Friday, April 29, 2011

Riots in Uganda or The Jasmine Revolution Heads South

The Pearl of Africa, land-locked Uganda is facing internal turmoil of its own.

In the midst of a heated election, the opposition is stuck with trying to force out the current, now officially voted-out President.

Not only are the oppressed peoples of Northern Africa resisting oppressive rulers who have gamed the political system to remain in power,

NOW Sub-Saharan states are rebelling against their autocratic rulers.

Who knows how far the Jasmine Revolution will spread?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Arab Spring in Southeast LA County: Part II

A new, hopeful future is dawning in the corruption-wracked city of Bell.

All newly-elected members have taken charge of the politically volatile city council Even the unindicted member from the previous council failed to win reelection.

First order of business, appointment a new mayor and they have selected their new mayor, Ali Saleh a young man of Arab descent, with a name shared by a corrupt dictator "President" in Yemen, the poorest nation in the Middle East wracked by populist strife.

The City of Bell has weathered its political storms and is undoing the humiliating corruption in the exemplary fashion of participatory democracy. Not just in changing the leadership, but increasing their knowledge and engagement in the political of the town has enabled Bell residents to take back their civic destiny with greater hope.

Let us hope that the Arab Spring spreading across the Middle East will expand into a mild summer of republican government suffused with community involvement. An orderly transfer of power, peaceful yet meaningful moderated by civic enthusiasm, not populist acrimony.

Mr. Tobar writes, "[The residents of Bell] seemed eager to believe once again that government could work in their best interests." The major difference: they choose to play an integral part of that government.

The outline for their improvement in civic virtue has a precedent. In his "Politics", Aristotle outlines an essential dichotomy among different forms of government. Not content to classify types of government based solely on who makes the decisions, he distinguished between governments who rule for their own benefit versus those which rule for the benefit of every citizen in the community. For example, the Ancient Greek philosopher distinguished rule by the majority that rules in its own interest--democracy, with a majority rule in the best interests of all--a republic.

In Bell, the citizens have risen up, removing elected officials ushered into office on the edge of apathetic voter participation. Having now channeled their rage to promote different leaders in a setting of greater accountability, the residents of Bell have ingratiated themselves with the workings of the political process, no longer content merely to sit back and let another oligarchy of infrequently elected politicians make decisions.

Even the demographics of the new council is impressive. For a predominantly Hispanic community, Bell's new council has Hispanic, Arab, Christian, and Muslim working together for all citizens, a republic fitting Aristotle's high esteem.

This is the model Revolution that the world needs to see. This is the model Revolution which the convulsing Arab states need to imitate. Not just removing bad men from power, not just trusting all authority to another group out of touch with the needs of the individual, Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis, all must invest themselves in the new political order arising out of the dirty sands of sedate dictatorships.

They must advocate government which extends rights to all, which permits as many as possible to participate in the policy decisions which face their nations; or, at least furnish opportunities to educate the greater majority of Arabs so that they know what to believe. Furthermore, like the citizens in Bell, the people of the Middle East must receive power and authority to practice their separate faiths, to learn about their cultures, and to speak out in protest and redress against their elected leaders.

The Bell Revolution is proceeding at a very promising pace. Let us hope that the Arab States of the Middle East will take the necessary steps to emulate the Revolution which transformed Southeastern Los Angeles County.

An Arab Spring in Southeast Los Angeles County: Part I

Mr. Tobar:

Your article "At last, goodwill in Bell" (4/15/2011) was moving, comforting, and inspiring.

I was not aware that there was an Arab constituency in the city of Bell.

More importantly, however, the name of the newly-installed mayor, Ali Saleh, caught my attention because of its ironically similarity to embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Of course, Mr. Saleh of Bell is a legitimately elected council member in a Los Angeles municipality, whereas Mr. Saleh of Yemen is an out-dated, overspent autocrat whose long oppression of the Yemeni people is drawing to a protracted end.

The two Ali's bring up significant parallels between the "Bell Revolution" and the Jasmine Revolution spreading across the Middle East.

Like Arab dictators across the Middle East, Bell's previous council abused the law, robbed their constituents with illegal accounting, and consolidated their power grip on the city through arbitrary harassment through civil services. Like the frustrated Arabs from Tunisia to Iran, Bell residents finally revolted against those out-of-touch kleptocrats when the extent of their scandalous hoarding went public in the LA Times. The spark that set off the Jasmine Revolution, however, tragically lighted up from the self-immolation of a wronged fruit vendor despondent of ever receiving justice.

Sadly, unlike the people of the Middle East, the citizens in Bell chose to be uninformed and uninvolved in their government's affairs until the LA Times exposé of the city's exorbitant salaries for its part-time civil servants.

Fortunately, the Bell Revolution, a model turn-over in power, will be imitated by Arab states now reeling from military coups and unyielding popular uprisings. Rather than simply demonizing the previous council members and civil servants, the newly-empowered voters have committed themselves to participating within the political process. They engage their new leaders, whom they have chosen, rather than attempting to do away with the civil system entirely. Confident that justice will prevail against Rizzo and his fellow Pigs at the Trough, Bell residents are invested in making the hard decisions to bring their city back to civic and financial order.

Hopefully, the Bell Revolution will serve as a precursor to future political prosperity throughout the Middle East.

Political Facelift Uncovers the Core Ugly, or the Ineffectual Lifting of Syria's Emergency Laws

President Bashar al-Assad has given in to the demands of the growing opposition in Syria. Syrian human rights activists have decried Assad's retraction of power as pure political posturing, a ceremonial repeal which does nothing to alleviate the political oppression of the Levant. Only with a stern call for massive dispersal has Assad's government issued a retraction of the half-century emergency laws.

The lifting of emergency is a graceful political facelift which only exposes the penetrating corruption of the hideous Assad regime.

With Assad's relinquishing of overt supervision over the Syrian nation, the people in theory will no longer fear arbitrary detainment, search, seizure, and arrest at the hands of the State. This rescission of government dominance, however, does not address the long-imposed muzzling of the press and opposition groups against the ruling Baathist party, two essential elements for any free society. Furthermore, extreme immunity protections still safeguard law enforcement from the consequences of their rampant misconduct and torture of dissidents.

If previous revolutionary trends are a reliable harbinger, Assad's ease of his grip on the Syrian people will only embolden them to rise up against the 50-year dictatorship which has harmed them, harassed Israel, harangued the United States, and halted the spread of freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bag the Baggy Pants Prohibition

Despite the parochial subject of Eloisa Gonzalez' article "Florida may soon outlaw baggy pants on students' (LA Times 4/15/2011), I found the core issue which you addressed, or rather your failure to do, very intriguing.

Mrs. Gonzalez outlined the arguments for and against state enforcement of proper dress code in the state of Florida. The Legislators are considering whether to criminalize wearing baggy pants in the state school system. The rationale: "It must be part of our politics to teach our kids how to get a job," claims one Florida legislator. In opposition to the move, the ACLU contends that the law would unfairly target minorities.

This article glaringly ignores a crucial point in the "Baggy pants" debate: Florida's Nanny State encroachment into the proper dress and raising of children.
A fundamental principle in the rise and development of the the United States, it is not the government's responsibility to enforce the expected habits of future job seekers.

More than disproportionally setting up certain students for detainment and punishment, the State of Florida's power grab further weakens the legitimate influence of schools, administrators, and students' families. They are in a better decision to make decisions in the best interest of the child, including what they were, not the remote Florida Legislature.

The 2011 Peruvian Presidential Elections: The Deception of Democracy

As any high school civics student can recite, democracy is "rule by the people", the literal translation of the much-used and misused word.

Yet many teachers fail to teach that:

1) Democracy as majority rule has been a widely despised form of government for most of Human History.

