Friday, July 31, 2015

Incivility Vs. Passion

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ted Cruz: A Modern Day Napolean

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trump Campaign Illustrative Of Cultural Weakness

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Liberty's Silent Killer

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Hindenburg Candidacy Of Donald Trump

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Ghost Of Their Ship

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Moral Bankruptcy Of The Left

     It is not that the Left has different morals from the Right, it is that the whole notion of morals is anathema to the modernity of Leftist thought. The deluding of oneself that morality does not exist outside the reach of the state, fairly puts into context the ideology of Leftism. One can not support and promote ubiquitous government programs, and the use of those programs to advocate fairness, equality, and "a level playing field," and still be tethered by moral moorings. At least not the moral moorings of the Judeo/Christian tradition or even that of natural law and common sense.
     It is morally bankrupt to believe that one solves issues of poverty by empowering government to make the wealthy less so in an effort to enrich the poor. For government can not create wealth but only confiscate it, and in so doing it mitigates that wealth's ability to promote economic growth and the creation of jobs. Even a million dollars placed into a savings account gives the bank who holds that money the ability to loan out 10 million dollars as a result of fractional banking. That same million dollars given to government has only about 100 thousand dollars impact on the economy because of the costs associated with bureaucracy.
     It is morally bankrupt to advocate for same sex couples (and presumably any combination of humans who "love" each other) to marry. This position suggests there is no difference between the sexes, and therefore they are interchangeable in the millennia-old tradition of marriage, which is the bedrock of civilized society. There is no morality in the notion that men as fathers and women as mothers provide no specialty to raising children, and that that function can be performed just as aptly by any two adults.
     It is morally bankrupt to allow, and even encourage infanticide because an unwanted pregnancy is an "inconvenience." It is especially morally bankrupt to turn a blind eye to the harvesting of organs from murdered fetuses to enrich an organization like Planned Parenthood. The barbarity of abortion, the killing of a unique human being, is practiced by the Left with reckless abandon, and even funded by taxpayer dollars, many of whom are opposed to this murderous practice. It is unfathomable in any civilized and moral society that such an inhumane and disgusting industry could be allowed to thrive.
     It is morally bankrupt to encourage the weeds of government to flourish in the garden of Liberty, choking off the fruits of freedom. There can be no greater moral bankruptcy than to limit the opportunities of some to participate fully in the pursuit of their happiness in exchange for electoral support for those who are wholly responsible for such limitations. And the greatest moral bankruptcy expresses itself in the continued advocating of systems of government that have not only failed spectacularly, but have caused more death and misery than any religion, ideology, or ethos in the long history of man.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Deal To Give Iran The Bomb

     Early this morning, while three quarters of the country was still asleep, President Obama announced the nuclear deal he and his team inked with Iran. President Obama, like a schoolboy with bad grades trying to hide his report card from his parents, made the early morning appearance and recounted the brilliance of his deal-making. However, like so much we have seen from this administration, reality is a tortured prisoner locked away in a dungeon of obfuscation and political rhetoric of the worst kind.
     When this deal-making process began between the largest state sponsor of terror in the world, Iran, and the United States and its allies, Iran had thirteen red lines that they would not cross in any deal, the United States had three. The deal that was finally agreed to saw Iran not violating any of its thirteen red lines, and the United States violating all three of theirs. The Obama negotiating team, lead by the most feckless Secretary of State since Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, proved itself to be a glittering jewel of colossal fecklessness.
     The Iranians give up nothing and receive in return $140 billion in frozen assets, which I am sure they will not be using for shovel ready infrastructure jobs in their country. Their funding of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations had been feeling the squeeze of international sanctions which froze their assets in foreign institutions. But along comes Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry to save the day and infuse Iran with enough cash to fund terrorist activities for years to come.
     The anytime-anywhere inspections that are part of this agreement are anything but. In order for an inspection to go forward it must be approved by a committee upon which sits members of the Iranian government. This process that the president is so sanguine about could take up to a month to implement, in which time the Iranians could simply move operations from the target of inspection to a different location. It was described by one expert as a criminal being consulted about an impending search warrant and given a month to move his contraband.
      The worst part of this deal is thanks to Bob Corker and his Bill, the president does not need the 2/3 vote of the senate required by the constitution to approve any treaty. The Corker Bill, if one remembers, turned that constitutional requirement on its head and put the onus on congress to muster 2/3 vote to reject the treaty after the president vetoes their initial rejection of the deal. This makes the dangerous deal the president signed with Iran even more likely than it would have been had the constitution been followed.
     If this deal does pass muster and is implemented, in one fell swoop President Obama will have done more to destabilize the Middle East and the world than any world leader of the last 100 years. It will be the start of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East never before seen. Sources have said that Saudi Arabia is already on the phone to Pakistan trying to secure nuclear arms to protect itself from what they know to be a rogue nation, and now thanks to Barack Obama, Iran is a rouge nation that will more than likely be nuclear tipped in the near future.       

