Posts Tagged ‘obama’

IRONY: OBAMA = BUSH

November 23, 2015

The ghastly events in Paris have caused me, like many others, to return to the questions of how? and why? that aren’t ever quenched by our intellectual musings on cultism and brainwashing, or even the concepts of good and evil. So my mind returns to proximate causes, and the one that comes first to mind is George Bush’s decision to remove Saddam Hussein, creating the power vacuum that has shaped events over the past decade. What motivated him? My opinion was that he had a misguided view of the values of the people of the region. Having suckled so long on the milk of freedom, hard won by generations past, Bush assumed, as did I, that given the chance, everyone would embrace liberty. All we needed to do was remove a dictator’s yoke and the people would rise up and seize the day. He didn’t fathom that sectarian hatred, and love of sharia law, the antithesis of freedom, could possibly be more powerful. In that way, he is like our current president. Obama talks of Islam as if they share our values, ignoring the evidence placed, blatantly, before us. I’ve read of recent polls in the U.S. indicating that half of American—American!—Muslims subscribe to sharia over constitutional law and as many as a quarter would condone force to institute it. Does anyone truly believe the global prevalence of these beliefs would be lower?

To those of you harboring the notion that my words are the ramblings of a hateful bigot, I put this to you: Where are the protests? Not the hordes of Muslim citizens decrying our besmirching of their religion. Rather, the hordes of devout Muslims angrily protesting the Islamist murderers’ hijacking of the “religion of peace”? Where are the placards proclaiming, “You do not represent Islam!” and “We reject sharia law!”? The signs proclaiming unity with the Constitution and its crown jewels, freedom of speech and religion? Where is the Islamic reformation? As the violence worsens the voices seem to become more distant. No longer is fear of retribution an acceptable excuse. We are in the foothills of World War III and our inability to distinguish Muslim from Islamist will result in continued, unprecedented violence.

During World War II this resulted in the infamous Japanese internment camps. While I’m proud to be a citizen in a country that has exercised restraint in our dealings with Muslim Americans, I cannot help but feel that the fear of repeating injustice to innocents has hamstrung our efforts to fight the enemy hidden within the Muslim community. I suspect that only a negligible number of spies were ensconced in the loyal Japanese-American public in the 1940s, but paranoia runs deep during wartime. Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that a larger proportion of the Muslim community subscribes to, or will be converted to Islamism than most of us thought possible, and an even larger segment, while not willing to engage in violence, will secretly support them. The situation in much worse in Europe where there are many borders and large established Muslim communities, some described as “no-go zones” for the authorities, such as in France.

Speaking of borders, the recent events have stoked my anger even hotter that we’ve chosen not to protect ours.

But that’s a rant for another time.

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THE RED LINE AND THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE

October 4, 2013

The issue of targeted attacks on Syria for the used of chemical weapons has faded from the headlines in the wake of domestic issues and Vladimir Putin’s politically savvy maneuvering to portray himself as savior of the moment, brokering a reputed deal for verifiable destruction of Assad’s cache of chemical weapons.

Central to the debate is whether we believe there is a real distinction between use of conventional weapons and biological and chemical ones? I think there is. The use of these agents makes it easier to target noncombatants and children, and the ability to leave the infrastructure intact potentially encourages the expansion of this particularly obscene form of warfare. And biological weapons have the chilling potential to move beyond the control of the attacker.

Still, there were many cogent arguments voiced for not taking military retribution against Syria’s Assad for the use of chemical weapons on his people: An action for a few hundred lives against the backdrop of 100,000 with conventional weapons makes no sense. It’s their civil war, not ours, and we can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman. It’s a battle of our enemies against our enemies, and the Muslims should take the lead. And, if the world as a whole is unwilling to act, why should we paint an even bigger target on our backs? Despite all of this, our inaction, as logical as it appears on so many fronts, points to a change that should bother us as Americans.

