Thursday, October 23, 2014

Poor Palestine

Lost in all the news yesterday involving the terrorist attack in Canada was another terror attack in Jerusalem that claimed the life of a 3 month old baby. That young child, Chaya Zissel Braun, was an American citizen who was in a stroller on a light rail station's platform when a car driven by a young man with ties to Hamas plowed into a crowd of people during rush hour.

Hamas praised the young man who killed the baby as a "hero".  The young terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli security forces as he attempted to flee the scene.

In a Facebook post translated by Palestinian Media Watch, Sultan Abu-Einen hailed "the heroic martyr, Abed El-Rahman Idriss al-Shaludi," and that the terrorist, whose surname has also been spelled "Shaludeh" in English, was released from an Israeli prison in December 2013 after serving a 16-month sentence for previous terror offenses.

It does make you wonder a little bit about Hamas, doesn't it?

I ran across something else interesting about Hamas involving a recent gathering they held in Cairo seeking support from international donors to help rebuild Gaza after the recent "war" with Israel.

It seems that the Palestinians was recently looking for other nations to give them $4 billion to "fix the damage caused by the Israelis during Operation Protective Edge."

How much did they receive?

How about $1.4 billion more than they asked for---a total of $5.4 billion.

The United States pledged $212 million.

Qatar pledged $1 billion. Saudi Arabia $500 million. United Arab Emirates $200 million. Germany $63 million. France $50 million.

What I really found interesting is that the United States has given close to $5 billion to the Palestinians since the mid-1990's along with untold billions from other nations.  Much of this has been funneled through the United Nations.

The obvious question is what have we gotten for that money other than terror tunnels and rocket launchers to attack Israel?

Let me also provide a little more context to that amount of aid that has been provided to the Palestinians.

After World War II the United States developed an initiative called the Marshall Plan to provide economic support to help rebuild the European economies that had been devastated in the war. The funds were used to rebuild war-torn regions, modernize industry and make Europe prosperous again.

$17 billion was provided to the Europeans over fours years beginning in 1948. That would be around $170 billion in today's dollars. If you are paying attention, the United States has just pledged more money to rebuild Gaza than we spent in total on the Marshall Plan!

If you look at the money we have given the Palestinians since the mid-1990's and compare it to the Marshall Plan, you really have to wonder where all the money is going? Timon Dias of the Gatestone Institute provides some additional context on that question.

The Palestinian people, according to a recent study by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, have received per capita, adjusted for inflation, 25 times more aid than did Europeans to rebuild war-torn Western Europe under the Marshall plan after the Second World War. 
The Palestinians have received 25 times the money that was provided to rebuild Europe after World War II in per capita terms and they are complaining that Israel is standing in the way of their people's progress?

Of course, despite all of this aid over the years, the average Palestinian lives in a state of poverty. New roads aren't built. Utilities are lacking. Economic infrastructure is non-existent. Much of the money seems to go for the tools of terror, salaries for Hamas leadership and teaching the next generation of Palestinians to hate Israel and the Jews for their plight of poverty.

Dias quotes from a 2003 book by German sociologist on a fundamental problem in the West's aid to Palestine through the United Nations Relief Fund for Palestine. (UNRWA).
D]espite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA's budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in its own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza's untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war-by-proxy against the Jews of Israel.
If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA's help. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of freeing them up to wage war. Of course, every baby lured into the world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.
In the end, it is all about incentives as I have written about before.  Human beings will do what is in their best interest. Period.

Incentives drive the world. If the incentives for people are properly aligned, you will get the result you want.  If the incentives are not properly aligned, you will get poor results.  Whenever you get a poor result it is likely that you will find that the underlying incentives were not aligned properly.

Therefore, despite spending 25X what was spent per capita to rebuild Europe's economy, the people of Palestine are still poor and their leaders still wage war. And it does not appear that anything will change with another $5 billion having just been deposited into Hamas' bank account.

How much will go to actually build something productive that will actually help the Palestinian people? I would bet on more rocket launchers rather than roads and more terror tunnels than transformers for the utility grid.

I could not say it better than Dias does.
If the entire Palestinian Authority leadership lives off an international welfare check that arrives only because the conflict still exists, there isn't much incentive for ending the conflict.
Amen to that. And amen to the memory of an innocent 3-month baby who knew nothing about hate but lost her life because of it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Turned On And Turned Out

The mid-term elections are two weeks away. The major question is whether the Republicans will be able to gain majority control of the U.S. Senate. Many are also interested in whether the GOP can increase their seats in the U.S. House and protect the gains they have made in statehouses around the country the last few years.

Predicting political races in recent years is not so much understanding polling but figuring out who will actually show up at the polls. The electorate has become increasingly partisan and those partisans seem to be easily partitioned into demographic sub-groups that have voted predictably in past years. 

For example, young and black is most likely a Democrat vote. When you have old and white you can lay pretty good odds they are voting Republican. 

President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 because he turned out young voters and black voters. Obama got 66% of the 18-29 vote in 2009 and 60% in 2012. In fact, if voters just 30 years of age and over were considered, Romney would have won 50%-48%. McCain would have only lost by 1% in 2008.

Obama got 95% of the black vote in 2008 and 93% in 2012.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney got 59% of the white vote in 2012 and 56% of the age 65+ vote.

97.6% of single black women voted for Obama in 2012. 65% of married white men (and 62% of married white women) voted for Romney.

This graphic by Steven Sailer gives you a sense of how the partisanship was partitioned by groups in the 2012 Obama/Romney race.

In other words, if you are a single, black lesbian who rents you were likely to vote Democrat in 2012.

If you were a married, white Mormon who owned their own home, the Republicans could probably count on your vote.

Why is this worth revisiting two weeks before the 2014 election?

I believe it is relevant because the results of the election will most likely be determined by the turnout of those red and blue groups above.

History would suggest that the Republicans should have an advantage in this regard as older voters and white voters have traditionally been more reliable in turning out at the polls in mid-term elections than young voters and black voters.

Let's look at the age breakdown of the electorate in the three national elections (2008, 2010, 2012).

Voters age 45 and over made up 53% of the total in 2008 and 54% in 2012.  However, in 2010, (motivated by the Obamacare issue?), they made up 67% of all voters!

