Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rabid Dogs

Ayatollah Khameini, Iran' Supreme Leader, was quoted last week while his negotiators were trying to broker a deal with John Kerry, EU leaders and China to relax sanctions as follows: "Zionist officials cannot be called human, they are like animals, some of them....The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation." He referred to the regime as the "rabid dog of the region". It's pretty reasonable to conclude that any agreement to which this lunatic concurs is implicitly bad for the party on the table's other side.

Leaders of the West, particularly Barack Obama, have stated that any relaxation of sanctions would have to be accompanied by a process by which Iran would be required to dismantle its enrichment infrastructure and ship near-weapons grade uranium to outside partners for storage/destruction. but none of that has happened here. Instead, we are treated to reports of the benefits of a six month agreement that doesn't require Iran to stop construction of centrifuges and doesn't require Iran to open up all suspected nuclear sites for inspection.

Why the sudden rush to head to Geneva in the middle of the night to conclude such a short term agreement? Why do the Chinese and Russians seem so anxious to get this thing approved and, all of a sudden, are so supportive of John Kerry's efforts? The obvious answer is because once there is agreement to relax sanctions - under whatever circumstances - there is no chance that those sanctions will be reimposed under any circumstances. The Chinese and Russians will invent unending rationale to explain why some conditions might have been breached or that these requirements were not clearly defined in the agreement, etc. For all intents and purposes, the economic sanctions against Iran have ended and the country has emerged as a member of the nuclear club.

We have seen ample evidence that when America creates a power vacuum that space is quickly
occupied by China or Russia. Egypt in the case of the former and Syria the latter. The Russians have
played an essential role in Iran's quest for nuclear power and the Chinese have been happy to buy their oil, even in the face of international sanctions. It is equally reasonable to conclude, given the Russians' support for Iran and Assad, that as Iran's influence grows, so does Russia's. With the American departure in Iraq and the growing influence of the Shi'a, and the looming departure from Afghanistan, it is likely that the Russians will have an influence in the region that their years in Afghanistan could not secure. All of this alarms the Sunni world enormously, increases Saudi interest to join the nuclear club (which Pakistan joined with Saudi financing), and fundamentally undermines the interests of the US which is perceived as weakened and crippled by domestic dispute.

Bibi Netanyahu as usual does not shrink from controversy and calls 'em like he sees 'em. He characterizes this interim deal as a "historic mistake" which, in my humble view, only adds to the litany already accomplished by the Obama administration. After the Ayatollah made the statements I referenced earlier, Bibi said, "The public responded to him with calls of 'Death to America! Death to Israel!' Doesn't this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran. We are not confused." Nor should we be.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fouad Ajami and JFK

Since I began writing this blog several months ago, I have made occasional references to commentators whose writing I admire - Charles Krauthammer (with whom I've had several disagreements recently) and Andrew McCarthy. I have failed to include another whose work is consistently stimulating and often challenges the media's embrace of Administration narrative - Fouad Ajami.

Ajami, of course, seems most comfortable in his analysis of events in the Middle East, and while tectonic events in that region are as dangerous and world-changing as ever, they have been overshadowed by domestic affairs. I continue to resist the urge to spend much time on Obamacare since that fiasco is discussed daily by voices much wiser than mine. However, this week Dr. Ajami has written a column about domestic politics (which is unusual in itself) and it is a blistering sociological critique of the hysteria that has surrounded the President since he burst onto the national scene.

It is ironic that this examination takes place during a time when we are looking back on the assassination of JFK and the unending ripples that act continues to exert today. Through today's looking glass, it is difficult not to characterize Kennedy's worldview as conservative, since he regularly espoused the economic benefits of cutting taxes and was an unapologetic anti-communist. This is a notion that Kennedy's family and the press resist because he is often cited as the father of modern liberalism, the logical bridge between the New Deal and the Great Society, periods of great governmental expansion and assumption of federal control over issues traditionally governed by the states.

The real reason that we remember JFK the way we do is because he represented such stark contrast to the Eisenhowers and Nixons of the world. He was young, handsome, wealthy with a gorgeous wife and very young children. He embodied the changes that began to shake the world in the early Sixties-the dream of men landing on the moon, the bold embrace of Berliners trapped by a totalitarian wall, the "goodness" of Americans serving those less fortunate. And in the background, a musical revolution beginning to take shape in Britain and San Francisco. The skies were literally no limit, and the young President's optimism cut across all ideologies.

Today's progressives try to paint Obama with JFK's brush, but it is an image Photoshopped, a pastiche of qualities they desperately want to be true. Obama's actions prove he is the antithesis of a great unifier; he has worked at splitting and dividing this country like no other politician in my lifetime. His signature social achievement was passed on a strict party line vote, using a parliamentarian trick engineered by his consigliere, Harry Reid. He sets no bold agenda for the future, trapping instead future generations in a sea of debt for which he holds others responsible. He and those who support him employ the foulest of language to criticize their political opponents while appealing out of the other side of his mouth for civility in public discourse. It is hypocrisy and cynicism made whole. The contrast with JFK could not be more stark.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Death in the Family

My apologies to the occasional reader. I have been out of pocket and unfocused due to the recent passing of my wife's twin brother. He committed suicide in a high rise apartment in Chicago overlooking the lakefront where he had retreated from his wife, his only child (from a previous marriage) and his siblings. His soul was deeply troubled and his body failing, both as a consequence of a mountain bike accident which had disabled him in 2007. He worked on his physical and psychological rehab for many years, but was clearly not making enough progress to restore his functionality. The man who died in that lonely apartment was not the man I knew over the years, not the man who used to hide when we would hike various trails in and around Aspen, not the man who would blow down a mountain on skis fearlessly. I will miss him and his twin sister will always feel like a part is missing.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In The Land of Lincoln

Visiting my family for a few days in the suburbs of Chicago. The fall weather is fantastic and a welcome change from home. I never lived in this area because my folks moved here after I started college in the northeast. In any event, the political climate here is hyper liberal, not just among my family members, but among others with whom I've come into contact. They have a cartoonish view of where I come from and characterize my political perspective in hyperbole right out of the Alan Grayson school of bipartisanship.

I may no longer hold the classic liberal approach to improving the shortcomings of society, but I can hardly criticize my close family members for doing so. They actually walk the walk, emulating in many ways the path blazed by my mother whose activities I described briefly in my opening commentary of this blog. My cousins are lifelong educators in the Jewish community, and their commitment to those within and without the community is one I admire without reservation. My sister's family, too, embraces these notions, and she and her husband have passed this belief system to their three wonderful children. But behind it all, I perceive this insidious suggestion that the political approach I have adopted sits in opposition to improving the lives of our fellow citizens, wants to actually withhold improvement from them and reinstitute abhorrent legal (or extra-legal) mechanisms to insure their inequality.

I see this, too, in my observations of the behavior of mass media organs over the last several weeks as a government shutdown, debt ceiling increase and Obamacare have been endlessly analyzed. May I briefly recount my belief that the first two issues are only relevant because two of the three major branches of government (legislative and executive) have failed their constitutional duty of producing a budget and then passing appropriation bills in accordance with that budget. We can argue ad infinity about whether that budget should be balanced, embrace tax code reform, etc. But a budget is mandated constitutionally and it simply does not exist. The "continuing resolution - debt ceiling" games will continue until this is fundamentally addressed.

The media has done a masterful job of painting this merry go round as a devious, Tea Party-initiated strategy to extort concessions from the progressive government of America's first president of color. It is so absurd and offensive on so many levels that I refuse to distract myself by addressing them. My larger point, though, is that this Pravda-like uniformity has gained traction in the liberal community and has been accepted de facto because it is being disseminated by media organs widely seen by that community as "impartial". By opinion writers whose views are generally in sync with theirs.

One person with whom I have spoken here and who knew nothing of my political persuasions, but who saw me in the company of fellow travelers, informed me that it was widely known that the Confederate flag is proudly waved and displayed at Tea Party events. Another, who did know I lived in Texas, passed along a valuable insight that Ted Cruz was the most dangerous man in America
because he is a nihilist and is fighting to eliminate all government. Yet another told me their child was looking at colleges, was interested in the University of Texas, but was dissuaded from pursuing that
option because the student would be exposed to too many Texans. And, best of all, when I confessed to another for having voted for Ted Cruz, I was met by speechless incredulity.

