who have spent decades lying to the American people as they posed as conservatives. Their embrace of Donald Trump belies their base opportunism, but it’s the country that will pay the price for their guile as they sit back and laugh. Good riddance to the careers of both.

Of course blowing off steam about the current mess doesn’t really help decide what is the best, or more accurately, the less bad decision to make in November. As such, I’ve created a decision engine to help make that decision.

The reality is, none of us will ever likely encounter a candidate we agree with 100% of the time. As such, the choice always comes down to; "Of the candidates on the ballot – among those with an actual opportunity to win – who do you agree with most?" Of course most doesn’t mean always, or even 50% of the time… but rather, of the two candidates, who do you agree with more. Agreeing with a candidate only 25% doesn’t seem like a strong reason to vote for them, until you realize that you agree with their opponent only 2% of the time.

Below is a screenshot of the decision engine intended to allow you to evaluate the two candidates on 10 different issues. You can click here for an online version or click here to download an Excel version.

The decision engine gives you the opportunity to weigh the importance of 10 different issues from 1-5. (There's a dropdown arrow to the right of each cell) You can change the issues based on what is important to you.  The order does not matter for the scores or the recommendation, only the weighting and which candidate you choose.  As for the weighting, you could keep all issues at the same number, meaning you value each equally, or you could adjust any or all to reflect your level of importance, with the most important rated 5 and the least important at 1.

Then you choose which candidate is closest to your views on each issue.  Again, a dropdown arrow is to the right of each cell... and Neither is also an option. If you select Trump for any given issue, you probably will want to remember that while you might agree with him today, you have no idea what his policies will be next week never-mind next year.  With Clinton there's no such concern as her views don't change, they're consistently red and usually wrong.

The engine will multiply your choice of candidate by the weighting of each issue and then give a total score for each candidate. Once you have made your choices for all of the issues the engine will recommend the candidate you should vote for based on your choices. In actuality the engine tells you throughout the entire process, giving you the recommendation based on the choices made thus far, but it is the final score that you should consider as your recommendation. When all is said and done, if the candidates are tied, the engine simply suggests you write in your own name…

At the end of the day, there will likely be many people writing in their own name or that of Mickey Mouse. Frankly were Mickey on the ballot this year I might actually be inclined to vote for him…

I hope this helps clarify what to do in this horrible, sad, frustrating situation...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Colin Kaepernick Takes the Easy Way Out... Victimhood

Colin Kaepernick is certainly an articulate young man. That was obvious from his interaction with the press in the locker room where he faced a phalanx of reporters asking him about his decision to sit through the national anthem to bring attention to the "oppression" of black men. Given that this is the first year he has sat through the national anthem he was asked how his position has evolved over the years. He answered:
“It's something that I've seen, I've felt, wasn't quite sure how to deal with originally. And it is something that's evolved. It's something that as I've gained more knowledge about, what's gone in this country in the past, what's going on currently. These aren't new situations. This isn't new ground. There are things that have gone on in this country for years and years and have never been addressed, and they need to be.” (Emphasis mine.)
When asked if he personally felt oppressed he responded:
There have been situations where I feel like I've been ill-treated, yes. This stand wasn't for me. This stand wasn't because I feel like I'm being put down in any kind of way. This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that and I'm going to do that for people that can't.
When asked if he’d been asked by management to tone down his comments he replied:
No. No one’s tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quiet about. I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances. 
(Emphasis mine.)
And when asked what needed to change he answered:
There's a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality. There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That's not right. That's not right by anyone's standards.  (Emphasis mine.)  Full transcript here.
Kaepernick may indeed be articulate, but alas, he’s a fool. Abraham Lincoln had it right: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” What makes Kaepernick a fool? The fact that he parrots the Black Lives Matter lies that black men in America are oppressed and are unable to provide for their families and escape poverty because of police brutality.

Black men may indeed be oppressed by the government, but it’s not in the way Kaepernick suggests. It’s by government welfare programs that destroy families and make unwed motherhood a viable choice. It’s by the education bureaucracy that walks in lockstep with teacher’s unions and keeps inner city children from getting a decent education. It’s the myriad labor regulations that make it inefficient for businesses to hire young black men with little experience and give them an entry into the working world. And the consequence of all of these government programs is that young black men do indeed have a difficult time escaping poverty and all too often are ending up dead… but it’s mostly not at the hands of police, but rather at the hands of other young black men.

