Monday, February 29, 2016

Who Really Votes for Trump?

It's ironic that it takes the BBC to tell the truth about who is really voting for Donald Trump. In an earlier post, I pointed out how few people vote in primaries. That is exactly the reason Trump is so far ahead. It is the loudest, most unhappy, and least informed voters who are supporting his brand of vitriol against anyone who doesn't like his way of thinking.

America now stands where Germany stood in 1928. We are on the cusp of a change that only bodes ill for the freedoms our Founding Fathers tried to guarantee. It has been too long since those days when the memory of oppression on a national scale was fresh. We have too long had the ability to speak our minds, to freely move from place to place, to be successful and gain wealth through hard work. Our nation has become soft from its ease. Its people have become petulant and dependent on the dole. We have allowed ourselves to be convinced by the media and the government that we are all victims of one thing or another, that social justice is missing from our lives.

If every American was required to live on the economy of a third-world nation for a minimum of 5 years, they would realize just how privileged they are to live in this country. Ninety nine percent of Americans have no concept of real poverty. Our official level of poverty would equate to better than a living wage for most of the developing world. Our "poor" have cars, televisions, cellphones... The world's poor are lucky to have clean water.

Make no mistake. If Americans will not exercise their right to vote, they will lose it. 

It starts innocently enough, with a blustering clown who spews populist poison. It develops into something worse, something ugly, something that grows and spreads and overcomes. As was recently pointed out by another commentator, Hitler didn't start out as a dictator. He was the rightfully elected Chancellor of Germany. The people put him in office.

Hitler was elected by his own people. By the discontents, the ones who felt the government was giving them a raw deal. He fed on their anger and fear. He told them what they wanted to hear.

Just like what Trump is doing today. True, all politicians use that tactic to gain power, but this is the first time in a long time that an American public has responded to it so viciously. For that, we can thank our media. We are plugged in to our televisions and movies, all of which have taught us we are the best in the world, the only ones who have the right to judge what is right and wrong. We are the most powerful nation, have the best technology, the most money.

We have been taught we are the master race without using that term in so many words.

If you are Republican, for God's sake, don't pass up your chance to vote. If you do, you will be complicit in what this nation becomes. I hope you can live with that.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Another Constitutional Right Abridged

In a recent ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it was determined that evidence seized in a person’s private home during a warrantless search can be used against the person under an expanded view of the “community caretaker” clause. They didn't even have to use that as precedent, since SCOTUS had already ruled warrantless search was allowed in 2014.

Not many people know that every one of the first ten amendments of the Constitution have already been abridged through Congressional legislation and SCOTUS rulings. The most egregious violations came recently with the so-called Patriot Act but the government has a long history of eviscerating the Bill of Rights. Some have been rationalized as necessary due to time of war, others reactions to espionage and liberal incremental change. On the surface, all the violations seem reasonable, but that was the purpose of the Bill of Rights -- to prevent those who would make agenda-driven excuses from being able to take individual rights away from the people.

Even though activist groups are always trying to re-establish lost rights, they have an uphill battle. There are so many rulings to fight, so much precedent to overturn, that even the most determined defenders are up against a formidable enemy that seems to be invulnerable.

We need to remember, the Bill of Rights does not define what the government allows. Its purpose is to forbid government taking away our inalienable rights. If we allow the continued violation of those basic rights, we have no one to blame but ourselves when the supposed republic that should represent the people becomes a totalitarian despot that oppresses us.

Speak up, work for your rights. No one else can do it for you. Government certainly won't.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The End is in Sight

AP Photo
With the win in South Carolina for Hillary Clinton, the fix is all but in.

With hundreds of superdelegates available to back her play, Clinton is a shoo in for the nomination. From this point forward, anything Sanders may do is an exercise in futility, a show for the hell of it. This race is now Clinton's to lose, and if her past record is any kind of indicator, she and her troops won't let anything stand in their way. No matter what it takes, no matter what she needs to say.

Hello, Democrats. I know you don't have much of a choice, but you gave up O'Malley in favor of two characters who both make Donald Trump look honest on the economy. Clinton's economic acumen is based on Wall Street while Sanders' economic acumen is based on misunderstanding of the basics. At least O'Malley tried to inject some common sense into the race.