3) Aristotle, the first political scientist, emphasized in his "Politics" the crucial defining role of human nature in any procedural system of government.. Not content to classify types of government based solely on who makes the decisions, he also delineated between those who rule for their own benefit versus those states which rule for the benefit of every citizen in a community. By his estimates, a democracy was the rule by the many for the many; a republic the rule by the many for all.

2) The Framers of the United States Constitution did not intend for America to be a democracy, which they deemed to be a crass, hyperpartisan system of government that would undermine national unity by the expanse of heated factions contrary to natural rights.

With questionable credentials and political views hostile to the needs of the Peruvian nation, two intolerable candidates are vying for the Presidency:

1) Ollanta Humala, a blood-stained soldier-strongman with philosophical ties to the Venezuelan Marxist President-cum-dictator Hugo Chavez.

2) Keiko Fujimoro, seasoned politician with blood ties to Alberto Fujimori, ex-President of Peru jailed for corruption and crimes against humanity.

Both claim to support the poor without offering any meaningful proposals and without expressly denouncing the hateful policies of their contemporaries or predecessors. Beyond being a characteristic clothespin vote, Humala and Fujimori's candidacy reflects the stymied influence of the Peruvian electorate and the incompetence of Peru's democratic institutions. The candidates troubling backgrounds suggest that they will rule in their own interests or champion one constituency above the others, no matter how widely Peru's impoverished may comprise the nation's electorate.

For a nation that has struggled to assert the rightful independence of its people against the onslaught of rampant corruption and military demagoguery, this Pyrrhic contest underscores the ultimate fecklessness of democracy desperate for republican values, i.e. codification and enforcement of natural rights with mutual trust between all electors and the elected.

Systemically, the most damning fixture of this open yet fundamentally rigged election is that the Peruvian people cannot dismiss both candidates. Every election will have a winning candidate, regardless of how many abstain.

Therefore, the Peruvian people must invest in a civic culture beyond the upcoming election, civil participation which will shape the role of their leaders as opposed to merely sending them into office with the faint hope that they will behave themselves. Peruvians must demand leadership dedicated to republican rule: majority vote transformed into policy in the best interests of all Peruvians.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prosser WIns Reelection in WI

David Prosser, incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and staunch, has won reelection bid against Joanna Kloppenberg, the favorite of disaffected public employee unions. Governor Stan Walker and the empowered Republicans favored the incumbent not just for his conservative credentials, but for his certain favor for the law limiting the bargaining rights of public sector unions.

At first glance, the embattled unions seemed able to muster enough support for the liberal candidate to derail Governor Walker's policy. Yet right-wing activists throughout the nation did not rest on the laurels of passing landmark legislation, put poured in money and support to consolidate Justice Prosser's reelection bid. His reelection signals growing certainty that the Wisconsin will defeat any legal challenge against limiting public sector unions.

Political revolutions gradually lose momentum over time, yet the victory of this Supreme Court Justice against the growing liberal backlash signals a consistent commitment by the Wisconsin electorate to rein in debt, stop state spending, and strip sclerotic public sector unions of their bargaining rights.

Despite the criticism and controversy levelled against Governor Walker's policies, the triumph of the Republican Party and limited-government principles have galvanized conservatives throughout the country. They esteem Prosser's success as strong support for Governor Walker's move to limit the power of public employee unions, whose graft-like hold has impoverished state capitols throughout the United States, and whose power may be in sharp decline.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Richard Nixon: Unmasked, Unplugged, Unedited

Richard Nixon accomplished a lot during his Presidency, despite the scandal which plagued him and ultimately chased him out of office.

He made overtures to China to normalize relations with a growing Communist power, which destabilized Communist Russia, the United States' greatest ally at the time.

He engineered the Southern Strategy, ushering in Republican dominance of the White House for seven of the last ten Presidential elections.

He was last the last Chief Executive to impound funds appropriated by Congress in an attempt to stop the rising debt which now burdens this country.

Recently, the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA has created a site dedicated to presenting the Watergate Scandal, warts and all. Rather than dismissing the President's role in the government, the exhibit underscores the necessity of promoting a true and complete posterity of the past for the future. This change in museum policy is all the more refreshing, as it comes from scholars deeply invested in preserving the President's legacy.

Watergate was a shameful moment in the history of the United States Government. Yet by exposing the wrongdoing instead of covering it up, the country is better served. No longer having to invest resources in limiting access to compromising knowledge about an influential yet flawed executive, future generations will be able to better appreciated the good which he did accomplish for this country, as well as the effectiveness of the United States Constitutional system to reprimand lawless actions by the government.

Loneliness and Revolution Part II

There are ample examples in history demonstrating that people revolt not for being taxed heavily, not for being rudely treated, but because they are not allowed to speak out for themselves, they are not permitted to voice opposition against their leaders, let alone participate in government affairs.

Before the American Revolution broke out, the colonists had resisted taxation extensively. They successfully won repeal of the Stamp Act. They smuggled goods to avoid the Sugar, Tea, and Townshend Acts. In the end, their chief complaint against the Mother Country was "Taxation without Representation!" They objected not just to the taxes, but having taxes levied on them without their consent.

The American colon its wanted to be heard, they wanted to have a say in their governance, including taxation. Even following the hostilities at Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress extended "The Olive Branch Petition" to King George III as an attempt to smooth over relations. When the King refused to consider the legitimate demands of the colon its, the American people fought for their freedom to govern themselves, by their own consent.

Consider other, more recent revolutions in history. Despite the widespread conditions of oppression, limited access, and poverty, what instigated populist uprising was the government's refusal to let the people be heard.

The 1830 Revolution in France--King Charles X had shut down the major newspapers before demonstrators took the streets to remove the Bourbon Monarchy once and for all: July 30, 130, Revolution across Paris gives way to the July Monarchy.

The Revolution(s) of 1848--From January to early February of that fateful year, intellectuals and journalists convened in banquets throughout Paris to denounce the unjust laws which were preventing assembly and failing to help the poor in the country. When "Citizen" King Louis Philippe shut down the banquets, the French People take to the streets. Another Revolution overthrew the Provisional government not even four months later.

Now consider the Jasmine Revolution. The spark which set of the political upheaval still engulfing the Middle East all began with one fruit vendor. When complained to the civil authorities after a government official unjustly seized his fruit stand, the police beat him up. Finding no other means of making himself heard, the vendor doused himself in paint thinner before the ministry of his home town, then cried out "How do you expect me to make a living?!" and set himself on fire.

His desperate act of outrage moved his own countrymen to speak out. The nation, which refused to hear him, not had to heed the condemnation of the people which it had for so long oppressed.

Social media throughout the Arab World has allowed young people to communicate without being caught. People from Libya and Egypt to Syria and Bahrain now are rising up, demanding to be heard. Despite having endure extreme privation and humiliation at the behest of their leaders, they are now no longer content to be hushed. With the technology and momentum on their side, the Arabic peoples no longer endure suffering political oppression in lonely silence.

Loneliness and Revolution Part I

Political oppression is a terrible burden for the individual citizen.

Not only does it marginalize the inherent worth of a human being, it deprives the person from seeking a meaningful recourse to end the suffering. Temporary alleviation is unsatisfactory because changing one leader, one politician, or even a series of laws does not undo the endemic tyranny which forbids a citizen to exercise his natural rights: speech, assembly, religion, and civic participation.

To suffer in imposed silence is isolating torture. Oppressed people are lonely people, convinced that since they cannot speak out for themselves, no one else knows what they are going through. Because they cannot express their outrage, their pain, because they buckle beneath the weight of ignominy, they feel trapped in the certainty of never escaping their political plight.

Loneliness because of powerless isolation produces frustration and despair. Of course, the despair which political oppression creates will not be passively endured forever.

