[Time for some fresh sand. And I want to open it by stating that Mr Koyote's place on RR as a civil dispenser of viewpoints from the port side - no matter how outrageous ;-) - is both welcomed and assured. gjr]
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 27 June 2014. As promised, here I have addended additional information and thoughts to the aired commentary.]
Our Founders were right, unbridled democracy does not work as the basis for a stable government. James Madison said it best – “Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Democracy relegates matters of state and policy to the whims of an emotionally volatile, easily manipulable, and poorly informed electorate. That is why the Founders gave us a democratic republic built on the federal model in which laws were made by people choosing representatives based on the popular vote and geographical jurisdictions.
Over the last decades California has led the nation in rejecting this wisdom, and put in place a populist system that embodies what the world now sees as the egregious downfall of the most celebrated Shangri-la for those lucky enough to have lived in the formerly Golden State. Today, as observed by distinguished journals like The Economist (here and here), California has become a bloated and dysfunctional state. More essays and analyses appear daily about California’s downfall while the state’s government presses forward with ever more taxes, fees, and regulations that drive its residents and businesses to seek less toxic places to live and earn (more here).
Today people in California divide themselves into a majority that sees government as a beneficent leviathan, and the remainder who experience the ongoing loss of their income, properties, and liberties. The former far outnumber the latter, many of whom live in the rural counties located primarily in the Sierra and the state’s northern part. These residents, who have traditionally sought an independent way of life and resisted the growth of leviathan, find themselves in the ever-present aggrieved class of a pure democracy as they suffer the tyranny of the majority over the minority. The northern third of the state, primarily made up of rural counties, send three representatives to the 80 member California Assembly. And they also send only three senators to sit among the 40 members of the California Senate. In short, the state’s north is the recipient of the dictates, mandates, and takings of the overwhelmingly populous southern third of the state. All this without the minority having any say in how and to what extent the state manages their lives and affairs.
[Time for some fresh sand. Perhaps someone will want to take a cut at Nevada City's new lights issue, or the maintenance of local river hiking trails, or some other more sociable topic. Then again, maybe not. ;-) ]
Well, the numbers for 14Q1 are in, and again they are neither pretty nor what that dismal cohort representing the 'dismal science’ predicted. The nation’s economic mavens – those whose opinions are at least counted – said that first quarter GDP would be up 0.1%. Not even close. The real news is that the economy tanked at -2.9%, and will be unbelievably lucky to eke out a positive number for all of CY2014.
All this occurred as the Obama administration was trying to get some happy dancing going with a conference of business leaders who expect to game the climate change hysteria. Leading the 76 trombones is millionaire Tom Steyer who made his millions in his since divested hedge fund that invested hundreds of millions in fossil fuels. Today he argues that no one else should have those same opportunities. Meanwhile, the Obama lackeys continue shouting their huzzahs to a non-existent recovery when instead they should be singing its requiem. (RR readers still confused on the notion of a recovery should review ‘The Recovery Rigmarole’.)
But let’s get back to that sorry science and their acolytes, the economists. These guys have no clue as to what is in the ‘black box’ that represents the nation’s economic system. All they can do is access a dodgy Ouija board based on various cobbled regression functions that try to masquerade as a true transfer functions of the economy. (The technical reader will know that understanding the real transfer function means understanding the sub-processes of the economy and their integration contained in the black box which today’s economists can only view in terms of its inputs and outputs over arbitrarily selected time windows. Given interest, I will expand. But I digress.) In any event, neither the politicians nor the media (lamestream and legitimate) understand this little nuance, so they keep citing the quantitative economists as if they really knew something (also see N. Taleb).
Nevertheless, the stock markets keep going up for the reasons previously explained here – the dismal economic news means that the Fed will keep interests rates low through the printing of baseless money and lending it to the Treasury. The economy keeps getting it in the shorts from Team Obama from the constant avalanche of business destroying regulations and tax hikes, the most egregious and unreported one being the implicit hike delivered by Obamacare which analysts have computed to be the 3rd highest tax hike since 1946.
