Author Archives: JBrenneman

An Obama Scheme

So, today, as Secretary of State, John Kerry, reeled off the reasons that the United States should find itself embroiled in a civil war in the Middle East, as Vladimir Putin weighs his responses, and as Obama declares that the U.S. will go it alone if they have to, the world waits. The world seems to split into a few different camps .

Some wonder who actually used the poison gas that killed thousands of Syrians (despite Kerry’s swearing that he is positive it was Assad’s men, not rebels). Some wonder, why now? Suddenly, gas is a thousand deaths too far? Yet others may wonder why there is not more pressure on the U.N. to provide peacekeepers, or to investigate if it was actually gas used, or to hold a vote, in the face of an assured Russian veto, to allow nations to intervene.

Here at home, there are any number of Obama administration scandals that a person could point to, that would easily take a backseat to a brand new war. While the country is war-weary, the men that do the fighting are fathers, sons, and brothers, and using them as some sort of executive strike force would lose far more respect for the president than allowing most of the scandals to run their course. Of course, that takes for granted that this administration still has respect left to lose.

As it seems now, any Syrian actions will revolve around the use of tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost around $1.4 million per launch. The odd thing about a new attack (or kinetic military action, as they are now known), is that the president may have waited so long to act, he has excuses no matter the outcome. Perhaps that is what the delay was all about – coming up with explanations to describe what has happened, no matter what happens.

Plan A: Obama orders $140 million worth of missile strikes (probably a very low total estimate of what strikes would actually cost), and they will have little to no effect on the man who Obama intends to punish, Bashir Assad. Assad has already had plenty of time to move the missiles and other weapons that Obama would ostensibly target. So, the missile strikes would amount to little more than another giant waste of money and manpower, and accomplishes nothing…Except anger Russia and Iran. For his part, Obama stresses how he only had the most positive outcome in mind. He was trying to do the right thing.

Plan B: Obama orders his strikes, and through either bad intelligence or some other missile snafu, a strike hits a Russian or Iranian-owned building or other concern. In that scenario, I would anticipate a quick reaction of the administration to be to throw money at the problem, to quickly make it go away. For Russia or Iran’s part, they could probably take the issue to the United Nations, and seek to shame the United States. As a result, the U.S.’s standing in the world gets tarnished again. Obama says it was an unfortunate event, (and without mentioning the payoff) he is glad that the country who suffered the loss decided against any “rushed actions”, and that the countries have something to build on now.

Plan C: Obama orders more extensive actions than just a missile strike. This not only entails aircraft, both fighters and bombers, it also risks pilots’ lives – something that missiles do not do. One can only guess how an angry Assad, unjustly attacked (in his eyes) would treat a downed American pilot. In that case, who does Obama turn to, being allied with Al-Qaeda elements and France, for diplomatic channels to get the pilot released? Once he figures out the magic word (or amount) I would expect Obama to spin the achievement of his State Department.

When you are a Teflon president, there is little worry of having a scandal or war failure attach to you. With the ongoing scandals having little effect on Obama so far, it may have only emboldened him to act more brazenly than he might have previously. With so many yes-men in place, willing to fall on a sword for you, what is the your source of critical thought or reflection of your actions? Having only been told positive things about your actions, while having a press that minimizes negativity, warranted or not, is not good for a leader. Of the many things that Barack Obama has done, and has taken upon himself to enact via executive order, this should truly bear the title of Obama’s War, regardless of outcome.

Holder’s DOJ Says, “You’re Grounded!”

This week, a prospective merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways stalled, when the United States Department of Justice and six states’ attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit. If the merger succeeds, it would create the largest air carrier in the world. The DOJ cited numerous concerns over the effects that a newly merged airline company would mean for consumers.

Bill Baer, assistant-attorney general of  the DOJ’s antitrust division says he worries about the new company’s ability to change airfares unilaterally and sufficiently enough, that it would create price hikes across the industry. Through the company’s pricing power, industry standing, and numbers of slots at airports, the government contends the company would: wipe out special pricing programs and incentives, raise fares, reduce competition, and provide reduced services. The merger, which would leave three legacy carriers, would allow them to raise prices, because non-stop services would be eliminated, in lieu of connecting services.

In a refreshing change, it seems the DOJ is suddenly oriented toward thrift, and consumer protections. It is the government you have always wanted – they are looking out for you. It sounds great, right?

If this were not the same DOJ who turned a blind eye at voter intimidation and whose leader balked at answering questions about investigations of reporters, you might be able to take them at their word. It is also the same DOJ who allowed numerous other airline mergers in the past few years as well, without much criticism. (The lawsuit also uses those past mergers as proof that the new airline would raise prices).

As much as the DOJ would like to paint itself as some sort of a guardian of consumers, it is hard to believe. The remarks on the lawsuit contains several assumptions and suspicions about the prospective airline’s plans. The DOJ also points out that the two companies say they can manage without the merger, that each company stated they would do well without it. That is fine and good, but if the companies think that they can do business better still, with a merger, who is the DOJ to insert themselves (arbitrarily, in this author’s eyes) into the proceedings?

It was a done deal before the government stepped into the midst of the merger. ABCNews, and the Buckingham Group, point out that the merger had a 99% chance of happening. After the DOJ and state lawsuits, that figure dropped to 40%. The article continues to point out that if the merger occurs, the resulting, remaining airline companies would consist of four top airlines, which would control 80% of the commercial air market.

What does all this show us? What is the take away? I see a couple:

One, it seems to be another case of this administration seeking to pick winners and losers. A Blaze article goes so far as to say that the DOJ filed their suit to squeeze more concessions from the companies – this, despite people like Congressman Spencer Bachus mentioning that the airlines’ employees and unions supported the deal.

