Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How about a REAL choice in 2016?

After the Wisconsin primary, two things are clear:  First, Republicans are finally (however sluggishly) waking up to the fact that The Donald may not be their best choice as a party standard-bearer; and Second, on the Democratic side, Herself’s campaign is starting to look like a repeat of 2008 (albeit, with a crotchety old white senator rather than a smooth young black one.)

We’ve heard it everywhere (including a lot of memes here on Facebook.)  All the candidates are deplorable, (Is this really the best we can do?) as if some outside malevolent power has forced them upon us.  But what has really emerged out of this chaotic campaign season is a stunning possibility – that for the first time in nearly thirty years, voters could have a completely clear choice between the conservative and progressive vision of government.

Think about it.  Since Reagan, all the candidates: both Bushes, Dukakis, Clinton, Dole, Gore, Kerry, McCain and Romney, have all been in the (more or less) moderate spectrum of their respective parties (at least when they were running) and were life-time members of the government class.  Obama is a true ideological radical, but he openly lied about it during his first election, so that in 2008 at least he ran as a moderate.  Why has this been so?  Because candidates in the general election run to the middle to woo a political class that has become the true king-makers in election politics – the Independents.  We all know who they are – in every social institution from the Little League Parents’ committee to the United States Senate, they’re there – the people who you can never really depend upon to back you up in anything. Their Hamlet-like hand-wringing has essentially forced the political parties (and the rest of us) to abandon clear-cut choices that might actually improve government by giving us true direction (as under Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan) for a squishy middle where gridlock prevails except in extreme cases, (like the Iraq War and Obamacare) which end in costly disaster.

Should the nomination contest stay with the current front-runners, would any of that change?  Of course not.  Aside from immigration, Clinton’s and Trump’s true positions are practically indistinguishable; and their pitches: Trump knows how to negotiate a deal and Clinton will return to the realpolitik compromise of her husband’s presidency, promise no relief from what really ails our country – divided government.

But if Cruz and Sanders are the respective nominees, we would actually see an election with very real choice.  Both men are articulate and very unlikely to moderate their long-held positions in a general election – it could (egad!) lead to debates where issues were (gasp!) substantially discussed and defined.  And best of all, it would force that lumpen growth in the American alimentary canal – Independents (who fancy themselves as superior beings above it all, but are really just people who can’t make up their minds) to move their considerable haunches off the political fence.

All Independents have given us is over a quarter-century of divided government, which accomplishes little, does much harm and nobody likes.  So let’s man up and make a real, adult decision.  To my fellow Republicans, reject the hucksterism of Trump whose positions are inimical to all the members (social, religious, economic, conservative and establishment) of our party.  Do you really want your nominee to be someone who changes wives like his ties and is the subject of lawsuit over a transparent con called Trump University?  Have faith in your own beliefs and nominate Ted Cruz.  To my Democratic friends, reject the corruption of Clinton, whose political cronyism embraces the heartless financial institutions you decry.  Do you really want your nominee to be someone who is in the pay of high-finance, has repeatedly shielded her sexual-predator husband and is likely to be indicted?  Have faith in your own beliefs and nominate Bernie Sanders.

Let’s have a real choice.  Let’s have a real debate.  Let’s have a real election.  Let’s make up our minds and get on with it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Understanding the Syrian Refugee Crisis in 20 Easy Steps.

1.  Although there are many sub-divisions and shifting alliances, there are for broader purposes two types of Arab states:  so-called “moderate” states (usually represented by monarchies and strongman regimes) like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, and the radical states:  Iran, ISIL and pan-national terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

2.  States like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen are active battlegrounds in an ideological and inter-religious war by these two contending strains of Islam.

3. They all hate Israel, ranging from barely disguised, disgusted tolerance to outright advocated genocide.

4.  Syria has been run for decades by the corrupt Assad family.  During the Arab Spring, various factions rose up to try and topple the Assad regime after successes in Algeria, Libya and Egypt.  The Assad government resorted to its stock-in-trade: brutal repression and the use of chemical weapons on its own people.

5.  The Obama administration committed its policy to the ouster of Assad.  And dramatically drew “red lines” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  Assad promptly stepped all over those lines (perhaps the fate of Gaddafi convinced him he had little to lose.)

6. Unfortunately, in the international arena, Barack Obama is a na├»ve amateur, complete incompetent and total wus on a scale not seen since the days of Jimmy Carter.  Assad completely called his bluff.  Aside from a few air-strikes, Obama did nothing.

7.  Simultaneously, exhibiting his astonishing incompetency on a region-wide basis, Obama – against the nearly unanimous advice of all his military leaders – removed American troops from Iraq, allowing the rise of ISIL (all you progressives and liberals waxing apoplectic about how it was Bush who created ISIL can just calm down – history will sort out the causes of the Islamic State, but the fact remains that the lid was on until Obama removed it.)

8.  By weakening the Assad regime, but not toppling it, the Obama administration allowed the expansion of ISIL into Syria.  The inhumane atrocities of ISIL only deepened the deadly chaos in Syria.