So what RR has long advised its readers as the ongoing Depression2 continues to be vindicated by the non-stop increases in taxes, regulations, spending, and debt. Every clever investor in the market is betting that he can bail out before it all hits the fan. Again, I offer this observation in the continuance of RR’s unsurpassed record of excellence in forecasting ;-)
[Rough and Ready resident Weldon Travis sent me his “observations, conclusions, thoughts” on what some have come to call ‘The Battle of Bunkerville’ where earlier this year rancher Cliven Bundy and supporters faced down a company of federales who had come to confiscate his cattle and end his grazing rights on what we know today as ‘BLM land’. I promised to post his unedited words so that RR readers could have another POV on the matter from a local Nevada County resident. Here is a previous RR posting on the standoff.
And as the world turns, this seems to be even more relevant today as the local Left has become hyper-ventilated about the claimed existence of rightwing militia groups in Nevada County. (BTW, I have no direct knowledge of their existence and therefore can add no information to such claims.) In any event, it appears that we haven’t heard the last of such standoffs regarding federal lands and federal overreach in general. Therefore Mr Travis, who belatedly did join Cliven Bundy’s supporters (his initial standdown letter here), provides a unique insight into the sentiments that motivated those who gathered at the Bundy Ranch last spring. gjr]
This is a tale ~ my observations, conclusions, thoughts ~ of Cliven Bundy and his struggle against the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Clark County, Nevada, 60 miles from Las Vegas and 10 from Mesquite, bordering Arizona. It may contain errors.
It begins in 1864 when Nevada was admitted to the Union, necessarily ceding vast stretches of public land, almost 85%, to the Federal government; to 1877 when Cliven’s forebears homesteaded; moves on to1946 when Cliven was born and the same year that the BLM was established by President Harry S. Truman. For me, my wife Irene, and our friend Malen “Jim” Jacobs, all Oath Keepers, it culminated (but has not ended) on Easter Sunday, 2014. The previous week was reminiscent of Concord and Lexington and the “shot heard ’round the world.” It was a day that will go down in our proud history, witnessing an intense showdown between heavily armed BLM agents and the Bundy clan, who were backed up by Nevada and other State militias, “irregulars,” Oath Keepers and other supporters. The local Sheriff, Douglas Gillespie (a strong supporter of Obama), Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada National Guard had remained obscure.
A new friend with whom I shared a morning cup of coffee is a major contractor and developer, much of it around Las Vegas. He was one of seven snipers set up on Interstate 15, a divided four-lane highway which was totally shut down. As he trained his scoped AR-15 toward the stand-off confrontation, watching developments, some Nevada Highway Patrolmen behind him also stood watch. My friend wondered if the shooting started, what would they do, who would be shooting whom? Shortly, they asked him if it would be okay to open one lane each way. Preposterous, I know.
We have heard about recovering from the ‘Great Recession’ since the summer of 2009. Politicians of the Left have been conducting a painful national celebration of how their Keynesian stimulation policies have saved and then recovered our economy. But what no one tells us is that recoveries come in various flavors, some of which, as we are experiencing, are very bitter to swallow. RR readers should understand some basics of what is a recovery, and this post will attempt to contribute to that understanding.
In the figure below we see a standard garden variety, or nominal, process (green line) that starts at 100 and grows at an average 4% rate per time period. Here we have shown time divided into 100 numbered periods – i.e. t = 1, 2, 3, …, 99, 100. Everything seems to be going along normally or nominally until t = 40 at which time the recorded amount has climbed to about 225 (blue dotted line). Then something goes wrong, the process falters and plunges about 40% (red line) over the next ten time periods such that at t = 50 it is at around the 130 level at which time a ‘recovery’ begins.