Many leaders of the Democrat party - including the president himself - have been employing incredibly inflammatory language to describe their political opponents over the last few weeks. Perhaps (and hopefully) this has peaked over the last week as Alan Grayson sent out a fund raising letter with the letter "T" in Tea Party as a burning cross and then called MSNBC's Martin Bashir a "collaborator" for having the temerity to confront him; MSNBC's Chris Hayes showing a graphic of Cruz, Lee and Rubio on three "King" cards; and Dick Durban also sent out a fund raising letter claiming a Republican congressman had rudely insulted the President during a meeting (which Durban did not attend) which Jay Carney denied ever happened.

Part of the reason for this explosion of offensive rhetoric is that the media employs the language itself and refuses to condemn those on the left who also engage in it. The unfortunate consequence is that many who philosophically agree with progressivism are either unable or unwilling to sort through what is fact and what is fiction.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Greetings! I have refrained from posting a comment over the last two weeks for a few reasons: I felt like rhetoric had become completely overheated and irrational; the mainstream media and even those who suggest they reflect the thinking of specific interest groups had gone completely off the rails; I had made my opinions known in the weeks leading up to the shutdown and debt ceiling increase, and saw little reason to keep repeating myself. Now that the shutdown is over and the debt ceiling increase passed, though, I'm feeling there's some oxygen in the atmosphere again.

I'd like to begin by posing a few questions:

1) Is a $17 trillion deficit a good or bad thing for this country?
2) Did Barack Obama really mean it when he voted against raising the debt ceiling and called George Bush's $8 trillion deficit "unpatriotic"?
3) Is it a good thing that we have approved a debt ceiling increase for nearly $1 trillion that will only take us through January 7?
4) Does anyone really believe anymore that a full implementation of Obamacare will not contribute to a further increase in the deficit?
5) Why do Democrats now want to insist that sequester cuts need to be eliminated when they claim to really want to do something about reducing the deficit?
6) Does anyone really think that Paul Ryan and Patty Murray will agree on anything that averts another shutdown? Or that really contributes to deficit reduction as opposed to decreases in the rise of spending?

I'm sorry, folks, but if you're okay with any of this, you are going to end up on the wrong side of history. In the five years of Obama's presidency, he has now doubled the deficit incurred by all the
presidents before him. You want to blame George Bush, blame George Bush. You want to complain
that the stimulus wasn't big enough and that's why the economy hasn't recovered sufficiently, blame the stimulus. You want to say that the economy has somehow been stifled by Republicans who only want to see Obama fail, please - blame Republicans. At this point, the whole back and forth is becoming completely irrelevant to me because there are several undeniable truths which neither side can avoid:

1) Pass a budget. Send it to conference committee. Continuing resolutions then become moot. Why can't we pass a budget during this administration?
2) Debt ceiling increases are only required because the Congress can't come to any reasonable agreement about how to reduce spending. Democrats want tax increases, don't want to reduce benefits to the aging or those in need and, ultimately, refuse to agree to restructuring the tax code to a "fair" or "flat" tax structure which requires contributions by all. Republicans (at least a few of them) will not endorse an increase in rates that penalizes capital gain investment or which unfairly targets
job creators for income redistribution purposes. You guys need to get real. We will turn out every and
any Republican who would endorse such changes. So,
3) Work on a longer term program which anticipates a gradual reduction in debt over a ten year term. Raise the age for eligibility for Social Security benefits. Reduce benefits for those whose retirement incomes eclipse certain benchmarks. It cracks me up when I hear liberals say that life expectancies when Social Security was created were such that some people were expected to collect and others would not. Are they suggesting that the plan was designed to in essence confiscate retirement set asides for a segment of the workforce??  In their world, I guess, those actuary predictions were acceptable and now we have to make adjustments because life expectancies have been extended. What about giving people some incentive to take on this planning for themselves? Why is this notion so abhorrent?
4) Large, extreme changes in the status quo will be required to rectify this situation. Liberals want to put this off, kick the can down the road (one of the most hateful colloquialisms ever coined), pass the problem along to someone else. People who associate themselves with "tea party" notions don't want to wait, aren't afraid of making tough choices, are prepared to sacrifice their benefits for the sake of their children's' and support without reserve the approach of people like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. There - I said it.

If both major political parties cannot figure out some reasonable method for passing a budget, resolving it in conference, gradually bringing some control to spending and the deficit, and getting some governors on entitlement programs (including the lunatic new "affordable" care act), the recent controversy over the shutdown and debt limit increase will seem tame in the waning years of Obama's second term.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Defender of Democracy

I had an interesting series of comments I was going to make today on Jay Z and finally undertake some social commentary that I initially suggested would become part of this blog. But then Tom Friedman struck again, threw me off track completely and forced me to respond to his never-ending hypocrisy.

In today's column entitled, "Our Democracy is At Stake", Friedman sums up his view that President Obama is "defending the health of our democracy" by resisting "the radical Tea Party minority". He goes on to describe how this group has created systemic advantages that has given it power, so much so that it threatens the very essence of majority rule. This cannot be the actual intellectual argument of one of the most powerful figures in American journalism, can it? Surely, even sitting in the offices of the Grey Lady in midtown or riding the Acela to dip into the capital, he is aware that the Tea Party is not a functioning third party movement with titular heads and a grass roots bureaucracy that works local precincts and gerrymanders districts in state legislatures?

Tom, this is an organic movement that doesn't "hate" government (much to the chagrin of Reed and Pelosi who want to believe that with every fiber in whatever organ actually pumps blood throughout their body), but does want to see the size of government reduced in a substantial way. It wants to see a major overhaul in the process that generates revenue for the government and it wants to see powers that over time have been assumed by recklessly growing government restored to state control and oversight. Finally, it loathes the accumulation of debts and deficits which has taken place under Republican and Democratic Administrations and wants to see a proactive plan which reasonably reduces spending and deficits over time. All of that will result in a real sense of economic progress and growth, will unleash a torrent of investment by private equity, repatriate equity that has been transferred overseas, and create millions of new jobs. I have no clue whether people who refer to themselves as Tea Party proponents would agree with this description, but that's how I see it.

Does any of this sound radical, anarchic, violent or a point of view embraced by people with bombs strapped to their chests? Of course, you know it does not, so what are Tom and Barack so afraid of?

This is the second time in my life time that I can recall an organic movement like this developing.The first was the movement to oppose the Vietnam War. This anti war movement had a similar relationship to the Democratic Party that the Tea Party now has with Republicans. In the case of each, it was understandable that internal factions would develop, that the establishment felt threatened and challenged, and unique voices arose within each which attracted people active in those movements. During the Vietnam War era, the establishment voices were Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Sam Rayburn, even Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. The anti war voices were Gene McCarthy, George McGovern and, somewhat reluctantly, Robert Kennedy. Many of you might be completely unfamiliar with these people today. In the Tea Party era, the establishment figures are Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Boehner. And the Tea Party voices are Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and, somewhat reluctantly, Marco Rubio.

During the Vietnam War era, nobody called these anti war factions a danger to democracy or bomb throwers (unless they were ACTUAL bomb throwers like the Weather Underground or SDS). Nobody refused to negotiate with them. Nobody claimed the Democratic Party had been forced into radical positions because a fringe minority had begun exercising its constitutional rights. Nobody espoused the notion that President Johnson should hold firm because he was "defending the health of our democracy."

Tom Friedman should know better because he was present during this period. He defends Obama and Obamacare in an intellectually dishonest way and he intentionally mischaracterizes the Tea Party because it is the only way he can make such a ludicrous argument. He doesn't address what I have addressed because he knows millennials know little of this recent history and they fundamentally share his worldview. A President who passes a sweeping new entitlement solely on the support of a single political party, who issues waivers to the law extralegally, who exempts the very class of people who imposed this on the American public is hardly the right man to be called upon to defend the health of our democracy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tom Friedman and the "Moderates"

Pulitzer-prize winning liberal columnist Tom Friedman is at it again. Arguably, the personification of the New York Times, he argues today about the opening provided by the election of Hassan Rouhani in Iran and the apparent moderation newly displayed by the autocratic mullahs. Like his beloved USA, the Iranian government is being hammered by foreign entanglements, a poor economy and loss of opportunity for its growing youthful population. And thanks to President Barack Obama, we should now (or so Tom argues) reward this move to the center with a lifting of the economic embargo and an acceptance of their development of peaceful nuclear capabilities if they permit inspections of their enrichment activities. C'mon, providing materials for IED's that killed and maimed American soldiers in Iraq, denying the Holocaust and blaming it as the reason the West gave the Jews that Palestinian land, supporting terrorist regimes in Syria and Lebanon, shipping arms with their pals, the North Koreans, to Gaza - that's all in the past, that was done by the previous administration.