9.  Concurrently, Obama’s incomprehensible policy of projected weakness reached Neville Chamberlain-like proportions with Russian President Putin.  After Putin (much like Assad) called Obama’s bluff in the Crimea and Ukraine, Putin felt emboldened to assist the Assad regime (the Russians have been backing the Assads since the presidency of Richard Nixon.)  Putin’s intervention, nominally against ISIL, but not coincidentally in support of Assad, has only guaranteed that the Syrian civil will be even more protracted.

10.  Which has led to the current refugee crisis, and the debate in Europe and the United States as to how to address it.  Some pertinent facts:

11.  ISIL has not been contained, it is no longer (if it ever was) the “JV Squad” of Islamic terrorism, it is not on the run, it has not been “degraded” – on the contrary, it is clearly expanding – and equally important, tightening its hold on the territory it already has seized.  So when President Obama says that his administration’s strategy is working, that is either an outright lie, or a breath-taking example of his willingness to contort reality to fit his flawed ideology.

12.  In yet another example of his complete ignorance of strategic imperatives in the region, the Obama administration has entered into a potentially disastrous nuclear deal with a Iran (a state that not only exports terrorism world-wide, but most especially into the moderate Arab states) that almost ensures that Iran WILL acquire nuclear capability without the hindrance of crippling international sanctions.  This will only lead to increased instability and the possibility of further refugee crises.

13.  Like most ideologically-driven regimes (e.g. – Nazis, Soviets, Chinese Communists) ISIL is only too happy to tell the world exactly what it intends to do – and they have made it clear that they regard the refugee crisis as an opportunity to infiltrate operatives into the West – and that attacks are being specifically planned against targets in Europe and the United States.

14.  Jihad is predicated on the spread of Islam by violence and the sword, not just in predominantly Muslim countries, but throughout the world.  This is the religion ISIL embraces and has pledged to spread.  The historical road of conquest through the Balkans into Europe is being replicated today.

15.  In the past 40 years, large Muslim migrations have shown a complete resistance to assimilation into the countries in which they settle.  In almost every major city in Europe, there are Muslim enclaves where even the local police don’t enter – sharia-driven states-within-a-state, that have time and time again been shown to be breeding grounds and hiding places for home-grown terrorism.

16.  JUST YESTERDAY, the French Prime Minister confirmed that mastermind of the Paris attacks EXPLOITED THE SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS TO SLIP INTO THE COUNTRY.

17.  The Obama administration has assured us that there will be the most stringent review and screening of refugees.  Which beggars the question – can we believe this?  Obama and his administration have lied with almost Clintonian compulsivity about just about everything:  the scope, cost and impacts of Obamacare (remember about “keeping your own doctor” and planning that was predicated on the “stupidity of the American voter”?); the IRS and Veterans Affairs scandals; the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious operation; the effectiveness of the stimulus and “shovel-ready” jobs; that the Benghazi attack was the direct result of an anti-Muslim video, when THEY KNEW that was not the case – I could go on, but why beat a dead horse?  Most especially when it comes to its policy in the Middle East, the American people have no reason to believe the Obama administration about ANYTHING.

18.  Opposition to the Obama’s Syrian refugee policy is gaining serious bipartisan traction both in the Congress (where House legislation passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority) and the states (33 states have either outright refused or declared an opposition to accepting the latest round of Syrian refugees.)  The Obama administration’s attempt to politicize this issue and claiming some sort of moral high ground is starting to fall flat in the face of the realities of Paris and other terrorist attacks in the world.

19.  The simple fact is that the Middle East is in the most unstable and dangerous condition since the 1970s (when the potential of nuclear weapons was not an issue.)  While progressives foam at the mouth that it is all Bush’s doing, it has been the weak and ineffectual leadership of President Obama that has turned a tenuous situation into a potentially catastrophic one.  From Iran in 2009 (when protestors on the street chanting, “Are you with us, Obama?” were met with stony silence), through Algeria, Libya and Eqypt, right into Iraq and Syria today; the policy (or rather, non-policy) of the Obama administration has emboldened our enemies and alienated our allies.  The Syrian refugee crisis is a direct result of President Obama’s weak and ineffective leadership; so it is understandable that rational and thoughtful people might be reluctant to follow his lead in dealing with it.   

20.  Even Pope Francis (hardly a war-monger) observed this week that we are in the beginnings of WWIII.  World Wars are not fought under the sheen of political correctness, and there are always innocent victims.  The president’s first duty is to defend the United States of America against enemies foreign and domestic.  In time of war, it is the obligation of the government to secure the homeland against attack, especially if seemingly humanitarian concerns have been SHOWN AND PROVEN to mask evil intent.


First, those who are supporting the administration through memes that compare the current refugee crisis to Jews fleeing the Nazis or (to reach the zenith of absurdity) the Nativity – however well intentioned – should really get some historical knowledge and perspective.  No serious person can believe that the Nazis were trying to infiltrate German operatives into the United States through Jewish refugees, as ISIL has done with the Syrian refugees.  Such a comparison degrades the uniqueness of the Holocaust; especially when the Jihadist viewpoint of ISIL and Iran calls for the extinction of Israel and the Jewish people.  The condescending attitude of progressives who advance this argument is even more ironic given that the president who turned away the Jewish refugees during the late 1930s was progressive icon Franklin Roosevelt.