[Time for some fresh sand, the old sandbox was getting so full that comment threads were getting harder to follow. Apparently there is some dispute about what liberals are claiming about the Right not supporting college education, and other matters. gjr]
‘The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth’ is a most interesting thesis put forward by George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen (also see his recent Average is Over). In the NYT essay he provides a long list of developments that spurred economies, forms of governance, and even the arts arising out of large conflicts between nation-states. Apparently remaining sedentary for too long is not good for individuals or societies. Cowen’s piece is certainly worth a read.
Obama’s presidency is definitely missing on all cylinders and seems to be heading for new lows that will make Bush2 compare favorably with how he has led the nation and the world. Most Americans today believe Obama is “less competent than” Bush2 as reported by the recent WSJ/NBC poll (here). Bret Stephens gives this laundry list of failures a compact review – ‘The Pace of Obama’s Disasters’ - that has been studiously ignored by the lamestream (another reason our leftwing readers get so riled up when they first run into some of these concepts on RR; they really believe we are a lone wolf pack howling in the forest). A telling example of leftwing media bias is its absolute silence on the failures of the various federal relief programs supposed to help people after Superstorm Sandy – short version: it’s a redo of FEMA after Katrina – ‘We’re from the government and we’re here to …, oh, never mind.’.
The failures from Obama’s foreign policy have now become legion. Even the nation’s independents have come to recognize that our president has surrounded himself with a band of “munchkin Metternichs” – see ‘The Collapsing Obama Doctrine’. America’s eyes roll heavenward in unison when the useful idiot in the WH press room assures us that Obama is briefed regularly by our witless national security guru Susan Rice. And even she has to make her way past Valerie Jarrett, that renowned expert from South Chicago in affairs national and international.
The claimed loss of IRS emails, from Lois Lerner and the six officials of most interest to the House, in the targeting of conservative groups is frank testimony to how stupid this administration considers its own constituency to be. Only the most dense of the Democratic rank and file believe the various versions of how such emails in a government bureaucracy were lost. Some lamebrain apologists even try to exhume Nixon’s 18.5 minutes of missing audio recordings as precedence for the email effrontery. But as Daniel Henninger points out in the 19jun14 WSJ, “The Watergate break-in was the professionals of the party in power going after the party professionals of the party out of power. The IRS scandal is the party in power going after the most average Americans imaginable.”
Bashing Bush2 has hardly taken a breather as the only excuse the lamestream’s loyal liberals can muster for this failed administration. And there we are always asked to focus on the Big Lie that Bush2 alone bamboozled the nation and took us into Iraq that today has again been allowed to become another quagmire on Obama’s watch. A reader sent me this video of prominent Democrats which should remind everyone what the mood and assessment of our national leadership was in those dark days after 9/11.
[21jun14 update] America's historical one-sided assault on free speech by the Left has recently featured the politically rigged attempt to prosecute Gov Scott Walker on what the Democrat DAs claim was a "criminal scheme" of campaign coordination. Never mind that two judges have now thrown the case out of court, the Left's lamestream has picked up the ball and is now running with it. Specifically, outlets promoting socialism, like the NYT, are citing the prosecutors' discredited indictment wordings as still having currency, and not as the blatant and unsubstantiated attack on the governor's First Amendment rights as ruled by the courts. Here is a sufficiently compact readable account of this latest progressive fusillade to discredit an opposing political figure in the press when the first sleazy attempt was thrown out of a court of law. Does anyone still wonder why RR labels that vast wasteland of journalism as the lamestream? Of course, the local Lefties' echoes of the Gray Lady's reportage may be excused due to the limited scope of their readings abetted by the burden of other more serious disabilities discussed at length elsewhere.
