Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trump's Clinton Comments: The Canary In the Coal Mine

     I have gotten to the point recently where the chewed up red meat that dibbles from the mouth of Donald Trump goes in one ear and out the other. But his recent comments about Bill Clinton's infidelity as a reason to keep Hillary out of the White House is exemplary of what is wrong with some of my brethren on the Right. It is a meaningless statement, and a non-starter as a political strategy for winning the White House next November.
     Primarily I could care less about Bill Clinton's infidelity to his wife, that is between him and her, and has no place in the political debate to choose our next president. I fail to see how the former president's sexual peccadillos has any bearing on whether the voters should consider his wife for president. There are many more substantive reasons not to consider Hillary Clinton for the highest office of the land. For Mr. Trump, or anyone else for that matter, to take the focus off the real issues and place it on the salacious but politically irrelevant, is a losing strategy.
     Germane to my argument is the fact that Bill Clinton is not running for the office of President of the United States. So any criticism of him is misplaced and gratuitous to any meaningful debate about the upcoming election. Especially when that discussion is framed by the inarticulate ranting's of a silver-spoon-in-the-mouth billionaire who wants to bully his way to the presidency. Those who follow this buffoonery of attacking a former president as a means to argue against the election of his wife, are traveling a path only inhabited by fools and charlatans.
    Additionally, Bill Clinton, like it or not, is still very much liked by a large swath of the American public. A large enough swath that anyone hoping to win the presidency would be wise to steer clear of harsh criticism of the former Commander in Chief. But then Donald Trump's entire campaign has been based on avoiding the real issues as he weaves his political theater into the likeness of a mindless reality TV show. This may quicken the pulse and glaze the eyes of his emotionally charged devotees, but this slim minority of the voting public is not enough to deliver him the presidency.
     The recent comments by Mr. Trump, and the Pavlovian response to it by his votaries, is the canary in the coal mine of a Republican loss in 2016. If more people on our side do not wise up and end their destructive love affair with Mr. Trump, and choose a more substantive candidate to support, we are sure to wake up the morning after with Hillary in the White House.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Are Things As Bad As They Say?

     I am going to state right from the beginning of this post that I disagree with everything President Obama has done and the reckless way in which he has appropriated Liberty in this country in order to advance his Leftist agenda. That being said, I am sure there are those who will read what follows and call me an Obama supporter, a Rino, a tool of the "establishment", etc. But as the man said, "Facts are stubborn things." Much of the economic mayhem that has become part of the Radical Right's rhetoric is misleading at best, and un-conservative at worse. As I have stated prior on this page, conservatism is not only about what one believes, but the truthfulness in which those beliefs are presented.
     If one listens to talk radio exclusively for any length of time, one would surmise that the country is in the depths of a depression unseen since the 1930s. The fact is that the economy has recovered at its slowest pace since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but it has recovered. This is not the result of any Obama policy, but in spite of them. That is the great thing about American business and capitalism, it will always find a way to survive and thrive. Just look at the number of companies that are still around today that were founded during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
     In my own life I have seen that the unemployment rate, while maybe not as good as the Obama administration has reported it is, is certainly not as bad as some on the radical Right try to convince people it is. I lost my job of 11 years last November, and even though I live in northeast Ohio where the unemployment rate is higher than much of the country, I was able to find five different jobs and have settled on one I feel is best. A luxury that those unemployed in the 1930s only dreamed of having. 
     I have also witnessed dozens of help wanted signs in just a ten to fifteen mile radius of my house. Evidence, however anecdotal, that still shows an improving economy. Again, in spite of President Obama, not because of him. Some of the jobs available are good paying careers. I recently had a conversation with the manager of my local Panera's and she said they are in need of managers for all the new locations they are set to open. They can not find enough people interested in rising from associate to assistant manager to manager and are now placing people directly into the management program.
     Now as for the 93 million people unemployed in this country that those on the radical Right are want to repeat as proof of a depressed economy. Almost 11 million of that number are disabled Americans, another 10 million are working aged people that have retired on a union or other pension. So while there are still far too many individuals living on tax payer money, we are no where near the level of financial collapse as Greece, to which the mavens on the radical Right like to compare us. The misery index, which is arrived at by adding the unemployment rate and the inflation rate, is around 8%. A far cry from the almost 23% it was when Ronald Reagan was elected president.
     As I have said some reading this will assume I am supporting Obama simply for stating the truth. And therein lies the problem with the new conservative movement, what I call the Alinsky conservatives. The truth in their hands is as malleable as it is in the hands of the Left. They have fallen under the spell of the ends justify the means, which is cause for great concern among Reagan conservatives like myself.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Washington Post Cruz Cartoon: American Version of Charlie Hebdo

      Recently we were treated to the American version of Charlie Hebdo, the French publication that was protested and had several of its employees killed by radical Muslims who took offense to the printing of cartoons of Muhammad. This parallel incident involved Ted Cruz and his supporters after an inflammatory cartoon was printed of the Republican presidential candidate and his children by the Washington Post. And while Mr. Cruz and his automaton supporters did not protest outside the offices of the Washington Post, or shoot anyone inside (not yet anyway), they did become quite emotionally exercised over the cartoon.
      The response by the senator-hoping-to-be-president and his wild-eyed devotees was of course not physically violent. But it was born of the same instinct to take extreme umbrage with any little criticism, that motivated radical Islamists in the French incident. After all, both incidents involved a published cartoon that was unflattering to men who their respective votaries characterize as prophets. And insomuch as one lived 14 centuries ago in the Middle East, and the other lives in American modernity, the similarities in the knee-jerk emotional response to defend over such a seemingly inconsequential item as a cartoon seems uncanny.
      Senator Cruz shamelessly using his children as a human shield in campaign-related videos, then crying foul when his political adversaries call him on it, seems not only hypocritical, but unbecoming of the timber needed to be a good president. Mr. Cruz would do well to study Ronald Reagan, and how he responded (or more to the point did not respond) to much worse criticism about him in both cartoons and parody. Or if the Texas senator is incapable of thinking back that far, he could study the non-responses to such nonsense by George W. Bush. President Bush suffered much greater indignities at the hands of political rivals in media, and employed a tactic which seems sorely missing from Mr. Cruz's political arsenal, he ignored them.
      The emotionally charged Cruz zealots would be well served to read some history of this great nation. In the early decades of the republic, newspapers in many ways were more partisan than the media is today. A political adversary's family members were routine fodder for political criticism. Now I am sure that some of the more radical members of my own political ideology will call me a traitor, libtard, troll, Hillary supporter, or myriad other childish insults that those who are insecure in their beliefs use to stifle the free speech of others who disagree with them. It chagrins me greatly to see some on my side using this tactic of the Left designed to shutdown speech they fear, it engenders even more solicitude in me that it is aimed at those on their own side politically.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Rarified Air of Principles

     It took just about six weeks for the long knives wielded by the delusional absolutists in the conservative movement to slice to ribbons the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. The source of their manufactured angst is the recently passed Omnibus spending bill, which for everyone's information was already in progress when Mr. Ryan became Speaker. But forget that, and the fact that these delusional absolutist "conservatives" have completely ignored the concessions the new Speaker extracted in the compromise. These transmogrified conservatives breathe the rarified air of their own regurgitated principles as they stand on the summit of their values which precludes them from engaging in the hard work of participating in the battle in the valley of reality below them.
     The omnibus bill just passed is not a great bill, but neither is it the proclamation of treason that many so-called conservatives have characterized it as being. The kind of spending bill these delusional absolutists want is one which does not exist outside the land of Oz. With a radical Leftist in the White House, and nowhere near a veto-proof majority in the Senate for Republicans, I am not sure what these deluded folks expect.
     Speaker Ryan was able to secure more military spending, a reduction on the burdens placed on business over the last 7 1/2 years, and a revocation of the president's very harmful ban on foreign oil sales. This last item was the century's pariah to free society in the opinion of the same conservatives who now do not dare applaud its passing. It is odd how their values are based on what political agenda they are pushing. When the president instituted his ban, these phony conservatives saw it as a political crowbar to use against him to illustrate how he was ruining the country. Now that Speaker Ryan has had the ban lifted, these same people ignore it because they are so filled with hate for anyone they label as "establishment."
     Is Paul Ryan going to be a good Speaker of the House? I do not know. But neither do I think anyone can judge that from only six weeks in office and the completion of his first legislative duty presented to him already in progress. The point is that if and when the Republicans win the White House, and if they retain control of the Senate and House, and a spending bill like this one is passed, then I will concede that the Speaker has not done a good job.
     I am chagrined that so many on my side have lost their reason and think somehow that it is possible for Republicans to just ram through the bills they want without regard to the Democrats in congress or the president who has veto authority. It borders on hypocrisy for some conservatives to bemoan the Left having their way with public policy through the courts because they can not do so legislatively, and then demonize congressional Republicans for not taking liberties with the constitution to implement what they want.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Poll Dispels the Trumpkins' Fantasy

