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...