Two, in its prepared remarks about the merger, the DOJ lays out, step-by-step, the ways in which the merger will affect consumers. In a perfect understanding of market forces, they mention mechanisms such as supply and demand, competitive advantages, and pricing power concerns. Now, with an understanding such as that, how hard is it to swallow what this administration’s done elsewhere, and in other cases, where it has hurt capitalism?

The merger hits a big bump.

The American Airlines/US Airways merger hits a big bump.

Faults With False Hero Worship

A former community organizer from Chicago, the president entered the Oval Office five-plus years ago, amid high hopes and promises of transparency. Critics warned not to expect anything of the kind, and to expect a velvet glove treatment if you were not counted among Obama’s close friends. Named the “Chicago Way” for a reason, operating only in a city, there is a reason it is not called, the “Way of the World”.

As the president and his lieutenants have so repeatedly illustrated, when a leader attempts to use a huge, overarching, government- and media-machine to nudge, cajole, and force results that they want, so long as the administration’s stories contain a modicum of believability, the media will push the narratives. Where Obama and others erred, was that they thought themselves to be above the fray. They would not have to actually do the dirty work, but they would surely benefit from others completing it.

Except the administration committed  a big no-no. They spied on their media friends. In a story that is still being worked out, the Justice Department intercepted two months’ worth of office, cell, and home phone communications of Associated Press reporters. The AP’s president and CEO, Gary Pruitt, went so far as questioning if the actions were not a violation of the press’ Constitutional rights.

The IRS, the supposed non-partisan tax processing and collection agency,utilized onerous and expanded questioning for conservative and Tea Party groups’ non-profit applications, and the agency may have actually delayed the applications’ approvals too. There are concerns that the IRS targeted Pro-Israel groups as well. While I hold the possibility of the narrative that some small-time, low-level, bureaucrats acted on their own, I also would not simply dismiss the charges that the impetus for the questioning and delays came from much higher-ranking officials. As many as 1/4 of select right-wing groups could have received this extra “attention”.

Adding to those crises, is the still-ongoing investigation into the Benghazi massacre. The administration calls the September 11 attack, terrorism – or not – and blames a video – or not – it seems even they cannot keep the current story straight. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s shrill reply before Congress, of, “At this point – what difference does it make?!” has already become a centerpiece of a conservative group’s advertisement.

A president who took for granted his ability to spin a yarn, and have it accepted by a mostly friendly press. So many rabid supporters, all seeking to earn recognition from a president who made crowds faint while he was campaigning in 2008. So many others who just wanted a little recognition, and who would do anything to get it – is this what that kind of false hero-worship delivers? A kind of desperate symbiotic relationship of the media and the left-wing? That is an easy claim to make, and comes with plenty of proof.

Do we find ourselves with an executive branch, run amok, ignored for too long by its chief? Are these issues of underlings, who were acting far above what their roles should allow? Or is it simple, gross, incompetence?

Worst president everA few things are now apparent. The president who worried many on the right, due to his tendency to act first, worry about Constitutionality later, is still bound by that Constitution and the rule of law. His administration, even with five years of a complicit Fourth Estate, still cannot fully run roughshod over the nation. The “Chicago Way”? It cannot be run to its feared potential, outside of a city on Lake Michigan, where its corrupt roots run much deeper. The years of waste and graft have taken a dire effect on the entire state of Illinois, and Chicago is now a micro managed miasma.

Finally, any lingering thoughts that the Tea Party had run out of steam, that conservatism had become an anachronism – should be ignored. When shown its alternative, and the machinations necessary for an alternative to even resemble a functioning ideology, people, as we are beginning to see now, will react with disgust and disdain.

Boston Take Aways

Boston was a city that had artificially seized up – made motionless and frozen in fear by 24 hour coverage. That same 24 hour news coverage, with its instantaneous updates, and conjecture-as-news, as exhausting as it was, provided us with a few valuable insights. The media and the government both showed themselves as highly amateurish at times, but perhaps most instructive, the resilience and ability of Americans to stand together in dire times was also shown. We saw both the best, and at times, the worst of humanity.

It is an easy claim that the Tsarnaev brothers were the most vile and inhumane criminals we have seen in some time. Although, not killing nearly as many innocent people as the gutless cowards of 9/11/2001, the Tsarnaevs’ methods were much, much more personal. It is very doubtful that any of the 9/11 terrorists knew any of their 3,000 victims, beyond sitting down beside them on a plane that day, and the victims were a part of a group – victim to both terror, and the randomness of a terribly, macabre, draw. The Boston Marathon bombers carefully chose their spots and their victims, including an innocent 8-year old boy and his family.

The greatest reactions were of the people – who immediately after the tragedy, where seen treating the injured, giving solace to victims in shock, and transporting casualties blocks to the nearest ambulances. When the government ordered people to stay inside, and yet, help with the manhunt, by reporting anything that they saw – it was then that the people came through with the most important tip of the manhunt. The hull of a small boat was the location of Djhokhar’s last free breaths.

Nearly as disgusting as the Tsarnaevs themselves, was the media. Constantly jumping from one allegation or anonymous leak to another, they cannot have helped in the hunt for Dzhokhar. They were also slow to report, perhaps getting nervous when an embarrassed CNN reported incorrect information, and had to apologize. Various members of the press, whether officially representing their employers or not, showed incredible amounts of racism and bigotry. People like Salon’s David Sirota hoped for the bombers to be white Americans. People like MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry denied Islam had any connections with the violent acts. Indeed, in their hurry to receive air time and acclaim, the media personalities doubled down on political correctness, and did not seem to double-check at all.

