Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On John McCain

John McCain recently made news when he broke with fellow Republicans regarding America’s place in the world. For a hundred years there has been a good bit of residual isolationism within the Republican Party and it has recently reared its ugly head again. McCain publicly disputed that concept and clearly stated that isolationism had no place in America’s foreign policy. Isolationism will never be to the benefit of our nation.

From my perspective, Senator John McCain is a real patriot as he is proved time and again. While I did not vote for him in the 2008 election, I have a great deal respect for the man. He puts America first, ahead of his own personal and political interests. Would that more politicians were as loyal to the best interests of America as he is.

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Outstanding Display of Political Skill

I just finished watching the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. CNN hosted the event set in New Hampshire with the seven declared candidates for the Republican nomination. How fitting that the debate took place in the state that is first in the nation to have a primary contests in the election year. It was a most fascinating display of political skill and should portend an interesting election season.

Most notable among the candidates was the similarity of their positions on the issues. They all took a far right stance in response to most questions. What I found fascinating was the candidates’ consistent ability to dodge the question and speak to a different issue of more importance to them. This was a direct violation of the rules that were set out at the beginning of the debate. The moderator kept reminding them that they should stay on the topic at hand, but they frequently ignored his pleas.

From my perspective, it would be refreshing indeed to find a politician that could give a direct answer to a direct question. I was impressed with the quality of the questions, both from the moderator and from those in the audience. They were specific and to the point. However, the answers where anything but specific and frequently missed the point of the question. Hopefully someone will give the candidates coaching on how to give direct answers to direct questions. The American people deserve politicians who can do so.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mike Huckabee Discovers Money

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee shocked the political world recently when he announced that he would not run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. He admitted that after testing the waters all the signs pointed to a decision that he should be a candidate for the high office. Yet, in his heart he decided not to. Why did his heart prevail over his head in this matter?

From my perspective, money was the deciding factor which convinced Huckabee that he should not be a candidate in 2012. No, it’s not that he couldn’t raise the money. He was, in fact, convinced that he could raise enough money to make a credible campaign. But, he has discovered his power as a political celebrity to make money. Royalties from his book sales and his contract with Fox news brings a healthy income on a regular basis. It no doubt surpasses anything he earned as governor of Arkansas or as a Baptist minister. He is building a house in Florida which is estimated to cost in the range of $2 million. Why should he give up the lifestyle of the rich and famous just for the glory of being a candidate for the presidency? I’m sure he could find no credible reason to make that sacrifice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Photographic Evidence

Good news: Osama bin Laden is no more! In a brilliant maneuver our intelligence community teamed up with the Navy SEALs to kill the evil man and send him to be with his maker. I am sure his maker is not the Creator of this world. It is fascinating that no sooner had the deed been done then conspiracy theorists began to doubt it’s truth. To quiet them down some are demanding that photographic evidence be produced. The news reports indicate that there are indeed photographs and even videotape of bin Laden being killed and buried at sea. So, if they’ve got nothing that hide, why doesn’t the Obama administration produce the evidence?

From my perspective, the United States government should not produce the photographs and make them available for public display. To have on view the gory details of the killing and disposal of the evil man’s body would serve no useful purpose. And, it certainly would not convince those who gravitate naturally towards conspiracy theories. They will find a hundred reasons why the photographic evidence is not convincing and is probably even part of a fraud. Hopefully President Obama will stick to his resolve not to publicly display the photographic evidence of bin Laden’s demise.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is That the Best They Can Do?

Donald Trump is the latest entry into the race for the Republican nomination for president for the 2012 election. The first big issue that he brought to the front is the legitimacy of Obama to be president as long as there is a question regarding the location of his birth. The Constitution requires that a president must be a natural born citizen of the United States. Obama has only released a Certificate of Live Birth and not the long form birth certificate which some claim is the definitive document for them to see. There is plenty of other evidence that Obama was indeed born in the state of Hawaii.

Trump has made this a major issue. Today Obama released certified copies of the long form birth certificate. Donald Trump’s response was very interesting. He said, “I am very proud” that he was able to force Obama to show his birth certificate. He reiterated that he is both proud and honored to have accomplished this important task. From my perspective, one has to question: is that the best the Republican Party can do for a presidential contender in 2012? If it is, it should be a very interesting election season.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What I Found in the Koran

I recently came across an English translation of the Koran. Being the curious sort I opened it up to see what it contained. I discovered that each page had three columns, only one of which was in English. The other columns contain the same text in different languages. I also discovered that Arabs read books in reverse order of what we do. They start in the back of the book and read forward.

I found that it’s easy reading so I started with the very first verse of the first chapter and I’m now halfway through chapter 2. I ran across an interesting statement from the Muslim holy book: “O Children of Israel! Call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant with Me and I shall fulfill My covenant with you, and fear none but Me.” Koran 2:40. This sentiment is repeated in verse 47: “O children of Israel! Call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all others.”