It is even more interesting to look at the total number of young voters (ages 18-29) compared to older voters (age 60+) for the last three elections. 30 million older voters showed up consistently at the polls in each of those three elections.  However, 24 million young voters came out in 2008 to help elect Obama, only 10 million showed up in 2010, and 23 million reappeared in 2012 to save Obama.

Why is this important?

As stated above, 60% of the 18-29 age group voted for Obama in 2012.  However, 56% of the age 60+ group voted for Romney. Therefore, Obama got 14.4 million votes (24 million x .60) from 18-29 year olds in 2012 and Romney totaled 16.8 million votes (30 million x .56) from those age 60+. The youth vote almost neutralized the heavier senior vote in 2012.

However, if only 10 million young voters show up at the polls (as they did in 2010) in two weeks to support Democrats, that will only be 6 million youth votes compared to 16.8 million votes for seniors in 2014 assuming senior age group continues to vote as they have in the last several national elections. That equals a 10 million GOP voter advantage that will be difficult for Democrat candidates to overcome.

The chart below shows the ebbs and flows in voter turnout by age group since 1964. Click on the graphic to see a larger version of the chart.


The clear trend over the last fifty years is that there are more seniors voting than ever before (the primary reason is that there are many more age 65 and older Americans than ever) and fewer young people voting.

What stands out to me in the chart above is the significant volatility in voting patterns of young voters between mid-term and Presidential election years.  Only 45%-60% of young voters in a Presidential election year will typically bother to cast a ballot two years later. On the other hand, you can count on 85%-88% of those age 65 or older who voted in the Presidential election to be at the polls in the mid-terms.

Another way to look at it is that in 2010 there were 3 voters age 65 and over for every voter 18-24. In 2012, there were only 1.5 older voters to every younger voter.  The older voter advantage was cut in half in the Obama election of 2012.

Will we see a repeat of 2010 this year with younger voters staying home?

The other key demographic for Democrats in this elections are African-Americans.

Blacks made up 13% of the electorate in 2008 in supporting Obama. They made up only 10% of the vote total in 2010 and they came back in force with 13% of the voters in 2012 to defend Obama.

These may look like fairly small percentage changes but when applied to the total votes cast in each election it amounts to millions of votes.

For example, in 2008, 13% of the vote amounted to 17 million votes of which Obama got 95% of the total---over 16 million votes in his favor.

The 10% that African-Americans represented in the 2010 election amounted to only 9 million votes. This amounts to a loss of some 8 million votes for Obama's policies compared to Obama the candidate. That is a deep hole to dig out of in any election.

You don't have to look at much more than this demographic data and past voting patterns to realize that turnout will be everything in the coming election.

That is why you are going to see a massive push by the Democrats in the next two weeks to do everything they can to gin up support among Black voters.

Who can get their voters to the polls?

The Democrats certainly face the biggest challenge in this regard. Historical voting patterns are not on their side. The leader of their party is deeply unpopular. The mood of the voters is decidedly negative (64% of voters say the country is on the wrong track according to most recent poll data) which usually means the President's party is responsible to a higher degree. If you are a Democrat it is hard to get excited about much of anything right now.

On the other hand, the Republicans have not done a very good job of showing what the right track might look like and the GOP is not immensely popular for their work in Congress either.

What I am most interested in seeing is whether the Democrats can come close to replicating the get-out-the-vote effort they were successful in doing in 2012. I thought that there was no way they could come close to matching the turnout numbers for their key groups in 2012 as they did in 2008. They did it and that is what won the election for Obama.

In fact, as I was writing this blog I went back over many of my blog posts leading up to the 2012 election and I have to admit I still have a difficult time in reconciling the numbers in how the Obama campaign was able to get the turnout they did with Obama's four year record and the economy.

If the Democrats can do it again in 2014, after another two years under Obama that makes the first four years look like 'the good old days', I will be at a total loss to explain it. It just does not add up based on a review of historical patterns and practices.

In that event, there will be only be two reasonable conclusions and, quite frankly, are almost unthinkable to me...

1) The country has reached the critical tipping point and we have reached the point of no return. We have reached The Fourth Turning and walked right over the cliff.

2) There is some type of massive voter fraud occurring within the system.

In the past, I would have scoffed at the second conclusion but you have to wonder when you see two stories like this in one week.

Liberal activist caught on video stuffing hundreds of ballots

Chicago-area voting machine casts Republican candidate’s vote for Democratic foe

The only thing I know for sure right now is that we have a long two weeks ahead of us in political posturing and positioning from both sides.

That will culminate in a long election night filled with plenty of politicos and pundits from all sides.

Where it leaves us the next day will depend on which voters are turned on and which voters turn out.

May everyone choose wisely.

I don't like to think about the unthinkable.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Working Wounded

The most recent federal government numbers indicate that there are 9.3 million unemployed workers in the United States.

That compares to 11.3 million unemployed workers just before President Obama took office. That's the good news.

However, there are 92.6 million working-age Americans not currently in the labor force.  These include students, stay-at-home parents, early retirees and those too discouraged to look for work. They do not get counted in the workforce numbers that are used to calculate the unemployment number.

In December, 2008 that number was 80.4 million. Therefore, in the last four years the number of Americans that are not in the workforce has increased by 12 million!

Here are the numbers of working-age Americans not currently working as of September 30 for the last seven years.

2008     79.8 million
2009     82.5 million
2010     84.4 million
2011      86.0 million
2012      88.8 million
2013      90.7 million
2014      92.6 million

To put this in perspective, about as many Americans have left the workforce since 2008 as we saw during the entire 25-year period from 1975-2000.

Here are the unemployment numbers for the same period.

2008       9.5 million
2009      15.0 million
2010       14.6 million
2011       13.9 million
2012       12.1 million
2013       11.2 million
2014         9.3 million

Therefore, compared to six years ago, the number of unemployed is 200,000 lower but the number of working-age Americans who are not working has increased by almost 13 million!

When you put the all the numbers together, we now have over 100 million working-age Americans who are not working.  And despite the improved unemployment rate, the number of those not working plus those officially considered unemployed has not fallen at all. In fact, it has stayed stubbornly right around 100 million over the last five years.

By contrast, there are about 146 million people working-78 million men and 68 million women.

Of the 146 million workers, over 27 million are working part-time.  This is about 3 million higher than the number of part-time workers before President Obama took office.

