Sunday, November 29, 2015

No One is Liberal When It's Their Life

It has been said that "there are no atheists in foxholes". When the bullets and bombs start flying in war those in the middle of it are looking for a higher power to see them through harm's way.

It seems to me that there also exists a corollary aphorism.

There are no liberals when it is your life and security at risk.

If you don't believe it, look no further than the actions of French President Francois Hollande in the aftermath of the horrific ISIS attacks in Paris several weeks ago.

© Matthieu Riegler, CC-BY via Wikimedia Commons

Bear in mind that Hollande is a member of the French Socialist Party. He is a committed liberal socialist.

A key platform that he ran on for the Presidency in 2012 was a promise for the early withdrawal of French combat troops from Afghanistan.

As recently as September 2015 he also spoke out against those European countries that were attempting to limit the number of Middle Eastern migrants into their countries.

"Those who don't share our values, those who don't even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union".

He was right about the values and principles. However, the target of his reprimand seems to have been misplaced as many of the Muslims that now call France home are ones who don't seem to have any interest in assimilating to the values and principles of France and the European Union.

The liberal and progressive Hollande seems to have undergone quite a transformation in the last two weeks.

This is what Hollande said the morning after the attacks.

"We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless."

I guess that stands in contrast to the pitiful effort that President Obama has done in confronting ISIS.

Hollande also quickly ordered a state of emergency and closed France's borders. The first time that had occurred since 1944.

That is quite a change from his views in September, isn't it?

I have written often about The Fourth Turning and the Crisis period that we are now in.

William Strauss and Neil Howe make the point in their book that in the Crisis period we are in, societies turn newly martial as they react to real or imagined outside provocations.

America will become more isolationist than today in its unwillingness to coordinate its affairs with other countries but less isolationist in its insistence that vital national interests not be compromised. The Crisis mood will dim expectations that multilateral diplomacy and expanding global democracy can keep the world out of trouble. Even before any conflicts arise, people will feel less anxiety over the prospect of casualties. Old Unraveling-era strategies (flexibility, stealth, elite expertise, stand-off weaponry, and surgical goals) will be replaced by new Crisis-era strategies (mass, intimidation, universal conscription, frontal assault and total victory) more suitable for a fight for civic survival.

Hollande seems to recognize that the world he thought he lived in no longer exists.

Barack Obama does not yet seem to understand it. Is it going to take something like Paris or the Russian airline being blown up?

If he does not pivot he may take the entire Democrat party down with him as Strauss and Howe also make this point.

History warns that when a Crisis catalyzes, a previously dominant political party (or regime) can find itself directly blamed for perceived "mistakes" that led to the national emergency. 
Key persons associated with it could find themselves defamed, stigmatized, harassed, economically ruined, personally punished---or worse. 

Barack Obama may not be writing the history that he thinks he is.

He calls Republicans "the enemy" but cannot bring himself to utter the words "Radical Islam".

What are we dealing with?

People that throw homosexuals off of buildings.

However, Obama and the liberals portray those who support traditional marriage as the evil ones.

People that believe that women who do not cover their heads with the hijab should be killed according to Sharia law.

And Democrats say that the GOP is waging a "war against women"?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Show Me State?

I have watched the student protests that have unfolded at the University of Missouri and other colleges over the last week with some interest.

45 years ago I was a student at the height of the Vietnam War protests at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I saw first hand the substantial effects that social and crowd psychology played in those protests. It also showed me how important external factors were in these situations.

The spring of 1970 in Ohio was unusually warm ( and some of you think that global warming is a new thing?) leading up to the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University. This caused a lot more students to be outside than normal. After all, it is a lot easier to protest when the weather is nice.  It is also a lot easier to draw a crowd of onlookers who may not be in the core group but end up making the protest look much bigger than it is.

For example, here are the daily high temperatures as reported in Cincinnati, Ohio which is 35 miles from Oxford, Ohio for the last two weeks of April, 1970. Note that there were only two days that the high temperature did not reach 70 degrees during those two weeks. That is very unusual for Ohio in April.

                                                            April      High


In that type of environment, rumors also tend to get easily passed around which further incites the situation.

My experience with the Vietnam War protests was that the core group of students involved in the anti-war movement was very small. They were aided by outside agitators who came on to campus to try to stir things up (another interesting sidenote is that the outside agitators in 1970 on our campus were rumored to be members of the Weather Underground.  Now it is the name of a weather website- see above).

Most of the scale to the protests was provided by curious student onlookers.