It's ludicrous, of course, but that's not the focus of my comments today. The argument that Friedman makes is naked hypocrisy and has no application when he views domestic politics through his rose colored liberal lenses. Like many on the left (and the voices and characterization have become more shrill by the day), he exhibits no similar sense of flexibility with those who might oppose progressive policies. Republicans are obstructionist, they have been hijacked by Tea Party lunatics and, let's be honest, there is an undercurrent of racism with those who stand in opposition to the President. But it's ironic because what's happening here is similar to what he describes in Iran and he is completely blind to it.

We, too, have been given the choice of politicians - in both parties - who are monochromatic in outlook. And some of us will leap at the chance to vote for the candidate in "gray", as Friedman describes it. Take Texas, for example. We had a choice between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on the Republican side for Kay Bailey Hutchison's senate seat. Dewhurst had all the money, the support of the establishment; in other words, he would have become another "moderate" voice in the Republican caucus, protecting the status quo, following the rules of decorum, blending in. Texans rejected this notion of "Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Black" and swept the unlikely Ted Cruz into the Senate.

Does anyone believe that the "train wreck" of Obamacare would be getting the attention it is currently if Sen. Dewhurst was the junior senator from Texas? Would the Congress be demanding a one year delay in the individual mandate in order to secure a continuing resolution? Whatever your view of Obamacare, it is an undeniable fact that the President has provided discretionary, extralegal delays to groups of citizens, nullifying the notion of equal protection under the law. Ted Cruz was sent to the Senate to do exactly what he is doing: fighting the status quo, challenging the establishment and working to limit the role of government in people's lives.

How is it that we are called anarchists, terrorists, people with "bombs strapped to their bodies," according to Dan Pfeiffer, the President's communications director. How is it that Friedman has determined Rouhani's reasonableness because one his key aids happens to have a PhD from George Washington University? Why are he and the President so willing to lend the prestige of his office to a government that has murdered Americans, but sitting down with "extremists" in the opposition party is such an anathema? Tom Friedman is worried about the "quality of life in Iran"; what about the declining quality of life right here at home where millions have left the workforce and now - NOW - companies are reducing hours, dropping health coverage for part time employees, and even ending coverage for those in retirement?

Progressives need to stop the demonization of opponents and accept the fact that their signature piece of social justice legislation was passed without a single vote of support from the minority, in the dead of night, with incentives to persuade fence-sitting votes, and with legislative chicanery that required a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote. And, please, can we stop giving the moderate Iranians a benefit of the doubt that we refuse our own citizens?

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Cruz Craze

Ted Cruz has spent 21 hours in the well of the Senate, trying to stop the funding of Obamacare. There is near uniform agreement that he was wasting his time, knew he could not prevail, and was only interested in his own self-aggrandizement. All of that may be true. I was speaking to a very liberal friend of mine yesterday (yes, they're out here, too) and he said that the problem with Republicans is that they've allowed themselves to be hijacked by right wing zealots who want an end to government and hate Obama. I told him that I failed to see how that hijacking had been successful since Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and others were actively seeking to delegitimize Ted Cruz, and he was being publicly pilloried by voices like Dr. Krauthammer and David Brooks. People like me, I told him, were simply trying to provide some balance against a Democratic Party that has been wholly subsumed by immoderate progressives, embodied by Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

When I was growing up, the Democrats were a schizoid group: there were Southern Democrats who actively opposed segregation and voting rights; there were strong foreign policy advocates like Scoop Jackson who would be viewed as incredibly hawkish today; and, let's remember that the sainted Bobby Kennedy, as his brother's Attorney General, used the power of federal law enforcement to spy and collect "opposition research" on Martin Luther King. But that "big tent" party began to change with the emergence of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern, the youthful opposition to the Vietnam War, the emergence of a radical fringe which embraced violent action, and Richard Nixon's abuse of power. This also served to solidify the creeping leftwing inclinations of mass media, exemplified by the NY Times, Washington Post and CBS' "60 Minutes".

Where are the voices of moderation in the Democratic Party today? Which voices can be described as the strong foreign policy advocates of the day? Which demand creation of more federal programs and which demand a more restrictive fiscal policy? if you're honest, you know the answer  - there are no dissenting voices. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Durban, Wasserman Schultz, Feinstein, Mikulski, Schumer - you know I could go on and on. In the Republican Party, however, there is real difference of opinion, and this is characterized by today's media as a "civil war"; completely absurd. There's Mark Kirk and Lisa Murkowski, really more Democrats than Republicans; Rand Paul, who, while trying to posture as a friend of Israel, argues like his dad against foreign aid; John McCain, who calls Ted Cruz a "wacko bird" and wants to send sophisticated weaponry to al Qaeda sympathizers in Syria; and Peter King, whom I always admired for his strength in foreign affairs, publicly trashing Cruz in very personal terms. In which party is ideological purity demanded and in which party is there a legitimate struggle for ideological dominance? In years past, it was Republicans as the former and Democrats as the latter. That position has reversed itself since Obama's inauguration. Where are Democratic voices of dissent? How long did it take for one of Obama's own to speak out against his threats to attack Syria? Why are unions so conspicuously silent on the current Obamacare debate when their members will be subjected to excise taxation for their expensive health plans?

So, trash Ted Cruz to your heart's content. Mock him for reading his daughters "Green Eggs and Ham". His faux filibuster was undertaken to challenge the anemic establishment of the Republican Party, because he felt like drawing a red line ought to mean something to someone at some time. He will become a hero to many because he is willing to confront not only unpopular legislation, but the arthritic condition of his own party. Calling it a "civil war" is media hyperbole, of course, intended to inflict further damage on the party's perception. But, at least there is real discourse going on to best determine the future direction of the party, out in the open and open to all. There is nothing negative or destructive about that process.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

David Brooks Is A Boob

I love the New York Times. As a born and bred Yankee, I was brought up on the "grey lady", knew it as the sole paper of record, believed that whatever appeared in its pages was beyond reproach, researched to death and edited with precision. When I moved from the "TriState" area, I subscribed to it for decades, relying upon its pages to imbue me with a sophistication that my new neighbors could never replace - reading about fashion, food and theater. After 9/11 (as I have attempted to describe before), my enthusiasm for the paper began to wane as I saw George Bush pilloried as Lincoln must have been when he suspended habeus corpus, an illegitimate President who wanted to lay waste to those provisions of the Constitution the left is willing to favor.

David Brooks has inadequately replaced William Safire as the Times' "right leaning" columnist on the Op-Ed page. This is a guy who could barely contain his enthusiasm for the sharp crease in Obama's slacks, and I understand he has said today that Republican establishment leaders have to show Ted Cruz "who's boss" in his looming confrontation with Harry Reid over the continuing resolution. Again, this might come as something of a shock to Brooks and my hero, Dr. Krauthammer, but the rank and file with whom I speak are sick and tired of Republicans constantly being pressured to compromise with Democrats for the purpose of being reasonable and not upsetting the apple cart of government. The good doctor says this is a kamikaze mission and the Republicans will end up as sushi. This talk is patronizing and insults those who wish to fight for something a bit more principled than caving to progressives to not appear obstructionist.

The Affordable Care Act is a law straight out of Monty Python. There's nothing affordable or caring about it. It is about the growth of government. It is about the suffocation of competition. It is about the expansion of taxation. It is about higher premiums and constricted access to doctors. It is law crafted by progressives and passed only by them - in both houses of Congress. It was upheld by the Supreme Court only because the Court did not accept the Solicitor General's argument that the charges assessed to citizens were penalties, not taxes. I don't really care what forces led Speaker Boehner to pass a continuing resolution this week which included defunding Obamacare; he did the right thing and bent to the will of the people. This vote was demanded and now proceeds to the Senate.