As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron. - H.L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920
Let me start by describing the longstanding debate by nationally known, Northwestern economists Drs Robert Gordon and Joel Makyr. These academics have views of the future which are erroneously reported to be in conflict. Gordon argues that the best days of America are behind it, citing factors like stagnant growth, national debt, aging population, and income inequality. Makyr responds with the marvels of technological advancement that began 250 years ago, is accelerating today, and will bring everything from new life extending medicines to drought resistant crops to feed an ever hungrier world. (more here)
They don’t seem to realize that their arguments are orthogonal – both prognoses can be concurrently correct. This marriage of factors has been my own view of the most likely future in store for America (cf. systemic unemployment and Singularity Signposts). But when respected academics cannot connect such obviously related dots, the national debate suffers. Their focus should acknowledge that both descriptions can hold, and then proceed on how wealth can be productively transferred to the redundant without enlarging government and the welfare class while keeping the wealth generating machinery intact and growing.
This brings us to the Great Divide that is obvious daily in the growing polarization of main street America. RR’s position (most recently here) that the grassroots’ ideological divide is real has been long pooh-poohed by the Left. But it turns out that there really is a chasm between people who see a place for themselves in a technology driven future, and those who literally have no clue how they will fit into such a world. All these people know is that they don’t understand 99% of what’s going on, their circumstances are no fault of their own, and that they deserve to be cared for by others.
The non-partisan Pew Research Center has just concluded an extensive research project – ‘Political Polarization of the American Public’ - on the depth and extent of the country’s polarization, asking whether the dysfunction of Washington is reflected across the land, and what has become of the usually functional ‘center’ that has directed the nation’s governance. Well, it turns out that the percent of voters who are consistent and adamant about their political views has more than doubled during the last 20 years – from 10% to 21%. And more than twice as many in each of the two parties believe the other party is a salient and destructive force taking the country in the wrong direction while “posing a threat to the nation’s well-being.”
[Time for a fresh sandbox. The inaugural sandbox appears to have been a success. My own special interest for this one is to include a discussion of the Bergdahl case, specifically what impact readers believe it will have on future foreign policy in the mideast. And fold into that discussion the impact of ISIS' gains in Iraq and its demands on how should the US react - specifically, should we abandon Iraq to devolve into it pre-churchillian ethnic regions of Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish control that may give rise to new nation-states or absorption by Iraq's current neighbors. Or whatever else comes to mind or piques interest. gjr]
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast early on 11 June 2014 due to this weekend’s bluegrass festival which will dominate this Friday's air time.]
As the VA healthcare scandal builds, it is putting on exhibit the disaster that Obamacare will deliver to the doorstep of every American. As with so many other big government programs, Obamacare will continue to not deliver on a single promise made during the campaign of lies used to pitch the ignorant. We recall that it was cobbled together by liberal interest groups and finally shoved through Congress in the dead of night with only Democrat support.
Today the VA scandal demonstrates how government bureaucrats are incentivized by bonus policies to toady to their superiors, and victimize the veterans they are paid to serve. The methods used can be understood by any interested citizen, and their use is not limited to the VA. In fact such practices are common throughout all branches of government that systematically separate performance and reward. Yale Emeritus Professor Peter Schutz has studied and reports on such endemic failures of governments in his just published ‘Why Government Fails So Often’.
RR has long maintained that an alarmingly large fraction of K-12 teachers are incompetent and care little for the young people they are charged and compensated to teach. The aggregate of that profession is already drawn from the bottom quintile of college graduates (I didn’t want to sully the use of ‘academics’). While the US pays among the highest rates in the world to educate our young, the product of public education continues to fall woefully short of what is required for an advanced technological country to maintain its competitive stance in the world.
Yesterday LA County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled in Vergara v. California that “incompetent teachers … protected by tenure after (less than) two years” on the job deny our young, especially minorities and the poor, an adequate education to launch them into productive adulthood. Specifically the judge ruled that incompetent teachers have “a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students”. (more here)
The perpetrators of subpar education across the country have been the teachers unions abetted by liberal school boards and politicians. It is these cohorts that will now appeal Judge Treu’s ruling and hope to maintain business as usual guaranteeing the tenures of legions of incompetents and the uncaring. But if, and that’s a big IF, this ruling holds, it can light a wildfire of reform across the nation which may finally put public education solidly back on the road to recovery. From that we can celebrate a new day which benefits both our young and America. Please lend your support wherever you can.
