Wednesday, September 20, 2023

You Should Listen To The Elites Because They're Smarter Than You... Obviously

I’m a pretty average guy. My SAT was 1010, I earned a 2.7 GPA as an undergraduate and 3.0 for my MBA. Since college I’ve launched half a dozen startups, none of which, made it very far… An objective assessment might suggest my intelligence is slightly above average and my entrepreneurial capabilities somewhat below. When all is said and done, I probably balance out as basically average.

That’s troubled me for years…but probably not in the way you think. I’m not troubled that I’m basically average, I’m troubled by what I must be getting wrong vis-√†-vis the world around me.

I say wrong because there’s an entire universe out there of people who are by every objective measure exponentially smarter than I am, but who think exactly the opposite of the way I do on practically every single issue. Guys like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Pierre Omidyar, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Craig Newmark and so many more.

These guys have more money than God. They all probably scored perfect or close to it on the SATs. They’ve created companies that employ hundreds of thousands of people and generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year in revenue. They’re showcased in magazines like Forbes and Fortune, lionized on TV and are the subjects of books and movies and of course, success memes.

But somehow these guys and most like them are generally hardcore leftists. They’re animated by and put their money behind things like “Climate Change,” “DEI,” and open borders. Most supported the BLM scam and many of their companies regularly censor speech of conservatives. They support things like the Paris Climate Accords, the WHO, and were largely all in on the COVID scam. Most of all, they support Democrats who push for higher taxes, defunding the police and more government regulations, particularly on businesses.

This is where the trouble comes in. These guys are really smart. They’ve succeeded in ways few human beings ever have. They’ve become rich and powerful beyond belief. And they all did it in the United States…yet they support policies that are not only antithetical to traditional American values, but they also actively subvert the framework that allowed them to succeed in the first place.

America may be a flawed place, but it is the place where Microsoft, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, eBay, Craigslist and countless others were founded and found success. Interestingly, most of them employ large numbers of immigrants, despite their success being rooted in America, not in India, China, or Europe.

Their success was not because of government programs, regulations, or largesse. They succeeded in America because government regulation was relatively low for startups. They succeeded in America because that’s where capital came to find attractive returns. They succeeded in America because of well-trained STEM graduates who brought them a unique set of skills and experiences they couldn’t find elsewhere, because our market is the most dynamic on the planet and the most open to new ideas. And perhaps most of all, they succeeded in America because of our fundamental constitutional rights protecting private property—including intellectual property—and free speech, which foster the exchange of ideas, and because of our fundamental notion of entrepreneurship where anyone can start a business and succeed by creating something sufficiently compelling to entice consumers to freely to pay for it.

These factors don’t exist anywhere else in the world and, as a result, for 100 years, America has created more prosperity and increased the worldwide standard of living more than any nation in all of human history…and it’s not even close. And these mavens all pretend to support increasing prosperity and decreasing poverty.

However, now that they’ve found success beyond imagination thanks to the American system, they’ve decided that the fundamental rules that allowed them to prosper should no longer apply. So-called emergencies like “Climate Change,” “Institutional Racism,” “Gender Equity,” and “Global Inequality” supersede the 18th century anachronisms of the American Constitution and individual rights.

No longer can Americans be allowed to decide how to heat their homes, fuel their cars, or protect their property. No longer can they be allowed to enjoy an American-centric foreign policy or manage America’s economy in a way that empowers Americans. No longer will common miscreants be held responsible for their actions, even as those who challenge mandates are crushed. No longer will students learn objective facts or study the Western canon, but they’ll be taught to change their gender on a whim. Whether it’s algorithms controlling what Americans can say or see, regulations about what they can or must do, or what products or services they are allowed to purchase, these enlightened elites graciously inform us they are applying their intellectual brilliance to make our lives better, and so too the rest of the world. And they should know what’s best because look at how smart and successful they are.

However, these “One World” billionaires’ alleged compassion for the world’s less fortunate is pure fiction. How can you tell? Because their solutions for worldwide inequalities isn’t to encourage struggling nations to adopt the freedoms, protections, and systems that led to their success in America. Instead, they push to erase American borders while championing the policies of Communist China and the increasingly despotic EU while encouraging us to adopt edicts from tyrannical organizations like the UN and the WHO and proffered by Bond villains like Klaus Schwab at the WEF.

And thus my conundrum. If I, with my relatively limited intellectual capacity, can see as clear as day that it was America and her Constitution that drove prosperity’s march for a century and allowed these intellectual giants to succeed in spectacular fashion, how is it that most of them are hardcore leftists whose policies will kill the goose that laid the golden egg? What am I missing? Am I really that dense?

Maybe, but a better explanation might be that these guys believe themselves to be the self-anointed leaders of a new cult. This cult, which replaces traditional religion, has as its God the fiction of Nirvana on earth, which can only be accomplished through the policies of the enlightened elites from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington. They know more than you do, have done more than you have, and achieved more than you have and, therefore, are much better equipped to make important decisions for the “less fortunate.”

Naturally, they may not live by or be constrained by the commandments their new religion dictates, but that’s because, while they were smart enough to navigate and survive a world fraught with free-thinking individuals and potential catastrophic failures, you’re not. You’re too busy with your “God, guns and family” to be equipped to see the big picture. Individual freedom makes for bad collective decisions they’d say, but from the elevated perspectives their intelligence and success allows, they can help you people make better decisions and avoid mistakes…

Nevermind that it’s the lessons learned from failures that often lead men to success, or that it’s often after hitting rock bottom that individuals reach their highest peaks. No, none of that matters because they know best, just ask them.