Ted Cruz has consistently represented the views of those who oppose this legislation. To the extent that he stands in contrast to those who criticize him for being on a fool's mission or for opposing the establishment of his party which "can't stand him", he will enjoy the favor of those weary of compromising with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. They and the President have no patience for us, call us anarchists who despise government, use the IRS to harass us, and try to mischaracterize us to make us the enemy of those only trying to better their lives. It is filthy, political opportunism designed to expand power and create dependency.

I have no illusions that Obama and Reid will never authorize a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. The process to accomplish this should be as messy, complicated and public as possible. And it should be abundantly clear in the aftermath that it was wholly protected by Democrats, that it had zero support from the opposition and that the people expressed their dissatisfaction with vigor and passion. David Brooks just doesn't get that people outside the NY - Beltway axis have had it. Five years of job loss and declining incomes. Now we have to put up with higher premiums, a loss of coverage and a 30 hour work week on top of it?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Legislative Anarchy

Coordinating their messaging, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have essentially suggested that tea party kooks are hijacking the legislative process and are dedicated to anarchy by linking an increase in the debt limit to a defunding of Obamacare. They claim that these extremists want to shut down the government and intentionally harm the full faith and credit of the US. This, of course, is absurd and their claims contain two stunningly ironic statements on which the press refuses to pounce.

First, the Congress has not passed a budget since 2007 which has made these "continuing resolutions" necessary. With a budget passed by both Houses we wouldn't have to go through these endless charades. Since these resolution discussions have taken place, they've been used for political leverage by both parties. The Democrats, including then Sen Obama, threatened to blow up a debt increase during the Bush Administration because of their opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And those conflicts were both waged under authorizations that were passed by both Houses. Why the current effort represents anarchic activity and theirs did not is impossible to explain.

Second, the majority of Americans who oppose Obamacare might argue that the real act of legislative anarchy occurred during the highly manipulated process during which the bill was considered. It was not thoroughly debated, there were no opposition amendments considered, there were substantial incentives provided to certain legislators whose votes were in question, and, worst of all, Harry Reid employed the "reconciliation" process to insure the bill could pass without any Republican votes. Obamacare did not receive a single Republican vote in the House or the Senate, and it is unprecedented to have had a social program of this magnitude passed without a scintilla of support from the minority party.

Those in opposition to Obamacare object to it, not only because of the covert and manipulative way in which it was passed, but also because the highly partisan selling points employed by its proponents are turning out to be false. No one is saving $2500 a year in premiums, many people are not being given the option of keeping their current plans in place, and it is quite obvious, given that some companies are choosing to abandon selling insurance policies in certain states, that competition is not improving. Finally, many labor unions, which invested millions into the election and re-election of the President and which vocally supported Obamacare's approval, now realize that the "Cadillac" plans they were able to secure for their members, will now be subjected to an excise tax, much to the dismay of their leadership. They have been unable to secure a coveted waiver and, unhappily, their members - unlike the members of Congress and their staffs - will be subjected to the law's myriad restrictions.

Like the President, whose name has been attached to this abominable law, this legislation is a disaster and its full consequences have yet to be felt or digested. The conservative members of Congress and the Senate were sent there to oppose the President's progressive agenda, generally, and Obamacare in particular. If they don't make a legitimate effort to defund this law, while providing a continuing resolution to fund the government's essential functions, they will be challenged in primary and general election contests.

Anarchy is lawlessness in a society; when a majority party and its President manipulate the legislative process, provide taxpayer-funded incentives to lure fence-sitting legislators, and exempt certain groups from the law's effect extralegally, it is clear which group is practicing legislative anarchy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Passenger in 9B

I like to check the Daily Mail from the UK periodically because of my interest in the EPL and soccer in general. They love to traffic in celebrity news as well which seems a regular preoccupation of the English media. Today, though, I read something which blew me away. As I believe I may have mentioned in my initial post, my worldview was turned on its head on September 11, 2001. Prior to that very moment, I believed in accommodation, the Democratic anti-war dogma, the evil tendency of Republicans. I voted for Al Gore over George Bush (what could I possibly have been thinking?) and believed, like David Gregory who had camped out in Austin during the period when the election was in question, that Bush had stolen the election. Everything changed for me on 9/11, as I knew immediately that no private plane from Teterboro had caused that level of damage on a skyscraper, and I was swept up in Bush's controlled outrage. From 1948, Islamists had threatened and executed attacks on Israel, and now the movement had grown strong enough to reach out and attack America.

Dan Lewin was born in the US and his Jewish family made Aliyah when he was 14 (emigrating to Israel). He joined the IDF and became an officer in Sayaret Matkal, an elite special forces group. After he left the military, he attended the Israel Institure of Technology and then MIT. He cofounded Akamai Technologies with an MIT professor and became a billionaire. At 31, he boarded American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on September 11, 2001, to attend an Akamai meeting in LA. He was seated in row 9B, near Mohammed Atta and his cohort al-Omari. It is reported that Daniel understood what was beginning to unfold that day and he attempted by himself to prevent Atta and al-Omari from reaching the cockpit. He did not know that a third hijacker, al-Suquami, was seated directly behind him, and he became the first casualty of 9/11 when his throat was cut.

Like the passengers on United 93, can we possibly imagine how we would react in similar circumstances? Twelve years after the event, I continue to react with emotions that are very close to the surface as I watch the events of that date unfold. But I've never heard the story of Dan Lewin and really knew nothing of him. This young man of extraordinary accomplishments did not seem to hesitate to sacrifice himself to try to save the lives of his fellow passengers. He could not have known what Atta and the others had planned for American 11. He had everything to live for and yet those things appear to have taken a back seat when he was personally confronted with evil. He is survived by his wife and their two sons and he has been named one of the most influential figures of the Internet age. All of that may be true, but his selfless courage and willingness to sacrifice himself to prevent harm to others will never be forgotten and should be honored by Israelis and Americans alike. He embodies what binds the countries together.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Tribute: Marine On the Road

I don't know about you, but where I live there are people panhandling at nearly every intersection. Some are surely homeless, many purport to be raising money for this cause or that, and it is a daily, relentless assault. I remember living in New York when homeless people with squeegees would water down your windshield, wipe the water off with newspaper and then become belligerent if they weren't tipped. It's certainly nothing like that, but when I see these people hanging out at Starbucks or talking on their Iphone, you'll forgive me if I've become a bit cynical.

But there's one guy out there. I don't see him all the time. He's clearly a former Marine, he's in a wheelchair and is missing both his legs. He snaps a salute to those who are obviously fellow veterans, doesn't hold a sign asking for anything in particular and he rolls that chair up and down the hilly intersection where he occassionally appears. In the Texas heat.

This image - particularly on 9/11 - produces real mixed emotions for me. Unlike some other people who appear on this intersection and seem perfectly capable of finding work, I don't know that the same is true for this man. I cannot begin to understand what it might be like to be without both legs and I cannot really know how a prospective employer might respond to a man in his condition. Sure, I would like to imagine that if I were in a position to offer a job, I would feel more motivation to hire veterans, particularly those with some physical impairment. But that's easy for me to say or imagine.

Though I don't know much about this man, I have spoken to him on several occassions and I know he has a family and two young daughters. Again, it's dangerous to make broad assumptions based upon the situation of one man, but we can all acknowledge that it takes groups like the Wounded Warriors and Fisher House to supplement the inadequate care provided to the veteran community. In an age when 90 million adults are out of the workforce, but record numbers of presumably able-bodied people are receiving food stamps, welfare and subsidized cell phones, it outrages me that men and women who volunteered to serve this country are not provided whatever they reasonably need.

Our President says that the wealthiest don't pay their fair share in taxes these days. While I dismiss that notion on its face, I for one would be prepared to pay more in taxes; not for a larger federal government - not for additional entitlement spending - not for more than a dozen intelligence agencies - not for a national department of education - not for subsidies to congressional staffs to help them to pay for Obamacare. But to pay to provide adequate housing for handicapped veterans - to pay to provide a free college education for the children of veterans who sacrificed themselves in service.
I'm sure you get my drift.

