30 December 2012

The Nekkid Truth as America Approaches the Fiscal Cliff

As politicians on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue perform the strip tease regarding the avoiding Fiscal Cliff, it is worth stepping back to chuckle and simultaneously smirk at what brought us here.

In late November, "nekkid" protesters who could have been typecast out of the Occupy Wall Street sit-ins, albeit better bathed and sans clothes, decided to demonstrate in Speaker John Boehner's office regarding cuts from the sequestration


 

When commenting on the Capitol Hill streaking spectacle, former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) quipped at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon about the difference between being "naked" and "nekkid".  Obviously from the messages on their backs, they were up to something.

During his successful 2008 Presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised to double spending on world AIDS prevention from its FY 2009 level of just over $20 billion to $50 billion.  In FY 2009, the last year the Democrats in the Senate deigned  to do their duty and pass a budget, AIDS funding increased to $25 billion.  Since both President Obama's subsequent budgets failed to get a single vote and Senate Democrats did not approve a budget, AIDS spending went from $23 billion to close to $24 billion.  Yet the nekkid "happening" was at Speaker Boehner's office allegedly to protest a 10% across the board spending cut.

Out on the 2012 campaign trail, President Obama urged raising taxes on the top 2% of taxpayers (who currently pay 45% of all taxes) from the Bush tax tables which was supposed to raise $800 billion over time.   But the nekkid truth is that once Mr. Obama was re-elected, his naked ambition was to double revenues to $1.6 trillion, along with another stimulus package, the ability for the Executive Branch to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling and without any spending cuts in the first eight years of the ten year plan.

Republican have been desperate not to take the blame for going off the Fiscal Cliff and have further draconian cuts to an already emaciated armed forces along with resuming Clinton era tax rates with Obama era federal spending.   Prior to Christmas, Speaker Boehner was even willing to adopt Rep. Nancy Pelosi's proposal of raising taxes on true millionaires (not those making $250,000), but "Plan B" was summarily rejected by Democrats and more importantly by the important tea party elements of the GOP caucus, who were not anxious to take the blame for willingly raising taxes.



Typical of his governing style, President Obama had a hands off approach to budget negotiations when he went on his Hawaiian holiday.  When the President showily returned to the District of Calamity for budget talks, he gathered politicos for a photo op, offered nothing new and dictated how Congress should legislate by demanding an up and down vote, which might not even carry the upper chambers majority caucus.

Speaker Boehner called back House Members on Sunday afternoon in case there was a legislative compromise.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have tried to craft a last minute compromise.  It would not be surprising if the proverbial can gets kicked another month down the road.

But the naked truth is  that Americans (even the top 2%) are not undertaxed, but that the federal government is spending too much. Unless politicians on Capitol Hill and the White House make real spending reductions, the US will not just go over the fiscal cliff but we will go into the abyss which would drive a world-wide depression, significant currency devaluation, inflation and devastating cuts in an already weakened military still on a war footing and no money  for discretionary programs like world AIDS funding et cetera.



So expect lawmakers to realize that they are "nekkid" and find a fig leaf.  The problem is that such a fig leaf of a plan essentially covers nothing and may get everyone banished from the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Is that what we really want or what we voted for in November?

12 December 2012

Book Review: The KinderGarden of Eden by Evan Sayet



Evan Sayet wrote an extended essay entitled The KinderGarden of Eden– How the Modern Liberal Thinks And Why He’s Convinced That Ignorance Is Bliss (2012).  This serious pensee of political philosophy was written by a stand up comedian originally championed by David Letterman and who cut his teeth in Hollywood by contributing to the successful Arsenio Hall Show and Politically Incorrect. Despite his comedic credentials, Sayet can be a serious political thinker.

Sayet based the book on his speech before the Heritage Foundation in 2007. The late Andrew Breitbart considered  "Regurgitating the Apple: How The Modern Liberal 'Thinks’” to be “[o]ne of the five greatest conservative speeches ever given.”




 Since then, Sayet’s speech is a viral video which has received over 700,000 hits, which is quite remarkable for a 43 minute talk on political philosophy.

Evan Sayet 
Sayet labels himself a 9-13 Republican, as the self described New York Jew was appalled that liberals embraced the concept that America “deserved” to be attacked on 9-11.  This prompted Sayet to recognize that: “[L]iberals- were not only taking the side of evil, but they were often making the most objectively false and evil anti-American arguments in order to do so.”  Sayet concluded that the Modern Liberalisms blueprint for Utopia is to totally regress humanity to Adam and Eve.  Since progressives would shudder at such a non-secular metaphor, they would want everything to be like a five-year-old in a garden paradise–hence The KinderGarden of Eden.


The KinderGarden of Eden is  careful not to condemn liberals with a broad brush. In fact, Sayet points out that a classical liberal would be alienated from the Modern Liberal.   President John F. Kennedy who espoused “Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.” is in sharp contrast to the Modern Liberals inclination to be a Citizen of the World who expects the country to do everything for you.

Sayet’s Unified Field of Liberalism theory posits that Modern Liberals believe that it is imperative to totally reject the intellectual process.  However Modern Liberals’ indiscriminateness leads to the lesser over the better, the wrong over the right, and good over evil.  Sayet posits that Modern Liberal policies occur in tandem so each effort on behalf of the lesser is met with an opposite campaign against the better.  Lastly, there is a Wonderland effect where Modern Liberal will ascribe to the better the negative qualities associated with the lesser and vice-versa.

Sayet wrote a wonderful succinct summary of how we intellectually got to where we are.  Sayet showed how thinkers until the Enlightenment esteemed both science and the extra-scientific (such as morality, love, beauty, justice and mercy).  The Enlightenment rejected any qualities that could not be quantified. This impetus for emperical authority  lead to Rousseau’s push-back which sought to replace science with innate passions.  Sayet claims that Dawinian extension of the “survival of the fittest” was epitomized in the Holocaust, which led Modern Liberalism to reject both God and science.  So Sayet contends that the Modern Liberal prize indiscriminateness, which presumably is reflected in deconstructionism and amorality.