     A new Gallup poll has been released which shows the favorability ratings of all the presidential candidates, Democrat and Republican. The general public has a favorable view of a candidate that has a positive rating, i.e. a higher percentage of the general electorate has favorable feelings about the candidate than do have negative feelings about the same candidate. As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise! Surprise!" Donald J. Trump has the lowest favorability rating of all the candidates by far. Coming in at a whopping negative 27%. His closest rival is Hillary Clinton at 14%.
     This, in addition to his vacuous policy positions and unlikable persona, is the main reason I have said from the beginning that Republicans would be foolish to nominate this Titanic candidate, which would result in an inevitable sinking of GOP hopes to control the White House after next November's general election. No candidate can win the White House when they are so disliked by so many across the large swathe of Americans who will go to the polls and cast their votes.
        Some Trump supporters who would speak quickly to dispel this latest poll by Gallup (which supports many other polls on the subject from the beginning of this campaign) are also just as quick to proffer polls that show Mr. Trump far ahead of his opponents in this race. What the Trumpkins refuse to admit, even to themselves, is that while The Donald enjoys rabid support among about a third of Republican primary voters, the other two thirds are virulently against the real estate billionaire. Not to mention that his rabid votaries only comprise about 10-12% of the general electorate.
    In every polling and survey that has been completed in the last 25 years the electorate is one third Democrat, one third Republican, and one third independent. Which means that Mr. Trump's support among Republican primary voters is one third of one third, or about 10-12%. Further complicating Mr. Trump's chances for winning the White House is that the opposition to his candidacy is almost as rabid as the support for it. I am not sure how the Trumpkins figure the electoral math that results in the election of their candidate when his appeal is restricted to a very narrow segment of the voting public.
     But yet the overly emotional and irrational Trump devotees continue to manufacture a fantasy land where a candidate that is looked upon so dis-favorably by such a large percentage of the population can somehow get those individuals to hand him the keys to the most powerful office in the country, if not the world. But then there are those who believe we never landed a man on the moon, that Elvis can be seen daily eating a Burger King, that the CIA assassinated JFK, the terrorist attacks of 911 were an inside job, and aliens from another planet have landed and are controlling world events.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Trump Fantasy Politics League

     For those of you not familiar with fantasy football, it is an activity participated in by those with an over abundance of testosterone in which they delude themselves that they own a team by choosing players from different NFL teams and then benefitting from their combined performance every week in real games. Watching Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency puts me in mind of this fantasy activity, only it is politics and not football that his supporters are using to feel more relevant than they actually are.
     The latest gem for Democrats unearthed for them by Donald Trump is his statement about legally castigating an entire group of people in America based solely on their religion. Mr. Trump's suggestion that Muslims, even those born in this country, should have their freedom of movement restricted based on their faith, is not only unconstitutional, but morally reprehensible. Can anyone say, "Japanese/American interment during World War II?"
     Beyond the obvious unconstitutional nature of the Trump "solution" to radical Jihad, is the unworkable practical application of such a policy. His suggestion that we simply ask a person's religion as they are entering or re-entering the country, and if they claim to be Muslim we simply refuse entrance, is as ridiculous as constructing a team of all the best NFL players and pretending they are an actual team.
     Maybe Mr. Trump believes that terrorists who are willing to blow themselves to bits as a way of killing Americans would somehow have the honesty to tell the truth about their religion. But no reasonable person grounded in reality would even begin to entertain such a foolish notion. But that is the beauty of the Trump fantasy politics league, reality never has to have a place at a political table festooned with the red meat of irrational thought.
     Mr. Trump sites some fairly dubious polls that suggest that a majority of Muslims in this country support violent Jihad against their fellow Americans. One data point from the poll suggests that 51% of American Muslims would choose to live under Sharia law if given the choice. The question is deliberately misleading because it does not in any way suggest that those same Muslims would replace American law for all with Sharia, only that they would be governed in their lives by it, much the same way Catholics are governed by Cannon law in their faith.
     In the final analysis I am not sure if Mr. Trump actually believes what he says (what sensible person could?) or if he just knows there is a certain segment of the Right that gobbles up his outrageous statements. Either way Mr. Trump and his devotees have played into every stereotype the Left has proffered about conservatives over the last few decades. And this is truly the most dangerous aspect of the Trump campaign, i.e. that many moderate American voters will be drawn to the Democrat nominee rather than risk voting for such a radically un-American candidate such as Donald Trump.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Mis-Directed Efforts of Republicans

    Some have called me a Rino, traitor, Libtard, and worse, all for being a voice of reason. It is okay though, when one places their thoughts via the written word into the public arena, one must expect to be pilloried by ignorance. As for reason, it is something sorely missing from much of modernity's public debate. One can argue, and rightly so, that reason has been missing from the maniacal mantra of the Left for some decades now. But making an enemy of reason seems to have become an instrument of an increasing amount of debate from the Right. This, to my chagrin, seems an unstoppable force among the more fanatical.
     To say that fanaticism feeds irrationality to ends that always result in more fanaticism, is a given. To Witt: the response of some Republicans and conservatives that seems to be a bathing in "solutions" that make them feel good without really actually having a chance of doing good. The latest of these vapid solutions is the legislation being proffered in congress to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
     Do not mistake my position, as I am sure some of you will do purposely as to feed your target of derision, I am four square against the Muslim Brotherhood and acknowledge that they are a terrorist-sympathizing organization. However, any legislation that aims to officially label them as such by an American government controlled by Barack Obama and his Leftist brethren in the Democrat Party, is at best self-congratulatory and at its worst political masturbation. I am a realist and am more interested in solutions, not "taking stands" that simply make me feel more superior to my political opponents.
     The fact that President Obama will immediately veto any attempt to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and further that Republicans do not have the votes to override such a veto, makes it a ridiculous waste of time. I know, I know, the theory is to pass it and make the president take a stand against it and show the dichotomy between what they believe and what we believe. This is the worst possible motive for passing legislation through the U.S. congress, especially with this president who will not suffer one scintilla of political harm by vetoing this or any other legislation that comes from the Republican majority in congress.
      Instead, the Republican Party should work hard to maintain control of the House and Senate after next year's election and take control of the White House. Then real change can be affected. They can also work to strengthen, as much as is possible through their constitutional authorities, the ability for the military and intelligence communities to fight radical Islamist terrorists. Passing useless legislation that is bound for the veto trash heap is not productive in any way to making this nation more secure against the threat of terrorism.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Hypocrisy of Mark Levin

     I was driving home late from work last night, and as if my stress level was not high enough from the day's machinations, I decided to listen to talk radio's biggest hypocrite, Mark Levin. Not that I disagree with much of what the former Reagan aide says, albeit the tactics he uses to say them bares no resemblance to arguably the greatest of our presidents of the last 100 years, if not our entire history. Last night Mr. Levin was falling all over himself, and quite noticeably slobbering over his guest, Senator Mike Lee, over the bill that passed the senate to repeal much of ObamaCare.
     I am certainly not a defender of the horrible piece of socialist legislation passed by Democrats with not even one Republican vote in either the Senate or the House, known as the Affordable Care Act. But the current Senate bill to repeal it, and more importantly Mr. Levin's sycophantic support of it, illustrates a real hypocrisy in the approach of the "conservative" author and talk show host. In the over 40 bills passed by the House of Representatives under the leadership of John Boehner that aimed to repeal ObamaCare, not one was free of Mark Levin's derision.
     Mr. Levin mocked the former Speaker and his colleagues for wasting time on showboat legislation that was only going to be vetoed by President Obama, or die in the Democrat-controlled Senate at the time. But he seems gleefully supportive of Senators Lee and Cruz's bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though it is headed for the same fate as all the House bills passed that aimed to do the same thing. I must surmise that Mark Levin's conservatism is not based on what value is advanced, but who advances it. 
     The fact is that Mr. Levin is so slavishly devoted to Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee, and by extension their supporters, he is afraid to judge them by the same harsh standards he uses on those Republicans he calls, "Rinos," "traitors," and a slew of other derogatory sophomoric terms. His support for the Cruz/Lee bill, when he has been so dismissive of the Boehner House attempts to pass the same type of bills, shows a hypocrisy, that while being a major part or Mr. Levin's definition of conservatism, has no place in the edifice of conservatism built on the constitution, and by men like Ronald Regan, William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, et al.
     I have written before about this new movement in the conservative arena whereby some pundits like Mark Levin have taken up the mantle of half-truths, fact-manipulation, and alternative-reality-building so successfully employed by the modern Left. If we as conservatives are to show a better way forward we can not simply employ the same tactics of the Left to advance a different message, but must engage honest and ethical methods to win hearts and minds. It appears that those like Mr. Levin believe conservatism is all about what one says and not what one does.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rino is Language of the Left