Unfortunately, just as in the Republican race, common sense is as rare as hen's teeth. I really hope you know what you're doing.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Violent Crime Anyone?

If you trust the media, violent crime is rife. People are dying like flies in the streets of America. Gun battles between police and criminals take place three or four times a day. You can't walk fifty feet at night without being attacked.

All that makes for great ratings on the news, but truth be known, violent crime in the US is actually on the decrease.

Of course, knowledge of this good news is bad news for politicians and news broadcasters. "Never let a good crisis go to waste." As long as the public perception is that crime is on the increase, people will clamor for more protection from the government, more regulation of weapons, more measures to restrict movement and freedom of speech.

We only have ourselves to blame. It seems that human nature demands we be fascinated with anything having to do with death and disaster. As long as it's happening to someone else, we can't stop looking. Life is one long train wreck and we are avid spectators.

It's the worst kind of snowball effect. We watch death and disaster, we entertain it in our society, we decry it but allow it to continue, it happens and we watch it... A vicious, unending cycle as long we give in to it. How do we break this cycle? Is it even possible?

It's possible that the lowering of the violent crime rate is proportionate to the incarceration rate. It's possible that rehabilitation efforts are actually working. It's possible that people are finally tiring of being victims and are beginning to take their safety into their own hands. Could it be possible that the massive increase in personal arms sales has started to give thieves and robbers pause? A well-armed populace makes for less of a ready target for criminals.

And with firearms sales at an all-time high, that may be the one factor that tipped the scale in favor of reduced crime.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

America Used to be a Christian Nation

Before the 1960s and the Vietnam War generation, America was a Christian nation. According to Gallup polling, beginning in 1980, when the children who protested against the Vietnam War and indulged in the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll philosophy became the establishment, the percentage of the population who considered themselves Christian began shrinking from a high of 91% in 1970 to 61% in 2015. Today, history is being rewritten to maintain that the Christian values of charity, respect, and personal responsibility on which the nation was originally built never happened.

The proponents of the argument that the USA was never a Christian nation point to the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution and say there is no reference in either to God, Jesus, or any religious deity. They refer to the Treaty of Tripoli which stated that the government of the USA was not in any way founded on the Christian religion. They point to a remark by Thomas Jefferson to question everything, even God. All these statements are true. All are based in fact. However, they miss a critical point of the argument.

Government, politics, and religion should never be intertwined. When they are, you end up with a theocracy that inevitably leads to atrocity and massacre of entire populations. Ethnic cleaning. Elimination of the infidel. Horrors unimaginable. The Founding Fathers recognized this. As they were drafting the US Constitution, clerical wars were waging in Europe between Catholics and Protestants. Laws were passed persecuting Catholics and riots broke out over personal faith. Little wonder the Founding Fathers wanted to insure that religion would not figure directly in the design of the fledgling country's government.

But that doesn't preclude the fact that Christian values were an integral part of the structure on which the USA was built.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Those very rights are protected by the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. 
The Bill of Rights does not spell out the rights allowed to the citizen by the government. They forbid the US government from restricting the rights given by the Creator. Although religion was not to be playing a direct role in the government, the concepts of fairness, charity, and personal dignity common to all Christian faiths would still be reflected.
However, as the years went by, those very rights have been infringed, restricted, and sometimes abridged to the point they no longer exist. No time in this nation's history has this been so evident as recently. 

America is no longer a Christian nation. Kindness and charity are ridiculed. Personal respect is ignored. Self-esteem is denigrated as selfishness. The individual is defined by the state as someone who belongs to the state, a piece of political property. We have all become cogs in a massive, impersonal machine.

God help us all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Unions are Corporations are Unions...

The main argument for the purity of Bernie Sanders' campaign is that he doesn't take money from big corporations, that he speaks for the little man against the soulless corporate structure. He gets the majority of his support from private contributions and the unions.

The truth is, American unions are corporate structures. As is pointed out in this article, "most major companies in this country are owned by capital unions whose members are called shareholders." Unions and corporations are not only alike, they are inextricably connected.

Sanders likes to tout himself as the champion of the little guy but the truth is both he and Clinton are connected to Wall Street, just through two different avenues. If Clinton is elected, Wall Street will drive the government. If Sanders is elected, Wall Street will drive the government, just through an intermediary: the unions.