Sayet is forthright with his readers that The KinderGarden of Eden is a work in progress which he intended to publish next year.  However, Sayet was convinced to publish volume one now just after the 2012 election so that his work was it is considered a timely pensee on political philosophy rather than as a political polemic.

I look forward to reading Sayet’s extended exposition as the ideas in  The KinderGarden of Eden were influential but not always quotable in this extended essay.

08 December 2012

Immaculate Conception Metanoia




Although both the Eastern and Western Churches have ascribed to the sinless conception of Mary the Mother of God, it dogmatically proclaimed as the Immaculate Conception until the 1854 ex cathedra papal bull  Ineffabilus Deus by Pope Pius IX.

Due to unclear contemporary catechisis, a minimization of Mariology and its place on the liturgical calendar near the start of Advent, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception can be mistaken as the sinless conception of Jesus rather than His mother Mary.  As a child of Vatican II, I struggle with mystagogical necessity of the Immaculate Conception--how can our sinless savior be born from a Mother with sin? Nevertheless, I accept it as a mystery of faith which I may not wholly appreciate but that I believe.

Perhaps a better way to understand the Immaculate Conception is through an Eastern approach.  On December 9th, Orthodox Christian Churches celebrate the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokis by St. Anne.  Celebrating St. Anne should have significance to the City of Detroit, which the Vatican named as its patroness in 2011.

 One of the common synonyms for Mary the Mother of God is as Theotokis or god-bearer.  To me, that semantical construction  god-bearer calls to mind the Ark of the Covenant from the Book of Exodus, where God dwelled among His people. This is rich with symbolic significance and points to our Savior.

Typically we think of the Immaculate Conception as Mary, the Mother of God, being born without sin (the unblemished Tabernacle for the Incarnation).  That being said, it seems more useful to consider Mary as being full of the Holy Spirit.  So rather than focusing on herself, she could magnify the Lord through her son Jesus Christ.

So to celebrate the Conception of the Theotokis by St. Anne and its consequence, we can reflect upon portions of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy as scored by Arvo Part.





Rejoice, O virgin Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessedart thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, forthou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.


06 December 2012

Book Review-- APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur



PE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book (2012,  Nononina Press, 314 pages)  by Gary Kawasaki and Shawn Welch is breezy book which details the trials and tribulations of publishing a book.  Kawasaki’s  experience writing eleven previous books, which have included   entrepreneurial, motivational,  and technical topics, combined with his colloquial writing style helps make makes this  complex publishing system understandable without resorting to the trite  “For Dummies” approach.

Guy Kawasaki
Kawasaki’s inspiration for writing APE stems from his difficulty even as an established author to get 500 promotional e-books authorized while working through a traditional publisher and the I-Tunes store.  Friends suggested that Kawasaki investigate the advantages of self-publishing.  Alas, self-publishing is not as easy as just cranking out a manuscript, uploading it to an on-line seller and raking in the profits. Although the media buzz is that dead tree editions are history, but e-books only account for 10% of publishers sales.  So a prospective author should not totally discount the importance of getting a book printed.

Kawasaki’s quick survey of the history of publishing shows how computers and the internet have the potential for democratizing the dissemination of publication.  But APE is not simply a fanfare for the common man penning a tome.   The authors (though it seemed like just Kawaski’s narrative voice throughout the book) point out the pain and pitfalls of preparing a manuscript for publication.  But APE offers concrete suggestions on how to embrace the roles as author, publisher and entrepreneur to get their work onto readers’ bookshelves (or e-readers).

Kawasaki is an enthusiastic proponent of what he terms artisanal publishing (self-publishing).  Artisanal publishing requires greater involvement by the creator of the book but also allows for more control and greater profit potential (albeit without the traditional publishing “Advance Fee”).  It was surprising to  learn that 150 years ago Walt Whitman self published  Leaves of Grass.  Kawasaki  gives a balanced view of the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing and the brave “new” world of artisanal publishing which leverages the internet and just-in-time manufacturing techniques to a self publisher’s advantage.

APE is good about not favoring one source or platform.  The book strives to give balanced appraisals of both electronic publishers and author-service companies producing hard copies. By citing concrete examples, Kawasaki points out that decisions on how to publish are dependant on market, content, and how much entrepreneurial involvement an author desires.



I became acquainted with Guy Kawasaki through his prolific posting on the Google + platform.  APE shows how Kawasaki puts aspects of guerilla marketing of his works and social media publicity into action.

Do not mistake  APE as being  a pollyannish paean to artisanal publishing.  Kawasaki forthrightly shared details regarding self-publishing experience with his prior book.  Six months of self publishing sales of What the Plus!: Google + for the Rest of Us  were quickly eclipsed by a  smart, concentrated media blitz from  a traditional publisher for a trade book edition.

APE is an eminently readable technical manual on publishing with lots of white space. I was able to read it in one sitting (although I skimmed the audio book and foreign publishing section).  As a lover of aphorisms, I appreciated the pithy quotes at the start of each chapter as well as punctuating the prose. As an e-book enthusiast, I appreciated the hyperlinks in the PDF edition, though this version did not display well on my Kindle 2.

There were a few aspects of APE which I did not like.  Some of the information struck me as cut and paste filler, such as  the CIA’s listing of the top 25 most populous countries. While the tips on Google + were relevant, they seemed cribbed directly from Kawasaki’s prior book.    Some of the asides written in the book sound as if it was taken from dictation (e.g. Walkerville Publishings proximity to the second best baseball team in 2012).   Although I am sure that Kawasaki and Welch put plenty of thought into their title and cover, to me  it can be quickly mistaken as “How to Publish a Book”  APE.

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is an invaluable book for prospective authors who are keen on getting a nuts-and-bolts guide on how to publish a book.