I remember one night being in the library when a group of protesting students came by chanting. It was a very warm night and the excitement of what was going on outside on a beautiful spring night beat studying. The library was soon empty and the crowd got bigger as the leaders stated they were going to the President's house to give him their demands.

That crowd had to look intimidating to the President as he came out to his front porch.

Sound familiar?

Soon after the shootings at Kent State occurred reports filtered in that other Ohio state universities like Oho State, Bowling Green, Ohio University were closing. At that point, it seemed to become a "fairness" issue for the protestors. Why do I have to go to class if these other students are getting sent home? "We need to shut this sucker down."

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard (via Wikipedia)

A final night of protest where the main thoroughfare through town was blocked by students was all it took for the administration to send all Miami students home as well. We spent two weeks at home before being called back.

Am I saying that all of this would not have happened if Ohio's spring would have been abnormally cold?

I am not going to go that far but there is little question the protests would have looked far different to the administrators.

The reaction in Ohio was to call out the National Guard to college campuses around the state to restore order which ultimately led to the shootings of four students at Kent State. Two of the students killed were merely walking between classes.

I was an observer of a confrontation between student protestors and the National Guard one night as the students attempted to take over the Navy ROTC building on the Miami campus. (Yes, it was another mild night.) Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd and I got gassed along with everyone else.

Why is all of this relevant today?

History may not repeat but it sure does rhyme.

In 1970 the war was the main issue but many protestors were  focused on women's rights and racism. For example, the list of demands at Ohio State in 1970 included the adoption of courses in women's and black studies. Now you know how those courses got in the curriculum of major universities.

What was the weather like during the week of November in Columbia, Missouri? Daily highs were almost 8 degrees warmer than average.

However, at the University of Missouri the weather was not nearly as important as the fact that about 30 black members of the school's football team tweeted ( you don't "state" anything anymore you just tweet) that they would refuse to play football until the university's president resigned.

This clearly was the action that forced the hand of the administration.

However, what I found interesting is that Missouri's football team is 4-5 on the season. The last two years the team has gone 12-2 and 11-3 and in each year played in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

I could not help but wonder if those players would have taken the same action had their team had a similar record to what they had the last two years.

Would their solidarity with the cause of the other students on campus have trumped their solidarity with their teammates on the way to a possible Southeastern Conference championship?

We will never know but I hope you can better appreciate the dimensions of external factors that shape crowd psychology after reading this post.

45 years later it is also interesting to see how college administrators have reacted to these protests.

In 1970, the National Guard was patrolling Ohio college campuses to break up the protests which ended with tear gas and shootings to break up the protests.

In 2015, the students got the President and Chancellor of the University of Missouri fired because 30 football players said they would not play a game. And a University of Missouri Journalism Professor attempted to actually stop a Journalism student from covering the protests. How weird is that?

I am glad to see we have evolved but it is starting to look like the evolution has gotten a little out of hand.

All this tells me is that "The Show Me State" certainly is not one that should be showing others how to handle these protests.

Isn't there something somewhere between the 1970 and 2015 models that could be used in dealing with these student protests?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Considering Carson

Ben Carson has dominated the national political news cycle in the last week.

He is leading the latest national polls and in the Quinnipiac Poll of November 4, 2015 Carson is beating Hillary Clinton by a 50%-40% margin in a hypothetical general election matchup.

Here are the demographic breakdowns from that poll between Carson and Clinton.

Note that Carson beats Hillary by 55%-35% with men and 45%-44% with women.

He has a 56%-34% margin with white voters (and we keep hearing that this is a racist nation?) and captures 19% of the black vote.

By contrast, Donald Trump loses to Hillary in same poll by 46%-43%. Why?  
Trump only wins white voters by 51%-38%. Where is the white privilege that the students at the University of Missouri are talking about? Perhaps Trump has a new complaint that he can generate PR with? He is being discriminated against by white voters who favor Carson over the The Donald?

Trump loses the women's vote by 20 points to Hillary while Carson is edging Clinton by 1 point.

In addition, Trump, similar to most Republican candidates, draws only 6% of the black vote compared to the 19% that Carson gets this important bloc of voters.

Looking at the polling numbers it is easy to see why Ben Carson is a big potential nightmare to the Democrats and the liberal mainstream media.

Therefore, it is of little surprise that we have seen that Carson's rise in the polls has been accompanied by a barrage of stories trying to take Carson down with questions about his rags to riches story.

There is little question that there is no more dangerous person to the liberal, progressive narrative in America than a successful, conservative African-American Republican.