At the end of the day my SAT scores and bank account may suggest that I’m not quite as smart as those guys, but at least now I understand why…I’m a mere mortal, they’re demigods.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Donald Trump’s Mugshot and the Berlin Wall of Democrat Propaganda

The Democrats are making a final push against Donald Trump, the culmination of their unrelenting efforts since 2016. But is their propaganda becoming so obvious that, rather than persuading voters, it finally opens their eyes to reality? The Soviet Union stands as an example of how “propaganda collapse” plays out and how that might happen here, too.

I went to college back in the 1980s, when Communism was still perceived by most Americans as a bad thing—although not one of my political philosophy professors. He proudly characterized himself as “Somewhere to the left of Lenin.” When professing his love and respect for the Soviets—but not enough to leave Florida and move to Moscow— he often tried to square the circle of their military prowess and the reports in American media about their economic failings.

Thus, he pointed out that the Soviets built rockets sending men into space, built weapon systems the Pentagon told us could obliterate the West, dominated Eastern Europe, and were the power behind the Vietnamese who defeated both the French and the Americans. Given all the Soviet’s demonstrated military and technological prowess, he asked, how was it even remotely possible that they could not build washing machines or cars on par with anything produced in the West? Given that they controlled one of the greatest breadbaskets in the world, Ukraine, how could it be true that there was rampant starvation?

The professor had a ready answer: The stories about the Soviet’s economic failures were lies—propaganda produced by the CIA and segments of the capitalist American media.

And it wasn’t just economics. It was politics as well. The Soviet Union had one of the most robust constitutions in the world, he insisted, with an array of guarantees that any citizen in the West would feel comfortable with: Freedom of speech, the press, right of assembly, worship etc. The gulags of Siberia were simply more Western propaganda.

Eventually the professor’s fiction about the communist nirvana could be sustained no longer, but by that time I had graduated and was stationed in West Germany. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reality of the desolation of the East started to become clear. Indeed, the juxtaposition of the abject economic failure of the East with the prosperity of the west put the lie to everything my communist championing professor and his favorite newspaper, the NY Times, had tried to drill into our heads for years.

The fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t the end of communism, nor even the Soviet Union, which would stand for an additional two years. But when it comes to discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism in Eastern Europe, that fall is the thing that most people remember.

I’d posit that we witnessed a similarly epoch-defining event recently: Donald Trump’s mugshot. There’s nothing extraordinary about the mugshot itself, but sometimes an image is much more than just the pixels it’s made up of. What this particular image really depicts is the culmination of eight years of lies and propaganda from Democrats and the Swamp. In one picture, Americans understand exactly what has been going on for the last eight years.

With that mugshot, even people who hate Donald Trump will recognize that America is evolving into a tyranny, like Venezuela with Chavez or Turkey with Erdogan, a place where laws don’t matter other than as tools to crush opponents. They see that the apparatus of the state is simply a vehicle for distributing power among your friends and punishing your enemies.

And in an echo of the 1930s, when Stalin was starving millions of Ukrainians to death and the New York Times was telling us fairy tales, today’s media are telling us that Trump is indeed a criminal, the charges are damning, and that Americans are finally coming to recognize him as one.

The difference is that it took half a century for the truth about the evil of the Soviets to finally find the light of day, while the truth about the evil of the Democrats and their Swamp comrades has taken just a few years… Indeed, you could make the argument that it’s taken less than six months.

Trump’s first indictment, this past March, accuses him of using his own money, rather than donors’ money to pay hush money, suggesting that election law required him to use campaign contributions to keep hidden a sordid story about sex. His second indictment, in June, accuses him of mishandling documents, something every president has done, but no others were indicted for. (And, of course, Trump did not mishandle the documents.) His third indictment, on August 1st, was for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results, this after he’s on video telling his followers to “peacefully and patriotically” make their way to the Capitol. His last (so far) indictment was issued on August 14th, and accused him of seeking to interfere with the 2020 election by falsely claiming he wanted the Secretary of State to manufacture votes.

In less than six months, the Democrats have indicted Donald Trump four times, with the cases scheduled to run through at least the spring of 2024, right into the heart of primary season. Aside from the absurdity of the indictments themselves, this is easily the most blatant example of election interference the United States has ever seen. Indeed it’s so blatant that even a majority of Democrats who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 think it’s interference.

To make matters worse for Democrats, in his interview with Tucker Carlson, Trump looked and sounded as presidential as he ever has. While his outlandish personality serves him well at rallies filled with supporters, his presidential decorum, command of the facts, and his clear confidence while speaking with Tucker are exactly what appeals to those voters put off by doddering Joe Biden’s inability to put an intelligent thought into words or walk up a flight of stairs. While a good interview alone won’t get the job done, for those who are looking around wondering what the hell the Democrats are doing, it likely opens a door for him.

As with most things in life, timing is everything, and the Democrats may have hit the sweet spot…for Donald Trump. While Biden has been less than lucid for most of his presidency, today he more often looks like an escaped Alzheimer’s patient than he does a president. The longer Democrats allow Joe to run with the fiction that he is going to be on the ticket in November, the stronger the contrast becomes with the robust, energized, and cogent Trump. At the same time, every day seems to bring more proof to light that Biden is not only a liar, but he’s been on the take from America’s enemies for years.

Many Democrats would no doubt vote for a fence post so long as it was running against Donald Trump, but there are likely a significant number with functioning brains who recognize that regardless of how much they dislike Trump, he’s a far better choice than Joe Biden.