But that’s not what Kaepernick is protesting. That’s not what Kaepernick wants to change. That’s not what Kaepernick is lending his voice to the voiceless for. No, Kaepernick would rather focus on the tiny fraction of police interactions that result in the bloodshed of innocent black men. Why? Because singling out police is an easy answer to a complex problem. Like so many men of the left, Kaepernick isn’t interested in actually solving problems, he’s interested in making himself feel good about talking about them. To the left results don’t matter, outcomes don’t matter. What actually works doesn’t really matter. If it did, Kaepernick and his BLM friends would be protesting for more police in their communities, they would be protesting to throw out the teacher’s unions, they would be protesting minimum wage hikes that make it economically impossible to hire and train uneducated young men with no work experience. They would be calling for longer sentences for criminals, everyone from murders to kids involved in flash mob violence. They would be focusing on character programs and strengthening families rather than protesting police and shutting down highways.

Black men do indeed have challenges in America, but the truth is, like everyone else, they have opportunities as well. No place in human history have black men or yellow men or white men or any other men had the opportunity for success they do in the United States, regardless of their background, station, race or religion.  Colin Kaepernick has been able to take advantage of those opportunities like few others have, black or white. By foolishly choosing this position he betrays all of those young black men who understand that with good character, hard work and perseverance anyone has an opportunity to succeed in America. If black America is to be saved, it will be those men who do it, not the fools like Kaepernick and his BLM friends who would rather perpetuate a mentality of victimhood and oppression.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Thoughts on Trump - When Life Gives You Lemons...

While I’ve come to despise Donald Trump, I hope he wins in November…

Donald Trump is a lying, manipulating, protectionist big government Democrat. I’ll still be voting for him, however, because Hillary Clinton is all of that and more. She will keep the welcome mat open for illegal immigrants from all sorts of 3rd world countries in order to create more Democrat voters. Donald Trump at least claims that he will build a wall along the southern border and tighten immigration from places rampant with Islamic terror.

The other critical issue is the Supreme Court. Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that has pleased many conservatives. He has stated on numerous occasions that he plans on nominating conservatives to the Supreme Court. He may not, but we know for a fact that Hillary Clinton will nominate nothing but hardcore leftists in the vein of Justice Ginsberg and Justice Sotomayor.

Together immigration and the Supreme Court are the two biggest issues on the ballot in November. Between working to turn the US into a lefty paradise of a failed 3rd world country and eviscerating the freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights, I’m not sure the country can survive another four years of the statist Obama agenda. On both issues Donald Trump claims he will do the right thing while Hillary Clinton will do the exact opposite. As a known liar we may indeed be disappointed by Trump, but at least there is a chance he will keep his word and do the right thing. With Clinton there is zero chance.

Of course, one has to wonder if Donald Trump really wants to be President. He’s been running for the job for a year – and on and off numerous times before that – but he doesn’t seem to be interested in winning. Since he secured the nomination almost three months ago, and since the convention one month ago, Trump has focused almost all of his attention on his GOP critics and the media, rather than Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is possibly the worst candidate the Democrats have ever nominated. Apart from her demonstrated incompetence, her treachery over Benghazi, her lies about her email server, her slush fund known as the Clinton Foundation and the fact that voters seem to barely be able to tolerate her, she’s a superstar. But somehow Donald Trump has figured out how to trail someone who would probably lose to “None of the Above” if that was the only other choice. Although his trip to Louisiana and his recent mea culpa were steps in the right direction, it remains to be seen if those are the beginning of a focused campaign to win or merely a feint in a long term plan to lose.

And of course it’s comical that I get emails every day from the Trump campaign seeking money. I will never send Donald Trump a single dollar. Why? Because he’s the one who brags that he’s worth $10 billion and that he’d be the only guy in the race funding his own campaign. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to help keep Clinton out of the White House, I do, but there’s no chance I would send the Trump Campaign money that they would simply use to attack Ted Cruz or the media or some other pointless ego salving debacle rather than focus on Clinton. The truth is, if I had $10 billion in the bank, I’d be more than happy to spend at least $9 billion of it winning the presidency, because while making lots money is no doubt fun – I imagine – saving the greatest nation in history is truly something exceptional.

