Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Special Counsel

Now, I’m just an average guy, but it seems to me that we have known for years, decades even, nigh on a century that the Russians have been meddling in electoral processes around the globe when it was impossible or too obvious for them to act overtly. It has been acknowledged that even though Senator Joseph McCarthy was an unscrupulous grandstander, he was also correct that there were communist sympathizers operating at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. So barely covert Russian meddling in U.S. politics is nothing new.

The view from here is that rather than aid one candidate or another (HRC was a shoo in remember) the goal was simply to undermine American confidence in its public institutions. Or perhaps the Russians have better polling in the U.S. than any of the companies that do that sort of thing. It was said (I said it myself) that it would be impossible for Trump to overcome the built in lead that HRC had in the Electoral College, and the Big Blue Wall across the upper mid-West into Pennsylvania could never be breached. How did the Russians know what no one else knew?

The answer is, it seems to me, that they didn’t care who won. My belief is that they have four years’ worth of damning emails linking Hillary and Bill Clinton to corruption at the Clinton Foundation that would make Hugo Chavez blush. They also knew and still know that the Clinton’s primary motivator is monetary gain, so they knew how to deal with that. Trump is a different story, but compared to Vladimir Putin or the other dictators of the world, he’s a Boy Scout. So, if HRC wins, they can control her with her emails and cash, and if Trump wins they can cripple his presidency with clever manipulation of misleading and fraudulent news stories and promotion of public unrest. There was no way for the Russians to lose.

However, now there’s a special counsel, who has been give broad investigative powers to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election”. That is a much larger picture than is being focused on, but cause it includes the hacking and release of the Podesta emails which conceivably contain huge as yet unopened cans of worms. Releases by WikiLeaks, and a whole host of other information sources.

People are seeing “going after the Trump campaign”. What actually turns up may be a bit more interesting.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Liberal Book Burning

I would like to take a few moments to call out HBO “comedian” Bill Maher in regards to the fascist mobs that he has rather belatedly referred to as a “liberal book burning”. I’ll include in this all of the other “comedic” types along with pretty nearly all of the on air talent at CNN and MSNBC, and pretty nearly all of the politicians who have let this condition fester over the last few years. Where were they all when this business started?

Now Maher seems to have wakened anew along with a smattering of well-known college professors to complain about the inarguable fascistic behavior of the “anti-fa” movement that aims to silence conservative voices that they don’t agree with. One suspects that most time the black clad goons aren’t even aware of the views they’re fighting against, or that they have the vocabulary, knowledge of history, or intellect to discuss them rationally. One suspects that they are simply taking cues from radically progressive and equally fascistic and totalitarian faculty members. Maher worries that the fascists are trying to shut down open discussion and debate. One wonders where he’s been hiding.
But let’s us take a look for just a moment at the comedy stylings of Bill Maher; John Stewart; John Oliver; Trevor Noah; Stephen Colbert; Samantha Bee; Chelsea Handler; Amy Schumer, and then all of the political “analysts” who are too many in number to remember or name. They have spent the last sixteen years relentlessly mocking every conservative (no need to be a politician) and or traditional or conservative belief, and policy in sight.

Now let’s look at why we mock, and why we participate in mockery. In its most primal form, on the grade school playground, mockery is a form of bullying. It’s a way to ostracize and exclude. It’s a way to have pleasure at the expense of others. It’s a way to shut someone up. You make a funny joke about someone you don’t like and you try to get others to join with you. It's a way to let us feel better about ourselves. It’s why Maher’s studio audience is always full of kindred spirits. If your target won’t or can’t verbally defend themselves or has a smaller, better mannered group of friends than you then you win. You have effectively discounted everything they might have had to say without having to have had a rational thought. You have completely shut them off. You only have to be glib, and loud.

Now how is that different from the black clad fascists spoiling for a fight at Berkeley, or the campus dwellers who prefer to spend their parent’s money on safe spaces in lieu of an education? The goals are exactly the same: to shut off all discussion by any means other than rational debate.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

An Inescapable Tragedy

I heard today (again) that the conflict in in North Korea brings us to the brink of World War III. But I wonder. Does North Korea have any allies that would be willing to go to war in order to protect it? China obviously doesn't care that much for Korea, or Koreans as witnessed by the fact that they allow them to wallow in poverty. Russia? It doesn't seem so. Iran perhaps. The two nations, both working on development of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them with.

The world IS in a precarious position to be sure, having allowed two rogue states to develop these two technologies. North Korea, the ultimate authoritarian thug state and Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism sworn to the elimination of Israel, and one would presume all of the Jews residing there. An authoritarian theocracy that celebrates the idea of a "final battle" where it will prevail over its enemies. Both nations scofflaws that ignore United Nations resolutions.

At some point we will need to collectively ask ourselves how and why we let this happen, but a more pressing matter is what course of action can we take right now that will have the least tragic consequences. Because no matter what we do now, if we take military action, or if we postpone action until one or both of them marry nuclear weapons to a medium range, or intercontinental delivery system, it will end in tragedy.

But that's just what an average guy thinks.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

It is a logical position to oppose ANY compromise with progressives on fiscal matters that apply to additional government spending and tax increases. It is also logical to worry about the nation’s $1.x Trillion deficit which is of course the amount of money we spend as a nation each year in excess of what is collected in tax revenue. Each year it gets added to the national debt which now stands above $19 Trillion, which is in turn dwarfed by our unfunded liabilities (promises we have made to pay in the future) which now are approaching or exceed $105 Trillion ( It’s hard to keep up). Additional government spending and taxes simply takes money out of the private sector where it could find its most efficient use and puts it in the hands of government bureaucrats who first take out the government cut and then spend the rest on whatever THEY think would be best. The list of beneficiaries always seems to be topped by the “Friends Of The Party In Power Benevolent Association”. It’s funny how that seems to work, but back to fiscal compromise.