The structure of a labor union is so similar to the structure of a business corporation as to be almost identical. The true difference between the two is not money or politics, it is perception.

Unions are perceived as friendly to their members. The truth of the matter is, there are fewer protections from adverse action for members of unions than there are for employees of corporations. In fact, union members have to go to the US government if they have a grievance against their union but they must go through the union to carry grievance against the corporation. This actually draws a parallel between unions and government as well.

This is why organized crime has been drawn to unions. Unions represent entities that are increasingly becoming independent from government jurisdiction. If Sanders is elected, that independence will become more pronounced. This is not to say Sanders is being bankrolled by organized crime. It is simply a fact that unions are less about social justice and more about control of the labor force, just as corporate management wants control. And unions have more leverage to exercise that control than corporations do.

The difference is, the federal government has a stranglehold on corporate power. It can legislate regulation on corporations. The federal government has no power over labor unions. In fact, the federal government actually is riddled with unions. Government unions often threaten, and actually have, gone on strike against the government.

Politics, unions, and the public welfare are too often mutually exclusive terms.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Fiction of States Rights

Whenever people are upset with federal actions, they point to their state flag and say they shouldn't have to comply with that federal statute because their state has a right to ignore it.

These people are not just wrong, they're wrong by more than 150 years.

Before 1860, Congress consisted of a united nations of autonomous states. Each of those states had their own laws, their own governments, their own economies. Their banks issued their own money and the title "governor" was equivalent to the later title "president." They considered themselves separate entities from each other, a holdover from the colonial times when each was a separate colony.

That's why the so-called "Civil War" should be more accurately called the War Between the States. "Civil war" infers that there was a unified nation previous to its outbreak. That simply is not true. There were 33 independent and separate nations, working sometimes together and sometimes at odds.

The abolition movement, which had been gaining strength in the northern nations since the American Revolution, eventually overwhelmed the southern nations' interests and forced a conflict between the states. The southern nations depended almost exclusively on slave labor for their economic well-being. Forcing them to free their slaves would destroy the economy and plunge their populace into poverty and despair. There was no alternative to slavery at the time for most of the larger farmers. To replace the slaves with horses and oxen would bankrupt them. Little wonder they pressured their governments to secede from Congress. For them, it was simply a matter of economic survival.

The southern states became a separate nation, the Confederated States of America. That new nation was not beaten. Make no mistake, it was conquered. The conquered nation's citizens were even required to swear a loyalty oath to the USA before they would be pardoned, just as if they were aliens immigrating into the country from outside its borders.

Even though previous US presidents had argued that the states constituted a unified nation, this was never accepted in the south. Not until Texas vs. White in 1869 was it undeniably established by SCOTUS that this issue was completely settled.  

The United States became a single, homogeneous union by SCOTUS edict.

Federal law became the law of the land from one coast to another. State laws were allowed except where they conflicted with federal statute. No longer did the states have the right to autonomy. The United States of America is a misnomer. The nation should be renamed the Federation of North America.

No one would say that the United States of Mexico is anything other than a single nation under one flag, yet that is its official name. That each of the states in America has its own flag is a holdover from the time when each was an autonomous nation. That is simply no longer true. The state flags are an obsolete artifact of a bygone system.

"States" is even a misnomer. They are no longer states in the way England is a state or Germany. They are districts of a single, unified nation. There is only one "state" between the Canadian and Mexican borders. That is the only state with rights. 

Any other "states rights" are obsolete and stopped being of effect in 1865.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't Do It, Apple!

You would think after the flaps over government intrusion and lack of privacy that the FBI would know better than to demand Apple build backdoor software for the iPhone.

Even a child can understand the stupidity of that. Of course, when it comes to more inroads into the private lives of the citizens, the government will do anything. It would mean even more control over each individual's actions, more control of their access to the internet, more ability to track their movements. 

In another in a long line of "Patriot Acts," the FBI is using the terrorist card to strip away yet another layer of privacy. Apple is justifiably resisting this. For all the criticism corporations get as unfeeling, self-interested monsters, Apple is taking a stand for the public good. I doubt they will get the recognition they deserve for it, though. Reaction to their refusal is mixed to say the least but the FBI's reasoning for why they want the backdoor software designed is ludicrous.