Let's drop the theatrical outrage about the children affected by the chemical weapons attack in Syria. The attack is an abomination, of course, but if we're really worried about the impact of violence against children, we'll attack gang violence in Chicago, restrict all late term abortions and address the epidemic of pregnancy among single young women in this country. In the meantime, we've got a legitimate crisis on our hands: this country refuses to provide its veterans with the benefits they have earned and provides benefits to those who have other reasonable options. This cannot stand.

And neither can my poor friend who rolls his chair up and down the road in that unforegiving Texas heat.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Samantha Power vs Reality

I think we can finally begin to see through the haze and assess some authorship for the drawing of the "red line" and the move toward beligerence against Syria. As has become typical with our President, who genuinely seems to avoid assuming responsibility for anything, in the near-term absence of David Axelrod, he looks to the counsel of Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice and Samantha Power to assist him in domestic and foreign policy direction. We all know about the mallability of Susan Rice. But Sam Power has really emerged as the leading voice in Obama foreign policy deployment.

She, of course, is a proponent of employing American power to defend the violation of human rights by authoritarian governments. She has been often cited as a persuasive proponent of American involvement in Libya and argued this week, before the Center for American Progress (enough said) that Obama's team had quietly manipulated the composition of the UN team that had entered Syria to evaluate the gas attack in an effort to turn Iran against Assad. The fact that Power really believed that anything could be done to turn Iran against Syria is the height of naiveté, and offers further evidence that Obama and his key advisers do not have any real understanding of the dynamics which underpin the Middle East.

The Mullahs in Iran have clearly identified their regional priorities since 1979: they wish to become the rightful defenders of the Faith having been supplanted by the Sunnis who protect Islam's two holiest sites; they wish to rid the region of the Jews who defile the Caliphate; they want all Western influence out of the region which is why they provided IED's to kill Americans to the Iraqi and Afgani insurgents; they want to become an atomic power to offset the dominance in the region achieved by Israel and aided by the Americans; and, they believe that their time on Earth requires them to create a environment conducive to the return of the 12th Imam.

The Iranians will not give up Assad nor permit the Sunni-dominated opponents to gain a share of power in Syria. It is for that reason that they have called their Hizballah surrogates into Syria to fight on Assad's behalf, why the North Koreans were involved in helping the Syrians construct their first nuclear power facility and why they have threatened to retaliate against Israel should the US choose to strike Assad. Certainly, the involvement and commitment of Russia and China are a bit more complex and not as ideologically motivated, but their alignment with Iran-Syria complicates the situation exponentially.

And somehow Sam Power believes that the composition of a UN chemical weapons team will convince the Iranians, themselves a victim of chemical weapons deployment at the hand of Saddam Hussein, that they have a moral obligation to abandon Assad and come over to the light. This is absurdity beyond description. It is difficult to conceive that we could possibly send someone to the UN worse than Susan Rice, but we have accomplished that difficult challenge. Sam Power is the penultimate liberal elite - she was schooled at Yale-Harvard-Yale-Harvard and won a Pulitzer Prize for her work reporting on the Bosnian-Serbian conflict. She is married to Cass Sunstein, another Obama acolyte and socialist ideologue.

There is no dispute about the strong influence that Valerie Jarrett exerts on the Obamas. We know that Obama defended Susan Rice with vigor regarding the role she did or did not play in the Benghazi disaster. His loyalty was so strong that she became his National Security Advisor after her embarrassing stint as UN Ambassador and spokesperson on all things Benghazi. As her replacement, he nominates Sam Power, author of a foreign policy doctrine that embraces everything he holds dear: exploited, powerless minorities oppressed by authoritarian dictators. It's a tragedy, though, that in the Obama-Powers universe, those minorities don't include Christians and Jews and don't acknowledge broader geographic realities.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Era of the Neo-Peaceniks

So sorry. Out of the loop for a week or two. Much going on. Without further adieu...

I have observed the discussions over the last few weeks regarding a possible punitive attack against Syria. At first, I really thought Obama was going to act unilaterally, act upon his outrage against the Syrian regime for their deployment of chemical agents and then....the British Parliament voted to remove itself from a "coalition of the willing" and objected to PM Cameron's attempt to involve the UK in a military action against Syria.

Now, the media is filled with accounts of a "neo-isolation" wing of the Republican Party that is opposing Obama's attempt to bring the matter before Congress, so he can't find adequate cover for his "red line" comments of a year ago. Apart from Rand Paul, I really don't believe there is any "neo-isolationist" wing; there is such overall disgust with Obama's lack of respect for constitutional protocol and authority that it is laughable to believe that all of a sudden he has decided that the "people" need to weigh in on this matter.

It is equally ironic to hear the classic anti-war voices of John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Rep (oops, I mean Sen) Ed Markey and Chuck Hagel trumpeting the need to take Assad to task. Of course, Lindsay Graham and John McCain are only too willing to lend their voices to support the hawkish views of these "neo-peaceniks" who are lining up to insure that their godhead is not embarassed by failing to enforce his red line.

Assad has consistently allied himself with bad actors. He has permitted his country to be used by Iran through which arms have been shipped to Hizballah; he has encouraged mujahadeen to use his country as a transport base to travel to Iraq to fight and kill American soldiers; he has sheltered members of the Saddam Hussein family after fleeing Iraq; he has encouraged Hizballah and Iranian Basijj fighters to come to Syria to battle opposition fighters; and, last but not least, he was in the process of constructing a nuclear reactor with the assistance of North Korean and Iranian technicians before the facility was destroyed by Israel. Let's be brutally honest: these actions are far more belligerent and deserving of some American military reaction than the deployment of chemical weapons. That is not to diminish the horror of actually employing gas against civilians, it's just in the grander scheme of things, Syria has been committing acts of war against the US for a number of years and threatening our national security.

As just a singular voice and voter, I would be ready to support whatever Obama was prepared to do if he just addressed the issue candidly. He is simply incapable or unwilling to do that, and has proven - to me at least - over his five years in office that for a "professor of constitutional law" he doesn't hold that document in high regard.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Harry Reid, Steward of Propriety

I had planned to layoff the political commentary momentarily to turn to a diversionary discourse on media, my other favorite topic. But I have to hold off - for a little while at least - because I would like to take a moment to discuss the behavior of the Senate Majority Leader, one third of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi stool.

Harry has been in the news lately because he has intimated that those who disagree with the President are doing so because of his color. This is not the first time that Harry has used race to diminish or criticize his political opponents and he often resorts to fables to batter those with whom he disagrees. His trip to the Senate floor to claim that Mitt Romney had failed to pay income taxes for ten years is perhaps the most memorable. Completely unsubstantiated and factually false. Then, there was the great story Harry told about taking a call from a guy named Tommy (Harry didn't want to give his last name for fear of retribution) who was calling for a "friend" who was an illegal immigrant and din't want to be deported. He refers to the Tea Party as modern day anarchists, echoing uncannily the ridiculous characterization by Chris Matthews of Sen Ted Cruz as a terrorist. And, lastly, Harry was among the most vociferous and ugly critics of George Bush, calling him a liar, inaccurately reporting the number of job gains during his administration as well as his accumulation of debt.

Not only does Harry diminish the position of majority leader, but he really shouldn't be serving in the Senate. He was extremely vulnerable during the last election cycle, but Republicans shot themselves in the foot by running Sharon Engle against him. It's not that her politics were unattractive or that she didn't represent a clear distinction with Harry, but she turned out to be a dreadful candidate who could not ignite sufficient enthusiasm inside and outside the state to defeat an incumbent with unbreakable ties to powerful union interests in Nevada.

It's important, I think, for all but die hard Democrats to really think about this level of leadership that the party has placed atop its ranks: Obama, Reid, Pelosi. Each has little reservation about casting the most personal aspersions against their opponents, but these people are historically committed leftwing zealots. Is it conceivable that a Scoop Jackson, Jack Kennedy or Harry Truman would find a place in today's Democratic Party? Don't think so.