Been doing more noodling on how to keep the comment threads more relevant to my posted commentaries. I appreciate very much that RR has come to serve as an open forum for whatever readers wish to discuss or cuss. Yet at the same time I’d like to start constraining the comments to expansions, critiques, and ideas that are related to the subject at hand. An approach to providing a venue for reader selected topics or pointed communications with each other is to feature a regular posting such as a ‘Weekly Sandbox’ under which all manner of comments and conversations can take place that may or not be offshoots of what I have posted. These sandboxes would be posted regularly and dated – e.g. today’s would be ‘Sandbox – 9jun14’ – so that past comments could be more precisely referenced.
Launching this convention would make it much easier for me to ‘unpublish’ or move off topic comments, and not be concerned with sandbox comments that would have no such topical restrictions. I believe that this would make reading topical comments much easier without readers having to wade through itinerant mudball fights and off-the-wall subjects of interest. And it would provide a ready forum for those who enjoy mining the sandbox for random yet cleverly posited observations, or just watching the mudballs fly. Thoughts on this?
While I’m in administrivia mode, I’d like to again express appreciation for the thoughtful (if not forceful and contentious) comments RR gets from its more liberal readers. RR was launched with the idea that it would not become an echo chamber for ideas and opinions that fly in some prescribed and tight ideological formation. And happily that most certainly has not been the case over these past seven years. I believe that all of our ideas contend here for the benefit of those who are ‘not declared’, or those who consider themselves to be in the mid-regions of socio-political beliefs, or those whose beliefs in some area are not complete. Those dedicated from the Left and the Right are the gladiators in the arena, neither expecting to convert the other, but only to show the power of their thoughts through the prowess of their arguments. Again I thank all serious thinkers whose comments decorate these pages.
Two sides claiming that 2+2 equals four and five can always find common ground at 4.5 …, which would still be wrong.
Another strong piece of evidence that the ‘consensus science’ behind manmade (anthropogenic) global warming (AGW) continues to be institutionalized fraud is revealed by the National Association of Scholars. NAS takes no position on global warming per se, nor does it opine on regulatory schemes such as imposed by the EPA. What the organization does is review the process of how science is done and what academic standards are applied. In its 6jun14 piece ‘Short-circuiting Peer Review in Climate Science’ the authors disclose the very opaque circle jerk that has been going on among government units like the EPA, NOAA, NASA, … ‘peer reviewing’ each other’s work within a mutually shared political objective and common funding spigot. The bottom line is that the peer review process, much ballyhooed by climate calamatists, has been and remains broken. But that continues to be the best that our central planners can do as they grow the regulatory leviathan. (H/T to Russ Steele for the alert.)
History did not end in 1989 as historian Francis Fukuyama then expounded. The fall of international communism with USSR’s demise and the economic redirection of Red China did not lead to years of international civility and the inevitable spread of democracy. Indeed, as far back as 1997 historians William Strauss and Neil Howe published The Fourth Turning, their wrenching vision of what the next historical cycle has in store for America. Now a quarter century after the fall of the wall, with Islam fighting the west, China building and flexing its military muscle, and Russia expanding its borders, Fukuyama’s thesis needs more than a little dusting off. The good professor has recently gone through a number of ‘I didn’t say it well enough for you to understand’ exercises, the latest being a significant essay – ‘At the End of History still stands Democracy’ - in the 7jun14 WSJ.
In these pages I have argued that democracy – accepting for the moment that history has an ‘end’ – is not at all the likely rosy terminus for the governance of man. You can judge the strength of Fukuyama’s arguments yourself, but one thing that more and more people who think about such things will agree with is that in this century the world’s sovereign nation-states will go through some wrenching changes in how they organize and govern their societies. I have cited multiple works by American socio-political pundits that lay the foundation for such changes – Coming Apart (2012) Charles Murray, Knowledge and Power (2013) George Gilder, Average is Over (2014) Tyler Cowan.