     There is a scientific principle that states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. This theory also applies to our politics of late. As a result of the violent lurch to the Left that the current administration specifically, and the Democrat Party in general, has taken in recent years, there has been an equal and opposite violent lurch by some on the Right. And while their respective goals may be dissimilar, the methods they use to achieve them remain siblings of each other.
     I have written prior on this blog about my dismay over the conservative movement being hi-jacked by those who have a desire to hold Democrats to the letter of the U.S. constitution, yet criticize congressional Republicans for not twisting and wrestling authority for themselves from that document in order to push back against the Leftist agenda being implemented by President Obama, et al. As a conservative I believe the law, and in this case the constitution, applies equally to all who live under its authority. Some of my more radical brethren feel that in order to save the constitution we must first abandon constitutional principles.
     Many so-called conservatives have wrapped themselves in the constitution while at the same time choosing to expect those on their side to live by a different set of standards simply because the other side has taken liberties with that most precious of documents. The most disturbing aspect of these so-called conservatives is that they have adopted the tactics of the Left in marginalizing and demonizing, not their political opposition, but those on their own side. Democrats and other Leftists could not have better friends than some in talk radio and elsewhere in Right-Wing media.
     The favorite derision proffered against not sufficiently "conservative" enough Republicans is the term Rino (Republican in name only). But those who use this term have adopted the language of the Left, Rino being a term first implemented by Democrats against Republicans they considered too conservative. It was a quarter century ago when the derogatory term Rino first entered the American political lexicon, placed there by Democrats who were trying to alienate the conservative wing of the Republican Party from their more moderate brethren.
     It is disheartening to see some in the conservative movement fall victim to the Lefts modus operandi of "feeling good" instead of "doing good." This sickness of the Left that has infected some on the Right has spawned support for candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who are all about making their devotees feel good by saying the right things, instead of actually presenting a way forward for doing good for this great nation. It is odd that the term used so many years ago by Democrats to describe too conservative Republicans, has been adopted by those who claim to be conservative against those they claim not to be conservative enough.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Mental Illness of the "Trump Phenomenon"

     The recent comments by Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating when the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001, were as per usual for Mr. Trump, a grain of truth converted to an entire beach by exaggeration. This recent comment is exemplary of the unworthiness of Mr. Trump for the presidency. Not because it was completely false, but because it was not entirely true. This exaggerated truth for political expediency is not part of the conservatism that I practice.
     I have been displeased at the ease with which many Trump supporters who call themselves conservative accept the advance of half-truths and fact-manipulations that are a hallmark of the Left. Lately it seems that politics have been defined by Republicans deliberately exaggerating the truth for the purpose of advancing a false narrative, as Democrats exaggerate lies for the purpose of advancing a false narrative. While the former is invested in the truth more than the latter, both are engaged in deception.
    But back to Donald Trump. I fail to understand, for instance, how Evangelicals can support a man who has build an empire based in large part on gambling. It seems that faith, and the principles that comprise it, have been subjugated to the political elixir known as Donald Trump. And even those conservatives who are not religious have sold their political souls to an idea and a man who makes them "feel good," but that does not pay tribute to what actually "does good."
     So the fact that Donald Trump makes outrageous statements about Muslims in America celebrating the attacks of 911, and the glee with which his devotees soak up his gravy of inaccuracy, is worrisome, not only for the Republican Party and conservative movement, but for the nation as a whole. For if even conservatives abandon conservatism, there is little hope for this great nation.
     Additionally, I seem to remember a recent mosque collapse that killed over a hundred worshipping Muslims that brought cheers from some on the extreme Right. But Mr. Trump would never mention that because it is more politically advantageous to convince his emotional votaries that thousands of Muslims in this country, and by extension therefore all Muslims in this country, celebrated the tragic events of 911, than it is to engage in a rigorous pursuit of accuracy and truth.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Now Aint the Time For Our Tears

     The terrorist attacks in Paris, France last Friday perpetrated by ISIS have elicited an outpouring of emotion in the form of sympathy from around the civilized world. They have also generated words of promised retribution from the French president, and babbling nonsense from our own here in this country. Radical Islam, and the terrorism upon which it thrives, precedes President Obama, as well as most U.S. administrations of the last 50 years. However, no United States president has done more to encourage radical Islam with his policy of inaction at a time when the terrorists are most active, than Barack Obama.
      As for our part; the innocent peoples of the world who are the target of such despicable aggression and barbarism, we have not cared enough to push our leaders in the direction of ridding the world of the cancer known as radical Islam. It puts me in mind of a line from an old Bob Dylan song in which the legendary song-writer sings, "Take the rag away from your face, now aint the time for your tears."
     With over a hundred innocent persons dead in Paris, and many hundreds of thousands more dead in recent years at the hands of the collective evil heart known as radical Islam, now is certainly not the time for our tears. As I look at pictures of the memorials in France, with their flowers and stuff animals, my reasoned mind must overcome my emotional heart in realizing that they mean nothing to ridding the world of the evil which prompted them.
     As for our president who seems intent on  staying the course of his drifting foreign policy, where engagement in real solutions is never approached, he has only encouraged and made possible more attacks like the ones in Paris. Barack Obama seems content to just serve out his time without engaging the most severe enemy of civilization since Nazi Germany. His inability, or unwillingness, to use the greatest force for good history has ever seen, i.e. the United States military, to coalesce other forces in the region and defeat this dastardly enemy, is tantamount to a charge of aid and comfort to the enemy.
     I do not make the charge of aid and comfort to the enemy against President Obama in any sense of invoking some constitutional punishment to be visited upon him before the end of his term. I proffer it in the greater sense of the moral wrong in which he has engaged by his drifting to avoid real conflict. When leaders fail, it is incumbent upon those being lead to take the reins of leadership by vociferous demands for confrontation of the evil which afflicts them, not by burying their faces in a flood of tears. We must take the rag away from our faces, because this is no time for our tears. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Media-Created Myth of Hillary's "Success"

     We live in an age where truth is malleable, like a ball of Silly Putty. On both the Left and the Right, the truth seems to be subject to the advancement of an agenda by the political ideology that is proffering it. The most recent and glaring example of this phenomenon is the media's reaction to Hillary Clinton's testimony before the House committee on the Benghazi affair last week. Had one not watched the hearing and just relied on the media for analysis, one would have thought there was no there there, and that former Secretary of State Clinton made mince meat of the Republican's case against her, while enjoying all the Democrat members of the committee act as her defense team.
     I wonder how many of the political media pundits on either side of the aisle actually watched the hearings, or simply made their analysis based on the narrative being advanced by the rest of the pro-Hilary media? If in fact they watched the hearings and were not troubled by what was revealed, then either they are in full Hillary defense mode, or they have no moral compass to guide them. For Hillary Clinton's glib and rambling responses that represented the best in circumlocution to be considered an apt defense of her actions or inactions is ludicrous.
     For those who are not swayed by presentation over substance, it was more than just a little troubling that Ambassador Stevens, who was so brutally murdered along with three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 by terrorists, had sent over 600 emails to Secretary Clinton asking for beefier security in the days and weeks before the attack. It is incredulous that, as former Secretary Clinton purposed, she did not see any of Ambassador Steven's emails and that they all went to underlings. If true, then I see nothing that would preclude the legitimacy of a charge of gross incompetence against Mrs. Clinton.
     Of course one of the most disturbing aspects of the hearings is the evidence produced that supported what we knew directly after the attacks, i.e. that Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Obama administration deliberately engaged in a bald-faced lie about the attacks being a spontaneous demonstration inspired by an anti-Muslim YouTube video. But what has been missed is the illegal act perpetrated by Hillary Clinton in telling her daughter about the attacks the night of the attacks. This breach of not only protocol, but the law governing the handling of classified information, was not even given a second look by most of the media. It was the same kind of actions that placed General Petraeus in so much hot water.
     And then there is the lie itself perpetrated by the Secretary of State of an administration that had been downright braggadocios about the retreating influence of terrorism in the Middle East under its watch. A false narrative advanced in the face of a challenging re-election campaign, made even more so by an economy in the depths of mediocrity after more than 3 years into a supposed recovery. The administration could not win re-election if the American people knew the truth about the groundswell of terrorism growing rapidly, in large part to the very policies and ineptness that were highlighted by last week's hearing.
     Yes, Mrs. Clinton may have done her best impression of her husband wagging his finger at the camera. But for anyone with even a scintilla of fidelity to the truth and morality, there is no escaping her culpability in the deaths of four brave Americans and her deliberate attempt to hide the truth. For those "impressed" with her performance, God help this country if the majority of the electorate is as gullible and ethically out-of-balance as you appear to be.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Does Freedom Caucus Represent Constitutional Values?