Of course, Democrats could ditch Biden for Harris, Newsom or, God forbid, Michelle Obama, but that doesn’t solve the problem they’ve created with the trials. Trump will be sitting in courtrooms during critical periods of the campaign, but that doesn’t mean he’ll lose support as a result. Indeed, just the opposite is likely to happen as he has countless surrogates who will use the fact that he couldn’t be there because of the Democrats’ treachery to excite a crowd and grow support.

In addition, the trials will offer daily opportunities to remind voters of the Democrats’ hypocrisy and mendacity as they manipulate the justice system to crucify Trump while the Bidens, Hillary, and virtually every swamp dweller gets off scot-free.

It would be the ultimate irony if the indictments that Democrats hoped to use to finally defeat Donald Trump were the vehicles through which America finally came to see their mendacity and propelled their worst nightmare back into office.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Can Democrats Constitutionally End Trump’s Campaign?

We all know what an October Surprise is. It’s when a rival campaign or supporter releases information about an opponent at a point in October. The idea is to release the skeleton or some other damaging information at a point when it’s too late for the opposing candidate to recover, giving the candidate whose team released the information a clear path to victory. Always feared, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

As the number of inane indictments of Trump demonstrates, the Democrats will do virtually anything to keep Donald Trump from ever again occupying the White House and threatening the Swamp’s grip on the throats of the American people.

I don’t, however, think a traditional October Surprise is much of a danger in this election. Why would Democrats wait until the last minute to release some exquisite horror that will send Trump packing? They wouldn’t. The fact that they haven’t released such a campaign-killing bit of information already means that they simply don’t have one.

As such, the Democrats are in trouble.  Between having a guy who electrifies crowds like no one in American history on the other side and their presumptive nominee being a doddering Alzheimer’s patient they really have two problems to solve, not one.

One wonders if there is not some constitutional answer to their quandary… I think there is.

Now, I can’t suggest this would be successful, but I can guarantee that it would set the political universe of the “Rich Men North of Richmond,” on their heads.

The solution for the Democrats lies in the 22nd Amendment. Here is the relevant language: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

This language offers Democrats the opportunity to eliminate both of their problems at the same time. Now, of course, it has risks, may be legally or constitutionally impossible, and has the potential to send the nation into chaos or a civil war, but as we’ve seen, none of those things is a barrier to Democrats doing anything, legal, illegal or unconscionable in order to win.

So how does the 22nd Amendment offer the Democrats a way out of the morass they find themselves in? Simple: Make Donald Trump president again. Essentially this would involve Democrats revealing (admitting, really) that, after an unprecedented national investigation of the 2020 election, it turns out that, shockingly, Donald Trump was right and the election was tainted. He did, in fact, win the 2020 election.

Check out the language of the Amendment. It says: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice…” It doesn’t require that the person has actually served as president for two terms. It literally only states that a person cannot be elected more than twice, without regard for whether he served in the position.

So, in one action, Democrats can eliminate both of their problems. The first and most consequential is to keep the feared Donald Trump from running again. The second is to send Brandon to the sidelines, having undermined the only reason he’s even thought of by a single American, which is that he sits in the Oval Office.

But, you say, “That’s crazy! That’s impossible. There’s nothing in the Constitution that would allow such a thing!” True, but then there’s nothing in it to prohibit it, either. And as we know, the Democrats are willing to do anything, constitutional or otherwise, if it will bring them power. This is particularly true with a Supreme Court led by the lion from the Wizard of Oz.

Proof of such is legion. Think how the IRS and DOJ eviscerated the First Amendment, the government obliterated Chrysler creditors’ contract rights during the last financial meltdown, and the DOJ being weaponized against private citizens.

There are cultural attacks, too. For more than 2,000 years of Western civilization, marriage was one man and one woman. Thanks to the Democrats, that’s no longer true. There’s dude in a dress, “Rachel” Levine, who’s the Assistant Secretary for Health. He insists that he’s a woman, and the government agrees with him, while anyone who points out the obvious is castigated. Today, governments across the country are not only allowing prepubescent children to be butchered by predatory doctors and rapacious hospitals, but some are paying for it and doing it without parental consent.

There’s literally nothing the Democrats wouldn’t do for power…

Now the question is, how and when would the Democrats put forward this innovative plan? Perhaps they’ll act as Americans are basking in the relative quiet of summer, when they can enjoy the last bit of peace before the cacophony of election propaganda ramps up its around-the-clock assault on their senses. Or they could wait until October to spring it on the American people…

The first approach would have the advantage of allowing them to find a suitable candidate for November and begin marketing him or her as the savior of “Democracy.” The downside of that timing would be that after swearing in Trump, he’d be in control of the bureaucracy for about half a year. But the truth is, given the resulting chaos of the move and the depth of the Swamp, what he might accomplish, even with an ostensible GOP majority in the House, would be very limited. The second approach has the benefit of having Trump in the White House for just a couple of months as a lame duck.

Now, both of these assume that Trump would acquiesce and allow himself to be sworn in… which he’d never do. But here’s where it gets interesting. If Trump saw the sham for what it was and refused to participate, then it would fall to Mike Pence to be sworn in and take over the Executive Office, and don’t for a second think that he wouldn’t do it, because he would.

This of course sounds absurd, and it is, but so too did the idea of gay marriage for all human history except for a nanosecond. That doesn’t mean that Democrats won’t consider it. Once they accept that their comical indictments of Trump are not only not scaring off his supporters, but are actually strengthening his position, they’ll begin to feel like cornered animals willing to do anything to escape.