Government played both two roles in the Boston tragedy: it was both heroic capturing force, who marshaled so many resources to catch mysterious terrorists, and heavy-handed ogre, telling people to stay inside their homes, when no one seemed sure where the terrorist was. For sure, the lasso thrown around Boston seemed to tighten the senses of fear and anxiety, in both the innocent citizenry, and the police force responsible for an extraordinary task: finding suspects who had already killed one officer, and had exchanged fire with them. The police did get their man, but the so many tense moments had a high cost to everyone involved.

Perhaps the most important take-away here is that government showed itself, again, as a mechanism of re-activity  not pro-activity. Despite government’s regulations, and recent increased calls for gun control, the Tsarnaevs scoffed at those past laws and regulations, and procured and used weapons against police. The government assures us, passing new legislation will be different – the future terrorists and criminals will follow these new rules.

Will anything change? Will the media report more slowly, and more carefully? Will the citizenry be more willing to report suspicious people? I hope. The images of an innocent, naked man face-down in the street,massed, flashing red and blue lights,  bloody sidewalks, and police with determined, clinched jaws should not soon be forgotten.

Carlos Arredondo holds Old Glory

Moving Left Isn’t Right

Written in a time filled with the gasps and death of the Soviet Union, and its satellites’ declarations of their independence, I found Alvin Rabushka’s “The Failure of Socialism in China” capturing my attention. In it, the author mentions the method that Mao Zedong attempted to use to incite the communist Chinese economy to grow – namely central planning. The author also illustrates why the planning did little to anything at all on its own in the way of economy-building or growth.

As many economists critical of socialist governments point out, central planning heavily relies on a number of measures, so that it can claim to function better than alternative forms of economies. Among the measures are: constant inflows of information to allow tweaking of quotas, difficulties in procuring that data, lack of a labor market, little or no incentives to produce, little or no entrepreneurship, wasted resources, and political interference in the economy. These measures were to blame for the anemia and failures of so many socialist countries in the late 20th century.

While at times, the failed states may have appeared healthy, much of the time it was due to support from other socialist patron states, like the Soviet Union and China. Although the patrons may have propped up the subordinate states, the goods provided were sub-standard quality and in lesser quantity than those produced in the west. Once the patron states collapsed (like the Soviet Union), countries like Cuba found themselves in dire situations.

China was a bit of an anomaly, however. Despite the numerous five-year plans, and massive instruction directed by Mao, the Chinese economy did not really begin to grow until 1979 – after Mao’s death. What finally jump started the Chinese economy, and led to growth never seen before in the period from 1957 until then, were economic reforms, led by Deng Xiaoping.

So, what were these reforms that led to so much growth? Deng modified regulations after he witnessed what occurred in his home province with modified rules. Allowing Chinese peasants more input and freedom in carrying out measures and surpassing their quotas, produced increases in production, foreign investment, and per capita income. How was that possible? What were these “magic” modifications?

Simply, the communist party, and Deng in particular, saw that providing incentives for work led to: harder working peasants, peasants who were more engaged in their work, and peasants who cared more about meeting the quotas and exceeding them. Simply put, the Chinese system changed from the stick as a simple cudgel, to a stick with a carrot on the end of it.

Those who ignore history…

Now, the part that the American government, and Obama and his administration in particular, should pay close attention to, are the measures that Deng found worked to create an energetic and engaged citizenry. Allow the people to strive to meet their potentials. Do not be so unwise to think that a leader, who believes he sits above his people to delegate the actions of those people.

Deng lowered taxes (in some cases on livestock to nothing), set quotas for the citizens (but refused to dictate how they should be met), and retreated from the heavy hand of government, allowing goods/crops produced above the quota to be sold for the peasants’ own income. The land leased to peasants was also made inheritable, building trust in the peasants, that the central planners would not arbitrarily confiscate lands. Even the urban citizens saw benefits – real urban per capita incomes grew by 40%! Overall, the new policies of the central planners in China led to more growth between 1979 and 1985, than the country had seen between 1957 and 1979!

One small group of planners can in no way successfully guide millions of citizens to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The more the leaders attempt to guide the masses, the more the masses will resist, and the heavier the weight of the planners’ guidance will feel to them. It is unfortunate that the current American administration seems to be moving retrograde to successful outcomes. They continue to plan, and guide, and swear that they know how to fix this economy. Despite their protestations, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding, so far, has been rotten.

Russell’s Rules vs. Today’s Government Rule

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

This week, on, I stumbled onto a reference of a Bertrand Russell column from 1951. In the New York Times Magazine article, Russell shared his “10 Commandments for a Healthy Democracy”. Now, dismissing for a moment whether he was a classical liberal, a neo-liberal, an English liberal, or American liberal, I would like to allow the commandments to stand on their own.

I propose to take Russell’s rules, and use them to give a simple zero to two grading scale for each of the majorities in the houses of Congress, and for the President and his administration. Along with the grades, I will also list the most significant reasons for assigning the grades that I have. At the end, I will tally the scores, and reveal who has been the most misguided, and most ignorant when it came to Russell’s advice. So, here is Russell’s commandments vs. the United States government’s behavior:

1. “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

Senate Dems: Senate Democrats were positive that Obamacare was a brilliant idea, and Democrats’ self assuredness led them to believe that the benefits Americans received would help them overlook the massive costs. (0 points)
Obama: “The shovel-ready jobs weren’t so shovel-ready…” (0 points)
House GOP: Republicans were sure that the 2012 election would end in a Romney win, and then, with their increased majority in the House, they could begin repealing Obamacare… (0 points)

2. “Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

Senate Dems: 1450+ days without any budget, while they (Harry Reid especially) claim to hold solutions to the miserable economic conditions. (1 point)
Obama: Benghazi (-2 points)
House GOP: John Boehner claims constantly to hold the line, and be ready to tell the president and Reid that he will not budge. However, after closed-door meetings, he seems to sing a different tune. Just what magic happens behind those doors? (0 points)

3. “Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to do so.

