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Friday, February 12, 2016

In Search of Candor - Why Trump and Sanders Are Winning

The word politician has become synonymous with the word liar in recent years. Time and time again we hear empty promises no one means to keep, false impressions and explanations given, and artifice used to mask real intentions. America is tired of the masquerade. We are in a state of revolt from a class of people we have come to distrust. So-called moderates, we have learned, are extremists who hide it well until they are elected.

 We would rather people simply honored our intelligence enough to say what they think. We may not agree with all of it, but we appreciate the honesty. We know for a fact that Bernie Sanders is a socialist who wants to nationalize the health care and oil production sectors of the economy, among others. He isn't hiding this fact. He wants to tax those who produce a great deal of value, in exchange for which they are given money, at ninety percent. While he has backed down from this number, he still concedes that he thinks the rich (set at an unnamed limit that will most likely exclude his income) should pay the overwhelming majority of their compensation in taxes. He wants to expand the welfare state so that college is free, which helps him attract college-age voters. In short, he is a classic 1960's era Marxist.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a rich businessman who believes that America's interests should (no pun intended) trump all other concerns in U.S. policy matters. He wants to balance budgets by raising revenue and would lower taxes overall, but increase the percentage of taxes paid by the middle class (where most of the money in the economy is made anyway). He would end unfavorable trade deals made with countries with which the balance of trade is tipped decidedly in their favor, allowing for tariffs and other protectionist measures. He would close the border with Mexico and control the flow of immigration to a level that would favor U.S. workers trying to earn a decent wage. He is brash and sometimes offensive, so much so that the United Kingdom has considered banning him from the country for Islamophobia or some such nonsense. (If only they would ban immigrants who practice Christianophobia!) He doesn't back down under criticism, however, but fights back. He could either be the worst president America has ever had or the best; it's hard to predict. Still, he's bold and frank, two qualities that are sorely missed in American politics.

Why have these two candidates taken over the primaries? Americans would rather vote for an honest person with whom they partially disagree than a candidate whose opinion shifts with every new poll. We face a showdown between two extremes--America as an imitation European Union or America as an aggressive competitor on the world stage. The voters will decide. Frighteningly, they may choose Sanders. Who knows? I, for one, highly doubt it. What makes America unique is the dream of accomplishing success and reaping the rewards. Sanders would punish success by stripping away the rewards. That's a tough sell for a nation of ambitious people.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why Hillary Can't Win the Presidency

It should be obvious to anyone who happens to have read this blog that I vehemently disagree with the vast majority of Hillary Clinton's policy positions. Raising taxes on business will not raise federal revenue; it will reduce it by reducing the profits on which taxes are paid. Generous social welfare programs harm the family unit by making many fathers economically obsolete. Gay marriage is a government assertion that behavior which deviates from the designs of nature is equal to behavior that maintains the human species. Immigration should serve the interests of U.S. citizens. It is not a right for any who desire entrance into the country. On these and many other issues, my beliefs are at odds with Hillary Clinton.

The disclaimer portion of this article being over, I will now analyze why it will be almost impossible for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. Simply put, she is a criminal who has demonstrated that she can't be trusted with state secrets. More than twenty of her unsecured private emails  contained state secrets. Some of them put our CIA operations at risk, providing information about how we have conducted drone strikes, for example. Not only this, but the entire affair and her cavalier attitude regarding it betray both a lack of appreciation for the importance of maintaining state secrets and a nonchalance about breaking federal law.

If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democrat nominee, this scandal will follow her throughout the campaign. Imagine ads showing Hillary's face with iron bars superimposed. Imagine ads featuring her inability to handle matters of state in such a way as to keep the nation secure. Imagine her tag line being " this point, what difference does it make?" Hillary is a political punching bag. She comes with a host of readily-available targets for easy attack. Whether the Republican nominee is Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio or any of the others, no holds will be barred.

Worse yet, it is entirely possible that Hillary Clinton will be indicted sometime during the campaign. If this occurs after the nomination process and she is the winner, Democrats will have no choice but to run with a candidate who is in the middle of a criminal court proceeding.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is a fairly easy target as well, especially during debates. He has the intellectual capacity of a parrot--all he can do is repeat tired socialist propaganda points that will be easy to counter for anyone with even a basic understanding of economics. The challenge to name even one communist country that has prospered without engaging in trade with capitalist nations would end him. Moreover, most Americans love the idea of being free to pursue their own success without being punished for achieving it. It is an essential aspect of the American ethos. Nevertheless, Bernie Sanders would be a better nominee for Democrats than Hillary Clinton simply because he is not guilty of any crime except being stuck in a 1960's-era political time warp.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Suicidal Tendencies of the Left