In 1999, you may recall, President Clinton took action in Kosovo on humanitarian grounds. The unfortunate bottom line is that we are no longer in a position of strength to enforce the “red line.” In the past, just our threat would carry weight. Now, our enemies know we’re indebted and war-weary. And the world seems to have neither sufficient moral outrage nor the appetite to support a unified action beyond speeches and resolutions.

If we had a strong, competent leader, one of two tacks might have been taken: quick, decisive military action after covert discussion with our allies, or a concerted effort after the “red line” speech a year ago to get all the ducks in a row, with commitments from the Western nations and the Muslim states to a course of action should the line be crossed. Instead, this second path was taken belatedly, from a position of weakness, granting Assad time to prepare for attack and relocate the weapons of mass distraction. Our president was forced to embrace this turn of events in the face of underwhelming support for what Secretary of State Kerry stated would be an “unbelievably small” action. Obama’s claim that the threat of force is what spurred Putin and Assad to act, which may have a kernel of truth to it, was viewed as a lame excuse in the face of perceived weakness and Congressional dissent. It’s hard to see how our president could be viewed throughout the world as leading, except with his jaw.

I wish we could still be the moral policeman when it comes to issues of the magnitude of chemical weapons, as there is no one to take that role any more, but we’ve been beaten and bruised by long wars and loss of too much blood and treasure. Our new colors are the red, black and blue.

THE GAMERS, PART 2

January 28, 2013

Many of you likely watched some or all of the Benghazi hearing or in the aftermath saw the dramatic clip of Hillary Clinton being questioned by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin about the State Department’s accounting of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Libya. She testily replied, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and to do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”

I caught the replay (for another take on it, in “slow-mo,” go here), and for me it was an eye-rolling moment. Until then, perhaps naively, I had a higher opinion of the woman. Sure, I don’t particularly care for her political ideology, but I always thought she would have been a far better choice for Supreme Leader than Obama, who did, and still does, strike me as a charismatic empty suit. Now, all I have are visions of Hillary in the bedroom with husband and master politico Bill being instructed on the fail-safe fiery response to any hard-hitting question about Benghazi that gets too close to the bull’s-eye. And it worked. She ducked and dodged as well as the lawyer played by Richard Gere in the musical, “Chicago.” Hey, isn’t that where the big O hails from? I digress.

In a just world, Senator Johnson would have countered, just as indignantly, “With all due respect, Hillary (all right, “Madam Secretary”), we all know that four Americans died and that it must not happen again, and the first step to achieving this goal is to find out why we screwed up so badly that it occurred in the first place. Perhaps a little less politics and a little more honesty”—(let’s make that “a lot”)—“will help us to get there.”

Is there anyone out there in his or her liberal heart of hearts who truly believes that there hasn’t been a major operation of cover-ups and delays here? Obama needed to draw this out past the election, and successfully did so with a largely complicit media and electorate, and sees no reason to stir the pot in the aftermath. It was a political game superbly played and executed, and as underhanded as one would expect from a child of the Chicago political machine. The players, in what surely would have been a major scandal 20 or 30 years ago, or if the perpetrators had been part of a Republican administration, seem to have been given a pass.

Until the majority of Americans hold our leaders to a higher standard, we can expect more of the same.

We just can’t afford it.

FAITH AND LOGIC—STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

January 21, 2013

In Glenn Beck’s semi-biographic, Being George Washington, he paints a historical picture of the role God’s hand played in the birth of the greatest nation this world has ever known. For those with a more secular bent, the fortuitous climate changes at critical junctures that helped the rebels ascend to freedom were random acts of nature, a flip of the coin. Faith defies, or defines logic, depending on your viewpoint. A secular progressive would consider the two incompatible. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m asking you, the skeptic, to hypothesize that faith is more than smoke and mirrors, voodoo, or superstition.

For me, the re-election of President Obama defied all logic. We have a declining economy, a situation worse (in my opinion) than we faced in the 1970s under Carter, when the American people fired him and voted in Ronald Reagan. Yet now, the electorate chose to stay the course, spurning a man with a demonstrated expertise in matters economic and prior experience in reversing financial misfortune. In fact, one of the worst “acts of God” we’ve seen in this country, hurricane Sandy, nipped Romney’s surge in the bud. To the secular progressive it is a validation of their ideology over faith—or is it?