We saw it with Clarence Thomas.

We saw it with Herman Cain.

We are seeing it again with Ben Carson.

We did not see anything of the sort with Barack Obama.

His college records are still sealed and almost no one who went to school with him at Columbia University even remembers him according to his classmate, Wayne Allyn Root.

I graduated Columbia University in June of 1983. According to Obama not only were we in the same graduating class, we had the same majors, Political Science and Pre-Law.
That would mean we took the same classes. I thought I knew every classmate in Columbia’s Political Science department.
Yet neither I nor anyone I knew ever met, saw, or heard of Obama.
This was reinforced two years ago in 2013 when I attended my Columbia University 30th class reunion.
I asked everyone – “Did you ever see Obama at Columbia?” Not one classmate answered affirmatively.
I simply couldn’t believe no one claimed to have met a classmate, who supposedly was in our class, and who was later to become president of the United States. So, I tracked down Professor Henry Graff, perhaps the most honored professor in Columbia history and Columbia’s Presidential historian. I interviewed Graff that same year for TheBlaze.
Professor Graff never met Obama; heard of him; or saw him.
Professor Graff said it was virtually impossible to graduate Columbia as a Political Science major without attending his history classes. Yet Graff never heard of him. He even studied his old records to verify Obama’s existence at Columbia … and found nothing.
Graff asked other Columbia professors. None remembered Obama ever being in their classes. All of this is on the record from my interview, published in 2013 here at TheBlaze.

Strange? It is to me. However, the media has never seriously tried to get to the bottom of much of Obama's backstory. 

Let me be clear, I have substantial reservations that Ben Carson is prepared to be President of the United States based on what I have observed so far in this campaign. 

He is far behind the curve in his understanding of a number of policy issues. He is undoubtedly a very smart man but, as we have learned over the last seven years, the office of President of the United States is not conducive to on-the-job training. It may not be brain surgery, but it requires skills and knowledge that the good Doctor may not possess right now although that could change over the next year.

I admire what he has accomplished in his life, his values and his commitment to the constitutional principles that he has articulated in his campaign.  

However, let him be vetted on his responses and ideas regarding policy positions and not on biographical details from 40 or 50 years ago. Of course, thus far, it seems that Carson's version of events is holding up rather well despite the scrutiny he has been placed under.

It is indeed ironic that some in the media have called Carson a liar concerning details in his book describing those old events while Hillary Clinton recently was shown to have told her daughter one story about the events at Benghazi while telling the American people (and the families of the Benghazi victims) a completely different story.  How was that played in the media?

Here is an example from the Washington Post's "The Daily 202 Report" headline the day after the hearing where that "contradiction" was exposed.

Eight reasons Hillary Clinton won the Benghazi hearing
Hillary also famously stated for years that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary after he became the first man to scale Mount Everest.

The only problem with the story was that Sir Edmund was an unknown beekeeper in 1947 when Hillary was born. He did not become world-famous until he ascended Everest in 1953.

Double standard? You decide while we both consider whether Carson can become President.

My prediction is that he will not make it. Climbing Mount Everest was easier for Sir Edmund Hillary than it will be for Carson to go from the operating room to the Oval Office. That is especially true when the entire liberal and news media establishment is doing everything they can to make sure he falls before he gets anywhere close to the Presidency.

Running for President is not easy. That is especially true if it is your first political race. Carson says he is running because he believed he was being called by God to do so. If he wins, there should be no one that doubts the sincerity (or truth) of that statement. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Responsible Ohioans 'Just Say No' To Responsible Ohio

My home state of Ohio voted down a constitutional amendment that would have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana by a 64%-36% margin yesterday.

The group that put the issue of the ballot, "Responsible Ohio" (talk about a name meant to confuse the voter!) was a group of ten investors who would have owned a monopoly to supply all the pot that would have been sold across the state.

Through October 14, the group had spent over $15 million to get the issue on the ballot and to try to get the amendment passed. It is estimated that the final amount that was spent by the group was close to $20 million. The pro-pot group out-raised the group who opposed the measure by 16 to 1 according to the  last campaign finance report filed November 3.

To say the least, it appears to have been a very poor investment by those who supported "Responsible Ohio".

I was concerned about the vote because there was a very visible ad campaign for the measure and the opposition was almost invisible. The pro-marijuana ads also almost totally focused on some heart-wrenching stories about situations where marijuana might be helpful from a medicinal perspective.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the vote results as I believe the legalization of marijuana would be a very negative step for my state and our society.