As many socially observant people have realized, liberals hate themselves. Not just as individuals, mind you, but as a group. Nobody but a liberal will tell you that they believe that they themselves are racially inferior. Yet many a liberal will agree with assertions that the "white man" has destroyed the earth, made the world a less benign place. For example:

I, for one, consider the races to be equal and, in my humble opinion, essentially unimportant and ambiguous designations. As Jared Diamond pointed out in Guns, Germs and Steel, there is more variation within races than between them. He also pointed out that conquest was a function of the availability of technology. The Egyptians conquered the Hebrews thanks to the chariot. The Romans conquered Europe thanks in large part to superior metallurgy. Europe conquered much of the world thanks to gunpowder. People do not conquer one another because one race is superior to another, nor do they fail to conquer because one is more benign than another. People conquer, by and large, because they can.

The technological advances made by Europe thanks to the development the scientific method and innovations in industry have been of benefit to the entire world. When I see strings of racist comments about the inferiority of the white race I am amused by the fact that these comments are being made on computers using silicon chip technology and running on DC power, both innovations made by European-descended people. The selfsame people who claim that modern medical care is a basic human right ignore the fact that advances made largely in Europe have made these technologies possible. (Not to ignore the significant contributions made by African-Americans such as Dr. Ben Carson.)

The Left wishes to abandon the traditions and philosophy of the West while basing that desire on precisely the same reasoning Western philosophy promotes. Open-minded inquiry and self-examination are cultural traits that originated during the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, both of which are developments that occurred in Europe. China and Japan had closed themselves off from outside contact at that time. The Islamic world was out of its Golden Age of scientific discovery. The West took that mantle and ran with it. The world's knowledge and technology have advanced at rocket pace ever since.

The good that has come from Western culture and the spread of European influence should not be ignored. If we fail to appreciate it, we stand a significant risk of losing all of the gains we have made. The Left, whose ideas are anathema to many of the cultures they so adore, would be the first to fall under a non-Western regime. Do they realize this? It seems hard to believe that they don't, but they don't seem to care either. Western culture, or "the white man" as bigots would label it, has been a boon to the world, even though the process by which it occurred has admittedly been a messy one. Nevertheless, the world will be much worse off if the tenets of our culture are lost, replaced by the intolerant cultures we are ironically expected to tolerate in our midst.

The lunacy of the Left never ceases to amaze me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is Ted Cruz a natural born citizen?

Well, The Donald is now attacking Ted Cruz's qualifications as a candidate. While this is an understandable tactic, its effectiveness will depend upon the ignorance level of Republican voters concerning the U.S. Constitution. In other words, it is likely to fall flat.

The "birther" argument was invalid against Barack Obama because his mother was a U.S. citizen and his father had resided in the United States, making him a natural born citizen no matter in what nation he was born. The definition of "natural born" is simply that one is a citizen from birth without the necessity of undergoing a naturalization process. Whether Barack Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia (which he wasn't) or Ted Cruz was born in Canada (which he was), neither makes a difference to a candidate's qualification. Even the Harvard Law Review has weighed in on the issue, interestingly enough well before The Donald began making an issue of it.

This is one of the few instances in which I will lean on Harvard for an authoritative opinion, however the logic used in this article is solid and irrefutable. If you have any doubts about Ted Cruz's eligibility, you must read this. (Link here.)

While I still favor Ben Carson, Ted Cruz is running at a solid second place in my book. The Donald has name recognition and a brash confidence that is indeed attractive, but he's all over the place as far as policy is concerned. A Carson/Cruz or Cruz/Carson ticket would be a dream come true. Let's cross our fingers.

If you disagree with me, either about The Donald or about what a "natural born citizen" really is, feel free to leave a comment/rant/barrage of insults below. Just make sure to read the article I linked to earlier so you have a complete understanding of the issue. And don't misunderstand--Donald Trump is a patriot who loves the country, but that isn't the only quality required to be a great president. Tact is also essential, and it's a quality that The Donald just doesn't have.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ben Carson: My Impressions from a Live Event

I decided to attend the Ben Carson rally at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana last night. I would be remiss if I didn't write about it; the event was very different from what you see on television. The clips don't do it justice, and the sense of overall perspective you get from a live event is much more comprehensive.

Dr. Carson spent the night pacing and thinking aloud. That's the best description I can give of it. There was no teleprompter. There was a podium, but he never stood behind it. He paced across the stage the entire time he was talking to the audience, much as I do when thinking to myself. He didn't yell or spout talking points. He had only one take-away line: "If I was an Islamic terrorist and I didn't infiltrate the Syrian refugees, I'd be guilty of terrorist malpractice!" (Quoted as closely as I an recall.)