03 December 2012

Palestine Pop Quiz

The United Nations recently voted 138-9 (with 41 abstentions) to elevate "Palestine" with non-member state status. Before delving into the meaning of according observer status it is worth taking a Palestine Pop Quiz.


Perhaps a primer on the disputed territory of the West Bank would be instructive--

Since "Palestine" is comprised of two separate exclaves, the separate areas (Gaza and the West Bank) with separate governments (Gaza's by the terrorist inspired Hamas and the West Bank by Fatah) . So its territory stability is dubious.  And both Gaza and the West Bank use the Israeli Shekel as its currency.


The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

Clearly, Palestine in lacking on several scores.  The permanent populate requirement is interesting since Palestinian leaders frequently demand that their residents become citizens in the state of Israel.  



The territorial item is tricky not just because of the two exclaves.  The signed Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995) proclaims that the Palestinian Legislative Council lacks jurisdiction over  "issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis".  Without control over borders, it should fail the territory test.
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Then there is the capability to enter into relations with other states.  While a couple of countries, like Argentina, Brazil and El Salvador recognize the State of Palestine and comprised of the West Bank. But international obligations contained in the Israeli Palestinian Agreement declare that: 

The [Palestinian Legislative] Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.   [Article 9, paragaph 5].

Moreover, Article 4 of the United Nations Charter mandates that "Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states".  How does that work with Palestinians who have routinely rejected a two state solution, engage in terrorism and vow to push Jews in Israel into the sea?

So if agreements and law mattered to the United Nations, Palestine should not qualify for non-member state status.

Some sophisticates like John Batchelor claim that the U.N. non-member state status is the equivalent of a Junior Membership in a Country Club.  Non-Member states do not have a vote in the U.N. General Assembly but can raise resolutions by itself and participate in international organizations.

Palestinians conflated this U.N. vote as international legitimization of its state status, albeit in unofficial status.  But the real reason for this move may have been Palestinian participation in international organizations.  Expect "Palestine" to accuse Israel of genicide, despite the terrible tactics which Palestinians use in their indiscriminate missile attacks on Israeli civilians.  Then there was the UNESCO proclamation that the Jewish Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank are actually Muslim holy sites.

The Israelis can rightly conclude that any agreements with Palestinians are worth the paper that they are printed on, as the international community will conveniently ignore limitations when it so chooses.  Moreover, it confirms that Palestinians have no interest in negotiated peace and seek to wipe Israel off the map.

Congress has passed a law which forbids funding any agency that gives full recognition to Palestinian statehood.  But knowing the way Attorney General Holder operates as well as the feckless foreign policy of the Obama Administration, adhering to the law is about as assured as the UN observing the Montevideo Convention.

h/t: DryBones
      Snapshops a Camera



01 December 2012

Fiscal Cliff Notes



In one month, unless Congress and the President can agree upon a solution, sequestration will occur which will automatically make an across the board 10% budgetary reduction. In the District of Calamity, this willy-nilly cost cutting is know as going  over the fiscal cliff.


As most Americans are in the Christmas preparation rush and President Obama is set to rush off to a 20 day $4 million holiday in Christmas Vacation in Hawaii, it does not seem that the calamitous effects if the Lame Duck Congress is unable to craft a compromise budget are widely understood. So here are some fiscal cliff notes:



 President Obama offered an idea to allegedly avoid the sequestration crisis:


It is worth noting that all of the savings which the White House offers are vague and in the future.  So what do conservatives think of this "plan"?  Think of Charlie Brown trying to placekick the football with a conniving center like Lucy.





Maybe we should not take Mr. Obama's first proffered plan seriously.  Charitably, it might be an opening bid.  Maybe Mr. Obama's pronouncement during the debate the sequestration will not happen alludes to political omnipotence.  More likely, President Obama is posturing and forcing the fiscal cliff is a strategy to blame Republicans either for the resulting taxes or for the wrecked economy when we go over the fiscal cliff.  Then the White House can look "reasonable" by trimming their outrageous opening offer by a third and still blame what Mr. Obama has termed "the enemy".

Well, President Obama's proposal was not taken too seriously on Capitol Hill.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) laughed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner when the White House's "Modest Proposal" was presented last week. McConnell opined that Obama made an outlandish proposal that should not be taken seriously and was a step backwards.  Moreover, the Senate Republican leader proclaimed:  "President Obama can't get everything that he wants. Those days are over."

President Obama played Campaigner-in-Chief by pitching his opening offer at a toy factory near Philadelphia, comparing uncooperative Republicans who were Scrooges and going to give middle class folks lumps of coal in their stockings.  The urging the wealthy to pay "their fair share" class warfare is rich, as there is no way that the top 2% of taxpayers will be able to cover the $166 billion tax hike in 2013.

Some have suggested that Republicans should take President Obama at face value and then vote "present" on his outrageous offer.  Of course, there are not enough Democrat votes to ensure passage in the House, but much like the Obamacare bill, a handful of squish Congressmen can be "bought off". A better tact might be to take Guy Benson's suggestion and pass the Simpson-Bowles bi-partisan deficit reduction plan, which the Obama Administration commissioned and was hailed by an adoring Lamestream Media and then promptly abandoned.  But unless Congress and the President get serious about avoiding the fiscal cliff, it might be Thelma and Louise time.



h/t: A.F. Branco

29 November 2012

Lotto Luck Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff



As American teeters at the edge of the fiscal cliff, and most of the Lamestream Media gave saturation coverage to Powerball mania, it may be instructive to use the lotto fever paradigm to explain the futility of “soaking the rich” via President Obama’s unceasing class warfare campaigning as governing strategy.

As the Heritage Foundation’s graphic illustrates, even confiscating all of the lucky Lotto winners gross (granted government already takes around 50%), this would only fund the Federal Government for 86 MINUTES.  As Representative Tom Price (R-GA 6th) pointed out that President Obama’s plan to increase rates on the wealthiest 2% of Americans would only fund the government for EIGHT DAYS.  John Stossel points out that seizing the income of Americans earning $1 million or more would only garner $616 Billion, which is only 1/3rd of this year’s deficit.