Senate Dems: As Rand Paul held a 13-hour filibuster, in order to get definitive answers on the domestic drone program, Harry Reid sought to quash the filibuster. (0 points)
Obama: Obama was famously quoted, when referring to a great number of his fellow Americans in the Midwest as “get[ting]bitter and they cling to their guns or religion.” (o points)
House GOP: Speaker Boehner infamously warned fellow Republican Congressmen that he was paying close attention to their voting records, and that he will be “…watching all [their] votes.” (0 points)

4. “When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid claims that the Senate needs legislation that has passed through the House so that they may vote on it in the Senate…While he uses his power as majority leader to table legislation that has passed the House. (0 points)
Obama: President Obama has expressed his want to work without Congress, and he has already signed 147 executive orders. (0 points)
House GOP: Paul Ryan has repeatedly offered a budget that has both cuts and overhauls Medicare, and balances in ten years – but it doesn’t seem able to receive consideration from Democrats. (1 point)

5. “Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

Senate Dems: In the Senate, rumblings have been heard to force changes for filibusters, and  again, I mention Harry Reid’s attempt to override the recent Rand Paul filibuster. (2 points)
Obama: Obama’s czars and heavily regulating EPA, not to mention his non-recess appointments of NLRB officials, reveal his penchant for thumbing his nose at authority and rule. (2 points)
House GOP: John Boehner famously responded to a Harry Reid jab, wherein Reid intimated Boehner was acting like a dictator – “Go f**k yourself.” (2 points)

6. “Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid’s unwillingness to even allow any up-or-down votes on legislation from the House is within his powers as majority leader (setting the calendar for discussing legislation). (0 points)
Obama: Criticized for purposely avoiding certain media networks, and giving more interviews with networks seen as friendly to his agenda, Obama has used power and access to control many narratives. (1 point)
House GOP: John Boehner’s December removal of Tea Party caucus members from committees, after their election to Congress specifically to usher in a different, more responsible way of spending, really seemed to dismiss the voters’ wishes. (1 point)

7. “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

Senate Dems: Senator Diane Feinstein takes the cake here, with her hugely over reaching plan to seize and ban this, that, and the other gun, even as such plans fly directly against the 2nd Amendment. (2 points)
Obama: Joe Biden, famously explaining that the way to get out of debt, was simply to increase spending. (2 points)
House GOP: With his last, and arguably most successful presidential bid, Representative Ron Paul has pushed many ideas to the forefront of American political thought. From illustrating the dangers of fiat currency, to the arbitrary nature of Federal Reserve policy, even though he has retired from the House, he will continue to tour college campuses, and share his ideals. (1 point)

8. “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

Senate Dems: Perhaps finally realizing how yet another tax may hinder the economy, in December, 2012, 18 Senators and Senators-elect petitioned Harry Reid for a moratorium on the Obamacare tax on medical devices, the repeal of which, had previously been decried as a Republican concern. (2 points)
Obama: As the president has yet to offer any really intelligent dissent to, or passive agreement with much of anything, he receives no points. (incomplete)
House GOP: While there has been much rhetoric bandied about regarding Obamacare, much of which has been intelligent dissent, it has also been coupled with criticisms describing exactly why the healthcare overhaul will cause more pain than benefit. (1 point)

9. “Be scrupulously truthful, even when the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

Senate Dems: Harry Reid had a very credible (but never named) source that said Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in ten years. (0 points)
Obama: The president has shared varying reasons for the Benghazi attack, and the explanation has been hazy on why military backup was never sent to the compound to rescue the Americans who were under siege. Over 30 witnesses are now being kept quiet and cannot share their experiences during the Benghazi attacks. (0 points)
House GOP: House Republicans said they had enough debt ceiling compromises. The time for dealing was over. Boehner et al. had drawn their line in the sand. Then…the debt ceiling was raised. Again. (0 points)

10. “Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Senate Dems: The Senate seems to have little ethical or moral dilemma when it comes to raising taxes on the 1%, or any other income brackets. Without consideration, taking more from those who have more just makes sense. (0 points)
Obama: Obama has frequently compared himself to Abraham Lincoln – despite Lincoln’s presidency spanning with one of the darkest times in American history. Obama seems to relate more to the Lincoln legend than the actual Lincoln presidency. (1 point)
House GOP: The House leadership at times seems befuddled with the left’s ability to command so much of the media, and they definitely seem envious of media’s power to create and direct narratives, neglecting to consider the ability that the media still holds to also destroy at their whim. (0 points)

So, using the arbitrary scoring system, and examples that I have chosen, the final tally is as follows. Out of a possible total of 20 points:
Senate Dems: 7
Obama & his administration: 4
House GOP: 6
Despite their best efforts to score at a “healthy democracy’s” level, all three show themselves to be quite anemic. It is interesting to note that without the president being penalized for the ongoing Benghazi scandal and cover-up, he would be tied with the House GOP. They all appear unable to follow Russell’s guidelines, and, in what should come as a shock to no one, they look ineffectual and like failures.

So, readers – what do you think? What examples, scandals, and failings would you use to illustrate how the government has neglected to follow Russell’s commandments? More importantly – how would you score them? I am looking forward to some interesting and impassioned responses.