Second, my solution to the refugee crisis is simple.  The government should run a gathering program on Facebook (you know they can do it) and single out all the individuals who have posted memes similar to those described above or who have expressed shame at being Americans because of this issue.  Those on the list would receive a Syrian refugee family, not only to house, but to be responsible and accountable for.  If the refugee commits a crime or terroristic act, the host family would be criminally and civilly liable as an accessory to whatever offense is committed.  If as the administration claims, these refugees are all old people and children, there will be nothing to fear; and these progressives will set a shining example to those of us who might consider the safety of our own families and children a little more important.

Think they’ll rise to the challenge?  Me neither.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Historical Shorts

On this date in 1555, Catholicism was restored to England, two years after the ascension of Mary Tudor (the eldest daughter of Henry VIII) to the throne.  The religious woes that wracked England for nearly two hundred years were all tied up with the Tudors.  Henry VIII (who had once defended the pope against Martin Luther) broke with Rome when the pope refused to grant him an annulment from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon (the mother of Mary Tudor), so that he could marry Anne Boleyn (later the mother of Mary’s little sister, Elizabeth.)  Henry’s Church of England remained largely Catholic in doctrine and practice.  When the old King died, he was succeeded by his young son, Edward VI.  Edward was a zealous protestant and in his brief reign, the Reformation came with full force to England.  After Edward’s early death, and an abortive attempt to put the Lady Jane Grey on the throne, Mary was acclaimed Queen.  It was a brief triumph in a tragic life.  Mary had been swept up in her parents’ marital woes.  As Henry moved to break with the Church to get rid of her, Catherine of Aragon clung increasingly to her Catholic faith, which she passed on to Mary.  After her mother’s death, Mary’s life was precarious.  Forced to become a maid of honor to her sister, Elizabeth, she was officially declared a bastard.  Her father alternated between off-handed kindness and frightening cruelty.  He eventually forced her to renounce her mother’s claims – an action that tortured Mary all her life.  Anne Boleyn wanted her executed, and at several times during her father and brother’s reigns, her life was in real danger.  Mary came to the throne determined to restore Catholicism to England, and she did with a vengeance.  Protestants were rooted out and many consigned to the flames.  Among the most prominent victims was Thomas Cramner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been installed to that post by Henry VIII for the express purpose of annulling the King’s marriage to Mary’s mother.  While it is true that Mary was zealous in hunting down heretics, her crimes were greatly exaggerated by subsequent protestant writers (and earned her the enduring nickname, Bloody Mary.)  In the end, her reforms came to nothing.  Caught in a loveless marriage with a perpetually absent King Philip of Spain, with no children, her health irretrievably broken by her cruel life; Mary died just three years later.  She was succeeded by her sister, Elizabeth, who brought back Protestantism with a vengeance; in the end, executing about as many Catholics as her sister had Protestants.

 On this date in 1859, Frenchman Jules Leotard performed the first trapeze act with the Cirque Napoleon in Paris.  Leotard was born in 1838, the son of a gymnastics instructor.  He studied law and actually passed his law exams; but by the age of 18, he was already experimenting with ropes and rings, and his own innovation, the trapeze bar.  In addition to his ground-breaking work as an acrobat, he also developed the one-piece gym wear that now bears his name – the leotard.

Jules Leotard Bonus – Leotard was also the inspiration for the hugely popular song, “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.”

On this date in 1892, William “Pudge” Heffelfinger became the first professional football player.  Heffelfinger, a three-time All-American guard from Yale, was paid $500 by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play in a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.  Thanks to Heffelfinger and some other “imported” players, Allegheny carried the day.  Heffelfinger went on to coaching jobs at the University of California, Lehigh University and the University of Minnesota.  After careful research, the NFL verified Heffelfinger as the first professional football player in 1960, six years after his death in 1954.

On this date in 1918, the Austrian Emperor Karl, his empire destroyed by the ravages of World War I, abdicated the throne, thereby ending nearly 700 years of Hapsburg rule in central Europe.  He had succeeded his father, Franz Joseph, who had ruled for 68 years.  Poor Karl ruled less than two.

You know how Disney annoys the hell out of you by putting their classic movies “in the vault,” so you can’t buy them except when Disney re-re-re-re-(ad nauseum)-releases them in a “new” edition that costs more?  Well, there are certain Disney movies that will never make it out of the vault.  On this date in 1946, Disney released Song of the South, but don’t look for it at Wal-Mart – the racial stereotypes are too brutal for today’s sensibilities.  From the Black Crows in Dumbo, through a series of short cartoons, Disney willingly played to the prejudices of the time (and to be fair, they were not alone in this – cartoons and live action movies all bought into the prejudices of the era.)  There is actually a market at comic book conventions for bootleg copies of these cartoons.  So the next time you’re complaining about having to shell out $30 for the “new” edition of Cinderella, remember – they’re only trying to make up for the cartoons they can’t release.