It is worth noting that Mr. Obama’s opening bid to avoid the fiscal cliff was raising taxes by $1.6 Trillion over 10 years with ambiguous ersatz spending cuts made by future legislators.





Unless the IRS dons brown shirts, they probably will not seize all of the assets of the richy rich.  And remember that the Obama Administration considers the rich to be singles making $200,000 or couples making $250,000 a year.  Those upper incomes might be living large in “flyover” country, but in the true politically blue coastal cities like NY, DC, LA or SF, that may be barely getting by as middle class if you are married with children.



Much as it may be satisfying to socialist sympathsizing class warriors who want to excoriate the unconnected high income individuals, it is worth doing a cost benefit analysis.  Great Britain scrapped their 50% tax rates on high income earners when it discovered that it was garnering 2/3rds less than expected with the confiscatory rates.   Newly elected French President Francois  Hollande thinks that he can raise the rates on top Gallic grossers to 75% for just two years to better balance the books.  Alas, French tax evaders can take a 90 minute trip on the Chunnel to avoid those outrageous tax rates.  Soon Californian will see if there is capital flight after voters passed Proposition 30, which raised both taxes on the wealthy and the state sales tax in the midst of a shaky economy.  Will the mobile upper economic crust from the Golden State flee to lower taxing states–Who is John Galt?

While conservatives were disappointed that President Obama achieved re-election, the time for being campaigner-in-chief is over–now is the time to govern.  If President Obama is a leader then he should work with his Congressional counterparts to craft a legislative vehicle to avoid the fiscal cliff.  But if the Obama White House persists in playing puerile politics on Sequestration, then it may be time for Thelma and Louise, albeit without the sensible shoes.




If the American public thinks that by soaking the wealthiest one percent, it will balance the budget, then lotto luck.  If they are able to engage in critical thinking, it would behoove them to determine what is someone’s “fair share”.  Moreover, since the Obama Administration has defined millionaires downward to just $200,000, they should discern how low the label of the wealthy will go when seizing true millionaire’s incomes only funds the government for around just 100 days.  As Ayn Rand observed in Atlas Shrugged: “If you don't know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”

h/t: Heritage.org

28 November 2012

R.I.P. Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)



Zig Ziglar, known as the Master Motivator, died of pneumonia in a hospital in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex at the age of 86.  Ziglar was born in Alabama in 1926 but spent much of his youth in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Ziglar briefly studied at the University of South Carolina.  But Ziglar chose a career in sales rather than studying and started out selling pots and pans.  He went on to successfully sell for various companies. But as Ziglar improved his pitch and sales increased, he developed a basic philosophy which impacted his personal and professional career for more than half a century.

The Ziglar Way considers action, common sense, fairness, commitment and integrity to be the basis of living well.  Ziglar believed that if you lived by this powers of positive thinking philosophy, you would live a balanced life while achieving significance at work and home.



In the early 1970s, Ziglar began his career as a motivational speaker and corporate trainer.  Along with being a headliner on the speaking circuit, Ziglar  authored 29 books, including 10 best sellers on topics like sales, leadership, personal growth and faith.  His "One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar" is an inspiring daily devotional. His self help classic “See You At The Top” (originally titled "Biscuits, Fleas and Pump Handles") still generates strong sales thirty years after originally being published.

Though he was known as the World’s Greatest Salesman and a Master Motivator, Ziglar was not all business.  The Ziglar Way reflected his fervent evangelical Christian beliefs and much of Ziglar’s work had subtle evangelization without sounding too preachy.

Ziglar continued to be a feature on the speaker circuit through 2010, despite a tumble down the stairs in 2007 which impacted his short term memory.  When Ziglar appearing in Washington, DC in October 2010, he was joined by his daughter who guided him through his presentation.  Ziglar persiverated on “winning the home court” and did not realize that he had thoroughly covered that point a couple of times before.  Still, the then 84 year old speaker was inspiring and offered earnest down home advice.


Zig Ziglar, Verizon Center Washington, DC October 2010 (photo: Gail Broeckel)

Ziglar’s Facebook page proclaims:


Though his time on earth has ended, he is speaking with Jesus now in his heavenly home... The angels in heaven are rejoicing and his family is celebrating a life well lived.

A fitting tribute for an American Icon.  But as Zig Ziglar would put it:

"This is not the end of your story...Turn the page and start a new chapter."

10 November 2012

Commemorating the Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps Founding



The United States Marine Corps was created on November 10th, 1775 to guard vessels during the American Revolutionary War.  Since then, the Marine Corps responsibilities have expanded as in integral component of American military forces working with the Navy to rapidly deploy combined armed task forces.  While the U.S. Marine Corps is the smallest of the nation’s combat forces, it is the largest Marine Corps in the world and is often the first forces sent out.

The Marine Corps has served in every American armed conflict.  During World War II, when amphibious warfare was at the forefront of combat operations, the Marines as its ability to rapidly respond to expeditionary crises was quintessential to victory in the Pacific. That is why the unofficial Marine Corps memorial Between-the-Beltways near Arlington National Cemetery depicts marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.

Sunset Ceremony at Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia

More recently, the Marines were deployed in essentially landlocked nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.   Marines spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq and served bravely in the battles in Fallujah.

Marines attach great tradition to celebrating their founding.  A ceremonial cake is presented where the oldest Marine cuts the culinary creation with his sword and then feeds the youngest Marine present. Often this is done in dress uniforms and high ceremony.  But this video from the 2011 ceremony at Camp Leatherneck,  Afghanistan poignantly captures that same spirit in the fields of combat.




