Friday, July 31, 2015

Incivility Vs. Passion

     It is a sign of the political and cultural times in America that I even have to write a post about the subject of the aforementioned title of this post. And it is especially disheartening to me as a conservative that the distinction between incivility and passion must be made to my fellow conservatives, but here we are. The impetus for this treatment of the subject came last night as I listened to Mark Levin's radio program. Of late that task has become more difficult as the host has become more self-absorbed, self-righteous, and destructive of the conservative cause.
     Last night Mr. Levin was quoting from an article written by a Reagan biographer who proffered the notion that what we need in our political discourse is more incivility. That incivility is the cornerstone of change and the larger the change that is needed, the more uncivil the political rhetoric needs to be. This is an odd concept coming from a man who has spent so much time delving into the life of one of the most civil (and most successful) politicians of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan.
     Mr. Levin struggled to make his argument for more incivility in our public discourse by saying that men such as Patrick Henry and Nathan Hale were not civil in their responses to the incivility imposed on them by their times. I beg to differ with Mr. Levin. Patrick Henry was impassioned when he stated, "Give me Liberty, or give me death," but nothing in his statement could be construed as uncivil. He did not say, "Get out of my life King George you big dummy." And Nathan Hales' gallows proclamation that he regretted having "only one life to give for his country," was likewise not uncivil. Mr. Hale did not say, "Curse you, you big jerks."
     There are very few examples in history, especially the history of the United States of America, where an uncivil statement has been made memorable and has been written into the heart of our culture. What Mr. Levin, et al fail to realize in this era of radicalization is that there is a difference between passion and incivility. One can express passion without being uncivil, in fact it is more highly effective in winning the hearts and minds of one's fellow countrymen to do so.
     No change of any lasting value has ever been achieved through incivility. The Founders of this great nation were passionate men, with many competing ideas of how the new nation should be organized, but they were civil. As heated as the debate was to get in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1787, during the constitutional convention, one would be hard pressed to find much, if any, incivility in the copious notes of the historic occasion taken by James Madison.
     Of course the case could be made that the War for Independence, as any war is, was illustrative of  incivility. Which may be true enough, however the war was not the linchpin of this country's freedom and Liberty, the constitution was. And that most unique and exceptional document of all human history was created through a process, impassioned yes, but certainly civil.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ted Cruz: A Modern Day Napolean

     There was a time when Ted Cruz first claimed the national stage by winning a seat in the United States Senate as a representative from Texas, that I admired him. The first term senator seemed to be a solid conservative who was willing to stand on principle. Even though I supported Senator Cruz I cautioned family and friends not to hang their hopes on any one person, men always disappoint, only God can be trusted completely. Over the last several years my warning has unfortunately come to fruition with regards to Ted Cruz.
     His supporters like that he "sticks it" to the establishment, even when they may not deserve it. This was the case with Mr. Cruz's recent emotional outburst against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Not that I am a fan of the Majority Leader, but neither I am a fan of airing the Party's dirty laundry in public, which seems to be a mainstay of the Cruz modus operandi. He called Mitch McConnell a liar and did not present any evidence of his charge.
     At the kernel of the disagreement between the Majority Leader and the senate's biggest crybaby is the Majority Leader's assurance that there was no deal struck with Democrats over the import/export bank. Mr. Cruz accused Mr. McConnell of lying because he allowed a vote on the import/export bank. However, Mr. Cruz has not to this date presented any evidence that the vote was a result of some nefarious deal that the Majority Leader made with Democrat senators.
     When the Republicans won the majority in the senate last Fall, the new Majority Leader said he was not going to run the senate as his predecessor Harry Reid did. In the Reid-lead senate, the determining factor as to whether any amendment was presented for a vote depended completely on the whim of the Majority Leader. In this senate, lead by Mitch McConnell, an amendment is submitted to the whole senate based on whether there appears to be majority support for it. The amendment to re-authorize the import/export bank was such an amendment. Mr. Cruz's amendments that he has been publicly whining about not having approved for a full vote, did not have majority support.
     The Republican leadership in congress can be faulted for many things they have done wrong, or times when they may have not appeared to stand on principle. But the McConnell-lead senate has passed a budget for the first time in 6 years, and along with support from the Boehner-lead House have cut the annual budget deficit by 2/3. What Mr. Cruz and his supporters seem to want is public humiliation of leadership for the wrongs of which they have determined the leadership to be guilty. Ronald Reagan once said that his eleventh commandment was to never publicly criticize another Republican. Mr. Cruz would be wise to follow the leadership example set by President Reagan, instead of the slash and burn tactics of Napoleon.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trump Campaign Illustrative Of Cultural Weakness