Fiscal compromise is one reason why the world economy is in the shape it’s in. For many decades, the path to success in the U.S. congress was to “go along and get along”. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. The secret to a long career was to bring home the bacon for your constituents so that when election time rolled around there would be no room for an opponent to criticize. This was done by agreeing to help your colleagues take home their own bacon. We’ve all seen “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”. We all know how it works, but we also know that there isn’t really a crooked politician out there with the sense of decency to put a gun to his or her head.

But what’s the harm? A Billion dollars here a Billion dollars there. The government spends a Billion dollars every two hours and fifteen minutes. Who’s going to miss another Billion? Only they don’t get spent in single Billions generally. Generally they get spent by the hundreds of Billions and not for one time purchases….. but ongoing programs that now have managers who have a personal interest in continuing and growing the expenditure. Did you ever hear of a federal bureaucrat who advocated for the dissolution of his or her department?

So the spending and debt go up and up and everything seems cool. Everyone seems to be having a good time, and then something unexpected happens: Unexpected, but predictable, AND predicted. A policy of increasingly easy home mortgage financing promoted and then aggressively pushed by the federal government created the “housing bubble” which finally burst and crashed the whole world economy.

Compromise reaches its frenzied climax during the assembly of “Omnibus”, and “Comprehensive” legislation.

Omnibus legislation is just a hodgepodge of measures that legislators didn’t have time to deal with or didn’t want to talk about openly and so they wait until the very end of the session and throw them all into one big “anthology of pork”. Everybody gets something. Sort of like the Christmas party at school, only at this party there isn’t any limit to the amount of money that can be spent. The bills will contain legitimate amendments to existing law and other bureaucratic necessities, but way back in the back, neatly tucked in between substantive matters there will be more fiscal hijinks than you can possibly imagine. All of the things that legislators would be embarrassed to stand and openly argue for, or support are here, and the reason they’re here is because it’s where everyone is allowed a pass for voting in favor of all of their colleague’s corruption. The bills are long, and hard to read. Who’s going to know? And if someone does find out next year, who’s going to care? It’s a win/win.

Comprehensive legislation at least has a stated purpose which is to take a large general problem which is the sum of several, or many related problems and solve them all in one fell swoop. A problem with comprehensive legislation is that it requires a fair measure of arrogance to believe that one fully understands all of the moving parts of a situation and how they interact with one another. Yesterday’s comprehensive legislation was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Congress is now digging its way out from under that pile of rubble, and will be for a long time. Another problem with this sort of legislation is that it allows the executive authority the option of allowing the passage of complex legislation and then non-enforcement of parts of the law it deems unnecessary.

They are beginning again to speak of comprehensive “Immigration Reform”, which is only one of the three major problems that it purports to solve, the other two being border security, and what to do with the 12 to 14 million immigrants who are already here illegally. Tied together, these three separate but interacting problems will generate another 1500 page monstrosity of a bill, the exact contents of which no one will know until the provisions begin to be selectively administered. Its stated purpose will be the solution, in one package, of three pressing national problems. 1) Border security and control. 2) Reform of an antiquated visa system. 3) Dealing with the many many millions of immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

The attempt to combine the solutions to these problems in one piece of legislation will result in at least one, and perhaps all three of the problems going unsolved and perhaps made even worse. And there will be the requisite lies. If you liked “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” you’ll LOVE “this bill does not give blanket amnesty to 14 Million illegals”.

The solution to the immigration problem is simple and can be accomplished by separate actions. First) Secure the border. Everyone else does it, including all of those industrialized nations progressives like to trot out when speaking about nationalized health care. Securing the borders is not a small thing, but we landed a man on the moon in 1969. We can secure the borders. And those attempting border violation need to be immediately deported to the country that they just came from, not given a bus ticket to the U.S. city of their choice, and released on their own recognizance pending a hearing in six months. Simple. Except smugglers of course. They can stay. In prison, and THEN deported.

Next) While the borders are being secured, we can be reforming the immigration system to efficiently handle the volumes of applicants expected, and establish a status for guest workers who have no intention or desire to becoming Americans. We, as a nation, have a right, and responsibility to know who is coming to and leaving our country.

And Finally) Deal with the 12 to 14 Million “extralegals” already in the country. Separately, the issue is just as simple as the other two. With the borders secure the problem practically solves itself. People live their lives and eventually die. People move away. If no more illegals arrive then the number present will decrease all by itself. In the mean time some legal status needs to be provided with no voting rights, and no social safety net. No logistically minded serious person suggests the involuntary deportation of 12 Million people. It won’t be necessary to talk about, or establish a special PATHWAY to citizenship. Immigrants can apply for permanent resident status and then for citizenship, just as they always could have, and once they have satisfied the requirements they can stand in front of a judge, raise their right hand, and recite the pledge of allegiance.

In separate pieces of legislation these three steps are straight forward and simple to execute. Trying to connect them would create a sort of Rube Goldberg contraption with so many moving parts that it would from the outset become impossible to operate or maintain. Our continuing experience with should have red flags going up on every pole.

Comprehensive legislation of ANY kind is the enemy of average Americans.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.