I don’t get Tennessee politics, even though I’ve lived here almost my entire life. I watched the transition from Democrats to Republicans staring in the 1960s, and I’ve seen the state legislature become one of the most right-leaning in the nation.
In fact, Tennessee’s battle against a state income tax is often credited as being a proto Tea Party effort. A GOP governor (Don Sundquist), who ran promising there would be no income tax, tried to conspire with Democrats and GOP squishes to pass one surreptitiously. Marsha Blackburn’s reputation was made as the whistleblower that started the pushback, and eventually the measure was defeated. Despite gloom and doom predictions from the political establishment about how Tennessee was going to sink into the swamp (or something like that – I don’t really remember the details of their dire predictions) Tennessee has done quite well since then economically and fiscally.
So we have a pretty good limited government base here. Yet statewide offices always seem to go to squishes. Our current governor, Bill Haslam, has to be dragged along by the legislature to get anything done to reduce government power. One senator, Bob Corker, was instrumental in Obama’s sellout to Iran, and to my knowledge has never come out foursquare for anything that seriously advanced the cause of limited government.
And then there’s Lamar! (The exclamation point is a remnant of his failed presidential campaign in the 1990s.)
While governor of Tennessee, Alexander did put a few reforms in place that were moving in the right direction. His educational initiatives, requiring teachers to actually have a degree in something besides basket weaving and papier-mâché, were good.
But as Senator, he fancies himself as the wise old man “balancing everyone’s needs, blah, blah”, and has never come close to any serious limited government measures. In fact, when an establishment GOP member is needed to squishify an effort at limited government and halt its progress, Lamar! is often the volunteer.
Today’s example is over repeal of Obamacare. Lamar wants to decide precisely what the replacement will be before the repeal.
Moreover, there is already some intraparty turmoil over the repeal timeline, starting with Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. He’s pressing to have a replacement plan ready before tackling repeal, which could significantly delay things, given that Republicans are far from a consensus on what kind of replacement they want.
The Tennessee Republican has notably began swapping the words “repeal and replace,” used by Republicans for years, to “replace and repeal.”
“There’s an eagerness to address it, so I think there’s no doubt we’ll start immediately to replace and repeal Obamacare, but the president-elect has said that the replacement and the repeal need to be done simultaneously, and that means to me that we need to figure out how to replace it before we repeal it,” he said.
As a Tennessean, I apologize that this squish is risking one of the most important steps the new GOP administration needs to take. Anyone who understand how things get done in DC, as Lamar most assuredly does, knows what this will do. The entire effort will be bogged down as Democrats and their media allies excoriate any Republican who intends to vote for repeal. Every special interest with any connection to healthcare will flood DC with every lobbyist they can hire.
If Lamar gets his way, the possibility of failure of repeal will be used as the lever to get everything the political class and their industry allies want in the replacement bill. It’s unlikely to be significantly better than Obamacare in the end
Now, as I said, Lamar has to know this! He’s not stupid, and he’s been in politics a lifetime. Therefore, he *wants* that feeding frenzy of special interests involved in the repeal. He wants to risk sabotaging repeal to get goodies in the replacement for his donors and buddies, and of course hopefully to get some praise from the New York Times and Washington Post as the “elder statesman bringing sanity to the process, etc. etc.”.
Lamar is hooked into all the big donors for the GOP in Tennessee, and a lot of those are in healthcare. Nashville and surrounding areas is one of the major healthcare business centers in the nation. Of course they want their place at the goodie table. And Lamar is all too happy to give it to them – it’s what he’s done the whole time he’s been in DC.
I hope Trump finds a way to get around this squish and his Senate allies. I have a feeling the Obamacare fight is going to set the tone for a lot of things to come. If the establishment GOP squishes find out they can sabotage any serious efforts at reining in government, that will be the pattern for the next two years at least.
The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For instance:
Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but 13 US states.
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
Zero Hedge sums up both the “Super Tuesday” results and the broader political and policy situation in the US very well:
Negative interest rates. The war on cash. More quantitative easing. Monetary policy described as a “helicopter drop”. An avowed socialist running for President – and competing well. Another candidate under investigation by the FBI for mishandling classified information. A debate that featured a candidate begging for someone to attack him so he could get some air time. One candidate accusing another of stealing from the party and calling another a liar. The closed captioning for most of the debate reading “unintelligible yelling”. An accomplished, serious-minded governor getting drowned out by three buffoons competing to see who can get the biggest guffaws from a crowd that makes the audience at a professional wrestling match look reserved and intellectual.