They want to know why the San Bernandino shootings took place? Simple. Radical Islam terrorism. The details of the shooting allow for no other conclusion. The FBI is simply using the iPhone issue as another way for the government to invade personal privacy.

As if the NSA and Department of Homeland Security didn't already have enough ways to invade our privacy? Is it too late to stop saying yes to continued government intrusion?

Don't do it, Apple. Draw the line.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bush is Out

Jeb Bush has announced that he is suspending his campaign. It is remarkable to think he ever had a chance to become the nominee since he had so much going against him politically. The Republican base had abandoned the Bush name years ago and was unlikely to support it again. All Bush accomplished was to divide the early voting that would have gone to Rubio. Had he not run, Rubio would have had a solid second place standing today, perhaps even have become the front runner.

Considering the re-election of Barack Obama, the election of a Bush to the presidency is beyond improbable. The popular vote has leaned so far to the left that it is highly unlikely there will be a Republican in the White House in the next thirty years. This nation is no longer what it was in 1950, 1970, or 1990. Since the ascension of the Clinton/Bush Dynasties, the country has become more heavily dependent on the government for personal welfare, more paranoid about foreign policy, more extreme in its political views. When more than 50% of the population depends on the government for their income in one fashion or another, this was inevitable.

America is becoming just what the left wants it to be, more like Europe. We have presidents who act like kings, local authorities who have little or no respect for federal law, and a general collapse of economic health which the government does everything it can to conceal. The death of the private sector would accomplish the ultimate goal of the left, the nationalization of all markets.

The US dollar is becoming a glut on the world market. The law of supply and demand says this will devalue the currency, leading to the speculation that it will be replaced by the Chinese currency. In light of this, the government has to create an external crisis to prevent the population from knowing the truth. The global economy, geared on the US dollar for the most part, is falling apart not because of war or disease but because of mismanagement on the highest levels.

Little wonder the front runner in the moribund conservative party is a reality show host and the front runner in the Democrat party is a socialist. One promises eternal entertainment, the other everything for free. Truly, a political market of extremes.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why Trump is Winning

Donald Trump remains the front runner for the Republican nomination because the field is full of also-rans who refuse to admit they have no chance.

photo credit: Getty Images

There are only two real contenders in the Republican race: Trump and Cruz. If the rest of the candidates dropped out, Cruz would surge ahead of Trump by at least 20 points.

Currently, the conservative base of the party is committing political suicide by supporting Trump. His populist performance is reminiscent of PT Barnum. He bellows, bullies, blusters, and bombasts to the delighted entertainment of a public dazzled by generations of reality television and inane advertisements. Trump is the Svengali of the Republicans, leading a public disenchanted with their leaders into the arms of the Democrat Party nominee.

Most puzzling is the lead Trump has with white evangelicals. Of all the people who shouldn't be following him, this group should be at the head of the list. Trump was rightly called out by the Pope and no matter what anyone may think, the Pope was right. Nothing Trump advocates can be defined as Christian.

Unfortunately for Cruz, even if he could get that 20% lead, he would immediately run into problems about his citizenship. Then, if he successfully ran the gamut of his own party's trial, he would have to run it again when confronted with the Democrat candidate in the general election. Then, should he actually be elected, the birthers would come out of the woodwork. It would be Obama all over again.

Only uglier.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Natural Born Citizen or Not

It had to happen.

The question of whether Ted Cruz is a "natural born citizen" or not had to come up. For a person to be eligible for the presidency, they have to meet certain Constitutional requirements, among which is they must be a "natural born citizen."

In a way, this question has been addressed a couple of times before in presidential elections. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona before it became a state and his status was questioned. John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and his status was questioned. However, the argument against their qualification quickly fell apart, as both of those locations were clearly US territories under US jurisdiction. Ted Cruz's case isn't as cut-and-dried.

Born in Calgary, Canada of a Cuban father and an American mother, he held dual citizenship until he began his presidential run. Although his political office holding only goes back to his installation in the US Senate in 2012, he has been a part of the beltway scene since 1995. Far from being outside the establishment, Cruz has been inside making friends and enemies for more than 20 years.