Revolutions throughout history have not broken out because people do not have enough money, or because their governments do not treat them well. People rise up when they are prevented from speaking out, when they are suppressed, when the ruling "powers that be" refuse to allow them to express, protest, or seek redress.

When a nation if pushed to the breaking point, a people will stop at nothing to be heard, even if it means sacrificing their lives.

Mubarak Returns, The Army Turns, The Mummy Rises Again

The Mummy has awakened, rising from its long slumber.

The Mummy is the old order, the order of oppression, the order of tyranny, the order which has pervaded the known world since the history of man.

Who is the Mummy in post-Mubarak Egypt?

Is it Hosni Mubarak himself, the recently-deposed Egyptian President, now being detained as he struggles with illness? Why do the Egyptian people want to invest their efforts in trying a wicked man, when they still do not have stable rule in the country to supervise a just trial.

The Mummy, is it populist statism which first reared its fearful, dessicated head during the French Revolution? Vengeful populism, then as well as now, demands the blood of bad men. Like a fervent cult, statist populism adheres to the belief that deposing the evil is not enough to eradicate it once and for all. How will the raging masses define "bad"? Who will be next? Will they demand the life of Mubarak's next of kin, friends, allies? At what point will the blood of the common blood be shed instead of spared?

Will political blood lust turn a nation of protesters into terrible miscreants who will devour each other, only to be overpowered by another strongman who provides order, but regards neither God nor man in his rule?

Is the Mummy military dictatorship, currently armed with the undeserved praise and confidence of the people? By this one may describe the Egyptian Army, the one force in Egypt which the people respected. They have the power, and if power corrupts, as it has every ruling coalition whether democratic or autocratic, it is little surprise to see the army firing on those whom it has sworn to protect.

The only way to slay the menacing Mummy is . . .to unwind the forces which have for too long bound up the populace in false notions of liberty.

Freedom is more than protest. It is commitment to ideals which enhance the truth and dignity of each person: responsibility with risk, respect as well as rights. It is breaking free from the natural (base) compunction to wreak revenge on former foes. Freedom demands extending to all, friend and enemy alike, right recognition of human rights; rights which are not created by the state nor preeminent in a religion or culture.

Natural rights, older still than the Mummy of old-order oppression, cannot prevail if bandaged in resentment and violence, or misplaced trust in corruption institutions

Bahrain: The Arab Spring turned Winter of Discontent

Sunni and Shi'a have rallied for the end of the Khalifah monarchy in Bahrain, another wave of protest in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution that originated in Tunisia and is spreading throughout the Middle East.

Bahraini protests have failed at the onslaught of the Monarchy's military opposition, including support form the neighboring state of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the superior firepower of the state, The conflicting demands of freedom-fighting protesters has betrayed the cause of failure:

1. More equal distribution of wealth
2. Less unemployment
3. More parliamentary power
(Source: LA Times "'Arab Spring' wilts on one isle." April 15, 2011, A1.)

Missing from this list of demands is recognition of natural rights, the chief service expected from government.

More equal distribution of wealth is tyranny of the less-entitled against the more-propertied. Tyranny in any form is evil, even if wielded by the hands of more people.
It is not the responsibility of the State to provide work for its citizens. Concentrating power into more democratic institutions does not guarantee individual liberty, the necessary condition for individual, free-market prosperity.

Beyond the conflicting demands of the uprising population, marginalized Shiites in Bahrain demand an end to the Monarchy which has condemned them to second-class status for so long. Initially willing to work with the embittered Sunnis, the currently empowered-Shi'as have fearfully distanced themselves from gathering protests.

Revolutions do not succeed in the wake of rapid wipe-out, withdrawal, and redress. The sectarian divide over the alacrity of change within Bahrain has been played out before. Consider the Great Britain's Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which the nation's Parliament invited the Ruling Monarch's next-of-kin to rule the country in the place of Stuart Monarch James the Second, a devout Catholic who was slowly reinstating sectarian hegemony over the United Kingdom. William III of Orange married into a coregency with James II's daughter Mary. Because of his irreversible unpopularity Catholic James II fled Protestant England. The British people maintained their liberty, including from religion. The British people chose to retained the Monarchy, yet with the requirement that Parliament assume greater full power at the expense of the Monarchy, further confined by the English Bill of Rights. Unlike the protesters in Bahrain, the inhabitants of Great Britain expect an more equitable distribution of wealth, a blunt power-grab which would have undermined their rights as Englishmen.

The people of Bahrain have have failed to define for themselves the proper role that government should fill in their lives. Without clear designs for the institution to replace the Khalifah, the Bahraini people have only their animosity for the present conditions to united them, a tenuous alliance. Divided loyalties along sectarian lines and confused commitments to improved working conditions and more "people power" have all enabled the Khalifah Monarchy to restore order through Shi'a dominance, Sunni subservience, and growing sectarian unrest.

Love the Group, Love your Fellow Man, Love the One who Can

Can a person love a group of people?

Love is an action. It is not a feeling, a hope, a hype, or a case of happenstance.

Love is directing positive regard so that another person understands what he or she is receiving.

I cannot say that I love the human race. "The Human Race" is an abstraction, a set of characteristics lumped together to identify some unreal entity.

I cannot even say "I love you". Words are not enough. How I know that I love is that I show that I love.

I cannot show the human race, the black race, the Asian people, the city of Torrance, Lawndale, London, or Paris, that I love it/them.

Love is an action, a commitment, a charitable connection to a Person.

I can love Him without reserve. Through me, then, He can love the whole world!

The Goldstone Report and Retraction: Damage Done and Undone

Following his assignment to investigate the 2008-2009 Gaza War waged by Israel, South African jurist Richard Goldstone issued a damaging Report, in which he invidiously charged that Israeli troops purposely targeted civilians during military forays of 2009 into Gaza.

Despite the incendiary charges of this report, the state of Israel, the Prince with God that endured struggle with the Almighty, has endured despite the reproach of hostile states and erroneous denunciations from international organizations.

The Jewish State has overcome military threats to its existence, from the attempted military coup by the surrounding Arab states in 1948 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Israel also weathered the storm of international opinion, including the U.N.'s racist demonization of Zionism in a 2001 summit in South Africa, and now the Goldstone Report.

As a silver lining in a dark cloud of denunciation, Report's mendacious claims galvanized the Jewish State to further fine-tune future military operations. Besides the United States, Israel is the only nation in the world which compromises armed defensive combat by warning civilians in enemy states of their approach. Whether by dropping leaflets or sending text messages to Palestinian residents, Israels has followed strict procedures to ensure the least possible loss of life.

Fortunately, Richard Goldstone earlier this month issued a (tepid) Retraction of his infamous Report . Mitigating the damning substance of his previous Report, Goldstone's Retraction underlines the extensive steps taken by Israel to safeguard Israeli and Palestinian by-standers caught in the terrorist cross-fire of Hamas and Fatah. Furthermore, the Retraction has also emphasizes the deliberate failure of the Palestinian leadership to investigate war crimes. Most importantly, though, the Retraction has reminded the world of Hamas' deliberate neglect and endangerment of their own people.

Having validated the humane and democratic nature of the Jewish State, the Goldstone Retraction exposes the illogical and immoral nature of accusations levied against the Jewish State by international bodies, especially the UN, whose organization accords to terrorist states and dictatorial regimes the authority to pass judgment on the Israel government and military.

Even though Goldstone's Reaction does not go far enough in promoting greater comity among the nations on behalf of the Jewish State, it does underscore the resilience of the Israelis to defend themselves and undo the damage of baseless international calumny.

Obama Campaigning while the US is Burning

Nothing says hubris like declaring one's candidacy for reelection in the face of 39% approval, two (or three) wars over seas, exploding public debt, and declining prestige for the homeland, both at home and abroad.

By now, though, the United States should be used to the overweening vanity of President Obama.