It’s getting weird and the market is having a tough time figuring out what to take seriously, what to ignore, what to laugh nervously about and what to just laugh at. Are we really about to put up our very own American version of Silvio Berlusconi as the Presidential candidate of a formerly serious political party? Is the other party really having a competitive race with one candidate running on an overtly socialist agenda that is barely distinguishable from his opponent’s? Who doesn’t claim to be a socialist? Are central banks actually considering pushing interest rates more negative after getting basically no positive response from the initial push below the previously sacrosanct zero bound? Has the Federal Reserve actually told banks to prepare for negative interest rates here in the US right after raising rates for the first time in years? Are serious economists actually have a debate about whether it is a good idea to just print up cash and pass it out? Is that really monetary policy? Are governments really talking about banning actual currency, the very money created by that government? Money that depends, oh by the way, solely on people’s trust that the government will stand behind the money they are about to outlaw? Has everyone lost their freaking minds?
My sentiments to a tee. This is probably the most awful domestic political climate I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ve can’t remember having such a horrible “choice” before. And for me, there really isn’t a choice given who is likely to win on either side.
Yes, there’s anger out there on both sides toward the political establishment. They took a great country and have run it into the ditch. Got it and agree with the anger. But what this is boiling down to is the white version of Obama and a crook that makes Nixon look like an altar boy in comparison. The voting public obviously wants some sort of political change but it also seems to be demanding change that will make a bad situation worse.
The pregnant question is “how did we get here?” The Republican party obviously got here by a fairly conventional route – promise them anything to get elected and then, basically, ignore them. The “them” being the GOP faithful. So how did Trump become the answer, unless you’re a low information voter who is content to let a more unstable version of the current resident of the White House call the shots? How can anyone spend anytime researching the guy and come away with a positive feeling about what he’d do if he were in the Oval Office? I’m sorry, but this bombastic political chameleon, who has duped and used people his whole life, will be as large if not a larger disaster than Obama has been.
And as for the crook on the other side, if anyone wants to firmly establish corruption at the highest levels of the country just to say we have a “woman president”, then you deserve to be horsewhipped. Machine politics will survive and become even more pervasive and controlling. Is this what everyone wants? The Democrats are sliding hard left. Sanders is popular because he too has a vast support group that is willfully (or not) ignorant and wants “free” stuff.
For goodness sake this is about what is best for the country, not some ideological check mark. Certainly a woman should be our chief executive at some time. But Clinton? As a whole, those who voted for Obama willfully ignored the glaring and obvious reasons not to elect him to make sure the race check mark was made. And what did it give us? The worst president in my lifetime. Now, it seems, the voting public is going to double down and make him the second worst president in my lifetime regardless of who wins in November.
“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72
That’s where we’re headed. Those that want to see it “all burn down” may be in the middle of seeing just that.
One of the three in the title doesn’t belong there:
I watched, incredulously, as all three contenders in Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate — Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley — refused to say the slaughter was the work of “Muslim” extremists.
Clinton blamed “jihadis.” But despite prodding, she would not speak of the Islamic elephant in the room.
Sanders stood by his earlier claim that climate change, not creatures in suicide vests, presents the biggest threat to this planet because it makes poor people into terrorists by interfering with their crops or something.
At that point, I switched to the Syfy channel to get a bigger dose of reality.
And probably got much more of a dose of reality than the Democratic debate.
Imagine claiming “climate change” was the “biggest threat to the planet” when terrorists are blowing up people in France. Or the simple fact that the climate really hasn’t shown any change in over a decade.
Who are “jihadis” and what religion do they represent, Ms. Clinton?
And who’s two memes, “ISIS is the jayvee” and “other civilized countries don’t have this sort of problem (referring to mass killings), were utterly destroyed? Not to mention watching the French president show what leadership means by hitting ISIS immediately, repeatedly and hard?
Oh, that would be our Commander-in-Chief, the semi-retired and totally disconnected Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, the importation of 10,000 Syrian refugees will continue as planned.
Yup, Syfy would seem to deal in reality much more than our President and the Democrats.