     One thing all Donald Trump supporters seem to have trouble achieving is a legitimate and well articulated reconciliation of Mr. Trump's four decades as a Democrat and his recent 15 minutes as a conservative. I think this weakness is more likely a result of the decline of American culture than it is any real belief that the Donald can solve the nation's problems. Support for someone who has not proven themselves in a field of endeavor, or has had any accomplishments in that field, is what lead the nation to elect Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States twice.
     It seems peculiar to me that the very things for which Donald Trump supporters state as their reasons for backing his campaign, i.e. "speaking the truth," "not being of the Washington establishment," and change without substance, are the very reasons that Barack Obama supporters voted for him. Additionally peculiar is that it appears to be those who are most vocal against the current president who are the biggest supporters of Donald Trump, and are the most oblivious to the similarities between the two men.
     If indeed Donald Trump has "seen the light" as his supporters say he has, and reformed his previous Democrat leanings, that is great. But I am not prepared to offer him the biggest prize any political Party has to give; their nomination for president of the United States. I tend to prefer the Reagan doctrine of "Trust, but verify." And the way to verify a 40 year Democrat with no political credentials is to have him earn his stripes.
     Let Mr. Trump run for the senate or the House of Representatives and prove his conservatism through years of support for conservative principles in a body where public policy is decided. After all, even Mr. Trump himself would not bestow upon an inexperienced person walking in off the street with a leadership role in his business, let alone make them a CEO. And yet he and his supporters are asking the American people to do exactly that. Donald Trump has not worked his way up form the bottom, even in business. He started out his adult life at the top of a half billion dollar corporation.
     It is no wonder that Mr. Trump believes he can leap frog others in the hunt for the presidency, and it is no wonder his supporters back this most un-American trait of modernity. Which brings me full circle as to why the Trump campaign is due to a cultural weakness and not anything he offers that is missing from any of the other candidates. The rise of the self-esteem culture, the bestowment of position without previous accomplishment, and the instant gratification syndrome of our current culture are all in play with regards to the Trump presidential campaign. And God help this nation if the voters are capricious enough to elect another president that is a product of the aforementioned cultural weaknesses.
    

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Liberty's Silent Killer

     As Donald Trump and his votaries in talk radio like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin continue in their disserving of the public debate in this country by casting the superficial problem of illegal immigration as an assault on constitutional fundamentalism, there remains a silent killer of Liberty not being acknowledged. Not to imply in any way that illegal immigration is not a troubling problem that should not be addressed. However, once one has emerged from the foggy emotionalism of the Trump phalanx, the clear-eyed facts remain that illegal immigration over the southern border of the United States has actually decreased over the last decade.
     One of the more troubling issues about which no conservative pundit or candidate appears to be talking is the complete rearrangement of this great nation's financial and economic system. The economic aspect of this great rearrangement has been accomplished via the Federal Reserve. The one two punch to economic growth of historically low interest rates for the last 7 years, combined with the Federal Reserves purchase of treasury bonds, has kept a lid on inflation, but also economic growth as well.
     In addition to the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve more than tripling over the last 7 years, is the danger that has been posed by the new banking law passed in 2010 known as Dodd/Frank. Named for the two men more responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008 than anyone else on earth, this legislation was government's way of ensuring that a repeat of 2008 would not occur in the future. Those on the Left in congress who rammed this legislation through to law claimed that what caused the crisis was the idea of having institutions that were "too big to fail."
       The "too big to fail" ideology is a throwback to the early 20th century when the founders of American progressivism, Teddy Roosevelt, Louis Brandies, et al, went after large institutions like JP Morgan for the simple fact that they were "big, and anything big is inherently corrupt." Those early progressives, as well as modern progressives, still think anything big is corrupt, with the exception of government of course.
     What Dodd/Frank has accomplished is the narrowing of the banking industry so that only the big will eventually survive. Since its inception in 2010 only one new community bank has opened its doors in the entire country, while over 1000 smaller community-based banks have been forced to close. These banks have not closed due to mismanagement or wild speculation, but because they can not afford the millions of dollars required to be compliant with the far reaching Dodd/Frank law. This causes fewer choices for depositors, borrowers, and savers, which is never a good thing for the cause of Liberty. In other words Dodd/Frank has transformed too big to fail into too small to succeed.
     This fundamental transformation of our economic system which has its roots in the founding, has somehow been drowned by the rants, howls, and emotional machinations of those pushing the problem of illegal immigration to the head of the line. I think when the history of this time is written, and the sober thoughts of our descendants turn to the loss of Liberty in America, they will rightly see the transformation of our financial system to be more culpable in that loss than the ephemeral problem of illegal immigration.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Are The Iranians On Board With The Obama Administration's Deal?

     Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support the Iran nuclear deal recently penned by that country and the United States and its allies. My fellow conservatives have gone apoplectic over this development, but it was to be expected that the Obama administration would take this step for fear that the U.S. congress might be able stop the deal through its legislative authority. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. The UN Security Council resolution supporting the deal has both its own authority and limitations.
     The resolution will lift the UN sanctions against the terrorist state of Iran, however the U.S. sanctions will remain in effect, at least until the congress has either said yea or nay, the president has vetoed that decision if it is a nay, and the congress has had the opportunity to override that presidential veto if they can muster a 2/3 majority. And although the lifting of the UN sanctions through this current resolution is a boon to Iran, the sanctions they ultimately want lifted are the ones imposed by the U.S. congress. Besides which the UN resolution lifting their sanctions will not even go into effect for 90 days.
     What is being missed by most in the consternation over whether or not the U.S. congress will ultimately approve or stop the badly penned deal is whether or not Iran will approve it. Many powerful factions in the Iranian structure are not happy with the deal on the table. They like parts of it, i.e. the releasing of Iranian funds frozen by sanctions (although they have been paid $700 million a month for the last few months by the Obama administration as an incentive to negotiate), but they are unhappy about other parts of the deal that they see as ceding control of Iranian military assets to foreigners.
     Many experts on the Middle East have suggested that the Ayatollah is not sanguine about some parts of the deal and is trying to sabotage it by increasing his anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric in recent weeks. This would serve to fire up the resistance to such a deal by the more radical factions in the Iranian power structure, such as the Iranian republican guard. The guard has been the most virulent opposition to any deal, and the Ayatollah's radical rhetoric is seen as a nod to their opposition, and a way for the Supreme Leader to save face at home while holding out hope to the "world community" that there are "moderate" factions within the country trying to gain control.
      The passage of the recently structured deal is in doubt, not only by the United States congress, but by the Iranian parliament as well. We conservatives, and all those with any common sense, see this deal as the destructive force that it is. But for an Iranian regime that wants no limitations or interference in their national nuclear machinations, the deal is not the boon to their interests that we in the United States see it to be. To be sure, the bottom line is that with or without this deal Iran is not only a danger and threat in the region, but to the world. And I fear that with or without this agreement we will either be provoked into an eventual military response, or the complacent acceptance of Iran as a Middle East empire and a world power.       

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Hindenburg Candidacy Of Donald Trump