At least he is (subtly) honest about the nature of his policy decisions. Whether he goes to war or not (or is he at war already?) in Libya, whether he chooses to cut another trillion or hold off a trillion more in cuts, whether he allows his wife to micromanage the life-skills of school-age children, whether he permits the government to micromanage health care, welfare, and American free enterprise: all will come down to whether each outcome throws one more sop to the liberal base which he has so abruptly spurned over the last two years.

Obama's fight for his political future is a fight that the United States simply cannot let him win. His triumph will be the United States' defeat.

As a constitutional law professor in Chicago, he had world enough and time to debate the theoretical right and wrong of government action. As Commander-in-Chief, he failed to take decisive action in the face of few facts and little precedent. An inexperienced scholar, he had no experience of his own to fall back on. Coupled with the essentially appeasing and accommodating nature of Modern Liberalism, he arrived at decisions with such unrelenting slowness, it is little wonder that this nation still struggles from beneath the Great Recession and Wars ending Nowhere.

Only in the monstrous growth of government, at the expense of individual liberty, has the President been resolute. His betrayal of this nation's ideals and his indecisive leadership both betray his unfitness for the Office of President of the United States of America.

Stumping (or Dumping) Donald Trump for President

Donald Trump, (Reborn) Real Estate Magnate cum Reality TV Star, is flirting with a 2012 Presidential Run.

Well, at least he gives the impression that he has any business commenting on the nation's needs and ills.

He made quite a splash at the CPAC 2011 Convention earlier this year. He's bold, he talks tough, he knows what he believes. And he's a remade billionaire.

He also rants on and on about the Obama's birth certificate (!).

Because he is more self-parody than substance gives him the leeway to go off on nonsensical, petty-divisive matters. When he sucks up the spotlight, he's refreshing with brazen bluntness.

Yet is a questionable hairline, lots of money, a headline run at a Conservative convocation, and a lot of attitude enough for a man to be President, let alone run for the office?

Honesty and out-spokenness, both welcome traits in a future commander-in-chief, need to be based in a long-term commitment to service. Looking past the obvious concerns about a possible Trump Presidency, let us consider more probing issue regarding this matter.

Trump's Corporate leadership (his trump card, if you will) is a marvel of efficiency. As CEO, the Donald calls the shots, sets business policy, hires and fires at will, and makes necessary changes all of sudden.

As for accountability, his efforts have always been subject to a board of directors, who may recompense him or remove as they see fit.

The efficacy of the business model could not subsist in Washington D.C. The Constitution designed the Federal Goverment to be limited and inefficient, nothing like a private corporation.

Mr. Trump must accept that, as President, Legislators in the House and Senate would not be directly subject to his directives. If legislators choose not to approve his program, he cannot simply fire them, as he is accustomed on his reality TV shows. Better yet, Trump would do well to consider the conciliatory style of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie talks the talk, walks the walk, yet works with the opposition to accomplish as much he can for the citizens of the Garden State.

In order words, can Mr. Trump work as a team player in the reality show, which is the United States Government? He has the year ahead to persuade (a critical role for any President) the American voters that he can work with the inherently dysfunctional and protracted system of Beltway Politics.

So far, though, playing to the camera and questioning President Obama's citizenship will not reveal, let alone develop, these crucial Presidential qualities. Trump can start getting serious by making his candidacy official, or at least be candid enough to admit that he has no intention of running. Either way, he won't be compromising his skills as showman.

Czech President: Taking a Pen leads to the State Pen?

President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic visited Chile.

During Pinera's address at their joint news conference, President Klaus took the signing pen which was provided for him. He brought it below the field of vision, then slipped it into his left-hand pocket.

A President takes a pen. That's right, and it's a YouTube sensation. . .(?)

Let us forget about the brave efforts of the Chilean people and their government in rescuing the trapped miners, surviving many months of isolation from family and friends. Forget about the efforts of the Chilean people and their government to reemerge from massive earthquakes that threatened the internal stability of the rising Pacific Rim nation.

Forget also about the Capitalist upsurge of free-market power which has lifted the Czech Republic of Velvet Revolution fame from slowly-dying socialist state to dynamic market powerhouse.

Let us rather fixate on the taking of a pen at an innocuous state gathering of two trading partners.

Of course, in the course of condemning this head of state from a meeting of two nations who do not figure prominently in the pressing foreign policy concerns of the United States, let us also neglect to mention that it is customary for visiting dignitaries to keep pens, paper, pads, and other stationery items as keepsakes from their diplomatic envoys.

Truly, in the case of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, the pen may lead indeed lead to a stint in the State Pen!

Iraqi Youth Protests: Revolution or Repression in the Middle East?

A Reflection on "Iraq Crushing Youths' Efforst to Be Heard" New York Times, April 14, 2011.

With every Arab country that sinks into chaos giving birth to a new order, the median age slides with it.

In Tunisia, the average age is 30.

In Egypt, 24.

In Iraq, with a media age of 21, 40% of the people are 14 and under. The Arab Spring is springing forth from the young, the most numerous, connected, and vocal constituency.

Youthful enthusiasm is not afraid to question the old, repressive ways of sclerotic, tyrannical regimes. The young have no qualms about changing the present order, an order which for them is basically new since they have endured it for very little time. Coupled with their openness to innovation and their the near-delusional exubernace of juvenile invincibility, there is little wonder that the newer generation in Arab states throughout the Middle East are rising up, demanding change.

According to Tim Arongo, the older generation of Iraqis are still dominated by the bitterness of sectarian schism between Sunni and Shi'a, because Saddam Hussein's repressive rule, and the lingering fears of challenging state control which have taken captive the hearts of many Iraqis.

In addition to the slow reluctance of the aged to let go of the past, there is the shaky grasp which the younger generation has on the present, and the unknown which is the future.

Yet appreciating the past is crucial to any subsequent lasting reform in the Middle East.

The photograph capturing the convocation of youthful protestors on page A9 features Hussein al-Najar donning a black beret with a red star wearing a shirt bearing the celebrated photo of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It is disturbing to ponder that the youth of Iraq would emulate the bloody Communist coups of a hack-medical student turned sadistic killer, who helped plunged an island nation into impoverished tyranny. His wicked example, if the harbinger of regime change to come, will only spell doom for the long-sought hopes of freedom and

In this jarring ignorance lies the fundamental problem with youthful élan transformed into revolutionary rage. The energy to effect overthrow of the established order cannot establish a stable society that respects the rights of all. Administrative wisdom requires time, dedication, experience. It is not enough to hate the present oppressor. Revolutionaries must exercise dedicated diligence in the shaping of their nation's successor.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forgiveness and the Unforgiving Media

The newspaper does not forgive.

The media hound people for every wrong thought and action.

They publish; a man perishes.

The Press gives itself full permission to expose people's folly and perversion.

I think that it's voyeuristic. It's immoral.

If a man does wrong, let him be held accountable.

If he made right on the situation, then leave him alone. The Press has no right to drag up the past against a man who has fallen, has gotten back up, and has made better of himself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Debt Reduction Made Easy: Remove the President

Barack Obama has challenged Congressman Ryan's plan. His attacks have no real merit.

Both plans still factor in a growth of spending, which is unacceptable!

The most effective way to create spending reform in the United States Government would be to elect a Chief Executive with the fortitude and the skill to enact the necessary reforms.

Then McConnell and Caucus in the Senate can partner with the Boehner majority to repeal Obamacare. That will save billions as well as safeguard the freedoms of the American people.

Thomas Sowell's recommendation to end subsidies for the Agricultural Industry and end welfare for corporations and the rich would be even more welcome!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Budget Crisis Averted for Now (?)

The two parties, the two houses of Congress, two branches of Government have agreed to a stop-gap measure.

To their credit, the Congress has made the biggest cuts to the current budget in its history. Suffice to say, previous budgets did not take meaningful steps to cut spending at all.