John Jay (1745-1829)

Whether or not he is a "natural born citizen" is really immaterial. Although I am a big fan of the Constitution, I am also aware of when and why it was written the way it appears. The specification that any presidential candidate must be a "natural born citizen" was inserted after a letter from John Jay to George Washington, who at that time was presiding over the Constitutional Convention, expressed concern that the Commander in Chief of the new nation's military should not be trusted to anyone other than a "natural born citizen." The memory of the recent war was fresh in their minds and, indeed, the conflict with England would not be completely resolved for another decade or so. Little wonder this revision was accepted so readily.

That a presidential candidate be a "natural born citizen" isn't a bad thing, but our Senators and Representatives have no such requirement. Congress can overcome presidential vetoes (arguably). The SCOTUS can rule presidential actions unconstitutional, even void (arguably). 

The term really is one of those things that has lost its meaning. In the 18th century, when only landed gentry could vote or hold office it made sense. Today, not so much.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Take That, Schumer!

Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, one of the most liberal voices in the Senate, recently (Aug 2015) came out against the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran. On his website, the heart of his argument for this stance was given as 

"If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations. To me, after ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it."

This argument has been forwarded by several people on the right and left, but that someone of Schumer's standing should voice it angered the Obama administration, which supported Harry Reid's bid for minority leader over Schumer. 

That Schumer came out in 2007 against President Bush being allowed to appoint a Supreme Court judge in his lame duck session has become an embarrassment to the Obama administration now that Obama has the chance to change the balance of power in the SCOTUS to the liberal agenda. Conservatives are using his speech to counter Obama's move to install his own nominee.

Schumer has a long history of disagreement with Obama. In 2010, his move to embarrass Republicans over a tax issue met opposition from the administration. A top Obama official accused Schumer of "a short-term partisan strategy for point scoring that would have been really costly in the long run..."

In 2014, he allowed that the party made a mistake in passing Obamacare, creating a firestorm of criticism and a flurry of statements from both sides of the aisle.

Apparently, the Obama administration has had enough. Schumer's sins have precipitated a blatant punishment for what they see as his continued betrayal. The administration has announced they intend to withhold federal funding from New York City's anti-terrorist efforts. Casting this move as an attempt to save money is so disingenuous as to be insulting. It is obviously a reaction to Schumer's anti-Obama policy statements and the usage of his past statements in conservative argument. 

New York City is the number one target for international terrorism. Any reduction of aid for the city puts literally millions of American citizens at risk. If, as it appears, this is a political move to force Schumer to toe the Obama line, it is worse than despicable.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Trump Imploding?

It appears that Donald Trump's obnoxious comments, undiplomatic treatment of his opponent's supporters, and his general megalomania are finally beginning to take their toll on his campaign.

According to a report in the Washington Post, a crack has appeared in the Trump dike. It appears that Ted Cruz' recent revelations of Trump's past record has had an effect. It is possible that Trump's campaign has hit its inevitable ceiling. When Trump makes accusations against the very party he is supposed to represent and threatens a third party run, you know he's nervous. Trump doesn't like losers. God forbid he should be one. Before that happens, he'll abandon the GOP race, declare the GOP cheated, take his football and go home.

photo credit:
As candidates drop out and the field narrows, their followers transfer their support. It appears that Trump isn't getting the transferred support his campaign was expecting while Cruz and Rubio are becoming the recipients. If Carson drops out, it is likely his supporters will turn to Cruz since Rubio is seen as an establishment candidate. On the other hand, the loss of Bush and/or Kasich will boost Rubio for similar reasons.

Either way, Trump's standing will suffer overall. He has peaked early and that's the worst thing that can happen in a campaign. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Manmade Zika Panic

Yellow fever. Smallpox. Influenza. Polio. SARS. HIV. It seems there will always be another plague to beleaguer humankind. The latest villain in this vein is the Zika virus.

As our technology improves, our biological enemies seem to get smarter. Antibiotic resistant bacteria. Exotic cancers. Autoimmune disorders. The stuff of nightmares, seemingly of our own creation at times. Still, nature can produce her own surprises.

Not, it seems, this time.

Despite the fact there has been no proven link between Zika and the microcephaly disorder, it has been fingered as the culprit. Like many other diseases, the large majority of people infected never show outward signs of the disease. It is estimated that 80% of those who have the virus don't know it. Contrary to popular belief, the Zika virus has been known since 1947 and outbreaks first occurred in Africa shortly thereafter. It spread eastward across the Pacific until it reached South America and found widespread fame in Brazil when babies began to be born with the disorder. However, it is more likely the disorder was caused by pesticides spread on the population during crop-dusting activities and even added to their drinking water beginning in 2014. 