Donald Trumps’s basic problem isn’t that he can’t attract moderates… his problem is that much of the conservative base – this writer included – pretty much hate him. While I’ll be voting for him, lots of others, particularly those in the Never Trump camp won’t be. If he can’t get his base out, he loses going away. There are simply not that many union members disaffected enough with the Democrats to make up for tepid support from the base.

My suggestion to Trump, if he wants to reengage conservatives, would be to release a list of his intended cabinet nominees, at least for those appointments conservatives care about. For Secretary of State, John Bolton, for Secretary of Defense, the slightly damaged David Petraeus, Rudy Guiliani for Attorney General… maybe. There are others too, such as perhaps Michelle Rhee for Education Secretary and others focused on streamlining government for positions in the EPA, the Department of Energy and the IRS. The ranks of the American Enterprise Institute, the Mises Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice would be great places to start.

Of course this might not be enough and those people might not accept anyway… but the reality is, Donald Trump has to get conservatives and the Never Trump people to hold their noses and pull the lever for him, otherwise it’s President Clinton all over again. And that really is the point. I’ve pretty much come to despise Donald Trump, half for everything he’s done and half for the stupidity of the GOP establishment for foisting him on us, but as much as I despise him, I love my country more, and while I’m leery of what he might do, I’m downright frightened that the country can’t survive what I know Hillary Clinton will do.

And finally, there is impeachment.  If Clinton were to get in, there is less than zero chance she would be impeached and convicted, regardless of what she might do.  She could literally set fire to the Constitution and she'd have no problem.  Trump however is a different story.  If gets into office and he steps out of line, or the Trump University comes back with a loss, there is a real possibility of impeachment and conviction as both Democrats and many Republicans would be happy to vote for both...

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  Donald Trump is lemonade.  Hillary Clinton is lemonade laced with strychnine... I'll take the regular lemonade, please.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Where George Orwell Meets the Borg...

A few months ago, with his usual hyperbole Donald Trump boasted that he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and his supporters would still vote for him. Sadly, I think he’s probably right. What’s becoming more apparent every day however is that Hillary Clinton could probably make the same boast with equal accuracy.

Why do I say that? Well, the first point is that Clinton is the nominee at all. Given the disaster Libya has become, given the events of Benghazi in 2012 and her proven lies about it, given the fact that ISIS is a direct result of the Obama Administration’s exit from Iraq – during her tenure – one has to wonder how she even made it past the first set of primaries. How is it that there was no other candidate who could come even close to beating her? While the cards were in fact stacked in her favor, while Bernie Sanders appealed to a small segment of the Democrat party, elsewhere there was never any real clamor for another candidate. Ask yourself, if Benghazi had been a GOP operation, would the Secretary of State overseeing it have been the GOP nominee four years later? Can you imagine the withering attacks he or she would have endured from the press? No chance they would have survived past March. Can you imagine the grilling a GOP Sec of State would take if he told the parents of one of the dead a lie just moments before telling her family the truth, then turned around and lied to the nation? Of course… but Clinton had to face none of that.

Next, her email problems have been in the air for years. It’s obvious to anyone other than the willingly blind that she set up that server for the specific purpose of hiding her correspondence from the prying eyes of Congress and pesky reporters with the FOI requests. And as has now been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, she lied to Congress and the American people and maybe even the FBI about her handling of Top Secret information. How is it possible that supporters feel that someone who has such little regard for American secrets should be in charge of the entire American intelligence apparatus? The security apparatus? The justice apparatus? Can you imagine the press coverage if a Republican was responsible for a breach that may have caused the death of an Iranian scientist helping the United States? With Clinton, little more than crickets.

How about the Russian Reset? Clinton famously kicked off the Russian Reset which was supposed to begin a new cooperative friendship between the US and Russia. Since then Russia has been anything but friendly. They’ve hacked American government computers, used gas as a weapon to intimidate Europe, they’ve threatened the Baltics and they’ve been harassing American diplomats across Europe. And don’t forget, a year after she left office our new Russian friends invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, That certainly seems like she built a strong foundation of friendship.