The bigger fights have yet to come, though.

The debt ceiling will have to be raised in the near future. Will the fiscal conservatives stick to their principles in the face of the looming threat of default, far worse than a temporary shut-down?

And then there's the budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Will Congressman Ryan be able to lead Congress according to his Roadmap, or will politician continue to drive this nation into the fiscal pit?

Paul Ryan's Roadmap promises significant cuts. It is understandable from a political stand-point that he does not attack entitlements head-on. To streamline the tax code, to raise the retirement age, to cut discretionary spending in the long-term with meaningful spending cuts, all of this is commendable.
All of this is a major help in assisting

We must not deluced ourselves into thinking, however, that the Budget Crisis has not ended. The United States still faces immense, no, gargantuan unfunded liabilities. Entitlement spending is simply out of control, and something must be done now to stop it from irrevocably encroaching upon us later!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Response to Local Columnist: Military vs. Social Spending

The Following Question was posed in a recent e-mail:

"Why are the Republicans dedicated to cutting social programs in the name of fiscal responsibility while ignoring nearly $2 billion a day in military spending. Maybe you all can explain what all this spending has gotten us? Let me know."

The Response:

I think ALL spending should be on the chopping block, not just discretionary spending and entitlement programs!

The United States must give up on pretending to be Policeman of the World.

Let's protect ourselves, our own interests, and our own people.

Get the US out of Afghanistan! Get us out of Libya! Get us out of German and Korea!

I would only qualify our exit from Iraq. We instigated a conflict which previous foreign policy did not adequately plan for, although I am glad that Saddam Hussein is not in power, and the WikiLeak cables have confirmed that Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, the United States needs to rely more on soft power. Ronald Reagan helped bring down the Soviet Union without firing a shot and withdrew American Troops from certain failure in Lebanon. As soon as Reagan was elected President in 1980, the Iranian Mullahs released the hostages. He projected power and confidence, unlike the milquetoast Jimmy Carter.

In addition to relinquishing the role of Policeman to the World, however, the United States must also stop playing Nursemaid of the American People. This aggrandized role is draining the life out of our economy more than pork barrel projects and military spending. Social Security is an immoral entitlement, an elaborate Ponzi scheme robbing the working man to pay for the retired, with only an empty, unfunded promise to finance future retirees. Medicaire and Medicaid are vastly unfunded, due in large part to the rampant fraud corrupting the system. And then there's Obamacare, a government mandate which will frustrate markets, drive up health care costs, and limit access to quality health care.

For the first one hundred years of the Republic, Americans earned their keep, saved their money, and took care of themselves. Since when did the Government get the foolish notion that it was their job to take a taxpayer's money and rescue the down and out with social programs that do not promote liberty, equality, or even financial stability?

You question the value of exorbitant military spending. In addition to military expenditures, I denounce the rapacious entitlements masquerading as "social programs" which are not promoting the General Welfare of this country.

Read the Preamble to the United States Constitution. In order to form a more perfect union, the United States Government must not arrogate to itself the right to extensive invasions into our daily lives. A government that tries to be all things for all people will do nothing well, and will bankrupt the nation in the process. That is hardly promoting the general welfare or securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves or to our posterity as intended by the Framers of the Constitution.

Mariah Carey and "True Fans"

Mariah Carey is about to have a baby with father Nick Cannon.

Like celebrities from years past, Carey is posing for the magazines with child, baring all before she bears her son.

Father Cannon is very uncomfortable with the whole scheme. "I don't think kids should be looking at naked people that early in life." He is the father; his input matters.

Still, Carey is going to pose for the camera.

Her reason: "I want to share this moment with my true fans."

The very idea of "true fans" is very troubling. What constitutes a "true" fan, one who isfor one day, week, month, year, fanatic about a celebrity, will move on to another obsession in a short time.

Fans by their nature follow ephemeral things: fads, trends, and people. Mariah Carey's fans love her for her music, her image, and her trend-setting, all of which will change in time.

Motherhood, however, is a status beyond stardom, a responsibility which cannot be shared. The intimacy which Carey presumes between herself and her "true" fans is simple unfounded and nonsensical.

Besides, some realities are simply to intimate too be understood on a public scale; in most cases, it is just inappropriate to share them.

Bristol Gets Bank for Baby; Sarah Pays for the Privilege

When Sarah Palin's baby had a baby named Tripp, the reactions were diverse, if not controversial.

How could a gung-ho family-based conservative raise a daughter who would end up giving birth out of wedlock? The whole thing reeked of hypocrisy.

Although ultimately we cannot blame the Mamma Grizzly for the immature decisions of her cub, Sarah Palin's seeming inability to impress abstinence on her daughter raises some concern.

When Palin allowed he daugher to compete in "Dancing with the Stars", she gave the impression that Mother Palin was treating the crisis of unwed-motherhood more lightly than was called for.

Bristol's explicit dancing turned heads. They also undermined Palin's qualifications to represent conservative interests, since Mammy Grizzly took no offense at her daughter's shameless performance.

Now, Bristol Palin has received a considerable sum as a US Government advocate warning against teen pregnancy.

In the final analysis, the country has to ask: Did Bristol Palin do anything wrong in having a fling with another man, not her husband, and by no means able to support a family?

With all the stardom, endorsements, and celebrity that have rained down on Palin's wayward daughter, it would appear that Ms. Bristol Palin has found her way in life.

In the midst of all her stardom and salaries, her advocacy on behalf of teen awarenesss is rather contradictory. Bristol's life reeks of success because of her unexpected, unconjugal pregnancy. Why, then, would teens throughout the United States take her message of abstinency, responsibility, and family planning seriously?

Sarah Palin has failed as a dutiful mother. She has compromised core conservative values, especially regarding the integrity of the family. Worst of all, the inadvertent focus on Bristol has glamorized the terrible consequences of unforseen, unprepared, unwed pregnant minors.

Would that the media highlighted the trials that await young couples, or rather young mother, who bring a child into this world before they have stopped being children themselves.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Cut it or Shut it!"

The grim-gridlock reality of the United States' current budget crisis is unavoidable. The Democrats are committed to the growth of government because they believe that government is the answer to the nation's ills. They also insist, even in the face of imminent bankruptcy, that it is the government's responsibility to take care of its citizens, to provide for their needs, and to make all arrangements for their comfort. The Republicans, at least in word, refute these positions, demanding smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and individual freedom.

The Republicans can and must take control this debate. For too long the Republicans have been "Democrat-lite", cutting bits of spending here and there, while allowing big-ticket items like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to grow with abandon. On March 31, members of the TEA Party caucus, headed by rising star Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), are demanding an end to Republican dithering. The Republican Party returned to power in the House of Representatives for the most part because of the TEA Party populist surge. On the steps of the capitol, they rallied, "Cut it or shut it!": cut the budget, or let the government shut down without one. House Speaker John Boehner would do well to heed the demands of this very vocal block of the party.

Republicans and Democrats will never see eye-to-eye on balancing the budget, the Republicans will just have to call the President's bluff and let the government "shut down" without a budget.

In reality, if the United States goes without a budget, the government will not literally "shut down". The military will still stand guard, social security checks (gasp!) will still be issued, and when a budget is finally passed, federal employees will be compensated retroactively. In effect, the vast number of frivolous pork projects and entitlement spending will go unfunded, the expressed intent of the fiscal hawks taking back their runaway, spendthrift government. If nothing else, the American People will see once again that they can live, breathe, and have their being without a fully-funded federal government wasting tax-payer to the tune of $4 billion dollars a day.

If the United States Congress, committed with promoting the General Welfare of this country, will not face facts and make the necessary drastic cuts, then they have no right to represent us, and that includes the newly empowered Republicans. This current Congress must slash the bloated budget in earnest. If they cannot achieve that, then the government should shut its doors.