To quote a report by the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST), the chemical used in the dusting is the culprit and the Brazilian Health Ministry is cohort to this debacle.

Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects)...Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added pyriproxyfen to drinking water is not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on Zika virus for this damage, while trying to ignore its responsibility and ruling out the hypothesis of direct and cumulative chemical damage caused by years of endocrine and immunological disruption of the affected population...

This Zika crisis seems to be the result of unintended consequences. Of course, once the finger has been pointed by as prestigious an organization as the WHO (which is also implicated in the spreading of the chemical), the rest of the world blindly follows suit. The epidemic has begun, even though there is clear evidence that the Zika virus is relatively weak except in cases of people whose immune systems are already compromised. Now the medical communities of South and Central America can blame the Zika virus for sickness and death otherwise inexplicable. They have a ready-made scapegoat and can reason away their lack of medical acumen by pointing out they are helpless because there is no vaccine or cure for the virus.

It is easier to blame nature for human stupidity. The Zika virus isn't at fault for the outbreak of birth defects in Brazil. The Brazilian government is.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Replacing a Supreme Court Justice

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia has left a vacancy in the Supreme Court. The Republicans want his replacement to be delayed until after the presidential elections, betting that a Republican will be elected and will assign a conservative judge to take his place. They argue it is inappropriate for a lame duck president to assign a supreme court justice. They conveniently forget that Scalia was appointed by Reagan in 1986 and Justice Kennedy in 1988, both in Reagan's second term.

In its history, the SCOTUS has become increasingly political and strayed far from its original Constitutional purpose. Article III, Section I states "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." The operative word in that phrase is "judicial."

It has become the practice of the SCOTUS to not just determine the Constitutionality of a law but to give judgments that become de facto law upon their pronouncement. In essence, Supreme Court Justices have become legislators appointed according to their political leanings and given lifetime assignment to support that particular agenda with the power to make law and enforce that judgment whenever challenged with its own irresistible power.

That is why replacing Scalia before Obama's exit from office is critical to the progressive agenda. He was a conservative, often the deciding vote turning judgments against progressive interests.

With the expanded power of presidential executive action and a progressive SCOTUS, Congress can be bypassed. It becomes irrelevant as far as legislation is concerned. The checks and balances designed by the Constitution are coming under more attack today than ever before.

Many argue that Obama's executive actions are no different from previous presidents', that the number of his executive actions have been fewer and therefore they couldn't possibly have had as much of an effect. They refuse to understand that it's not the number of executive actions but the subjects which they address.

Many argue that SCOTUS rulings don't make law, they interpret the law. However, interpretation of the law is legislation in itself. This power of interpretation was not original to the Constitution. It derives from Marbury v. Madison (1803). It was appropriate that the judgment spun on issues around the president himself. However, over the next decades, that power of interpretation began to be applied to more and more issues, issues that extended beyond the letter of the Constitution and into social and economic private issues.

SCOTUS began to see itself as the conscience of America. And whichever party controls America's conscience controls America. That's why replacing Scalia is so critical to both parties. That single seat is the pivot point for all power in the US government. Not the president, not the Senate, not the House.

It's there.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day. Take a day off from all the political and social controversies and spend it with the one(s) you love.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Voting for Nobody

Quite a few people are talking about sitting out this presidential election because they don't see any candidate they can support.

In a previous post, I talked about superdelegates and the electoral college, how they can negate the popular vote. Although that is true, it doesn't happen that often. And when the popular vote is such a landslide, as was that for Bernie Sanders over Clinton in New Hampshire, it goes against the party's best interest to shift the delegates against the public preference. If they do that, they run the risk of alienating their base because of the ready availability to the public of information about their supposedly clandestine actions.

Not voting at all may feel like a personal protest against the system but it does nothing to change that system. In fact, it has the opposite effect. By not voting, you are tacitly agreeing to the election of whoever wins. Not voting has the same effect as voting for the winner, so if that is your intent, then well done.

On average, about 60% of registered voters turn out for presidential elections. However, typically less than 20% turn out for primaries and caucuses. This means that the opinion of less than 2 in 10 people decides who will run in the general election. When the turnout is greater than 20%, the actions of the superdelegates is almost completely nullified.