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why We Do Not Need A Business Man/Woman As President

     Let me state for the record that I am not sanguine about electing someone President of the United States who has no experience holding elected office. I believe that electing someone like Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, or Donald Trump would be a recipe for disaster. The lack of experience on each of those individuals' part in operating a government entity of any size is, I believe, a detriment to success in each case. As vociferous as some are about trying to equate government with business, thereby making the case for a Trump or a Fiorina as a wise presidential choice, those two entities could not be any different.
     The primary difference between government and business, and the reason they should be separated from each other as much as possible, is that government can make laws and implement regulations that can have either a deleterious or enhancing effect on the lives of the average citizen; business can not. We have seen the outcome of business leaders when they are given the power to have monopolized control over a part of people's lives. In some cases they operate with more venality than elected politicians.
     Getting back to the business choices in the Republican primary, i.e. Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina. While the former may have more wealth than the latter, the latter actually has experience more closely related to government than the former. Donald Trump runs his empire with an almost dictatorial abandon, not having any real board of directors or shareholders to which he must answer. Ms. Fiorina ran one of the largest technology companies in the world, Hewlett Packard, and had to please a board of directors, much like a mini-congress, and shareholders, much like the American voter.
     And of all the accolades the Trump supporters heap on him as a qualification for being president, the wealth building is the least impressive. If we are to believe the often times dishonest Mr. Trump, his total wealth is 9 billion dollars. Which is fairly impressive. But when one considers that he started out in 1971 with 400 million dollars from his father, and considering that the stock market sat at 836, if that money had been invested in an indexed fund over the same time period it would be worth more than the 9 billion dollars Mr. Trump brags about today. At least Ms. Fiorina did not begin life with a silver spoon in her mouth and actually worked her way up from secretary to CEO.
     As I began this post saying, I do not think it would be perspicacious for the American voter to elect as president someone with no electoral experience. It would be analogous to making someone CEO of a multi-billion dollar company with no experience or expecting them to perform delicate surgery with no medical experience. This country needs a principled leader who has worked with elected legislatures to enact positive change for their constituents. A successful governor would be my first choice, but an experienced senator might also fill the bill. Someone who has taken a fortune and made a bigger fortune, not always by democratic means, would not even make it on my radar of choices for the highest elected office in the land.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Is America a Greece In Waiting?