     There has been a great deal of consternation and gnashing of teeth among conservatives over the current quest for new leadership in the House of Representatives. Congressional Republicans are split between the so-called Freedom Caucus that wants to elect a Speaker that will advance and advocate for their "principles," and the more moderate Republicans, often called the "establishment" or "Rinos" by the former, who want to elect a Speaker who will work with Democrats in the House to advance legislation that is generally good for the country.
     The Freedom Caucus in the House is populated with around 40 members, but even in its minority status it wields a big stick. The caucus operates under an 80% rule, which means 80% of its members must agree on an issue otherwise the entire caucus must oppose said issue. Even the congress of the United States does not in any situation have such an inflexible rule, nor does the Supreme Court in its decision making require such a majority. This 80% rule means that a mere 8 members of the Freedom Caucus can influence a decision being made by the entire majority of the House. Not exactly what the Founders had in mind.
     Speaking of the Founders, and their brilliance enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, which is rightly and often used by conservatives to illuminate where political opponents have strayed, that same fidelity to constitutional principles must also be applied to our political machinations as well. The Speaker for which the Freedom Caucus is advocating is not exactly in the spirit, if not the actual letter, of the law of the constitution. The Speaker of the House is not an ideological position, but a managerial one, constitutionally speaking.
     The framers of the constitution state very clearly that House members elect by a majority vote a Speaker to lead them in the procedural tasks in the legislative process. The Speaker is not a representative of a minority part of any one political Party, e.g. the Freedom Caucus, nor is the Speaker even a representative of any one political Party in general. Constitutionally, the Speaker is to represent the entire House and manage that body in the legislative process to keep order and integrity in the procedural habits of that body.
     Fidelity to constitutional values is what should drive every conservative, whether those values are an impediment or a benefit to our political ideology. Those who oppose every person, issue, or solution that involves the slightest modicum of what they perceive as compromise, are not representing the best qualities the Founders outlined in this great nation's founding documents. And any body that claims to hold the ideals of the republic near and dear, and yet allows for minority rule instead of majority rule, is not in any sense following the example or the ideals of Jefferson, Madison, et al.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Foamy Head of Our Politics On the Frosty Mug of Our Culture

     Most readers can recall the image of an ice cold beer in a frosted mug with just the right amount of a foamy head at its peak. The liquid comprising 80% of the mug is overshadowed by the airy foam at the top. I have recently thought about the beer with the foamy head as I have perused the rocky landscape of this nation's politics. Sometimes the most important part of our national life, the liquid part of our frosty mug, has been subjugated to the frosty head that draws our attention from what is really important.
     The frosty head on our national mug is the day-to-day politics, sometimes petty and meaningless in the long run, that draws our attention and energies from the core greatness of this country which was built on culture, not politics. It becomes more and more difficult to see the substantive liquid in the mug the closer the foamy head is brought up to our lips. And so it has become with our politics, I believe in large part due to the explosion of information in American modernity.
     I do not intend to advocate a position against modern technology, the Internet, or the ever popular talk radio. To do so would be foolish, as those things are here to stay. But as useful as these things are to the dissemination of information, they have also made the propagation of disinformation just as ubiquitous. And sometimes disinformation comprises most of the foamy head in our public debate, becoming the focus that veils the most relevant aspects of our culture in verbiage that many times is constructed only of invective and acrimony.
     This phenomenon, unfortunately, is not the sole property of any one political ideology or ethos, but seems to have displaced our culture on both sides of aisle. This practice can be seen in the relentless drumbeat present in one-issue-politics. So much so that it no longer is a virtue that someone agree mostly with the practitioners of this faith. What has become the yardstick of someone's dedication to the ideology is the one issue with which they disagree. In other words, the foamy head on the beer becomes more important than the refreshing liquid below.
     As we proceed deeper into the sometimes dark and twisted woods of the exhausting political process to select our next president, let us not forget that culture is more important than politics. After all, politics is just the foamy head created by the liquid of our culture. It is that liquid part upon which we should focus, then the political will follow. Of course sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the politics from the culture. Which is why we must set down the mug from time to time so as to facilitate our ability to delineate between the foam and the liquid.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Donald Trump: Republican Party Temper Tantrum

     I am not totally unwilling to acknowledge that the angst in the Republican Party specifically, and in the conservative movement in general with leadership in congress is legitimate, if not exaggerated. I further accept that the rise of Donald Trump in the race to acquire the Republican presidential nomination is mostly an emotional response, in part as a result of Republican leadership, and in part because of frustration over where the current administration has lead this country. Like most emotional responses, the support for Donald Trump is not based on reason and rationale.
     I have had several conversations with Trump supporters who have expressed the desire to give Mr. Trump almost dictatorial power if congress does not support him, if and when he becomes president. It is a flummoxed intrigue that I have experienced during these conversations with the same persons who want to give extra-constitutional authority to Donald Trump to advance their agenda, but who have criticized President Obama for usurping such powers to advance his. It is a political dichotomy that I can not remember ever seeing in my lifetime.
     The latest Trump-ism that has me questioning the reasoning acumen of his supporters is his statements that had he been president in 2001, the terrorist attacks on September 11 would probably not have occurred. Beyond the obvious desperation of a presidential candidate in 2015 reaching back 14 years to stoke his bona fides, is the fact that Mr. Trump, as per usual, offers no substantive response to the question of how he would have stopped the attacks that took over 3000 American lives that day. He says his "immigration" policy that would magically include "higher standards" for student visas would have prevented the hijackers from entering the country.
     Mr. Trump's non-response response is typical of all his policy positions. Making the aforementioned statement about immigration policy is like a football coach stating that his team will win by playing better than the other team. The lack of detail, or of even the slightest substance, offered by The Donald on anything is shocking. Shocking, not because he has engaged in such pettifoggery, but that so many who call themselves conservatives have accepted it as a solution to this nation's problems.
     Even though the support for Mr. Trump is a minority of the conservative movement, it is a large enough number to cause me a certain amount of solicitude. Like the emotional response of a child throwing a temper tantrum because he has not gotten his way, so too are the Trump supporters reaching for a purely histrionic solution to the problems they perceive facing this country. But like all temper tantrums, this one will come to an end with a whimper and not a bang.
     Hopefully that will transpire before Mr. Trump's votaries have visited upon this nation a president who they seem willing to bestow with the executive authority that the current president has taken for himself. I would caution my friends on the Right, be careful what you wish for. With Mr. Trump's proclivity to change his political ideology on a dime, the powers you want to grant him may be used for ill and not good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Compromise: That Which Created a Nation

     There is a new dirty word in the modern world of political discourse. This word has the power to transform its practitioners into pariahs to those who worship at the altar of absolutism. The word that is sorely missing from the modernity of politics is compromise. Just the mention of this word in some quarters can set the zealots to ranting and spewing invective such as "sell-out," "wimp," and "traitor." But it was not that long ago that compromise was the linchpin that held together this fragile republic.
     Ronald Reagan use to say that he would rather get half a loaf than no loaf, the whole loaf not always being possible in the real world of American politics. And Newt Gingrich, the firebrand conservative warrior, spent many hours across the negotiating table from President Clinton in an attempt to walk away with, not what was perfect, but what was good. Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Reagan, et al knew that the perfect should be strived for, but should never be the enemy of the good. The good being that half a loaf when a whole loaf was not possible.
     This nation's history is saturated with compromise. In fact the very document which formed our government and society, the constitution, was birthed out of myriad of compromise. The constitutional convention that lead to that most sacred document was arguably the most contentious and compromising political event ever. The Founding Fathers were not in agreement as to how this new government should be formed. Their beliefs ran the gambit from not forming a new government at all (which Thomas Jefferson who was not in attendance advocated) to creating a system where there would be no states rights, only a sovereign federal government (which Alexander Hamilton and George Washington advocated).    
     Through the sweltering summer days of 1787 in a Philadelphia hall, the Founders of this great nation were moved by the spirit of compromise to form a government which would allow for the free exercise of the people's God-given rights, and yet still empower a central government to the extent it needed to be to protect those rights. Those wise men who gave us the greatest system of government ever devised did not do so out of a religious adherence to their individual beliefs, but out of the perspicacity that comes from compromise. Each one knew that half a loaf was better than no loaf.
     From that auspicious founding of this great nation forward, the greatest of our advances has come not from standing on the lofty perch of perfection, but from rolling up our sleeves and digging the foundation of reasoned solutions with the implement of compromise. Too many of us today have forgotten the lessons of our Founders, and have even recast them as men who held collective principles which they enshrined in our constitution. Instead it was the many deeply held and disparate beliefs of our Founders that came together in compromise that breathed life into the greatest document of change the world has ever seen.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Really Killed Tamir Rice?