The labor participation rate (the number that are working compared to the assumed civilian labor force of people 16 years of age and over) has now dropped to 62.7.  This is the lowest percentage of people working since 1977.

The labor force participation for men was the lowest ever recorded at 69.1 in September, 2014.  In 1981 it was 77.0.  The labor participation rate for women in September, 2014 was 56.7.

I have written before that I am more concerned about the percentage of those employed than the percentage that are unemployed.  After all, there are bills to be paid in this country.  People need shelter, food, energy, medical care and other necessities.  The lower the percentage of those working, the greater the burden those working carry for everyone else.  It is a simple comparison of how many are in the wagon versus how many are pulling the wagon.

Look no further than the numbers below to see what I mean as to the numbers receiving various federal and state benefits.

Social Security beneficiaries                      47.4 million
Social Security disability                            14.3 million
Unemployment benefits                               2.4 million
Food Stamps                                                 46.5 million

In addition, there are 21.9 million Federal and state government employees that the taxpayers of this country support through various federal and state taxes.

It used to be that people voted their pocketbooks. I don't think that has changed.  However, it is getting increasingly difficult to discern which pocketbook we are talking about anymore. The pocketbook of the working taxpayer who is paying the bills or the pocketbook of the recipients of government's largesse using other people's money?

The one thing that is clear is that those working and those that want to work in this economy have been wounded by the the policies of the last few years. There are too many people who are either unemployed or underemployed. There are also an increasing number of people that are not working that have to be taken care of but those that are working through an increased tax and debt burden.

The numbers above tell the story. We are in the decade of the working wounded.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola Ruminations

A few ruminations and observations about Ebola as I have seen the news develop over the last few weeks.

The Math

I appreciate and respect the compounding effects of mathematics. This is the main concern I have had about Ebola from the beginning. It is beyond me why anyone who looked at the serious nature of this disease and considered the risk from the mathematics from exposure to it would have allowed anyone from West Africa into this country as President Obama did.

It borders on criminal negligence. It certainly fails the basic test of the President of the United States whose first duty should be to protect the citizenry of the United States of America.

Consider this graphic comparing how fast Ebola spreads and how deadly it is compared to other diseases in the Washington Post article of October 9, "The Ominous Math of Ebola".

There is simply too much risk to the population to not take the most basic measures to contain the disease.

If you will recall it was President Obama who stated less than a month ago "that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low".  That statement was just three days before Thomas Eric Duncan bordered a flight to the United States and nine days before he first sought treatment at a hospital in Dallas.


I went to law school at Emory University in Atlanta which is a stone's throw away from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. I knew people that worked there and had a lot of respect for them. When I go back to Atlanta it is amazing to see how much the CDC complex has grown since I graduated in the 1970's.

However, when I look at how the entire Ebola crisis has been handled I have to ask what is going on there now?  It appears as if they have no idea what they are doing starting with the Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden. It seem to be a constant flow of mistakes, misstatements, mea culpas and contradictions.

These are a few examples of what I am talking about.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a telephone press briefing Wednesday that you cannot get Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus, but that infected or exposed persons should not ride public transportation because they could transmit the disease to someone else. Ace of Spades


The day before she went to the hospital with Ebola symptoms, Amber Vinson was flying across the country on a commercial jet with 132 other people.
Now the man leading the U.S. fight against the deadly virus says she never should have stepped foot on the flight.

"She should not have been on that plane," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Wednesday after the nurse was confirmed to have Ebola. CNN

We found out later that the nurse got on the plane with a low-grade fever. Even more incredibly, it is now reported that the nurse called the CDC before she got on the Cleveland-Dallas flight and told them she had a 99.5 degree temperature and was told she could get on the flight anyway. I am a total loss to explain any of this from what is supposed to be the Center for Disease Control.


Frieden blamed the first nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan on a "breach of protocol" effectively throwing the young nurse under the bus.

"We don't know what occurred in the care of the index patient, the original patient in Dallas," said Frieden in a press conference Sunday morning, "but at some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection." 

Frieden eventually apologized for suggesting the nurse who contracted Ebola was to blame and admitted that the agency had to 'rethink' how to combat the deadly virus.

It should also be remembered that Frieden stated just two weeks ago that "any U.S. hospital with isolation capabilities can care for an Ebola patient." With two nurses at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas (by the way, this is a 900 bed facility in a major metro area) already infected, you have to say that this is the biggest misstatement of them all from this guy.

Mea Culpas

Frieden says that the CDC didn't get it right at first but they will do it better in the future.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday said a Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola might not have gotten the virus if the response from the federal government had been different.
CDC Director Tom Frieden pledged to dispatch emergency response crews to any hospital in the country where Ebola is diagnosed, and said such a response might have prevented Nina Pham from getting the disease.
“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this,” Frieden said. “But we will do that from this day onward with any case anywhere in the U.S.”
It will be amazing to me if Dr. Frieden is not forced to resign soon. He makes Mike Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job"), the FEMA Director during Katrina who was forced out after missteps in the aftermath of that hurricane, look like a genius.

The Role of Government

Many see the government response to the Ebola outbreak and argue that this is another example of why we should not rely on government. I could not disagree more.

When you have something like Ebola you need government more than ever. However, you need a thoughtful, competent government that is focused first and foremost on the safety and security of its citizens. Public health is a core function that only government can do well. This is when you need to have the structure, order and security support that only a well-functioning government can provide.

Our problem is that this is not the government we have been getting. Our government has been focused on all the wrong things. It has been more concerned with redistribution and political correctness than in true government and the safety of its citizens. 

I have written previously how almost 70% of the federal budget is now comprised of payments to individuals and that in ten years payments to individuals and interest costs will consume 93% of the federal budget. Only 7% will be spent on the traditional roles of government (defense, roads, parks, public health, education, etc).  As I have stated, a government that is not spending any money on government is not a government.

Look no further than the budget of the CDC over the last few years and how it has spent money from its Prevention and Public Health Fund.  Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana provides the facts. Jindal knows something about this subject as he used to be the principal policy adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.
Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.
The CDC’s website makes clear the objectives of community transformation grants. The program funds neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.” Bike lanes and farmer’s markets may indeed help a community—but they would do little to combat dangerous diseases like Ebola, SARS or anthrax.