Under the faith hypothesis, Obama’s re-election signifies that, if God is still with us, the course we’re on is the right one, the economy will recover, the debt will melt, and the unemployed will return to their jobs. On the other hand, if, as in the time of Noah, God has given up on us, the result could be interpreted to mean that He is allowing us to proceed unhindered to our destruction. So, those of us that cannot fathom how continuing down this path could possibly represent the road to recovery are doomed to mourn our abandonment and cast about for an ark of salvation.

Still, I cannot in my wildest imaginings believe that the bad behavior that has weakened our country and left trillions of dollars of debt for our children and grandchildren has been sanctioned by a higher power. If we accept the premises that the preceding statement is valid and that God has not given up on the human race, logic leads to the inevitable conclusion that Romney’s election would have been harmful to the nation. Perhaps his attempt to change the course of the country would have failed, fatally delaying the awakening of the nation to the idea that nothing short of radical change can save us. Secular progressives would call this tortured logic.

I call it faith.

WE THE PEOPLE

January 7, 2013

I caught a snippet of a commentator interviewing a talking head, probably a politico. After lambasting Congress, she asked if he thought, ultimately, that the American people were responsible for the poor shape we’re in. I waited for the usual response, and wasn’t disappointed: No, we can’t blame the folks for the failings of the legislators.

It’s very unpopular (duh) to criticize the electorate, and no politician will cross that line; it’s like signing your own pink slip. But I’m not running for office, so I can afford to state the obvious: We’re a democratic republic, and we elect and re-elect the people who are failing us. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I suppose, then, we’re insane.

It’s true that in a country as large as ours with widely disparate views, it’s unfair to paint everyone with one brush. Perhaps a better term would be schizophrenic. It all comes down to the same thing: in the net, as a nation we continue to behave irrationally when it comes to our economic survival.

In the people’s defense, for decades we’ve done the same things with ups and downs and eventual recovery, so one might argue our profligate spending, unbridled borrowing, massive governmental expansion and its attendant “quantitative easing,” works. It’s easy to forget the government, in its protective financial bubble, is now an even larger part of the total economy. The debt and the corresponding interest payments are larger than they’ve ever been. The entitlements are bigger than ever with fewer workers per recipient. Most importantly, the culture has changed from one of deploring government charity to expecting it. But you can put a lot of layers of spackle and paint over a large, sturdy house like the U.S. and keep it looking quite spiffy until the moment the termite-ridden support beams give way.

In the 1980s Carter’s disastrous policies brought him the boot. In 2012, Obama’s ineffectual leadership under even more dire circumstances bought him four more years.

Money, the Prozac of the progressive era, whether you print more of it or steal it from a few wealthy people, ain’t gonna cut it for much longer. We need a good shrink.

Let’s start with the government.

A MENAGERIE OF THOUGHTS

November 19, 2012

Now that the election’s behind us we know that the net ideology of the voting public has changed. The pundits tell us it’s a demographic shift, and they are probably right. To me it was truly astonishing that more than half the country’s electorate looks at the same abysmal economic performance and is convinced that no change in leadership is needed. Considering Romney’s clearly superior credentials in the area we’re most in dire need of fixing—the economy—it surprised me even more.

In speaking to my liberal friends (yes, I do have them) they paint a picture of a Republican party that is frighteningly Neanderthal with respect to social issues. That belief, in association with a woeful lack of understanding of the seriousness of the economy’s failings (in my opinion) led them to reenlist Obama. But I believe that another, less cerebral motivation brought many others to the polls—the addiction to government handouts. I don’t think that the majority that reelected the once and future president are laggards; there are now just enough to move us from a net center-right to a center-left nation. The old saw about democracy being two wolves and a sheep meeting to decide what’s for dinner is coming to pass.