Somewhere in the Democrat brain trust (sic) the people who decided that it was a good idea to put an Alzheimer’s patient in charge of the nuclear football are going to realize that Donald Trump, if he’s on the ballot in November, will win the election. So, whether it takes the form of an October Surprise or July Fireworks, don’t be surprised if the Democrats risk civil war to stay in power. After all, they did once before…

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Just Living Your Life... Under the Watchful Eyes of the Swamp

 “A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”  Writing in 1928, John Shedd wasn’t really talking about ships. He was talking about life.

Years ago, my girlfriend and I went to see a movie.  What we saw, I’ve no idea, but I do know we had a terrible time, and it had nothing to do with what was on the screen and everything to do with what was going on in the theater. People were yelling at the screen, talking to each other, and smoking. My girlfriend mentioned the smoking, and I said that if that was the only problem we encountered, we’d be lucky, as I’d recently witnessed a bloody knife fight between two girls over a baby-daddy in a nearby theater.

I mention this because when you think your life may be in jeopardy, it’s hard to enjoy entertainment, and enjoyment is the whole point of movies. Movies require your buy-in for success, you must turn off reality and connect with the characters.

If you can’t do that, you can’t enjoy the movie. If you’re worried that someone’s going to pull a gun or set the place on fire, you’re going to be too busy scanning for danger to become engaged with what’s on the screen. You’d end up doing little more than wasting your time and money.

Just as movies require your buy-in and focus for success, so too does life. And that’s a problem with 21st-century America and the always-on-everywhere swamp. The danger is not so much that Big Brother is watching and trying to control our every move. He/it doesn’t have to. Our knowing that the state could be watching or listening is enough. It’s called the “
Chilling Effect”, basically the government doing something that chills citizens’ willingness to exercise their constitutional rights for fear of reprisals.

Think about it this way: If you think it’s tough to enjoy a movie when you’re worried about what’s going on in the theater, imagine how difficult it would be to write a compelling, engaging movie with a critic holding a club looking over your shoulder the entire time. Well, that’s you trying to live your life.

How different would the script of your life be if you knew your every word might end up as part of some government dossier? How much could you embrace freedom and focus on having fun, sowing your wild oats, finding your passion, or risking failure to pursue some crazy dream if you were constantly wondering what some government bureaucrat with the power to throw you in prison or destroy your business or take away your kids might think? And that’s true even if you didn’t do anything illegal.

And that’s the problem. Since 2013’s Snowden revelations, we’ve known the government is actively collecting reams of data on virtually all of us. Back then, even the NY Times called it a “Threat to Democracy.” The government, against virtually the entire Bill of Rights, has and currently is looking at everything Americans do. (Want to see how much data they collect? Click here.)

Knowing our government is actively looking at emails, phone calls (or “just” our metadata, as we were assured), as well as our online surfing and purchasing habits, sends a chill down your spine. With 350 million people in the country, they’re probably not looking at you…but they might be.

And it’s not just the government. While, yes, it is the FBI, NSA, IRS, and other agencies in the alphabet soup of the state, it’s also Facebook, Google, Apple, and AT&T. It’s also the banks. Maybe the most relevant example of the banks is JP Morgan Chase—a company that recently paid $290 million to victims of Jeffry Epstein for empowering the pedophile—recently closing down the accounts of a prominent vaccine skeptic after closing the account of a religious freedom nonprofit last year. This follows a since derailed plan by MasterCard and Visa to track gun and ammunition purchases.

“But they’re private companies!” That’s technically true, but also false. They may be private but they’re often coerced by the government to do its bidding. What’s more, there’s often a revolving door with government officials that makes explicit coercion unnecessary and government service quite lucrative for potential regulators.

And so back to the life you’re living…

How comfortable are you going to be doing or saying anything that might cause the federal government (or state or local) to put you on some watchlist? You ask yourself “Should I wear this MAGA hat to that school board meeting, or should I wait until my building permit is approved?” “Should I write that blog critical of my senator, or should I wait until my nonprofit application is approved?” “Should I post pictures of my kids at the range, or should I wait until my bank approves my mortgage application?”

The reality is, citizens silencing themselves is a far bigger problem than the government censoring them. (Just think how unfunny “comedy” is today with the censorious woke scrutinizing every joke.) How many journalists or bloggers have avoided writing something or “toned it down” because they were worried they’d pay some price for offending the wrong bureaucrat?

It’s not just the words not spoken or the stands not taken that are the problem. It’s the fact that energy must be spent considering them in the first place. Living a successful life is challenging in the best of circumstances. Getting everything from an education to a job, starting a company or finding the perfect spouse and raising good kids. All take a lot of effort to do successfully, but the question is, how much harder would they be if you had to divert X% of your focus to constantly wondering what the consequences on them be if you exercised your First or Second Amendment rights?

Sure, you could simply keep your head down and not bother, but as we know from Fahrenheit 451, that actually harms society. And, even if you tried to keep your head down and go about your way, there’s no guarantee you aren’t going to end up on the wrong side of a government vaccine policy or tripped up by a school board’s constantly evolving “pronoun” policy.

At the end of the day, living a good life takes work and can be challenging, that’s particularly so in a free society. But it’s the freedom of ideas that the advancements of society, whether advocating for a legislative check on a monarch’s power, proffering a sun-centered system, or filibustering for a Bill of Rights. There’s a reason the US and the West have led the world in the growth of prosperity and advances in science and mathematics, and that reason is the freedom to exchange ideas, good and bad and otherwise.