From my perspective, it is very surprising to discover that instead of historic animosity between Muslims and Jews, the Muslim holy book ascribes special favor of God to the Jewish people. It will be interesting to see what other surprises I find as I read this book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What We Learn from History

A recent issue of The Week quoted Aldus Huxley who famously said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

From my perspective, this is directly applicable to our current situation in Libya where the United States has once again dabbled in a foreign society we do not understand. It’s a wonderful goal to get rid of a vicious dictator. But, like Iraq and Afghanistan, we do not understand their culture. What comes after the dictator?

Libya is a tribal society where people owe their allegiance to family and clan and tribe more than to the nation. As soon as the dictator is overthrown they will begin fighting each other for supremacy. Which side will we be on in such a case? Unfortunately, our political leaders learned nothing from the mess we found ourselves in when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. So much for learning the lessons of history!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Resist the Pressure

Newspaper reports indicate that the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to intervene in the Civil War in the North Africa country of Libya. President Obama has declared publicly that the dictator, Qadhafi, must step down. To date he has declined to do so. Political hawks want the United States to declare a no-fly zone to protect the rebel forces from the dictator’s loyal air force. Defense Secretary Gates has indicated that initiating and maintaining a no-fly zone is much more complicated than it sounds.

From my perspective, President Obama should resist the pressure to get involved in the Libyan civil war. We already are engaged in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. We should have learned something from that experience. We do not have the resources to get bogged down in another Middle Eastern war. Nor is there constitutional authority for doing so since the United States has no vital interests in the country of Libya. We must stay out of this!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Interesting Comparison

The Governor of Wisconsin has been cheered on by conservatives for his bravery in taking on the teacher’s union as well as other public service workers. He needs concessions from them to balance the state budget. Conservatives are all in a twitter over the fact that the average teacher’s salary in Wisconsin is $51,000 a year. I find that an interesting area of concern when conservatives maintain that people who make $250,000 a year can hardly make do and need a tax cut. The disparity in this comparison is puzzling indeed.

A further insistence by the Governor of Wisconsin that even though teachers are under contract he ought to be able to breach that contract and get financial concessions from them When reminded that contracts should not be violated the response from conservatives has been that the tough times require us to make hard decisions. People who work in public service must realize that their employment contracts cannot remain binding under such conditions.

Back when the country was in a financial crisis, Wall Street bankers who drove their companies to the verge of bankruptcy were still getting multimillion dollar bonuses. We were reminded that contracts are binding and could not be violated just because we were in a financial crisis. The message here is that for really wealthy people contracts may not be impaired but for people who make $50,000 a year as a public employees, contracts are meaningless.

From my perspective these comparisons show the moral bankruptcy of conservative leaders in America. What is good for one income group should be good for the other. It appears that conservatives are indeed waging class warfare.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Complex to Guard Against

President Dwight Eisenhower surprised many Americans some 60 years ago when, in his final speech to the nation before he retired from the presidency, he warned his countrymen to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Thus the term “military-industrial complex” was introduced into the American political lexicon.

Maybe Eisenhower saw even 60 years ago the pernicious influence that big business was having on government policy, not only in military matters but also in foreign affairs. Corporate power over the American political process generates a corrupting impact on the normal democratic functioning of our government. Decisions regarding what military equipment to purchase are based not on the needs of the military to keep our nation strong, but more on which corporation has bought the most influence in Congress. Thus, the decision on which jet engine to purchase or which company gets a contract to build flying tankers for the Air Force will certainly not be based on military need.

President Eisenhower did us a favor when he told us to guard against the growing influence of the military-industrial complex. It is unfortunate that for the past 60 years we have let our guard down. Our current government must address that serious issue as it faces the financial crisis that is soon to be upon us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mixed Emotions

It has been several days now since the peaceful protests by citizens of Egypt resulted in an overthrow of the government. It was good to see a dictator being forced out of office with a minimum of bloodshed. Much credit for this goes to the Egyptian military as well as the restraint of the protesters.

So, why am I not celebrating in jubilation? I have a strong belief in democracy as the foundation for good government. However, I also have a respect for the value of democratic processes. From my perspective, the force of mob action is in itself antithetical to democracy as it is usually defined. What starts out as a peaceful protest can quickly turn into gang violence. That is not the best foundation for good government.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Accountability In American Business

Recently, it was reported that the Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, had a 38% decline in profit over the previous year. Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO, was held accountable for this poor showing by getting his salary raised to three times what it had been. In addition, he was given a $12 million bonus. That is accountability in the business world in America! From my perspective, it is no wonder we had a near financial collapse just three years ago. If business leaders get rewarded for their ineptitude there is not much hope that they will have incentives to function effectively in the future.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Proving His Point

Recently we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. It was interesting to hear the response on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal regarding the Reagan presidency. Most conservatives remembered him with a great deal of fondness. He restored pride in America, faced down the Soviet Union, and initiated the era of small government they claim. More liberal callers remembered that his out-of-control spending was the beginning of the long slide into the huge amount public debt have in America today.

Reagan famously said, “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem!” And, from my perspective, for the next eight years he proceeded to prove his point.