You read that right. Of $3 billion spent by the CDC out of its Prevention and Public Health Fund over the last five years, three times as much money was spent on community transformation grants (healthy foods, inner city grocery stories, bike lanes and street lighting) as was spent on programs protecting, detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats.

If that is not putting politics above public health I don't know what it is.

The problem is not government, it is the current government and leaders we have. It is having the wrong priorities and the wrong policies.

The Fourth Turning

I have written so often about the book, The Fourth Turning, that I am sure many of my readers are sick of me writing about it.

However, once again, William Strauss and Neil Howe seem prescient on what lies ahead. This is what they wrote in 1997 about a possible crisis scenario that could await us in "The Fourth Turning".

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announce the spread of a new communicable virus. The disease reached densely populated areas, killing some. Congress enacts mandatory quarantine measures. The president orders the National Guard to throw prophylactic cordons around unsafe neighborhoods. Mayors resist. Urban gangs battle suburban militias. Calls mount for the President to declare martial law. (Page 273)

Ben Franklin said that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I guess someone forgot about that along the way in our government.

Keep in mind that there were a long string of decisions by "the government" that were made along the way that could have prevented the situation we are in today. We could have banned anyone from West Africa from entering the country beginning a month ago. In fact, this article indicates that Duncan should never been issued a tourist visa to begin with based on his profile-unemployed, single, and sister living in the U.S-because the odds were strong that he would overstay his visa and become another illegal immigrant. We could have spent money on Ebola prevention at the CDC rather than bike paths and farmers markets in urban areas. We could have made sure the nurses at Texas Presbyterian had the equipment and training to treat Duncan. The list is long.

Just another example of why we need to return to the founding principles set forth by our founding fathers that focused government on government.

I just hope my ruminations about Ebola can end soon and we can hold off any ruin. If not, more and more people will rue the day that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Perils of Partisanship

Many people point to increasing partisanship in Washington for their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in Washington with our elected officials.

These charts from Congressional Quarterly show the extent to which partisanship has become the rule rather than the exception in Washington compared to years past.  All of this can be found in CQ Roll Call's Vote Studies-2013 In Review.

For example, Senate Democrats voted together unanimously 52% of the time in 2013. There were no dissenting opinions or independent thinking by Democrats more than half of the time. Republicans voted as a bloc about 1/3 of the time.

Democrat=Blue, Republican=Red
Party Unanimity in the Senate

Notice that up until 1990 it was rare that either party voted unanimously together more than 10% of the time.

Here is the chart showing party unanimity in the House. The GOP voted together 35% of the time in 2013. The Democrats voted as a bloc 22% of the time.

Democrat=Blue, Republican= Red
Party Unanimity in the House

You see the same trends in average party unity scores.  This is the percentage of votes on which a member voted in agreement with a majority of his or her own party.

Senate Democrats set a record in 2013 with a 94% average party unity score. The comparable Republican score was 86%.

Democrat=Blue, Republican=Red
Average Party Unity Scores, Senate

It is important to look at this data as we have most of the Democratic Senate candidates across the country trying to desperately separate themselves from President Obama going into the mid-term elections this year.

However, the facts are clear that Democrats have supported Obama's agenda in an overwhelming fashion. They have also voted as a bloc for the liberal, progressive Democratic agenda like never before.

Let's look at the voting records of some of the Democrats who are now claiming that they hold far different views than President Obama as they run for re-election this year. Don't they know that their votes are recorded and reviewed?

Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) voted for Obama's position 97% of the time in 2013.

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) 97%

Senator Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) 96%

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) 99%

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) 97%

The attempts of Democrats to distance themselves from President Obama reached the heights of absurdity last week when Democrat Senate Candidate in Kentucky Alison Lundergan Grimes refused to answer four times when questioned whether she voted for Barack Obama for President in 2008 and 2012.

Grimes was actually a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention though she was a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Why is this important?

My view of elections, especially federal offices, is that most are decided by voters answering a simple question. Most people cannot organize and reconcile their views on a multitude of issues. Most people cannot answer complex questions. They look to answer a single question that is easy for them.

For example, consider this poll that I saw referenced last week of Millennials aged 18-29. 75% of Millennials said they identify themselves as "pro-choice" when it comes to abortion. However, 65% of Millennials in the same survey also said that "pro-life" describes them on the issue. Do you see what I mean?

That is one of the reasons there are political parties. It makes it easier to decide who to vote for even though most individuals probably do not agree with every single item in the party platform of the candidate they vote for.

I believe that for the most part when people vote (in particular the key swing "independent" voters) they consider simple questions and vote accordingly.

Think about the following successful campaigns of the past and the questions that were at the heart of the voting decision by key voters in those races.

1980 Ronald Reagan       "Are you better off now than you were four years ago"?

1992 Bill Clinton             "Who can feel your pain better"?

1994 Mid-Term               "Are you in favor of the Contract with America"?

2004 George Bush          "Has George Bush kept you safe since September 11, 2001?"

2008 Barack Obama       "Are you tired of George Bush?"

2010 Mid-Term               "Do you want to repeal Obamacare?"

2012 Barack Obama        "Do you trust a rich, white guy like Mitt Romney to look out for you?"

This is why the Democrats are trying so desperately to separate themselves from President Obama and avoid having this mid-term election be a referendum on the President and his policies.

However, Democrats can try to run away but it is difficult to hide a record that is more partisan than at almost any time in history and which it is almost impossible to find any daylight between Obama and Senate Democrats on almost every important issue.

It is also naive to believe that any newly elected Democrat (e.g. Alison Grimes, Michelle Nunn (GA), Greg Orman (KS), (yes, he is a Democrat!) would, or could buck, The White House or Harry Reid if they were elected. Therefore, a vote for any Democrat is really a vote for President Obama and Harry Reid. It is that simple. The numbers above don't lie.

The Democrats placed all their bets on Barack Obama and Harry Reid the last few years. They did not hedge or meet anyone half-way.

The bet is being called in this mid-term election.

Can they overcome the perils of partisanship?

We will soon find out.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Social Insecurity

The highest priority of the President of the United States is to keep it citizens safe and secure.

Not only is President Obama failing in this regard, it almost appears that he has a wanton disregard for the citizens who he took an oath of office to protect and defend. You can almost call him President Amnesty ISIS Ebola Obama.