Now we have a major political essay – The Fourth Revolution (2014) – which argues that the next revolutionary change in global governances will be powered by the growth of China and India, and abetted by the self-absorbed softening of the greater debt-ridden west (America, EU, Japan). The book (reviewed here) is written by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge, respectively the editor-in-chief and managing editor of The Economist, one of the world’s most influential and respected ‘newspapers’ (their term), most certainly one of the few remaining profitable products of periodical print journalism left in this day among the growing legions of uninformed.
Micklethwait and Woolridge make the case that “If the state is not radically reformed and reduced, Western democracy could suffer, and the appeal of more innovative authoritarian regimes, notably in Asia, could increase.” Don’t be fooled by the inclusion of the hopeful “could”. I’ll have more to say about this essay in coming days.
[10jun14 update] To doubly underline the dark side of what I have described that the climate calamatists really want is made clear by leftwing pundit Lucia Graves writing unapologetically in the National Journal. It is a socialist autocracy with the president exercising "dictatorial powers". (more here)
[Lucky Strike Extra 10jun14 update] Apropos the new EPA anti-coal regs that will soon hit the street, Warren Buffett is betting heavily that the energy markets will remain mangled for the indefinite future. He has invested $15B in renewable energy enterprises that throw off tax credits to protect profits from his other ventures. Of course, that is just one of the ways that government is mangling this market. The real cost and profitability of renewable energy will remain a mystery for some time to come since it looks like government crutches for the industry will not come off any time soon, if ever. Buffett is so confident that he has long lasting state protection that he’s about to put another $15B (of Berkshire-Hathaway money) on the same square knowing exactly where the little ball will land when the wheel stops.
RR has been tracking the militarization of the nation’s police for some time. Well, boys and girls it is time for the ‘surge’. Now the military has upped the ante and added grenades, 50 cal machine guns, silencers for pistols, rifles, and submachine guns, night vision systems, … to the catalog of surplus freebies from which your local sheriff and police chief can select what is ‘needed’. Yes, the cited need is that strapping on such gear will protect the outgunned police and make sure that they can go home at night – now what upstanding citizen would be against that? The problem is that the police haven’t been outgunned in living memory, and for the last 25 years crime rates (including violent crimes) have been steadily dropping.
Meanwhile the number of SWAT assaults has skyrocketed along with tragic mistakes causing innocent people in their PJs to be shot in the middle of the night. And the local constables now show military style assault videos to get the young bucks juiced to sign up for a career of making life safer for the rest of us. (Now why do I and millions across the land not feel any safer?) Since no one can see a credible threat that requires such hardware and tactics on every main street in the land, some jurisdictions are beginning to get alarmed and push back at their police getting militarily musclebound. And the risk that a cop doesn’t go home at night is much lower than for a dozen other occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Here are the ten most dangerous jobs.) Things have gotten so bad that even the solidly big government, leftwing NYT has published an alarming summary of what is happening with America’s police. (more here)
The Republicans were nowhere nearly as bad off as the national lamestream and the local lefties have been making out. Yes, they did hold the funeral after the 2012 election, and even assured all that the casket had enough room for the tea parties as they lowered it with some glee eighteen months ago.
Nevada County’s and my favorite middle roader RL ‘Bob’ Crabb sums up nicely what's visible from his patch of pavement (filched from the 7jun14 edition of The Union). Now I'm not saying that any of this is yet apparent to those who make their home in the weeds somewhere off the left shoulder. ‘Nuff said.
The Left in recent years has intensified the narrative that the Right has shrunk in numbers while becoming more extreme in its ideology. The Left sees its own collectivist approaches to organizing society as having become the ideological lingua franca of most Americans. As evidence of this, the growth of the country’s self-declared independents is cited. And the conclusion from this line of thinking is that main street America is much more homogeneous in its liberal outlook today than are their representatives in Washington – in short, Washington is polarized while America in the aggregate is not.