Bjorn Lomborg thinks it is. In today’s Wall Street Journal, he takes exception with the UN’s continued pushing for a “solution” for “climate change”, formerly known as “global warming”. Lomborg thinks that it ignores the real problems out there and this focus on global warming takes money away from them for what is, at best, a marginal problem.
In a world in which malnourishment continues to claim at least 1.4 million children’s lives each year, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 2.6 billion lack clean drinking water and sanitation, this growing emphasis on climate aid is immoral.
For instance, says Lomborg, according to a recent study, if the UN spent .57% ($570 million) of the $100 billion climate-finance goal on mosquito nets to help control malaria, it could reduce malaria deaths by 50% by 2025 and save approximately 300,000 lives.
Instead, the UN is more interested in the world’s largest wealth redistribution scheme. Somehow the scam has rich nations happy to pledge their citizen’s money and poor nations lining up to receive it. How much will actually go toward addressing the real problems Lomborg highlights is anyone’s guess, but if history is to be a guide, not much. There’s a reason the poorer countries are poor and that has much to do with who is in charge.
Anyway, Lomborg points to the obvious, or at least what should be obvious, in terms of this rush to be “green” and what the world (and the UN) could be doing instead:
Providing the world’s most deprived countries with solar panels instead of better health care or education is inexcusable self-indulgence. Green energy sources may be good to keep on a single light or to charge a cellphone. But they are largely useless for tackling the main power challenges for the world’s poor.
According to the World Health Organization, three billion people suffer from the effects of indoor air pollution because they burn wood, coal or dung to cook. These people need access to affordable, reliable electricity today. Yet too often clean alternatives, because they aren’t considered “renewable,” aren’t receiving the funding they deserve.
A 2014 study by the Center for Global Development found that “more than 60 million additional people in poor nations could gain access to electricity if the Overseas Private Investment Corporation”—the U.S. government’s development finance institution—“were allowed to invest in natural gas projects, not just renewables.”
Wow. Electricity. Its been with us for over a century. We all know its benefits. We all know how well its access could help lift those without it out of poverty.
Yet the UN is more interested in chasing the chimera of “global warming” and its unproven science. The reason, of course is power. Money and control equal power. And this scheme with $100 billion changing hands under the auspices of the UN offers undreamed of opportunities for those in the UN to engage in an unprecedented level of graft. There just isn’t the level of opportunity in helping the world’s poor gain electricity.
As you’ve heard many, many times … follow the money.
Thomas Sowell discusses the rash of political charlatans we’ve been plagued by over the recent decades.
He blames them for the condition we’re in, policy-wise. But he puts equal blame on “we the people” for continuing to support them and their policies:
Political charlatans are not the whole story of our social degeneracy on many fronts. “We the people” must accept our own share of the blame because we voted these charlatans into office, and went along with their ever-increasing power over our lives.
When it came to charlatans taking ever larger amounts of our own money to finance ever more big government programs, we stood still like sheep waiting to be sheared. We remained as meek as sheep when they turned schools into places to propagandize our children to grow up accepting more of the same.
All the while we had the power to vote them out. But we couldn’t be bothered to look beyond their magic words. Even now, many are too absorbed in their electronic devices to know or care.
Most voters, it seems to me, are like magpies – distracted by shiny things and never able to see the danger that exists in reality. Sowell uses “the legacy of slavery” as one of his points of discussion. I’m going to add a lengthy quote that pretty succinctly tells the story of how we allowed political charlatans to distract us with a problem that seems to not have existed and used it to gain greater control over our lives while, in fact, making the “problem” worse”
Here again, rhetoric distracts attention from questions about logic or evidence. The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just a convenient excuse for bad behavior, it allows politicians to escape responsibility for the consequences of the government policies they imposed.
Although the left likes to argue as if there was a stagnant world to which they added the magic ingredient of “change” in the 1960s, in reality there were many positive trends in the 1950s, which reversed and became negative trends in the 1960s.
Not only was the poverty rate going down, so was the rate of dependence on government to stay out of poverty. Teenage pregnancy rates were falling, and so were rates of venereal diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. Homicide rates among non-white males fell 22 percent in the 1950s.
In the wake of the massive expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s “war on poverty” program — with the repeatedly announced goal of enabling people to become self-supporting and end their dependence on government — in fact dependence on government increased and is today far higher than when the 1960s began.