The term democracy has been bandied about so much that people forget we’re supposed to be a democratic republic. It was not our Founding Fathers’ intention to create a democracy—they recognized that democracy slowly morphs into socialism which, history has taught us (or has tried to), slowly morphs into nonexistence. Producers will only work harder for non-producers for a finite period.

Most liberals are neither lazy nor of evil intent, just as most conservatives are not really heartless Neanderthal money-mongers. And now the left has another four years of a standard-bearer who will continue to make promises and raise taxes in an earnest but ineffectual quest to “give everyone a fair chance.” But the land of opportunity wasn’t built on a foundation of equality of outcome, only equality of opportunity.

I hope we don’t strangle the goose lays the golden egg in a noose of good intentions.

POLISHING THE SILVER ON THE TITANIC

October 29, 2012

In nine days we will be participating in arguably the most important election in our lives. A referendum of our net ideology. And I must admit, while the intellectual part of me understands the human frailties of sloth, greed and denial, the emotional part still cannot fathom how we’ve allowed ourselves to reach this point. The country’s future balances on a razor’s edge.

So I ask those who don’t share my views (assuming there’s a one out there who bothers to read this)—would you replace the baseboards in your home after a pipe bursts before fixing the leak? It’s a silly question, isn’t it? Like prioritizing polishing the silver while the Titanic is sinking. Yet, on a national scale, we do this daily.

We talk of raising taxes to quench a voracious deficit so large it will drown future generations, without once seriously considering drastic cuts to the wanton spending that is scuttling the ship. Kind of like using silver teaspoons as bailers. We talk of immigration reform ad nauseum without closing the border as the necessary first step (destroying the economy is an equally effective ploy but has bothersome side effects, as we’re finding out).

The liberals complain that Romney is vague on specifics with his five-point plan (as if his counterpart’s agenda is crystal clear beyond “giving everyone a fair shot” and “helping out the middle class”). The truth is, Romney can’t be specific. If he told us he’s going to try a shot at national Chapter 11 reorganization to avoid going Chapter 7, he’d never get elected. We don’t want to hear how we need to experience a decade or so of pain to offset the decades of living off the dime of our kids.

It won’t be easy, and there isn’t anyone who has a sacred cow that won’t be led to the slaughter. But the idea that we can keep kicking this can down the road until the economy miraculously recovers is just wrong-headed. Rome collapsed and Greece went down for the count twice, first as an empire and then as a nice vacation destination.

Despite what you may have heard, nothing’s “too big to fail.”

WHEN THE MASTER IS THE SLAVE

October 15, 2012

With the ruling class calling so many of the shots, it’s easy to forget that the dynamic is more complex. The government is both slave and master. Because its lifeblood is votes, it needs voters. There are a lot more poor and middle class voters than rich ones, so the quickest way to maintain power is to open the wallet and “spread the wealth” (read: taxes). This constitutes the progressive or socialist face of the government, the redistribution President Obama refers to to give everyone “a fair shot.” But the money has to come from somewhere, so the politicos also cater to wealthy segments of the private sector through grants and tax breaks. This is the crony capitalism face of the government. The left is associated with the former, the right with the latter. Both faces are dysmorphic caricatures of the true face of the government our forefathers envisioned.

The original intent was for individual responsibility and charity at the level of the community and church. Government’s job was straightforward—to protect its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. By abdicating the latter responsibility and picking winners and losers in the private sector on the one hand and encouraging dependency on welfare on the other, we are losing our identity.

No one, right or left, argues with a safety net for those who need a helping hand or are disabled. We disagree on how low that bar should be set and how long that helping hand should lift those of sound body and mind. No one, right or left, feels Wall Street or corporate America should be given an unfair transfusion of taxpayer money or be excused from paying their “fair share.” We disagree on what that fair share is and what constitutes a business incentive to make us competitive in the world economy.

Both sides pander and both overspend. The choice this election, as I see it, is between a candidate that openly condones it and one that purports to condemn it. Half the country disagrees with me. If the half that shares my view prevails, I think we can begin to climb that long, arduous hill to recovery.