     You may have heard about the Tamir Rice shooting death at the hands of Cleveland Police, namely officer Timothy Lohman. The media's and Black Lives Matter narrative is that the innocent 12 year old Tamir Rice was playing with his pellet gun in the park when officer Lohman gunned him down in cold blood, presumably because he hates black people like all cops do. The truth about how Tamir Rice met his most unfortunate death is as far from this narrative as the moon is from the earth.
But as has been the case with all recent police shootings of blacks, political reality trumps actual reality.
     The 5 foot 7 inch, 195 pound Tamir Rice did not have a pellet gun that day he was shot at Cadell Recreation Center, but an Airsoft pistol, sans the orange tip on the barrel, which Tamir had removed to make it look more like a Colt45. A man who worked at the center was so scared of the threatening way in which Tamir was pointing his weapon at pedestrians and cars, that he waited until Tamir's back was turned before he called police. The Cleveland police are well familiar with gun play and crime in the neighborhood of the Cadell Recreation Center, having been called there for both on a regular basis.
     When Officer Lohman and his partner arrived on the scene and told Tamir to put his hands up, Tamir reached into his waist band and pulled out the pistol. At which point the officer shot him, feeling that his life, the life of his partner, and the lives of innocent victims may be in jeopardy. Of course the media and the standard array of advocacy groups tried to make Tamir out to be the innocent victim of racist police, using his age but not his size. They showed a picture of him as a bright-eyed six year old, instead of the surly out-of-control gangster wannabe that he had grown into in the ensuing six years between the photo and his untimely death.
        The Cuyahoga County Sheriffs Department and the Ohio State Patrol both investigated the incident and cleared Officer Lohman of any wrong doing. At which point the anti-police county prosecutor, Tim McGinty, commissioned two independent, outside investigations of the incident. The results of those two investigations have found that Officer Lohman was justified in shooting Tamir Rice, fearing for his safety as well as the safety of others when Tamir drew his weapon on them. Of course, Prosecutor McGinty being a completely political being, is not convinced by the findings of the four investigations into the matter and is continuing to suggest bringing the case to a grand jury.
     The death of Tamir Rice was unfortunate. It was unfortunate that the 12 year old had the pistol to begin with. It is unfortunate that he removed the orange tip to make it look more like a real gun. It is unfortunate that he was threatening innocent people with that gun in the park that day. And it is unfortunate that when instructed by police to raise his hands, Tamir instead chose to raise his gun. But his death can not be attributed to bad policing, but to bad parenting. Just like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, etc. Unfortunately in our nation today police have been made the scape goats for uninvolved and non-committed parents.


Friday, October 9, 2015

The Myth of the Wage Gap Between the Sexes

     It is a wonder how out of touch with reality Democrat presidential candidates, et al are and still seem to garner support among the rank and file. Some things one will not hear from the Democrat cabal is the pathetic GDP growth this country has experienced over the last 7 years under Democrat guidance. A rate of growth in the U.S. economy that has struggled to reach 2%, when the post-WWII average has been 3.2% for the last 80 years. A participation in the labor force by working age adults that is at an almost 40 year low. And an explosion in food stamp participation and poverty unseen in this country since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And what are Democrats on the campaign trail concerned about? Wage inequality between men and women.
     Employers have been restricted by law since the mid-1960s from paying their female workers less than their male counterparts for the same work. Yet there has been several laws passed in recent years, most notably the Lilly Ledbetter Act, to address a non-existent problem. These laws have nothing to do with wage inequality experienced by women, and everything to do with Democrats codifying more opportunities for litigation for their supporters among the trail lawyers of this country.
     Those on the Left promulgating the notion that women make 70 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work is based on faulty "research." Primarily these studies all use 35 hours as a gage for full time work. But they do not distinguish between 35 hours and 50 hours for example. Both are considered full time. And since men in the same jobs work more hours than their female counterparts, they make more money. Women are more likely to work fewer hours because of maternity leaves, being primary caregivers to ageing parents, and taking off work to address issues with children.
     The other reality that the women-make-less-than-men crowd fail to acknowledge is that of the 10 college degrees with the lowest income potential, only one is dominated by men. And of the 10 college degrees with the highest income potential, only one is dominated by women. So women earn less than men, not because of some plot by business to devalue their contribution, but because they typically matriculate in professions that pay less. This reality is not considered by those who perform the studies that support the idea that women are paid less than men.
     Considering that any good businessman would take advantage of any cost-cutting opportunities he can, and if women were really paid 70 cents on the dollar to men, why would businesses not be totally populated by women workers? Of course a sensible question like that, and the statistics showing in some cases women making more than their male counterparts, does not advance the agenda of the Left and therefore are not considered. The Democrats' constituency group of plaintiff attorneys can not make much money suing businesses for paying too high of wages to women, and Democrat politicians can not make political hay from the truth that the wage disparity between the sexes does not exist.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Political Incorrectness: The Right's PC

     Anyone who has followed politics in recent years, or even has a cursory awareness of the same, understands the term political correctness. Although there is debate among some as to whether this political strategy is a function of the Left or the Right, most persons are aware of the basic principles behind the concept. Political correctness is not so much a political strategy as it is an ethos. The Greek definition of that word, the habits of the creature in his place, applying to those who practice political correctness on a regular basis.
     My simple definition of political correctness is the avoidance of debate on any subject with which  its practitioner can not defend with reason and logic. Although this practice has been in long standing in the world of progressives, going back to almost the beginning of that movement in the early 20th century, it has only retained the label of political correctness in the last few decades. And the case is certainly made and accepted by many that the practice of political correctness has been used to great effect by the Left to limit free speech on issues that they wish to impose on others without debate.
     But there is a sister ethos to the Left's political correctness on the Right. Being politically incorrect has actually become the Right's version of political correctness . The desire for our candidates and leaders to "blast," "destroy," and "devastate" in the most blunt and earthy terms possible, has the same effect as the Left's ethos of politically correct rhetoric. Before anyone reading starts accusing me of being "establishment" or a "Rino" and thus proving my point, allow me to explain my thesis further.
     If one accepts the concept that the goal of political correctness is to reject, without intellectual examination, an opposing view, then political incorrectness for the sake of being politically incorrect, has the same goal. I can not count the number of times I have been viciously attacked for simply suggesting a position that, while fact-based, veers off the plantation of what some consider to be conservatism. The goal with political incorrectness sometimes is to shut down speech that contradicts the practitioner's beliefs, just as it is with those who practice political correctness.
     The use of reason and the thoughtful examination of facts has always been to me one of the things that separated the Right from the Left. Conservatism is committed to the truth more than to its own ideology. At least that is the conservatism that I wish to practice, and the conservatism I learned watching, listening to, and reading those like Ronald Reagan, Jean Kilpatrick, William F. Buckley Jr., et al. I think the ethos-based ideology of political incorrectness can be just as dangerous as that of political correctness. They both have the same goal, i.e. to shut down the free exchange of ideas, whether those ideas come from someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum, or from someone right next door on that spectrum.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What About Our Anger?

     We have heard, especially on the Right, that there is much anger among the American people with our representatives in Washington. And even though culturally the United States has fallen short of the grand expectations for it held by our Founders, we have as a nation exceeded anything our Founders could have imagined economically. And although recent studies have shown that people are angry in general, the same studies show that those people are generally happy in and with their own lives. The solution to anger is not more anger, as some in the conservative movement seem to think.
     The general happiness in this country is not unfounded. We have, after all, created a country that has attained a level of prosperity and freedom unknown in the world today, let alone when our Founders put quill to parchment and birthed the very documents which made the aforementioned prosperity and freedom possible. The ability for the citizenry to pursue their happiness unfettered by overbearing government was so important a concept to our forefathers that they enshrined it in the original founding document for the new nation they were creating, the Declaration of Independence.
     Today that pursuit of happiness is being threatened by an administration whose values are antithetical to those that founded this great nation. And some feel that the two houses of congress created by the Founders to keep the Executive Branch in check have failed. Without outlining in great detail why that is not true, the greater issue is one of culture, not politics. The Founders never intended the constitution to be practiced by men who did not believe in its principles.
     There has been much talk recently, especially among some in the conservative movement, about a convention of states as a means to cure the ills of our federal government. The Article V convention, as it is called by some, is an end around congress in passing a constitutional amendment that is somehow going to magically restrain congress and repair the damage some think they have visited upon this country. Normally a constitutional amendment would need 2/3 approval from both houses of congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures to support it. The Article V end around requires 2/3 of the state legislatures to agree to a convention at which an amendment can be added to the constitution with 3/4 of those states agreeing.
     Those who push such a measure as an Article V convention have not been able to tell me what amendment they would propose that would solve this nation's problems, which I believe are cultural, not political. Additionally these same folks have not been able to articulate how they intend to get politicians in the state legislatures to act any differently from politicians in the federal legislature. And finally, the insistence on taking this magic pill of an Article V convention assumes, and wrongly so I might add, that all our problems are the result of career politicians. But these folks miss the point that this country was founded, and has been governed all of its existence, by career politicians.
     I feel that our history clearly showing the dominant role of career politicians in this nation's founding and progress can not be dismissed. The act of talk show hosts and first term senators lamenting about career politicians wrecking this nation is a diversion from the real problems we have as a nation. Problems which will not be repaired by a constitutional amendment or any other political solution. Our problems reach to the very foundations of our culture and will require patient, thoughtful, and intellectual solutions implemented over decades, and not just supporting candidates who justify our anger and make us feel righteous about it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Lefts Inconsistency in Blaming Inanimate Objects for Tragedy