The declining rates of teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases in the 1950s both reversed and rose sharply in the wake of the 1960s “sexual revolution” ideas, introduced into schools under the guise of “sex education,” which claimed to be able to reduce teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases.
Black labor force participation rates, which had been higher than white labor force participation rates in every census from 1890 to 1960, fell below white labor force participation rates by 1972 and the gap has widened since then. Homicide rates among non-white males reversed their decline in the 1950s and soared by 75 percent during the 1960s.
None of this was a “legacy of slavery,” which ended a century earlier. But slavery became the rhetorical distraction for the political magicians’ trick of making their own responsibility for social degeneration vanish into thin air by sleight of hand.
Now you can point to many negatives the “War on Poverty” brought us … Sowell highlights the big ones. But the most important changes were two-fold. One: it created more dependency on government (and it helped tear the nuclear family apart among the poor) and it created an illusion that government (which mostly meant “Democrats”) cared more than any other institution.
The political charlatans had created a false problem and a false narrative which has had disastrous results in the long run. But those changes it created were manifestly worth it according to certain of the political class, because it increased their power. And the narrative that has been built about this program (and the “legacy of slavery”), along with the narrative that has created the “cult of the victim”, has hidden the huge problems created by government intrusion and instead has created a myth which says “more government is good government”.
So you end up with an entire segment of the voting public duped by this “shiny” narrative and either too lazy or too incurious to look below its surface. That’s the formula for political success on one side and national decline on the other.
The question, then, is how do the defenders of liberty catch the attention of the voting magpies and help them catch a clue? Facts apparently don’t matter. And alternate narratives don’t seem to stick.
If you can answer that question, you’ve hit upon a way to help save this country. I’ve been trying to come up with a way for 40 years.
I wish you luck.
It’s been said, a lot recently, that on the world scene Vladimir Putin understands he’s playing chess, and Barack Obama thinks he’s playing checkers.
We should be so lucky.
Our feckless back bench leader isn’t even playing a game that was based on the same board as the one Putin is playing on. In chess and checkers at least some of the fundamental principles carry over and there is some strategy involved beyond tick tack toe where you can always play the game to a draw.
Back in 2013 when President Present was drawing his first red lines and threatening Bashar Assad in Syria with a fate similar to the one he so expertly delivered to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the Russians let him talk until he’d used his vaunted powers of speechifying long enough and then stepped in, saved their Assad from being dragged out of a spider hole and shot, and embarrassed President “Red Line” and Secretary of State “Unbelievably Small” by delivering a fait accompli in ‘securing’ the Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles on behalf of their client.
At the time the usual plethora of sycophants declared that Obama had masterfully gotten everything he wanted, stopped Assad, neutralized the chemical weapons and should possibly consider selecting wall space for his next Nobel Prize owing to his brilliance in implementing effective credible foreign policy.
Forward to current day.
President Obama mid-week demonstrated yet again that he is totally out of his depth, and actually far worse than that, demonstrated the people he’s surrounded himself with for advice, are as lackluster and simple as he is. They might be fine when figuring out how to smear an opponent out of an election in the United States, but on the world stage they probably shouldn’t be allowed to touch the brooms used to clean up the set once the curtain has come down, the lights come up and the actors head to the “after” party.
In a more than adequate display that he has no knowledge of world history. he declared Russia was going to find itself “in a quagmire” in Syria. This is a favorite of the liberal left, and harkens back to the swamp we experienced in South Vietnam between 1961 and 1973. They like the quagmire thing because the Vietnam era was when a good many of the liberal left bravely earned their credentials on college campuses making the quagmire worse while avoiding experiencing it what their blue collar brethren in the jungles of South East Asia.
They also like to point out that the Russians, wearing their spiffy Soviet Union outfits, experienced a similar quagmire in Afghanistan during the Reagan era. Really that only puts the Russians in company with damn near every major power that carried arms to the foot of the Hindu Kush since before Julius Caesar observed Gaul was divided into three parts. Afghanistan has always been, and I think always will be, nothing but a meat grinder for “conquering” armies.
But there’s an added wrinkle to that particular quagmire that bears a remarkable similarity to our experience in Vietnam.
