Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Mind is Made Up.


My mind is made up, and nothing you say or do will ever alter my opinion.  So it is in the world today.  Everyone knows what they know, and if someone else believes something different then they are wrong.  Think about it.  Pick a topic, any topic and tell me why what you believe is right, or why the other side is wrong.  For most they may be able to articulate what they believe, but how about articulating why the opposite may be valid?  No, much better to spend the time in condemnation, vilifying the other side as un-American, un-Patriotic, uninformed, or just unintelligent.  Today, let me celebrate the wisdom of Joseph de Maistre, an 18th century lawyer, diplomat, writer and philosopher from what is now the Savoy region of France who coined the expression “every country gets the government it deserves” or “in a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”
While about half the nation celebrates this President, and the changes he is implementing, the other half have chosen to protest, riot, and condemn.  
Unfortunately, I believe in all cases the people have gotten the leader they deserve. 
I would also note it didn't take President Obama long to break with tradition and join the condemnation of his successor. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

CalExit.

From LA Times
The last time Democratic Party controlled states voted to secede from the Union the Republican President and Congress decided to disagree and fight them on the issue.  It was a long and costly effort for both sides, ultimately returning the Confederate states to the union.  Just guessing, I don’t think that would happen again, but of course it would be the start of a domino chain that would effectively end the United States of America as we’ve come to know it.

As in any breakup once the emotional exclamations are over the hard work comes in the division of assets and the accounting of debts and their settlement.  I can’t begin to imagine the nightmare the bean counters will face as they start to close California’s bar tab with the Federal Government.  Then comes the matter of currency.  Fortunately, Chinese investors are buying up so much of California the conversion to the Yuan should be pretty straight forward.

I so look forward to 2018, and the adventures that await.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Funny Thing About 1984


I just read George Orwell’s book 1984 is making a resurgence on the reading lists.  It is again becoming fashionable for the metropolitan elites to read it as they question the government under Donald Trump and the Republicans.  The funny thing is the conservative movement has been talking about 1984 since 2009 when the Democrat’s swept into power.  Funny how perspectives change as we strive to crush the constitution, limit free speech and expand government surveillance and control.

In 2013, I wrote Ben Franklin Had It Right, talking about how if we are willing to give up our freedoms for the illusion of security we will ultimately lose those freedoms.  For the past 8-years supporters of the President were willing to do precisely that, now supporters of the new President appear willing to allow him to remove even more, and of course the opposition is outraged at the thought.

The unfortunate thing is once you’ve surrendered those protections, you cannot easily get them back just because you don’t like the new administration.  You can bluster, you can protest, you can destroy, and you can argue about “alternative facts” but you’ve allowed the precedent to take place and that is all that really matters unless some fundamental shift in the real-politic occurs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rule By The Pen



During the past eight-years the President and the Democratic Party took measures to by-pass the historical precedents and constitutional limitations of government as they strove to implement their vision of the future on the nation.  The phase President Obama used was “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone”[i] as he talked about implementing those policies he thought were in the best interest of the nation. 

When frustrated by political gamesmanship in getting judges approved by the Senate, Harry Reid and his fellow Democratic senators implemented what has been called the “nuclear option,”[ii] eliminating the historical ability of a Senator to filibuster a Presidential appointment and block its approval until the filibustering Senator is appeased, or the nomination withdrawn.

Both of these actions met some tactical need for the party in power, but brought with them significant strategic risk.  That risk was realized when their candidate failed to secure the necessary electoral votes and fell well short to Mr. Trump who carried with him sufficient Republicans to gain control of the Senate.

As we enter into the new era it does not bode well for the liberal side as Mr. Trump now has the ability to rule by pen and executive order just as Mr. Obama chose to.  As political scientists are fond of saying Democracy is a messy and inefficient form of government.  Control by a single entity (I’ll leave the choice of terms for you) is more efficient in achieving action, but carries with it the potential for loss of our constitutional safeguards.