And finally then there’s the Clinton Foundation, that billion dollar vehicle largely funded by groups – read Wall Street banks and Middle Eastern governments – who are ostensibly anathema to her basic “principles” of support for the middle class and poor against the rich and support for gay rights. The fact that the foundation seems to be little more than a vehicle for enriching the Clintons, and is now under investigation by the FBI, New York, Washington and Little Rock seems to bother no one on the left.

Getting back to the shooting of someone on 5th Avenue. Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump. While they both may be lying, manipulative Democrats, that’s not the point. He sits at the head of a cult of personality that animates thousands of people to show up for his rallies. She is at the head of a borg where the hundreds of people who attend her rallies look as if they are punching the clock and can’t wait for the end of day whistle. If he were to die the air in the Trump movement would dissipate quickly and the GOP would find itself struggling to find a replacement who could carry the party to victory. If, on the other hand, Hillary Clinton were to die the Democrats would simply push her corpse to the side, take down the generic Clinton logo and put in her place the next functionary and things would move forward as if nothing had happened.

And that’s the point. Hillary Clinton is not inspiring anyone. She is taking her turn. She is the opposition of anything that is proffered by the GOP, regardless of who they trot out. (You may think their demonizing is Trump specific… It’s not. Remember what they did to Mitt Romney.) Like the mind numbed audience in Apple’s debut commercial in 1984… or the zombies in book itself, Democrats step in and vote for whoever is on the ticket, regardless of who that person is. And in this case of it’s Hillary Clinton. It’ doesn’t really matter what she’s done, what she’s “accomplished’ or what she stands for – if anything – the only thing that matters is that she’s not the Republican. If there was video of Clinton shooting the guy on 5th Avenue could she really still get elected and would the robot Democrats vote for her anyway? If the guy was wearing a Trump shirt I’m pretty sure they would. One has to wonder what the playing field would look like if the GOP had nominated a real conservative to oppose the borg...

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Trump Campaign for the White House: When Losing Means Winning

I don’t know what to think about Donald Trump… I was a big fan last year when he stormed the race with his vow to build a wall. I wasn’t a Trump supporter but I was very thankful that he put the issue of illegal immigration front and center of the race, exactly where it needed to be.

As the campaign wore on and contenders started dropping out I began to get a little worried but I was confident that Ted Cruz, the only real conservative in the race, would prevail. Little did I know that the dunces running the GOP would allow Democrats to pick their nominee. But alas, that’s exactly what happened and today we have a Democrat as the GOP nominee. And before someone mentions that Ronald Reagan was a Democrat for decades, yes, it’s true, but he not only became a Republican, but he became an actual conservative, which is the polar opposite of Donald Trump. Can you imagine Donald Trump coming up with this: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help”? Not likely. The truth is, with Trump we simply don’t know what’s behind the eyebrows…

On the one hand we know that Donald Trump has probably the biggest ego on the planet. Although born with a giant platinum spoon in his mouth, he has indeed taken that spoon and turned it into a full dining set. You may not like how he did it, but he did actually do it, all the while spending thirty years telling America he’s the greatest businessman on the planet. That’s hyperbole of course, but whatever the actual size of his bank account he’s done spectacularly well. But the question is, does this guy with the giant sized ego really want to be president?

On the one hand, it appears to be yes. He’s declared he’s running and he’s actually won the GOP nomination. The presidency is easily the most powerful job in the world, and if someone wanted to write a legacy worthy of the history books it’s a lot easier to do from the White House than it is from some random shiny tower on 5th Avenue.

But of course, with the potential to join the pantheon of names like Lincoln, FDR and Reagan comes the potential for abject failure too… think Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. While history has lionized the former, the latter have and will become poster children for failure or worse. And the problem for Donald Trump is that bankruptcy laws won’t allow him to simply wash his hands of such failures. He won’t be able to simply rename failure as success and ride off into the sunset to the praises of the chattering classes… he’s not, after all, Barack Obama.

