Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Trump Card

There are plenty of things, in my humble opinion, to find fault with Donald Trump over. For example his support for the extensive use of eminent domain and his seeming lack of a concrete philosophical base. However, Trump is getting a lot of things right lately, while his competitors, Democrat and Republican continue to display their cluelessness.

I don't know or care if Trump really ever believed whether or not President Obama was or wasn't born in Hawaii. A recent Pew Research poll indicated that about 62 percent of Americans still had doubts (this was before today's display by the White House). The administration had decided it was a non-issue. Most Republican candidates decided it was a non-issue. The press had decided it was a non-issue. The public wanted more clarification. The establishment essentially told 62% of the voting public that they weren't going to dignify their question with an answer. This can only be described with one word: Stupid.

Trump got them their answer. He delivered where even the Clinton machine couldn't. It took only 2 days from the time President Obama sent a request to Hawaii for the "long form" birth certificate until he had it in his hand, so it wasn't a matter of any kind of hardship or difficulty. He simply didn't want to do it until Trump forced him to.

Another area where Trump is crushing his detractors is in talking to the appropriate audience. He states the obvious; that China is manipulating its currency to our detriment; that U.S. policy, however well-intentioned, warm and/or fuzzy, has driven manufacturing jobs out of our country; that we provide defense for oil rich monarchies and dictators, free of charge, for the privilege of paying through the nose for oil while we refuse to develop our own resources.

It's not that the other candidates are not aware of these things. But saying them out loud might make you look less "stately" and diplomatic on the world stage. They're speaking to news editors, pundits and foreign dignitaries, not to the American public. This might work out okay during good times, but right now the public is looking for someone that will unequivocally and unapologetically advocate for the best interest of the United States. Let China look out for China and Saudi look after Saudi. We need leaders that are on our side. Maybe it's his TV experience that has helped him out in this area, but Trump is addressing the right audience. His rivals are not.

I don't know if Trump will run or not. I don't know if he'd be a good president or not. But he will be a formidable candidate if he wants to be. Any competitor that denies that does so at their own peril.

Monday, April 25, 2011

PFC Bradley Manning - An American Zero

PFC Bradley Manning was recently transferred to a detention facility at Ft Leavenworth, KS. He is accused of providing volumes of classified military documents to Wikileaks. Manning has many supporters in this country. This is not unusual. There is always a segment of the population drawn to the underdog, regardless of what they've done or what they've been accused of or the facts of the case. We've seen people demonstrate in support of cop-killers, rapists, child molestors and tyrants. I'm no psychologist, but there seems to be an attraction for some people to anything unacceptable to the masses.

PFC Manning is a young man who was seeking attention and acclaim and, unfortunately, fell victim to a predator named Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Manning was convinced that his actions would be regarded as heroic, and so he handed over documents that put actual heroes lives in real jeopardy. Assange is probably in the clear legally speaking, as he simply reported what was given to him.

Now Manning will spend most of the rest of his life in prison, while Julian Assange will spend most of the rest of his life in 5-star hotels, surrounded by adoring idiots, seeking their next victim. The tale of Bradley Manning is tragic and unfortunate, but there's certainly nothing heroic about it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Will 2012 be the nastiest election year ever?

One result of the explosion of social media and media in general is that more people than ever are engaged in conversation, debate, punditry and bloviating on the events and issues of the day.

This has illustrated a definite divide among Americans that goes deeper than disagreement on ways and means.

One one end of the spectrum are folks like myself that would like to live in a world where the government's role is limited to ensuring that individuals are not coerced or subjected to force by other individuals or groups as they go about their business.

On the other end are folks that believe the government should ensure that everyone has enough to eat, a place to sleep, clothing, health care and all of the basic needs of human life.

Those of us in the first group are not only opposed to the vision of the second because we believe it can't be done. We also believe that it's no way for a free human being to live. I wont launch into a lengthy debate of the merits of either view here.

The point is, when you get down to the core issue, there is no compromise, and we're getting closer and closer to finally getting down to the core issue. Do you want to live free or do you just want to live?

It would be nice if the folks in group 2 would actually engage in a debate of the merits of one view vs. another, but what I expect to see is more of what I've seen my whole life. If you are an individualist, you will be called cold hearted and greedy. You'll be characterized as someone who hates children, is under the spell of the rich, wants to kill old people, is opposed to clean air and water and is generally a horrible, terrible monster of a human being.

None of this is new, and it only influences the feint of heart, but I expect it to be exponentially multiplied this year due to the shear number of people with access to so many different outlets. Compounding the issue is that Americans are paying closer attention to the goings on of their government these days. We are at a turning point. It's time to pick sides. We may not settle the issue this cycle or the next, but soon and it's getting harder to pretend that there is no direct conflict of interest at play.

In any case there will be desperation and panic on one side or the other or both. That leads to outrageous behavior and speech. If nothing else it's shaping up to be quite an entertaining season.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The budget crisis - They still don't get it

First Republicans and Democrats praised themselves for the bold new cuts proposed for the 2011 budget (roughly 1%). As it turns out it's only a cut if your starting point is the Obama proposed 2011 budget that was never acted upon. Spending for 2011 will be higher than it was in 2010 under the new agreement. It's neither bold, nor a cut.

Paul Ryan offered a glimmer of hope with a proposal to cut back on the proposed increases in spending over the next decade by about $6 trillion. This is still not an actual cut, but a reduction in the pace of growth, and it doesn't have a snowball's chance of getting past the Senate.

President Obama has his own plan, that he claims would reduce spending by $4 trillion over 12 years. That's about the same amount he had proposed increasing spending by just a few months ago. He plans on getting there, in part, by raising taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" and has redefined "millionaires and billionaires" to include couples with a combined income of $250k or more.

Both parties are trying to find ways to fund our enormous federal government at its current size or bigger. Even if they could find a way to accomplish this task (and they wont), it misses the point. Government is too big and too intrusive. It needs to be reduced in size and scope, not funded or financed. The obsession with maintaining the status quo, among both politicians and the general public will only succeed in the continuing erosion of most everyone's standard of living.

Here's hoping we get a clue at some point.