Sunday, July 31, 2016

Political Theater

Politics is a matter of theatrics that plays to the heart and not to the mind.  Electing a president is not about thoughtful debate of public policy but of appealing to basic instincts of humans.

We should not be surprised because we, largely as a people, have nary a clue at what government is granted the authority to do, the most basic concept of freedom, and the requirements to be a good citizen.  As such, we listen to what each candidate will “give” us whilst he paints a dire picture of life with his opponent.

Both parties’ conventions touted exaggerated pictures of our current state of affairs and offered slogans – that are not to be confused with plans or policy.  So let us shine a non-partisan light of some key points of where we are:
  • Economy – GDP has grown for 15 of the last 16 quarters but the rate of growth is under 2%, which is less than half of what it has been post-recession in over the last 80 years.
  • Unemployment – the unemployment rate (U-3) widely quoted by politicians and the media is 4.7% but the broader unemployment rate (U-6) is over 9.5%.
  • Workforce Participation – this is the measure of the percent of working age people in the workforce and it is 62.5% the lowest since the 1970’s when Jimmy Carter was president.  This translates to some 94 million Americans that are not in the workforce.
  • Stock Market – is at record highs of over 18,000 and interest rates for home loans are near record lows of under 4%.
  • Safety – global terrorism as well as domestic crime is way up and the number of policemen killed this year is on pace to double from the previous year.
If the economy and safety are the most important items to Americans then the facts above are not encouraging.  Which is why about 70% of Americans surveyed say they believe the country is on the wrong course.  There needs to be deep dialogue in these areas, yet there is not.

Minimum wage, child care, abortion rights are insignificant issues that appeal to interest groups and are insufficient to deal with an underperforming economy.  Wrangling over what to call terrorism, while necessary, is insufficient by itself to wipe-out the radical infestation that is killing innocents.

Unfortunately, political theatrics cross party lines. The dramatic “law and order” speech given by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Republican convention, and bright and cheery “love” speech by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton play to fear and hope.  Politics should be more than a 3-ring-circus but, unless and until we demand better, the conventions will look like the half-time show at the Super Bowl than a forum for responsible citizenship.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Can't trump Trump

Humans react rather than reason in most matters – especially in dealing with politics.  As such, the better candidate is one that can tap into emotions.  Love is a puny driver to motivate people to the polls but, anger and fear will have proven quite effective.  That is why in this election for President when the demographics, electoral map, and media bias should make Hillary Clinton’s candidacy a “coronation”, the most unlikely candidate, Donald Trump, is within the realm of probability to assert the biggest upset since Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey in 1948.

Trump’s acceptance speech at this week’s Republican Convention was a masterful and powerful work that painted America and the world in the clutches of dark corruption, chaos, and calamity.  Hillary Clinton was the Queen of all things deceitful and Donald Trump the only man capable to restore law and order.  No doubt his message of “I am your voice” will resonate across party lines and compel many to go vote for him.  This, for lack of a better word, analysis of Trump is not of policy or substance, but his seemingly innate ability to communicate on an emotional level that can reach the average American voter.

As such, look to this election cycle to have less than the usual low level of reasoned debate – from both candidates – and brace yourself for the onslaught of fear and division.  The winner will be the one who can instill the highest anxiety.  It will not be Ronald Reagan’s Good Morning America, but a race to the bottom, where voters are driven to vote against the candidate they fear more rather than the candidate they support more.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Thanks Ruth

This week Supreme Court justice Ruth Ginsberg had a bout of candor.  For some it was shocking, but for us it was refreshing.  It exposed what we have written about: liberal justices see themselves as dispensers of social justice, not dispassionate justices of the law and guardians of the Constitution.  In an interview with the New York Times, she spoke of her aversion to Donald Trump and a variety of decisions the court made that should be overruled.  Particularly revealing was her thinking on the Second Amendment.  Previously she expressed that a right to bear arms is tied to serving in a militia, but now she plainly expresses the Second Amendment is as just “outdated” as “its function has become obsolete”.  This is an astounding thought from a justice of the Supreme Court.

First, Justice Ginsberg knows full well that the right to bear arms and a militia are separate considerations of the Constitution.  Second, and more importantly, she is eminently aware that the Constitution is a grant of enumerated powers from the people to the government, and that those powers may only be amended by the people pursuant to the process defined in the Constitution.  Yet, here she is, declaring that she would take a right - specified in the Bill of Rights - from the people without their consent.  This is the philosophy known as the “Living Constitution” that liberals purport as their justification to usurp the consent of the people.

Liberals would argue that the late Justice Antonin Scalia was an activist just as Ginsburg.  However, Scalia’s “activism” was being bound by the Constitution and not revising it based upon his view of morality or decency.  As we write in our book, Vigilance The Price of Liberty, Scalia was particularly concerned that the Living Constitution was “illegitimate”, as the job of the Court is not to make law, but to resolve laws that conflict with the Constitution. Scalia argued that resolution of the Constitution should be as lawyers, not sociologists.  The crux of his concern, and ours, is who decides what is best for us.  Ourselves or five justices?

Ginsberg demonstrated she does not have the judicial temperament nor fidelity to the Constitution to be a justice of the Court.  If we remain silent, then our liberty is threatened.  However, if we are vigilant and speak against public officials who would break their oath to defend the Constitution then they will think twice before putting their notions of what is best for us before ours.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Conceal Don't Feel

FBI Director James Comey this week pronounced that Hillary Clinton had no “intent” to act illegally, and therefore no crime was committed – case closed.  However, she did indeed consciously and intentionally act to conceal her official activities while holding a high level public office of the United States.  She spent considerable resources to enable this intent that included procuring infrastructure, hiring people to implement the infrastructure, and maintaining the infrastructure and processes to fulfill the intent over four years while she was Secretary of State.

The problem with this, separate from Comey’s determination of legality, is that in a democracy, concealment is in direct contravention of a democracy’s requirement for transparency.  Clinton’s concealment signifies a women who sees two sets of rules.  Where she feels not part of the public, rather, above it and its laws.

Hillary Clinton is a major player in flouting the rule of law but she is not alone.  It runs rampant in our political system, across the aisle, and through every bureaucratic circle.  There is a rift that separates those who rule and those who are ruled, which can only be closed if enough of us get smart and collectively become vigilant to demand a government that is better and virtuous.  We have said before, knowledge is power and there is power in numbers.

Be Vigilant. Be Free.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Don't Be Fooled: It Wasn't a Coincidence

The “chance” meeting of former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in the Attorney General’s private plane in a private hanger, this week was hardly a coincidence.  People at this level do not meet by chance; each keenly knew that such a meeting was a conflict of interest for the Attorney General.  This was deliberate and with a political purpose.

Note, that Lynch said the meeting was “primarily” about the grand kids and golf.  If that was the case, they could have exchanged post cards.  But the word “primarily” means it was NOT completely about such.  In political and legal speak “primarily” does not mean “solely”, so that any other dialogue could have been covered.

Also, why would the FBI agents at the plane waive-off any pictures from being taken?  And finally, the meeting was not reported by either party, but was leaked to the press.  These points all lead to the probable conclusion that Bill Clinton was attempting political influence over someone he appointed when he was president.

It is no wonder a large swath of the public is disenchanted with government, as it appears there are two sets of rules: one for those that rule and another for those that are ruled.