As Congress explored the effects of the automatic cross the board 9.4% cuts due to the impending Sequestration, the Marine Corps Assistant Commandant General Joseph F. Dunlop Jr testified that Sequestration would have “a chaotic effect on the force during a time of extraordinary challenges to our nation..”  Dunlap expressed pride that the nation’s Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airman have done everything asked of them over the last ten years.  However, Dunlap is worried that the willy nilly cuts from sequestration would “loose the trust and confidence of the all-volunteer force that we have worked so hard to build.”

Marine Commandant General James Amos is concerned how the across the board budget cuts from Sequestration will hit the Marine Corps.  The plan is to reduce the size of the Corps from 202,000 to 182,000.  Since Amos suspects that further force reduction will not be permitted, the cuts will come out of procurement, which may sacrifice the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and would cripple the Marine Corps ability to respond to multiple crises at once.

Despite these impending dangers from the District of Calamity (sic), let us say “Oorah” to the U.S. M.C.  for serving our nation well.  Semper Fi!


06 November 2012

Electoral Adjustments

As the election results roll in, it appears that it is not a clear cut decision by the American people.  In the Presidential Race, several battleground states are razor thin margins, with Ohio again being the lynchpin for the decision.  Democrats seem poised to increase their numbers in the Senate, yet Republicans may increase their majority in the House of Representatives.  That is a very mixed bag.

There is the distinct possibility that the losing candidate in the Presidential race wins more of the popular vote.  When this occurred after the election in the year 2000, Democrats clamored to eliminate the Electoral College and change the system to elect our Chief Executive by national popular vote.  This is anathematic to a representative Republic, even if Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) wins more overall votes.

A second adjustment from this election is reconsidering the accuracy of polling.  To me, much of the popular polling seemed dubious as it tended to present President Obama holding a slight lead at 48% presuming a D +8 model.  This seemed to be oversampling the liberal electorate and presumed Democrat voter turnout to be at 2008 levels.  I was more impressed by models championed by Michael Barone and Scott Rassmuessen which presumed a D +3 lead which would have put Romney narrowly in the lead.  Further analysis will be necessary when the complete election numbers are in, but it is possible that the elite liberal media skewed the polling but not enough for Obama 2012.

A third adjustment stemming from the election is acknowledging the continued strength of the Lamestream Media.  Traditional media outlets like most newspapers and the nightly news have had declining circulation.  Add to that the power of talk radio, the internet and social media, it seemed like the Lamestream Media was in decline.  The Tea Party Tsunami of 2010 seemed like an example of means to bypass the elite liberal media’s filter (or blackout) of serious issues which adversely impact liberals (e.g. Benghazi).    These election results show the resilience of these mass media.

The Obama campaign spent hundreds of millions of dollars in early advertising in swing states to poison the well for Romney.  This paid media strategy seemed like a waste after Romney’s spectacular first debate performance.  Clearly the paid media ad hominem attacks seemed to have stuck and depressed support for Romney.

Another aspect that needs to be considered from the 2012 election results is on political identification.  Offhand, about 40% of the electorate self identifies as being Conservatives, 20% as liberals and the rest as independents or moderates.   Prior to the election, independents significantly swung towards Romney.  But if the GOP nominee loses in the end, this did not hold sway in the end. This posits the possibility that moderates are liberals who do not have the constitutional fortitude to accept the label.  Another reasonable interpretation may be that many moderates are actually functional libertarians, those who have liberal social inclinations but who also hold financially prudent proclivities but who leaned more heavily on social issues this cycle.

A fourth agonizing re-appraisal coming from the mixed bag election is on Republican messaging and the health of the GOP.  Despite one outburst of “Seriously Conservative” irrational exuberance, Mitt was a Massachusetts moderate.  Instead of hitting the incumbent hard on the Benghazi bungle in the foreign policy debate, or underlining the difficulties of Obamacare, Romney tried to be statesmen-like and declined to fight hard on the issues.  Initially, conservatives were reluctant to embrace Romney in the primaries but by the end of the race seemed to heartily support Romney.  If the GOP nominee loses, this might instruct Conservatives to reject cautious campaigning favored by the Establishment as the mushy middle model failed again in a Presidential race.

If the Republicans in the Cocktail Party persist in not risking anything by moderating of issues to appeal to the middle, Tea Party types might bolt the Republican Party making it a rump.  If it proves that there is a significant portion of independents who are functional libertarians, fiscal conservatives might throw their lot into a new political venture.   Tea Party elements have been moderately successful in infiltrating the Republican base and concentrate on fully taking over the GOP rather then cast their lots on a third party folly which does not have the built in advantages of the two party system.

A final re-adjustment coming from the election is dealing with the consequences of this mixed bag election.  Exit polling indicates that most voters believe that the economy is the biggest issue but the people re-elected President Obama.  Obama’s manta has been that the rich need to pay “their fair share”.  Conventional economics in a capitalistic society does not indicate that eating the rich leads to sustained economic growth.  With a national deficit of $16 trillion (or adding $5 trillion in less than four years of the First Obama Administration), expect currency devaluation and significant inflation in economic stagnation (a.k.a. Greece).  The Senate has not deigned to pass a budget in over three years and with the lower chamber still in Republican hands, this budgetary tension will not be easily resolved. But to echo MSNBC host Al Sharpton “Resolve we much”.

President Obama managed to get re-elected with a higher unemployment than when he initially took office, losing support in his overall popularity and winning a second term with fewer electoral votes. President Obama may have to adjust after re-election to blaming the incumbent rather than former President George W. Bush for his woes.  Americans will also have to adjust after the election to a Chief Executive who no longer needs to worry about pleasing people for re-election.

28 October 2012

Liberal GOTV–Celebutard Stip Teases and Like a Virgin Appeals

Madonna shows off her pro-Obama temporary tattoo in Washington, DC [photo: Splash News]

When contemplating Madonna’s almost thirty year pop music career, esteemed music critic Robert M. Grant, has observed that Madonna’s success: "certainly not [from] outstanding natural talent. As a vocalist, musician, dancer, songwriter, or actress, Madonna's talents seem modest." But the Material Girl is adept at exploiting the talents of others to further her career.  This is quite evident in Madonna’s current MDNA tour where she has generated publicity by pushing outrageous antics supposedly inspired by others.