Congressmen, enough with the penny-ante sparring over billions of dollars. There are trillions of dollars in unfunded domestic spending threatening the economic future of this country. Do your job, cut the budget, or shut your doors once and for all.

In other words: Cut it, or SHUT IT!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Congressman Ryan's Ten-Year Plan

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wi) has revealed his ten-year plan to restore the United States to fiscal sanity. Using his roadmap, Congress will slash around $6 trillion dollars of fiscal liabilities from the national debt. Yet fiscally and morally, Ryan's budget proposal does not go far enough in curtailing the wasteful largesse undermining this county's financial house.

In order to instill institutional monetary solvency for the good of the entire nation, present as well as future generations must sacrifice. Beneficiaries must accept not reaping the same retirement and security benefits as their predecessors. The elderly-no-longer-working have no right to cannibalize the young-who-are-still-working. Analysts and economists have confronted baby-boomers with the crass handouts entitled to them, which not only impoverish the current workforce, but will not be afforded them when they retire. Retirees shrug their shoulders, acknowledge the injustice of the whole scheme, and go back to their golf games.

What else does Congress need to do? Ryan and his caucus must apply the hurt to the 55-and-up constituency.

Social Security needs to be curtailed, limited, and ultimately phased out. The original entitlement, sprung from FDR welfare-state mania, was never intended to bank-roll indolent retirees for thirty years after their last day of work. Social Security has enabled workers to grow old without growing wise, spending all without saving for the future. Dependence on the state is just a ruse for the unproductive leaning on the productive. Having concluded as much, one must acknowledge the immorality of the state in depriving the working man of a portion of his pay to subsidize the retirement of a retreating work force.

The whole concept of retirement is ludicrous. Nations and civilizations for centuries worked and saved until the dropped dead or preserved a hefty inheritance to support themselves. The United States Congress must wean individuals off its dole, however gradually.

With Medicare and Medicaid, the same fundamental problem persists as with Social Security. The federal government should not compel current workers to pay into a reserve tapped by current non-workers. Instead, the government must release itself from the costly obligation of transferring wealth and shoring up obligations beyond its capacity to honor.

Fiscal Discipline is a Core Value for the Entire Party

The Republican Party is defined by three affiliating coalitions:

1. National (Military) Conservatives

2. Social Conservatives

3. Fiscal Conservatives

Because of TEA Party insurgence, the fiscal conservatives are getting more attention than ever before. The United States needs to get its fiscal house in order.

Pundits within the party and commentators from within have pointed out the rift that is widening among the three communities. Fiscal conservatives are pressing for fiscal sanity, some claim, that they would readily cut military spending and ignore fundamental social issues about the survival of the family and the integrity of the culture.

Yet fiscal discipline incorporates interests vital to the agendas of social and military conservatives.

Fiscal sanity is a social issue. The United States is burdened by crippling debt in part because of the United States' immoral imposition into the daily lives of its citizens. The welfare state has aided and abetted delinquency and dysfunction in families, especially in minority communities. The Government monopoly of education has robbed children in poor neighborhoods from seeking an education in more stable and affluent communities. Without spending a dime, Congress may relax its hold on issues which belong within the sphere of local and state governments, enhancing the freedom and quality of individuals. The current Congress' attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, for example, reduces spending and sanctified the lives of the unborn, issues dear to the fiscal and social conservatives.

As for the national conservatives, this nation's continued binging on foreign debt leaves us at the mercy of hostile, specifically China. By slashing, not trimming, excessive spending and military forays around the global, the United States can design a more concentrated foreign policy to protect our borders and provide coherent, qualified assistance to out struggling allies around the world. By engaging less in military operations around the world, the United States can save time, money and resources while also shoring up its defenses.

Fiscal conservatives need not compromise their goals in order to draw in support from other wings of the Republican Party. Rather, their mission coincides with the long-range goals of their conservative colleagues. As in their mission to persuage the general voting public, the Republican Party needs to adopt a more persuasive presentation of their views to resolve Republican intra-party schisms in their favor.

The Conservative Dilemma: Gerald Ford's Misappropriated Wit and Wisdom

"The Government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it away." -- Gerald Ford.

This quote has been oft misattributed to Thomas Jefferson, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and even Abraham Lincoln.

This misappropriation of a meaningful message could no better symbolize the incongruity of the ideas of a conservative with his inability to articulate them in a coherent message.

Thomas Jefferson, early President far more famous for his Declaration of Independence, did what he said he would: he shrank the size of government, reduced the size of the military, and impounded funds appropriated by Congress when he deemed the appropriations unconstitutional.

Barry Goldwater, the Father of the Modern Conservatism, characterized the domestic overspending as a greater threat to the United States than the Soviet Union. Despite a proper appreciation of the threatening nature of government largess, Goldwater's exaggerated outrage against budget should not have crowded out the national concern over the menacing threat of Soviet dominance.

Ronald Reagan, embodiment of Conservative resurgence, essentially won sixteen years later the election that Goldwater had lost. In eight years, Reagan closed one federal office. At the same time, the budget deficit increased dramatically because of much-needed tax-cuts without the necessary spending cuts. Surging military spending may have bankrupted the Soviet Union, but the crushing debt accrued may end up bankrupting the United States. For all of his Reagan's popularity as small government advocate, Columnist George Will recalls that for all of Reagan's blusterous anti-government rhetoric, his conservatism gave the American people permission to hate government yet love it at the same time.

The final misattributed origin of Gerald Ford's caution, Abraham Lincoln would by today's standard be (justifiably) branded a RINO (Republican In Name Only). A big spender who increased the size and scope of government, he instituted an income tax and imposed national hegemony at the expense of states' rights. In furtherance of civil war against the seceding states, Lincoln illegally misappropriated monies without Congressional approval, suspended habeas corpus, expelled a dissenting Democratic Congressman from the Union. He even instituted a draft, which sparked protests throughout the United States, culminating in the New York Draft Riots, forcing him to call federal troops to quell the insurrection. If nothing else, Abraham Lincoln was all "big government" without the "conservative".

Leaving aside the Chief Executives who did not caution against Hand-Out government, President Gerald Ford (and by extension Thomas Jefferson) represents the quiet the fiscal restraint desperately needed in this country, and the message essential to long-term success and integrity for conservatives in the long-term. They were small government conservatives. These executives resisted the temptation to throw money at domestic problems through executive order or Congressional intimidation.

In the annals of United States History, Gerald Ford does not figure prominently. Yet executives who advocate restraint will not be prominent (Fellow small-government President Thomas Jefferson held his tenure as President in such low esteem that he did not even include his Administration on his tombstone as one of his chief accomplishments. He placed precedence on his role as founder of the University of Virginia!). The Presidents who make the history books are the Presidents who did too much, who expanded the power of the Presidency at the expense of Congress, who ruled more as autocrats vs. constitutional representatives.

If Conservatives want to achieve any long-term success, they must stick to their principles. That begins with attributing ideas to their proper sponsors, and understanding the errors that will ensue in failing to do so.

Why did the 1995 Shutdown Shut Down the Republican Revolution?

The United States Government appears headed toward another shut down.

This is déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Bera would say.

Rewind to December 1995. Newly-installed House Speaker Newt Gingrich faced off against centrist Bill Clinton, a president humbled by the Republican Revolution.
Facing a Republican House and Senate, it appeared that Clinton would have to fold and accede to more cuts than he was willing.

Yet the President and the media spinned the impasse to make it seem as if Gingrich's arrogant childishness terminated any meaningful compromise. The media especially had a heydey with the allegations that Gingrich stalled on talks because he was snubbed for preferential seating on Air Force One during negotiations.

All of these petty points of dispute mask the underlying problem: The Republicans failed to articulate a coherent message spelling out the need for real government reform in taxation and spending. They failed to make the legimate sell to the American People that the United States could not continue borrowing and spending beyong its means.