     As per usual with a tragic situation, the bodies of the dead in Oregon had hardly reached room temperature and the screams of the terrorized injured had barely subsided before President Obama, et al latched onto the tragedy in an attempt to push a political agenda. The president made outrageous statements about the shootings in Oregon, just as he has done with every other shooting that has happened during his misguided presidency, which would lead one to believe that there was not a shooter at all. The president's characterization of the dead and injured was that they became that way as a result of the firearm used, not the human agency involved in the act.
     It is a fascination that reaches beyond the scope of reason how the Left in this country seamlessly takes the position that an inanimate object can do so much damage, seemingly without much involvement from the evil intent of a human being. No other object but a firearm receives this kind of desperately illogical analysis by the Left. If someone plays a musical instrument poorly, it is not the instrument which is blamed for the bad music. If a person paints a uninspiring picture, the Left does not blame the paints or the canvass. And a house or building that is shabbily built is not, in the opinion of those on the Left, the fault of the tools used.
     In every aforementioned case, as well as others, the blame for undesirable results is always blamed, as it should be, on the human agency involved. But somehow the gun, to the mind of those on the Left like our president, becomes like the magic flute in that children's fairytale. To those on the Left, firearms of every stripe have the ability to become animated on their own. Not only that, but they somehow have the influence and power over human beings to cause them to do evil. In the world of the Left, there is not human agency when it comes to firearms.
     If we were to carry the Lefts belief about guns to other areas, we would blame the computer for identity theft, the camera for child pornography, and slim jims for car break-ins. Unfortunately the Left is not an ideology of common sense. If it were, those on the Left would not become so exercised over these shootings, not because they are not tragic, but because the overall trend over the last 25 years has been a mitigation of gun violence, not an augmentation of it. In fact, as the nation has added almost 100 million guns in the last 25 years, gun violence has been cut in half, according to data from the Justice Department.
     The statistics also show, and the Left never acknowledges, that two thirds of all homicides committed with a firearm are suicides. I guess I will never understand the Left, who somehow have more compassion for nine lives in Oregon taken by a mentally ill evil man, than they do for the three thousand lives taken in the same day through this country's legal infanticide. Not only does the Left support the taking of those innocent lives, but the harvesting and selling of their body parts for profit. But then, it is not those Mengele-like doctors at Planned Parenthood who are to blame, but the medical instruments they use.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Whisper Sweet Nothings in My Ear Conservatism

     It has recently occurred to me that there are two main drawbacks to living one's political life in an echo chamber. The first is that in being constantly bombarded with one's own beliefs, the senses become dulled and flaccid. The second is that echoes never solidify into solutions, they just create more echoes. It disheartens me that so many of my fellow conservatives have chosen to firmly occupy space inside a political echo chamber, resisting any attempts by truth or common sense to extricate them from this vacuous crucible.
     It seems that some in the conservative movement have substituted the substance of solutions for the vapidity of sweet nothings being whispered in their political ear. They seem willing to ban the torpedoes of real solutions in favor of emotionalism spoken in a language their hearts understand, but which is foreign to their intellectual sensibilities. The whisper-sweet-nothings-in-my-ear form of politics is the only explanation I can find for the popularity of candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
     Both men say the things impressionable conservatives want to hear, yet in the echo chamber there is no room for the substance of results. There is only more and more echoes, building to a fevered and completely emotional pitch as one would experience at a Grateful Dead concert. In some cases the feeding of this echo chamber is characterized as "standing on principles." As if this is always a good thing. Sometimes the principles one stands on are not the right principles, then "standing on principles" is just pigheadedness for the sole sake of being pigheaded.
     Once one steps out of the echo chamber a whole world, brimming with ideas and solutions, can be realized. No more is the individual trapped in a relationship with self where political charlatans can advantage their political careers on the back of the individual's "principles." Not that principles are a bad thing, just the opposite. But principles that one never challenges are not principles as much as they are dogma. And dogma in politics is shorthand for achieving nothing.
     So I would implore my fellow conservatives to look at the good a candidate does and not whether they make you feel good. Step out of the echo chamber and intellectually process new information. It is only then that you will be able to truly see reality as it exists, not how you wished it existed. It is only then that you be able to see the destruction wreaked by the whisperers of sweet nothings in your ear, and your conservatism will be even stronger and more dynamic.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ted Cruz and the Art of Machismo Politics

     The more time that passes, the more it is evident that Senator Ted Cruz is the anit-politician. I do not say that as a compliment to Mr. Cruz, but as a recognition of it being a character flaw of the man. Polical skill has recently become a parahia on the Right among some conservatives. But political skill is how ideas, both conservate and Leftist ones, are transformed into public policy. No idea can be advanced in a representative republic without those representatives having political skill to guide them through a purposely complex process.
     One of the core tenets of political skill is being able to bring others who oppose you at least partially over to your side. A politician can not do this if he causes his fellow legislators to have acrimonious feelings towards him. This is true of the members of the other party, let alone members of one's own party. Mr. Cruz has not only turned off Democrats in the Senate, but also members of his own party. Not exactly a skillful way of advancing ideas to becoming policy.
     Ted Cruz seems more interested in the feel-good politics of "standing on principles," rather than actually achieving the end goals of those principles. It is what I call machismo politics. It can also be characterized as the puff-out-your-chest style of politics. Machismo politics does not follow the tenets of good political skill, i.e. coalition-building, but rather focuses attention and energy on the show of strength, instead of the hard work of winning minds and hearts of your own party as well as some members of the other.
     Mr. Cruz's favorite tool of machismo politics is the government shut down. This tactic has never worked to actually achieve the goal or purpose of the respective shut down, but it makes Mr. Cruz and his followers feel good. They can demarcate themselves from those who are not as morally superior in the other party, as well as in their own party, without ever having to face the consequence that their "standing on principle" has actually hurt their cause.
     The recent flap about funding for Planned Parenthood is a good example of a situation, that left to his own devices, would have seen Mr. Cruz shutting down the government. This would have had a two pronged effect. One, it would have taken the focus off the harvesting of organs by Planned Parenthood specifically and the abortion issue in general, which is a fight that conservatives are winning. Secondly, a shutdown would have placed focus on the actual shut down for which Republicans would have been blamed. Making the election of a Republican candidate in next year's presidential election less likely, and therefore making the defunding of Planned Parenthood less likely.
     But this is the other facet of machismo politics, the instant gratification that is gained by its practitioners by doing "something" now and not having to engage in the heavy lifting of implementing a longer term strategy. Politics is a tough business. One is constantly engaged in the convincing of others that your ideas are better, or at least worthy of consideration. Standing on the floor of the Senate and calling people liars and making public pronouncements that members of your own party are inextricably linked to the worst aspects of the other party, is not leadership politics, but machismo politics. And machismo politics is destructive, not only to one's own party, but to the nation as a whole.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Yin and the Yang of the Trump Tax Plan

     Presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled his tax plan yesterday, and unlike his plan for immigration or anything else, it actually had quite a bit of detail. Unfortunately that detail was a combination of populous pandering and commandeered shop-worn ideas of recent conservative thought on the subject of taxes. So I am in the position that I disagree with the former of Mr. Trump's plan, and agree with the latter. In other words, it may surprise some of my regular readers, I find myself at least in partial agreement with Donald Trump.
     I will engage in analysis on the dichotomy of my opinion on the Trump tax plan by first expanding on the parts of his plan with which I agree, and then follow it immediately with a counter part of his plan with which I disagree.
     The lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% is an idea that every Republican presidential candidate supports, and would indeed incentivize American business to remain in America and create American jobs. However, Mr. Trump's insistence on "punishing" business by taxing (read: tariffs) over-seas profits would mitigate the positive benefit of lowering the tax rate, and may quite possibly cause an economic downturn as the Smooth/Hawley legislation did that was signed by President Hoover in 1930.
      The Trump tax plan calls for the reduction of tax brackets from the current 7 or 8 to just 4. This simplification of the tax code is again something that every Republican presidential candidate supports. However, the manner in which Mr. Trump revises the current tax system puts more of the tax burden on fewer tax payers in order to garner him populous appeal with the middle-class. Mr. Trump has suggested just the opposite of what will make this country economically strong, i.e. narrowing the tax base instead of widening it.
     Under the Trump plan the top earners would pay a lower rate, but would pay a larger percentage of the total tax burden. Currently, about 38% of people pay no federal income tax at all, under the Trump plan that would increase to around 50%. This means that those who are paying taxes will necessarily shoulder more of the burden. And many of those are business owners who will be less likely to hire workers. Not to mention that every study that has been done on tax cuts clearly shows that cuts in the middle and the bottom have very little stimulating effect on the economy. Cuts at the top end, according to the studies, provide the biggest shot-in-the-arm to economic growth.
     Mr. Trump does call for the repeal of the inheritance tax (death tax), but again, all conservatives, and most certainly all the Republican presidential candidates, are in favor of this. The Trump tax plan is designed more to garner support for the candidacy of Donald Trump than it is to implement a pro-growth, fair tax system that this country desperately needs. His plan perpetuates and augments the current system which has the top 5% of wage earners paying 70% of the federal taxes in this country. This is not only a dis-incentive to growth, but it is inherently unfair and not conservative. But then coming from a man who was a Democrat up until 10 minutes ago, I am not surprised.