He has created an enormous amount of Social Insecurity in our country due to putting politics above sound public policy and political correctness above the public good.

He has openly ignored the immigration laws of the United States and has failed to protect our borders. In fact, he has stated that he will grant amnesty to people who are in the United States illegally before the end of the year by executive order.

Thousands of illegal immigrant children have flooded across our border

It seems apparent that the wave of illegal immigrant children and others which overwhelmed the southern border this past summer have brought with them a host of communicable diseases.  Some are speculating that the Enterovrius D68 virus that has affected many of our children and affecting many medical systems in the Midwest is the result of the immigrant invasion.

In fact, someone I know came very close to losing her young son to this potentially deadly virus just one week ago.

The Enterovirus D68 that is spreading among children across the U.S. particularly in the Midwest. The mysterious disease has been known to afflict Central America in the past.
Until recently the occurrence of EV-D68 was rare in the United States. Between 1970 and 2005 only 26 clinical isolates of EV-D68 were reported in the USA. Over the years, clusters have been reported in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and various countries.
Hundreds of children in Missouri and several other states have already been hospitalized because of Enterovirus EV-D68.
ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser recently pointed out that “Viruses don’t tend to respect borders.”
Why won't he enforce the immigration law and enforce our borders which are meant to protect the citizens of the United States? It is simple . The Democrat party needs the votes of Hispanics.

Obama ignored the advice of his military commanders, his State Department and his Secretary of Defense and pulled all troops out of Iraq leading to the rise of ISIS and what now looks to be the inevitable fall of Baghdad and the total loss of Iraq to extremist Islamics. The end result will be unspeakable suffering in Iraq on a scale not seen since the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.

After the fall of Saigon, an estimated 65,000 Vietnamese were executed. An additional 1 million who had opposed the Communists during the war were sent to "re-education" camps where an estimated 165,000 died. Many South Vietnamese fled the country in the only way possible---by boat. It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million "Boat People" made the drastic decision to flee in makeshift boats. As many as 200,000 died trying. Almost 1 million were accepted into the United States as refugees.

Vietnamese Boat People
Credit:History Learning Site

These extremists openly threaten the United States of America and have already blatantly beheaded two Americans and two Brits. A third American (Peter Kassig), a humanitarian worker, has been named as the next potential victim.

This week ISIS went on social media to threaten U.S. military personnel and their family members in their homes according to an Army intelligence bulletin that was reported on by Fox News.

An Army intelligence bulletin is warning U.S. military personnel to be vigilant after Islamic State militants called on supporters to scour social media for addresses of their family members – and to “show up [at their homes] and slaughter them."
The assessment, obtained by Fox News, came from the Army Threat Integration Center which issues early warnings of criminal and terrorist threats to Army posts worldwide.
Why did President Obama not heed the warnings of what now appears to be most of his top advisors on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his Defense Secretary, his Secretary of State and the Director of the CIA and leave a residual security force in Iraq to protect the gains we had made in securing that country?
It is simple. He campaigned as an Anti-Iraq War President. He did not want to admit that he may have been wrong and that President Bush was right about the threat of a terrorist state in Iraq. He put politics above the personal security of Americans.

Let it not be forgotten that ISIS is also the group that he called a JV team after they had taken over the city of Fallujah in Iraq. Here is the exact quote from President Obama in January, 2014..

I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists (ISIS) who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

Finally, we have Ebola in which President Obama also made an ill-advised statement which also seems to be politically motivated.

This is what President Ebola  Obama said a little over two weeks ago about the chances of Ebola reaching the United States.

"...the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low... In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home." (emphasis added)

Recall that this is the same President who banned flights to and from the United States to Israel during the Israeli/Hamas war but has refused to limit flights from affected West African countries or restrict access to the United States from individuals carrying passports from these countries until the illness is under control.

By comparison, airlines in both Great Britain and France have suspended flights to and from two West African countries.

You also have to question the sense of proportionality in comparing the President's military response to ISIS and to Ebola considering he has committed more troops on the ground in Africa to help respond to the Ebola crisis than he has on ground to help the Iraqis to fight ISIS.

Why has President Obama been so complacent about the threat of Ebola? On this one I do not have a simple answer. Is he concerned about adverse reaction from the African-American community because the source of the Ebola epidemic is in Africa? I don't think most Americans would care if the source was Ireland or Iceland. They want to protect our country from the disease.

The Democrats have always liked to refer to themselves as the party of Social Security.

However, President Obama is quickly making them the party of Social Insecurity.

I would not want to be a Democrat running for office next month with President Obama as the head of my team.

Consider for a moment the risks to our country if any one of these threats spins out of control.

Children dying from an enterovirus that we have generally not seen in the United States in almost 50 years that has been very prevalent in the Central American countries where scores of illegal immigrants stormed over our borders this summer.

An ISIS attack in our country directed at servicemen or their families or the fall of Baghdad with pictures of brazen brutality and bloodshed.

An Ebola outbreak that affects scores of people in this country.

Human beings seek safety and security above all else. Without it, not much matters.

I hope we can overcome the threats to our safety and security from the lack of border security, ISIS and Ebola. The origin of these threats cannot be blamed on President Obama. However, his actions have made each of them a much greater threat to the American people than they otherwise would be.

We are in an age of Social Insecurity right now and President Obama owns it.

And the Democrats own it as well due to their past blind support of President Obama.

It promises to be an interesting Fall as we watch these events unfold. Can President Obama and the Democrats survive it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Everything Is Fine Until It Isn't

I have written regularly that we are heading for a date with destiny that is most predictable but which will nonetheless shock the populace and pundits who will marvel at how unpredictable it all was once it actually occurs.

I have written about the nation's expanding national debt.

I have written about the artificially low interest rates and what happens to government when those rates start to rise.

I have written about the U.S Treasury rolling over treasury securities at ever shorter durations to take advantage of today's low short-term rates.

I have written about the dangers of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE) program.

I have written about the country's looming Social Security and Medicare funding crisis.

I have written how almost 70% of the federal budget is now comprised of payments to individuals and that in ten years payments to individuals and interest costs will consume 93% of the federal budget. Only 7% will be spent on the traditional roles of government (defense, roads, parks, public health, education, etc).

It is all around us.