When someone mentions the name "Harry", it is difficult not to think of President Truman. While he had his faults, he was literally the last of a breed. Born into a world with few creature comforts, he commanded an artillery battery in WW1 and had a trying time finding his "place" in the world. Though simple in so many ways, he found himself under the sway of a powerful Democratic political boss in Missouri who shepherded his career. When he succeeded FDR after his death, however, he possessed the fortitude to end WW2 decisively and controversially. Did he make mistakes in Korea? Undeniably. But this "Harry" is separated by our "Harry" by so much more than the distance of time. Reid is a creature of party and exhibits little inclination to depart from party doctrine for the sake of the country. He has little problem participating in a climate crisis conference with his ideological bud, Al Gore, but convene a conference on IRS targeting? Phony! Demand that we get answers on the events of 9/11/12? Nothing to see here!

We can complain endlessly about Obama, Valerie Jarratt, and David Axelrod. But Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are the real legislative enablers of the Obama doctrine, and we must make every effort to neutralize their authority by insuring they are minority rather than majority leaders because it's clear that for whatever reason their constituents are unlikely to replace them.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Grey Lady Shows Her Age

Even in light of the this week's disastrous sale of The Boston Globe for a 93% loss and the fire sale of The Washington Post, The New York Times published an absurd op-ed on the Tea Party's path to irrelevance in which the author, James Traub, essentially calls the group anti-immigration (liberal code language for "racist") because it has the audacity to oppose the Senate's bipartisan "reform plan". This is sheer intellectual pretzel twisting at best and outright dishonesty at worst.

Traub equates the current Tea Party movement to the defunct Federalist movement in Jefferson's era which represented the traditional colonial power base in the East and New England and resisted southerly and westerly expansion because it would have diluted their base of power. Traub claims it was indicative of ignoring demographic realities and thus spelled their doom. The allusion is a painfully obvious one - Traub says the xenophobic Tea Partiers are ignoring today's demographic realities by opposing this reform plan, and they will become as irrelevant as the Federalists.

It is so convenient for liberal ideologues to lump every limited government initiative into this "Tea Party" basket because they can then be mocked with easy profanity, but the reality is that this movement is too amorphous and un-political-party-like to be compared to any party of the past. It is not nominating candidates and while some candidates - both successful and failed - have been slapped with that label because of the support that appears to be coming from that constituency, there isn't a single member of Congress or governor with "TP" (man, is that a terrible abbreviation) following their name. Unlike, say, Bernie Sanders, who has now eschewed Socialist for "independent".

The opposition to the Senate's bipartisan "reform plan" derives from the fact that it is poorly crafted
legislation that is loaded with exceptions, loopholes and defiance of current law. If the Senate really
wanted this to receive legitimate bipartisan support, it should have passed the Cornyn Amendment which would have made effective, measurable border security a precursor to any legalization. Arguably, law to better insure a secure border is already on the books, but its enforcement is thwarted by the President and his Attorney General. Why would Democrats oppose such an initiative?

The reform plan also contains the usual amount of pork we are used to see getting stuffed into appropriations bills, like Bernie Sanders' $1.5 billion youth jobs program, the creation of a new federal entity called The Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, special consideration for Alaskan fisheries. People who refer to themselves as identifying with the Tea Party are sick to death of limitless government giveaways, promises to end illegal immigration and commitments to secure the border. This has literally gone on for generations and pledges from Congress are vaporous - say one thing today and do something else entirely tomorrow.

It is disgusting to call this opposition "anti-immigration" because it has nothing whatever to do with opposing regulated, lawful entry of those who wish to live here. Unlike the Federalists, everybody's got strong roots in a wave of immigration that took place in generations past. Stop making this some
racist screed which inaccurately suggests that the Tea Party opposes an influx of Latinos or some other group that "doesn't look like us". We want people to be law abiding. And if the law needs to be
changed, then let it be changed in a way that actually improves the process - by first securing the border, policing the issuance and expiration of visas and determining the most equitable way of legalizing those who wish to remain here to become American citizens and assimilate while celebrating their own cultural heritage.

I fear that The New York Times did not publish this op-ed without tacit approval from the editors of
the editorial page. It reflects accurately the bias of opinion and newswriters on this paper, and it is
nearly impossible to conceive that an op-ed with an opposite view would be published. It is indicative of the fact that like the Globe and the Post, the Times has no idea that it is in the process of being subsumed and, like the Federalists who thought the sun rose and set in the northeast, Traub more
accurately reflects the looming irrelevance of the the Times, not the movement he mischaracterizes in his column.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lines in the Sand

There is much to discuss this early August, perhaps the largest story at the moment being the weeklong shut down of US embassies in the Muslim world. Related is the tentative resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the inauguration of Iman Rouhani as Iran's new President. I'm going to set these foreign policy issues aside for the moment to discuss further developments in the deployment of Obamacare.

Nancy Pelosi, who reminds me of Eric's sister, Nora, in True Blood in the sense that her centuries of age seem to be manifesting themselves through her limitless efforts to deny the natural effects of time, has announced that members of Congress and their staffs will continue to receive substantial taxpayer support for their insurance programs. That move seems to be in violation of the law and a power not enabled by the law. The same could be said about Obama's deciding on a summer Friday afternoon when no one's paying attention that the employer mandate would be suspended for a year. The acting director of the IRS testified before Congress that, like the union which represents Treasury employees, he, too, would prefer his current insurance coverage than to switch to a different program required by Obamacare.

Putting aside the notion that it remains baffling that public employees are permitted to unionize, could it be any more ironic that those charged with policing the enforcement of Obamacare do not wish to participate in it themselves? Further, how can Pelosi and her colleagues rationalize a continuing, inordinate level of premium support for those in government? She claims it's an appropriate way of "thanking" staff for their tireless work in support of the American people's agenda, blah, blah, blah. It has come to pass as many suspected it might when this bill was proposed: there is a program for "us" and a program for "them". While socialists through history have preached income and outcome equality, it has never applied to the elite class that charges itself with administering that equality.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, many "Republican" pundits are slamming those who argue in favor of defunding Obamacare, claiming that it would be a disaster for Republicans when Obama refuses to approve any continuing resolution and the government shuts down. Chris Matthews, perhaps the looniest leftwinger on TV(oh, wait, there's Al Sharpton and Martin Bashir and Piers Morgan - never mind), calls Ted Cruz a "terrorist" who's aim is to bring down the US government.The media will calls us terrorists and racists no matter what happens with the continuing resolution. Obamacare has been wholly illegitimate since its inception - I do not buy this "it's the law of the land" business. It was crafted in secret, its passage gerrymandered by budget reconciliation, its constitutionality defended on the back of an argument even the government's solicitor general would not make.

I don't want this "line in the sand" to be as ill defined as the one Obama allegedly drew on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrians. This horribly unpopular legislation must be opposed and defunded. Congress has the power of the purse and that power ought to exercised. Let the administration bring legal action to try to compel the Congress to provide funding. In the meantime, Congress should approve a continuing resolution (in the continuing absence of a budget) to be sure the government meets its financial obligations despite any objections from Obama. If the Republicans simply cave silently on this matter, the law will become impossible to undo. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Promising Developments

It appears that there are some promising developments in several subjects about which I've been writing since this blog post began. Specifically, in the areas of Benghazi, the IRS, and the looming fight over the continuing resolution to fund the government, major advances to move these stories forward have taken place.

First, CNN has conducted a 2 hour interview with the leader of Ansar al Sharia in Libya who admits to having been on the embassy property in Benghazi, but, naturally, does not implicate himself in the attack itself. He claims to have not been interviewed by the Libyan government or the FBI. This is nothing short of astounding. Several months ago, after the initial wave of whistleblowers testified before Congress and the Obama administration came under renewed scrutiny, the FBI released photos of three suspects obviously taken from surveillance videos (which we still have not seen) and claimed they were "most wanted" for questioning into the attacks. We have heard nothing since then. Until this interview appeared on CNN.

The IRS phony scandal continues to get more serious. It appears that information from the IRS has been leaked to other governmental agencies, the President's appointed general counsel has been implicated and the Treasury employees' union has openly objected to being forced into Obamacare coverage.

Finally, some momentum seems to be building behind Sen. Mike Lee's push to exclude the funding of Obamacare from the continuing resolution to fund the government at the end of September. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have announced their support, and it is clear that this schism in the Republican Party will pit the progressive arm of the party against those more conservative. Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer (much to my chagrin) argue against, Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin for.