So take the time to vote for your preferred candidate in the primaries and caucuses. Use your vote to protest, not your absence.

Unless you want a tiny vocal minority to speak for you.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Dragon Wakes

While the public in the US is entertaining itself with the antics of their politicians, a real threat to America's national security is being ignored.

China. With a population of over 1.3 billion, it has the potential to overwhelm any conventional army set against it merely by number of fighters. Their technology is equal to that of the US and Russia. As is their nuclear capability.

Over the last several months, the disagreement between China and Taiwan has heated up. Since the takeover of the mainland by Mao Tsetung in the 1949 civil war, Taiwan has struggled to remain independent against increasing resistance from inside and out. The UN refuses to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. No one wants to officially step between them but the US Navy has been present in the strait off and on to prevent China from taking the island by force.

Now a serious turn of events has occurred. China is giving off signals it is going to put its nuclear arsenal on high alert.

During the cold war between the USSR and USA, the idea of mutual destruction kept the nations in a constant state of readiness that had quite a few scares. On more than one occasion, the world hovered on the threshold of nuclear holocaust because of a simple mechanical malfunction or misinterpreted word. In those days, the nuclear shadow covered the world from only two sources.

Today, there are a dozen nations with nuclear capability and another unknown number of stateless organizations like Al Queda that could have it.

In such a volatile environment, the real threat of nuclear exchange has risen once more, and it is even worse than in the last cold war. China is socially and financially unstable, bad signs for everyone they might have designs on like Taiwan. China has an unsteady relationship with Australia, one that has decayed over the last year as Sino-American relations stumble. India has a love/hate relationship with them because of the Chinese strengthening ties with Russia and Pakistan.

Teams are forming in the nastiest game known to history. And the American public is happily involved in its political circus.

Hope we don't get blind-sided.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The One Man One Vote Myth

Superdelegates. What are they? Who are they?

Good questions all. The definition given is "an unelected delegate who is free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination at the party's national convention." In other words, a person who can swing the vote from the candidate preferred by the public to the one preferred by the party establishment.

Both parties have superdelegates (although the number of Republican superdelegates is relatively tiny), which are really a reflection of a concept found in the US Constitution called the electoral college

When the Constitution was drafted, the concept of the ordinary citizen having enough political acumen to understand the needs internal and external of the national and state governments was unknown. The US Constitution was in effect a treaty between 13 sovereign nations, the United States. Each of those individual nations was granted a method to elect representatives of their nation as electors of the President. A good parallel would be that of ambassadors to the United Nations voting for the Secretary General of the UN. The amount of burden that might be borne through taxation or other expense was dependent on that state's population and therefore their elector number was geared that way.

After the War Between the States, the Federal government asserted its power over all the formerly sovereign states and a single Union was forged. At that time, the electoral college should have been abandoned since the idea on which it had been designed had ceased to exist, however the power base it granted to the Northern states made it in the best interest of the parties in power to retain it.

What it really amounts to is that superdelegates can tilt the selection of a party nominee one way or another, regardless of the public vote. This is how Hillary Clinton received more delegates than Bernie Sanders even though Sanders beat Clinton by 22% in the popular vote. 

Even in the Constitution, the electoral college was a bad idea. In today's society, it is downright wrong. There is no reason the public cannot directly elect their representatives considering all the technology we have. It might not be the wisest thing to do, though. People have a tendency to look at the short term rather than the long term effects of their decisions.

Abdicating personal responsibility to "elected" officials is a bad personal decision. We must take charge of our own lives and prosperity. Stop depending on the government for your well-being and make a life for yourself. The parties aren't interested in anything but elections and how to stay in power. Use your voice in town halls, telephone calls, and one-to-one meetings with the politicians. 

They hate confrontation. It might mean losing votes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Trump of the Democrats

Bernie Sanders' win in New Hampshire is another example of populist rhetoric's triumph over common sense.

In a nation that has a problem with personal debt, the election of a self-professed socialist is inconceivable. If America intends to default on all its national debt, internal and external, then his election makes sense. A socialist government must deny debt in order to function because in a socialist government there is no personal property, no personal profit, and no personally owned business. The government is the sole employer and provider.