     As the financial meltdown continues in Greece, some in this country have made a habit of warning that the United States is just a couple of steps behind. The reasons for Greece's inability to pay its debts are varied, but the overwhelming driver is a fulfillment of Margaret Thatcher's brilliant but simple reason socialism fails, i.e. "Eventually you run out of other people's money." Greece has been essentially living off the money of its European Union partners for many years, and as the saying goes, it is time to pay the fiddler.
     But could what is happening in Greece because of debt happen to the United States? The reasoned answer to that question is an almost guaranteed "No." It is true that Greece's debt is 170% of their Gross Domestic Product and the United States debt is about 100% of its GDP. Some of those spelling economic doom for the U.S. based on what has happened in Greece also point to the Greek citizens' expanding dependence on government and high unemployment as corollaries present in the U.S. that will produce our own Greek tragedy.
     But corollaries can not be mistaken for causation. And just because some of the factors present in Greece have a similar presence in the United States does not mean there is automatically a law of equal outcomes. It is true that the United States government has taken on far to much debt, but the Greek debt at 170% of their GDP does not bare a close relationship to the United State's debt of 100% of its GDP. The total GDP of Greece is the size of Miami proper. The smaller the economy the greater it will be affected by debt, and the larger an economy the more debt to GDP it can withstand. In other words there is no economic comparison to be made between the largest economy in the world, the United States, and one of the smallest, Greece.
     Another major difference between Greece and the U.S. is that Greece gave up its currency to sign onto the Euro. They then went on a spending spree, mostly for pensions and entitlements. Since the Greeks are unable to devalue their currency to spur economic growth, because they are chained to the exchange rate of the Euro, their economy is destined to continue its tailspin. The United States dollar is the reserve currency around the world. Zimbabwe recently abandoned their currency and chose instead the U.S. dollar. Throughout the world the dollar is still the most accepted currency, and that is not going to change anytime soon.
     So while it is a very populist idea to proffer impending doom and collapse of the United States economy based on minor similarities it has with Greece, the prediction of economic malaise for the U.S. on the level seen in Greece does not bare closer examination of the facts. As many people that are unemployed in America, she has a long way to go to catch the Greek unemployment rate of 27% in the general population and 50% among Greeks under 30. Those pushing the notion that the U.S. is on a Greek course to economic doom also like to say China is somehow going to replace the U.S as the economic leader of the world. That is not very likely, especially with China's recent economic collapse of their own. Other nations do not trust China enough to make their currency the reserve currency and the Chinese markets have collapsed in recent weeks.
     The reasons are many that what has happened in Greece can not happen in the United States; the U.S. dollar is desired and accepted all over the world, we are able to control our money supply ourselves, we still have one of the least corrupt and most stable governments in the world, and we have the strongest military. That last data point people do not often think about as being a metric for a strong currency, but it is very important to other nations of the world when choosing the dollar as their reserve.  
     None of what I have said is in any way meant to say that things are just peachy here in the United States, they are not. The federal government must get spending under control and begin to pay off its rather colossal debt. Far too many Americans are unemployed or under employed, and the nation's economy has been stagnant far too long. But the U.S. economy is so diverse and large that it would be very unlikely that an economic collapse on par with Greece could happen. Even an economic collapse similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s would be highly unlikely, the economy then was still very much an agrarian one and today there are hundreds of industries that did not even exist then.
     So be concerned but not fearful. Many of those proffering the "U.S. is Greek in waiting" scenario are pushing a political agenda or trying to stoke fear in order to sell gold. The United States is still an exceptional nation, and none of the Marxists in their enclaves in Manhattan, Washington D.C., or Chicago are going to change that or corral the spirit of freedom that exists in the vast heartland of this great country.    

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Candidacy Of "Walls and Balls"

     Let me say at the onset of this blog post that I do not disagree with Donald Trump's position on illegal immigration, just his method of delivering that position. This country does not need another couple of thousands of pages of new immigration legislation to solve its ever growing illegal immigration epidemic. What is needed is stronger security on the southern border, at least as strong as it is on the northern border, and muscular enforcement of the immigration laws already on the books. This may seem like an oversimplification, but does it not strike anyone else as odd that on our border with Canada, which has a more stable government and more prosperous economy than Mexico, the United States provides more security?
     But back to my problem with Mr. Trump's approach, again stressing how much I agree with his evaluation of how serious the U.S. illegal immigration situation has become. In my opinion the crass and inarticulate manner in which Donald Trump has attacked the real problem of illegal immigration is a disqualification for him to ever be president of the United States. Instead of Mr. Trump attacking the deliberate lax enforcement of immigration laws and the support by Hillary Clinton and most of the rest of the Democrat Party for sanctuary cities, he instead attacks those flooding over the southern border in a mad dash for jobs and benefits.
     Knowing the political climate in this country on this issue (or maybe he is obtuse to what the rest of us clearly see), Mr. Trump has declared himself a target and offered no real solution or opportunity to fix the illegal immigration problem. His position seems to consist of "Build a big, high wall and make the Mexicans pay for it." If he has offered just one solution on how to accomplish that or enforce U.S. immigration laws more forcefully, I have not heard it. Where does he stand on E-check or heavy penalties to those companies that hire illegals? None of these blank areas in his policy seems to bother his rabid supporters.
     I have been absolutely dumbfounded by the number of conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, who have hopped on the Donald Trump bandwagon based on this one sketchy and badly articulated position. These Svengalied conservatives seem not to care about any other position that Mr. Trump may hold, or even if he holds any at all. They like that he has, in the parlance of the times, "Balls."  Arguably, of all the Republican candidates running, Mr. Trump has the sparsest platform. It sends a chill up my spine to think that conservatives who rightly mocked the vacuous "Hope and Change" candidacy of Barack Obama seem set to elect a man president whose candidacy is based on the vapidity of "Walls and Balls."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Donald Trump: The Cliff Clavin Of Politics