I came to have a very negative view of marijuana (as well as other drugs) when I was in college. I saw many fellow students with great talent and potential begin smoking marijuana and inevitably watched as they slid down a path where they lost their motivation, ambition and focus.

It was sad to see and I steered well clear of the temptation to try it and did not generally associate those who did it regularly. Unlike Bill Clinton I do not even have to say that I did it but I did not inhale it.

If you want the best evidence of what I am talking about, click on the link below to view a clip from in Dayton, Ohio which had a discussion on election day morning about the marijuana issue (Issue 3) and try to understand what the marijuana advocate that was on the show is talking about.

Although this gentleman is on the opposite side of the issue from me, this is one of the most painful interviews I have ever witnessed. I truly felt sorry for him. Again, like Bill Clinton, I truly felt this guy's pain.

Watch the entire interview if you can so you can see the contrast between the two advocates. However, if you have limited time, the fun  pain really begins at around 2:20 of the clip.

Does this look like Responsible Ohio?

Do you want to warn your children about what happens to you by smoking marijuana? Have them watch this video.

I should point out that Mr. Keller is an Air Force veteran who should be commended for his service. It is also possible that he had tv stage fright that resulted in his puzzling and perplexing appearance. There may have also been some other reason beyond a drug-riddled mind.

However, from a purely political perspective, if I am a group spending $20 million on an issue why would I let a guy like this represent me on a tv show as a supporter of the issue on election morning? That was hardly a responsible decision.

I am also sensitive to the views of my libertarian friends who look at issues like this and believe that government has no business prohibiting or regulating marijuana use. In a truly libertarian world, I would agree.

However, we do not live in that world. We put a lot of emphasis on individual liberty and rights with little consideration of the consequences and costs when someone exercises those rights to society's detriment.

In my view one of the big problems we have in the country today is our inability to draw the line between rights and freedoms on the one hand and consequences and costs on the other.  Where do individual rights end and where does the the public interest begin?

We have too often ignored the primary principle that people should have to live with the consequences of their own behavior.  You fail to take advantage of the free public education that everyone has access to in this country and can't get a job.  That's ok, we have welfare assistance.  You have a child out of wedlock.  That's ok, we will give you money to pay for the child. You buy a flat screen tv rather than health care insurance.  That's ok, just go to the emergency room and someone else will pay your medical bill.

At the same time each of these actions is spilling over onto other people who were attempting to live their life responsibly without infringing on others. The person who studied and went to school, married, had children and bought healthcare insurance rather than the flat screen tv ends up paying these bills as well as their own.

We have been living in an era over the last generation where individualism has reigned supreme in the United States.  Respect for the individual and their rights has been preeminent over the collective good in most instances.  It has been more about ME than WE.

A good example is the federal court ruling several years ago enjoining Florida from requiring welfare recipients to take a drug test before they can qualify for public assistance.  The court ruled that such a requirement in the Florida law is an "unreasonable search".  Where do these judges come up with this logic?  A similar court decision enjoined the state of Florida from using random drug testing of state employees. Bear in mind that the majority of private sector employees today cannot get a job without submitting to a pre-employment drug test.

How does any of this make sense?  In effect, we know that most of the people in the private sector are clean, drug free and paying taxes.  However, those people are not allowed to even ask whether the people they are supporting have even a chance of getting off welfare at some point in the future. After all, if you can't pass a drug test, you most likely are not going to get a job and get off welfare since it is a condition of pre-employment with the majority of employers.

That is one of the reasons I am not in favor of marijuana legalization. Smoke all you want as long as your actions don't spillover on me. However, don't ask me to pay your bills when you can't keep a job, get fired from your job or can't get a job because you can't pass a drug test.

That is what a Responsible Ohio or any other state would look like.

Thank you to all the Responsible Ohioans who 'just said No' to Responsible Ohio!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Who Will Feel The Bern?

The Democrat Presidential Debate also took place while BeeLine was on hiatus. Since I have written about the GOP debates it only seems fair to provide some perspectives on the Democrats.

I must admit that watching the Democrat Debate seemed at times to be akin to watching a Venezuelan United Socialist Party debate between Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. It seemed that the entire affair revolved around how much free stuff could be handed out in the next four years.

Bernie Sanders pledged he was for about $1 trillion in new spending per year ranging from paid family leave, universal health care funded by taxpayers and free tuition at state colleges and universities for every student. It worked out to about $41.7 billion of promised spending for every one of the 28 minutes he spoke at the debate.