Getting the most out of life, like enjoying a movie, depends on the ability to focus on the task at hand without fear for your safety as you do so. As the surveillance and control leviathan of the swamp grows, doing so becomes ever more difficult. Now might be a good time to start supporting candidates who vow to dismantle it before it dismantles what’s left of our freedoms.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Cost of Prosperity - Distraction From What Really Counts

Americans are busy people—but the real risk in the lead-up to 2024 is that we may be too busy to pay attention to our last chance to preserve our liberties.

In one respect we’re no different than any other people on the planet given that our primary needs are food, water and shelter. Beyond that however, Americans enjoy a life of leisure opportunities that virtually no one else on the planet enjoys. Not leisure that’s measured in hours worked as in France or Germany. Workers in most developed countries work fewer hours per year than Americans do.

No, what’s different is that Americans have so many ways to spend their leisure time: Motocross. Shopping. Video games. Countless cable channels. Amusement parks. Golf. Swimming. Skiing. Football. Baseball. Golf. Putt putt golf. Pickleball. Off-track betting. Gymnastics. Theater. Karate. Star Trek conventions. Habitat for Humanity. Cornhole. BBQ competitions. Quilting competitions. Beauty pageants for kids. These are only a tiny fraction of the myriad options Americans have at their disposal to entertain themselves or spend their leisure time watching or participating in.

If one were to compare the spectrum of activities available to the average American with the equivalent spectrum for any other country on the planet, it wouldn’t take long to see an enormous difference. Many countries share some of our pursuits, but the depth and breadth available to Americans is unparalleled. None of this came about by accident. The reason Americans have dozens of sports and thousands of activities to participate in, from grade school to the senior center, is because the nation has been so prosperous for so long, and the nation has exemplified creativity for things both consequential and not. The result is a nation where most people have available a level of entertainment and leisure unparalleled in history.

One consequence of such is that Americans are busy. So busy, in fact, that they forget to pay attention to some things that really matter—specifically, government. In a perfect world, no one would have to pay much attention to the government because it would be run like a well-oiled machine in the background that wouldn’t cause any trouble. But that’s not how governments work. Our Founding Fathers knew that, which is why they gave us a government of separated powers with staggered terms for those responsible for exercising them. But even such a near-perfect document cannot stand forever in the face of avarice and the lust for power.

That greed and lust for power is the defining characteristic of what we call the Swamp. And it was enabled by a plethora of acts that strengthened and emboldened the apparatchiks who man it. These included Executive Orders by JFK and Nixon giving federal employees powers or “protections” they’d never previously had, as well as a 1984 Supreme Court case that required courts to defer to federal agencies as it relates to rule-making when there is ambiguity in the legislation.

Together, these and other acts made the Swamp possible. They built a federal government where it’s almost impossible to fire anyone, and agencies essentially get to decide who and what they regulate while those affected have limited redress. So basically, we have agencies that decide what laws they want to write staffed by people who can’t be fired regardless of their failure, incompetence, or criminality.

Of course, every two years, the cacophony that is American life is made that much more dissonant by elections. Most Americans, however, unfortunately, spend less time learning what’s really at stake in those elections than they do selecting teams for their March Madness brackets or wondering what’s going on in the dysfunctional Kardashian universe. The reality of this disaster was demonstrated 15 years ago by John Ziegler.

This situation might have been acceptable 100 years ago when the federal government was relatively small and had little discernible impact on most American lives. Today, however, when the leviathan of the federal government seeks to control virtually every aspect of our lives, it’s simply not. There’s a tipping point in every endeavor in life, and the lifecycle of a Republic is no exception. Leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked: “Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Two hundred and thirty years later we are on the verge of losing it. The problem is that too many Americans have no idea what the danger is and have little interest in finding out. They’ve spent so much of their lives enjoying the leisure and entertainment our Republic has made possible that they’ve forgotten that the foundation of freedom and prosperity upon which those conditions are built are not ordained by God, not set in stone, and not guaranteed. The conditions underlying Americans’ freedoms and prosperity are far more fragile than most recognize but, like frogs in a pot of slowly warming water, they’re succumbing to the creeping threat. Indeed, there’s an inverse relationship between government micromanagement and citizens’ freedom.

In what might be the single most crystallizing example of government micromanagement of Americans’ everyday lives since Barack Obama’s attempts to destroy the suburbs, the Biden Administration is considering banning gas stoves and a plethora of other items Americans use in the normal routine of their daily lives. Think about that…

Natural gas has been a key element of cooking in America for centuries. It’s a clean-burning fuel, cheap and plentiful, with a variety of sources, mostly in red states, which makes it hard to control. So, if Democrats can’t control the supply of something, they simply take control of the demand. Doing so in this case has the twin virtues of harming the economies of red states while forcing Americans to buy new, “green lobby approved”—read: dysfunctional and expensive—appliances. All, of course, in the name of the “Climate Change” hoax.

These and literally tens of thousands of other federal regulations are the cost to Americans of not paying attention, summed up by the notion that politics is downstream from culture. Hollywood and the media destroyed American culture, which made turning Washington’s alphabet departments, agencies, and bureaus into tools of tyranny easy.

The question is, can anyone shake the American people out of this political stupor long enough for them to recognize the danger they face? Will Americans rise to the occasion in 2024, or will they instead continue to eat the fruit from the tree of liberty, oblivious to the rot of its roots?

Perhaps a paraphrasing of Martin Niemöller might help:

First, they raised the minimum wage, and I cheered because I had a job.