It strikes me as we move forward in this new era we seem to be moving along the lines of the Roman Republic, as it became the Roman Empire.  Will we shift the office of the President from one of the three equal branches of government to the supreme branch?  That certainly appeared to be the intent under the past administration, and I suspect will be the easiest course of action for the new President.

This has already begun as the news highlights of his first workday in office is his undoing of many of President Obama’s directions (i.e. Executive Orders).

If the news is to be believed – during the next two years the President will be able to nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice, and a significant number of lower court justices (making conservative justices a majority in most courts) with Republican approval. Leaving the Democratic Party powerless to do anything but bluster and condemn in a media that supported their actions in the first place.

The next two years will be interesting, as well as telling to see if we are moving further from the Republic envisioned by our founders, or if the safeguards of our Constitution are able to resist the shift to emperor.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Funny Things from the Internet on Trump’s Inauguration


1.     All the memes about the inauguration attendance, or lack of. (As if this will somehow affect the next four years.)
2.    The memes talking about how the President is a temporary employee who works for us (the people).  (Especially funny when from the progressive organizations, since it kind of mirrors the Trump position.)
3.    Comparisons by some that Trump’s speech reminds them of Hitler’s speech of 1932, which exactly none of them attended, but may have watched on YouTube.  (I assume we can expect “Trump is Hitler/Mussolini” vilification for the next four years.)
4.    Franklin Graham’s notation that rain was a sign of blessing from God.  (There are a fair number of verses on rain, mostly relevant to the growing and gathering of crops, but we should not forget that it was through rain that God destroyed man for his sins, so I have to go with the fact rain is, at best, a mixed sign.)
5.     Talk of all the Congressional Democratic politicians who chose to not attend the ceremony, and how that number has not been seen since 1861 when Lincoln took the oath.  (For the left they are easily comparable to the Jacksonian Democrats of the South, for the right they can now note that Lincoln freed the slaves despite the non-attendance of those southern Democrats.)
6.    The condemnation of violence (rioting) by a handful of Democratic politicians.  (I find this funny for there was not even a whisper of condemnation when President Obama was still in office.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

A New President, The Same Country


About eight years ago, when President Obama came into office with majorities in the House and Senate, I wrote of my hope the Democrats would learn to govern and not attempt to rule through partisan domination.  History showed my concern was legitimate, and my hope went unrealized.  For the next two years, they chose to dominate the debates and force their political agenda on the minority.  We saw in the next three elections, they lost seats in the House and Senate and finally lost the White House because of their intransient approach to social engineering and commitment to party politics.
The Republican party, for their part became equally immobile, tone deaf, and in several conflicts, extreme as they fought for the positions they favored.  In the course of these struggles the average American suffered.  The wealthiest grew richer, the poorest – poorer, and the middle class grew more concerned as they watched the professional politicians put political advantage before the needs of the country.
Thanks to the advent of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest we have entered into the age of personal attacks and condemnation through vilification.  We see the shaping of opinion not through informed choice, but through clever meme creation, where one side latches on to one fraction of a fact and portrays it far out of proportion, just as an artist does in a caricature.   
Today we will swear in a new President.  The Republican’s will have majorities in both the houses and what will our path be?  The biggest difference between now and 2009 is the new President is not really a professional party partisan, and is both deeply despised by the partisan left and disliked by the partisan right.  It will be interesting to see how well he adapts to a role that is both symbolic as the leader to the party, and real as the leader of the nation.  Will he choose to lead as he has led his companies, or will he be able to overcome the partisan politics and build relationships with those he must to fulfill his promises to the American middle class?
Will he be able to cut federal spending, limit federal overreach, build a stronger economy, and restore the faith of the people in the idea that government is here to help foster a safe and secure country for its citizens?  Or will he continue the course we’ve set ourselves on through personal attacks, confrontation and mean spirited debate we’ve seen as the hallmarks of the recent campaign?
The next year will build the foundation for his term and while I hope it is a solid one, my instinct tells me we will see more conflict than change.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thoughts from a 6-foot Ladder

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For most of the past month I’ve been away helping my daughter and son-in-law in Pennsylvania.  It was a busy month celebrating Christmas, seeing my wife off as she returned to Florida, helping to care for six children, all under the age of nine, assisting with the house chores, and driving my son-in-law to and from work after his surgery.  I spent few moments each day reflecting on the world events important to that day and the political turmoil of the left and the right did not rise to even an afterthought.  I suspect that is the way it is for most young families.