William A. Galston, senior fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institute, begs to differ with this view which he expounds in ‘Americans Are as Polarized as Washington’. There he cites recent research by Alan Abromowitz (Emory University political scientist) and the Gallup polling organization that party loyalty has intensified greatly in the last 40 years. Putting a finer point on it, Drs Galston and Abromowitz agree that during this polarization on the role of government the Right has moved a bit more to the right than has the Left to the left, this according to self-declarations on the seven point scale used by the American National Election Studies (here and here). However, the picture is more complicated because on social and cultural issues the Left has moved more to the left, than has the Right to the right. In any case, the split between the two sides has widened markedly since 1972 when Great Society programs had kicked in and Vietnam protests were a constant in the public square.
On this election day I remind you to vote, and am also reminded by all that is going on in a Washington that now sidesteps what I have voted for over the decades – the imperial presidency ascendant.
We just heard about EPA’s new initiative to cite a little-known, otherwise-purposed Section 111(d) of the 1970 Clean Air Act to begin the socialization of America’s energy industry. Regulations initiating the banning of fossil fuels – beginning with coal – will “skyrocket” electricity and other energy prices in the land. It is all done under the Big Lie of hindering climate change, which by EPA's own accounting will serve to reduce temperatures by about 0.05 deg F in 100 years. But this federal power grab will first hurt the poor, and eventually it will beggar the nation by increasing all costs and cutting jobs, thereby hurting all of us if a succeeding wiser administration does not roll back the damage. In the interval we can always dream of a Congress that reclaims its pawned balls from the White House, and resumes its constitutional functions. (more here)
Eric Holder’s DOJ is fulfilling its part in the imperial presidency. Its latest assault on the Second Amendment is to include gun and ammo dealers as businesses subject to Operation Choke Point. This little piece of sleaze was initiated for the salutary purpose of denying the nation’s financing and banking services to porn shops, drug paraphernalia outlets, escort services, …, and wouldn’t you know it, arms and ammo retailers. The House is aware of this latest shortcut to autocracy, but in the interval the innocent will be punished, assuming that arms and ammo escape from Choke Point. Contact your representatives.
More on how the Left seeks to silence dissenting voices. The asymmetric assault by the country’s collectivists on free speech has long been argued here. The latest dollop of evidence comes from Senate Democrats who “have promised a bote this on a constitutional amendment to expressly repeal the free speech protections fo the First Amendment.” Yes, 41 Democrats are co-sponsoring Tom Udall’s (D-NM) to give Congress the power to regulate ‘political speech’. Their broad initiative is based on two propositions “money is not speech” and “corporations have no free speech rights”. Both propositions are patently false and contradict not only US laws, but also seminal western cultural tenets that arguably over the centuries contributed much to the primacy of western civilization and all that it has and continues to contribute to the world. In its slide toward autocracy, socialism cannot tolerate dissenting ideas, especially in the public forum.
An illuminating essay – ‘The Democratic Assault on the First Amendment’ - on this latest foray against the Constitution and liberty is penned by Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX), darling of the tea parties and nemesis of the Left. Let’s see if our progressive friends will counter the salient points of the message instead of continuing to pillory the messenger.
Glad to see the Bergdahl repatriation case moved off center court to let discovery of the VA scandal resume its rightful place in the public eye. Off course, the lamestream lackeys will continue to drag their journalistic feet on this, but continuing to poke what is turning out to be another foreign policy cowpie will only increase the smell and draw attention to the others on this administration's resume.
The issue itself has several distinct (orthogonal) factors which Team Obama and the lamestream obfuscate for obvious reasons, but which outlets like Fox News and the more conservative blogs seem also to not distinguish. Each of these must be addressed separately to decide the issue –
1. Given Bergdahl’s known sentiments about America and its role in Afghanistan, why was retained in a frontline combat unit?
2. Under what conditions did then Pfc Bergdahl walk away from his unit? Basically, did he go outside the perimeter with or without authorization? Statements from his comrades in arms who describe his departure indicate that he deserted.