These three issues bear some similarity because they each reflect the mendacity that has become a hallmark of the Obama term. There has been no obvious, effective effort to bring those who perpetrated the murders in Benghazi to justice; to the contrary, there has been no obvious effort to even report the truth about what happened that horrible day. Eyewitnesses have been hidden and nearly a year after the event are unidentified. Arguably, the IRS controversy is as damaging a political scandal as has occurred in the last fifty years. Articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included a charge that he contemplated using the IRS against his political enemies. The Obama group did far more than just contemplate this act; they singled out political opponents for the purpose of abridging their First Amendment rights. And, lastly, we must remember that the reason Obamacare became law in the first place was because of legislative chicanery. Then the administration offered waiver after waiver, and then quietly delayed the employer mandate. If the law were that desirable, would there have been so many waiver requests? We know the law is unpopular, was driven down the throats of the American people by democrats and must continue to be opposed by constitutionalists. Lee, Cruz, Paul and now Rubio do not seek a government shutdown nor a default on the country's obligations. They want to defund Obamacare which would never have passed without an abrogation of the Senate rules.

Let us hope for the sake of the families of those who died in Benghazi that the truth is ultimately revealed. Let us hope that those who wish to silence the voices of opposition by abusing the power of government are exposed and brought to justice. And let us hope that enough Republicans can find the sense of conviction to defund a law that they purportedly opposed from the outset to clearly distinguish themselves from the progressives who continually obfuscate.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Good Doctor Krauthammer

I am a huge admirer of Dr. Charles Krauthammer. I find him a honest intellectual, a fervent supporter of Israel and a persuasive voice for conservatism. He's also got a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Most guys would love to meet one of the Mannings or their favorite musical hero - I'd like to have dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Krauthammer.

Having said that (I'm going to do everything possible to restrict use of that phrase), I found myself disagreeing with the good doctor for the first time in a long time. This, regarding an effort led by Sen. Mike Lee to defund Obamacare within the context of a continuing resolution to fund the government. The doctor argues that the strategy is suicidal, that it cannot prevail, and that if the government is shut down as a result of an ensuing standoff, the Republicans will suffer.

The Republicans are going to suffer regardless. Speaker Boehner says there will not be a debt limit increase without significant spending reductions, but Obama has already telegraphed that he has no intention of negotiating spending decreases in a debt limit discussion. Then, what will he and the Democrats do? Uh, I think the answer to that is nothing and I think we already know that Republicans will be pilloried by the syncophantic press regardless of the nature of the negotiations. Therefore, I enthusiastically support the efforts of Sens. Lee and Cruz to take a principled stand, to defund Obamacare and permit the other organs of government to function. If that's not good enough for the Democrats, then I think we ought to shut down the government, with the exception of benefits payments and complete funding for the armed forces. It would not trouble me one whit if the IRS, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Education, etc., were to temporarily halt payroll expenses for a period of time.

This country is completely out of control. Obama hits the road for a "pivot" to the economy and complains about wealth inequality and lobbies for further stimulus spending. But he can't bother to delay a vacation to Martha's Vineyard to approve the Keystone Pipeline. This is a guy who cares about the economy and wealth inequality. Please.

It is well past time to draw a proverbial line in the sand. Fundamentally, whether these fights are winnable or not, someone has got to stand up and argue in favor of constitutional reason. I usually look to the good doctor to stand firmly in the corner of principle, regardless of political expediency. Time will tell whether his position yields the reasoned response he expects from the opposition; their actions, not their words, suggest otherwise.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bill Clinton and Carlos Danger

Though I have little use for Maureen Dowd, who is an unabashed Obama syncophant, I did come across her column today while reviewing "Real Clear Politics," one of my favorite websites. Ms. Dowd, it seems, has finally had enough of Anthony Weiner and, like many others writing this week, compares the Weiners (both male and female) with the Clintons (same). While it's obvious she admires both Hillary and Huma, she claims that Anthony - despite his close relationship with the Clintons - couldn't hold Bill's jockstrap and, therefore, doesn't deserve the same compassionate redemption. Cause Bill after all is a political genius and Anthony is Bill's doppelganger.

This is all a little too tidy for me. Despite the success that Bill enjoyed as President, he was largely the beneficiary of circumstance (like many others are). He presided over a booming private sector and reluctantly endorsed welfare reform and spending reductions because Congress forced it upon him. His foreign policy was spotty at best, ignoring an opportunity to kill Bin Laden and belatedly entering the Bosnian conflict with NATO. Bill is also known for his pathological philandering, profoundly embarrassing his wife and thoroughly making a mockery of his purported feminism. Maureen Dowd and those like her would like us to believe that Bill is a political genius as opposed to being a political opportunist who perjured himself and then prostituted himself with Barack Obama in an effort to make some restitution to his wife.

And, what a whirlwind he has wrought upon us. Hillary, who wants to remind the Duchess of Cambridge that it takes a village to raise a prince, the mother of the Benghazi debacle and dear friend of Chris Stevens, who doesn't feel like it makes "any difference" what caused those four murders that night, now wants to succeed the President. A woman who was cheated on serially and stands for feminist martyrdom now wants to become the nation's first female President. What an example she sets for us all.

She certainly sets the example for Huma Abedin, her protege and confidant. Mrs. Weiner dutifully defends her husband, wants us all to know thaye've been in constant therapy and that they're ready to serve the middle class of New York City. I have no doubt that had there not been revelations of additional extramarital contacts AFTER the joint press conference, Maureen Dowd, the editorial board of the New York Times and even the Clintons would have been enthusiastic, public boosters for the former Congressman. These people are so duplicitous by nature (see John Edwards and his late, lamented spouse) that it is impossible to believe anything that comes out of their mouths.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The "Phony Scandal" Scandal

Now that the President has decided to pivot to economics for the umpteenth time, the brain trust that is the White House has determined that one of the reasons Congress has not done its job to authorize more stimulus is because it is distracted by "phony scandals". Of course, those using this rehearsed terminology do not refer to anything specific, but we can safely conclude, I think, that they're referring to Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, NSA datamining and the unsubstantiated "co-conspirator" investigation into James Rosen.

Fast and Furious? No, I think they dodged that bullet already and that controversy has faded into unfortunate irrelevance. The insanely poor track record of the Department of Energy making venture capital investments into green energy initiatives? I'm sorry, how is that scandalous? The fact that Hassan Nadal, the accused assassin at Ft. Hood, remains on the government payroll? Please! That would have happened under any administration. That Harry Reid invoked an obscure Senate budget loophole to insure that Obamacare would only have to pass with a simple majority? Tactics, my friend, tactics. That Harry Reid actually spoke on the floor of the Senate and accused a presidential nominee of not having paid any income tax for ten years? Geez, you'd think with his unfettered access to IRS records, he'd at least made a shot at releasing accurate information.

The bottom line is that none of these matters are phony or unworthy of deeper review. If these matters had occurred under George Bush's watch, we'd be riveted to C-SPAN right now as the impeachment hearings would be well underway. But more offensive is the fraudulent outrage expressed by the President when the scandals in the opening paragraph were brought to light, and his complete separation from them now. Did he not pledge to leave no stone unturned to bring the killers of Amb. Stevens to justice? Did he not express disgust that the IRS must operate apolitically in all circumstances? Has he not promised to run the most transparent presidency in US history?

The fact is that the only thing phony about these scandals was the faux outrage expressed by the President when they were unfolding. Clearly, he didn't mean a single word of it. Purportedly, actions speak louder than words, and there has been no action on his part to find and prosecute those responsible for them. Benghazi - all the fault of an amateur filmmaker who offended Muslim sensibilities. The IRS - a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati acting on their own authority. James Rosen - well, we never actually intended to bring any charges against him. Falsehoods. Of course, if you keep yelling "phony" often enough, it will be repeated by E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Juan Williams, Chris Matthews, Dana Milbank, Charles Blow and you know the rest of that story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Woods, Doherty and Trayvon Martin

Today, a petition signed by 1,000 Special Operations veterans was brought to Capitol Hill calling for the creation of a select committee to thoroughly investigate the terror attack in Benghazi last September. Many liberals have characterized this scandal as a tempest in a teapot because there is no credible evidence suggesting that anyone in authority was malfeasant when refusing to send aid of any sort while the Benghazi attack was underway. There are, however, several indisputable facts: four Americans were murdered in a preplanned attack; the White House and State Department spun a false explanation for the attack for several weeks even though it was acknowledged as a terror attack for the outset; the survivors of the attack have not been permitted to speak, a coverup the likes of which we have not seen since Watergate; and, the legacy media has no interest in pursuing the nasty details of the story because it will invariably lead to embarrassing Obama, Clinton and Panetta.