“I Am Not A Dictator!”

“O Duck Luck, ” says Hen Pen, “the sky is falling!”
“Why, how do you know it?” says Duck Luck.
Obama Chicken Little told me.”

And so goes the story of another famous alarmist, Chicken Little. President Obama has attempted for the past few weeks to raise alarm about the awful “cuts” that would affect everything. The economy will be hurt and crippled for years, other results include millions of furloughed federal employees, and a non-functioning military. All because those darned Republicans would not agree with him to further increase spending.

Stoking more fear and animus, the president now seeks to paint the entire fallout from the ever-so-slightly decreased future spending on Republicans. The president specifically named John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as the responsible parties. And although Obama has to yet figure out how to paint the reluctance to support spending as either racist, or to invoke class warfare narratives, we need only to give it time, and his friends will spin furiously until a good excuse develops. It is their nature.

The president, when asked by the adoring press, what more he could have done to ensure sequestration did not take effect, blurted out, “I am not a dictator…”, and says he could not send the Secret Service after Republicans to prevent their planes from taking off. From your mouth to Uncle Joe’s ears, eh Mr. President? If only leadership were that easy – but, then again no one has ever made a good case for your leadership abilities.

In blurting out his most recent excuse for his failure (or was sequestration itself the failure? Obama previously supported it), the president again reveals his juvenile mindset when it comes to politics. It is frequently his way or else. If things do not go his way, then the most dire circumstances will occur. How can you nudge people into thinking or behaving the “right way”? Send your sycophants out to do the dirty work for you. Bob Woodward’s being threatened by a White House insider is the most recent example.  Have your supporters engage in some name-calling and belittle your opponent. It is all in a day’s work for any grade-school bully.

For a president who has also: bemoaned the fact he has to work with Congress and wished he could work around them, threatened to use executive orders to accomplish things that Congress balks at doing, and who actually has a “kill-list” that gives him the final ability to determine who has the ultimate right, that is, to exist – when he claims, “I am not a dictator…”, if he is not, he is the closest thing the country has ever had to one. The rights so valued and inherent in each of us have slowly continued to erode away, and with a president such as Obama, this will be a long four years.

Obama’s SOTU: We Must, We Might, I Want

“…and I want a fire truck, and a baseball glove, and a cowboy hat!”

So seemed to go President Obama’s State of the Union wish list. It sounded like Christmas with captive parents in the form of the Congress and a few Supreme Court Justices. Repeatedly, he went so far as to challenge Congress to pass bills, that he would immediately sign.

Interestingly, but hardly surprising to me, was the president’s line that the government should work for the many, not the few. It was almost a shame that an address which had at its beginning the admonition that Americans do not expect government to solve every problem, melted into such a typical democrat-soapbox scolding and special interest parade. And by the way, if the people on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business were not paying attention, the president has also declared the economic crisis to be “over”.

President Obama says he now wants “reasonable compromise” with Congress on bills and spending, and one wonders if he means an actual working together and arriving at a consensus, or more of the usual media-led narrative of Republican obstructionism and of the bogus narrative of Democrats trying their hardest to do the tough jobs. The president warned that “…sudden, harsh, and arbitrary cuts” would cost Americans jobs. Suddenly taking heavy-handed measures that seriously affect an economy, matter.

Speaking of affecting the economy in a heavy-handed way, the president also now wants to reform Obamacare, basing the changes on the Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations. The president would also like to reform the bloated tax code – not in any serious way, but to eliminate tax loop-holes (they’re simply costing the government too much money to continue to allow them). Closing his thoughts on the economy, the president says with a straight face that we cannot pass our current debt and deficit on to future generations.

We must rebuild the middle class as well. Predicating a rebuilt middle class, President Obama says, is ensuring people receive training so they can gain employment. This blogger is unsure how job training will create positions for middle class workers to fill, but that is in the presidential plan’s fine print, I am sure. The president’s emphasis on education will first be felt however, by ensuring that three and four-year old children have access to pre-schools. (Again, making something available, is far from making sure that children actually attend those pre-schools.)

Going forward in his wishlist, President Obama wants to see cars completely off oil for good. One would be tempted to ask, what kinds of cars would Americans drive then? With a power grid that is already taxed, and with EPA regulations closing coal-fired power plants, how would electric cars fill that gap? See, the president has thought that out as well, and he would like to see far more investment in alternative energy sources, like solar power and wind power. Along with those switches, he would like to see the power grid revamped to ensure better delivery and usage of electricity. (Who would necessarily pay for that? The president would probably say, “the power creating and distributing companies”. The power creating and distributing companies would, of course, turn and look at their customers…)

A problem that continues to hamper U.S. growth, is the aging infrastructure. The aforementioned power grid is old, and the roads and bridges are in need of new asphalt and paint. The president says CEOs would necessarily flock back to the United States if the country would only build them roads to haul their goods across, and high-speed rail to travel over. “If you build it, they will come” – yes, the president says as much. He would have us believe that jobs can develop as a by-product of paving roads and  creating high-speed rail routes.

To ensure fewer families have to struggle to meet their basic necessities, President Obama also would like to see the federal minimum wage increased. Without mentioning the effect of hurting first-time job seekers, and making minimum wage jobs even tougher to get, Obama paints a minimum wage increase as a help to all minimum wage workers.