In Vietnam we were fighting the indigenous forces of the Viet Cong and the Army of North Vietnam, officially, and the Peoples Republic of China and the Soviet Union unofficially. In Afghanistan the Soviets were officially fighting the tribes of Afghanistan (who adopted internecine fighting as a hobby several millennia ago and have never found any other hobby since) and, unofficially, the forces of the ‘west’ lead primarily by the United States.
So the boggy water, marsh grass and alligators for both quagmires was being greatly supplemented by outside forces in Vietnam and Afghanistan. That’s called a proxy war. It’s been done for ages, and it’s the fundamental ingredient of a quagmire. President Precious has decided that talking will eventually solve the wars in the Middle East, singularly unable to observe historically the only time there is NOT war in the Middle East is when some ruthless bastards show up and ruthlessly enforce some version of peace on the locals. While he’s sure that Syria is going to be a Russian quagmire, because that appeals to progressive schadenfreude, he hasn’t pointed out who’s going to supply the continuous outside source of bog water and alligators this time to make it one.
But he does understand the concept of a proxy war, or someone said it to him so he could repeat it in context because his next demonstration of cluelessness was for him to declare that Syria was not a superpower chess board contest.
Of course that is exactly what this is.
If you aren’t already alarmed at his failure to grasp the obvious it might be a good time for you to start, and invite your friends and neighbors because it’s going to make for, as the apocryphal curse says “interesting times.”
Syria is not going to be a quagmire for Russia, and Bashar Assad, or his son or brother(s) are going to be in charge when the chemical clouded explosive debris laden dust has settled over Damascus.
The Russians had no hesitation in using any kind of fiendish device they could invent to squash the Afghan tribes on behalf of their clients and they will have no hesitation in doing so in Syria because no one is going to stop them. No proxy war you see.
Bashar Assad isn’t too particular about who he has to destroy, or whose villages, and families he has to destroy, to restore his control of Syria. Neither are the Russians.
Syrian refugees (actually refugees from all over the Ummah) are pouring into Europe creating various crisis situations to keep the EU more than busy, and at each others throats over who will provide meals and housing and who will pay the bills.
The Russians have allied themselves with the upcoming hegemon, Iran, in the Persian Gulf, using President Red Line and Secretary of State Unbelievably Small to create a treaty that will probably result in Iran being a nuclear power within the next 2 years.
The Russians have – acquired the Crimea in a blatant territorial grab that easily rivals Hitler occupying the Sudetenland, provided aid and comfort to a “rebellion” that shot down a commercial air liner killing hundreds of passengers in the Ukraine and stepped up their aggressive behaviors in border breaching and response testing that easily rival their former behaviors as the Soviet Union.
The Russians and the Chinese are participating in large scale cooperative military ‘exercises’ – for any progressive squishy liberals, that does not mean the Chinese are now teaching the Russians Tai Chi.
And this week Russia announced, in a signal to all those former Soviet satellites and their European ‘friends’, that they’re increasing the size of their armed forces by roughly 20%. Why they need to do that isn’t clear to people who don’t think we’re playing superpower chess, but the move won’t be lost on the Eastern Europeans.
Ah, but all this ruthlessness will surely lead to “War Crimes!” you say. Sure. Russia on behalf of Syria deliberately bombs villages earlier this week (after we sorta threatened we’d take away their iPhone or something) and five days later the world mumbles it ‘may’ be a war crime – the US tags a hospital in Afghanistan by accident yesterday and within 12 hours the world is screaming for a war crimes tribunal.
You can bet the UN will be sure and let the world know that the US won’t be allowed to behave like that and President Precious will send someone to apologize while Russia and Syria continue killing at will and cleaning up ‘the quagmire’.
That’s superpower chess on display.
They have tested the steel of Barack Obama, and have discovered it’s suitable for lining the bottom of your oven or making hats to keep out alien thought control beams.
There used to be someone sitting on the other side of the chess board from Russia or China, who understood that as nasty a job as it is, someone has to counter their moves in superpower chess.
Now we have a collection of people playing Tick Tack Toe while Putin moves any pieces he wants, any way he wants, on an unopposed chess board.
Something we’ve discussed for quite some time has been validated. It, of course, concerns the climate alarmist zealots. We’ve pointed out, along with many of you, that climate alarmism isn’t so much about science as it is about power. It also seems to be a secular religion. And it’s a religion that rejects all that we’ve seen make us a prosperous and relatively free people.