Then, they destroyed public education, and I didn’t act because I sent my kid to private school.

Next, they limited cable rates, and I applauded because I saved $20 a month.

When they came for my light bulbs, I didn’t react because it made me feel good to help the environment.

One day, they said ethnicity was more important than ability for college acceptance, but I said nothing because I’d already graduated.

They increased taxes on the rich, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t rich.

Then they came for my gun, my car, my job, and eventually everything I hold dear, but there was no one left to stand with me because no one remembered what real liberty was or how it was supposed to be protected in the first place.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Not news - nor a surprise: The Government Lost the War on Poverty

Recently the Supreme Court put an end to Joe Biden’s efforts to gift erstwhile college students almost a trillion dollars in “debt relief”.  That’s a lot of money… but in reality that’s a tiny fraction of the money the government has wasted on redistribution, AKA social programs over the last six decades.

Next year the United States will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the War on Poverty, initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. The War’s programs initially started on a modest scale but have expanded almost parabolically since. At the 50th anniversary of the launch the government had spent more than $22 trillion on various welfare and redistribution programs and today spends $1 trillion a year on said programs… not including various “targeted” expenditures under Social Security or Medicare, which make the true total simply unknowable.  To put that in perspective, $1 trillion is greater than the GDP of 194 of the world’s 213 countries. 

Is this massive expenditure justified by the results of the War on Poverty? Initially one might suggest the results say yes. As of 2021, poverty in the United States hovered at approximately 11.6%, down from the approximately 18% rate in 1964 when the War on Poverty began. That’s a reduction of 6.6%, or almost one third. 

A closer look however reveals that that 6.6% reduction after an expenditure of $30 trillion seems underwhelming to say the least.  To see the full picture of the failed War on Poverty one need only look at the poverty rate over the 15 years prior to its beginning.  In 1949 the poverty rate in the United States stood at 34%, fully one third of the nation’s population.  Over the next 15 years, without significant government redistribution programs, indeed, without the War on Poverty, the poverty rate fell almost by half, falling from 34% to 18%, a reduction of a full 16 percentage points.  So, without government spending significant money poverty fell 16% in a period of 15 years, or 1.08% per year.  But with government spending more than $30 trillion over the next 55 years it fell by a total of just 6.4%, or .12% per year! That essentially means that without government intervention the poverty rate was falling 10 times faster than it did once government programs kicked in.       

And that 11.6% itself deserves a closer look.  In 2014, when the War on Poverty turned 50, the American poverty rate was still at 15%. That means that after spending $20 trillion over the previous half century the government had successfully reduced poverty by a mere 3%. When Barack Obama he entered the White House in 2008 the poverty rate stood at 12.5%.  It jumped up to 15% for four years before dropping back to 12.5% by the end of his presidency and where it was when Donald Trump took the White House. A mere three years later Trump’s economic renaissance had reduced poverty by 2%, bringing it to its lowest level in history, 10.5%, before the Covid scam derailed the prosperity engine. To put that in perspective, Donald Trump’s economy brought poverty down by 2% in 3 years, fully half as much as government spending did in the 53 years between 1964 and 2016.   

And of course the income numbers only tell part of the story.  Sadly, there is much more to it. 

An unintended consequence of the War on Poverty appears to have been a skyrocketing of single-parent households, which is a significant driver of poverty.  In 1964, around 4% of American children were born to unwed mothers. By 2021, this percentage increased a full ten times to 40%. Under the heading of Unintended Consequences one could observe that the welfare programs intended to save children from poverty, have, by making it economically and socially viable for single-parent households to exist, in fact stranded many children in poverty and worse, inflicting on them the coincident pathologies of poor education and crime, not coincidentally, both also being consequences of government failure.

From another perspective, let’s draw a comparison between the effects of government spending and the impact of private-sector investments. Let’s take just three companies, Apple, Amazon, and UPS who together had about $1 trillion in revenue in 2022, approximately the same amount the government spent on welfare that same year. These companies – and many others like them – revolutionized industries, drove many trillions of dollars of business for customers and vendors and affiliates; directly and indirectly employ millions of Americans who are breadwinners for their families, and at the same time generated trillions of dollars of wealth for investors.    

One can only wonder what might have happened if the more than $30 trillion the government wasted on its failed War on Poverty had instead been invested in startups similar to Apple and Amazon.  Not that we want the government taking our money and investing it – WE DON’T – but imagine the impact that money might have had had it somehow been targeted towards entrepreneurship and economic development. The 2% reduction in poverty during Trump’s first three years demonstrated with crystal clarity that market driven prosperity is a far more efficient vehicle for reducing poverty than government spending of any form. At a minimum, a market driven solution would likely have fostered a far more empowered, economically vibrant and dramatically more prosperous population than the generational dependency created by the government with its alphabet of aid programs. 

Benjamin Franklin understood this more clearly than virtually any politician in America today, having commented: “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Whether it’s student debt or the federal and state welfare perpetuation machines, America would be better off looking to the Founding Fathers for guidance than the grifters at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue…

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

White Pride... Is that a thing?

Although the first person killed in the American Revolution was a black man with native American blood – Crispus Attucks – the reality is, every man who signed the Declaration of Independence and was involved with the crafting of the Constitution was white.  Simply put, there would be no United States without white men.

After almost 250 years however the life of the average American is not directly impacted by what those white men did in Philadelphia.  Indirectly however, we experience the world build upon their foundations every day… and most of that world was the result of the inventions and innovations of other white men.