Toward the end, the president finally mentions some of the less important things bothering Americans. First, he acknowledged a poor, 102 year old lady, who had to wait hours just to vote. There is no word on whether he has decided to invite discouraged voters in Philadelphia, intimidated by night-stick holding Black Panthers, to his next State of the Union Address to address their voting issues.
He also mentioned the unavoidable, and often seized-upon-by-the-left topic, gun violence in America. He made mention in glowing words of a gunned down young girl, from Chicago, killed only three weeks after having attended the presidential inauguration. Despite the murder of the young girl, being committed illegally, in a harsh gun-control city, Obama would like to see more laws on the books to further scare criminals into becoming law-abiding citizens…

So, to recap:

  • His presidency, marked by massive gifts to special interests, should work for everyone.
  • The most partisan administration ever wants “reasonable compromise”.
  • Obamacare, over-reaching and over-promising, needs revision before it is entirely in effect.
  • The middle class who cannot find jobs now, due to an anemic economy, need to be better trained. Then they will suddenly find jobs.
  • Oil, which has been for over 100 years the driver of the American economy, needs to be replaced. Ostensibly with something that is as cost-effective and energy rich as petroleum.
  • Road and rails will bring jobs. We need better roads and rails, and suddenly the jobs will begin flooding back into the United States from countries with potholes and uneven rails.
  • Finally, minimum wage needs raising. Why? Because the workers who make it already are not being challenged enough by the Obama economy, and need another ball to juggle.

You will pardon me if I scoff at the entirety of the State of the Union address, and at the president’s continuing naivete on anything economic. He shows once again, that he is a great theorist and philosopher, but where the electric-powered rubber meets the newly-paved road – he has not moved an inch where he started, four years ago.

The entire State of the Union address can be found here:

Obama, The Gift That Keeps Giving?

We have seen the missteps and the successes of the Obama administration. We have seen the worst, seemingly having each “accomplishment” being worse and worse than the previous one. The country is now subject to a namesake piece of legislation, in Obamacare, and we have seen Obama’s revolving door of big-government, tax-and-spend Keynesians spin like a dynamo.

We have seen the confident Obama boast that, “We won” when talking about his party, and their misreading of elections results. Most recently, the country has seen the administration’s misunderstanding of the Middle East, and their finger-pointing ability when they sought to make the Benghazi fiasco go away. We were witness to a massive fall in the president’s support among his former voters too (although it was not enough to overcome the lack of support for Mitt Romney among conservatives).

So, how does all this make Obama a hero of the right? Simply, he has given us on the right ample opportunity to call him on the carpet, to point to his lackadaisical leadership style, and undermine his party’s claims that the right is the party of the corporations and “big money”. At times, Obama seems like a political version of the “Teflon Don”, John Gotti – nothing seems to stick to the guy.

So, what has happened? All these opportunities for the right, and a shrinking advantage in Congress, and a lost presidency, are all we have to show from Obama’s continual failures. Excused away were things that would have sunk a Nixon, a Reagan, even a Bill Clinton presidency, and they were lost amid a maelstrom of personnel shuffling, which the administration claims is their holding people responsible.

Forget a president who goes through so many people so quickly, any anonymous person who acted as Obama does would have no friends left at this point. Obama has thrown Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and even his own grandmother, under various buses. There is no end to his cadre of useful idiots. New scandal? New idiots.

If it were not for his left-wing charisma, which holds his supporters hanging on his every word, Obama’s election would have gone to Mitt Romney. The media, who not only parrots Obama’s words, also happily defends him from critical guests on talk shows and news channels. Soledad O’Brien, Piers Morgan, and others, not only defend his administration’s mistakes, but in Soledad’s case, attempt to give Obama excuses and explanation for former associations with racists and terrorists.

So – with the overwhelming evidence of media collusion, associations with enemies of the state, and other tawdry actions – how on the earth is he a hero to the right? Simply put, he has given the right everything it could hope for, to ensure landslide elections in both 2014 and 2016. Having involvement with his administration has tainted virtually everyone with a sort of “stain of Obama”.

Obama has either forced Congressmen to swallow bitter pills (as with Obamacare), or he has outed them as having agendas that run counter to their constituents’ concerns. The issues that cost Democrats Congressional seats in the 2010 elections may still have juice that can be wrested from them – especially after Americans saw their paychecks affected by mainly left-wing budget issues. Receipts showing Obamacare’s new medical excise taxes have popped up online too, posted by people angry at already tight purse-strings becoming tighter. The American people have finally begun showing an interest and concern regarding the way their government is functioning (or malfunctioning).

The Republicans may have never had it so good. They seem to only have the media to overcome (which I will agree is a giant mountain to climb). For anyone paying attention, the Obama-touch is enough for them to vote for any candidate who is not Obama or Obama endorsed. We saw in the last election how cool Democratic candidates were to an Obama endorsement.

The ways that the right must capitalize are threefold:

  1.  Stop allowing the talk show circuit to reframe subjects and terms. The right seems to fail more and more on this subject. The effects of ignoring the media’s word-redefining-ways last long beyond the initial interviews, stretching at times into month-long disasters. Adding to that the fact that if a GOP candidate verbally missteps, and his footage recycled repeatedly, and the Republicans not only weaken the current campaign, they accept the dings that the gaffe provides for any future campaigns as well. That means that the candidate’s campaign is over before it takes off. If solving this means giving a week-long class on oratory and rhetoric for prospective candidates – do it. The pay off will show such actions as invaluable. Call the left-wing fear mongers exactly what they are, and reiterate that America’s had enough scaring in place of actual results/budgets/legislation.
  2. Make the products of the current administration and current candidates very personal. The aforementioned excise tax? Use that receipt as a prop for all budget talks. Make it as conspicuous as a pocket Constitution. Make it plain for all Americans to understand they do have skin in the game, and that the left wants even more. Pin that receipt and those small, numerous taxes on the left. Make it their brand. Paint the left as the never satiated, taxing, spending, over-bearing beast that it is. When the left attempts to re-frame the argument that “only certain income levels are effected”, fire back with more questions intended to build your own point on the sarcastic  order of, “…like this year’s taxes only affected a few people?” Put the skills that the politicians learned in tactic one to good use.
  3. Finally, as much as possible, have the GOP stress how disastrous conservatives staying home on election day was for the last election. If it evolves to nothing more than a massive guilt trip, place much of the onus for the next four years’ policy in the laps of people who stayed home instead of voting in November, 2012. After so much work to unseat Congressmen who voted contrary to Tea Party, libertarian, and other conservatives ‘ concerns, to have sat home on Election Day, with an opportunity to unseat the most progressive president of our lifetimes, was a tremendous overestimation of the gains made. It was akin to driving with a pedal through the floorboards, and expecting to coast successfully for the final 1/2 lap.