Monday, September 28, 2015

The Boehner Resignation and the Radicalization of the Tea Party

     Since Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced his retirement at the end of last week, I have listened and read the cacophony of criticism against him, and the joy his resignation brings to some of the more extreme aspects of the conservative movement. Not that Mr. Boehner has been a great Speaker, but nor has he been the failure that some in our Party have tried to cast him as. I think in judging Mr. Boehner's performance as Speaker, one must recount the demands of conservatives from before the Republicans were given the majority in the House of Representatives.
     The group that many see as the true conservatives in the party is the Tea Party. At its inception in the early part of 2009, when it was germinated by the words of Rick Santelli of CNBC, and spawned by the extreme actions of the new president, the Tea Party was about restraining federal spending. The name was an acronym that represented the words Taxed Enough Already. I supported the Tea Party and its goals of reigning in government spending.
     Most conservatives will tell anyone who will listen that the Republicans were given the majority in the House in the 2010 mid-terms specifically to repeal ObamaCare. But the even larger issue at the time, for anyone who is interested in an accurate recounting of history, was the out-of-control spending by the federal government. The annual budget deficit was almost one and a half trillion dollars, with no end in sight. And President Obama and his Democrat majorities in both houses of congress were hell-bent on letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2011, which would have meant an immediate tax increase for 99% of working Americans.
     In steps John Boehner as the newly elected Speaker of the House with a comfortable Republican majority in that body. Over the next four and a half years Mr. Boehner and his Republican caucus saved the Bush tax cuts from expiring, thus helping 99% of Americans to keep more of their own money and removing another threat to the economy from a president who seemed committed to destroying it. Mr. Boehner and his majority also did exactly what members of the Tea Party, et al were screaming for them to do, i.e. they cut the budget deficit by 70%, and cut federal spending the most any congress had since the Eisenhower administration.
     The two aforementioned accomplishments should have been enough to at least garner Mr. Boehner a certain amount of respect from all Wings of his Party. The fact that he orchestrated 40 votes to repeal ObamaCare, passed over 300 pro-growth bills (80% of which had bi-partisan support), passed and got President Obama to sign the most far reaching anti-human trafficking bill ever, worked with President Obama to pass a trade bill which the president's own party was against as well as one of the most strident Democrat constituencies (the unions), and he stopped the president on legislation such as card check and carbon credits, should have earned him at least a competent grade from conservatives.
     Some have criticized Mr. Boehner (as well as Mr. McConnell) for not defunding Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has been federally funded since 1970, and it is only since the surfacing of videos showing its practice of harvesting baby parts for sale that conservatives have been so vocally against its funding. The defunding battle is one in which there can not be success for conservatives until there is a Republican president who will not use his veto power against it. The fight to defund Planned Parenthood is a worthy battle, the strategy of allowing a government shut-down is not worthy of the fight. That is why the National Right to Life organization is against it.
     The fulfillment of the original goals of the Tea Party, and their subsequent moving of the goal posts to ever more unrealistic goals, has come at a cost (at least in my mind) of their legitimacy as a voice for the conservative movement. They began on the Right side of the political ideology circle, but have moved so far Right on that circle that they now occupy a space on the Left side of it. We allow our emotions to dictate our politics at our own risk. And when we engage in the absolutism of making what is perfect the enemy of what is good, we hurt our cause and the cause of Liberty in this great country. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

You Are a Member of the Establishment If...

     Words are funny things. Their definition can fluctuate depending on the person using them. In the world of politics, words are used to advance an agenda or cause the retreat of an opposing agenda. Even for those on the same side of the political ideology circle, words can be used to demarcate persons who are "true" to the ideology from those who are pretenders to it. One of the most overused words on the Right is establishment. It is used by many as a pejorative against those with whom they disagree on one issue or another.
     Writing this blog and commenting on social media about political issues has exposed me to being too conservative for some and too far Left for others. I have found the most harsh criticisms have emanated from those with whom I agree with on a majority of the issues facing this nation. I have been called derogatory names for even suggesting reason in the face of ideology, and rationale in response to unbridled political zeal. For anyone reading this who are not clear as to whether they are part of the establishment, or part of the politically pure unadulterated Right, following is a list of issues and the appropriate responses for anyone interested in avoiding the dreaded label of establishment.
     Illegal Immigration: If you believe in any solution to this problem short of mass deportation and the building of a huge wall on our southern border, you are a member of the establishment.
     Muslims in America: If you do not believe that every member of the Muslim faith are head-chopping, women-abusing, Sharia-law imposing, pedophiliacs, and bestiality-practicing evil bastards, you are a member of the establishment.
     President Obama: If you do not believe that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim hell bent on destroying America because he was born in Kenya and never actually achieved the academic accomplishments he said he did, you might be part of the establishment.
     Government Shut-Downs: If you do not believe that the constitution gives the right and authority to congress to shut down and defund parts of government in order to advance a political agenda when your Party is in the majority, you may be part of the establishment.
     Congressional Republican Leadership: If you do not believe that Republican leadership in the House and the Senate are exact copies of Democrats, and have done nothing but support the Obama agenda, and you further refuse to ignore the 70% cut in the deficit among other accomplishments, you are a member of the establishment.
     Term-Limits: If you believe in the vision of the Founders for a legislature consisting of duly elected individuals with no restrictions of choice put upon the voters, and you support the self-government model which does not impose term limits on members of congress, you are a member of the establishment.
     Well there you have it, a partial list of some issues which will allow you to determine if you indeed are part of the establishment or not. For further evidence of membership in the establishment, just tune into your nearest self-proclaimed leader of the conservative movement. There is no shortage of these folks on talk radio, on cable TV, or on social media. If you have any confusion about your matriculation into the establishment, these helpful folks will set you straight.   

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Does The Holy Father Know?

     Pope Francis has embarked on his adventure to the United States of America, and in so doing has received both accolades and admonitions from both the Left and Right. The Left does not like his talk of religious freedom and pro-life convictions, and the Right does not like his advocacy for global warming and wealth redistribution. It is hard to understand where this Pope stands on the issues, or maybe more to the point, he should not stand anywhere except keeping alive the message of Jesus Christ, of whom he is suppose to be the direct successor.
     It is easy for the Pontiff to criticize capitalism in America, remain silent on communism in Cuba, and preach wealth distribution as a means to solve poverty in the world. I say it is easy because it really does not affect the Holy Father one bit. He, like many in the clergy hierarchy of the Catholic church live cloistered lives, not so much participating in the world, but watching from a different planet and passing judgment. The Vicar of Christ has traded the simple robes and sandals of a savior for the opulence of Vatican City and the protection from the outside world it offers.
     So, for instance, it costs Pope Francis nothing to give stern warnings about America taking in refugees from around the world, because he knows that Vatican City will not be held to the same standard. It is quite effortless for Francis to advocate for distributing others wealth around the world when his lifestyle will not be impacted by such a redistribution. Somehow the Church, and most notably Vatican City, will escape the rigors of redistribution and receiving immigrants, legal or illegal.
     Pope Francis can play the compassionate man of God while having personal chefs and drivers. He can preach to others about "social justice" while not getting his hands dirty by speaking against the specific injustice of the atrocities being committed against his flock by members of a different faith. He can preach the false gospel of man-made climate change because it is easier than dealing forthrightly with abortion, and the murdering and organ harvesting done by those who support this barbaric practice. The Pontiff lives in his bubble of misperception spoon-fed to him by his handlers and  advisors.
     Growing up Catholic I was taught that the Pope was infallible on matters of faith. Of course back then the Pope's pointy hat did not tilt to the Left. Pope Francis has not only limited himself to matters of faith, but has made political pandering part of the faith. His virtual removal from the real world is necessarily a result of his position. He has no more concept of the world's problems, and apparently the difference between good systems of government from evil systems of government, as does a small child or an alien from another planet.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Get Rich Quick With Donald Trump?

