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.