This argument requires rigorous simplicity and tenacity, beyond Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) prolix display boards and Glenn Beck's ranting and raving. The citizens of this country deserve to understand that hemmoraging budget deficits, enormous national debt, and wasteful entitlements hurt the productivity of the American Economy, impoverishing current generations and dooming our future.
Today, now more than every, the Republicans must press the immorality of deficit spending in all facets of government, which has grown far beyond its constitutional scope.

Despite the handicap of controlling one chamber of Congress, the dire necessity of take charge of the outlandish federal budget is even more pressing. With the surge of TEA Party activism and civic outrage at bailouts, handouts, and corruption, House Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have greater leverage to force more cuts and demand long-term fiscal responsibility from the United States Government.

Let's hope that they do not lose focus as the Republican majority did fifteen years ago.

Response to Goldwater and Reagan's Anti-Government Rhetoric

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." -- Ronald Reagan.

"I fear the federal Government more than the Soviet Union" -- Barry Goldwater

These two giants of conservatism betrayed fallacious thinking which will not buoy this country through the trials to come.

A nation must have a cohesive foreign policy. Freedom isn't free, nor is it popular, or even widespread. Rogue states, terrorists, and warmongers will stop at nothing to bring down liberal states, for their very existence poses an ongoing threaten to their dictatorial hegemony.

Government has a coveted role in our society. Agents of the state are assigned the task of protecting our rights, protecting us from fraud within, and foes from without.

In Goldwater's time, the Soviet Union posed a real and immanent threat to the United States. No matter how gargantuan the Great Society welfare state grew, the Soviets oppressed their people far worse, stifling markets and innovation, imprisoning dissenters, and subsidizing blood-thirsty warlords throughout the Third World.

President Johnson's encroachments on the freedoms of the American People and the impoverishing entitlements he forced upon the country compromised the freedom-fight of the United States against the Communists on behalf of liberal, capitalist states. Still, the need for a strong--but limited--government to protect the interests of free people at home and abroad cannot be denied.

Southern Sudan: Early Outcome of the Jasmine Revolution

Tunisia sneezed, and the whole Arab World is catching cold.

But the viral opposition to rabid Islamism, oppression, and corruption started spreading long before in the Republic of Sudan, which has been up to now one country divided by internal strife.

From 2005 to the present day, the civil war ripping that East Arab nation apart was reported throughout the world. George Clooney's star power intervened to capture the world's attention, labeling as genocide the massacre of Christians and Anamists at the hand of President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir's Janjaweed thugs.

Just this year, the Southern part of the nation secede in a widespread plebescite. Christians and Anamists to the South no longer need fear a repressive government run by radical Muslims.

If the civil war in Libya does not end soon, it is very likely that that nation will meet the same fate, cease to exist, and divide in two.

Obama's Schizophrenia: The Divided Mind of the American People

Foreign Policy in a democracy is dictated in part by what the voters are willing to support, or in the long run, tolerate.

Meaningful interventions into foreign conflicts, however, must rely on more than the supple will of the majority. Imagine if the United States had elected to stay out of World War II? For years, isolationist sentiment gripped the American public in shunning another American foray into foreign war. Yet the outcome, the downfall of the Nazi onslaught and termination of Japanese aggression in the Pacific more than compensate for the loss of life and treasure which the United States endured as an Allied Power.

Fast forward to the first decade of the Twenty-First Century. The Jasmine Revolution is sweeping out the Arab dictators of old in a ground swell of freedom. However, the United States' interest in this massive movement is complex. We support democracy, yet we also prize stability. Reliable dictators who promise peace with allies, even though they terrorize their own people, are less objectionable than freely elected terrorists who threaten our allies and our way of life.

The uncertainty of regime change in the Middle East is rendering many Americans double-minded. Yes, democratic reform, but not with the result of radical elements taking over in the Middle East with the expressed intent of destroying the United States, Israel, and Western values in general.This tension between idealism and realism has fostered a particularly long-running strand of political schizophrenia in the American electorate, infecting even the heads of state.

Yes, protect oppressed peoples throughout the Middle East. Yes, impress upon them that the United States supports their efforts to win greater freedoms and respect for their rights. However, will our republican idealism whither away in the face of more rigged elections, another crop of cruel strongmen, and increasing menace on the Jewish State?

Now that the Egyptian people have cast off their thirty-year President Honsi Mubarak, Israel and the United States face a crisis. Egypt, one of the few Arab states to have signed and honored a peace treaty with Israel, one of the few Arab states actively fighting terrorist cells and keeping at bay Islamicist groups, may fall out of the United States allied orbit and instigate chaos throughout the region. The world has yet to see if such a dire projection will come to pass, or if the Egyptian people will hold peaceful elections and establish a stable democratic government.

For many, the record of transition from dictatorship to democracy--the democratic process itself-- in the Middle East is not promising. After nine months of infighting, the Republic of Iraq has barely established a power-sharing coalition in Baghdad. In 2009, the Iranian people endured the fraudulent "re-election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a political robbery which nation-wide protests could not deter; moreover, President Obama refused to speak out against the rigged results, leaving oppressed people powerless to effect any legitimate change.

Then there is the sobering 2005 elections in the Gaza Strip, which gave the illegitimate organization Hamas a legitimate mandate to rule. From its inception, throughout its campaign up to its electoral victory, Hamas has been openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish State and imposing Sharia law throughout the world, starting with their little corner of Palestine.

The American People are duly circumspect about the the political turmoil which may result from the encroaching Jasmine Revolution.

Diplomatic deliberation must bear out a coherent policy, whether of intervention or isolation. If the United States will send military personnel to Libya, then why not Syria, a more crucial player in Middle Eastern politics? If we are committed to meaningful and lasting regime change throughout the region, then why did President Obama rescind funding to support democratic reform in Egypt? How can the President separate protecting Libyan civilians from Moammar Gadhafi, yet at the same time take off the table any interest in effecting regime change in Libya?

Then there are the calculations which factor in the domestic outcomes of extended military operations. The American people want freedom to reign supreme, yet they seem reluctant to invest more men and money on behalf of Middle Eastern freedom fighters. Are we committed to protect our own interests, too? At all? In any way possible? Are we willing to risk more American lives and dwindling resources into military expeditions with no clearly discernable end in sight?

Above all, any decisive results in the region will depend on decisive action from the United States, for the Arab states must make the moves that will make them or break them. Ultimately, Obama's foreign policy Schizophrenia is fundamentally a reflection of the ambivalence of the American people to regime change in the Middle East, whether it will bode well for worse, whether the cost of intervention is feasible of sustainable.

Governor Brown and the Public Good of Goverment

In the midst of tension negotiations among California's legislators and the recently elected (re-elected?) Governor, Jerry Brown is pleading with law-makers and constituents throughout the state of California to advance the temporary tax hikes which will lapse July 1 of this year.

Without the extension of that revenue, Brown contends, the state of California will endured even deeper cuts than the previous years of the ever-growing fiscal insanity plaguing the Golden State.

He implores all interested parties on behalf of the common good that government is supposed to provide.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Government, whether local, state, of federal, is not supposed to supply the public any good. The common good, in effect, does not exist, to the extent of defining and providing a series of policies that will please everyone.

Good government does not exists in its absence, but its reticence. Protecting individual rights to life, liberty, and happiness, that is the one role which belongs within the sphere of government. Thomas Jefferson expounded on this principle in the Declaration of Independence. Instead of welfare checks, subsidies, and generous pensions to state employees to prison guards, police officers, and even DMV clerks, the state of California would have defended individual rights, promoted commerce with minimal intervention, and secured the borders.