     I promised myself that I was not going to write anymore posts about the, ha hem "presidential candidacy" of Donald Trump. But just as Herbert Morrison could not have stopped broadcasting halfway through the Hindenburg disaster, I too can not walk away from the Republican Party's own version of that spectacular disaster, known as Donald Trump. And right on queue, as if prompted by Democrat operatives working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, Donald Trump has released the latest issue of his manifesto to destroy, or at least disrupt, the Republican presidential campaign.
     The latest bloviating blather from Mr. Trump is his comments mitigating the military service of Senator John McCain. The Donald, who received four Vietnam era draft deferments, essentially said John McCain was not a hero because he was captured. Whether Mr. Trump believes that or not, or if he just thinks he can capitalize on the characterization by some on the Right of John McCain as a rino (Republican in name only), is not clear. What is clear is that Donald Trump shows very poor judgment in running his mouth, a talent which will ultimately eliminate him from the presidential race.
     Do not get me wrong, I have been no fan of Mr. McCain in recent years. He has shown an over abundance of willingness to compromise with Democrats on key issues, earning him the rino label. But what some people (Donald Trump and his rabid supporters) seem unable to do is disconnect John McCain's military service from his congressional service. And even his congressional service, at least in the first 2/3 of his career, has been more conservative than not. What is not, or even should not, be in question is his military record.
     John McCain has admitted that after being shot down and captured, his arms broken in the crash and never properly treated, tortured daily for years, that he became so despondent he gave the North Vietnamese some military information. The information was never known to have caused any deleterious effects to the American war effort, being as it was years old by the time McCain shared it with his tormentors. After McCain was found by his captors to be the son of Admiral McCain, he was offered an early release and refused it. His loyalty and courage are character traits that obviously are missing from the repertoire of Donald Trump.
     But getting back to the Hindenburg candidacy of Donald Trump, it is both horrific to watch, and yet at the same time spectacular in its breadth of ignorance and bombastic barbarianism. Mr. Trump has shown none of the political skills needed to win a primary and nomination, let alone a general election. Some of his votaries like that about him. But even if they believe that the Donald can solve this nation's pressing problems (although he has not offered any real solutions to any of them), how do they expect him to do that if he can not even win the political debates necessary to secure a nomination?
     If Herbert Morrison was alive today, and reporting on the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, he would most likely report, "Oh the insanity!" The insanity indeed. It is palpable in its ability to make one wonder how Donald Trump made it as far as he did in business, even with the $400 million head start his father bequeathed him. But politics is not business, it is much more unforgiving and takes more tact. One misstep and a candidate can be publicly stained as no business done in private could ever achieve. Mr. Trump has taken more than just one misstep, it seems his campaign is one built upon a flaming spectacle on par with the Hindenburg.
  

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Ghost Of Their Ship

    There is a poignant Twilight Zone episode (which most of them were) in which a World War II German submarine commander deliberately attacks and sinks a British passenger ship, killing all the men, women, and children on board. The commander's subordinate wonders aloud to his superior if there is not a special kind of hell for people like them. Pressed further by his captain, the subordinate says that perhaps their punishment would be to spend eternity riding the ghost of the ship they had just sunk. He states that those they killed could only die once, but they would die a hundred million times. Of course this is exactly what happens to the commander, his deeds have sentenced him to "Ride the ghost of that ship every night."
      This, I pray, is the comeuppance for "Dr." Deborah Nucatola, the Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood who has recently been made infamous as a result of an undercover video. I am sure most of you have seen the video to which I refer, in which this doctor who would be more comfortable in the company of Joseph Mengele than in the company of Albert Schweitzer, talks casually and ghoulishly about essentially harvesting organs from aborted babies. Ms. Nucatola callously recounts how they can crush a baby in such a way as to harvest the valuable organs in the most efficacious manner.
     Even though I have been a lifelong defender of life and virulently opposed to abortion, I always felt uncomfortable when I saw those pro-lifers on the side of the road holding up pictures of aborted babies. I felt that it went too far. But I was wrong. We, on both sides of the abortion issue, have become too comfortable with the word and have lost sight of the barbarity of the act. The taking of innocent life for any reason is wrong, whether it is a booby-trapped terrorist blowing himself up killing school children in the process, or an abortionist like Ms. Nucatola taking the life of a baby in the womb in order to harvest his organs for profit.
     The video showing the Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood describing in gruesome detail the ending of an innocent life is not an anomaly, but rather it is a stark reminder of the horrors of this "procedure" that is repeated thousands of times every day in this country. And those like Deborah Nucatola who willingly participate in and encourage this Holocaust against innocent lives should be prepared that they will have to answer for their actions, if not in this life, in the next. Where they will ride the ghost of their own ship for eternity, feeling the pain for themselves of being ruthlessly aborted and torn apart. As the man said, their victims can die only once, but they will die a hundred million times, every night, for eternity.