Or, said another way, the commie true believers are back and they have leadership positions. For instance, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.
She’s quite clear about her feelings concerning her mission:
“This is the first time” in history, she said earlier this year, that there’s a chance “to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
He also notes that Figueres “is on record saying democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.”
Newman could have mentioned, as well, that while many who are aligned with Figueres are motivated, as she is, by a raging desire to quash capitalism, the fight against man-made global warming and climate change has become a religious crusade for more than a few.
So, let’s recap:
She doesn’t like democracy because democracy doesn’t give the “elite” the power they need to force the benighted of the world to their agenda. Much prefers the Communist China model. She’s ready to throw over capitalism (or the semblance we have in this world) to an obviously authoritarian model of a state or world government driven command economy. Because, you know, that’s worked so well in the past.
Bottom line: she apparently pines for the good old days of the gulag when recalcitrant deniers could have been banished to labor camps forthwith to do penitent work healing Gaia. And if the masses starve under collectivization and incompetence, just as long as Gaia thrives, it’s all good. Turn the clock back a century and we’re there.
It never changes does it? The only answer most of those who consider themselves “elites” -such as this woman – is total control.
Because, you know, if they gave you a tax refund you might not spend it right. And yeah, the wife of the guy who said that is running for president and is no less a control freak than this woman. She’s just smart enough to know that we’re not as stupid as some of these people think we are … but trust me, if she could throw over “democracy” and have herself crowned queen, she’d do it in an NY minute. Instead, she’s committed to the incremental diminution of our rights and the incremental increase in the power of the state.
Detroit is what Democrats do. The last Republican elected mayor of Detroit took office during the Eisenhower administration. The decay of Detroit is not the inevitable outcome of the decline of the automotive industry: The automotive industry is thriving in the United States — but not in Detroit. It isn’t white flight: The black middle class has left Detroit as fast as it can. The model of Detroit politics is startlingly familiar in its fundamentals, distinguished only by its degree of advancement: Advance the interests of public-sector unions and politically connected business cronies, expand the relative size of the public sector remorselessly — and when opposed, cry “Racism!” When people vote with their feet, cry “Racism!” When the budget just won’t balance, cry “Racism!” Never mind that the current mayor of Detroit is the first non–African American to hold that job since the 1970s, or that, as one Detroit News columnist put it, “black nationalism . . . is now the dominant ideology of the [city] council” — somewhere, there must be a somebody else to blame, preferably: aged, portly, white, male, and Republican. No less a fool than Ed Schultz blamed the straits of this exemplar of Democratic single-party rule on “a lot of Republican policies.” Melissa Harris-Perry, “America’s leading public intellectual,” blames Detroit’s problems on its conservatism and small government, oblivious to the fact that Detroit maintains twice as many city employees per resident as do larger cities such as Fort Worth and Indianapolis, and three times as many as liberal San Jose.
Then, just look at the blue model elsewhere and its track record:
St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, and in its most recent elections for the board of aldermen there was no Republican in the majority of the contests; the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. Its municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, but the last Republican to run in Atlanta’s 13th congressional district did not manage to secure even 30 percent of the vote; Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.
But our blamer-in-chief and responsibility dodger par excellence prefers to have you believe that the problem is this particular Congress which happens to be Republican.
Of course, obviously the problems in Baltimore aren’t a recent event, as something that has developed within the last 2 years:
This did not come out of nowhere. While the progressives have been running the show in Baltimore, police commissioner Ed Norris was sent to prison on corruption charges (2004), two detectives were sentenced to 454 years in prison for dealing drugs (2005), an officer was dismissed after being videotaped verbally abusing a 14-year-old and then failing to file a report on his use of force against the same teenager (2011), an officer was been fired for sexually abusing a minor (2014), and the city paid a quarter-million-dollar settlement to a man police illegally arrested for the non-crime of recording them at work with his mobile phone. There’s a good deal more. Does that sound like a disciplined police organization to you?
Then there’s this from a reporter who has lived in Baltimore for 30 years:
Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.
Yet, the gaping disparities separating the haves and the have nots in Baltimore are as large as they are anywhere. And, as the boys on the street will tell you, black cops can be hell on them, too.
Well, then … if it isn’t “racism” (Al Sharpton, you can stay home) and it isn’t the GOP, what could it possibly be?