If lawmakers in Sacramento had heeded Thomas Jefferson's simple directive, then the Golden State would have retained its luster and lucre. But now, every interest group and politician has plundered the Golden Goose with entitlements, handouts, and unmitigated borrowing. Not only is there no money left, there is nothing left to borrow against.

Rather than promoting the common good, an activist government has widened the fiscal tragedy of bankruptcy to everyone. Good government is limited government, pure and simple.

Obama's Schizophrenia: The (Extending and Extensive) Unrest in the Middle East

In addition to the divided, contradictory nature of the Obama Doctrine, there is the unclear military response to two pressing conflicts emerging in the Middle East.

Libya is already devolving into civil war. The Obama Administration claims no aim to effect regime change, but merely to assist in assisting the European members of NATO and the Arab League in assisting the rebels in ousting dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Then there's Syria. President Bashas al-Assad has already fired on his own people, with the slaughter numbering into the hundreds. The United States has a greater strategic interest in a moderate regime rising up from the toppling unrest in autocratic Syria, as does Israel.

Yet the President has not sent military support to aid the Syrian people. He has not even withdrawn the US Ambassador from Damascus, as President George W. Bush had done in 2005.

If President Obama wants to pursue a foreign policy of liberal internationalism, protecting innocent civilians from cruel dictators, then how does he account for not sending troops into Syria, or Yemen and La Cote D'Ivoire?

Obama's Schizophrenia: The (Nonexistent) Obama Doctrine

From Wikipedia: "The Obama Doctrine is a term frequently used to describe one or several unifying principles of the foreign policy of Barack Obama. Unlike the Monroe Doctrine, the Obama Doctrine is not a specific foreign policy introduced by the executive, but rather a phrase used to describe Obama's general style of foreign policy. This has left journalists and political commentators to speculate on what the exact tenets of an Obama Doctrine might look like. Generally speaking, it is accepted that a central part of such a doctrine would be negotiation and collaboration over confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs."

From "The Fix": "Obama irritated both extremes by going into Libya (liberals disapproved) but not aiming for Moammar Gaddafi’s ouster (conservatives disapproved)."

Obama wants the United States to be involved in the Libyan civil war which may sweep another Arab strongman from power; yet he also wants "not be involved" in a meaningful way. How can the American military protect the Libyan people without targeting the source of their misery, Moammar Gadhafi?

Rather than confronting this glaring contradiction of policy, media analysts are attempting to cobble together the substance of Obama's policy into a coherent whole, which in fact does not exist. This incoherence betrays the political schizophrenia endemic to Obama's foreign policy, a pragmatist in practice who still wants to please his base, fend off taunts of international weakness, and attempt to bolster American stature in a growing, globalized world.

Foreign Policy requires a commitment to a clearly-articulated agenda, something which President Obama has still failed to do. One cannot invade a country with any force and then claim to have no interest in regime change. The United States is providing the bulk of the fire power in a conflict in which the President has insisted that the United States is playing only a supporting role. Furthermore, the outcome of this civil war will not present any meaningful changes or challenges, compared to the uprisings stirring up in Syria (a distant but innocuous adversary), Yemen (a consistent U.S. ally against Al Qaeda) and a nuclear, menacing Iran.

According to what principles does Presindent Obama wish to involve the United States in the blooming Jasmine Revolution engulfing the Arab World? Do we assist our allies? Do we end up contradicting our commitment to freedom and democracy for all people? If not, do we aid the oppressed peoples of every nation? Is there a strategic interest in encouraging regime change at all? In which nations? Or, do we stay out altogether?

These complex questions require diligent answers before the President commits anymore troops, blood, and treasure to another conflict in the Middle East.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"The Devil We Know vs. The Devil We Don't Know": A Reflection

Israel has witnessed with trepidation the foundering of hostile, yet stable regimes throughout the Middle East. Egypt and Israel had a formal, but peaceful relationship following Anwar Sadat's treat with the Jewish state. There was little evidence of resistance or resentment against Israel form Tunisia and Libya, for that matter.

The ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the potential power vacuum to emerge following either the deposition or reinstatement of Moammar Gadhafi may invite Al-Qaeda operatives.

Egypt is holding presidential elections to decide the democratic future of its government, where the Muslim Brotherhood, an institution in opposition to Israel, is gaining prominence.

Despite the icy relationship with Syria, another state ravaged by growing populist unrest, Israeli diplomats consider the peaceful borders better than political unrest which may spill over in Northern Israel and throughout the Middle East.

Unsaid in this debate is the false premise that stable dictators can be easily defined as "The Devil We Know." PLO leader Yasser Arafat appeared like a negotiable strongman to the West, yet preached terror and calumny against the West and Israel to the West Bank. Rather than positioning themselves with the interests of the "allied" Western states in mind, they preach peace and cooperation in order to take on international aid, then demonize them in order to succor favor with their oppressed people, who focus on hating the Occupying Jewish State and its puppet-supporter, the United States of America.

Israel and the United States can never assume that any alliance with a desperate nation will yield any long-term stablility, especially when dictators who harm their own people and exploit their poverty to enrich themselves have hardly any incentive to cooperate with liberal societies antithetical to their selfish interests.

"The Devil we know" simply does not exist, for the Devil himself is a liar, an angel of light deceiving many. No better description better fits the vile dictators of the Middle East who are falling from power.

Leave the Garden State Governor in Peace

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a man of many words. He is also a man of his word. No matter how many times news analysts and pundits press him about his Presidential prospects for 2012, he adamantly refutes any such speculation.

He is committed to serving the state of New Jersey. He is committed to following through on the work that he started, and he will fulfill his responsibilities until their expected end. In spite of Christie's firm decision, recent polls indicate that Governor Christie is the only Republican (so far) most likely to defeat President Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election.

What is Christie's appeal? His charisma. He is outspoken and effective, a skilled negotiator who is not afraid to take on the troubling domestic issues affecting this nation.

Where does this charisma come from? His character. He says what he means, and he means what he says. As governor, he pledged not to raise taxes, even on the rich, and he didn't, even when the proposed legislation was embedded in a generous tax credit to the New Jersey middle class. When teacher's unions roared disapproval that they contribute more to their benefits, he stuck to his principles. Chris Christie has articulated the dire necessity of municipal and state fiscal restraint. He can make bold, controversial moves in the public sector because he appreciates the gravity of the state's finances. Even when public employees, bureaucrats, and the media cry foul, he stays true to his word and his vision.

Christie knows what matters, and he is not afraid who knows it. Rather than inducing Governor Christie to compromise his hallmark integrity by running for President, Republican Party hopefuls need to find another candidate with the same proven character and conviction. Then the Republicans will have a candidate with the requisite charisma to take on President Obama, a man of many words, but many more wavering convictions.

Meanwhile, Republican Party operators' hounding after a non-candidate is not merely an exercise in futility, but would inadvertently ruin the very brand that Republicans ought to replicate.

Don't Lose the Message, Republicans!

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich seemed provocative and petty when he squared off against President Clinton in 1995 over balanced budgets and budget cuts. Their impasse to prepare the federal budget ended up looking like the Speaker's fault, even though the Republican revolution which had swept him and his party into power was predicated on cutting the deficit and balancing the budget. The Republican base has a better media system now than before. FOX news, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the TEA Party, all organizations getting out the less-government libertarian message. Also, the budget crisis threatening this country is undeniably obvious, compared to the 1990's, when NASDAQ 5000 wealth covered up mounting debt.

Current House Speaker John Boehner must not let his unsettled apprehensions from 15 years ago prevent him from pursuing a direct course of action. The United States understands the dire need for a balanced budget that cuts expenses and shores up cost. As long as Boehner and company stress that they are not budging on the budget because they have the short-term and long-term well-being of the nation in mind, they will cast President Obama in a spendthrift unserious light which will make him look petty for not pursuing the necessary cuts to preserve the fiscal order of the Union.