But that's not who Dr. Carson is. He's not a media-savvy public personality like Trump who knows exactly what to say to get attention. He's not a career politician who is well-practiced at delivering a barn-burner from the stump. I highly doubt he even uses a speechwriter. What he does very well, however, is think.

Most of his thoughts were hard to refute. I particularly liked the idea of giving corporations that relocate to the U.S. a six-month waiver from taxation. We weren't getting any tax revenue from them overseas anyway, so what would we be losing? That type of logic made perfect sense to me. If anything, we'd be increasing revenue from the income tax paid by employees.

There was one idea of his that seemed a bit unworkable (making colleges pay for the interest on student loans as an incentive to lower tuition rates), but to hear a candidate make sense 98% of the time is amazing. I'll trust that the other 2% will be addressed as he delves deeper into how to implement things. I still see Dr. Ben Carson as the best candidate running this election season, with Ted Cruz coming in a close second. A victory by either candidate would mean great things for America.

I was impressed last night by the cogency of Ben Carson as he addressed the crowd last night. He made the point forcefully and repeatedly that we need not fall into the trap of limiting ourselves to one of two choices when it comes to the issues affecting us. There is always another way to solve a problem if we are willing to think about things enough. Again, this type of calm rationality is not something we would get out of a career politician. However, it is exactly what we need.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Do video games turn today's youth into quitters?

I am 42 years old, so I'm entitled to the occasional fit of "good old days" ranting. To me, the 1980's were halcyon days. Sure, we had no cell phones, no Internet, and no disc-based gaming. Video games were, at best, cartoonish or badly-pixellated renderings of objects and people that you interacted with on a 2D plane. You tended to see a bit of interference in the background of your TV set from other channels as you played on channel 3. Still, the games were fun back then. Plus, you actually had to have some skill to play them.

You were constantly challenged by the games you played. All games were in essence a form of competition. You were out to beat your last high score, or even better, your friends' high scores. There were levels, but most games had no end to them; they just looped around, at least until Super Mario Bros. changed that paradigm. Even then, you had to beat the game using only a set number of lives and continues.

You tried and failed and tried again and again, or you realized that you had wasted $50, which in that time was a small fortune to a kid. So you sat Indian-style on the living room floor for hours struggling through Bionic Commando... 
Continue reading.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Putin Envy

Vladimir Putin may be many things, but the man is not a wimp. This is a guy with whom George W. Bush famously had a wrestling match. He's a guy who actually blows ISIS installations sky-high. He's a guy who actively pursues territorial ambitions. He's straightforward and unapologetic.

Meanwhile, we've had Barack Obama, who has none of the positive qualities of Putin. Granted, Putin is a dictator who represses freedom of expression. Then again, the same could be said of President Obama. After all, he has infamously decreed that he will pursue his agenda whether Congress passes it or not. Very undemocratic for a Democrat, I must say.

 Republicans, meanwhile, are split between to candidates with very distinct personal styles. On one hand we have Ben Carson, a genius who is soft-spoken but direct and unapologetic in his views, much in the vein of Ronald Reagan. He is the literal incarnation of "Speak softly but carry a big stick." His domestic agenda would reshape the economy in a profound way, not radically but more in a reactionary fashion. Taxes would be set at a flat 10% for all Americans, a tithe. Obamacare would be repealed in favor of an HSA-based model that puts more purchasing power in the hands of health care consumers. Marriage would be restored to its historic definition as a union between a man and a woman. Internationally he would defend America's interests in an unapologetic manner.

Donald Trump is just the opposite. He is loud and brash and often sticks his foot in his mouth. He rarely if ever apologizes for these gaffes, however, choosing instead to attack anyone who points them out. His domestic agenda is conservative with regard to foreign policy, but on other fronts he can seem somewhat liberal at times. His tax plan is to raise the percentage of taxes the middle class and moderately wealthy pay and to reduce or remove taxes from both the lower class and the ├╝ber-rich. He would surely defend American interests abroad, but might also alienate key allies by attacking them unnecessarily. The traits that most attract people to him can also make him appear unpresidential.

We want a Putin, someone who is an unapologetic nationalist. We want someone who will boldly defend our interests at home and abroad. That is why Trump's candidacy has some real clout; whether his domestic policy is sound or not, there is no doubt that the man loves America and will do his best to promote our interests. With Russia's economy in the toilet, Russians still love Putin for the same reason--he's a proud Russian, whether or not his domestic policies are working.

Personally, I favor Ben Carson. My only fear is the "Romney factor," that perhaps the man is too soft-spoken and nice to debate as forcefully as necessary to win. Trump will go for the jugular, not afraid of the personal attack. I'm hoping Carson will be just as forceful in his quiet-yet-powerful way. Trump is clever. Carson is wise. The question is, can a wise man win the presidency? I guess we'll find out.