I returned last night, with a head cold – compliments of the Reading Hospital ER where we spent a lovely 4-hours with three children who were suspected of ingesting some prescription medication.  It turned out they hadn’t.  Of course, head cold or no, there were Christmas decorations waiting to be taken down so I’ve had a full day of standing on my ladder as I took the lights from the eaves and the lower branches of the Magnolia tree.  While on the ladder I had some time to consider some of the political news I had not bothered with, and now in the quiet of the evening have time to put my thoughts, for what they are worth, down.

As President Obama prepares to leave office, I find his actions incredible.  He has shown, by his deeds, his core beliefs.  Political opportunism and advancement of his agenda is far more important to him than leaving his successor a secure and sustainable nation.  In years past I’ve commented on what appears to be a narcissistic characteristic, where every event is about him.   That opinion has only been reinforced this month as we watched both he and his Vice President award themselves medals for being the greatest team to run the country for the past eight years.  Can anyone name another outgoing Executive that felt so compelled to the spot light that they would have one of their Cabinet members award them a medal?

There is a tradition among past presidents to shun the limelight once they leave office, and not attempt to undermine their successor’s task of leading the nation.  My guess is we will regularly see President Obama on the news doing everything he can to delegitimize President Trump.  The ground work for this has already been laid, and we see the short-sighted approach of leading Congressional Democrats in making a public stance on not attending the inauguration.  Aided by a willing media, I don’t think it will be long before Mr. Obama finds some excuse to interject himself back into the political debate.

Accountability has never been a strength of this administration.  If you look at the claims from the White House that they have been the most scandal free administration in history the natural question is are they really that morally superior, or is it they have found effective ways to avoid the accountability that comes when there is a legitimate press, asking hard questions.  Who, aside from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, has been held responsible for the deplorable conditions of their hospitals and patient care?  Who in the IRS has been held responsible for their targeting of conservative groups asking for tax exemptions?  Who in the DOJ has been held responsible for sending assault weapons to drug cartels?  Of course, the EPA is accountable, right?  Who is held responsible for the spills into the Animas River, or who approved the oil pipeline through the Standing Rock tribal lands?  Finally, who in the administration has even considered holding Ms. Clinton responsible for her actions?  As far as I know, few have anything to fear from this administration as long as they are pushing the right agenda.

Speaking of agenda and accountability, consider the reasons why the President would choose to pardon a soldier convicted of violating the espionage act by giving WikiLeaks over three quarters of a million official documents containing some of the nation’s highest classification.  Surely, the fact she claims now to be a transgender woman and has the support of the LGBT community can’t possibly be a factor.  Could it?  What message does this send to the society at large?  If you have identify-issues, then accountability isn’t required?  Looking at how the administration has dealt with Ms. Clinton and Manning it is clear there is no expectation of accountability in the President.  Clearly the heart of the Presidential policy is “Say anything, do anything, and the people will love me, because I am me!”  How often do we hear how great he is from the entertainment industry we call ABCNNBCBS and Hollywood?

For a President who had the unique opportunity to unify this nation and bring the different races to a shared vision he has been a miserable failure, but of course it was not his fault.  It never is.  Recognizing the BLM while failing to even note the increased assassinations of America’s police is clearly a political choice, like all his choices it is one aimed at dividing this nation, not calming and unifying.  For him, and those who worship him, the cult of personality is all that matters.  Hmmm, I wonder where else we have seen a cult of personality drive their nation to destruction?  The name Hugo Ch├ívez seems to ring a bell.

Finally, watching the antics of the two sides play out, I don’t look forward to the next four years, but I will continue to write about what I observe.  Hopefully from time to time a few will read and let me know what they think.
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