So, reviewing quickly, that is “enunciate, elaborate, and motivate”. The right has no excuse remaining for faltering at this point. Right-wing voters must get over the party in-fighting (which should have evaporated with the revelations of just how far Obama leans to the left). They must get over the one issue that they have a firm, unrelenting hold of, the one sticking issue that prevents them from getting off their duffs and voting, so that they may actually win the positions in government that would allow issues to be changed. And before you think that is a poor way to manage a movement, or it sound impossible to sustain such measures – look at the deluge of awful legislation and regulation we have seen from the organized left in four short years.

But He’s OUR War Criminal!


Image: The College Conservative

For the entirety of his two terms in office, the typical reactions of progressives to George W. Bush were belittling and lampooning. He was a buffoon, a cowboy, and an idiot, and as they would have us also believe, an evil genius. Bush was a maverick, willing to start wars and carry out missions from previous administrations (invading Iraq was to finish his father’s war, many on the left claimed).

It seemed like Bush’s mere existence was enough to make some progressives apoplectic, or to send them into angry, profanity-laden rants. Many people who did not self-identify as “progressive” may have seen this behavior, and wondered what on earth Bush had done to engender such hatred and vitriol.

When shocked people asked the raving anti-Bush crowds for proof of Bush’s misdoings, the progressives were more than happy to consistently bring up three favorite points:

  • They suggested Bush led the United States into war under false premises in Iraq (never mind that he cited repeated instances where Saddam Hussein violated and ignored United Nations resolutions, and that Bush received bi-partisan votes in Congress to go to war). The “progressives” invented a father-son narrative, where the son would complete his father’s business in the Middle East. George W. was merely closing the door on a highly successful, but as yet, unfinished war in Iraq. Obama has made a habit of violating the sovereignty and airspace of places like Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, and Libya (without the approval of Congress) to strike down various enemies of America and those who would strike our allies in the countries.
  • They claimed that Bush used “secret detention facilities” (that we somehow know about) to extract information from prisoners. Obama and other administration officials thought the solution was to bring many of the accused terrorists into the United States, and try them in places like New York City. That is despite the security nightmare it would create and the massive costs in both time and money to do so. President Obama has also kept Guantanamo Bay and its detention center open and operational for his full first term, after campaigning on closing it as president.
  • Finally, the left frequently says that Bush passing the Patriot Act was a means to spy on Americans, and that the powers that the Act employs are unconstitutional. Just ignore that Barack Obama re-signed the Patriot Act, expanded its powers, and also passed the NDAA for the year 2013, which would allow indefinite detention of American citizens. So over-the-top was this measure, that even led the Voice of Russia to compare it to “edicts of the ‘Third Reich’ or ‘Muslim tyrannies’.”

Now, the issues and double standards are plain to see here. The problem lies not with the extent of the differences, but with the lack of media interest regarding these double standards. While aggressively seeking out and killing terrorists during the Bush administration ‘only bred more terrorists,’ when Obama carries out the same actions, they are apparently without the same consequences.

Despite the crowds who felt Obama would be different, and would usher in a period where Bush might be held accountable for actions they felt were criminal, Obama refused to prosecute any Bush administration officials early in his first term. Lefty media were happy to tilt at windmills during the Bush years; but partly because they wanted to retain access to President Obama, these once anti-war media suddenly developed the attitude “nothing to see here” when it came to matters like 72% of all troop deaths in Afghanistan coming on Obama’s watch.

The ironic thing is that Bush at least sought Congressional authorization for war, which the Democrats gave him, while Obama is an actual war criminal. That’s right, President Obama is the only modern president to violate the War Powers Act with his unilateral invasion of Libya. Oh, he did justify it by appeal to NATO and some “international community,” presumably meaning the authoritarian and Islamist regimes that make up the majority of countries in the UN. But it was by President Obama’s sole executive authority as commander-in-chief that he committed U.S. troops to war.

The media seem to want us to believe that everything this president does is for our own good, and that we should not question anything. But until the latest scuttlebutt coming from people like Vice President Joe Biden or the half-stories spread by the press begin to make more sense, we ought to question everything. Do not trust, and certainly, verify.

The Left, and Throw-Away Humanity

While the left is content to spew their opinions and opine on subjects that they are dangerously under educated about, the chasm between what they claim and what they do continues to grow wider. The left claims to care so very much about the people, and whatever shortcomings that they face. The reality between the left’s over-reaching legislation and their over-spending, is that they will happily use whatever they must in order to further their own flawed claims and defective logic.