I came across the blog article (reproduced in full below) by Michael Snyder on David Stockman's Contra Corner web site that puts all this together in one place. Stockman was the former head of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan years so he knows a thing or two about the federal budget. He thought enough of Snyder's piece to post it on his website.

Snyder originally published his blog post here.

Remember one thing. Everything can be fine until it isn't. And history has shown that you can go from fine to finished very quickly when you are deeply in debt and dependent on your creditors to keep you afloat. It is the ultimate confidence game.

Don't be conned. The facts say we are living on borrowed time and it is all on borrowed money. Short term borrowed money which is the worst possible confidence game to be playing.

Uncle Sam’s $8 Trillion Annual Debt Churn: Why Washington Is Pertrified Of Honest Interest Rates
By Michael Snyder

I know that headline sounds completely outrageous.  But it is actually true.  The U.S. government is borrowing about 8 trillion dollars a year, and you are about to see the hard numbers that prove this. When discussing the national debt, most people tend to only focus on the amount that it increases each 12 months.  And as I wrote about recently, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal year 2014.

But that does not count the huge amounts of U.S. Treasury securities that the federal government must redeem each year.  When these debt instruments hit their maturity date, the U.S. government must pay them off.  This is done by borrowing more money to pay off the previous debts.  In fiscal year 2013, redemptions of U.S. Treasury securities totaled $7,546,726,000,000 and new debt totaling $8,323,949,000,000 was issued.  The final numbers for fiscal year 2014 are likely to be significantly higher than that.

So why does so much government debt come due each year?

Well, in recent years government officials figured out that they could save a lot of money on interest payments by borrowing over shorter time frames.  For example, it costs the government far more to borrow money for 10 years than it does for 1 year.  So a strategy was hatched to borrow money for very short periods of time and to keep “rolling it over” again and again and again.

This strategy has indeed saved the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments, but it has also created a situation where the federal government must borrow about 8 trillion dollars a year just to keep up with the game.

So what happens when the rest of the world decides that it does not want to loan us 8 trillion dollars a year at ultra-low interest rates?

Well, the game will be over and we will be in a massive amount of trouble.

I am about to share with you some numbers that were originally reported by CNS News.  As you can see, far more debt is being redeemed and issued today than back during the middle part of the last decade…


Redeemed: $7,546,726,000,000

Issued: $8,323,949,000,000

Increase: $777,223,000,000


Redeemed: $6,804,956,000,000

Issued: $7,924,651,000,000

Increase: $1,119,695,000,000


Redeemed: $7,026,617,000,000

Issued: $8,078,266,000,000

Increase: $1,051,649,000,000


Redeemed: $7,206,965,000,000

Issued: $8,649,171,000,000

Increase: $1,442,206,000,000


Redeemed: $7,306,512,000,000

Issued: $9,027,399,000,000

Increase: $1,720,887,000,000


Redeemed: $4,898,607,000,000

Issued: $5,580,644,000,000

Increase: $682,037,000,000


Redeemed: $4,402,395,000,000

Issued: $4,532,698,000,000

Increase: $130,303,000,000


Redeemed: $4,297,869,000,000

Issued: $4,459,341,000,000

Increase: $161,472,000,000

The only way that this game can continue is if the U.S. government can continue to borrow gigantic piles of money at ridiculously low interest rates.

And our current standard of living greatly depends on the continuation of this game.

If something comes along and rattles this Ponzi scheme, life in America could change radically almost overnight.

In the United States today, we have a heavily socialized system that hands out checks to nearly half the population.  In fact, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government each month according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  And it is hard to believe, but Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.  At this point, the primary function of the federal government is taking money from some people and giving it to others.  In fact, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to “dependence-creating programs”, and the government runs approximately 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” right now.  But the big problem is that the government is giving out far more money than it is taking in, so it has to borrow the difference.  As long as we can continue to borrow at super low interest rates, the status quo can continue.

But a Ponzi scheme like this can only last for so long.

It has been said that when the checks stop coming in, chaos will begin in the streets of America.

The looting that took place when a technical glitch caused the EBT system to go down for a short time in some areas last year and the rioting in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri this year were both small previews of what we will see in the future.

And there is no way that we will be able to “grow” our way out of this problem.

As the Baby Boomers continue to retire, the amount of money that the federal government is handing out each year is projected to absolutely skyrocket.  Just consider the following numbers…

-Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

-When Medicare was first established, we were told that it would cost about $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around.  Instead, the federal government ended up spending $110 billion on the program in 1990, and the federal government spent approximately $600 billion on the program in 2013.

-It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

-At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

-In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

-Right now, there are approximately 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.

-Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

-The U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities during the years ahead.  Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.

Yes, things seem somewhat stable for the moment in America today.

But the same thing could have been said about 2007.  The stock market was soaring, the economy seemed like it was rolling right along and people were generally optimistic about the future.

Then the financial crisis of 2008 erupted and it seemed like the world was going to end.

Well, the truth is that another great crisis is rapidly approaching, and we are in far worse shape financially than we were back in 2008.

Don’t get blindsided by what is ahead.  Evidence of the coming catastrophe is all around you.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Initiators and Imitators, Good and Evil

“Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.” 
                                                                – Cavett Robert

This is the fundamental principle of the law of social proof. The fact is that most people are significantly influenced in their behavior by looking at others.

Most people want to conform. They don't want to stand out in a crowd. They are very comfortable in going with the flow. That type of human behavior works well when you have moral, ethical leaders. As a result, society functions well.

It does not work well when the leaders and initiators are evil. This has been proven over and over and over again throughout history. Some imitators imitate. However, most of the 95% become invisible. They keep their heads down and they just stay quiet so as to not rock the boat.

President Obama said last night on 60 Minutes that "Islam is a religion that preaches peace and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful."

That may be the case but it is irrelevant if "the overwhelming majority of Muslims" are silent or sit back while "initiators" and "fanatics" in their religion are defining Islam in their image.

With that in mind, it is worth considering this blog post by Paul Junker in Celestial Junk on "Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant" that was first published in 2006. It is 2014 and his thoughts seem as relevant today as they were then.

Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant

I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis” he said, “but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority” and it is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The Average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a war mongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of Killing that included the systematic killing of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet. And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving”.

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

This is not just a lesson for peace loving Muslims to remember but for peace loving and patriotic Americans as well.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

An interesting footnote on the quote above that I found while researching this blog post.