Unless bad behavior, on either side of the political aisle, intervenes.

THE COLOR POLITIC

June 4, 2012

Disregarding the radical fringe on either side of the political aisle, there is large segment of the electorate that is thoughtful, reasonable and informed that sees the world through different colored lenses.

This may be a “duh” moment, but for me it was starkly highlighted again yesterday during a polite but sometimes spirited family debate. My brother is intelligent, well-read and politically savvy. Although only a couple of years my senior, his interest in things politic antedated mine by many years—I remember a poster of then-presidential candidate John Kennedy hanging on our bedroom wall when I was in grade school.

During this highly unpublicized telephone debate he presented his arguments and I mine, neither of us expecting to convert the other. We had common ground on a few important points, agreeing that crony capitalism had to stop and Wall Street fraud must be more effectively policed. We agreed that a reboot of botched anti-monopoly regulation is sorely needed, and tax reform is long overdue. But when I told him that I believed the coming election is, to quote commentator Dennis Prager, a plebiscite on the nation’s ideology, he strongly disagreed. Instead, he began to attack Romney’s record and suggested I spend more time reading analysts willing to call both sides to task.

I don’t disagree that a balance of views is important; in fact, it’s the hallmark of a free society. But I submit that it’s not a question of defending Romney against Obama, or the bad behavior of any Republican against his or her Democratic counterpart. There are sinners in both camps. For me, it’s a question of a belief system—one based on the values that founded the nation versus a progressive agenda that leads us down the path that Europe is following, a road that veers left through a pass called social justice and opens on the cold moraine of frank socialism.

So my brother and others who share his views will continue to see the world as bluish green, and I as greenish blue, despite maps looking to define the country as blue or red. We see the same things and yet we don’t.

One of us must be color blind.

HOW’S UNCLE SAM?

April 8, 2012

No one likes a pessimist, a chronic doomsayer, a bearer of ill-tidings. So, with the news over the past couple of weeks of a recovering economy I risk driving you, dear reader, away, into the arms of the ever-present optimist. After all, unemployment dropped a tad, the stock market swung up (before it swung down a bit on the news of a less than anticipated increase in jobs) and the economy always bounces back, right? Even House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican no less, huffed how things, indeed, are improving (qualifying, of course, that it wasn’t fast enough, owing to Obama’s lame economic policies). Generally conservative Ben Stein admitted on Fox that the president was doing all that he could. High oil prices are, after all, determined by the world economy, not Mr. Obama.

Why can’t I see the light? Let me illustrate with a rough analogy from my experience in the medical field:

Uncle Sam is a drug addict. He’s shot up one too many times and infected his blood stream with a life-threatening illness known as sepsis and is in the intensive care unit with dangerously low blood pressure. He’s being given large doses of intravenous fluids and powerful blood pressure raising drugs we call inotropes which are effectively buoying his BP. He looks much better than when he came in. But he’s dying. He has to be kept alive long enough for antibiotics to kick in and reduce the bacterial load that is ravaging his body, and this will take about two days. However, even antibiotics are useless in the absence of an immune system that will fight the final battle to eradicate the enemy. If successful, we will be left with an intact drug addict free to inject another day, until the next battle. Sam leaves the ICU, then the hospital. He returns a year later and survives, than six months after that. This could go on forever, or so it seems. But it doesn’t, because drug addiction is terminal. Uncle Sam dies two years later from complications of his addiction.

The analogy is complete. If we substitute money for heroin; fluids and BP meds for printing money (the so-called “quantitative easing”) and borrowing; and cutting spending and revising the tax code for antibiotic therapy, you get the idea. Reducing corruption and the size of the government is analogous to stopping the addiction and bolstering the immune system. From this perspective, it’s clear that all we’re doing at the moment is treating the symptoms with fluids and inotropes—the illness be damned. In my world, this would be malpractice.

But it’s not my world. It’s the world of entrenched bureaucrats trying to buy votes to eke their way through the next election, and an electorate hoping against hope that we can make it through this ICU visit one more time.

How many more visits do you think we have left?