When Madonna recently played the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the 54 year old singer did a strip tease supposedly in support of Malala Yousafzai, the courageous young Pakistani girl who was brutally attacked for pursuing her education.  While it was wonderful to make the critically injured Pashtun teen into a cause celebre, it is dubious as to whether a strip tease with a Malala tattoo on the singer’s back was honoring or exploiting Ms. Yousafzai.

During her tour visit to the District of Calamity (sic) in September, Madonna made offered some interesting opinions in support of  President Obama.  Of course, the “Girl” Gone Wild had a temporary tramp stamp proclaiming Obama on her lower back.



When Madonna observed  “For better or for worse, we have a black Muslim in the White House...That’s some amazing sh*t”, maybe she was still dizzy from her dance number.

New Orleans was not as fertile ground for Madonna’s pro-Obama shock shtick.  When Madonna launched into her de rigeur political rant for this tour, it was anticipated and had more than a mixed reception.


 Madonna polled the crowd “'Who's registered to vote?'... I don't care who you vote for as long as you vote for Obama.  That was greeted with a chorus of boos from the crowd at the New Orleans Arena.  Taking that cue, Madonna retorted: “Seriously, I don't care who you vote for ... Do not take this privilege for granted. Go vote..”  Some supporter of Obama she is, but then again Madonna usually casts off some supporters as she works the stage.  The Daily Mail (UK) reported that some walked out after Madonna’s political rant.  Considering the price of tickets for the show, it is dubious that they were rushing to the ballot box.

It is interesting that liberal supporters of President Barack Obama engage in Get Out the Vote efforts based in outrageous sexuality.  While it may be impossible to shut celebutards up while on tour, it was an official Obama campaign to pair up with Lena Dunham, the star of HBO’s Girls, in the “First Time” appeal which insinuating losing one’s virginity with having your first time (voting) with Barack Obama.

With the way the end of the campaign is going, those gathered in McCormick Center in Chicago may have to hum “Like a Prayer.”

h/t: Splash News
h/t: Daily Mail

27 October 2012

Prepubescent Zombie Agiprop Allegedly for Obama


The Goodly, Silverstein and Partners ad agency from San Francisco has launched and campaign "The Future Children Project" to re-elect President Barack Obama. The public relations positioning claims: Re-electing President Obama is a momentous decision that will require every single voter. What would the children of the future say if we let them down this November? 

 Considering the aforementioned objective, one wonders why Goodly, Silverstein & Partners would release a starkly filmed, ├ępater la bourgeoisie ad out of the mouths of babes at this time.

   

 The lyrics of this somber song sung by kids are both trite and trying:

Imagine an America Where strip mines are fun and free Where gays can be fixed And sick people just die And oil fills the sea.
                    We don’t have to pay for freeways! 
                    Our schools are good enough
                    Give us endless wars
                    On foreign shores
                    And lots of Chinese stuff.


         We're the children of the future.
American through and through.But something happened to our country.And we're kinda blaming you. 
We haven’t killed all the polar bears But it’s not for lack of trying Big Bird is sacked The Earth is cracked And the atmosphere is frying
Congress went home early They did their best we know You can’t cut spending With elections pending Unless it’s welfare dough.
We’re the children of the future American through and through But something happened to our country And we’re kinda blaming you.
Find a park that is still open And take a breath of poison air They foreclosed your place To build a weapon in space But you can write off your au pair.
It’s a little awkward to tell you But you left us holding the bag When we look around The place is all dumbed down And the long term’s kind of a drag.
We’re the children of the future American through and through But something happened to our country And yeah, we’re blaming you.
You did your best You failed the test.
Mom and Dad We’re blaming you!
However the delivery is zombie-like. When the lyrics mention "au pairs" and "foreclosures", it gives an impression that the innocent singers were given agiprop to mouth.  It reminds observers of the shameless way that socialist dictatorships shamelessly exploit children to sell their workers paradise. Moreover, it calls to mind many instances during the Obama reign when youths are mobilized by teachers to spout Obamaisms. 



 Some have liked "The Future Children Project" to be the Obama equivalent of President Lyndon Johnson's Daisy ad. 



There are three problems with that interpretation. Firstly, the Daisy ad had shock value in 1964 and President Johnson asked for it be withdrawn. So much so, it only ran once. The Children of the Future seems internet oriented so it reflects the Obama weltanschaaung and can spread virally. 

 Secondly, Johnson's Daisy ad plays off the innocence of a child while juxtaposing it to the horrible possibility of thermonuclear war. The "Children of the Future" inserts invectives about things which have already occurred from clueless kids. It is disgusting to exploit children by putting pernicious phrases in their mouths. But Lena Dunham's recent "First Time" ad for Obama was more shocking and revolting. 

 Thirdly, the Daisy ad ran on September 7th, 1964, which was then the kick off time for campaigning. The Children of the Future is entering the political fray in the last ten days of a campaign, when candidates typically are making their closing arguments. Clearly, it is an attack ad against GOP Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Republicans without highlighting any Obama virtues. 

 Some casual political observers are put off by negative advertising, even though such comparative appeals can be effective in shaping public opinion. But this is the re-election of an incumbent, which is a referendum. In the end, people want to vote for someone. If an incumbent has not made the sale in nearly four years, trying to scare undecided voters with airy-fairy agi-prop does not seem very effective.

 Goodly, Silverstein and Partners is an award winning agency that conceived both the "Got Milk" campaign as well as the Budweiser frogs, so they have strong commercial credits. Why would they embark on this negative campaign now? Perhaps they are true believers who are making a last ditch, last minute effort. Information that is not readily available are the costs associated with the "Future Children Project".