We must contrast this situation with the events of the last few weeks as outrage abounds over the jury decision in the trial of George Zimmerman. Wall to wall coverage of the proceedings on Headline News, the never-ending pontification from Revs. Sharpton and Jackson, the drop in by Beyonce and Jay Z at the New York protest, and, finally, the explanation from the President about why the African American community views the legal system so jaundicedly. Mr. Obama has never adequately addressed the events of that September 11 and has certainly not given it the patient, personal explanation which he delivered on the Zimmerman outcome.

Mr. Obama and his advisors should endorse the petition submitted by some of the Nation's bravest service men and women, and Speaker Boehner should drop his objections and move ahead to establish this Select Committee. The State Department should release the survivors from whatever confidentiality agreements they were required to sign, so we can finally get a full accounting of what happened that night. Further, agents Woods and Doherty should receive some form of public acknowledgement for their heroic actions that night, for refusing to stand down like many others were required to do and ultimately giving their lives. It is difficult to conceive what they experienced that night, and as just a lone citizen, I demand to know what really took place. Similarly, poor Sean Smith and the dreadfully abused Chris Stevens deserve to have their stories told. And why - nearly one year later - has no one been brought to justice?

The tales of Benghazi and Trayvon Martin are stories of justice denied and denying the fair outcome of justice. It is nothing short of outrageous that our President and his loyalists are willing to spend so much capital on the latter and do not care about truth in the former.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Five Years After the Crash and Detroit

It's been five years since the US economy tanked and took Shearson Lehman Bros. with it. Of course, it almost took GM and Chrysler with it along with a number of national banks. Jay Carney says we've had 40 consecutive months of economic growth, but, unfortunately, no one outside Washington seems to have noticed that.

Three years into the "recovery", the reported unemployment rate is near 8% although no one really believes this figure accurately represents the actual number of adults and young adults unable to find work. The stock market fares well, thanks to the printing of $1 trillion annually by the Fed, but, again, no one rationally believes that the DJIA accurately reflects the health of American business' revenues and profits.

Now we have the city of Detroit, home of the American auto industry and the UAW, filing for bankruptcy protection because it cannot repay its $18 billion debt. I found it interesting that the UAW website has no comment on the city's filing, preferring instead to issue a statement on the jury's ruling in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida and commending the University of Michigan for offering in state tuition to illegal immigrants. I'm not sure more needs to be said here. After screwing GM bondholders and favoring the interests of the UAW, the Obama Administration has clearly cast its lot with the plunderers of Detroit and in return the unions have supported a Democratic, progressive agenda. But this is not "new" news: for the last sixty years the unions have uniformly supported Democrats and what they've gotten is Detroit. And Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Atlanta....

There will be no appetite whatever for a federally-sponsored bailout of Detroit; Jay Carney admitted as much today. But this story is far from over. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika has no oxygen without union support. It is difficult to conceive that the UAW, lodged in the Solidarity House in Detroit, Jim Hoffa and the cuddly Richard Trumpka, both headquartered in that union bastion of Washington, D.C., will not exert pressure on Valerie Jarratt to take some more visible action on Detroit. Let's face it: the words "Detroit" and "unions" can hardly be separated. Likewise, the words "unions" and "Democrat".

I think we know where this is going, and as soon as the Feds get behind some program of reorganization for Detroit, can other troubled cities be far behind?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peter King and Ted Cruz

There's so much to write about, it's difficult to determine an initial post, but I'm going to start right here because it says so much about Washington, Republican "infighting" and the overwelming impulse by those in power - regardless of party - to protect the status quo.

You will soon discover that I am a huge Ted Cruz fan. For starters, he should never have won this seat. In a primary fight with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, he was underfunded, not supported by either establishment Republicans in Texas and certainly not establishment Republicans in Washington, but he managed to force a runoff, became the nominee and won the general election. We're all aware of what's happened since. He's managed to piss off nearly everyone from John McCain (that's a badge of honor these days, I think) to his occasional ally, Marco Rubio. But Peter King is a little more than just pissed off because Cruz had the audacity to cast a "no" vote on the massive Hurricane Sandy relief bill.

Like the storm itself (christened by the media as "superstorm sandy" because only a natural extra-phenomenon could find itself plowing into the elite capital of the world, the TriState Area), the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill was very poorly named. Its provisions included $150 million for Alaskan fisheries, $2 million for repairs to the Smithsonian, $8 million for Justice and Homeland Security for vehicles and a whopping $17 billion for "community block grants", untethered funds whose allocation can be determined by people like...Peter King. This is precisely the type of insider chicanery that Ted Cruz pledged to oppose and (mirabile dictu) what did he do? HE DID WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO.

Prior to this episode, I have generally been an admirer of Peter King. He's solid on intelligence and foreign policy issues, and has opposed most of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda. But like his bud in Jersey, Chris Christie, he has abandoned any sense of propriety with his blind support of this taxpayer fleecing and he's now using it as a barometer to determine who deserves his public support.

This week he reached a new low by announcing that either Rand Paul or Ted Cruz would be demolished by candidate Hillary (what difference does it make) Clinton were they to run in 2016. Let's not forget that King and Clinton spent many years together as part of the New York congressional "delegation". "I think she's very strong on foreign policy," he says. Excuse me? He calls Cruz a member of the "isolationist" wing of the party; that may be somewhat true in Paul's case, but totally erroneous in Cruz's.

Despite my earlier admiration for him, Peter King is moving against the tide. He embraces the status quo and is willing to tar and feather members of his own "party" not because he necessarily disagrees with them ideologically, but because they chose not to support a pork-laden disaster whose ostensible  objective was to support those legitimately damaged by hurricane Sandy. King himself should never have supported that bill, but rather would have been an eloquent and reasonable voice for legislation that was more effectively targeted. He embarrasses himself further by using support or opposition to the measure as a yardstick by which he measures how he will characterize legislators in public.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Gazette Launches

I have been intending for some time to launch a blog. Like many on the Internet, I am a frustrated writer and the scourge of free access to the web is that private journal writing has now become public. The general thrust of the blog will be political obesrvations, but I am an inveterate eater and music afficionado, so I suspect those subjects will creep in as well.

By way of background, I am a businessman with a background in media and as such, I have spent considerable time on both coasts. I have been immersed in liberal politics which represents the singular perspective of the media world, though in truth, my liberal inculcation goes back much further. My paternal grandmother was a card carrying communist and my maternal grandfather fled Russia because the Czar's army forced conscripted Jews to "serve" for a minimum of 25 years. In the late 1950's, my parents moved from Brooklyn to suburban New Jersey where we moved into a co-op apartment complex which was fully integrated. They walked the walk and talked the talk, marching in civil rights actions, taking me to see Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in the early 60's, enlisting me to campaign for Joe McCarthy in '68, etc. You know the story.

My personal worldview was forever altered on September 11, 2001. Though I hadn't voted for George Bush, I was moved by his reaction to this national catastrophe, and I began to research and study Islam - particularly the politics of Islam. Though not terribly religious, I had always felt an attachment to and affinity for Israel (especially since a substantial arm of my generational family had settled there at the time of the Russian Revolution) and the events associated with 9/11 certainly made the world a more precarious place for Israel. I never for a moment felt that George Bush would ever imperil Israel and would do whatever was necessary to keep Israel safe.

That was really the start of my conversion to constitutionalism. And that's really how I prefer to label it - not Republican, not conservative - a dedication to the values espoused by that document and those responsible for creating it. Small federal government. More limited taxation. Safety net benefits for those truly in need with limits in term. Social engineering orchestrated by the states. A Supreme Court that determines constitutionality only, that doesn't recraft legislation to fit constitutional requirements. I'm sure you get my drift.

Last but not least, the name of the blog. I've used "Gazette" because of its link to Ben Franklin and "Flyover" because that's where I live now in spirit and in reality.