But becoming a great president requires more than inspiring a cult following among a small segment of nominally Republican voters. It requires the successful running of the largest organization in the United States and managing the largest budget on the planet… all while keeping the economy from falling off a cliff and ideally keeping the country safe and ideally out of a war or wars. The government of the United States is far more complex than building a few buildings, signing a licensing agreement or convincing some gullible would be entrepreneurs into taking your real estate courses. And under the glare and scrutiny of a press salivating at the idea of chronicling the mistakes of any “GOP” politician, a bankruptcy filing or tax abatement won’t be able to hide Trump’s failures. Which may be why he reportedly offered to let John Kasich run domestic policy if he took the VP job. Is Trump scared he won’t be able to actually succeed? Trump may love to talk about – rather than actually disclose – his net worth, but he knows that his path to riches was a narrow one with lots of help and an ability to intimidate opponents into quiet submission. He also knows he will have no such luxury in the White House. There he will actually have to succeed rather than just talk about it… again, he’s no Barack Obama. Trying to engineer success on that scale might simply be too intimidating to really want the job.

Which might be why some suggest he’s not really in it to win it. To wit, rather than attacking his opponent Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump has spent the lion’s share of the post convention period attacking and alienating the very people he needs on his side in order to win like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. In addition, he has suffered self inflicted wounds such as occurred when he engaged in a war of words with a Gold Star family. Khan may have been wrong, but the optics of a man who got five deferments during Vietnam fighting with a family who sacrificed their son on the battlefield are lost on Trump. Is it possible that Trump got into the race on a lark and stayed in simply so he could prove that he could win? Now that he’s on the big stage and has to contemplate what it means to actually govern rather than just talk about it, would he rather spend the next three months doing the Donald Trump show rather than running a disciplined campaign because he knows he can chalk up his defeat to a rigged election?

Finally there are the allegations from Trump that the vote is going to be rigged against him. Is he setting himself up to lose, purposefully? Some believe that Trump is simply a Clinton plant. That is, frankly, easy to believe. Given the chameleon like fluidity with which he transformed from embracing a Clinton embracing Democrat to an ostensibly Clinton opposing Republican, it would be nothing to publically announce a mea culpa after her inauguration and go back to being a friend of Clinton and reap the windfall that comes with helping put her in the White House. He will have in one stroke eviscerated the GOP and put a longtime friend in the White House. From the perspective of a man who has made billions from crony capitalism, this is getting the keys to the kingdom.

Whether driven by a lack of desire or in coordination with the Democrat party, losing the presidential race offers Donald Trump the potential to put a stamp on history’s accounting of him. In addition to being the greatest businessman in history, he can become the aggrieved hero who wanted to save America but who was undermined by the entrenched political establishment. For a man who more than anything loves to tell tales about his exploits and to whom hyperbole is second nature, the allure of “What if” or “I would have” is that there is no limit to how great his accomplishments would have been if he’d only been given a fair chance... And the bonus is… he doesn’t actually have to accomplish anything and no one can ever prove him wrong. I’m not sure the prospect of actually taking the job, with the ancillary risks of failure and requirements for actual results can hold a candle to that…

Monday, August 1, 2016

America's Game of Russian Roulette: Clinton vs. Trump or Revolution vs. War

I remember in 2008 I told my wife that that presidential election was the most important in a generation. I told her in 2012 that that election was the most important in my lifetime. Both of those statements were completely true. In putting Barack Obama in the White House, for the first time Americans elected a race bating closet Muslim socialist / fascist as the leader of the free world. That is of course unfortunate in many ways for many people around the world. Not only has the American economy been stuck in the worst recession in 65 years, race relations are the worst they’ve been in 50 years, our borders are practically nonexistent, freedom and the Constitution are under constant attack and the image of the United States as a leader on the world stages is in tatters.

Now it’s possible that the election of 2016 is even more important, but sadly there is no relative superhero like John McCain or Mittens Romney on the ticket. I was against both of those squishy centrist candidates from the start and would have much preferred to have an actual conservative on the ticket… but alas it was not to happen.

It was with great expectations that I looked forward to the 2016 campaign as finally an opportunity for a true conservative to emerge from the mosh pit and lead the nation to a victory over the cancer of today’s Democrat party. Unfortunately however that did not happen. Between the GOP establishment’s incompetence and fear of a real conservative, as well as the media’s love of ratings – and that includes the so called “conservative” media – today we have Donald Trump as the standard bearer for the party of Ronald Reagan.