If, as I have pointed out in an earlier post, America truly is a social democracy, then the election of Sanders makes even less sense. In a social democracy, capitalistic values still remain including the concept of personal property, personal profit, and individual responsibility. All of those ideas are anathema to socialism.

But this is not what Sanders is selling. Sanders is pandering to the generation pampered by a burgeoning welfare state. He is promising not just a chicken in every pot. He is promising a house to go around the kitchen that cooks it. He is promising cradle to grave care from a government that is mother and father.

Up until now, the government has at least put on a beneficent face. Under Sanders' administration, even this will be abandoned. Not because the people couldn't adjust to a socialist society. That would be a minor thing, considering how far along we are already. No, it would be the impact on the rest of the world.

America is a global policeman. Whenever there is a global crisis, the world automatically asks why America isn't doing something to fix it. At least, that's what we are taught. It's not necessarily true. How did all those nations get along without the USA before 1776? 

After WWII, the USA and USSR emerged as superpowers and overshadowed the rest of the world. The nations of the world learned they had to cater to the whims of one or the other if they wanted to survive in the global scene. The farce of the United Nations put a pretty facade on the truth. The world had been conquered not by the Axis but by the Allies. They may not have marched into the countries with tanks and infantry but they had conquered nonetheless.

That is something that continues to cast its shadow over the world even today. Since the fall of the USSR, the expense of maintaining that shadow has fallen solely on the USA and its tax payers. Without private enterprise to absorb some of that expense through generation of external revenue, the government will have to either pull back its military for economic reasons (the most likely scenario) or impose massive taxation on the population after the collapse of the private sector.

Maintaining a standing army is a massive expense. Sanders recognizes this and has consistently spoken out against defense spending. In a Sanders' administration, the executive orders would find a new target. The result on the world stage would be an unintended consequence that would make the Syrian refugee crisis look like a field trip for sixth graders.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

OMG! Climate Change!

To hear the prophets of climate change, we should all run for the hills. The ocean levels are rising at an alarming rate. Soon we will find our coastal cities underwater. Massive droughts will destroy all our crops. We will be unable to prevent the end of civilization as we know it. Something must be done immediately!

Polar bears will forget how to swim. 

Penguins will have to learn how to farm.

And this will all happen so suddenly, so without warning, that if we don't do something now it will sneak up on us and there will be nothing we can do to stop it. We are at a tipping point!

Apparently, we are incapable of dealing with changing climate. We cannot move our cities from the current coasts. We are incapable of improving irrigation methods. We cannot adapt to the change because human beings are essentially incapable of any kind of change. We are stuck in our current state. We are not going to be able to invent new ways to deal with the new climate. 

We won't be able to take advantage of the new coastlands. We will be unable to deal with the average extra 5 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Like the Vikings, who folded when the temperature rose at the turn of the 10th century and retreated to Greenland and North America rather than huddle inside their homes in Scandinavia, we will remain in our flooded out buildings, crying to a crumbling government for help. Like the Europeans during the Little Ice Age, we will unable to use modern medicine to prevent plague and will abandon the technological innovations of the last century so that we can face the advancing cold with dignity.

Give me a break!

So what if the temperature is going up and down. Are we so stuck in where we are now that we can't change? What is wrong with adapting to changing conditions? Humanity has been doing that for millennia. When did it stop being an option? If we can't adapt, then humanity will go the way of the dodo. So what? Are we really so arrogant as to believe that if humanity was to cease to exist, the planet would too?

Our children may inherit a different world than what we have today, but we inherited a different world than what our ancestors had. How did we and the world survive the extinction of the mammoth? The mouth-birthing frog? The passenger pigeon? The great auk? The Pyrenean Ibex? The Carolina Parakeet? The woolly rhinoceros... you get the idea. 

About a million years ago, humans were reduced to under 60,000 individuals by an unknown natural circumstance. After the Toba eruption about 70,000 years ago, humanity was nearly wiped out. Scientists estimate less than 2,000 individuals survived. And they did it without any technology to back them up.

Do I sound arrogant, overconfident, facetious? Maybe. I simply can't believe we won't adapt to climate change the way we are capable. I can't believe the inferred argument made by climate change argument that humanity will simply turn belly up and do nothing if the worst comes about.

I have more faith in humanity than that.