     Some of you may remember the NBC situation comedy from the 1980s called "Cheers." The show centered around a bar owned by a former Major League pitcher name Same Malone, who also was a recovering alcoholic. Sam held court nightly and  engendered the respect and idol worship of the losers who drank at his bar for as many hours as they worked or spent time with their families, and sometimes more. One of the regular patrons of Cheers was a talkative mailman named Cliff Clavin. Cliff was never one to be at a loss for words on any subject, unfortunately he usually knew less about the subjects on which he claimed to be an expert than the poor victims of his bloviating.
     Presidential candidate Donald Trump reminds me of Cliff Clavin. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Clavin are so starved for attention they are willing to make complete fools of themselves just to be noticed. And just like Cliff Clavin, Donald Trump sometimes allows his mouth to get a generous head start over his brain when he speaks publicly. And just like Mr. Clavin, Mr. Trump's lack of self awareness prevents him from understanding that most people view him as a circus clown rather than a serious intellectual.
     Cliff Clavin did have a certain quality to him that sometimes made one almost feel sorry for him when acid-tongued waitress Carla would zing him with one of her toxic insults. Donald Trump also has a quality that almost makes serious people feel sorry for him when he embarrasses himself in public and draws the ire of friend and foe alike. Of course Cliff Clavin did not have the money that Donald Trump has, so he was unable to buy friends and the support of people who would laugh and walk on by him if he was poor and said the same things.
     Donald Trump is similar to Cliff Clavin in one more way, you never quite knew what Cliff actually thought about a subject or where he stood, just like Trump. For all of Cliff's bluster and bloviating, his listener never really came away with any more of a deeper understanding of who Cliff was or what he really thought, just like Donald Trump. But then Donald Trump does not look at running for president as an educative process but a entertaining one, just as Cliff's role in the bar, even if he did not see it that way.
     So I would implore my fellow conservatives to enjoy the Trump show for its entertainment value, but do not expect that he will be around very long after the primaries start the beginning of next year. Sooner or later the Republican primary voters and common sense will cancel the Trump show and he will only be available in reruns.

The Emperor's Naked Economy

     Two economic data bits were released this week which illuminates a malaise in our economy that has not been seen since maybe the Great Depression of the 1930s. Earlier this week the number of layoffs for the month of June came in at some 46, 000, a full 40% higher than June of 2014. And today it was announced that this pathetic economy, supposedly in recovery, created only 223,000 new jobs. But what is worse, the Workforce Participation Rate (which measures the percentage of working aged adults working or looking for work, i.e. people in the workforce) has dropped to 62.6%.
     When Barack Obama became president in January 2009, the Workforce Participation Rate stood at 65.7%, a full three percentage points higher than the current rate. This is an unprecedented drop in so short a time, and the current level is the lowest it has been since the Carter years of the late 1970s. As the Workforce Participation Rate shrinks, the headline unemployment number (which does not count those who have stopped looking for work because the job market is so bad) also decreases because their are fewer people in the job market in total.
     Not only are there fewer people looking for work and actually working, but the number of new jobs created six years into this supposed recovery has barely kept pace with historical averages since the end of WWII. During economic recoveries job growth spikes, the worst the recession, the more jobs are created in the recovery. During the Reagan recovery of the 1980s the economy saw months in which almost a million jobs were created. During the past six years job growth has not even averaged 200,000 jobs a month.
     And if all of the previous data is not illustrative of a severely enervated job market, the number of unemployed adults in the U.S. now stands north of 92 million, an all time record high. The reason for the pathetically weak job market is the pathetically weak economy. The Gross Domestic Product of the United States actually shrank in the first quarter by 2 tenths of one percent. This shrinkage comes on the heels of six years of below the post WWII average of 3.2% per quarter. Again, the GDP should grow at 4-5% a quarter during a recovery, and at a greater rate during a recovery from a severe recession. During the Reagan recovery the economy saw some quarters growing at 6-7%.
      So while the Obama administration crows about how well they have stewarded the "worst economy in 70 years," ask the 92 million unemployed or the 50 million on food stamps how that stewardship has improved their lives. Unless one thinks fewer jobs, more illegal immigrants, higher health care costs, higher fuel costs (remember gas was $1.75 gallon in 2009), and less growth in the economy is somehow an improvement. But then there were all those people who thought a naked emperor was wearing clothes.