And so it is that Americans, with a population of over 320 million people have put themselves in a situation where the only two people with a realistic chance of becoming the leader of the free world are a lying big government socialist and an uninformed narcissistic thin skinned crony capitalist with no love for freedom. This is essentially the opposite of winning the lottery. Americans have somehow managed to put themselves in a game of Russian Roulette where all of the chambers have rounds in them!

While the elections of 2008 and 2012 set the nation on the road to ruin in terms of economic stagnation, stultifying regulation, the undermining of the Constitution and eviscerating America’s position as leader of the free world, the election of 2016 will have even more devastating effects.

The election of Hillary Clinton will result in the continuation of the policies of Barack Obama, only on steroids. We will get a Supreme Court that will look to the UN charter rather than the US Constitution. We will get continued and increasing regulation which suffocates prosperity and entrepreneurship but which helps big business. We will get increases in taxes, skyrocketing government spending and more race bating. And perhaps most of all, we will surrender our borders and will transform our nation into a refuge from which immigrants can escape the third world only to then work to turn our country into a mirror reflection of said third world.

The election of Donald Trump will give us a crapshoot of broken promises, protectionism, and isolation. At the same time the 1st Amendment may go by way of the dodo bird while regulation will likely grow for the benefit of big businesses and at the expense of entrepreneurs. More ominously, a Donald Trump presidency will create great divisions between the United States and our NATO allies and others who have helped maintain a relative peace for much of the last half century. As the increasingly bellicose Chinese and Russians seek to expand their spheres of influence, the world will watch a President Trump seek to pull back the American footprint. Osama Bin Laden once said “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse”. In this case the strong horses will be China and Russia, and that does not bode well for freedom or peace for anyone.

So at the end of the day, Americans have a choice to make, and neither is a good one.

The first option will put Hillary Clinton in the White House, and that will lead to a fracturing of the nation, along lines of race, along lines of income, along geographic lines and fundamentally about an understanding of the Constitution and freedom. And that fracturing could very well lead to revolution. And not a theoretical revolution played out in newsrooms and college campuses and on the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. No, this may indeed turn out to be a real revolution where people revolt against the tyranny of an economically and culturally oppressive government and a dearth of opportunity of any kind. It won’t show itself by a fife and drum corps marching down Main Street. No, it will be in the shadows as more police are targeted, more citizens take matters into their own hands and order starts to come apart while an increasingly militarized police force seeks to keep things in check. This revolution will look a lot more like the one that started in France in 1789 than the one that started in the colonies in 1776.

The second option will put Donald Trump in the White House and that will lead to a calcifying of the American economy, estrangement between the US and erstwhile allies, and at some point, war. And this war will not be a guerilla war fought against jihadis seeking to bring about the caliphate. No, this war will be against Russia or China. As Trump and his little hands pull back from the world stage, the Russians and Chinese will seek to expand their empires, taking Ukraine and Taiwan respectively. In both cases Trump will likely acquiesce, which will only lead to further expansion such as with the Baltics in the case of Russia and any one of half a dozen other countries or islands in the case of China. At some point the threat will become sufficiently ominous and American allies so vocal that the United States will have to engage. And unlike Korea or Vietnam or Afghanistan in the 1980s, this will not be a proxy war limited to some theater most Americans couldn’t find on a map if their lives depended on it. No, this will be a real, hot war with sophisticated enemies throwing billions of dollars of weapons at one another. One can only hope that such a conflict stays conventional…

So as we stumble towards the 2016 election Americans should be aware… they have left themselves with not only no good options, but only terrible options, both of which will likely lead to much bloodshed, chaos and possibly the end of the Republic. Good job Rush, Matt Drudge and the GOP establishment. When your country needed you, you decided to whore yourselves out to a populist megalomaniac. The citizens of dystopia in America’s future will no doubt be quite grateful to you.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Man of Character - Ted Cruz

On Wednesday night Ted Cruz addressed the GOP convention in Cleveland. At first I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for a masterful dismantling of Hillary Clinton on the biggest stage of the campaign. While he hit her, it seemed almost perfunctory. But upon reflection, he did exactly what he should have done in terms of articulating the principals of freedom, limited government and opportunity. Particularly given the fact that Donald Trump is the GOP candidate and those ideas will likely not find much airtime over the next four months.