     I have been trying to put my finger on the appeal of Donald Trump to some on the Right. Many say they support him because he says what is on his mind unvarnished by political correctness. That characterization would apply to every loud-mouth drunk I have ever met in a bar. Others say that it is because he is an "outsider" to the world of politics. I guess these folks do not consider someone an insider who has proudly admitted to "buying" politicians. Still others site Mr. Trump's business acumen as a reason to elect him president.
     As compelling as the above reasons are for some to support the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, I think they ignore what I believe to be the reason for his zealot devotees. I am convinced the support for Mr. Trump is a cultural character flaw in our society. That flaw is the get-rich-quick mentality to which many in this nation have fallen prey. The idea that cultural issues which have germinated over the last 100 years can be resolved by one candidate, one election, or an unyielding position on one issue.
     The contrast between The Donald's simplistic understanding of the trouble plaguing this nation, and the clear-eyed articulation by Carly Fiorina that our political malaise is rooted in a cultural one, was no more evident than it was in Wednesday night's Republican debate. Ms. Fiorina expressed not only her knowledge of political and geopolitical issues of the day, but that our country has succumbed to the cultural rot of Leftism. If Donald Trump is the get-rich-quick candidate, Carly Fiorina is the more sensible and realistic wealth-building-over time candidate.
     I have stated many times that the lottery mentality of many in this country has infected our politics with a sense of the quick fix syndrome. The quick fix syndrome as it relates to our culture seeks to repair decades of damage by the Left in one Feld swoop. Many see the embodiment of that swoop in the bombastic rhetoric of Donald Trump. This mentality is the same one which leads many to substitute long term financial planning with the false hope that they will someday win the lottery.
     The trading of substance for style in which many of my fellow Republicans have engaged by supporting Mr. Trump is analogous to those who invest their life savings in penny stocks, hoping they will appreciate so rapidly in value as to make them millionaires over night. As any investment broker worth his weight will tell you, investing in established companies over time is the best road to a successful retirement. The temptation of Trump supporters to risk their vote and the country's future on the flashy penny stock known as Donald Trump is great. Especially with the predicament in which we currently find ourselves at this point in history.
     The best road to a prosperous and more free future for the United States is paved, not with words of invective and acrimony, but with the ideas that flow from thoughtful, well-informed candidates. After all, get-rich-quick schemes almost never pay dividends, whether one is investing their hard earned money or their vote.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is Power of the Purse a Constitutional Concept?

     One of the biggest complaints from some on the Right in the conservative movement is that their elected representatives in congress have not done enough, or even all they can, to stop the Obama agenda. The charge against Republican leadership in the House and Senate is that they roll over for President Obama. Evidentiary to that charge is that Republican leadership refuses to use the power of the purse to stop the Obama agenda. I counted myself in that camp until I realized the hypocrisy of that well-intentioned position.
     The very same persons who claim constitutional fidelity in opposing much of the Obama agenda seem to have no problem being infidels to that very constitution as it applies to their own agenda, right or wrong. If we as conservatives say we want to hold the president, any president, and congress, any congress, to the principles of the constitution as they relate to enumerated powers, we must hold ourselves to the same standard.
     Primarily, the constitution gives the authority of raising revenue, laying taxes and imposts, and paying the debts of the United States to the House of Representatives. The Senate of the United States has a secondary role in the revenue process insomuch as it can add amendments to such bills. The framers of the constitution felt that all fiscal matters should at least originate in the House because it was closer to people than the Senate. This of course was before the Founders' purpose for the Senate was bastardized by the 17th amendment by allowing popular election of its members.
     There is no such wording as power of the purse present in the United States constitution. And even that oft used phrase has morphed from the congress' responsibility to pay the nation's debts to meaning they have some constitutional power, which does not exist, to defund of their own accord outside the legislative process, or even shut down parts of the government over policy disagreements with the president.
     As conservatives we are right to question and criticize any president who oversteps his constitutional boundaries. But we are also bound by the same document, whose enumerated powers gives congress certain authorities and responsibilities, none of which includes withholding payments for government functions with which we do not agree. The Founders' never intended for the authority to pay the nation's bills to be used as a political tool against a president from an opposing Party. And we run the risk of engaging in hypocrisy when we claim such powers, and then spew invective at members of congress for actually following the constitution by not exercising those fallacious authorities.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Illegal Immigration: The Cancer of the Republican Party

     The presidential election of 2016 would have been a coronation for the Republican nominee. The average voter being at the end of their rope with the lawless Obama administration and the virtually no-growth economy. A coronation, that is until Donald Trump, et al misdirected the Republican electorate away from every other issue that is plaguing this nation except illegal immigration. Not that illegal immigration is not a problem for this country, however, it is an issue, more than any other I have seen, which has been dominated by emotion displacing reality.
     Real debate about solutions to this nation's illegal immigration problem has been replaced by invective doled out by the Trump-ites aimed at anyone who disagrees with anything short of mass deportation of upwards of 11 million persons. Every other well intentioned position is characterized as amnesty by those who are too politically simplistic or intellectually lazy to engage in an honest analysis of the problem and consider any other action but the aforementioned mass deportation.
      The Kato Institute (a well respected Libertarian think tank) has recently completed an exhaustive study on the illegal immigration problem. Their findings will, I am sure, earn them the ire and acrimony of the deport-them-all crowd. But one of the tenets of conservatism is a pursuit and respect for the truth, whether that truth supports the conservative ideology or not. The Kato Institute's findings are in opposition to some of the fanciful rhetoric being spread like manure by a particular Republican presidential candidate and his votaries. But as someone once said, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."
     Kato has found that even with the well publicized child migration of some 15 months ago, the illegal immigrant population in this country has actually decreased in the last ten years. That, by the way, was the last time we had an economy growing at more than the pathetic 2% it has been since President Obama was inaugurated. Kato has found that the illegal immigration population has shrank by several million in that period.
     Further findings of the Kato study show that the illegal immigrants who are in this country have a lower unemployment rate, and rate of welfare use, than those persons actually born in this country. Poking more holes in the delicate fabric of the deport-them-all crowd's argument for such an action. Many illegals, almost half, entered the country legally and have simply overstayed their visas. Many more have been here for more than a decade and have jobs, have raised families, and even own property.
     Kato has also found that the incarceration rates for illegal immigrants is actually lower than for those who were native born to this country. Further alienating the deport-them-all crowd from the actual facts. I do not intend to suggest that illegal immigration is not a problem, only that the fallacy that binds the argument of the deport-them-all crowd has caused them to be zealots against those on their own side of the aisle with respect to 80% of the other issues facing this country.
     The cancer of extremism clothed in misconceptions, manufactured realities, and downright lies is eating away at the Republican Party like a cancer. If not stopped, and some reason brought to the discussion, we will not only lose next November's election, but very possibly any opportunity to recover the nation from the oppression of Socialism in which we have been sinking evermore quickly.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thoughts of Memorial On This 9-11 Anniversary

     I have recently taken a job where I am instructing 16 year olds. One thought that has occurred to me during the time I have spent with them is how very long it has been since I was that age. A second thought that has pierced its way into my conscious thoughts is that these bright-eyed youths have no memory of a pre-911 world. This is especially salient to me on this, the 14th anniversary of the worst attack on American soil by a foreign power since the British invaded and burned Washington DC to the ground during the War of 1812.
     As I have listened to the memorializing on radio and elsewhere, and the almost mandatory recounting of each person's recollection of that horrible morning, I can not help but think of those teens in my class. What must they think of their elders' painful and tortured retelling of an event which to them is as ancient a historical marker as Pearl Harbor was to my generation? After all, to them this day is filled with the immediate concerns over that math test in second period, whether the object of their affections returns those affections, and hoping they pass their drivers' examine.
     Of course fourteen years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was a decade removed from the end of hostilities between us and them. Today's remembrances are a mile marker on the road of our struggle with the enemy that attacked us 14 years ago, not a look back at the highway of that battle that we have long ago exited. There is no memorial celebration knowing that we were ultimately victorious over our attackers. There is only the stale taste of our strife with an enemy that only seems to grow stronger and more resolved.
     Many on this day have chosen to mark the anniversary of the 14 year old act of war as if it were a battle from some distant conflict. Others have chosen to relive the event as if somehow they can recapture the minutes and hours before those aircraft, guided by their terrorist masters, plunged us headlong into a dark and barbarically murderous future. But then history always moves forward, never backwards. And we must live through the history we are given, day by day, conflict by conflict.
     It is important to remember the significance of this anniversary of 9-11, and pay cognitive homage to the awareness that this struggle, and this war, has not ended. But it is also important to understand that we have been changed irrevocably as a country, those of us that lived through that day as adults, and those who have no personal memory of that day.
     I have tried to place myself into the mindset of growing up in a post-911 America, I cannot. I went through that day, and the days of aftermath that followed. Those students in my class did not. To them the post-911 world, as chaotic as it may seem, is perfectly natural. Every generation is somehow changed by events from the previous generation. And each one in its own way loses some of the innocence that is associated with youth as defined by the older generation. So on this anniversary of 9-11 allow yourself the memorial of your experience. But be careful not to deny others with disparate experiences the reaction to this day that that experience requires of them. Even if it is no memorial at all.