If you woke up this morning and did anything other than work on a farm, you can thank Cyrus McCormick.  When he invented the mechanical reaper in 1831 farming hadn’t changed in a thousand years, where one man with a scythe and two helpers could harvest two acres of grain a day.  McCormick’s early reaper allowed a man to double that and his later reapers multiplied that many times.  His introduction of payment plans made his machines the workhorses of a dramatic increase in efficiencies in farming.  At the time of his invention 80% of America’s population was either directly or indirectly involved in farming.  Today that number is closer to 2%.  So in essence Cyrus McCormick freed up almost 80% of the population to go out and do pretty much anything… from becoming entrepreneurs, to florists to baseball players to scientists, to plumbers to Instagram models and, yes, sadly, professional race grifters and activists.

Another white guy who had an extraordinary impact on America today was Henry Ford.  Many people think Ford invented the automobile.  He didn’t.  But his auto manufacturing production line brought the car from a luxury item only the rich could afford to a product tens of millions and eventually billions of people around the world could afford.  With that unprecedented access to cars the universe opened up for Americans.  Transportation limits on where they could work, live or go to school evaporated.  Suddenly they could drive anywhere they wanted, not limited to where public transport went or how far their horse could travel in a day or how far they could walk. Today 250 million Americans drive three trillion miles a year, six times the distance the earth travels around the sun!

There’s also Willis Carrier, the man who invented modern air conditioning.  Every summer as temperatures soar across the country, scorching everything in their path, most Americans can retreat to their homes and relax in air conditioned comfort or enjoy a movie theater or restaurant that would otherwise feel like a sweatshop. The degree to which the air office spaces changed the face of America is hard to exaggerate.  While manufacturing steel or working on a farm might not be impacted greatly by the invention of air conditioning, many of the things Americans do for work would be much more difficult if not impossible without it.  Things like medical research and high tech manufacturing or more mundane things like computer programming or working in a superstore or busy restaurant.

Then there is Elisha Otis, inventor of the safety elevator.  Take a look at the skyline of any American city and you’ll see buildings that stack 30 or 50 or even 100 floors high.  Of the tallest, skyscrapers of 40 or more floors, New York City alone has 250, and there are almost a thousand across the country.  None of those, or even the tens of thousands of buildings of just 10 or 20 stories high wouldn’t be possible without Otis’s safety elevator.  His presentation at the 1853 New York World's Fair helped usher in the advent of skyscrapers by giving much of the public the confidence to ride in elevators.

And there are countless more including George Eastman, the personal camera innovator, Charles Goodyear who put tires on our cars, the Wright Brothers and their airplane, Samuel Colt and his guns, Isaac Singer the sewing machine magnate, Levi Strauss and his jeans, Leo Baekeland who brought us plastic, and thousands of others.  To those historic figures you can add (for better or worse) contemporary white men Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Andreessen and in reality, millions of others. 

The fact of the matter is that these white men built much of the world we live in today. There’s no group of people in human history who have had a greater impact on mankind than white males in general, and American white males in particular.  The world they created may not be perfect, but measured against virtually every culture that came before them the level of freedom and prosperity isn’t even close.

As such, we should celebrate White Male Pride!  Yay!

But here’s the thing, although these white men may have accomplished much, white men have also done extraordinarily bad things… from Jack the Ripper to Hitler to Stalin to Teds Kaczynski and Bundy. 

We can’t celebrate white male pride because white men are not monolithic.  Some white men are great and others despicable human beings.  The thing that made America great wasn’t the fact that her Founding Fathers were white, but rather it was the ideas they had and the framework they put in place. 

The notion of white pride is simply absurd. But the truth is, so too is black pride and gay pride.  George Washington was no more of a representative of all white males than was Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter.  Equally, MLK was no more a representative of all black males than was Samuel Little, the nation’s deadliest serial killer. 

And while celebrating white males is absurd, we should nonetheless be grateful for the things that some of them bequeathed to us that have allowed Americans to live lives that kings couldn’t have imagined just a century ago. 

And that legacy isn’t due to skin color, it’s due to a culture that developed individual rights, freedom and representative government over more than two millennia, and happened nowhere else on earth. Those basic elements, when combined with free markets and limited government, found their apex in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.  Today the nation built on those foundations is the most robust and prosperous in history. 

But that prosperity can only survive if the fundamental tenants of its culture remain strong. Sadly they’re not, and that’s why America is fraying.  The Democrats’ balkanization of Americans by race and sex have taken Americans’ focus off of creating more prosperity and instead put the focus tribalization and redistributing wealth, with the full weight of the government, media and academia driving the transition.

No nation in history has prospered by redistributing wealth.  It’s against human nature and a recipe for tyranny.  The key to prosperity is creating more wealth and the Democrats have undermined that as they vilify whites, both past and present, for the crime of being white.  The truth is, we don’t need black or gay or white pride. What we do need however is pride in the successes America has achieved and the building blocks of freedom that made that success possible. 

Just as comparison and envy are the roots of evil, gratitude and conscientiousness are the fount of prosperity. Although it’s verboten to mention in woke 2023, the reality is that white men built much of the world we live in today. We can be grateful for their efforts without making them gods or denigrating anyone else.  The beauty of America, particularly in the 21st century is that anyone can succeed.  We should look to history with curiosity seeking to find inspiration in what those men (most of whom happened to be white) accomplished, not with scorn and disdain for their sin of being men of their times. 