Recently, I heard Democrat pollster Pat Caddell being interviewed by Jay Severin on Blaze Radio  railing against Washington insiders who offer ill advice to campaigns and then pocket the profits. Caddell was indicting Republican strategists, but this might be a similar situation for liberals. The Obama campaign has been obsessed with ad hominem attacks against Romney and negative campaigning rather than running on his own record. By feeding the beast with "The Children of the Future", the client is pleased, the agency attracts attention for an edgy ad and the agency pockets the profits. 

 During the summer, Obama 2012 spent $100 million in negative ads against Mitt Romney. All of those efforts were obviated by Romney's stellar first debate performance. Between the 3.2 million glossy color magazines pitching Obama's alleged second term agenda, the "First Time" ad and the "Children of the Future" ad, others are profiting from the campaign stupidity Obama 2012 other than GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  

25 October 2012

Obama's Puerile Politics Epitomized

Of late, the Obama 2012 campaign has been seizing on puerile political memes.  The killing Big Bird soundbite from the first debate.  When threats of a Million Muppet March proved to have no political legs, the Obama Ad Hominem Express shifted to the “Binders of Women” meme from the townhall debate.  Little good that did, as Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) erased the previous 16% gap with women.

How could the wunderkind braintrust from the Chicago office top this? They did not want to wait for the “horse and bayonets” trope from the third debate to play out.  So they released: “The First Time” with performance artist Lena Dunham waxing poetically about her first time...voting for Barack Obama.




The sad part of this “First Time” campaign is that it isn’t even original.  Barack’s boys copied ads for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  So once again, Obama copies European lefies.



Aside from the unabashedly adolescently vulgar appeal for the youth vote, it is astounding how Obama’s campaign seeks the female vote by consistently degrading women.  The Binders of Women memo probably produced Beavis and Butthead chortles, as if it was President Bill Jefferson Clinton’s little black book.  In reality, the “Binders of Women” referred to outreach that Romney had to qualified female candidates to be part of his gubernatorial administration in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Then there was the Tumblr posting “Vote like your Lady Parts depend on it (because they do)".  It was quickly withdrawn after public hue and cry.  Consider the objectification involved in the “Lady Parts” appeal.   To use the parlance to make a point, I believe that wise women vote with their lady smarts rather than just their lady parts.

Now in its final days, the Obama Campaign comes up with an innuendo ad prompting women to make their first time a good one.

No wonder why the Obamas have been urging everyone to vote early, including your knucklehead friends, per First Lady Michelle Obama.

 The puerile politics displayed in their outreach, as well as the Dear Leader labeling his opponent a bullsh**ter in Rolling Stone are signs of serious presidential campaign imploding.

Slow Political Poison Passively Given at Boca Raton

[L] Gov. Mitt Romney [C] moderator Bob Schieffer  [R] President Barack Obama

This year’s cycle of Presidential debates have all been influential and informative, but in different ways that one would expect.  This is especially true about the slow poison that was passively administered in Boca Raton, Florida.

During the first debate in Denver, unanimous opinion was that Republican Presidential Nominee Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) won a decisive victory against Democrat Nominee President Barack Obama (D-IL).  Focus groups dramatically swung towards the challenger.  It seemed that the distorted image of Romney which the Obama 2012 campaign spent $100 million in early television advertising went to waste compared to many voters first unfiltered view of candidate Romney

After being buoyed by Vice President Joe Biden’s (D-DE) brash performance in the Vice Presidential debate against GOP VP Nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st), it seems that Obama advisors wanted the President to seem less somnolent.  So the Presidential Townhall debate in Richmond was a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em affair. Alas, it seemed like Mr. Romney was fighting tag team against both Mr. Obama and moderator Candy Crowley, as the “moderator” interrupted Romney 28 times and the President only nine times, yet Obama spoke for three additional minutes.


In addition, Crowley chose to violate her agreed upon position as moderator and played real time (and wrong) instant fact checker.   At a key moment, when Mr. Romney pressed Mr. Obama about his Rose Garden statements regarding not calling the action in Libya an act of terrorism, Crowley verbally pushed her way in and insisted that the President had called it an act of terror.




Yet during post debate interviews, the CNN journalist admitted that she was wrong and that Governor Romney was right on the point.

Everyone expected that the Foreign Policy debate in Boca Raton, Florida would concentrate on the Benghazi blunder and candidates trading barbs.  In fact, Boca Raton debate Moderator Bob Schieffer started the candidate forum with a couple of wide open questions about Benghazi seemingly  begging for blood to be drawn.  But Mitt Romney did not take the bait.  In fact, he pretty much deferred that issue.  Later in the forum, Romney expressed support for some of Obama’s foreign policy as he differentiated is own vision to defend democracy and pursue peace through strength.

Many conservatives stomachs churned, suspecting that their standard bearer was blowing it.  But after a few rounds of questioning, it dawned on many right-leaning political observers that Romney’s deferential debate performance was what Bill Sammon would call Strategery .  Saturday Night Live mocked Republican Presidential candidate then Governor George W. Bush (R-TX) for being a bumkin and a Bush who was prone to mispronounce words, despite Ivy League educations.  The “43" Administration used Strategery as an inside joke for meetings, taking the press misestimation of their skills to their advantage.

Foreign policy is the domain of Presidents and not challengers.  So when going toe-to-toe with President Obama, Romney was likely to be diminished by a reply by the President “Well, I was in the situation room” as well as “This deals with classified matters” and “We can not comment on a matter in which we are still investigating.”  None of those potential retorts would do the challenger any good.

The tag team phenomenon of moderator Crowley just so happening to have the Rose Garden transcript and master debater Obama suggesting to Crowley to read the transcript leads some cynics to conclude that it was a convenient set up.  So Bob Schieffer’s begging for blows about Benghazi might have been a trap. Had Romney engaged about Libya, he would have muddied the waters and partisans would claim “He’s playing politics with a tragedy.”   So to use a football analogy, it was wise to play prevent football and punt on such challenges.