Of course none of that really mattered. The only thing that mattered to those on the floor, those in the box seats and those in the media was “Will Ted Cruz endorse Donald Trump?” He didn’t. And as a result much of the GOP establishment, erstwhile conservatives and virtually the entire universe of talk radio hosts have proclaimed his political career over. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, we’ll have to wait and see.

But what we won’t have to wait and see is what courage looks like. Ted Cruz went into the lion’s den and came out not only alive, but clearly in possession of his principals. Near the end of the speech, as the boos became so loud and the crowd was (intentionally) stirred into a frenzy, I couldn’t help but picture one of those countless scenes between the two world wars when Winston Churchill stood in the well of Parliament and warned of the coming storm. He was called a war monger. He was called a trouble maker. He was said to be an old fool. And most of that was from people in his own party!

If one has ever seen video of the raucous debates in Parliament, you can imagine what it was like for Churchill to stand there withering the slings and arrows yet continue to speak his piece. So too was it with Ted Cruz. The Trump inspired crowd would very much liked to have tarred and feathered Cruz had they been able to get to him. They did what they could to intimidate the Texas senator, but he continued with his message, suggesting those in the hall and those at home vote their conscience.

And that is perhaps the single most telling part of this entire farce. Ted Cruz was not telling anyone to vote for him or not to vote for Donald Trump. No, Ted Cruz talked about the party, the constitution, liberty, freedom and he suggested delegates and viewers should vote for the person who they thought would uphold their vision of those things. When someone tells you to vote your conscience and you think they’ve insulted your candidate that tells you much more about you and your candidate than it does about the speaker.

Finally there is the pledge. Ted Cruz did indeed make a pledge to support the nominee. He, along with the rest of the contenders vowed to support the nominee. And he meant it. Do you for one moment think that if Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal or Ben Carson were the nominee he wouldn’t have supported them? No doubt he would have, with bells on. When he made that pledge, he had every intention of fulfilling it.

But here’s the thing. Pledges are not written in stone or blood. Think about it… How many Americans have been divorced? When you marry you promise to “Love, honor and cherish till death do us part.” That’s a pledge… yet somehow almost half of marriages end up in divorce. Does that mean the bride and groom were lying? Absolutely not. They meant it, but things don’t always work out as planned. A pledge is not a golden ticket for the other person to do whatever they want. That pledge does not give a husband carte blanche to sleep with half the women in his office and it doesn’t give the wife the right to abuse the children. The pledge that people make to one another at their wedding assumes a relationship within the normal bounds of acceptable behavior… it’s not an iron clad contract for life that remains in effect regardless of what the other person does.

And so too is it with Ted Cruz and his pledge to support the nominee. Cruz had every intention of supporting the GOP’s nominee when he made it. But then Donald Trump personally attacked both Cruz’s wife and father. Yet Cruz was somehow still supposed to pledge his support. If that’s the case, then one wonders what exactly Trump could have done that would have been sufficient to persuade his supporters that breaking the pledge was warranted? “Stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people”? What if he had been indicted for fraud associated with Trump University but hadn’t yet been tried? What if it became known that Trump was having an affair? What if he had announced that he was once again pro abortion or wanted to restrict the 2nd Amendment? None of those things happened of course, but which of them, if any might have been a sufficient rupture to allow someone to break their pledge.

For some Americans there are lines in the sand that should not be crossed. Others may have no lines or their lines are fungible. Ted Cruz does have a line and Trump crossed it when he targeted Heidi and Rafael. The fact that Trump has navigated his way through the dysfunctional primary system and come out on top does not make up for the means he pursued to arrive there. Actions, as they say, have consequences, and Donald Trump very much took the low road and lost the endorsement of Ted Cruz as a result. Despite that, Ted Cruz more than fulfilled his promise by taking the stage in Cleveland and talking about Republican values, freedom and the Constitution, then suggesting that voters look to their consciences to vote for the person most likely to defend them. He even explicitly stated that Hillary Clinton would not. That he didn’t kneel and kiss Trump’s ring, and the fact that his refusal has so incised Trump’s team tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump and his supporters. It is not winning that animates them, it’s obedience. At the end of the day, Donald Trump wants rule the nation and Ted Cruz wants to lead it. The GOP voters have made their choice, now we’ll see how that choice plays itself out on the national stage.