After President Bush sent troops to Iraq, and after her son died in battle, Cindy Sheehan began vigorously criticizing Bush. She became a darling of the left, and became seen as someone sympathetic that the left could hitch their wagons to, who could also harshly criticize Bush with impunity. As Sheehan began to criticize Democrats in Congress, as well as President Obama, the left abandoned their support of Sheehan. The separation of Democrats and Sheehan eventually grew so large that Sheehan ran unsuccessfully against Nancy Pelosi for California’s 8th Congressional District seat.

Occupy Wall Street was another one of the left’s “useful idiots.” As the group coalesced and began to protest in New York, parallel groups sprouted up around the world. Sensing a populist movement that they could, again, hitch their wagon to, the left went so far as to say, “God bless them.” However, once reports of perversions, hard-drug use, racism, and sex crimes grew in number, the left had little choice but to abandon this group as well.

Will the new Gabby Giffords/Mark Kelly gun-control initiative (“Americans for Responsible Solutions“) be used in the same way? As a convenient means to push heavy-handed gun control measures by the left? It certainly fits the same scenario as previous movements that the left has already glommed onto: it’s a movement built on tragedy, it has a sympathetic figurehead, and it has the promise of compassionate and devoted supporters. It would also allow the left to paint gun-rights advocates as callous and non-caring about gun crime victims.

“Let no crisis go to waste,” the saying goes, and the left has wholeheartedly embraced that advice. There is no bridge too far, or hyperbole too divisive, that the left will not try to use. Will the left ever run out of convenient victims to re-victimize, or will the right finally wise up enough, that it will be able to argue consistently against such false narratives? With every new false narrative, this writer would like to claim there’s a distinguishable stepping forward on the right, but for every step forward, it seems like there is a Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock to stop the right’s progress in its tracks. We must learn not just to argue better (and illustrate lies effectively) but to avoid the left’s verbal pot holes as well.

Tools for the useful idiots

The “Accomplishments” of Central Planners

As America continues to stumble headlong toward more government-directed “solutions”, it struck me how awfully people have fared under such actions with  the guise of help. While having fewer destructive and deathly effects, the current United States leader’s uncritical neglect of many people’s concerns, and unwavering sense of superiority, certainly mirrors the mindsets and machinations of those leaders who created much larger disasters. Throughout the 20th century, there were leaders who were so convinced of their own brilliance, that they did not need any critical thought or feel any need to change their perfect plans.

Convinced that he knew how to increase the grain output from some of the most fertile farmland in the world, a Georgian leader began issuing edicts and laws to increase food production. His agricultural policies led to the deaths of between five and eight million Soviet peasants. This leader used divisive tactics to play one class against another, telling the poorer that the richer were earning more than they ought to on the backs of the poorer.

The false narrative of kulaks taking advantage of peasants, saw reprisals and animus grow against the kulaks. The class warfare eventually grew so bitter, that the farming peasants were content to let the kulaks die where they lay. The Soviets leaders set up numerous laws, which delivered excessive penalties when they were broken. Something so innocent as harvesting spilled grain from the fields could land a person in a gulag for a year.  So terrible were the results of this planning, many of the records concerning it were kept sealed in archives for 60 years.

This “cult of perfect leadership” spread to another Marxist Utopia in the late 1950s. Mao Zedong’s visions for a capable and self-sustaining China met with harsh reality too. Mao followed the same flawed plan that led to the Soviet’s famine in the early 1930s. The “Great Leap Forward” included a period from 1958 to 1961, which saw deaths of between 15 and 43 million Chinese people.

The Chinese leadership simply told the people it would be better for them to eat less – and then attempted to force them to do so. The famine grew so bad in some areas, reports filtered out that people were turning to cannibalism to satiate their hunger (children were reportedly swapped between families, so they would not have to eat their own offspring). Despite the starvation, the Chinese planners kept true to that five-year plan.

Cuba and North Korea are two more centrally planned, dictatorial governments, who fail miserably to deliver on any promises that they make. Stuck in rampant poverty since the 1959 Castro coup, Cuba seems stuck in a time bubble of 1950s technology as well. The Cubans may have seen minor improvements in their economies since the early 1990s, but that could be blamed on forced change, due to the death of their biggest benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Perhaps the biggest event in Cuba was not any economic or humanitarian event, but, due to the closeness of Cuba to the Soviet Union, the near-nuclear war between super powers in 1961. Castro supported missiles in Cuba, and tried to prod Khrushchev into acting against the United States, too.

Xenophobic North Korean leaders rely on boogeymen to instill constant fear into their populace, and keep the people united against anyone but their oppressors (North Korean leaders). North Korea’s military is far more important than their civilians (but leaders have trouble feeding the military too). The government’s response to the disaster was to re-brand it – calling it the “Arduous March”, and attempting to equate lack of food to a willing sacrifice for the betterment of the country. As it stands now, North Korea still is very close to sliding into another famine, their children now suffer retarded growth, and the country relies heavily on grain imports from the U.N. and South Korea to feed its people.

So – these instances of flawed, failed, and fruitless leadership – what should we take away from them? That leadership is not perfect, should go without saying. The takeaway is this: that unquestioned leadership is a very dangerous thing. Whether the leadership uses force or charisma to further its aims matters little. Leaders in echo-chambers, without frequent and legitimate challenges to their authority, who hold a sense of superiority, can lead countries into very bad situations.

While the American media continues to fawn over Obama, and hang on his every word, the people who must live with the results of his executive orders and fellow democrats’  misleading words know better. America still has the checks and balances that the Founders gave us, but it remains more than ever, up to us to use them, despite what the media cheerleaders tell us, and despite what our politicians promise us.

Just do as you're told - it will all be better that way.

“Just do as you are told – it will all be better that way.” The mantra of the left