Of course, Hillary was not going to be outdone by Bernie. She is also for paid family leave, free public college tuition for all as well as making Obamacare fully available to all illegal immigrants.

The Democrats' model for all of this taxpayer-funded social spending largesse are European countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

This is what Bernie Sanders said in defense of his "Democratic Socialist" views.
"...I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people."
Having just been in Denmark and Norway recently let me provide a little context and perspective on those two countries.

This is a photograph I took during the morning rush hour in Copenhagen.

Morning Rush Hour in Copenhagen

Do you notice the bicycles? Where are the cars? There are well over a million bikes in Copenhagen. It works out to a little more than the population of the entire city.

Finding A Place To Park Your Bike In Copenhagen Can Be Difficult

They are everywhere. Why?

Our driver from the airport driving into Copenhagen explained that there are a lot of bikes in Denmark because the taxes on automobiles are so high.

The tax on top of the purchase price of a car is 180%. He explained that a Volvo costs about $100,000 in Denmark with the taxes included. The tax on gasoline means that putting gas in your car costs about $6/gallon as the tax per gallon is currently $2.95/gallon.

By the way, our driver spoke extraordinarily good English and was clearly well educated. I asked him about his background. He said he was a trained architect but could not find a job in his field since the Great Recession began in 2008. It seems that all of that free education does not necessarily guarantee a job you were educated for in Denmark.

Liberals like to talk about entitlements or government benefits but they don't like to talk about who is going to pay the bills. If they are forced to, the explanation is that the money is always going to come out of the pocket of the "rich" or "Wall Street". That is the familiar refrain of Bernie Sanders or Hillary.

However, how do they pay for all of those government benefits in Denmark and Norway?  The fact is that when the government pays for almost everything, everyone has to pay. You simply cannot tax the rich and get the money you need. Everyone has to pay. And everyone pays a lot!

Most all personal income in Denmark is subject to a flat 8% social security tax that everyone pays. On top of that, everyone is subject to a minimum income tax rate of at least 36% (after a 43,400 DKK ($6,400) personal allowance. On top of that there is a 25% VAT (value-added tax) that is applied to almost every purchase in the country.

It all works out to 49 cents of every dollar of GDP in Denmark goes to taxes in Denmark. That is the highest rate in the world. Sweden's rate is 45.8% and Norway is 43.6%. (Note: The United States tax burden is 26.9%).

This is the model that Bernie Sanders wants us to aspire to?

Bergen, Norway

When Mrs. BeeLine and I were in Norway, a friendly Norwegian overheard us chatting while we were taking a walk. He asked if we were Americans and told us how much he loves the United States.

As we talked he spoke about the nice social services they had in Norway but he also spoke of the high taxes to pay for it all. He mentioned that the taxes were high but most thought they were fair because everyone generally pays the same rate. He stated that they did not use a progressive tax system in Norway. Everyone paid the same percentage with the rich paying more because they earned more not because of a higher tax rate.

I was a little surprised when he told me this and I checked out the facts on Norway's tax system when I got home. Of course, he knew what he was talking about. Most people understand what is coming out of their own pockets.

For example, a flat tax of 28% is applied to all personal ordinary income in Norway after a modest personal allowance deduction. There is also a 25% VAT on almost everything one would purchase (15% on foodstuffs).

However, he also mentioned that he was concerned with the direction he had seen the United States had taken under President Obama. He spoke with some knowledge about the subject as he said he owned a condo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and visited the U.S. often.

The system works in Norway because people were used to the high level of services and it was generally understood that everyone was paying a fair share of taxes since they used a flat tax system. The system also worked because Norway was a small country with small cities. (Note: Bergen is the 2nd largest city in Norway and has a population of less than 280,000).

People are expected to be accountable and responsible. For the most part there is nowhere for people to hide in Norway who might try to game the system or take advantage of the social services in illicit ways. You received benefits from the government but everyone was also expected to contribute to society.

He stated that the United States is not Norway. You can't have Norway's system without a lot of accountability and responsibility. And you can't pay for all the things that were paid for in Norway without everyone paying. You just can't pile more and more taxes on your rich. It will not work.

This was a Norwegian speaking, not me.

Bernie Sanders spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.

Perhaps he should take a second honeymoon to Denmark or Norway.

And when he gets back he might want to start talking straight to the American people on exactly who is going to pay for all of the "government benefits" that he and Hillary are promising.

Only then will people hopefully understand that they are the ones who are going to get "berned" by the progressive, liberal, socialist ideas that are being promoted by the Democrats.

There are no free lunches... even in Denmark and Norway.

I know.