This quote was recently considered to be the most popular quotation of modern times in a poll conducted by the editors of “The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.”

I always thought the quote was attributed to Edmund Burke dating back to the 18th century. However, this article by the Quote Investigator concludes that there is no evidence that Burke ever uttered or wrote the phrase. The correct attribution for the quote is not known. And now you know!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Dangerous Path

On the night of March 9, 1945, 334 B-29 bombers took off from the Mariana Islands on a mission to decimate Tokyo's Shitamachi section in the eastern part of the city.

Each B-29 carried carried 7 tons of incendiary cluster bombs. Each bomb, in turn, released 38 naplam-carrying incendiary bomblets at an altitude of 2,000 feet that spread the effect of the incendiary material over a wide area.

The cluster bombing was directed at an area of Tokyo that was populated by roughly 750,000 people living in cramped quarters in wooden-frame buildings. The area also contained a great number of light industries, so-called "shadow factories", that produced prefabricated war materials and aircraft parts that were supplying the Japanese army.

One of the justifications for the fire bombings was to disrupt the military supply chain that was imbedded within this civilian area that could not otherwise be easily targeted and destroyed. However, breaking the will and resolve of the Japanese people to continue the war effort was certainly a prime objective as well.

The firebombing attack was aided by strong winds (17 mph to 28 mph) the night of March 9 that created a firestorm and conflagration that destroyed 15.8 square miles of the city, left over a million homeless and killed over 100,000.

To put that in perspective, the number of fatalities on that one night was the single deadliest air raid of World War II; killing more people than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Aerial view of Tokyo after the War

In the Civil War in 1864, in just over two weeks time in Virginia. at the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-7) and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21), over 55,000 young Americans lost their lives on the battlefield.

Battle of the Wilderness
Credit:Harper's Weekly

Both battles had General U.S Grant advancing with vast numbers of Union soldiers in an attempt to break the Confederate lines in a war of attrition based on the Union Army's superior numbers in men and materiel. This led some to start calling him "Butcher Grant" for the number of casualties he took along the way. Of course, this is the same U.S. Grant that defeated the Confederate Army in 1865 and became the President of the United States in 1868.

620,000 Americans lost their lives fighting the Civil War-equal to about 2% of the country's population at the time.

These acts of war involving mass assaults, intimidation and a mindset for total victory are difficult for us to fathom right now. Most of those living today have seen nothing like it in our lifetimes. After all, the Korean War was officially referred to as a "police action" by President Truman. The Vietnam War was fought without Congress ever declaring war on anybody.

Notice that these horrific acts of war described above were separated by roughly 80 years.

Is there significance to that time period between these events?

William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of The Fourth Turning, would argue that it is totally consistent with what one would expect to find at the "Crisis" season of history that we seem to now be in and that Strauss and Howe predicted would be upon us beginning around the middle of the first decade of the 2000's.

What does it all mean?

Strauss and Howe argue that if this plays out like previous Fourth Turnings (as in the Civil War and World War II periods) we will find that ...

"The Crisis mood will dim expectations that multilateral diplomacy and expanding global democracy can keep the world out of trouble". 
"Old Unraveling-era strategies (flexibility, stealth, elite expertise, stand-off weaponry, and surgical goals) will all be replaced by new Crisis-era strategies (mass, intimidation, universal conscription, frontal assault and total victory) more suitable to a fight for civic survival." 
Does any of this sound familiar?

How have we been conducting the wars we have been involved with in the Middle East over the last 20 years?

They have principally been surgical in nature with very limited rules of engagement. We have prided ourselves on our flexible and nimble fighting forces, our stealth bombers and drones, our special forces like the Navy Seals, our use of air power (stand-off weaponry) and surgical strikes.  Even in the Gulf War in the early 1990's, we merely evicted Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait and stopped the war when Iraq was expelled rather than pursuing total victory.

What strategy is President Obama proposing for dealing with ISIS?

More of the same. However, it may be a path to failure as it may not match the evolving attitudes of the American people as the Crisis period continues.

Why do I say this?

I think the emergence of ISIS is changing American attitudes in very profound ways that is only beginning to become evident. The brutality and barbarism of the group, the fact that is is referring to itself as a "state" and its direct threats to the United States have made it a real and tangible threat that
is much easier for the American people to comprehend and understand.

I have seen this first hand with this blog.

I have been writing BeeLine for almost four years. In that time I only had one post that I wrote that got more than 1,000 views. That is, until I wrote "Why ISIS, Not ISIL" , two weeks ago. That post has already gotten over 8,000 views!

How could that happen?

It could only occur if there were a lot of people reading and forwarding that blog post on to others. I generally only have about 100 regular readers of BeeLine, so the only way to get to 8,000 views is for that post to really resonate with people and for those people to be moved to share it with friends and family. Over and over.

Why were people moved to do that?

The only explanation that I can come up with is that post resonated with an American public which is becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of radical Islam. They also appear to be more than a little concerned that the President of the United States may not be fully engaged in his foremost responsibility--protecting the American people. There are questions about his engagement, his motives and his leadership.

There also remain a lot of unanswered questions about Barack Obama that have not been answered even those he has been in office for almost six years. Have we ever had a President of the United States that we have known so little about regarding his background and upbringing? Have we ever had a President of the United States who apparently was raised believing the United States was the bad actor in the world, rather than a force for good? Have we ever had a President of the United States where you were not 100% sure that he had the country's (not his political party, or contributors or friends) best interests at heart?

From the reaction I have gotten to that one blog post, it appears that there are a lot of people who have questions. And the stakes have gotten much bigger.  People might might overlook some of the questions above if we are just talking about issues like abortion, the national debt, the Keystone pipeline or national health care. However, people tend to get much more interested when they start thinking about their safety and security.

This trend has also shown up recently in polling data which shows President Obama's job approval is sinking particularly fast among women. This is significant as women have generally been the core of much of Obama's support.

Obama's approval rating among white women is now only 32%, with a massive 62% disapproving of his job performance. He lost six points just since August according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll.

In August, white women favored a Democratic Congress by four points. They now favor Republicans by eight points. That is a 12 point swing in a month!

"Soccer Moms" are becoming "Security Moms".

Mothers are hard-wired to protect their families from danger and disaster of the kind that Strauss and Howe predict is awaiting us. They are wise to be concerned about the man who is leading us down the uncertain path we are on right now that Obama has placed us on.