3. No matter the nature of his departure, President Obama is lying when he characterizes Bergdahl’s captivity as having been “left behind” during ongoing combat. At his departure his unit was on a stand down within a secured perimeter. This markedly changes the nature of why and when we risk people, materiel, and mission.
4. What was the cost of searching for him in casualties and materiel, and where did authorization come from for the extra effort to suffer this cost?
5. Trading the Taliban’s strong suit of Gitmo prisoners for Bergdahl without the advice and consent of Congress, violating the law, and countermanding the administrations explicit promises to consult with Congress before releasing any Gitmo combatant prisoners is a legal matter in its own right.
6. Evaluating this ‘trade’ in concert with Obama’s long list of dubious/failed foreign policy initiatives confirms our early and subsequently verified assessments of this community organizer’s talents playing in the big league. But this is a political matter which needs to be viewed in terms of how much support he receives from Democrats up for re-election. We can count on the lying here to equal at least the level devoted to the Banghazi cover-up.
People who have trouble connecting the dots are often missing some dots.
WSJ’s Kimberley Strassel has shined a light on ‘Big Labor’s VA Choke Hold’ – an aspect of the scandal not yet exposed. She lists a series of audacious malpractices that have become embedded in the VA, and presumably across the federal bureaucratic terrain since the same public service unions (e.g. American Federation of Government Employees and the SEIU) are ensconced throughout.
Byzantine union work rules have helped create VA’s huge treatment backlogs and long waiting times. The AFGE and SEIU attack every initiative to increase internal productivity or outsource work that the VA healthcare system can’t or won’t provide since it may diminish the VA's union workforce or work hours. As a result veterans suffer and have done so for years. (See also 'The VA Fiasco - some thoughts')
The government unions’ response to non-performance is singular and uniform – ‘give us more money.’ That is the essential substance of union promoted reforms in the government when another agency has been shown to go rogue or become dysfunctional. (Photo from Strassel's piece with caption "A rally of VA workers, members of the American Federation of Government Employees, near the White House, June 13, 2012. Getty Images/The Washington Post)
The cause for such behavior and performance has been obvious for decades and was anticipated by FDR when he opposed the onset of public service unions in the 1930s. Public service unions construct dysfunctional feedback paths in the bureaucracies they dominate – the agencies’ faces are turned from serving the veterans or taxpayer, and toward union bosses and disconnected management that is further disconnected from elected officials. Poor service can get worse for decades before someone notices, publicizes it sufficiently, and then attracts temporary palliatives which are soon forgotten as the next cycle of disservice starts.
Hillary Clinton’s public copy on Benghazi is that she will not respond to any more queries about her involvement in that tragedy on her watch because that would be playing politics “on the backs of our dead.” This by any reading is, of course, playing politics to the maximum on the subject, especially since her leadership and response to crises will be of greatest interest to Americans if/when she runs for president. Although we have a fairly good idea about her in/ability in the realm of international diplomacy, the real bottom line here is that we have no idea whether she can handle that 3AM call given how she utterly failed to handle the 3PM call that kept ringing for months leading up to 11 September 2011, before she picked up and then blew it.
But that’s just a peripheral preamble to what I want to highlight as another peek into the workings of a liberal (of the self-declared progressive kind of) mind. In the carefully leaked chapter of her forthcoming book Hard Choices, she continues the prevarication on the video’s role in Al Qaeda’s attack on the Benghazi consulate with a logical tour de force. There she advances the new proposition that the video could still have played a role in supporting the attack, since (seat belts please!) no one has yet proved that the video did NOT play such a role. Now requiring the proof of a negative to resurrect and eliminate a discredited factor, when a sufficient cause for the attack has already been established, is vintage liberal logic.
Of course, the sad part is that the nation’s innumerate hordes have no ready defense against such a cynical bamboozle, and will include it as another legitimate aspect of Benghazi when they weigh the pro/con arguments about Hillary’s errors and omissions while SecState.