Let’s try a little deductive reasoning. What’s left?
Found on Facebook (Clare Spark), I think this nicely describes Obama’s speech last night:
I am not the first to point out that Obama is a postmodern president. Tonight he proved that label by his “not-so-fast” speech on foreign policy vis a vis ISIS. It was what the pomos call ” a performative act”–the last word in magical thinking.
Indeed. Platitudes, chest thumping, equivocation – and absolutely nothing new. He’s given a speech … the act is complete. The “ususal”. Talk equals action.
As we’ve become familiar with the “non-apology apology” in today’s life, we have now been introduced to the “non-strategy strategy”. What he talked about wasn’t a strategy, it was pure justification for doing … not much (even though he made it clear he doesn’t need Congress’s approval to do … not much). Apparently he thinks that a few airstrikes and few advisors will stimulate “allies” to do much more than that and take the bit and run with it. Yeah, that’s always worked so well in the past. Leading from behind again.
Also unknown is how one is going to take an obviously dispirited and seemingly unwilling (incompetent) Iraqi army and turn it around any time soon, but if there is a plan in there, that seems to be it, sort of. Oh, that and a “National Guard” (new name for the “awakening’s” militias)? Say what? But what I mostly got from it was he, like many other mistaken arm-chair generals, believes that he can accomplish “degrading” ISIS by air. First, any significant degradation would require a sustained air campaign on the level of our Gulf War “shock and awe” campaign. Not going to happen. Secondly, finding and killing ISIS C4 nodes, like we did with Saddam, is an extraordinarily difficult task in comparison. While we may randomly accomplish knocking out some of those nodes, it will be mostly luck without good hard timely intelligence (and acted upon immediately) about an enemy which remains mostly mobile.
And how about him deciding ISIS isn’t “Islam” or “Islamic”? Since when does he get to decide? Certainly some parts of greater Islam are against ISIS, but then Sunnis have no use for Shiites either do they? Does that make one or the other not “Islam”. Who gets to decide? Such declarations do Obama’s poor credibility even more damage and feeds the conspiracy theorists. But, that said, one has to wonder why it was so important for him to include that in a national policy speech. It is a total non-sequitur in my opinion. But for whatever reason, he chose to include it.
I think James Joyner has a good take on the speech. His first reaction:
The first thing I’d note is how much it sounded like any number of foreign policy speeches given by his predecessor. He declared again and again that, “As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people” and proudly enumerated all the ways that “we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country.”
Our Peace Prize president sounding like Bush … got to love the irony. Of course what Obama didn’t expound upon is how his withdrawal of troops from Iraq helped enable the ISIS expansion. Reality (i.e. an objective military assessment of the status of the Iraqi army and its actual abilities) rarely, if every, conforms to an arbitrary political deadlines. I think it is clear to everyone the pullout at that time was a very bad idea. It takes time to build an effective fighting force. What is now left in Iraq is a shattered and dispirited force. Because of that, we’re put in the position to again try to salvage a situation there. With greater forethought and less ideology, we would have kept US forces still there to ensure the Iraqi military was actually ready to confront a threat like ISIS instead of pretending it was so to keep a political promise.
Joyner’s second thought:
The second observation is that it’s still not clear exactly what Obama’s strategy is. His stated political objective is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” but he offered no plan that could plausibly do more than the former.
Well, except for, you know, “air strikes”. Hand wave, promise, done. Polls suck? Hitting ISIS popular? Wag the dog. It’s all about politics and elections, folks. Not the security of the United States. If someone had told him that his poll numbers would rise by not playing golf … well, there are limits you know. If it was truly about the security of the United States, this administration would be working to secure our borders, not ignoring the immigration laws.
Frankly, this is simply the logical continuation of Obama’s existing ISIL non-strategy and, indeed, his general counter-terrorism strategy of blowing up the bad guys and hoping they get tired of it eventually. We could call it the Global War on Terror but, alas, that name’s been taken. That’s rather unsatisfying but it’s not at all obvious what more the United States can or should do to degrade ISIL. The threat to the homeland is too tangential at present to warrant the proverbial boots on the ground. So, it’s Whack-a-Mole with no end in sight.
And the moles will continue to be whacked as we hear glowing progress reports from the Eastasian front.
Because? Well, that’s how we roll now. Back to the future.