I was particularly interested in the article today on in which Leon Panetta, who served President Obama as both his CIA Director and Secretary of Defense "sharply criticized the president for failing to address the crisis in Syria earlier. He said that Obama ignored his national security advisors when he failed to arm the Syrian rebels and pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq; actions which led to the rise of ISIS".
Where does the uncertain path we are on right now possibly lead? More from The Fourth Turning...
"Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of the Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war---class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists or superpower war. If there is war it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil---its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured. And it there is total war, it is likely that the most destructive weapons available will be deployed."

However, mothers also deeply about their country and the survival of our way of life .

"Decisive events will occur--events so vast, powerful, and unique that they lie beyond today's wildest hypotheses. These events will inspire great documents and speeches, visions of a new political order being framed. People will discover a hitherto unimagined capacity to fight and die, and to let their children fight and die, for a communal cause. The Spirit of America will return, because there will be no other choice."

I hope all of this is wrong but I discern a creeping realization from many that we are on a dangerous path that will put all of us to the test. And in times like this we need a Washington, Lincoln or Roosevelt leading us---not a community organizer who grew up criticizing most everything his country ever did.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

227 Years and Counting

Today is the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitutional Convention had convened on May 14, 1787 and work was finished and the delegates signed the Constitution on September 17.

The Constitution was then sent to the 13 states for ratification.  Nine were required for the Constitution to fully "unite" the states. That did not occur until June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document.

In the interim, the Federalist Papers were written to explain the theories, rationale and reasoning of our Founders.  Alexander Hamilton devised the idea to write and publish this series of papers in an effort to enlist support for ratification in the states and to answer the many criticisms that were lobbied against the Constitution. This was particularly the case when it came to defending the need for a federal government at all.  Oh, how times have changed!

Hamilton enlisted James Madison and John Jay to join him in writing the series of essays.  Hamilton ended up writing 51 of the 85 articles.  John Jay fell ill and ended up writing only five papers.  This left the remainder to Madison who is known today as the "Father of the Constitution".  By the way, Madison was just 36 years old and Hamilton was 32 when they were writing the Federalist Papers.

What is truly amazing in reading the Federalist Papers is how well our Founders understood human nature and the efforts they took to provide safeguards in the Constitution against human fallibilities and foibles.

I have written about the Federalist Papers before, and it being Constitution Day, I thought I would once again highlight what is perhaps my favorite blog post since I started writing BeeLine.

If you have any doubt about the brilliance of our Founding Fathers and of the Constitution they drafted, read on about "Improper and Wicked Projects" in the Federalist Papers.  What were Improper and Wicked Projects?

This is their list.  I kid you not.

A rage for paper money 

A rage for the abolition of debts 

A rage for an equal division of property

A little eerie?  Read it all and send it on to others.  The answers to our problems are already in existence.  It was written down 227 years ago today. We just need the good sense to return to these founding principles.

Improper and Wicked Projects (originally posted August 22, 2011)

Power, politics, greed, bias, conflicts of interest, oppression.  There is nothing going on today that our Founders did not anticipate.

Due to the intelligence and insights of our Founding Fathers they wrote a document that considered all of the above and more in writing the U.S. Constitution.  They knew that instability, injustice and confusion within the institution of government had caused many to fail.  They were determined to build a governmental structure that could endure for the ages.

Federalist Paper #10 was written (by James Madison) to describe "How the Union Will Act as a Safeguard Against Domestic Division and Rebellion". The Founders understood that opposing political factions were the greatest potential threat to any government and that in many governments the only redress was violence.  They wanted to insure that factions could not wield power that would be dangerous to either the rights of other citizens or the common good.  What did they see as the most common and tangible source of faction?  The conflict between rich and poor. Here are the exact words from #10.

The most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. 
Where did they see the most danger for a majority to trample on the rights of a minority?  Taxation.

The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets. 
They understood that those that governed us had to be a cut above to balance and mediate these conflicting interests and put the public interest above any special interests.  However, they also knew that this was naive. The Common Argument modern translation puts it this way.

Enlightened statesmen will not always be in power, and even if such mediation could happen, it would rarely take place with long-term interests in mind, since the immediate "here and now" interests of the party in power would most likely win the day at the expense of the rights of the other party, or the good of the whole.
Our Founding Fathers were one smart group.

They also knew that there was little they could do to prevent factions from occurring.  That could only be done by limiting liberties or insuring every citizen has the same opinions, feelings and the same interests. Neither was acceptable to the Founders.  They had no interest in preventing the causes, which is what Communist and Totalitarian governments do.  They focused on controlling the effects of factions.  Thus, they constructed a republican governmental framework with an ultimate goal of securing both the public good and private rights against the dangers of an oppressive majority faction.  Everything in the Constitution was built on this foundational principle. 

They built a government which derived all of its power directly or indirectly from the People, administered by representatives who hold their offices at the pleasure of the People, for a limited period of time, or during good behavior. Using different time periods for holding office, including the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government and limiting the power of the federal government relative to the states were all important foundational principles to achieve their overarching goal of facilitating majority rule but protecting minority rights.

Perhaps most applicable to today is what Federalist #10 says in the second to last paragraph.  It explains why they set up the republican form of government we have and not a democracy or parliamentarian system. It literally stopped me in my tracks when I read it.  I re-read it several times in The Original Argument and then went to the actual Federalist Papers to read it exactly as it was written.  There could not be a better example to show how far we have deviated from the path the Founders established and why they set up safeguards in the Constitution to protect the People. 
It reads as follows with the bold emphasis being mine:

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.
How much more relevant can you be to what we have seen in recent years in this country, most particularly in the Obama Administration?  The Founders found all of these to be "improper or wicked projects"by dangerous factions.  These were the types of government abuses they were trying to prevent. 

  • a rage of paper money (what is the Federal Reserve doing?)
  • an abolition of debt (what was done to the secured creditors in the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies or with the bailout of Wall Street?)
  • for an equal division of property (Redistribution of income and wealth through a focus on taxing the rich)

Isn't it interesting that each of these "improper or wicked projects" is also at the core of what has motivated the Tea Party?  Terrorists?  I think not.  These are the sons and daughters of the Founding Fathers united against the very factious leaders our forefathers warned us about.