Partisan Democrats would declare President Obama the winner no matter what in the third debate. So the surrogates in the spin room were anxious to say that Obama had won on points with all of his jabs.  Perhaps.  But that missed the point of Romney’s strategery.  Although politics is my favorite contact sport, it is not won or lost on the best out of three debate scores.




During the first debate, Romney was iconoclastic, shattering the false image that the Obama campaign had peddled against him during the summer.  At the second debate, Romney demonstrated that he could go toe-to-toe arguing with his opponent.  That is important, as the incumbent was fighting on a level playing field with the challenger, mooting many inherent advantages of incumbency.  For the third debate, Romney’s mission was to not make unforced errors and appear statesman-like.

I likened the debate to a slow political poison given in Boca Raton because Romney’s subtle strategy was not to win the debate but to win votes.  By appearing reasonable and giving credit to good parts of Obama’s foreign policy, he burnished his credentials of being bipartisan and reasonable. By not engaging in pointed attacks while standing for what Dennis Prager would call Americanism as well as echoing President Ronald Reagan’s peace through strength, he appealed to undecided voters (many of whom could be called Reagan Democrats) as well as women who recoil from too much conflict.  And then there was Mr. Obama’s debate demeanor.

President Obama relished taking the fight to Mr. Romney by interrupting him numerous times, using sneering condescension in addressing his opponents issues and demonizing his challenger.  Of course, this is indicative of the Obama 2012 campaign, which has been all about ad hominem attacks rather than presenting a real second term agenda.  The negative message constantly coming from Obama 2012 materials is in marked contrast to the Hopey Changey meme from 2008.  Even if that is the Democrat’s Presidential Re-Election strategy, it is a mistake for Obama to be that messenger, particularly in an event when he is side-by-side to his opponent.  The dirty work is typically left to Vice Presidents, who’s essential qualities typically  include breathing, carrying his home state and doing dirty work on the stump for his boss.

Obama’s punchy performance might have rallied the base (again) but did not expand his supporters. Obamatons, and seemingly the Boca Raton Press Corps, cheered when Mr. Obama hit back on charges that the Obama Administration has been rapidly cutting the US Naval Fleet.  Candidate Obama snarkily retorted about horses and bayonets.



Politically, this was acting stupidly on electoral college politics.  Virginia is a swing state and the Virginia Tidewaters have lots of military voters.  Even if the military votes are waylaid this cycle, there are lots of veterans and military spouses that will still be going to the polls who would neither appreciate dramatically cutting the fleet nor the derisive tone of the reply.

While it can not readily be proven, I believe that Romney’s reticence to get down and dirty during the Boca Raton debate threw Obama’s briefing binder out the window.  It is reasonable to think that Obama was ready to smack down his opponent on nuances of Benghazi and then sell the narrative that Republican Romney was a warmonger. When Romney did not use the anticipated playbook, Obama had to improvise, which deprived him of much (but not all) of his practiced retorts.

Although Romney projected less aggression in Boca Raton, he was not acquiescent to Obama. The Apology Tour jab was a good example.  While Mr. Obama denied that he went on an Apology Tour in 2009 and basically to check the transcript that sorry was the hardest word, the public understood it as such.  This allowed Romney to springboard by noting that we did not dictate to the world but that we freed the world from dictators. This was done in a genteel and not overwrought manner while still scoring points.

 Romney’s strategic passivity and bipartisanship made Romney appear statesman-like and almost the incumbent whereas Obama’s flailing aggression looked desperate and had the vibe of a challenger rather than the incumbent. Focus groups on various networks came to the surprising conclusion that Obama scored on points but Romney tended to win over undecided voters by being a statesman.  Polling coming out after the debate shows some narrowing in the horse race, but the big gap (16%) that Romney had amongst female voters has evaporated.  So much for the War on Women meme.


What would really be instructive is likeability factor.  Even though President Obama’s national overall approval rate hovers at 47% no matter how they tweak the survey sample, Mr. Obama has consistently topped 50% on likeability.   That may be an extension of the Hope and Change phenomenon that sounded nice and people inserted whatever they wanted.  In the last month, the Obama 2012 campaign has capitalized on killing Big Bird attack and the puerile Binders Full of Women gimmick to besmirch Romney.  Most of that snark was by surrogates or on the campaign hustings.

 As the third debate went on, Obama fed upon the bile building up in his antagonistic answers.  So the first part of his “In the Navy” answer sounded like a reasonable (but mistaken point) about horses and bayonets and newer technologies.  But then Obama went further and sarcastically noted: There are these things called aircraft carriers.”  That sort of condescension only sells with the truly convicted.  It impeaches the aura of the good graces of likeability which remained with him from the prior campaign.  The sarcastic “Aircraft Carrier” trope probably made Obama feel pretty good and rang well in his ears but to females watching it made Obama sound petty and petulant.

It is ironic that by Romney not engaging in the muck about Benghazi, it was spoken about more after the debate.  Now that journalists from CBS News and Fox News Channel have the real time communications during the Benghazi attack, the media who chose not to be Obama stenographers can report on the horrific response without denouncing it as a partisan Republican attack.

So by being somewhat passive, classy seeming informed and giving approval to his opponent’s foreign policy successes, Romney seemed bipartisan, statesmanlike and positive while protecting his political position.  This change in tactics causes the real Obama to come out once he ran out of scripted one liners.  So a haughty, petulant and unscripted Obama was on display for voters to see vis-a-vis Romney.

I watched the debate with a bunch of right minded partisans gathered for the Battleground State Talkers Tour event.  Assuredly, the audience would have preferred seeing a pugilistic performance from Romney.  But in my estimation, Romney’s Boca Raton debate performance was a slow poison for his opposition. It was not satisfying for someone who’s favorite contact sport is politics, but I think that is was a successful tactic to take.   In less than two weeks, it should become clear if the “strategery” was successful in electing the 45th President of the United States.

h/t: A.F. Branco
     Gary McCoy