Follow me on Twitter at ImperfectUSA

Friday, July 7, 2023

Code Red: Life Lessons from Colonel Jessup and Donald Trump

Movies can sometimes be something of a Rorschach test in terms of how one views the world. Like Rorschach tests, they can sometimes leave an observer scratching their heads. As an example, my top 10 movies are probably, in no particular order, Gladiator, Tombstone, Braveheart, LA Confidential, Valley Girl (The original masterpiece with Deborah Foreman and Nicolas Cage, not that terrible remake!), Lost in Translation, Galaxy Quest, Trading Places, Love Actually and maybe Titanic.

I’m not sure what that list says about me, particularly the inclusion of Valley Girl, but I’m sure some psychiatrist somewhere could say there’s something to be taken from it. The one thing I can observe from my list is that most of my movies have a good guy vs. bad guy conflict, which is of course not a surprise coming from a guy who writes a lot about politics.

Sometimes however in movies, as in life, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy isn’t quite clear. For example, there is A Few Good Men, set in Guantanamo Bay, near the end of the Cold War. The bad guy in the movie is Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, and the good guy is Tom Cruise’s Lieutenant Kaffee. For those unfamiliar with the 30 year old movie, basically a Marine dies in his bed after being abused by his fellow Marines under indirect orders from Colonel Jessup. Two Marines are charged with his murder and the courtroom drama plays out demonstrating that Colonel Jessup was actually the guilty party.

For those unfamiliar with Guantanamo other than as a political football, it’s an American base on the south eastern end of Cuba. It’s been a permanent American base since the end of the Spanish American war in 1903. It’s about 50 square miles of concrete and mostly brown grass sitting on two sides of a bay and surrounded by a ring of mountains. Christopher Columbus actually spent the night there! I grew up there and it was a spectacular place to be a teenager, with beaches, a golf course, year round baseball, outdoor movie theaters and spectacular scuba diving, all under the glow of perfect weather almost every day.

Of course the resort like experience I had as a kid was ancillary to the actual function of the base itself. The base was surrounded by a fence separating it from Cuba proper. The fence was buttressed by a zone of land mines, with ubiquitous red and yellow triangles warning of the danger of passing a certain point. When I lived there, and the period covered by A Few Good Men, America was in the midst of the Cold War, with Cuba being essentially the front lines, with occasional shots being fired across the no man’s land and the fences being peppered with watchtowers on both sides.

While Guantanamo wasn’t West Berlin, it was always theoretically under threat, and as such the Marines prepared to defend it if necessary. A Few Good Men deals with Marines training to defend the base, and one of those marines was the late PFC Santiago. Apparently PFC Santiago was a subpar Marine who the Colonel felt needed some encouragement from his fellow soldiers to become a better Marine. In this case that encouragement involved what they call a “code red” which is essentially a blanket party, a form of extrajudicial punishment meted out by fellow soldiers / Marines etc. when one of their number is negatively impacting the group.

Usually such punishment is not fatal, but in the case of PFC Santiago, it was. Two privates were charged for the murder but Tom Cruise’s Lt. Caffery is called upon to defend them and eventually places blame on the shoulders of Jack Nicholson’s COL Jessup.

What makes this movie so remarkable is the speech that COL Jessup gives while on the witness stand:

"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall -- you need me on that wall.

We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand the post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you're entitled to!”

One can’t help but see the seething rage coming from the despicable Jessup. You can’t help but feel the disdain he had for Santiago and Cruz’s Caffery. He’s a dinosaur from a forgotten age.

Now, most certainly, Jessup is a son of a bitch for throwing those two young Marines under the bus, but on the bigger picture he’s 100% right. While Santiago’s death was a tragedy, it probably would have saved lives. America needs warriors on walls, America needs men who are willing and able to pick up guns and fight and kill to protect the nation, and often that is a dirty, messy business, including the training that goes into making doing so successfully possible.

When you reread that speech it appears that Jessup could be talking to every snowflake, every Democrat, every Antifa coward and every BLM mark in America circa 2023! In the movie of course he’s not interested in Kaffery or anyone else thinks of him. He’s not interested in getting invited to their cocktail parties. He doesn’t care that their noses are turned up at him. He’s interested in one thing, protecting the country. Sound familiar?

Donald Trump can be a son of a bitch. But unlike almost every other politician in America, he understands that the country is stricken with a cancer of wokeness and is paralyzed by a bloated bureaucracy staffed by self important and avaricious apparatchiks. And how did he come to understand this? He lived it. Like Jessup, Trump was responsible for actually doing things, building things, getting things accomplished, and he didn’t have the luxury of pontificating and making idle promises about fixing things. What’s more, he cut his teeth in the rough and tumble world of New York real estate, one inhabited by pernicious unions, predatory mafia and political kingpins wielding confiscatory regulations, yet somehow  he turned his father’s millions into a multibillion empire.

Donald Trump is far from perfect, particularly as it relates to personnel, but at a moment in time when half the politicians in the country want to destroy the Republic and the other half promise to fix it, only to punt when they get the opportunity – i.e. ending Obamacare, building a wall, cutting spending, etc. – the country needs a leader willing and enthusiastic about tearing asunder the Swamp that is destroying America. The country needs a revolution to stop the collapse into tyranny and it would be far better to have someone from the inside take a wrecking ball to the fascist state the Uniparty has built than from the outside. The first will result in lots of hurt feelings and lighter pocketbooks on the part of thousands of functionaries while the second will turn the country into a war zone. I’d prefer lots of unemployed apparatchiks to American cities looking like Beirut.

Trump, like Jessup, may be a grotesque figure to many, but there are times when that which makes one grotesque to the people in charge is exactly what is necessary to protect a nation.  This is one of those times.